Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Monday, November 24, 2014

USA Basketball Game 8: USA 118 – Spain 107

Golden.

115 comments on “USA Basketball Game 8: USA 118 – Spain 107

  1. Gov

    Great win. I’m happy Spain were not only very competitive but that they pushed US to the limit. Kobe came through when it really mattered.

    I live in Australia and I’m pissed that they only showed a bit of the thrid quarter and then cut to the news for half hour and finally ended up only showing the highlights of the last 5 minutes of the game.

    I’m pissed.

  2. jaredrutledge

    yeah i’m in sydney and i have to say seven’s coverage has been almost laughable. i don’t care if a cronulla sharks player got arrested for assault, i want to see the greatest basketball nation of all time win the gold medal!

  3. jon abbey

    great game, easily the highest level of play I’ve ever seen in the Olympics. Fernandez can fill it up, I’m even more excited to see Portland now.

  4. jon abbey

    Chad Ford via TrueHoop:

    “I’ve always liked Ricky Rubio and thought he’d be a likely top five pick, but his play in this tournament has convinced me to move him up to the No. 1 spot in the draft. He has such amazing poise for someone his age. He needs to improve his jump shot and get stronger … but he looks really special.”

    that’s our boy! lose, Knicks, lose!

  5. Danisrob

    Will be interesting to see how many of this team stay together now that they have their golds. And if they don’t, can they stay on top?

  6. Brian Cronin

    You know, listening to them talk about how Team USA won Gold, I think it is interesting to note that they really did not adapt to international play as much as you would think, outside of only having one true big man on the floor.

    Instead, it looked like Team USA used their advantages at the guard position (where one of the US’s best guards played power forward most of the time!) to exploit the one real advantage international teams had over them – three point shooting.

    Team USA used their guard play to basically eliminate opposing team’s three-point shooting, with the exception of Spain, who made some crazy looking threes (and yes, some mental gaffes on the US defensive end, too), and once you eliminate three-point shooting, what team can hang with the United States?

  7. Dan Panorama

    I agree, Brian — I think the best thing about the US Team was that it won with a style all its own and one that the other countries’ could not replicate with their own talent even if they wanted to. After 2004 there was a lot of talk that the US team would work to become an international team in the sense that it would try to become the same zone-defense, 3 shooting team that most of its competitors were. Instead, they put together a great team rooted in strong defense (especially from the guards) and that focused using its NBA-level athleticism and speed to exploit the other team’s weaknesses on defense. Team USA showed that the issue that kept them from winning in 2004 was a lack of team-building and practice and not that the NBA style was somehow inherently inferior or incompatible with the burgeoning international scene.

  8. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking, Dan. I remembered all the talk about what the US “should” do after 2004, and something like this team was never discussed.

    After 2004, if I told you Michael Redd would be on the team, you’d figure he would have been a major contributor, right? Instead, he got garbage minutes.

    However, while no one discussed this style of team, this team is the one that looks like it not only works, but it will continue to work, with all the youth the US has on its side.

    You also have to figure Dwight Howard is only going to get smarter. Right? Right?! Please say right!

  9. Ray

    There were a number of players that were really impressive.

    Marc Gasol…Very physical and quick for a big man.

    Ricky Rubio…nice handle and leadership but id did expect more form him. Hes still young.

    Dwayne Wade….He is back. Look out for Miami.

    Dwight Howard…Pull down some monster rebounds in the gold game.

  10. Brian Cronin

    I think Fernandez was the most impressive non Pau player on Spain, but yeah, Rubio looked great for his age and Marc Gasol looks like he can be an NBA player.

  11. nj hoop

    Agree about Marc Gasol, he takes up a lot of space and is aggressive. Sort of a Kaman type ( in the looks department as well) Also think D Wade is going to have a monster year, he looks healthy and was hitting his 3’s all Olympics.

    My son plays basketball and is going into 11th grade, and we both commented that a kid one year older than him (Rubio) is playing (and holding his own) against the best players in the NBA. Mind boggling when you think about it.

  12. Brian Cronin

    Yeah, if Wade can hit threes with consistency, he wouldn’t have a weakness, would he (outside of the, you know, brittleness)?

  13. Jose B

    Great game wow. Rubio seems like a cross between Nash’s speed/handle/left hand and CP3’s penetration/defense. Lacks the jump shot that either of them have, but he is only 17 so who knows how much of a weakness that can be. I think we are definitely looking at a future NBA All-Star PG, I would kill to see him in a Knicks jersey. With Chandler, Gallinari and presumably D-Lee, that could be the most exciting nucleus we have had in a long, long time.

  14. jon abbey

    Chandler has shown absolutely no signs as of yet that he can be part of any “nucleus”. not saying that’s impossible, but let’s see.

  15. Owen

    KFFL – Chandler shoots a lot and doesn’t score much. See his true shooting percentage. He may turn out to be a good player, but the jury is most certainly still out….

    I watched the gold medal game this morning without knowing the outcome. I was sweating bullets.

    Re: “Team USA showed that the issue that kept them from winning in 2004 was a lack of team-building and practice and not that the NBA style was somehow inherently inferior or incompatible with the burgeoning international scene.”

    I agree we have to play our own game. It was silly to think we needed to adapt our play. But the difference here was not a lack of team building. It was the quality of the US players. Lebron, Wade, Okafor, Stoudemire, and Carmelo, just weren’t that good (yet) in 2004. Iverson (who shot 32% in 2004) and Marbury (coming off his best season) aren’t real NBA superstars. Duncan indisputable was at the top of his game, but he was the only real stud on the team at the time.

    This year’s team has the best point guard, two of the three best shooting guards, the best small forward, and the best center in the world, with Kidd, Bosh, Boozer, etc on the bench.

    This team is just flat out amazing, almost as good in fact as the original Dream Team, though considerably younger.

    I think the jury should still be out on Rubio, despite the adulation. He can clearly play, but don’t know if I believe he has superstar potential. Just 17 though which is incredible.

    I said it before, I will say it again, I am going to do everything possible to get Dwyane Wade on my fantasy team. For all the talk about Kobe and Lebron, Wade was my MVP of this tournament. Kobe hit a few clutch shots, but without Wade going 8-8 in the first half, the US would have been down going into the fourth quarter.

  16. brian quinnett's left nipple

    wait…the jury’s out on rubio?

    hey, look, i think we can concede that he’s got a lot of work to do, but c’mon, can you imagine any 17-year-old point guard, one that <b?would be entering his senior season of high school (or, in many cases, his junior year) that could have done any better in the gold medal game at the olympics against the redeem team?

    and, i’m talking about holding his own against chris paul, deron williams and the corpse of jason kidd with everything on the line.

    i can’t.

    he looked like he belonged while playing in a game that should have been many many levels way above his element.

    again, he’s just 17!

    that’s incredible.

    he’s got work to do, but damn, that’s impressive.

  17. caleb

    he is beyond a Derrick Rose prospect right now, IMO – even if not quite as good a player yet (not as strong, can’t D up yet).

    You should have more confidence — look back, the best 17-year-old player in the world/country has generally become the best 19-year-old, 21-year-old, etc. Or at least close.

    With a few exceptions like Felipe Lopez.

  18. Owen

    Rubio hasn’t proven he can score efficiently. His numbers against top flight competition are poor. That’s too much to ask of a 17 year old I suppose, but you have to consider it a question mark.

    It’s interesting to me the way the basketball media has fallen for a guy who is not a scorer, whose greatest talent is his ability to impact possession and the scoring efficiency of everyone on the court other than himself.

  19. Captain Merlin

    he is beyond a Derrick Rose prospect right now, IMO – even if not quite as good a player yet (not as strong, can’t D up yet).
    You should have more confidence — look back, the best 17-year-old player in the world/country has generally become the best 19-year-old, 21-year-old, etc. Or at least close.
    With a few exceptions like Felipe Lopez.

    The Felipe Lopez situation is different, because as I recall, when everyone thought he was 17, he was actually already 19, thus offsetting the whole best at his age spiel.

  20. retropkid

    OK — let’s combine Olympic talk with Knick-speak: What year will a New York Knick win a gold medal?

    I take the over against year 2020….which I guess means I’m betting against our guys adding LeBron, because I do think Team USA should win gold for awhile…

    If Gallinari wins one with Italy, that would bust up my bet pretty good…

  21. caleb

    Interesting about Lopez, I didn’t know that — certainly helps explain things. Watch out, OJ Mayo fans.

    In other news… I see that JR Smith re-signed with Denver at 3 years, $16.5 million. I guess he had trouble scaring up offers — that’s a bargain for the Nuggets.

    And Danny Ainge signed Darius Miles for terms undisclosed…

  22. Thomas B.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2008/08/23/2008-08-23_msg_plays_tough_with_knicks_voice_gus_jo.html

    Could the bonehead brain trust really be dumb enough to pass on Gus Johnson? He’s only the best play by play guy to call a Knicks game since Mike Breen.

    I’m not drinking the Miami Kool-aid. Miami still has no point, no post game, and a coach that still has a curfew. Wade will likely be hurt before the 12th game of the season. He did not spend the summer playing himself into shape, he just began the journey towards the injured list earlier than normal, that’s all. If the over under on games played is 70, I’ll take the under.

    Weakness in Wade’s game? 3p%. Wade is a career 25% shooter from deep. High turnover player in terms of total turnovers. Somewhat offset when you divide turnover by number of touches per game.

  23. Owen

    I agree Wade’s health is a major concern.

    His three point percentage doesn’t concern me in and of itself. His ts% is roughly around Kobe’s when he is fit. He was over 60% last year before the injury.

    His turnovers are high, but so are his assist and scoring numbers. It’s a very rare player who can average over 7 assists in a game, while also scoring as much and as efficiently as he did in 06-07, or last year before his injury.

    The problem with his game is that he can’t sustain that production without incurring injury. He drives too much in the paint, and does too much on the court for his frame to withstand.

    But you have to admire him. He is no Jamal Crawford. He is not the Kobe Bryant we saw in the Olympics, shooting more threes than 2 pt fgs. He risks his career every time he steps on the court, which takes a lot of guts.

  24. Thomas B.

    “I’m not drinking the Miami Kool-aid”
    do you think the Knicks finish ahead of them?

    Probably not, because that would require me to drink the Knick Kool-aid. It’s close. I have a hard time seeing the Knicks winning more than 38 games. I think Miami can win at least 35, so Miami will likely be ahead of NY. But that doesnt mean I see Miami back at the level they were three to four years ago. Miami likely finishes with the 9th or 10th best record in the Eastern Conference, ahead of NY but well shy of the “Look out for Miami” posts I keep reading. We will know for sure by April.

    Line up the Knicks against Miami and tell me what you think.

    Coach. Edge goes to the Knicks. I am tempted to say Riley picked a coach to follow him that could not possibly outdo him, just to save his ego. I just dont understand the

    Starters. Miami. Wade, Marion, Beasely, Haslem, and PG v. take your pick of Knicks.

    Bench/depth. I give the Knicks the edge here. Miami is not deep at all. The Knicks have at least 4 solid players on the bench in Robinson, Lee, Chandler, and Duhon. Miami might not have 1. Maimi does not even have a starting pg-Marcus Banks does not count(career 2.2 astpg. Yes, I know this is the palace of the 40 min stat, so per 40 Banks hass 5.2 ast, but add 5 pfs to that with 3 turnover a 1.66 ast/to ratio doesnt scream ball handling to me-add Wade’s 1.58 and lookout assist records). I like Mario Chalmers but until I see him play against top pros…

    Leadership. Miami. Wade is a better leader than any Knick. Too bad he’ll only lead for 69 games.

    Defense. Miami. Wade, Marion, and Haslem are better than any Knick defender. Hell, with D’antoni at the helm, we may play likes it’s an All-star game-no defense at all. BTW does any current Knick know what it’s like to play in an all star game? Just Marbury, who had a pretty nice showing when he represented the Nets back in 2001 I think. He and Iverson brought the East all the way back. Yup, I’m still a Marbury fan.

    Offense. Push, possibly slight edge to Knicks. The (projected) Knick’s starting lineup will feature 4 players who have scored over 19 ppg at some point in their pro careers (Marbury, Crawford, Randolph, and Curry). Plus the team has a coach with an offensive mindset. If it can all come together, and if Q is not allowed to play, the Knicks could be a very dangerous scoring team-big IF I know. Miami’s starters can bring it, but the bench cannot. The Knicks could throw a second unit at you that is better equipped to run than the starters. Chandler, Robinson, Lee, Gallanari, Duhon…

  25. Brian Cronin

    Weakness in Wade’s game? 3p%. Wade is a career 25% shooter from deep. High turnover player in terms of total turnovers. Somewhat offset when you divide turnover by number of touches per game.

    The turnover thing makes some sense (although, I would disagree, since, as you even note, you have to take into consideration usage, and via usage, Wade doesn’t turn the ball over excessively), but the 3-pt thing was weird in that it was in response to me saying “if Wade can hit threes with consistency, he wouldn’t have a weakness.”

  26. Owen

    Thomas –

    The Heat will be a lot better than the Knicks, barring injuries. They have two All- NBA caliber players. They have Haslem who is better than anyone on our roster other than Lee. They have Beasley, who might fit in the same box.

    Wade already handles many of the pg duties, as the assist numbers indicate. Depth is an issue, but they have enough mediocre players to fill out the roster of a playoff team. I see them getting there if Wade stays healthy. If he does he will likely be the best shooting guard in the NBA.

  27. Thomas B.

    Chandler has shown absolutely no signs as of yet that he can be part of any “nucleus”. not saying that’s impossible, but let’s see.

    Jon,

    What would you need to see to consider Chandler part of a nucleus? Is it his talent, or that he has not played well for a long enough period?

  28. Thomas B.

    The turnover thing makes some sense (although, I would disagree, since, as you even note, you have to take into consideration usage, and via usage, Wade doesn’t turn the ball over excessively), but the 3-pt thing was weird in that it was in response to me saying “if Wade can hit threes with consistency, he wouldn’t have a weakness.”

    Sorry, I missed that part. Then yes, turnovers would be the closest thing to a weakness if he improved the 3s. That and durability, which is unfair to call a weakness since it is really beyond his control.

  29. Thomas B.

    Thomas –
    The Heat will be a lot better than the Knicks, barring injuries. They have two All- NBA caliber players. They have Haslem who is better than anyone on our roster other than Lee. They have Beasley, who might fit in the same box.
    Wade already handles many of the pg duties, as the assist numbers indicate. Depth is an issue, but they have enough mediocre players to fill out the roster of a playoff team. I see them getting there if Wade stays healthy. If he does he will likely be the best shooting guard in the NBA.

    Does anyone think Wade’s game will suffer without a strong post player on the team? Or will he just be the same player he was that one year with Lamar Odom and Caron Butler. That team lacked a strong post player too, and Wade played great.

  30. Thomas B.

    Owen,

    Hey I missed the best two in the game comment. Let me ask you this, do you see Kobe retiring in the next month? Unless you do, I cant see how Wade could be the best two in the NBA.

  31. Dave

    I really like Mario Chalmers. He’s going to be a good starting point guard in the NBA. Himself and Wade should be a good complement to one another in the backcourt, and give Miami one of the better backcourts in the league (mainly due to Wade of course).

    I worry about Miami’s bench and interior play. They have no bench to speak of. The paid a guy (James Jones) who’s ideally an 8th man to be their 6th man, no backup point, backup wings behind Jones is thin, and then either Udonis/Blount. They just don’t have enough bodies who are capable of changing games.

    Injuries would have a large effect on this club, not just on their best players, but also if Chalmers/Jones/Haslem/Blount go down because they don’t have adequate backups for their role players either.

    Still …. that trio of Wade-Beasley-Marion is very good and full of promise. I rate it as the best trio of teams in the hunt for the 8th seed in the East.

  32. Owen

    Ahh Kobe, my bete noire….

    This is an old theme, but I don’t know why anyone would consider Kobe to be better than a healthy Wade. Wade was much more productive than Kobe two years ago, and he would have been last year as well if not for the injury.

    Wade has done what Kobe couldn’t. Lead a team to an NBA championship playing first fiddle in the orchestra. He just dominated the Olympic basketball tournament, posting the best numbers of anyone in the tournament. He played much better than Kobe. The box score numbers are in his favor. He also is four years younger and entering his prime.

    I don’t think the lack of a post player makes any difference at all, although Beasley could be that. People put way too much stock in player combinations. What matters by and large is talent, and the Heat have a fair amount of it. Two All-NBA players and some other decent parts.

    I forgot about Jones. It will be interesting to see if he regresses to the mean after his unbelievable performance last year. His ts% of 62.5% was WAY higher than anything he has previously posted.

  33. Brian Cronin

    I might put Kobe ahead of Wade if only because I have absolutely no faith in Wade being healthy this year, no matter how healthy he currently looks, and Kobe is better than gimpy Wade.

    If Wade is healthy, then he was better than Kobe last time he was healthy (back when Wade couldn’t hit a three to save his life), so I think he’ll certainly be better than Kobe now.

    Is Lebron not a 2? I figured Wally World was the Cavs’ 3.

    On another note, did y’all see that Devean George, half a year after being persona non grata in Dallas, actually got re-signed by Dallas?!?! Wow, I did not see that coming.

  34. jon abbey

    “What would you need to see to consider Chandler part of a nucleus? Is it his talent, or that he has not played well for a long enough period?”

    he’s basically only played in garbage time so far, and I haven’t been impressed. I’ll be more of a believer if I see him actually be a major contributor in winning some games, but it doesn’t seem to me like he’s exceptionally talented to the point where he could ever become an above average NBA starter (part of a ‘nucleus’). maybe I’m wrong, we’ll see.

  35. Owen

    I stipulated a “healthy Wade.”

    Kobe’s biggest strength is his ability to play a lot of minutes. His production on a per minute basis doesn’t quite put him in the elite. However, his ability to play 3000 minutes per year takes him over the top. He has been the most productive shooting guard in the NBA, though not the most talented.

    I would consider Lebron the prototype 3 these days. He actually plays a lot of power forward for the Cavs as well.

  36. Brian Cronin

    It’s not a swipe, it’s just a stupid system that is based on how the teams have performed for the past six years!

    Why a team’s performance from 2002 should have an impact upon their current ranking is beyond me, but that’s how the system works, and it is why America is second – they had a relatively poor 2002, 2004 and 2006 while Argentina was good in all those years (and added another medal this year).

  37. Captain Merlin

    It’s essentially the same, formulaic, point based system as is used by FIFA for international soccer–with much the same results. It seems like every few years after the World Cup or Euro Championships, a team will dominate and clearly be the best, but still rank 2nd or even lower because of the fact that a team’s past is held against it. I actually rather like this sort of ranking system for international sports, because due to the infrequency with which these teams play each other, compared to the professional leagues, there is not much on which to base a more acute ranking. Also, the rankings system emphasizes the importance of consistency and the ability for a nation to maintain a strong program over the years, rather than just claim the top ranking possibly by some fluke string of victories. Somehow international sports seem to require that, whereas the typical, seasonal leagues require just the opposite. When you remember that the rankings are based on such an extended period of time and not one blip of dominance, they make perfect sense.

  38. Italian Stallion

    The thing I like about Wade is that like many superior elite “winning” athletes he has the ability to step his game up a notch when he really needs to. I think it’s impossible for any athlete in any game/sport to give 100% peak concentration and performance all the time. They can bring their “A” game almost all the time, but there’s another level within that “A” game (call it being “in the zone” because that’s the commonly used term) that the truly great athletes in every sport can sort of will themselves into when they need it as opposed to it showing up randomly.

    Wade demonstrated that in the Miami championship run and maintained it right through the finals under extreme pressure. He was Jordanesque.

    The ability to perform under high pressure is an important quality. The ability to “rise up” under extreme pressure is truly unique. Wade has that. That kind of thing is often the difference between individuals and teams that appear evenly matched and in very tight games down the stretch. If he stays healthy, there isn’t a player in the NBA I would rather have other than perhaps LBJ.

  39. Owen

    IS – There was nothing all that amazing about or “in the zone” about Wade’s performance in 2005-2006. His performance was actually slightly worse than his regular season numbers, both in the Finals and the playoffs overall. He didn’t elevate his game at all. That was just the perception because he was a new face to many people.

    He was the best shooting guard in the NBA that year, and he simply played like it in the playoffs. He was Jordanesque in the sense that his numbers declined in the playoffs, which is true of almost every player with a large playoff sample. Elite basketball players don’t actually raise their level of play in the playoffs, when it matters most. Their productivity declines slightly.

    That said, it usually is the great players we notice making clutch plays and performing under pressure. This is basically an illusion. Great players are what they are because they perform at a very high level all the time, including pressure situations.

    The whole notion of clutch aligns well with our emotional responses watching a basketball game and the narratives we construct about the end of games. But at the end of the day all the points count the same. Anyone playing well, at almost any part of the game, is being clutch.

    Who was more clutch in the gold medal game? Kobe with his fourth quarter flurry to round out his 7-14 shooting performance? Or Dwyane Wade with his 8-8 performance in the first half?

  40. Ted Nelson

    re: Rubio

    Jason Kidd has never been an efficient scorer either, but he’s been considered one of the best PGs in the NBA for a while and was/is well loved by the media. I think it’s a bit much to except Rubio (or Derrick Rose, or anyone else) to be the next Chris Paul, but a top 5, top 10 PG in the NBA? I don’t think that’s unreasonable at this point. By the way, it’s not like Derrick Rose shot the lights out in college, either. While Rose is going to have a hard time not becoming a good NBA player, he’s also going to have a hard time becoming Chris Paul or Deron Williams.

    Here’s a link to Rubio’s 07-08 ACB regular season stats (his team finished 2nd in the ACB in the regular season): http://www.acb.com/stsacum.php?cod_equipo=JOV&cod_competicion=LACB&cod_edicion=52
    Here are his 06-07 ACB regular season stats: http://20062007acbstats.wordpress.com/2007/11/07/dkv-joventut/

  41. jon abbey

    “Jason Kidd has never been an efficient scorer either, but he’s been considered one of the best PGs in the NBA for a while and was/is well loved by the media.”

    but he’s a great rebounder, Rubio’s body type seems to preclude him ever adding that component to his game.

  42. Ted Nelson

    re: Miami

    What flavor’s the Kool-Aid? I don’t think they’re this season’s Celtics, but I do think an Eastern Conference playoff spot is there’s to lose at this point.
    The coach is an unknown (Riley replaced himself with Stan Van Gundy last time, so I don’t think there’s any rational reason to think he’s trying to sabotage the team he runs, but no one knows 100% how the guy’s going to do as an NBA head coach), one of their “Big 3″ has yet to play an NBA game, they’re weak in the middle even if Zo’s giving them 15-20 mpg, and the Chalmers/Banks/Quinn/Ahearn platoon at PG doesn’t strike fear in anyone’s heart.
    (Their overall depth isn’t that much of a concern to me: on the wing you’ve got James Jones, Daequan Cook, Dorell Wright, and Yakhouba Diawara… not too impressive but you should be able to get 2 passable NBA players from that group, maybe 3 in a good season. 1. Wade, 2. Marion, 3. Beasley, 4. Haslem, 5. Chalmers and/or Banks, 6. Jones, 7. Cook and/or Wright and/or Diawara, and 8. spot minutes for Zo… not a bad top 8 if everyone’s healthy plus some other “better than D-League” players to fill in the holes. Maybe even Mark Blount can find his 03-04 form… James Jones probably won’t match his 07-08 TS%, but he’s a career 40% 3P-shooter who could see plenty of open jumpers if the big 3 is healthy and working well together. Dorell Wright may be primed for a breakout season after putting up decent productivity last season and Cook was as good for his position as a rookie as Wilson Chandler–meaning not very good–who the Knicks seem to be hoping for a lot from.)

    Given all their problems/question marks, it’s hard to consider them real contenders at this point. However, with Wade, Marion, Beasley, and non-disastrous offensive play from 4 other guys I have to assume that any decent coach could put them in the top half of the league offensively. They’ve got the versatility to move Wade to the PG and play big for stretches or maybe even move Beasley to the 5 and Marion to the 4 for stretches and play small. Between Marion, Haslem, Wade, Zo, Wright, Diawara, Chalmers, and Banks the talent’s there to assemble a top 15 defense. If you’re top 15 on both sides of the ball, 16 teams make the playoffs, and you play in a conference where a 37 win team made the playoffs last season you’ve got to like your chances.
    If they really click and end up top 5 on one side of the ball and average on the other then they should contend for home court.

  43. Ted Nelson

    Jon,

    Rubio’s 6-3 / 6-4 and out-rebounded Rudy Fernandez in fewer minutes. I’m not suggesting he’ll be Jason Kidd on the glass, but he’s also likely to top Kidd’s career TS% of .500.

    If you get a guy who ends up being somewhere around Kidd/Nash as a playmaker, somewhere between them as a shooter, somewhere between them as a rebounder, and somewhere between them as a defender… I think you have to be pretty happy with that draft pick and that PG. Ricky’s got that potential, but we’ll have to see if he can live up to it.

  44. Ted Nelson

    What’s also really exciting about Ricky Rubio is that while we can also say US high schoolers have the potential to be x, y, or z, Ricky’s been showing that his skills are for real against top adult competition.

    He’s going to be playing in the Euroleague this season, letting him develop his game more and giving us a better look at how good he is/can be. His team lost Rudy Fernandez, but replaced him with Bracey Wright. Ricky will face off against Brandon Jennings on the 29th of October and the 11th of December.

  45. Brian Cronin

    By the by, I was reading an article about the 2002 and 2004 Team USAs, and man, does it make you feel bad for Duncan.

    Between the 02 and 04 teams, the USA had one player who had made a first or second team All-NBA the previous season, and that was Duncan.

    Poor Timmy D, not given any support at all, and never got to get a Gold Medal.

    (For comparison’s sake, this year’s team had four players from last year’s All-NBA first team! Plus one second-teamer and one third-teamer).

  46. Italian Stallion

    That said, it usually is the great players we notice making clutch plays and performing under pressure. This is basically an illusion. Great players are what they are because they perform at a very high level all the time, including pressure situations.
    The whole notion of clutch aligns well with our emotional responses watching a basketball game and the narratives we construct about the end of games. But at the end of the day all the points count the same. Anyone playing well, at almost any part of the game, is being clutch.

    Owen,

    I couldn’t disagree with you any more. I don’t know your background, but I find it impossible to believe that anyone with any experience playing any game or sport at a reasonably high could feel that way.

    I’ve seen dozens of players in my chosen game/sport that have talents and ability beyond the level of players that routinely dominate them under championship or high stakes gambling pressure when the the “key moment” comes that determines the winner.

    I’ve seen just a handful of players in my life with the ability to “consistently rise up” for short periods of time when it really mattered even though they “could never sustain that level high” over the long haul.

    I’ve experienced and felt both sides of the coin “relative to my own more limited talents”. I’ve played both my far and away best and worst under extreme pressure.

    In virtually every sport and game, there are key moments of extreme stress where the best players are tested and reveal whether things about their character and heart. Those are the moments that seperate the elite winners from the rest. It’s as much psychological as it is physical. IMO, you can’t isolate that stuff well by looking at overall game or playoff stats even though they are imbedded. You can’t even measure it by looking at broader “end of the game” stats. It’s often just a single play/shot or two. Some guys routinely deliver and do extraordinary things in those moments, some play their game, and others collapse.

    Wade was a great player throughout that season no matter how you measure it, but IMO he was truly great in those playoffs. He did some things at key moments that other players with great stats have failed to do specifically because they felt the heat and “could not rise up”.

  47. jon abbey

    he also got an obscene amount of foul calls, to the point where the game looked quite rigged. I think he’s a fantastic player, but I don’t think he should get full credit for that Finals performance.

  48. Thomas B.

    Kobe v Wade

    Can someone please post a by the numbers comparison of each players best three years? This was we can at least have some non-subjective criteria for evaluating the players. I still dont know what Brian C. and Owen mean when they say “better.” I know it cant be scoring, since Kobe has been over 30 ppg several times, Wade never. It cant be titles won. 3 to 1 there. It cant be finals appreances 5 to 1. It cant be individual scoring output. 81 points in a game vs. not even close to 81. So what is it? PER? No it aint that. Rebounding? No. Statistically, Wade only out performs Kobe in assists (slightly) and FG%. But I know the key to Wade being better than Kobe. It is a little word called “if.” You see, “if” Wade is healthy, and “if” he could improve his 3p%, then he would be better than Kobe. So yes, Wade is better than Kobe, “if” you want to use your imagination.

    You cant play the “if” game. You take the players as they are. You compare what they actually did, not what you think they would have done. The actual production shows Kobe is the better player. Wade’s best year was probably 05-06, but Kobe had just as good a year. Kobe had the better scoring average, better FT%, 3p%, assist to turnover ratio, and minutes per game. And that was not even Kobe’s best year.

    I got one more “if” to close things. “If” Wade could crack 80% on FTs made, he would be way better than Kobe. So without the “ifs,” show me how Wade is better than Kobe.

  49. Thomas B.

    he also got an obscene amount of foul calls, to the point where the game looked quite rigged. I think he’s a fantastic player, but I don’t think he should get full credit for that Finals performance.

    Agree. The refs basically rolled out a red carpet right to the lane for the guy. All that was missing was a few those red velvet ropes to keep the defense from touching him. Look back at the first two games of that series. Before the refs decided that Wade could not be touched, he didnt look all that unstoppable to me.

  50. Thomas B.

    “What would you need to see to consider Chandler part of a nucleus? Is it his talent, or that he has not played well for a long enough period?”
    he’s basically only played in garbage time so far, and I haven’t been impressed. I’ll be more of a believer if I see him actually be a major contributor in winning some games, but it doesn’t seem to me like he’s exceptionally talented to the point where he could ever become an above average NBA starter (part of a ‘nucleus’). maybe I’m wrong, we’ll see.

    Fair enough. I admit that I am excited by what I saw last year. Perhaps I am so in need of somewhat competent play at the 3 spot after watching Q and JJ murder the position that I just annointed Chandler because he was’nt actually terrible. of course that does not mean his name will be on an All-Star ballot one day. Honestly, i worry that he might have a touch of Crawford in him. I cant say I was happy with every shot Chandler took, but he made enough of them to keep me happy. How many times do you watch JC and scream, “Bad shot! Hey, he made it, alright then.” I think its wise to reserve judgment until he has played more. Think about how giddy we fans were over Channing Frye coming into his second year. He (with Isiah’s disregard for the cap) played his way right out the door in year two. Like you said Jon, we shall see.

  51. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    Owen,

    I couldn’t disagree with you any more. I don’t know your background, but I find it impossible to believe that anyone with any experience playing any game or sport at a reasonably high could feel that way.

    I’ve seen dozens of players in my chosen game/sport that have talents and ability beyond the level of players that routinely dominate them under championship or high stakes gambling pressure when the the “key moment” comes that determines the winner.

    I’ve seen just a handful of players in my life with the ability to “consistently rise up” for short periods of time when it really mattered even though they “could never sustain that level high” over the long haul.

    Of course you can make the counter-argument that humans tend to find patterns that don’t exist. Take for instance Gambler’s Fallacy – the thought that the last event affects the next (in games of independent chance). So if you see 4 straight turns of black in roulette, you’ll think red is more likely to be next. Or if someone rolls craps 3 straight times, you’ll think “the dice are cold”. Or if your slot machine hasn’t paid of in a while it’s “due”. But these events don’t have any effect on the next turn. The odds are the same for each individual game, yet people wrongly think the events are dependent on each other.

    Ironically I know this to be true, yet I “feel” these things when I go to a casino. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve walked away from a table because it was “cold” when I know for a fact that’s not true. I know I’ve bet on red after black came up last, even though I know that has nothing to do with the next outcome. This human trait of finding patterns is very strong, so much that we ignore randomness.

    Anyone interested in reading how this applies to sports should read this: The Hot Hand in Basketball: On the Misperception of Random Sequences
    (Warning it’s a 1MB pdf, but well worth it).

    As for myself I’m a “clutch” agnostic. It may be that some players have it and some have it in the opposite (are unclutch), but I haven’t seen any evidence.

  52. Owen

    IS – This is just generic sports mysticism you are trafficking in. Great players understand what you apparently don’t, that the outcome of basketball games doesn’t depend on the ability to “rise up” for those crucial moments that really matter. All the points count the same. What is required to win basketball games is excellence all the time. What you see from the Wade’s and Jordan’s of this world in high pressure situations is simply an extension of what they do all the time.

    I don’t disagree that their are mental factors that seperate some players from the rest, but whatever that is that they have makes them better all the time.

    We construct narratives about what happened in games very selectively. Very often, they bear very little relation with reality. The outcome of games is determined in the first, second, and third quarter, nearly as often as the fourth, despite how it feels when we are watching the game. Just look at how much the Knicks were outscored by in the first quarter and third quarters last year. We actually were nearly even in “clutchtime,” but our fourth quarter “heroics” often didn’t end up mattering.

  53. Owen

    Thomas B –

    Here is the 05-06 comparison:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=bryanko01&y1=2006&p2=wadedw01&y2=2006

    Here is the 06-07 comparison:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=bryanko01&y1=2007&p2=wadedw01&y2=2007

    What you will notice in 05-06 is that Wade’s scoring efficiency, his ts%, was higher than Bryant’s that year. 57.7% to 55.9%, not a huge difference, but an edge. Per 36, Wade also outrebounded Bryant by .7, collected 2.3 more assists per 36, .2 steals, and .4 blocks.

    Kobe’s major advantages are in points scored and turnovers, but Wade more than made up for those.

    Another reason to prefer Wade is position played. Wade is a actually a tweener, he has played a lot of point guard, as his assist numbers in 06-07 indicate. Kobe is a true shooting guard who sometimes plays at small forward. You see this in his statistics, which noticeably dipped when he was asked to take on a larger ballhandling role when Fisher departed.

    That’s another edge for Wade. Shooting guards are more productive generally than point guards. So Wade outperforms the average point guard by more than Kobe outperforms the average shooting guard. The logic is similar to say David Wright and Jose Reyes. If they posted exactly the same statistics, Reyes would be the better player, because third basemen are generally much more productive than shortstops overall.

  54. Danisrob

    Back to some Knicks talk. Was just reading on the ESPN rumours section about a possible Zach Randolph for Darko trade.

    I would personally take this trade straight up (as they are under the cap) but would be happy to take one of their young PGs to add to our growing list. Darko only has two years left so it is risk free, but I think by now we can all agree he is a bust and will be hard to get much out of him.

    Move(s) On The Horizon?
    While the Griz were courting Josh Smith they also had trade discussions regarding New York Knicks power forward Zach Randolph. Those discussions — mostly internal — are still ongoing as Randolph has been made available.

    The Griz are willing to part with Darko Milicic (last year’s big free agent signing) in a package that wouldn’t require a core player (O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, etc). What the brain trust seems to be debating is whether Randolph fits the Grizzlies’ style on and off the court.

  55. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    I’d take a chance on Darko. Although all he really gives the team is blocked shots (TS% of 45.6 last year – ugh!), a Randolph trade would open the door for David Lee & of course a slimmer cap. And Darko is only 23 years old and would compliment both Lee & Curry in the shot blocking dept.

  56. Ted Nelson

    IS,

    I tend to agree with Owen. However, you can isolate those moments, and to prove whether what you’re saying is true you have to. With nothing to back you up you’re just blabbering about your personal opinion (which we all are to some extent, I guess) and trying to compare two sports that aren’t necessarily comparable. As Owen also points out, to say that players who are clearly superior based on their overall stats are only superior because of a few plays a year seems odd, but if you think that’s the case then you can start with 82games’ clutch stats or go over tape or game logs to isolate stats in what you consider to be “clutch” situations.

    Thomas B.,

    “Perhaps I am so in need of somewhat competent play at the 3 spot after watching Q and JJ murder the position that I just annointed Chandler because he was’nt actually terrible.”

    He wasn’t much better than those guys… and, of course, he was worse than Balkman.

    “How many times do you watch JC and scream, “Bad shot! Hey, he made it, alright then.” I think its wise to reserve judgment until he has played more. ”

    ??? Crawford is a very inefficient scorer, not sure how that helps your point.

    “Think about how giddy we fans were over Channing Frye coming into his second year. He (with Isiah’s disregard for the cap) played his way right out the door in year two. Like you said Jon, we shall see.”

    There were stats to back up the giddiness about Frye, and in Portland he had a rebound season and, though he didn’t get back to rookie form, looks like a solid NBA player. Mike Sweetney after limited minutes as a rookie might be a better example, but he also had the productivity to back up the hype. What Chandler has to do is literally become a better basketball player, while those two had to be as productive in extensive minutes as they had been in somewhat limited minutes.
    I like the desire/confidence I’ve seen from Chandler (summer league, and how many #23 picks do you see with their own shoe ad in ESPN the Magazine before they’ve played an NBA game?), so maybe he makes the necessary improvements.

  57. Thomas B.

    Thomas B –
    Here is the 05-06 comparison:
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=bryanko01&y1=2006&p2=wadedw01&y2=2006
    Here is the 06-07 comparison:
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/fc/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=bryanko01&y1=2007&p2=wadedw01&y2=2007
    What you will notice in 05-06 is that Wade’s scoring efficiency, his ts%, was higher than Bryant’s that year. 57.7% to 55.9%, not a huge difference, but an edge. Per 36, Wade also outrebounded Bryant by .7, collected 2.3 more assists per 36, .2 steals, and .4 blocks.
    Kobe’s major advantages are in points scored and turnovers, but Wade more than made up for those.
    Another reason to prefer Wade is position played. Wade is a actually a tweener, he has played a lot of point guard, as his assist numbers in 06-07 indicate. Kobe is a true shooting guard who sometimes plays at small forward. You see this in his statistics, which noticeably dipped when he was asked to take on a larger ballhandling role when Fisher departed.
    That’s another edge for Wade. Shooting guards are more productive generally than point guards. So Wade outperforms the average point guard by more than Kobe outperforms the average shooting guard. The logic is similar to say David Wright and Jose Reyes. If they posted exactly the same statistics, Reyes would be the better player, because third basemen are generally much more productive than shortstops overall.

    Thanks. That is not as wide a gap as I thought. I also did not think about the two players as providing diffrent skillsets. I see this as an apples to apples comparison. You make a strong argument, that Wade is infact an orange. That is not a bad way to think of it since Wade clearly has to do more for his team than Kobe (not that Kobe could not do the job just as well. You could say that in 06-07 Kobe filled the D Wade role for the Lakers as he pretty much did it all.) I’m not prepared to say I agree that Wade is better, mainly because I think LBJ does the same things that Wade does, but LBJ does it better. Just like Wade, LBJ is a tweener, he is the primary ballhandler, leading scorer, runs the offense, provides clutch plays, ect. But LBJ is really the same position as Wade, and you did say best “2.” We have an apples and oranges debate and LBJ just throws a nectarine into the thing.

    Kobe= Best apple
    Wade= Best Orange
    LBJ= Best Nectarine
    ——

    BC made a comment about LBJ’s position, whether he was a 2 or a 3. I say LBJ is a 6. He is a 1+2+3. That equals 6. Clearly he fills the role of each of those positions. Hence is should be called a 6.

  58. Thomas B.

    IS,
    Thomas B.,
    “Perhaps I am so in need of somewhat competent play at the 3 spot after watching Q and JJ murder the position that I just annointed Chandler because he was’nt actually terrible.”
    He wasn’t much better than those guys… and, of course, he was worse than Balkman.
    “How many times do you watch JC and scream, “Bad shot! Hey, he made it, alright then.” I think its wise to reserve judgment until he has played more. ”
    ??? Crawford is a very inefficient scorer, not sure how that helps your point.
    “Think about how giddy we fans were over Channing Frye coming into his second year. He (with Isiah’s disregard for the cap) played his way right out the door in year two. Like you said Jon, we shall see.”
    There were stats to back up the giddiness about Frye, and in Portland he had a rebound season and, though he didn’t get back to rookie form, looks like a solid NBA player. Mike Sweetney after limited minutes as a rookie might be a better example, but he also had the productivity to back up the hype. What Chandler has to do is literally become a better basketball player, while those two had to be as productive in extensive minutes as they had been in somewhat limited minutes.I like the desire/confidence I’ve seen from Chandler (summer league, and how many #23 picks do you see with their own shoe ad in ESPN the Magazine before they’ve played an NBA game?), so maybe he makes the necessary improvements.

    Well, my point about Chandler was that I didnt like alot of the shots that he took. So while he was an effcient scorer, I thought his shot selection wasnt always the best. But nobody complains because he made shots at a good clip, even the bad shots. All I am saying is that I want to see him take high quality shots because i dont want him to become JC.

    Channing. I’m not saying there wasnt great reason to be giddy over Channing Frye coming into year two. Nor am I saying we should have given up on him. I’m just saying that sometimes a second year player, when thrown into a starting/larger role, may take a slight step back. They may need time to adjust. I know that flies in the face of the oft stated analysis which shows that a player’s production remains about the same no matter how many minutes they play or whom they log those minutes against. http://www.knickerblogger.net/index.php/2007/09/17/one-more-nail-in-the-anti-per-minute-arguments-coffin/
    I would just like to see how Chandler performs in year two before I say he is great or awful. Like you said, lets see if he can become a better basketball player.

  59. Brian Cronin

    I’m not prepared to say I agree that Wade is better, mainly because I think LBJ does the same things that Wade does, but LBJ does it better.

    I don’t get it, you’re not prepared to say Wade is better than Kobe because Lebron is better than Wade?

    I agree Lebron is better than Wade, but Lebron is better than Kobe, as well.

  60. Ted Nelson

    Overall I agree that the jury’s out on Chandler. I misunderstood your point and thought you were roughly saying, “hey Jamal chucks it at the basket whenever he wants, so it’s ok.” I also agree that Chandler had a terrible shot selection for most of the season, at least.

    “So while he was an effcient scorer, I thought his shot selection wasnt always the best. But nobody complains because he made shots at a good clip, even the bad shots.”

    The thing is that, while he had a good stretch to end the season, he wasn’t at all efficient scorer last season: TS% of .480 and eFG% of .457 for only 13.4 points per 36 minutes. I was definitely complaining, although it was largely useless to worry about WC’s shot selection last season as there were obviously bigger complaints at the time.

  61. Brian Cronin

    By the by, Randolph for Darko?

    I’d say yes before they finished saying Darko.

    “Would you trade us Randolph for Dark…” “Yes!”

    Of course, I would be a terrible GM, as they’d probably be offering more than just Darko.

  62. Thomas B.
    I’m not prepared to say I agree that Wade is better, mainly because I think LBJ does the same things that Wade does, but LBJ does it better.

    I don’t get it, you’re not prepared to say Wade is better than Kobe because Lebron is better than Wade?
    I agree Lebron is better than Wade, but Lebron is better than Kobe, as well.

    No, I guess that doesnt make much sense now does it. Let me try that again.

    If Wade is a tweener as Owen says, then I cant agree that Wade is the best tweener because LBJ is a better tweener than Wade. But I dont think its fair to compare LBJ to Wade because Wade is a 1/2 tweener while LBJ is a 1/2/3 tweener.

    Wade is more adept at being a tweener than Kobe. Meaning that while Kobe could do it very well, it is not his forte. However, Kobe is the better player overall.

    Kobe is a better player than LBJ because Kobe’s defense is much better than LBJ’s (IMHO).

    I hope I have cleared things for you BC.

  63. jon abbey

    “Kobe is a better player than LBJ because Kobe’s defense is much better than LBJ’s (IMHO).”

    this is a reputation thing and has drastically changed in the last year or maybe two. I’d bet that overall LeBron played better D last season.

    LeBron also almost singlehandedly beat the Celtics last season, Kobe didn’t come close. that’s as good a direct comparison as you could possibly ask for in these kind of arguments.

  64. Owen

    Thomas B – I don’t know where the Lebron v. Wade comparison came up. I think Lebron is better than Wade. So, therefore I think he is better than Kobe also.

    I would love to see Randolph gone for Darko and Lowry.

  65. Italian Stallion
    Owen,
    I couldn’t disagree with you any more. I don’t know your background, but I find it impossible to believe that anyone with any experience playing any game or sport at a reasonably high could feel that way.
    I’ve seen dozens of players in my chosen game/sport that have talents and ability beyond the level of players that routinely dominate them under championship or high stakes gambling pressure when the the “key moment” comes that determines the winner.
    I’ve seen just a handful of players in my life with the ability to “consistently rise up” for short periods of time when it really mattered even though they “could never sustain that level high” over the long haul.

    Of course you can make the counter-argument that humans tend to find patterns that don’t exist. Take for instance Gambler’s Fallacy – the thought that the last event affects the next (in games of independent chance). So if you see 4 straight turns of black in roulette, you’ll think red is more likely to be next. Or if someone rolls craps 3 straight times, you’ll think “the dice are cold”. Or if your slot machine hasn’t paid of in a while it’s “due”. But these events don’t have any effect on the next turn. The odds are the same for each individual game, yet people wrongly think the events are dependent on each other.
    Ironically I know this to be true, yet I “feel” these things when I go to a casino. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve walked away from a table because it was “cold” when I know for a fact that’s not true. I know I’ve bet on red after black came up last, even though I know that has nothing to do with the next outcome. This human trait of finding patterns is very strong, so much that we ignore randomness.
    Anyone interested in reading how this applies to sports should read this: <A href=”http://wexler.free.fr/library/files/gilovich%20(1985)%20the%20hot%20hand%20in%20basketball.%20on%20the%20misperception%20of%20random%20sequences.pdf”>The Hot Hand in Basketball: On the Misperception of Random Sequences(Warning it’s a 1MB pdf, but well worth it).
    As for myself I’m a “clutch” agnostic. It may be that some players have it and some have it in the opposite (are unclutch), but I haven’t seen any evidence.

    Gambler’s fallacy is a phenomenon limited to people with almost no understanding of probability and statistics. However, I agree with the gist of your point.

  66. Italian Stallion

    IS – This is just generic sports mysticism you are trafficking in. Great players understand what you apparently don’t, that the outcome of basketball games doesn’t depend on the ability to “rise up” for those crucial moments that really matter. All the points count the same. What is required to win basketball games is excellence all the time. What you see from the Wade’s and Jordan’s of this world in high pressure situations is simply an extension of what they do all the time.
    I don’t disagree that their are mental factors that seperate some players from the rest, but whatever that is that they have makes them better all the time.
    We construct narratives about what happened in games very selectively. Very often, they bear very little relation with reality. The outcome of games is determined in the first, second, and third quarter, nearly as often as the fourth, despite how it feels when we are watching the game. Just look at how much the Knicks were outscored by in the first quarter and third quarters last year. We actually were nearly even in “clutchtime,” but our fourth quarter “heroics” often didn’t end up mattering.

    Owen,

    Of course all the points count the same.

    One thing you may be missing is that no athlete performs at 100% for 100% of the time. Most top players play hard most of the time, but not even Jordan, Magic, Bird, Dr J etc… were 100% geared up for an entire game. What happens is that games flow and sometimes they wind up being very close in the last few minutes. When that happens, the adrenalin, competiveness, heart, desire, passion, confidence etc…. of some players explodes and allows them to get to 100% and sustain it under extreme pressure while others with similar raw talent, ability, and overall stats remain at the same level. Still others wilt, don’t want the ball, avoid responsibility, choke etc…

    There is nothing mystical about it.

    Ted,

    I am sure it’s possible to statistically measure what I am talking about in basketball, but I think it’s easier in other games.

    I play billiards/pool. In my game, the stats are much more basic. There is shot making, position play, safety play, and breakshots. It’s pretty easy to tell who the best players are over time. The problem is that when you look at wins and losses it doesn’t always correspond perfectly to the stats. That’s because some players are incredible against weaker opponents that don’t pressure them, when they get a large lead in a match, when it’s still early in a tournament etc… but can’t get the job done when faced with adversity. Others seem to rise up when it matters and win despite seemingly similar or slightly inferior ability.

    I am not speaking theoretically.

    I have personally experienced both the extreme highs and extreme lows of that kind of pressure. I have also watched and discuss this with my friends and many of greatest players to ever play my game.

    High pressure has allowed me to attain levels of play that were extraordinary relative to my normal game. It has also caused me to feel and play like I was almost in a semi-coma state. That makes me the average guy. But I know guys at both ends of the spectrum. Some can and do rise regularly when the game is on the line. Others wilt uncontrollably.

  67. TDM

    By the by, Randolph for Darko?
    I’d say yes before they finished saying Darko.
    “Would you trade us Randolph for Dark…” “Yes!”
    Of course, I would be a terrible GM, as they’d probably be offering more than just Darko.

    The rumor also has Portland interested in Lowry, so maybe a three-way deal is possible. Something like Lowry and Malik to Portland, Darko and Raef to NY, and Zach to Memphis. If Memphis wants an additional piece, Portland may throw in Outlaw. Either way, the deal would work. Portland gets cap relief and a pg of the future, Memphis gets a low post scorer (assuming Outlaw is not included), NY gets cap relief and a shot blocker.

    In 2 years, NY would have both Raef and Darko off the balance sheet. That’s almost $20 mill, however admittedly I’m not a cap guru, so I could be incorrect. Any takers?

  68. jon abbey

    “I’d say yes before they finished saying Darko.
    “Would you trade us Randolph for Dark…” ”

    I’d say yes before they finished saying Randolph. :)

  69. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    Ted,

    I am sure it’s possible to statistically measure what I am talking about in basketball, but I think it’s easier in other games.

    I play billiards/pool. In my game, the stats are much more basic. There is shot making, position play, safety play, and breakshots. It’s pretty easy to tell who the best players are over time. The problem is that when you look at wins and losses it doesn’t always correspond perfectly to the stats. That’s because some players are incredible against weaker opponents that don’t pressure them, when they get a large lead in a match, when it’s still early in a tournament etc… but can’t get the job done when faced with adversity. Others seem to rise up when it matters and win despite seemingly similar or slightly inferior ability.

    I am not speaking theoretically.

    I have personally experienced both the extreme highs and extreme lows of that kind of pressure. I have also watched and discuss this with my friends and many of greatest players to ever play my game.

    High pressure has allowed me to attain levels of play that were extraordinary relative to my normal game. It has also caused me to feel and play like I was almost in a semi-coma state. That makes me the average guy. But I know guys at both ends of the spectrum. Some can and do rise regularly when the game is on the line. Others wilt uncontrollably.

    There was one time in Vegas when I was on fire on the roulette table. I couldn’t lose – it was like I knew when to bet red/black, and I even hit on a few other things around the table. I walked away up a few hundred dollars.

    Now everybody has either experienced this or knows someone who comes back from Vegas with a story like this. Where the person felt like they “commanded” a completely random event. Sure I’ve done this as well. There have been times I’ve played basketball, softball, football, computer games, etc. where I felt like I was totally unbeatable. There are those days on the court where everything seems to click and every shot goes in, every screaming liner finds your glove, every play in Madden works in your favor. Does it mean that I have some clutch ability in those fields?

    No. As I noted before a series of random events could seem like a pattern. The games where I felt like I was “unbeatable” were more a result of good luck, not some extra-terrestrial skill. Whether it be in the casino, on the court, or at the joystick. Go to the casino often enough and the stars will align and you’ll have a day where you’ll win a chunk of cash. Head to the court frequently and you’ll have one of those games where your normal misses will bank in. Pick up the joystick a few times per week, and you’ll have that magical Madden game.

    The human mind will, of course, remember those events over the times where you broke even or lost. Hence why you think there’s a clutch ability. Hence why there are some fans that love Jamal Crawford. They don’t remember the 7-20 stinkers, but rather the 50 point games.

    If you need evidence for this, just go back to before this year’s Finals. Just about everyone (except yours truly) gave the edge to the Lakers because Kobe was an “assassin” – a proven clutch player that could close the game in the final minutes. How did that turn out? If clutch were a real ability, it would be able to predict events, not be assigned after the fact.

  70. jon abbey

    it’s a pretty dull argument at this point (both ways), but I never understand how professional sports observers don’t believe in the concept of ‘clutch’. it’s most obvious in a sport like tennis (and then mostly in the reverse version, the ‘choking’ aspect), and is also pretty prevalent in baseball (A-Rod in a non-contract year, Ortiz the other way).

    it’s a little harder to pin down in hoops, but I think it’s definitely there. Kevin Garnett has always been a choker compared to his talent level, when a big game is tight at the end, so is he. he was lucky to finally team up with someone like Pierce this year to finally get a ring. it’s just human nature, some people get even better under pressure, some weaken.

  71. Duff Soviet Union

    As for KG and his clutchness or lack of, remember in 2004 in Game 7 of the second round, when he put up a 30/20 game (including scoring every single Minnesota field goal in the fourth quarter) and “forever proved” that he could come through in the clutch. How long does forever last for these days? It reminds me of before the 2006 Finals when Bill Simmons said that Nowitzki was playing at a higher level than any forward since Bird, and had answered any questions about his ability to “take over” games. Within a week, he was back to making Karl Malone jokes about him. Whatever. The perception of KG as unclutch is basically confirmation bias on the part of a lot of people. They have been repeatedly told that he’s unclutch so they remember when he misses big shots while forgetting or discounting all the times when he does take over a game. On the opposite side of the spectrum, every casual baseball fan will tell you that Derek Jeter is “teh clutch”. This is basically because he established such a rep early in his career and fawning “analysts” have beaten everyone over the head with the narrative until it isn’t even questioned anymore (see also: “Kobe is the best player in the NBA”.) If you actually look at the numbers though, well, no he isn’t.

  72. jon abbey

    the thing about just looking at “the numbers” is that every game is slightly different, and just lumping them all together sometimes loses a lot of nuance.

  73. Thomas B.

    “Kobe is a better player than LBJ because Kobe’s defense is much better than LBJ’s (IMHO).”
    this is a reputation thing and has drastically changed in the last year or maybe two. I’d bet that overall LeBron played better D last season.
    LeBron also almost singlehandedly beat the Celtics last season, Kobe didn’t come close. that’s as good a direct comparison as you could possibly ask for in these kind of arguments.

    LBJ didnt do anything that Joe Johnson didnt do the the Celts.

  74. jon abbey

    an article in the Times on Tuesday said that FIBA has changed some of the rules going forward to make the World Championships and the Olympics closer to the NBA, the lane will be rectangular and the three point line will be pushed out. that should help US teams going forward, as if they needed it.

  75. Owen

    “If you need evidence for this, just go back to before this year’s Finals. Just about everyone (except yours truly) gave the edge to the Lakers because Kobe was an “assassin” – a proven clutch player that could close the game in the final minutes.”

    Ahem, ahem, ahem, happy to have been on the right side of that one also.

    “Every casual baseball fan will tell you that Derek Jeter is “the clutch”. This is basically because he established such a rep early in his career and fawning “analysts” have beaten everyone over the head with the narrative until it isn’t even questioned anymore.”

    Such a good point (and about Garnett also), was going to make it myself but thought it would be off topic. Derek Jeter’s clutch hitting stats are virtually identical to his career numbers. No surprise, since that is nearly always the case for a baseball player with a large sample.

    I think of Endy Chavez also. His catch in Game 7 last year was one of the best plays I have ever seen nn a diamond. It should be absolutely legendary. But because they lost, it’s basically been forgotten.

    IS – I recommend reading Heuristics and Biases by Gilovich and Kahnemann. Actually, scrap that, I recommend Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb. Or Fire Joe Morgan.

  76. Captain Merlin

    an article in the Times on Tuesday said that FIBA has changed some of the rules going forward to make the World Championships and the Olympics closer to the NBA, the lane will be rectangular and the three point line will be pushed out. that should help US teams going forward, as if they needed it.

    That’s a real bummer, actually. One of the main reasons I’ve always enjoyed watching the Intl game is because of how it differs from the NBA game, and surely these changes will cut down on those differences and drastically change the “run up and dink in a three” style. Also, there’s just something so inherently pleasing about the aesthetics of the international key–that lovely trapezoid. It’s a pity it must go. However, I don’t see how the key change will make any difference if they still aren’t calling illegal D.

  77. Thomas B.

    I’d advise you to refresh your memory about the respective deciding games in those series.

    Oh, so now it’s not a 7 game series, it’s just the deciding game that matters? I guess with a small enough sample size you can prove whatever you like.

    Let’s see, what do I recall about the Hawks v. Celts and Cavs v. Celts.

    I recall both Joe and LBJ going home after the 7th game. Am i wrong about that. Joe didnt have the same game 7 LBJ did, who could? But for the series, the Celts had just as much difficulty with JJ as they did LBJ.

    What I can’t recall is why we are having this discussion. What point are we trying to make to each other? If it’s a Kobe v. LBJ, then lets just agree to disagree because they are each dominant players. We probably just value different things in each player. The things Kobe does better than LBJ mean more to me, and the things LBJ does better than Kobe mean more to you. Fair?

    Sing with me… Kum-bah-ya my friend Kum-bah-ya.

  78. jon abbey

    Cleveland almost won the series, and would have if PJ Brown hadn’t somehow come back to life down the stretch. Atlanta never had a chance to win the series.

    also, the only things that Kobe does better than LeBron are make all of his teammates hate him and the occasional rape.

  79. DS

    Has there been anything else printed on the Z-Bo to Memphis rumors? Is there ANY chance Memphis would really take on his contract?

    A Conley-Mayo-Gay-Z-Bo nucleus looks kinda, maybe OK on paper.

  80. caleb

    Z-Bo to Memphis would be insane on their part, but we’re talking about Chris Wallace who is definitely in the Isiah/McHale class of GMs.

    Also Darko seems to have the skills that D’Antoni appreciates for a big man.

    Technically, Memphis has enough cap space to do a straight-up Zach for Darko deal, but it seems more likely that we’d have to take back Jaric, who makes $7 million per through 2011. That would shift a lot of the cost back to us… but still clears about $9 million from our 2010 cap space. I’d be glad to make that trade even with Jaric in it.

  81. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    Derek Jeter
    Career : .316 .386 .459
    Postseason: .309 .377 .469

    Looks about as identical as you’re going to get.

    Again I’m not saying that there isn’t a “clutch” ability. I’m just saying that there’s no proof that it exists, or if it does exist it’s such a small factor that’s it’s not nearly as important as many other factors/attributes. When people discuss clutch,they tend to make it this huge and important force, but looking at the stats that isn’t the case.

  82. Brian Cronin

    I’d say yes before they finished saying Randolph. :)

    I was going to make that joke initially, but then I thought, “What if it was, “We’ll trade for Randolph and Lee”? :)

  83. Ted Nelson

    IS,

    “When that happens, the adrenalin, competiveness, heart, desire, passion, confidence etc…. of some players explodes and allows them to get to 100% and sustain it under extreme pressure while others with similar raw talent, ability, and overall stats remain at the same level. Still others wilt, don’t want the ball, avoid responsibility, choke etc…”

    I think you need some more concrete examples: guys like MJ and Wade are among the top of the league all of the time, not just in the clutch. Some players definitely have a mental edge and some make more of their abilities–I don’t think anyone would argue with you there–but this shows up over a large enough sample size of minutes, not just in the “clutch.” If the same players are the same amount of good both over the course of a season and in the “clutch” then your whole theory is meaningless, which is why I think you need some examples to prove your point.
    Anyway, if you have a player who doesn’t concentrate all game and suddenly turns it on in the clutch and another player who plays very well all game and takes a slight step backwards in the clutch, you’re likely to be a better basketball team with the second player, all else equal.

    “I am sure it’s possible to statistically measure what I am talking about in basketball, but I think it’s easier in other games.”

    I don’t know much about billiards, but basketball seems like a different game to me. I’m sure aspects of defense and playmaking are present in billiards, but it seems more like hitting in baseball or golf (in my ignorant opinion) where you individually have one basic goal. Basketball is a team game, which I think completely changes things.
    (Theoretically, for example, Jamal Crawford might very well be the Knicks’ best clutch scorer [which makes some sense because he’s their highest volume scorer overall], but by running isolations plays and ignoring his teammates [by design and/or of his own volition] he’s consistently been one of the worst clutch players in the entire NBA since joining the Knicks.)

    “High pressure has allowed me to attain levels of play that were extraordinary relative to my normal game. It has also caused me to feel and play like I was almost in a semi-coma state.”

    You never made a great shot when it wasn’t a high pressure situation? You never made a miserable shot in a meaningless game? This seems to me like part of the mental fallacy Owen was talking about, and you don’t seem to be able to distance yourself from your emotions in terms of billiards.

    Jon,

    “the thing about just looking at “the numbers” is that every game is slightly different, and just lumping them all together sometimes loses a lot of nuance.”

    So capture these “nuances.” Break it down for us… “KG is a bum” isn’t going to win many people to your side. I remember KG blowing it late in games also isn’t much of an argument. If there is a significant difference in players’ play in the “clutch” (could be), then it will show up statistically.

  84. Ted Nelson

    “If there is a significant difference in players’ play in the “clutch” (could be), then it will show up statistically.”

    I mean in stats that isolate “clutch” situations, not overall stats.

  85. jon abbey

    “Derek Jeter
    Career : .316 .386 .459
    Postseason: .309 .377 .469

    Looks about as identical as you’re going to get.”

    except that the level of pitching tends to be much better in the postseason on average, so keeping the same numbers actually represents decidedly better performance.

    “So capture these “nuances.” Break it down for us… “KG is a bum” isn’t going to win many people to your side. I remember KG blowing it late in games also isn’t much of an argument. If there is a significant difference in players’ play in the “clutch” (could be), then it will show up statistically.”

    if you want to pay me to research the nuances for a year or so, I’ll give it a shot (not really, my regular job is way more interesting, but I’m confident you won’t actually take me up on it). Bill James is the one who initially started this “no such thing as clutch” line of thinking, and he’s backed down on that in the last couple of years, as you can see if you do a google search on “bill james clutch” or something like that.

  86. jon abbey

    as for clutch in hoops, Robert Horry’s career would seem to be a good example. he shouldn’t have even been in the league the last couple of years, San Antonio just carries him for his playoff heroics.

  87. jon abbey

    in the end, it’s like arguing religion. there’s no conclusive proof either way that the other side will accept, and no one’s going to change their mind.

  88. Italian Stallion
    Ted,
    I am sure it’s possible to statistically measure what I am talking about in basketball, but I think it’s easier in other games.
    I play billiards/pool. In my game, the stats are much more basic. There is shot making, position play, safety play, and breakshots. It’s pretty easy to tell who the best players are over time. The problem is that when you look at wins and losses it doesn’t always correspond perfectly to the stats. That’s because some players are incredible against weaker opponents that don’t pressure them, when they get a large lead in a match, when it’s still early in a tournament etc… but can’t get the job done when faced with adversity. Others seem to rise up when it matters and win despite seemingly similar or slightly inferior ability.
    I am not speaking theoretically.
    I have personally experienced both the extreme highs and extreme lows of that kind of pressure. I have also watched and discuss this with my friends and many of greatest players to ever play my game.
    High pressure has allowed me to attain levels of play that were extraordinary relative to my normal game. It has also caused me to feel and play like I was almost in a semi-coma state. That makes me the average guy. But I know guys at both ends of the spectrum. Some can and do rise regularly when the game is on the line. Others wilt uncontrollably.

    There was one time in Vegas when I was on fire on the roulette table. I couldn’t lose – it was like I knew when to bet red/black, and I even hit on a few other things around the table. I walked away up a few hundred dollars.
    Now everybody has either experienced this or knows someone who comes back from Vegas with a story like this. Where the person felt like they “commanded” a completely random event. Sure I’ve done this as well. There have been times I’ve played basketball, softball, football, computer games, etc. where I felt like I was totally unbeatable. There are those days on the court where everything seems to click and every shot goes in, every screaming liner finds your glove, every play in Madden works in your favor. Does it mean that I have some clutch ability in those fields?
    No. As I noted before a series of random events could seem like a pattern. The games where I felt like I was “unbeatable” were more a result of good luck, not some extra-terrestrial skill. Whether it be in the casino, on the court, or at the joystick. Go to the casino often enough and the stars will align and you’ll have a day where you’ll win a chunk of cash. Head to the court frequently and you’ll have one of those games where your normal misses will bank in. Pick up the joystick a few times per week, and you’ll have that magical Madden game.
    The human mind will, of course, remember those events over the times where you broke even or lost. Hence why you think there’s a clutch ability. Hence why there are some fans that love Jamal Crawford. They don’t remember the 7-20 stinkers, but rather the 50 point games.
    If you need evidence for this, just go back to before this year’s Finals. Just about everyone (except yours truly) gave the edge to the Lakers because Kobe was an “assassin” – a proven clutch player that could close the game in the final minutes. How did that turn out? If clutch were a real ability, it would be able to predict events, not be assigned after the fact.

    I understand and agree with everything you are saying, but I can assure you there is a differnce between the successes and failures that are part of random distributions and those that are part of the psychological makeup of the athlete. Those of us that have actually experienced extreme performance pressure (like myself and all the pool pros I’ve discussed this with) know full well when they’ve missed because because they choked and when they’ve missed in a more random fashion. Those same players can also identify the general tendencies among other players. In fact, over the years I’ve made money gambling on pool based on strongly held convictions about various players’ ability to hold up under heat. It’s nice getting odds on the slightly weaker player when you know the more talented and skilled one will find a way to lose more often than not.

    I think p[erhaps you are trying to build a model for the world that matches would you would like to believe. Or perhaps, you just want to contrary because it’s me and my views are unpoular on this board. But in this case, I believe I am giving the benefit of personal experience as opposed to idea that would actually help in your own analysis of these things if you kept an open mind.

    Anyway, we need not agree.

  89. Italian Stallion

    Ted,

    >You never made a great shot when it wasn’t a high pressure situation? You never made a miserable shot in a meaningless game? This seems to me like part of the mental fallacy Owen was talking about, and you don’t seem to be able to distance yourself from your emotions in terms of billiards.<

    At my best, I was objectively rated a strong B+ pool player in some NY tournaments. That’s probably meaningless to you, but it will be helpful in making my point.

    Day to day, my playing under limited or no pressure varied within a reasonable range. The level depended on how much I was practicing, how much sleep I was getting, personal issues, and “randomness”. However, it never got below B- or above A.

    Under extreme pressure, the “variance” in my game was much wider. So much so, it’s impossible that I am mistaken about this. During some of my worst matches, I played C or even C- level pool. I almost felt mentally comatose and knew it was because of the pressure. During some of my best tournaments and money matches, I played so well over multiple matches other players were calling for me to get barred from the tournament “because he’s clearly better than an A+”.

    Virtually all my high runs (in 14.1 pool) and strung racks (in 9 ball) have come under extreme gambling or tournament pressure, but I can never sustain it or reach that level otherwise. It comes at the “moment of truth” (as does all the bad stuff I would like to forget).

    For some people, the upside occurs with much greater consistency. For others, the other side of the coin almost always shows up.

    There is discussion in pool about why extreme pressure causes this variance for some players instead of of the same general tendency all the time. There are lots of theories about it, but to me, it all sounds like hocus pocus. I just know it exists and that I can’t control it.

  90. Italian Stallion

    Derek JeterCareer : .316 .386 .459Postseason: .309 .377 .469
    Looks about as identical as you’re going to get.
    Again I’m not saying that there isn’t a “clutch” ability. I’m just saying that there’s no proof that it exists, or if it does exist it’s such a small factor that’s it’s not nearly as important as many other factors/attributes. When people discuss clutch,they tend to make it this huge and important force, but looking at the stats that isn’t the case.

    In the grand scheme of things “clutch performance” will not be a factor very often because most teams/players are not evenly matched.
    For “clutch performance” to matter, the game has to be very close. Once it’s close, it can carry a lot of weight because it can decide the outcome.

    To be clear, it’s difficult for an outside observer to tell whether a superior/horrid performace was the result of randomness or psychological factors. Very often it IS random. However, there are clues in the behavior sometimes. In addition, the players themselves almost always know when they’ve “dogged it” and when they’ve simply missed.

  91. Owen

    Jon – I googled Bill James and clutch. His answer re clutch hitting is, “I don’t know.” They did a very interesting freakonomics interview with him. I love his response re the importance of a pitcher’s ability to hit. How important is it?

    “About as important as having good fitting underwear on a long drive.”

    More generally, it does seem though that the overwhelming preponderance of evidence so far suggests there is no observable effect, at least in baseball. But it’s possible they will find a different answer.

    IS –

    “In the grand scheme of things “clutch performance” will not be a factor very often because most teams/players are not evenly matched.
    For “clutch performance” to matter, the game has to be very close. Once it’s close, it can carry a lot of weight because it can decide the outcome.”

    I don’t have any idea what you are trying to say, and I am not really sure I want an explanation.

    Re: Variance

    I can’t say I find the pool playing anecdotes too useful.

    I will note though that your use of the word variance doesn’t seem to match the way we use it in the poker world. There, we use it describe the variation in the distribution of results around our mean ev.

    So, we might say something like, we expect increased variance playing omaha with a maniac. Or we might run it twice or three times to reduce variance. But we wouldn’t expect variance to change how much we expect to win or lose in the long run.

    And it sounds like it’s the same for you in pool. Pressure doesn’t change how good you are. It just changes the distribution of your results without changing your average outcome. Which does seem to undermine your argument somewhat….

    I must also confess to being mystified by this.

    “It’s nice getting odds on the slightly weaker player when you know the more talented and skilled one will find a way to lose more often than not.”

    I hate to be contrary, but by definition, you can’t be the more talented and skilled player if you lose more often than not. Or is that just me, “trying to build a model for the world that matches what you would like to believe.”

  92. Ted Nelson

    Jon,

    Robert Horry was a strong interior defender and also shot over .370 on 3s between 03 and 06. That’s a pretty rare combination, and also allowed Cliff Robinson to play until he was 40 (or 3 years older than Horry last season). Horry also has 244 games and 6823 minutes of playoff experience and, what, 7 rings: on experience/leadership alone he could get an NBA job next season in a Herb Williams type role (Herb on the 90s Knicks, not a coaching job) if nothing else.
    Furthermore, there are plenty of washed up vets with far less “clutch” history in the NBA who stick around because of guaranteed contracts, experience/leadership, and the hope that they’ll have one last good season and/or their remaining skill(s) is (are) exactly what the team needs. I don’t think Robert Horry remaining a Spur is indisputable evidence that “clutch” exists.

    It’s not arguing religion at all. If some players are consistently better in “the clutch” than they are in regular situations and other are consistently worse it will show up very plainly statistically. I have never done the work to see if it does, personally. I’m not even saying it doesn’t, just that if it does prove it.

    IS,

    One factor to consider is that NBA players play in front of thousands of people every night and thousands more via tv, there are thousands of people working their hardest to take their jobs. While there are obviously times when the pressure is higher, it’s always there. Over an 82 game season you’re going to have some stretches where your concentration is high or low, but if it varies wildly you’re going to end up being a Jamal Crawford while if it’s high more often than not it’ll show up statistically. Basically, you can explain why some players are good and others are bad however you’d like, but I’m not particularly interested in sports psychology. The question is whether there’s a significant variation between “clutch” play and “other” play.

    I’m not sure billiards is particularly comparable to basketball both as an individual sport and because I have to assume the level of competition is different. I really don’t mean that offensively, but (knowing next to nothing about billiards) it seems to me that it would be something more like tennis where most top players coast through the first several rounds of a tournament. There are always the Clippers (and unfortunately the Knicks) of the NBA, but in general it’s a team game where the best/most “clutch” player in the world can’t win without his teammates and by the second round of the playoffs you’re playing against top level competition day in and day out.

    “To be clear, it’s difficult for an outside observer to tell whether a superior/horrid performace was the result of randomness or psychological factors. Very often it IS random. However, there are clues in the behavior sometimes. In addition, the players themselves almost always know when they’ve “dogged it” and when they’ve simply missed.”

    Again, your smug attitude that only you have ever played sports at a high level and only you know what is going on is obnoxious. You still don’t seem to be able to distance yourself emotionally in regards to your billiards play. This is not a discussion of how players feel on the court, it’s a discussion of how they play.

    You seem to have missed Owen’s point about mental fallacy completely, as well as Mike’s about randomness. Say I take 10 shots from the same spot in a low pressure situation and make 4 of them. Now I have the same shot in a high pressure situation. Certainly I have almost full control over whether it goes in or not in that one particular case, but making that shot doesn’t necessarily make me “clutch” and missing it doesn’t make me a chump anymore than missing the 6 shots in low pressure situations although afterwards both I, the player, and the fans/teammates/opponents/etc. might feel I was particularly clutch or not. I might remember missing that shot and feel I chocked, but really I had less than a 50% chance of making it. If a pattern emerges over time it will be clear in the relevant statistics.

    You also haven’t responded to my point that the same players who have a mental edge/make the most of their abilities in the clutch, tend to do the same thing over the course of their careers. I can’t think of many guys who are career .300 shooters who suddenly turn it on in the clutch and shoot 1.000. Think of the guys in the NBA who have been “clutch.” Reggie Miller: an all-time great jump shooter, so it’s not too surprising he hit some clutch jumpers during the playoffs. MJ: one of the best players of all-time on regular season stats, so it’s not too surprising that he’s considered the same in the playoffs.
    Certainly, if some guys consistently turn it on in the clutch and others consistently turn it off over a 15-20 year NBA career it will become obvious who is who and it will show up very clearly statistically. As I’ve said, I’ve never looked at the stats, but to prove your point you don’t have to tell elaborate stories about how someone in your bowling league had a clutch performance you simply have to show some stats to back up what you’re saying.

    ““It’s nice getting odds on the slightly weaker player when you know the more talented and skilled one will find a way to lose more often than not.””

    It seems the Warriors would have beaten the Mavs more often than not in a 7 game series in 06-07, but that doesn’t make them the better team overall.
    If you can predict with such confidence who is going to step up and win an NBA game for their team and who’s not, please let us know.

  93. Mike K. (KnickerBlogger)

    It doesn’t matter if clutch exists or not, because we can’t measure it. Hence we can’t say who is a clutch player and who isn’t. Nor can you say to what degree that player has “clutch” nor how it affects the game. This year we had a Finals with a “clutch” leader (Kobe) against a “non-clutch” leader (Garnett) and yet the latter won the series handily. Additionally who is to say that this ability is permanent. Dirk Nowitzki was “clutch” until the Finals with Miami. Nick Anderson was “clutch” in 1995 when he stole the ball from Jordan, but not so much after that. John Starks was “clutch” in game 6, not so much in game 7.

    So even if “clutch” exists, we don’t know who has it, to what degree, how it affects the game, and whether or not this ability changes over time. At this point it seems silly to argue over it, unless you’ve studied it statistically and can prove some of these points.

  94. jon abbey

    “If some players are consistently better in “the clutch” than they are in regular situations and other are consistently worse it will show up very plainly statistically”

    and this is where I disagree. stats necessarily group different occurences together, and every situation is slightly different. even if you have one guy take a shot with 2 seconds to go down by 2 in 82 straight games, the team’s record is different each time, where they stand in the conference, who the teammates were in that game, etc., etc. in grouping together these slightly different instances, the nuances become erased, and this is why Bill James mistakenly thought originally that there was no such thing as ‘clutch’, a position he’s now backpedaled from at least somewhat.

  95. jon abbey

    “It doesn’t matter if clutch exists or not, because we can’t measure it. Hence we can’t say who is a clutch player and who isn’t. Nor can you say to what degree that player has “clutch” nor how it affects the game. This year we had a Finals with a “clutch” leader (Kobe) against a “non-clutch” leader (Garnett) and yet the latter won the series handily. Additionally who is to say that this ability is permanent. Dirk Nowitzki was “clutch” until the Finals with Miami. Nick Anderson was “clutch” in 1995 when he stole the ball from Jordan, but not so much after that. John Starks was “clutch” in game 6, not so much in game 7.

    So even if “clutch” exists, we don’t know who has it, to what degree, how it affects the game, and whether or not this ability changes over time. At this point it seems silly to argue over it, unless you’ve studied it statistically and can prove some of these points.”

    sports isn’t science. pretty much every time anyone makes a post here, they’re making educated guesses about situations they don’t really know enough about to state definitively. the whole Balkman situation recently is a great example. if we can spend a few hundred posts arguing about the reasons D’Antoni dumped RB when in reality we have very little idea, we can ascribe a fundamental quality like ‘clutch’ when it seems appropriate. what really seems silly to me is arguing that it doesn’t exist, but I’ve made it clear where I stand on this.

  96. jon abbey

    being a good or a bad coach is another example. Larry Brown was a good (albeit overrated) coach until he was an awful one. Doc Rivers was a good coach, then an awful one, then a good one again.

    this doesn’t mean that every coach is exactly the same, it means that things change and evolve and there are many shades of grey. if it was a simple black/white clutch/nonclutch good coach/bad coach, sports would be decidedly less interesting to follow.

  97. Ted Nelson

    Mike and Jon,

    I do think you can measure clutch. First you have to define what clutch means to you: what’s the threshold that differentiates between “clutch” and the regular game? Are we talking about the last 5 minutes of a tight game (the definition 82games uses)? The last minute? Can you only be “clutch” in a meaningful game? A playoff game? An elimination game? Once you’ve defined what it means, you just have to measure various players’ stats in that situation. The variation between their regular performance and “clutch” performance would seem to be the most informative. (A big problem is that depending on how strict your definition is the sample size is going to be small to non-existent in almost every case.) It seems almost too simple to me, so maybe I’m missing your points.

    I don’t agree with Jon’s comment that every situation is different, so stats are completely meaningless. Once the sample size starts to get big enough the differences in various situations starts to even out. Otherwise you might as well say, “hey do you want Zach Randolph or KG on your team? Well, who knows because nothing they’ve ever done before matters in this new and completely unique situation… Zach very well might be better in Boston than KG while KG very well might be worse than Zach in NY.” Doesn’t make any sense to me. Anything can happen at any moment, but most people are willing to accept a certain level of probability. I mean the kind of factors you’re talking about vary with every single shot a player takes in his or her life, sure they may have an influence on whether or not that shot goes in but at some point you have to be more concerned with results than motivation.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s all that important as fans to bother defining clutch. Seeing as only two teams get to the finals every season, if you’ve got, hypothetically, the chance to acquire a player you know can be a big part of getting you there but can’t make the final shot I’d take him in an instant (unless I was passing up the one or two guys who were just as good but also allegedly “clutch”).

    “At this point it seems silly to argue over it, unless you’ve studied it statistically and can prove some of these points.”

    This I agree with, yet I still can’t stop arguing about it… I think I need to join KA: Knickerbloggers Anonymous.

    Jon,

    Your last three posts seem to me to be a great argument that clutch DOES NOT exist. A player/coach can be “clutch” one minute and not the next? Then it is not true that some players are “clutch” and others aren’t. The same exact player makes a couple of shots in big situations and he’s clutch, but then he misses a couple and he’s not? Doc Rivers was a bad coach because he couldn’t win with a terrible team and now suddenly he’s a good one because he won with the best team in the NBA? This seems like popular sentiment/ mainstream media BS, not actually defining how good/bad/”clutch” someone is. This also seems to speak to the fallacy Owen was talking about and the series of random events Mike was talking about: make a big shot for the winning team and you’re immortalized as clutch, make an equally big shot for the losing team and you’re forgotten in less than a week.

    Maybe your definition of “clutch” has a lot to do with luck, but judging from your posts you don’t seem to believe that the type of clutch IS has been arguing for exists: the notion that some players consistently step up when the pressure’s on and some consistently crumble. In fact, your last posts seem to reject that argument to a greater extent than I would.

  98. Nick

    Wouldn’t something like FT% be a reasonable way (if unexciting) to check. A lot of the variables are out the window or irrelevant, such as shot clock, opponent, distance, etc..

  99. Thomas B.

    Just get a 6 speed automatic and forget about the clutch all together.

    I think Ted Nelson has a good point (shudder). We do need to define clutch.

    IMHO, cluth seems to be just a tool for highlight shows and enduring a player to fans. So what that you hit the big shot. That does not make you a better player. Keith Smart hit a clutch shot, was he more valuable than Steve Alford? I think not.

    The whole clutch discussion seems to go back to what Mike said about randomness. Keith Smart’s shot was not influenced by an ability to be clutch. He was no more likely or less likely to hit that shot than any other jumper he takes. If you repeat that situation 100 times what you end up with, most likely, is Keith Smart’s average FG%. It does not matter that the game was on the line. Any player on a long enough time line will develop a FG%, that percentage should not change based on the situation (OK, I admit there are some variables that change things such as having enough time to set your feet and take a shot in rhytm instead of an off balance one handed tip with .1 second to play. David Lee=Awesome.)

    Lets say Mike is down to his last chip, and he needs to win here to get bus fair back from Atlantic City. He bets on black in a must win situation, and he WINS. Does that make him a clutch gambler? No. The fact that he is on his last chip has no bearing on the outcome of the roll. None. The fact that he won does not make him a clutch gambler.

    I dont even believe that clutch exists. Clutch, in the way that the average fan views it, is the ability to make the play that matters. Take MJ’s game winner in Game 6 of the finals against Utah. He hit the shot, with a title on the line so he is deemed clutch. But the fact that a title is on the line should not matter.

    What should be done is an analysis of EVERY last shot for the game a player takes. I mean who cares about the 18th game of the regular season? So you hit the game winner there, its a speck. But do the same thing when a title is on the line and you are deemed clutch. I bet that if you took any so called clutch player, and looked at every lst second shot, the percentage would not deviate significantly from the percentage of non-last second shots.

    On the other hand, clutch could evaluate how a person performs when under tremendous pressure. Some people cannot perform under pressure. The pressure may cause them to panic and change their normal routine. Think too much or too little or whatever. We all know people who do not wilt under pressure. But that does not make the more likely to succeed, it only menas that they remain as likely to succeed as they would in any other situation. Because they remove the variable of panic, they remain the player they are when there is no pressure.

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