Vinny Del Stupido?

The third overtime will begin at the end of this commercial break. Up three after using up their final foul to give, the Bulls mysteriously fail to foul (in front of their own bench no less) Ray Allen as the clock ticked under 10 seconds. He breaks free and hits a contested three to tie the game.

No excuse to not foul in that situation. I don’t think that John Salmons (who was guarding Allen) was instructed to foul because the play happened right in front of the Bulls bench.

Chicago may yet win this thing in triple OT, but Del Negro may have just killed his team.

Ariza or Chandler

Alan Hahn wrote an interesting blog about whether the Trevor Ariza trade or the Eddy Curry trade hurt the Knicks more. Although Ariza has grown to be a starter for the Western favorite Lakers, Hahn says the traded draft picks for Curry were more damaging to the franchise. Throw in that Curry’s contract still hampers the team (and could cost them either Lee or Robinson) and it’s a no-brainer. But on the Ariza side Hahn adds:

Try not to dwell on what might’ve been, Fixers. Look instead at Wilson Chandler, who is very similar to Ariza but already possesses the jump shot Ariza has had to work to achieve, and understand why we make the point here at the Fix that the franchise needs to surround Wil and Danilo Gallinari with the right kind of veterans, the right kind of atmosphere.

In the broader view, having a young forward in Chandler does ease the loss of Ariza, especially when you consider that Francis’ contract (which turned into Randolph) is already freed up for 2010. However I disagree with Hahn’s notion that Chandler is “ahead” of Ariza at the same age. Compare their per-minute stats:

   Ariza 194 3659  9.7 .472 0.2 .160 4.6 .644 2.6 4.4 7.0 2.1 1.8 0.5 2.2 3.8 12.2 51.9
Chandler 117 3420 13.7 .433 3.6 .326 2.8 .762 1.4 4.7 6.0 2.1 0.9 1.0 1.7 3.5 15.1 50.8

Chandler does possess the jump shot that Ariza had to work on. At the same age, Ariza had no three point range at all. This year Trevor hit 31.9% of his threes, while not an ideal number, it is light years ahead of where he was 3 years ago. However Ariza’s rebounding, steals, and free throw attempts per minute dwarfs Chandler’s – all signs of better physical ability. In fact at the same age, Chandler’s ability to hit free throws and three point shots still doesn’t make him as efficient a shooter as Ariza, because of the imbalance in free throw attempts (at witnessed by their TS%).

The two are different sides of the same coin. Ariza was a slasher who had to develop an outside shot to become a more complete player. Meanwhile Chandler has an outside shot that took a few seasons for Ariza to develop, but to become a better overall player he needs to gain the ability to get to the line more often. In the paint Chandler often turns to spin moves and turn around jumpers instead of taking the ball to the hoop and drawing contact. But even if Chandler does gain this ability, he’ll still be a tad behind Ariza defensively. Trevor averaged 2.5 stl/36 this year, something that Chandler isn’t likely to ever do.

First Round Thoughts

Just opening this up for people to talk about the first round. I haven’t seen a lot of games, but I did catch a few good ones. I saw the Celtics lose in overtime, the Lakers crush the Jazz, and a bit of the Nuggets/Hornets. Of the few games I saw, it was interesting how many ex-Knicks (and potential ex-Knicks) were involved on winning teams: Trevor Ariza, Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Nene. It’s hard not to be a little bitter about it, at least for another year…

As for the upsets, the East looks like a one man race at this point. The Celtics clearly aren’t the same without Garnett. Orlando lost to the Sixers? OK so that’s more likely to be a fluke than not, but it does raise questions at this point about the Magic. And if you thought the Heat were a Wade explosion from potentially beating the Cavs…

Who Will Win the Western Conference?

According to at least one gambling site, the Lakers are by far the favorite to win the West. But how far ahead of the rest of the field are they? Los Angeles was 11 games better than any other Western team. But the Lakers are only 55 win percentage points better than the Trailblazers, .739 to .684, when using expected win percentage based on run differential. That’s a bit closer than the 134 point difference when looking at actual win percentage. Additionally the Lakers are most likely going to face the Jazz, Blazers, and Spurs/Nuggets. Certainly that’s tougher than the Pistons, Hawks/Heat, and Magic/Celtics that will meet Cleveland in the East.

So what do you think, can any Western team derail the Lakers?