Bravo to Kelly Dwyer for these gems:
I love watching Dallas’ Jason Terry and Golden State’s Baron Davis go at it, especially while taking into context their respective career arcs. Both were drafted in 1999, with Davis going to a ready-made playoff contender in Charlotte that had hopped up the lottery. By his second season, he was starting on a conference semifinalist. Terry, meanwhile, had to toil away in relative obscurity with the Atlanta Hawks, earning an unfair label of a wild chucker on a bad team. The Hawks stunk, but it was Davis that boasted the chucker instincts, while Terry honed his craft with a more subdued screen-and-roll attack with whatever defensively challenged power forward the Hawks brought in that year.
Now they’re going back and forth in the midst of an ultra-exciting first round matchup between the Warriors and Mavericks, and I have to wonder if Terry’s regressed a little. The stats are there (almost 20 points a game), but his shooting percentage is down, and he was killing Dallas in Game 4 with his inability to get Dirk Nowitzki the ball. Nowitzki deserves plenty of blame for not being more aggressive, and he is being zoned away from easy looks for most of the game, but Terry has to find ways to lob him the rock with the 6-7 Mickael Pietrus guarding the Maverick All-Star. Dallas is done if he doesn’t.
It isn’t first-time playoff jitters, or shot-happy point guards, or a lack of energy — the real reason Toronto’s Chris Bosh is having an up-and-down postseason is the defensive play of New Jersey’s Jason Collins. Bosh is averaging just under 18 points per game on 43 percent shooting, down from a regular season that saw him throw in 22.6 points per game while making half his shots. Though Bosh has had his moments during Toronto’s first-round series, Collins’ athletic defense, exemplary footwork and exquisite timing has kept the Raptor big man from taking over.
Collins continues to be underrated. We’re not saying he should be playing 30 minutes a night; his pathetic offense and poor rebounding can hurt a team in the long run. But he’s as good a defensive player as this league boasts. The idea that he garnered zero Defensive Player of the Year votes (or, one less than Kobe Bryant), that hurts.
A recent trend you shouldn’t pay much attention to: commentators pointing to field goal defense allowed as a way of gauging defensive aptitude.
Now, it certainly helps a team’s defensive case if it holds the opponent to a certain mark from the floor, but it’s far from an end-all stat. For instance, Chicago led the NBA in field goal percentage allowed during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, but were those Bulls teams the best defensive team in the NBA? Hardly. Scott Skiles’ team sent its opponents to the free throw line at an alarming rate, and its rash of turnovers on the other end allowed for several extra possessions per game in which the opponents could throw in a bucket or six. Neither of these realities can be accounted for when pointing to field goal percentage defense.
At the end of the day, just go with points allowed, adjusted for pace, as your end-all. Ironically, Chicago led the NBA in that stat in 2006-07, despite finishing second to the Houston Rockets for the lead in field goal percentage defense. The difference this season? More calls going in Chicago’s favor, and less chance for the opponents to alter the score from the line.
AND there’s more. He starts the article talking about Kirilenko, using 82games, and what team would benefit most from getting him (and no it’s not the Knicks). Think about it for a second before you read the article. Which team would most benefit from AK-47? Dwyer hits on a few other things, including the Bowen-AI-‘Melo relationship, Jason Kidd’s series, Antonio Daniels and Rich Kelley.