Friday, April 16, 2004

Reflections and Projections

A couple quick things. I'm not one to make predictions and leave them hidden from the public to always seem right. I'm ready to take my lashings after making these predictions over the summer (part one, two, three):

Projected Finish Actual Finish (by record, not seed)
  1. Pistons
  2. Nets
  3. Pacers
  4. Hornets
  5. Sixers
  6. Bulls
  7. Magic
  8. Celtics
  9. Heat
  10. Raptors
  11. Wizards
  12. Knicks
  13. Hawks
  14. Cavs
  15. Bucks


  1. Pacers
  2. Pistons
  3. Nets
  4. Heat
  5. Hornets
  6. Bucks
  7. Knicks
  8. Celtics
  9. Cavs
  10. Raptors
  11. Sixers
  12. Hawks
  13. Wizards
  14. Bulls
  15. Magic

Not too good. I can now see the folly in overdosing on Bulls kool-aid.

And now for some playoff predictions. KnickerBlogger is doing a little pool among the basketball journalism elite. I told him I was actually Peter Vescey so he let me in too. So here are my picks:


                        Pacers over Celtics, Hornets over Heat, Pistons over Bucks, Nets over Knicks

                        Second Round:

                        Pacers over Hornets, Pistons over Nets

First Round:

                        Wolves over Nuggets, Kings over Mavs, Spurs over Griz, Lakers over Rockets

Second Round:

                        Kings over Wolves, Spurs over Lakers


                        Spurs over Pistons


That should be the worst NBA finals of all time. David Stern will not be happy seeing every game be a race to 70. But in the NBA playoffs, the best team wins, and regardless of style I think the Spurs and Pistons are the best teams in their conferences. Hey, I did pick the Spurs to win last year as well, so hopefully this prediction turns out better than my preseason ones...or the NCAA tournament :)


Thursday, April 15, 2004

Bulls Blog Awards, part 2:


now THAT's a catchy title. Check out yesterday's post for the other awards. All winners receive a diamond studded gold bracelet that spells out "E-Rob"

Rookie of the Year: Lebron James. I think (and hope) this vote isn't even close. If you are a Carmelo guy, first remove your head from Mike Wilbon's ample behind, and second: wise up to how amazing Lebron's year has been. While Carmelo is a great scorer and fits well into Denver's fast-paced style, Lebron not only proved all of his doubters wrong, he made his teammates around him better. So much better that management has begun the process of moving talented, yet selfish guys like Darius Miles and Ricky Davis for veterans who will serve mainly to facilitate the game of James. Long live King James' reign.

And let me get this off my chest: James and Anthony are only peers in circumstance, not in talent or impact. If they weren't in the same draft class I don't think anyone would be considering the two as equals. The whole thing baffles me. Like the sportswriting community's attitude towards Okafor, the all-out love of Carmelo is a byproduct of hoping he will show the youngins the importance of a freshman year at college. (And I suppose it is important, that's where I first learned  how to use cost/benefit analysis with beer: another 'stone anyone?)

MVP: Keeping with my negative tone, The Hoops Junkie gave out his MVP vote Carmelo Anthony. That's just silly in my opinion. We all can agree that Anthony is having a great rookie year and looks to be a factor in this league for some time now. But he's not near the caliber of Duncan, Garnett, Kobe, Shaq...just not even close. I wouldn't even put him up there with T-Mac or Nowitzki. Oh and I know that Anthony's team is better than someone like McGrady's, but that argument doesn't fly with me concerning A-Rod votes, so I'm not gonna follow it in basketball either.

So I'm going with the popular choice this year, Kevin Garnett. It can be said that Tim Duncan should win every year, he's that great a player. But KG isn't far behind. It doesn't seem to make sense that a guy would win the MVP *after* finally receiving help, but since Duncan's gotten 2 already, its the big ticket's time. Another notch in KG's favor is that he can go out and guard wing players like no other, something Duncan cannot. But...KG can't guard Shaq like Duncan can. Like I said, its hard to decide between the two, but its time for Garnett to get his due.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Awards Time

Its the trendy thing to do now, so I'm handing out some end-of-season awards. For now I'll stick with NBA-wide awards, but maybe I'll move on the Bulls-centric awards too, such as "most likely to make me want to stab myself in the eye", and the ever-popular "most likely to make me want to stab myself in the OTHER eye".

I'm no trendsetter obviously, since Tim Kraus at The End of the Bench has already given out his awards. Check that link out also for awards from around the web....from, you know, 'real' pundits. On to the awards...

Most Improved: Jason Williams, Memphis.  This probably a belated award, as he received heavy consideration last year, but he has continued his progression from headcase to dependable point guard on the league's most improved team. A testament to whatever old man Hubie Brown says to these kies.

(honorable mention: James Posey, Mem; Zach Randolph, Por; Rafer Alston, Mia)

Comeback Player: Do they still do this award? I forgot the criteria anyway...I think its coming back from serious injury or serious drug overdose. In either case I'm giving the award to Lamar Odom. He's quietly having a great year, showing he can be the multi-dimensional threat everyone thought he would be coming out of school.

6th man: I consider this to be like valedictorian of summer school. If you're such a good 6th man, you should be starting...especially if you're on a bad team. But if you're on a good and deep team like the Dallas Mavericks, you have little choice but to come off the bench. Therefore I'm giving this to Antawn Jamison. He's by far my favorite Antawn on that team.

Defensive player: I really think this award undeservedly goes to big time shotblockers and rebounders far more often than wing defenders. With that in mind, I'll take everyone's favorite crazy former-Bull, Ron Artest.

(honorable mention: Bruce Bowen, Kevin Garnett)

Coach of the Year: Jerry Sloan. Come on, the Jazz were supposed to be one of the worst teams in NBA history this year. It just shows how some mildly-talented guys who know how to play the game can sneak up on better teams in this league.

I'll save the biggies (MVP and Rookie of the Year) for tomorrow...cause I'd like to expand on those. Plus, I think my posts have been getting too long and it has had an inverse relation with the frequency. So I'll try to be hitting fast and furious in the coming weeks.

Monday, April 12, 2004

You say Emeka, I say....Pervis?

Jason Whitlock tore himself away from the buffet table for a few hours to pen this article on Emeka Okafor, and the general problem with over-hyping (hat tip to Yoni...who obviously didn't like the piece as much as I did)

Last Monday night we tried to turn Emeka Okafor into a modern-day Akeem Olajuwon. It was nothing more than overhype intended to mask an inferior product. The public, intelligently, didn't buy it. Monday-night's championship tilt featuring Connecticut vs. Georgia Tech, Okafor vs. Luke Schenscher -- an alleged re-enactment of UCLA vs. Houston, Lew Alcindor vs. Elvin Hayes, or Georgetown vs. Houston, Patrick Ewing vs. Akeem Olajuwon -- was the worst-rated NCAA title game in the modern era.

Those of us who participated in the overhype of this matchup should be embarrassed. But that's what we do now, particularly in college basketball. The product is so weak and we so desperately long for the good old days that we'll pretend Emeka is Akeem and Luke is Patrick.

Okafor is the ideal college athlete. He's going to graduate in just three years. He's an academic All-American. He's a gentleman on and off the court. He helps old women cross the street. He comes from a supportive family.

He's the next Pervis Ellison. You remember Never Nervous, don't you? He led Louisville to the national championship and then became the No. 1 pick in the 1989 draft. The Sacramento Kings plucked Never Nervous. Ellison showed a little early promise, could never stay healthy, bounced around the league and eventually fizzled into oblivion.

Okafor isn't nearly as gifted as Ellison. Okafor reminds me of Adonal Foyle, a sound athlete with lots of brains. Okafor doesn't have a polished low-post game. He doesn't have a move that will consistently produce points at the next level. He'll score on dunks and put-backs. He doesn't put the ball on the floor well enough to excel facing the basket. And he doesn't have Carlos Boozer's big butt to muscle guys in the paint.

Okafor is a top-flight college player. There are a dozen high school kids with more basketball upside, and there are probably a half dozen more kids overseas who will outplay him on the next level.

But, hell, we talked about Okafor Monday night like he was the second coming of Karl Malone. I guess you have to say something, especially when your game is in the toilet and no one is watching. Might as well overhype. No one is listening anyway.

Wowza, that's some scathing stuff. And refreshing, to be honest. After an article like this after the Candace Parker article last week, Whitlock has proven he at least isn't afraid to go outside the mainstream opinion.

Not that he isn't a decent prospect who had a great year, but sportswriters across the country are HOPING that Okafor makes it big in the league, to 'show up' all of the young high school and international kids who are going in the league early. After 3 years of college and a degree, Okafor is certainly more well-rounded and educated than he was when he was 18, and he's a better basketball player than he was then. But that doesn't change the fact that he isn't Tim Duncan coming from Wake Forest, or (good god) Olajuwon. Look at things objectively, and tell me how good an NBA player he'll really be.

We'll see if Okafor proves me wrong, but in my opinion the Bulls shouldn't be too swayed by his college stardom. If they can get a top-flight talent by trading the pick, go for it. The team already has a player with similar age and game, who happens to be 3-4 inches taller and able to jump out of the gym. Oh, and they also have the same...issues.



Sunday, April 11, 2004

"How Sweep It Is" (and other inane sports sayings)...

I had no idea the Bulls were even playing on Sunday until I heard on the Score that they beat the Raptors in overtime. This was a 4-0 sweep over the Raps this year. And for a team that has as many wins as the Bulls do, a sweep of anybody has to really irk the other side. The idea must've gotten Vince Carter riled, as he god into a little scrum with Antonio Davis, ending in technicals for both. And then you get this gem from ex-Bull Jalen Rose: ""It would be a total disappointment to lose to the Chicago Bulls four straight times, The key word being 'total.'" . Well the key word is "lose". But while it's nice to rub in a loss, leave it to Scott Skiles to put things in prespective:

"I don't think we can try to create some sort of rivalry between two lottery teams," he said. "That doesn't seem appropriate to me." ...

Anyway, as you've probably seen on ESPN several times, Jamal Crawford scored a career high 50 points on 18-34 shooting. And as the clever graphic accompanying the game showed, Jamal is the third Bull player ever to reach that mark, along with Chet Walker, and M-Jeff (30 times!). To put the game in some sort of context, I'm trying out yet another John Hollinger method, the game score. This is the kind of formula which is easy to calculate, pretty much adding for every good stat and subtracting for a bad one. So lets take a look:

stat for game points added total game score
Start with Players points 50 50 50
add .4 points for each made field goal 18 7.2 57.2
subtract .7 points for each field goal attempt 34 -23.8 33.4
subtract .4 points for each missed free throw 3 -1.2 32.2
add .7 points for each offensive rebound 0 0 32.2
add .3 points for each defensive rebound 7 2.1 34.3
add 1 point for each steal 2 2 36.3
add .7 points for each assist 2 1.4 37.7
add .7 points for each block 1 0.7 38.4
subtract .4 points for each personal foul 3 -1.2 37.2
subtract 1 point for each turnover 3 -3 34.2

So what does a game score of 34.2 actually mean?

50+ A historic performance
40-49.9 One of the best games of the season
30-39.9 Probably the best performance in the league that night
20-29.9 Probable Player of the Game selection
15-19.9 A very strong effort
12-14.9 Reasonable solid performance
8-11.9 Average
5-7.9 Subpar game or didn't see many minutes

For another reference, in the game last month when Kobe and T-Mac dueled for 38 and 37 points apiece, their game scores were 25.1 for McGrady and 26.6 for Bryant.  So while not 'historic', Jamal certainly had a great night...maybe enough to get some team interested enough in trading for him :)