Dare to be Stupid – Deron Williams Too??? (and more)

At first glance, the thesis of Isiah Thomas pulling the strings on the Knicks makes sense.  The Knicks giving up 4/5 of their starting lineup for two players while the Nets gave up less for a better player – that is definitely something Isiah would do.  That cynicism aside, this deal is a bit more complicated.  While we’re at it, we’ll add Golden State into the soup:

The Nets get Deron Williams, Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright

The Warriors get Troy Murphy

The Jazz get Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, the Nets unprotected 2011 first round pick and a Top 7 protected pick from the Warriors.  (At this second, the Warriors have the 11th worst record in the league – so there is a half-decent chance the Jazz will get to cash this in.)

The Warriors get Troy Murphy’s expiring salary and were able to dump Brandan Wright – whom they had no plans for, and Dan Gadzuric’s toxic contract.  This was a cap clearing move – hooray them.

For the Jazz, this is a weird deal.  They had considerable leverage with Deron Williams – with Jerry Sloan leaving, it seemed they could have tried to rebuild in a manner to keep him around.  Yet they jumped ship on the deal.  That said, they got a ton back for him.  Devin Harris is a legitimate NBA starting point guard.  Whether he is very good or just solid good is up to the observer – but he is young and he can play.  Derrick Favors is a huge upside big with defensive ability – the Jazz bigs currently are solid upside bigs with no defensive ability.  It’s a complimentary skill set, which we like.

The Nets ultimately are placing a massive bet on the collective bargaining agreement.  If the cap is lowered, or a franchise provision is put in – the Nets will have made out great.  If Deron Williams can just leave willy nilly – this is a ho-ho-horrendous move.  The downside – as Stephen A Smith wrote in his usual “I wrote this in crayon” sort of way:

Next season is an entirely different matter, specifically because Williams will be in the last year of his deal and can opt out of his contract in 2012. The disaster scenario is staring Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov squarely in the face. It’s a scenario that could have Williams, from a vantage point just across the Hudson River, witnessing the resurgence of a Knicks franchise inching to within an All-Star point guard of legitimate championship contention. Now imagine Williams as the missing piece, with Gotham City clamoring for his arrival.

Actually – maybe he wrote it in magazine clippings like mass murderers on TV movies do, but I digress.  That is the obvious downside – that Deron Williams takes his show somewhere else because he does not want to wait for Team Rocka to show up in Crooklyn in two years.  But with the rumbles on the labor front – there is a better chance the Nets will keep Williams than there is that he will be anywhere else – and certainly better than the odds of Stephen A’s wet dream coming true.

The Nets are not close to a title from this move.  But then, neither are the Knicks despite bleating to the contrary.  (if they manned up and dealt Chauncey for Steve Nash, things might change)  But in the long run, they have a bit more movement potential than the Knicks do.  Either way, it will be interesting.

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A smaller trade of note, something more in the line of what you’d expect around the deadline, a pseudo-contender trying to position themselves:

Hornets get Carl Landry

Kings get Marcus Thornton and $$$

For the Hornets, they want to win as much as possible while they still have Chris Paul.  Carl Landry gives them a potentially huge weapon for their desperately thin frontcourt.  Off the bench, he was brilliant for the Rockets in the past – he can do that here.

For the Kings, they get a fun bench gunner and a lot of money.  I have nothing else to add.

Dare to Be Stupid – NBA Free Agency, Initial Notions

New Jersey Nets trade Yi Jianlian to the Washington Wizards for cash: Another straight salary dump.  The Nets are positioning themselves to make the biggest splash possible.  With Ivan Drago seeming wanting to put his stamp on the team as soon as possible, this makes sense.  For the Wizards, Yi has a measure of upside, and Andray Blatche has a broken ankle.  Nobody gets hurt here.

So, armed with cash and cap space, we see teams gunning for this unmatched Class of 2010.  LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitzki – just a total who’s who of star NBA players of the last decade – and they are all free agents.  So the anticipation for today’s first day to talk to free agents has been palpable.  Add to it the backdrop of a lockout and drastically changed salary structure next offseason – and for a lot of guys this is the last chance for life changing money.  None of the huge chess pieces have moved yet.  However, a few deals have been struck, and guess what?  NBA GMs are like stupid drunk bachelors at the Cheetah Club, just waving money at any scantily clad FA walking their way.  To wit:

Hawks offer Joe Johnson 6 years, $119 million: The Hawks by maxing out Joe Johnson have just tied up their cap, gone up against the luxury tax threshold and have pinned their hopes to a 29 year old who was good enough to lead the Hawks to 8 straight double digit losses in the second round of playoffs.  As Charles Barkley would say, turrble … and this was just the beginning.

Milwaukee Bucks sign Drew Gooden for 5 years, $32 million: Gooden for the full midlevel??  Milwaukee needs size, but did they need it this badly?  John Hammond is a very smart GM considering the shrewd moves he made last year to get the Bucks to be a legitimately sexy team.  Drew Gooden gets a full five year deal – the Drew Gooden who is notorious for forgetting plays – the Drew Gooden who will be on his 9th team in his 9th season in the league??  Him?!!

Minnesota Timberwolves sign Darko Milicic for 4 years $20 million (final year partially guaranteed): Even with the partially guaranteed fourth year, this is an amazing deal for Darko to land – not so much in dollars but in job security.  For a guy who had one good half season (and only by his low standards) in Minnesota to suddenly warrant 4 years of job security is amazing.  Considering he has been accused of lacking passion for basketball – even worse.  Of course this is the team that drafted 18 small forwards last week.

Memphis Grizzlies decline tender on Ronnie Brewer: A starting caliber ace defending two guard can be locked up for a modest league average sort of wage – forcing teams to spend a 1st round pick to sign him … and Memphis let him go why?  It is easy to blame Chris Wallace, but petty clearly someone else is doing this.

OK, one piece of good news …

Minnesota Timberwolves sign Nikova Pekovic for 3 years, $13 million: apparently very good in Europe, a former 2nd round pick draft and stash.  Good value here.  I mean even if he is average, $4.3 million is a good price for average.

2010 NBA Draft: Trades and More

Well, so much for the wisdom of my mock draft notions.  However, the trades continue – and almost all of them were driven by money.  We saw Chicago and Miami seriously clear the deck to possibly add one of the monster free agents.   We also saw a smaller, leaner team like Oklahoma City take advantage of the financial aid.  So let’s go through the trades and where we end up.  We discussed some of them previously, but now for draft night itself.

Chicago Bulls send Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick (Kevin Serraphin) to the Washington Wizards for a future 2nd round pick: In other words, the Bulls drove Kirk Hinrich to O’Hare in order to get themselves a chance to get 2 of the big kahuna free agents.  Obviously if this nets Lebron and Chris Bosh, this is a major win.  That said, the Wizards did pretty well.  One can quibble on the cash, but the Wizards got a young raw body in Serraphin they could try to develop or stuff overseas – and Hinrich is a very useful 3rd guard to go with Arenas and Wall.  The Wizards might suck next year, but there will be hope and interest.

New Orleans Hornets trade the 11th pick (Cole Aldrich) and Morris Peterson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 21st pick (Craig Brackins) and the 26th pick (Quincy Pondexter): The Hornets were up against the luxury tax – and these problems endangered the ability to keep the team together, and perhaps made a previously unfathomable Chris Paul trade even theoretically possible.  Fortunately for real NBA fans this might have been averted.  Of course count on the Oklahoma City Thunder and Sam Presti to pounce on the chance to play the draft game.  The Thunder need more bench scoring and more size – Peterson can supply the former.  Cole Aldrich is not a star – but he is one of the surest things in the draft.  He is a rotation player.  The Hornets with Pondexter get an elite athlete and defender, and Craig Brackins has the inside-outside potential to be a good stretch-4 in the league.  Considering they did this deal for financial reasons – they got a solid talent haul.

Oklahoma City Thunder send the 18th pick (Eric Bledsoe) to the Los Angeles Clippers for a lottery protected future #1: Bill Belichick would have wept with joy at this trade.  The Thunder, seeing limited possibilities in this draft, end up spinning Bledsoe to the Clippers for a protected pick.  This keeps them with future draft assets, and if the Clippers make the playoffs it will be as a low seed so what the hell.  For the Clippers, they do get a talented guy who can possibly spell Baron Davis.

Dallas Mavericks trade cash to the Memphis Grizzlies for the 25th pick (Dominique Jones): The Grizzlies had a bunch of picks – they did not want to pay them all, so this made sense – though an international stash might have been better in a stronger international year.  Why the Mavericks moved up to get a guy who replicates what Jason Terry and Rodrique Beaubois do?  Hey, it’s Cuban’s money.

Dallas Mavericks trade the 50th pick (Solomon Alabi) to the Toronto Raptors for a future 2nd round pick and cash: Another roster spot the Mavs did not want to pay.  For the Raptors, who are so size deprived, this was a no brainer.  It’s a shot in the dark – but unlike a first rounder there is no onerous contract to worry about.

Atlanta Hawks trade the 24th pick (Damion James) to the New Jersey Nets for the 27th pick (Jordan Crawford) and the 31st pick (Tibor Pleiss) -  the Hawks spin the 31st pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for cash: Damion James is a nice player – one of the most NBA ready guys, though his upside is limited.  What is hard to understand is why the Nets dealt a valuable pick (#31) to move up 3 spots in the draft.  The marginal value of the move up is nil.  Jordan Crawford has much more upside than James does.  The Hawks wanted cash more than another player, so of course the Thunder swoop in to clean up the mess and collect another asset to stash overseas.

Minnesota Timberwolves trade the 16th pick (Luke Babbitt) and Ryan Gomes to the Portland TrailBlazers for Martell Webster: This is another curious deal.  Gomes is a useful and only partially guaranteed deal.  Luke Babbitt has as much upside as any wing in the draft.  Martell Webster is a promising young player – but has not really shown that wow.  How this is a fair match I don’t know.  Given that Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard was doing this after being told he would be canned – this is a much better deal than his employers deserve.

Minnesota Timberwolves trade the 23rd pick (Trevor Booker) and the 56th pick (Hamadi Ndiaye) to the Washington Wizards for the 30th pick (Lazar Hayward) and 35th pick (Nemanja Bjeilca): I have no opinion on this.  Booker can play – but I was surprised the Wizards agreed so much.

Indiana Pacers trade the 57th pick (Ryan Reid) and cash to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 51st pick (Magnum Rolle): Rolle is 24, but athletic and tall.  Pacers need that.  I have no idea who Reid is.  

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Overall, the Blazers, Thunder and Celtics (who got Avery Bradley – a Monta Ellis talent – with more defense – and Luke Harangody who profiles as the type of player NBA types undervalue) managed the exercise nicely.  The Timberwolves were full of sound and fury – but not sure where it took them.  And then there are the pants (h/t Esquire):

2010 NBA Draft Preview and Offseason Musings

Before we dive into the NBA Draft, a couple of trades worth commenting on:

Golden State Warriors trade Corey Maggette to the Milwaukee Bucks for Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric – THIS is a pretty clear talent win for the Bucks.  Maggette gets a reputation as a loser and many critics point to his contract as being an albatross.  Both of these reputations are stupid.  Maggette has been on a lot of losing teams – he is not a transformative player, is a shaky defender and a less than enthusiastic passer.  However, what he can do is flat out score – and he has always been able to flat out score … and does it so efficiently that he absolutely justifies his salary.  The Bucks who need as much offensive punch (especially off the bench) that they can get need a professional scorer.  And all they had to do was trade two crappy players.  Thank God the Warriors are being run by retards (I’m sorry, that is an insult to the handicapped).

New Jersey Nets trade Chris Douglas-Roberts to the Milwaukee Bucks for a 2012 2nd rounder: Basically, the Nets had a team option on CDR, so they could have cut him.  So instead, they trade him for a bag of basketballs.  For the Bucks, who are trying to improve their wing punch with John Salmons testing out free agency – this is another possibility.  CDR has some potential as a rotation player – and it costs them nothing so why not?

Miami Heat trade the 18th pick in the draft and Daquean Cook to the Oklahoma City Thunder for 32nd pick in the draft: The Heat are clearly setting their cap up for a mega free agent bid to play with Dwayne Wade.  They did not need a guaranteed contract.  The Thunder are still being smart so they collect assets.

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Oh how the worm turns in the NBA.  Just as rigor mortis is setting in on the corpse of the season past, we have next year to look forward to already.  Fortunately, unlike the NFL Draft – we all know more of the players here.  I mean I am not perfect here – but it’s not like there are interior linemen that I have to fake having a reasonable opinion on.  Now – last year’s draft class at the time of the draft seemed pretty horrible.  You had Blake Griffin and a bunch of chub.  But as it turned out, Griffin missed the entire season while Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, and Stephen Curry ended up making this one of the great depth classes of recent vintage.

So how did so many fans miss the boat?  Personally, I blame college basketball – whose ego driven coaches, wildly physical post play and defense that discourages movement, have made  it very hard to project kids.  Never has the fundamental gap between the pro and college games been larger.  I mean the 2010 National Champions contain a grand total of one player who I’d bet more than $1 on being a 10 year starter in the Association (hint: it’s not Singler).  But the college game is slower, with more ways to clog the lane.  It is great for shooters (look at how JJ Redick became a National Player of the Year) but real NBA friendly games can be squashed. (calling Ben Howland)  The NBA has created a speed and rhythm game that just requires a different sort of ath-a-lete.  So while this crop of kids seems meh on the surface – there could be a lot of good pros who are being stepped on by slow Hickory High-style college systems.  This draft looks fairly thin talent-wise after five or six players – but let’s give some time.  As always, this is a combination of should and will – I am not trying to GM 30 teams – but I have no inside info.

1. Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky – the clear best pro prospect this year.  He is big, he is fast, and while he is not a great shooter – his shot is not at a bad place fundamentally.  The court vision is there, and at Kentucky he had a knack for giving the team exactly what it needed.

2. Sixers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State – mediocre athlete who can’t shoot – but has a load of basketball skills.  He is the best college basketball player of 2009-2010.  Really Sixers don’t need him – but Doug Collins is a terrible coach with projects.  Evan Turner does not need much teaching.  He has a Brandon Roy ceiling – and that is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you view it.

3. Nets – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech – Favors’ numbers are mediocre at Tech.  His guards and coach were AWFUL.  The talent is clear.  Favors is not ready to dominate now, but neither are the Nets.  But this gives the team a pretty good place to start.

4. Timberwolves – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse – I am not really sure what the Timberwolves will do.  If they move Kevin Love or Al Jefferson – DeMarcus Cousins makes sense here.  That said, Johnson is a safe pick.  Runs the floor, good defender.  He is probably not an all star – but a good starter.

5. Kings – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown – The Vlade Divac comparison is apt.  So is the homeless man’s Bill Walton.  Super high basketball IQ.  Not a great athlete, but everything he does well has value on a pro team.

6. Warriors – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky – The best talent in the draft and the biggest character risk.  The Warriors are crazy too – this is a good match.

7. Pistons – Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina – Pistons want size and toughness.  Ed Davis might be neither, but he is the best guy on the board to possibly do it.  If he played with Ty Lawson he’d be a star – but he didn’t.

8. Clippers – Al Farooq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest – Really he is the best value bet for me in this draft.  That is the odds that he can be a superstar that a bookie might give me could make this a real high expected value.  He has the athleticism and shot blocking that tracks well.  He also does not shoot well and has an iffy motor.  But the Clippers should swing for the fences.

9. Jazz – Luke Babitt, SF, Nevada – Babitt is an elite shooter and scorer.  The Jazz need some wing help, and some scoring off the bench.  Also, he is a no nonsense kid – he and Jerry Sloan seem to just make sense.

10. Pacers – Gordon Hayward, SG, Butler – Hooray marketing!  Really the Pacers want to deal this for some guard help.  None of the bigs here are great values.  And it would move merchandise.

11. Hornets – Paul George, SG, Fresno State – this is a ceiling pick.  The Hornets need wing scoring – and when you play with Paul, the chance to be an explosive player are high.  It’s a gamble but worth taking.

12. Grizzlies – Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas – Rudy Gay is almost certainly gone.  There is an opening and Henry has the most upside.

13. Raptors – Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas – the Raptors need size badly.  Aldrich is not a great athlete, but he has the basic skills to have a pretty good NBA career – or at least one with sustained employment.

14. Rockets – Ekpe Udoh, C, Baylor – Yeah he’s 23.  But he is still learning the game and the Rockets need some size to make up for Carl Landry’s new home.

15. Bucks – Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky – Patterson is not special, but he has been productive and is a hard worker.  Skiles will appreciate his coachability.

16. Timberwolves – Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier – Wolves have a chance to load up on wings this draft – here they go

17. Bulls – Avery Bradley, SG, Texas – can back up both guard spots.  Good defender and can shoot at the NBA level

18. Thunder – Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky – Orton is RAW but the athleticism is there.  Thunder have 3 picks and so can shoot the moon a bit.

19. Celtics – Damion James, SF, Texas – Celtics could move out of the draft and try for a title in 2011 – or they could try to move up using Rasheed Wallace’s contract and pending retirement.  Bledsoe has a bit more ceiling possibly and James is a bit of a tweener.  But his motor, defensive skills and maturity make him a fit here.  He can step right in to a good team and be credible.

20. Spurs  – Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State – Obviously this is not Tim Duncan’s replacement.  But it might be Antonio McDyess’.  Alabi has a good hoops IQ and has good shot blocking skill.

21. Thunder – Kevin Serraphin, PF, France – Somebody they can store overseas given three picks.

22. Blazers – Lance Stephenson, SG, Cincinnati – Blazers have enough size.  What they could use is some wing help – Stephenson had an up and down year at Cincy, but the talent is there possibly.

23. Timberwolves – Tibor Pleiss, C, Germany – three picks available, they will stuff one in Europe

24. Hawks – Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State – his desire is a question,  but his inside/outside game isn’t.  He could really thrive and the Hawks could use the versatility, especially on offense.

25. Grizzlies – Larry Sanders, PF, VCU – has raw skill and could be a shot blocking force.  Grizzlies have 3 picks, can afford to take a flyer.

26. Thunder – Devin Ebanks, SF, WVU – Ebanks can’t shoot.  But he can defend, is an elite athlete and tracked REALLY well last year as a prospect.  There is something there.  So why the hell not?

27. Nets – Jordan Crawford, SG, Xavier – The Nets need TALENT.  Crawford might have attitude problems – but he can score and provide energy.

28. Grizzlies – Greivis Vasquez, SG, Maryland – Vasquez is slow and can’t defend.  But he is a winner – and has so much versatility on the court.  He is a good attitude player.

29. Magic – Dominique Jones, SG, South Florida – the kid stays home.  He might not be a great shooter, but a streaky one.  Magic like floor spacers.

30. Wizards – Dexter Pittman, C, Texas – this is a heart pick.  Obviously his weight is a huge issue.  He had to cut out of the combine process due to an unfathomable tragedy.  But in the right program – and Leonsis and the Wizards can be this program – his talent is undeniable.  Just watch his good games at Texas for proof.  He could be the biggest home run swing of the night.

Week 22 NBA Power Rankings

Running out of weeks to play.  The playoff picture getting a bit more focused.  The NBA took a night off to let the college kids have their time, and boy did they.  So, now — rankings.

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Magic 54 23 103.713 (6) 95.914 (1) 1.773 3.267 (27) 12.839
2 Cavaliers 60 17 104.665 (2) 96.718 (7) 1.773 3.029 (30) 12.749
3 Spurs 47 29 102.671 (9) 97.506 (9) 1.704 3.584 (11) 10.453
4 Jazz 50 27 103.26 (8) 98.284 (10) 1.727 3.56 (14) 10.264
5 Suns 49 27 107.861 (1) 102.637 (23) 1.75 3.114 (29) 10.088
6 Lakers 55 22 101.294 (11) 96.823 (8) 1.727 3.77 (8) 9.969
7 Thunder 48 28 101.226 (12) 96.555 (5) 1.75 3.436 (19) 9.857
8 Nuggets 50 27 104.094 (3) 99.941 (15) 1.773 3.432 (20) 9.357
9 Celtics 48 28 100.901 (13) 96.616 (6) 1.704 3.345 (25) 9.334
10 Blazers 47 30 103.906 (5) 99.893 (14) 1.773 3.376 (24) 9.163
11 Hawks 49 27 104.001 (4) 100.115 (16) 1.704 3.409 (23) 8.999
12 Heat 43 34 99.965 (18) 96.422 (4) 1.773 3.508 (16) 8.824
13 Mavericks 50 27 102.106 (10) 99.447 (12) 1.727 3.552 (15) 7.938
14 Bobcats 40 36 97.01 (24) 96.108 (2) 1.75 3.615 (10) 6.267
15 Bucks 42 34 97.347 (22) 96.286 (3) 1.75 3.277 (26) 6.088
16 Rockets 38 38 99.689 (19) 100.882 (17) 1.75 3.952 (3) 4.51
17 Raptors 38 38 103.664 (7) 104.662 (30) 1.75 3.448 (18) 4.2
18 Grizzlies 39 37 100.66 (14) 102.277 (20) 1.704 3.577 (12) 3.664
19 Hornets 35 43 100.22 (16) 102.924 (24) 1.795 3.816 (7) 2.907
20 Bulls 38 39 96.552 (28) 98.94 (11) 1.773 3.427 (22) 2.812
21 Pacers 29 48 96.59 (27) 99.78 (13) 1.773 3.502 (17) 2.084
22 Warriors 23 53 100.499 (15) 104.281 (29) 1.704 4.02 (2) 1.942
23 Kings 24 53 97.795 (21) 101.817 (18) 1.818 3.82 (5) 1.615
24 Knicks 27 49 100.052 (17) 103.41 (25) 1.75 3.216 (28) 1.607
25 Sixers 26 50 98.484 (20) 102.482 (22) 1.75 3.432 (21) 1.184
26 Clippers 27 50 96.596 (26) 102.303 (21) 1.818 3.863 (4) -0.026
27 Wizards 23 53 96.693 (25) 102.046 (19) 1.75 3.564 (13) -0.039
28 Pistons 23 53 97.345 (23) 103.923 (28) 1.704 3.766 (9) -1.108
29 Timberwolves 15 62 94.647 (29) 103.848 (27) 1.773 4.172 (1) -3.256
30 Nets 11 66 94.028 (30) 103.845 (26) 1.727 3.818 (6) -4.272

Versus the best 10:

Rank Team W L Off Def Margin
1 Cavaliers 14 7 103.991 (1) 98.726 (3) 5.265
2 Nuggets 17 9 102.733 (3) 100.658 (9) 2.074
3 Lakers 15 12 97.273 (19) 97.215 (1) 0.058
4 Jazz 15 13 101.734 (4) 101.844 (11) -0.11
5 Magic 11 10 99.773 (6) 99.999 (6) -0.226
6 Thunder 10 15 97.072 (20) 98.387 (2) -1.316
7 Spurs 10 16 99.068 (10) 100.452 (8) -1.383
8 Celtics 10 12 98.047 (16) 99.583 (4) -1.536
9 Suns 10 13 103.402 (2) 105.325 (22) -1.924
10 Mavericks 14 15 99.404 (9) 101.711 (10) -2.307
11 Bobcats 10 15 96.764 (22) 99.832 (5) -3.068
12 Hawks 13 12 98.829 (11) 102.366 (14) -3.537
13 Rockets 12 19 98.659 (13) 102.21 (13) -3.551
14 Blazers 10 15 99.564 (8) 103.272 (17) -3.707
15 Grizzlies 12 16 99.751 (7) 104.802 (20) -5.051
16 Heat 7 17 97.331 (18) 102.615 (15) -5.284
17 Bucks 8 15 94.515 (28) 100.352 (7) -5.837
18 Pacers 5 18 96.068 (24) 102.173 (12) -6.106
19 Kings 5 25 97.582 (17) 103.842 (18) -6.26
20 Hornets 8 22 98.157 (15) 105.079 (21) -6.922
21 Knicks 3 19 98.326 (14) 106.958 (26) -8.631
22 Raptors 4 20 100.937 (5) 109.635 (30) -8.698
23 Bulls 8 14 93.965 (29) 103.155 (16) -9.189
24 Wizards 5 18 95.417 (25) 104.714 (19) -9.297
25 Sixers 4 20 98.703 (12) 108.308 (28) -9.605
26 Pistons 4 21 96.28 (23) 106.615 (23) -10.335
27 Warriors 3 26 96.876 (21) 108.376 (29) -11.5
28 Clippers 6 24 94.902 (27) 106.716 (24) -11.814
29 Timberwolves 3 27 95.037 (26) 107.029 (27) -11.992
30 Nets 2 23 92.045 (30) 106.89 (25) -14.844

Versus Middle 10:

Rank Team W L Off Def Margin
1 Magic 21 9 104.326 (4) 95.037 (2) 9.288
2 Jazz 16 8 103.995 (7) 95.464 (4) 8.531
3 Cavaliers 19 9 101.382 (14) 95.619 (5) 5.763
4 Thunder 15 10 101.391 (13) 95.824 (6) 5.567
5 Celtics 16 10 102.03 (11) 96.765 (7) 5.265
6 Hawks 15 9 104.282 (6) 99.208 (12) 5.074
7 Blazers 16 10 105.598 (1) 100.782 (15) 4.816
8 Spurs 16 10 102.608 (9) 98.288 (9) 4.32
9 Mavericks 16 7 104.786 (3) 100.954 (17) 3.832
10 Nuggets 15 10 104.303 (5) 100.763 (14) 3.54
11 Lakers 17 9 101.551 (12) 98.561 (10) 2.99
12 Suns 14 11 105.404 (2) 102.725 (25) 2.679
13 Heat 14 14 97.833 (20) 95.37 (3) 2.463
14 Bobcats 11 12 96.394 (23) 94.496 (1) 1.898
15 Bucks 13 11 98.589 (17) 96.886 (8) 1.703
16 Grizzlies 8 14 96.796 (22) 98.629 (11) -1.833
17 Rockets 9 12 98.865 (16) 100.937 (16) -2.072
18 Warriors 8 19 102.735 (8) 105.252 (30) -2.517
19 Hornets 10 12 99.107 (15) 101.673 (21) -2.566
20 Raptors 12 11 102.396 (10) 104.966 (29) -2.57
21 Knicks 9 19 98.554 (18) 102.553 (23) -4
22 Kings 7 17 98.215 (19) 103.043 (26) -4.828
23 Sixers 10 17 96.127 (26) 101.04 (18) -4.913
24 Bulls 10 16 95.63 (27) 100.658 (13) -5.028
25 Wizards 7 22 96.225 (25) 101.263 (19) -5.038
26 Clippers 8 17 97.372 (21) 102.558 (24) -5.185
27 Pistons 7 19 96.271 (24) 103.158 (27) -6.886
28 Pacers 7 23 95.236 (28) 102.265 (22) -7.029
29 Timberwolves 3 23 92.569 (30) 101.548 (20) -8.979
30 Nets 4 22 94.548 (29) 104.478 (28) -9.929

Versus the Bottom 10:

Rank Team W L Off Def Margin
1 Heat 22 3 104.914 (11) 91.584 (1) 13.33
2 Suns 25 3 113.59 (1) 100.426 (24) 13.164
3 Spurs 21 3 106.58 (5) 93.585 (3) 12.995
4 Magic 22 4 106.155 (7) 93.658 (4) 12.497
5 Cavaliers 27 1 108.459 (3) 96.303 (14) 12.156
6 Lakers 23 1 105.371 (8) 94.56 (9) 10.811
7 Blazers 21 5 106.413 (6) 95.749 (12) 10.664
8 Hawks 21 6 108.52 (2) 98.875 (20) 9.645
9 Thunder 23 3 105.01 (10) 95.515 (10) 9.495
10 Celtics 22 6 102.073 (18) 94.211 (6) 7.862
11 Jazz 19 6 104.255 (13) 96.97 (15) 7.285
12 Mavericks 20 5 102.712 (17) 95.552 (11) 7.16
13 Nuggets 18 8 105.228 (9) 98.479 (18) 6.749
14 Raptors 22 7 106.904 (4) 100.379 (23) 6.525
15 Bucks 21 8 98.589 (24) 92.536 (2) 6.053
16 Warriors 12 8 102.829 (16) 97.023 (16) 5.806
17 Bulls 20 9 99.236 (22) 94.333 (7) 4.902
18 Pacers 17 7 98.781 (23) 94.39 (8) 4.391
19 Bobcats 19 9 97.721 (27) 94.18 (5) 3.541
20 Rockets 17 7 101.713 (19) 99.138 (21) 2.576
21 Sixers 12 13 100.831 (20) 98.641 (19) 2.19
22 Grizzlies 19 7 104.893 (12) 102.717 (30) 2.176
23 Hornets 17 9 103.485 (14) 101.577 (27) 1.908
24 Clippers 13 9 98.01 (26) 96.13 (13) 1.88
25 Knicks 15 11 103.11 (15) 101.341 (26) 1.769
26 Kings 12 11 97.632 (28) 98.041 (17) -0.409
27 Wizards 11 13 98.442 (25) 100.479 (25) -2.037
28 Pistons 12 13 99.5 (21) 101.992 (28) -2.492
29 Nets 5 21 95.385 (30) 100.368 (22) -4.984
30 Timberwolves 9 12 96.612 (29) 102.208 (29) -5.596
  • As the Heat have surged lately – up to 43-34 and in good position for the #5 spot in the East, especially with Andrew Bogut’s horrific injury for the Bucks – one appreciates the Heat being the best team against the worst.  They have cleaned up against the dreck – and that has kept them going.
  • The Nets, barely 1 point behind Minnesota – have surged … 11-66 is terrible but Minnesota might actually be as bad.
  • A new number one.  Orlando and Cleveland have taken turns pulling away from the rest of the league – right now with Cleveland having some blah victories and a loss in Boston, Orlando has surged to the top.  The Lakers slippage, including beatdowns by Atlanta and San Antonio have given them a lot of work to do.

Week 21 NBA Power Rankings – The Power of Ten

FIRST: An unrelated note on the ramen noodle reviews.  Erstwhile commenter and friend of this blog tsblogger offered up a critique on Shin Ramyun that deserved response:

Yeah Shin is definitely King. After many many years of trying various ramen. However, it is seriously unhealthy… I HAVE to do the 2 pots of water (one for the noodles, one separate one for the soup) method. Trying cooking the noodles in the pot of water, extract the noodles, and let the remaining water cool down to room temp and you’ll see what I mean (crap load of palm oil). The spicy flavor however has always been right with Shin. Drop a hot dog in, an egg, maybe some scallions …

Alas, my ratings did not factor health or the ability to enhance it.  Clearly he was raised better than I was – being raised like Mowgli means you miss out on some of life’s finer points.  Now back to the regularly scheduled programming.

The Power of Ten?  YES.  With the New Jersey Nets’ 90-84 triumph over San Antonio last night, they get the 10th win and thus keep the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers as the exalted worst finishing team of all time.  And really, when you check out the ratings, it was only justice.  Considering that the Nets were a whopping 3.4 points behind the Timberwolves as of the all star break, they have at least played hard and closed the gap to a very respectable 1.3 points.  Since the All Star Break, the Nets are a 6-16 while Minnesota has been a deplorable 3-20. (okay, they are both deplorable records, but it is a matter of degree)  The rankings for the rest?  Well …

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Cavaliers 58 16 104.769 (2) 96.689 (8) 1.797 2.873 (30) 12.75
2 Magic 52 22 103.646 (6) 95.903 (1) 1.75 3.157 (27) 12.651
3 Lakers 54 20 101.465 (11) 96.479 (6) 1.75 3.599 (11) 10.335
4 Jazz 49 26 103.31 (7) 98.453 (10) 1.727 3.55 (14) 10.134
5 Spurs 44 29 102.362 (9) 97.512 (9) 1.726 3.469 (19) 10.045
6 Suns 47 26 107.541 (1) 102.553 (23) 1.678 3.355 (23) 10.021
7 Thunder 44 28 100.559 (13) 96.245 (4) 1.701 3.537 (16) 9.552
8 Celtics 47 26 100.557 (14) 96.016 (2) 1.774 3.153 (28) 9.468
9 Nuggets 48 27 104.097 (3) 100.145 (15) 1.82 3.463 (20) 9.235
10 Blazers 45 29 103.782 (5) 99.994 (14) 1.75 3.426 (22) 8.964
11 Hawks 47 26 103.926 (4) 100.182 (16) 1.726 3.304 (25) 8.775
12 Heat 40 34 99.771 (18) 96.587 (7) 1.703 3.703 (9) 8.59
13 Mavericks 49 25 102.268 (10) 99.292 (12) 1.75 3.428 (21) 8.154
14 Bobcats 38 35 97.093 (24) 96.326 (5) 1.774 3.658 (10) 6.199
15 Bucks 40 32 97.112 (23) 96.236 (3) 1.75 3.137 (29) 5.763
16 Rockets 36 36 99.614 (19) 100.311 (17) 1.701 3.963 (4) 4.968
17 Raptors 36 37 103.29 (8) 104.571 (30) 1.774 3.583 (12) 4.076
18 Grizzlies 38 35 100.935 (12) 102.446 (22) 1.726 3.48 (18) 3.695
19 Hornets 35 40 100.554 (15) 102.798 (24) 1.773 4.037 (3) 3.566
20 Bulls 35 38 96.123 (28) 98.923 (11) 1.774 3.549 (15) 2.523
21 Warriors 21 52 100.425 (16) 104.216 (29) 1.678 4.067 (2) 1.955
22 Knicks 26 47 99.983 (17) 103.02 (25) 1.678 3.234 (26) 1.876
23 Kings 24 50 97.928 (21) 101.787 (18) 1.797 3.936 (5) 1.875
24 Pacers 27 47 96.226 (27) 99.908 (13) 1.845 3.493 (17) 1.656
25 Sixers 26 47 98.613 (20) 102.145 (20) 1.774 3.331 (24) 1.573
26 Clippers 27 46 96.681 (25) 101.914 (19) 1.774 3.872 (6) 0.412
27 Wizards 21 51 96.541 (26) 102.216 (21) 1.75 3.743 (8) -0.182
28 Pistons 23 50 97.461 (22) 103.508 (26) 1.726 3.572 (13) -0.749
29 Timberwolves 14 60 94.437 (29) 103.768 (27) 1.797 4.153 (1) -3.381
30 Nets 10 64 93.528 (30) 103.847 (28) 1.75 3.869 (7) -4.7

Versus the Top 10

Rank Team W L Off Def Margin
1 Cavaliers 14 6 103.799 (1) 98.227 (3) 5.572
2 Nuggets 16 9 102.559 (3) 100.938 (9) 1.621
3 Jazz 15 12 102.272 (4) 101.797 (12) 0.476
4 Lakers 14 11 97.436 (17) 97.191 (1) 0.245
5 Magic 11 9 99.581 (8) 99.393 (5) 0.188
6 Thunder 9 15 96.412 (22) 97.897 (2) -1.485
7 Celtics 9 11 96.727 (21) 98.347 (4) -1.62
8 Mavericks 14 13 99.372 (9) 101.103 (10) -1.732
9 Suns 10 13 103.419 (2) 105.351 (22) -1.932
10 Spurs 8 16 98.26 (13) 100.58 (8) -2.32
11 Bobcats 10 15 96.78 (20) 99.855 (6) -3.075
12 Rockets 11 18 98.257 (14) 101.631 (11) -3.375
13 Blazers 10 14 99.784 (7) 103.208 (17) -3.424
14 Hawks 12 11 98.321 (12) 102.441 (14) -4.12
15 Grizzlies 12 15 100.036 (6) 104.714 (19) -4.677
16 Heat 7 17 97.347 (18) 102.64 (15) -5.293
17 Pacers 5 18 96.083 (24) 102.199 (13) -6.116
18 Kings 5 24 97.703 (16) 103.843 (18) -6.14
19 Bucks 7 14 93.745 (29) 99.993 (7) -6.247
20 Hornets 8 22 98.173 (15) 105.103 (21) -6.93
21 Knicks 3 18 98.543 (11) 106.403 (25) -7.861
22 Raptors 4 20 100.953 (5) 109.662 (30) -8.708
23 Sixers 4 19 99.048 (10) 108.183 (29) -9.135
24 Bulls 8 14 93.981 (28) 103.179 (16) -9.199
25 Wizards 5 18 95.432 (25) 104.739 (20) -9.306
26 Pistons 4 20 96.147 (23) 105.938 (23) -9.792
27 Warriors 3 25 97.237 (19) 108.125 (28) -10.888
28 Clippers 6 23 95.059 (26) 106.874 (26) -11.815
29 Timberwolves 3 26 94.718 (27) 106.906 (27) -12.188
30 Nets 2 22 91.499 (30) 106.274 (24) -14.775

The Middle 10

Rank Team W L Off Def Margin
1 Magic 19 9 104.174 (6) 95.507 (5) 8.667
2 Jazz 16 8 104.012 (7) 95.487 (4) 8.525
3 Celtics 16 9 101.869 (11) 96.206 (7) 5.663
4 Cavaliers 17 9 101.529 (13) 95.891 (6) 5.638
5 Thunder 14 10 100.827 (14) 95.32 (2) 5.507
6 Hawks 15 9 104.299 (5) 99.231 (12) 5.068
7 Blazers 16 10 105.615 (1) 100.805 (16) 4.81
8 Lakers 17 8 101.579 (12) 97.638 (9) 3.941
9 Mavericks 15 7 105.245 (3) 101.422 (20) 3.824
10 Spurs 15 10 102.173 (10) 98.425 (10) 3.748
11 Nuggets 15 10 104.32 (4) 100.786 (15) 3.533
12 Suns 14 10 105.402 (2) 102.333 (23) 3.069
13 Bobcats 10 11 96.91 (23) 94.339 (1) 2.571
14 Heat 14 14 97.849 (20) 95.394 (3) 2.456
15 Bucks 13 10 99.039 (16) 97.222 (8) 1.817
16 Rockets 9 12 98.881 (17) 100.96 (17) -2.079
17 Grizzlies 7 13 96.934 (22) 99.064 (11) -2.131
18 Hornets 10 11 99.447 (15) 101.615 (22) -2.169
19 Raptors 12 11 102.413 (9) 104.991 (28) -2.578
20 Warriors 7 19 102.688 (8) 105.521 (30) -2.833
21 Clippers 8 15 97.604 (21) 101.412 (19) -3.807
22 Knicks 9 19 98.57 (18) 102.577 (25) -4.007
23 Sixers 10 15 95.983 (26) 100.268 (13) -4.285
24 Kings 7 17 98.231 (19) 103.067 (27) -4.836
25 Wizards 6 20 96.17 (25) 101.409 (18) -5.239
26 Pistons 7 17 96.619 (24) 102.592 (26) -5.973
27 Bulls 8 15 94.237 (27) 100.325 (14) -6.088
28 Pacers 6 22 94.218 (28) 102.359 (24) -8.142
29 Timberwolves 3 22 92.727 (30) 101.434 (21) -8.706
30 Nets 3 22 93.706 (29) 105.233 (29) -11.527

Against the dreck:

Rank Team W L Off Def Margin
1 Heat 19 3 104.891 (11) 91.43 (1) 13.461
2 Spurs 21 3 106.598 (4) 93.607 (3) 12.991
3 Suns 23 3 112.997 (1) 100.374 (24) 12.623
4 Magic 22 4 106.173 (6) 93.68 (4) 12.492
5 Cavaliers 27 1 108.476 (3) 96.325 (14) 12.151
6 Lakers 23 1 105.388 (8) 94.581 (7) 10.807
7 Blazers 19 5 105.808 (7) 95.908 (13) 9.9
8 Hawks 20 6 108.515 (2) 99.092 (21) 9.422
9 Thunder 21 3 104.392 (13) 95.522 (10) 8.87
10 Celtics 22 6 102.089 (18) 94.234 (5) 7.856
11 Mavericks 20 5 102.729 (16) 95.574 (11) 7.155
12 Raptors 20 6 106.218 (5) 99.578 (22) 6.64
13 Nuggets 17 8 105.381 (9) 98.752 (20) 6.628
14 Jazz 18 6 103.775 (14) 97.615 (16) 6.16
15 Bucks 20 8 98.083 (24) 92.579 (2) 5.504
16 Warriors 11 8 102.106 (17) 96.658 (15) 5.448
17 Bulls 19 9 99.234 (22) 94.56 (6) 4.674
18 Pacers 16 7 98.814 (23) 94.641 (8) 4.173
19 Rockets 16 6 102.064 (19) 97.99 (18) 4.074
20 Hornets 17 7 104.413 (12) 101.051 (27) 3.361
21 Bobcats 18 9 97.513 (28) 94.668 (9) 2.845
22 Knicks 14 10 102.897 (15) 100.574 (25) 2.323
23 Sixers 12 13 100.847 (20) 98.664 (19) 2.183
24 Grizzlies 19 7 104.91 (10) 102.741 (30) 2.169
25 Clippers 13 8 97.897 (26) 95.73 (12) 2.168
26 Kings 12 9 97.891 (27) 97.642 (17) 0.249
27 Pistons 12 13 99.516 (21) 102.016 (28) -2.5
28 Wizards 10 13 98.038 (25) 100.653 (26) -2.615
29 Nets 5 20 95.262 (30) 100.209 (23) -4.947
30 Timberwolves 8 12 96.124 (29) 102.197 (29) -6.074

Week 12 NBA Power Rankings

The day after the NBA’s salute to Martin Luther King (as Charles Barkley pointed out, for all he meant to American, how many people realized he did not even see his 40th birthday), the rankings.  Here is the formula.  Here are the results:

Rank Team W L Off Def Road SOS Rating
1 Cavaliers 31 11 104.054 (4) 96.332 (5) 2.083 3.014 (27) 12.819
2 Celtics 27 12 102.533 (9) 95.392 (3) 1.885 2.632 (29) 11.658
3 Spurs 25 15 103.495 (7) 97.242 (7) 1.488 3.076 (25) 10.816
4 Lakers 32 9 101.118 (12) 94.929 (1) 1.28 3.33 (22) 10.8
5 Magic 26 15 102.233 (10) 97.141 (6) 1.963 3.235 (24) 10.291
6 Hawks 26 14 104.345 (2) 99.929 (17) 1.663 3.557 (16) 9.636
7 Mavericks 27 14 101.462 (11) 98.126 (9) 1.793 4.107 (4) 9.236
8 Nuggets 26 14 104.225 (3) 99.46 (14) 1.663 2.61 (30) 9.038
9 Thunder 23 18 99.401 (19) 96.199 (4) 1.707 4.057 (5) 8.966
10 Suns 24 18 106.478 (1) 103.523 (28) 1.917 3.955 (7) 8.826
11 Blazers 25 17 103.792 (6) 100.308 (18) 1.583 3.387 (20) 8.455
12 Jazz 23 18 100.604 (13) 99.045 (11) 1.622 4.109 (3) 7.29
13 Heat 20 19 100.204 (14) 99.185 (12) 1.615 4.405 (1) 7.038
14 Rockets 23 18 99.611 (18) 99.396 (13) 1.963 4.332 (2) 6.51
15 Bobcats 20 19 96.07 (25) 94.975 (2) 1.615 3.639 (14) 6.348
16 Raptors 21 20 104.014 (5) 104.84 (30) 1.878 3.939 (8) 4.991
17 Grizzlies 22 18 102.641 (8) 103.381 (27) 1.75 3.694 (13) 4.704
18 Clippers 18 22 98.69 (22) 99.83 (16) 1.575 3.513 (18) 3.948
19 Knicks 17 24 99.366 (20) 100.466 (19) 1.707 2.964 (28) 3.572
20 Hornets 21 19 99.642 (17) 101.588 (20) 1.838 3.288 (23) 3.179
21 Bucks 16 23 95.271 (27) 97.657 (8) 1.885 3.443 (19) 2.942
22 Kings 15 25 99.984 (15) 102.686 (23) 1.663 3.575 (15) 2.535
23 Sixers 13 27 99.7 (16) 103.038 (25) 1.838 3.348 (21) 1.848
24 Wizards 14 26 98.42 (23) 101.969 (21) 1.838 3.547 (17) 1.836
25 Warriors 12 27 99.046 (21) 103.211 (26) 1.885 3.749 (11) 1.468
26 Bulls 18 21 94.28 (28) 98.28 (10) 1.615 3.723 (12) 1.338
27 Pacers 14 26 95.284 (26) 99.826 (15) 1.75 3.053 (26) 0.262
28 Pistons 14 26 96.304 (24) 102.286 (22) 1.838 3.908 (9) -0.236
29 Timberwolves 9 33 93.536 (29) 102.973 (24) 1.75 3.752 (10) -3.935
30 Nets 3 37 91.536 (30) 103.842 (29) 1.838 4.001 (6) -6.467

Some insights as the Nets continue their 6 WIN pace:

  • Obviously the Magic’s latest struggled were highlighted with their national TV loss to the Lakers last night.  However, just like last season, the analysis of the Magic was more or less wrong.  Last year, writers talked about Turkoglu and three pointers – but the story was really the top ranked defense in the league on a possession basis.  This year, 6th is still good, but it is a distinct step down – and it has shown.
  • After last years decrepit bottom of the Western Conference, it is kind of amazing that only the Timberwolves and Nets are shaping up as restaurant quality bad.  Yeah the Warriors and Sixers show stinkage, but it feels like 30 win stink, and certainly not the rancid smell coming off the Nets. (BTW: the Nets are not nearly untalented enough to be a 6 win team – that is why the Sixers 9-73 season is so amazing, it is hard to be that unlucky)
  • Thunder’s huge win at Atlanta last night get them to not just 23-18, but one with a good defense, which seems to portend better for postseason success.  Kevin Durant’s crazy natural scoring ability might be just enough offense to be a dangerous 1st round floater if they get in.  Both conferences bottoms are hypercompetitive this year – everyone (including me) thought the West’s Top 9 were an iron lock, but a LOT of teams had a right to dream.