Raiders Double-Down with McFadden

April 28, 2008

Ever been to Vegas, had a pretty good black jack run and a little too much to drink?

Full of confidence and vodka, you dramatically raise your bet.

Then you are presented with cards that lead you to double-down?

If you are in touch with that emotion, you know how Raider fans feel about last weekend’s First Round selection Darren McFadden.

Mr. Davis & Co. have decided to double-down on the wager they made last year on JaMarcus Russell.  By giving (presumably) lame-duck coach Lane Kiffin the most dynamic offensive weapon available to couple with last year’s overall #1, the pressure mounts in Raiderland.

And as we all know, doubling down can give you a HUGE boost or sink you quickly.

Either way, it gives you a helluva story to tell your buddies at the end of the trip.  I wonder if the Raiders will be spinning a yarn of two wasted high draft picks (and millions of dollars) or celebrating a return to relevance.  By December we’ll likely know the answer.

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Eight NBA Draft Thoughts

June 29, 2007
  1. Good move by The Goldies, thinning their backcourt for a chance to add a 19 year old who averaged nearly 15 per in the ACC. Also, a Moneyball move. As the A’s have done next door, recognizing that due to CBAs the most important time to have a player is his first 5-6 years is the key. After that he becomes exorbitantly expensive (if he’s any good). It took Mullin a few years to figure this reality out (see contracts for Murphy, Dunleavey, Foyle, Richardson and Fischer inked early in Mullin’s tenure). Now he seems to realize that the greatest value is Swisher/Haren types: cost-controlled, yet highly productive. Ellis/Biedrins/Wright fit that mold.
  2. In addition, these types of players hold TREMENDOUS value to other teams. I think the T-wolves might be looking to make a deal.
  3. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Danny Ainge and the Cs. Trading young to get back old is almost always a bad move. When the Sacto Kings acquired CWebb for 31 year old Mitch Richmond, it determined the course of those two franchises for the next five years. While Green is unlikely to be as productive as CWebb, the team who gets older will regret the deal within three years.
  4. On the broadcast Jay Bilas made the point that it was “like two drafts”, meaning that because of the rule change that prevents HS players from entering, this draft was much deeper than usual. Agreed!
  5. But the depth ran out at #10, when the Sacto Kings nabbed Spencer Hawes. I forsee a short and unproductive career from this kid. It has been pretty clearly established that 7 footers taken outside the Top 5 rarely develop into anything – if they were any good, they would have been picked earlier! A few recent examples: 2006 Patrick O’Bryant (#9), Saer Sene (10); 2004 Rafael Arajuo (10); 2003 Chris Kaman (6); 2000 Joel Pryzbilla (9).  Some others off the top of my head Eric Leckner, Adonal Foyle, Todd Fuller.  Good luck with that Sacto!
  6. My Dad – Dick Sr. – raves about Jeff Green.  I have my doubts.  Of course in years past I have been low on (you know, the opposite of being high on) Kevin Johnson, DWade and others….so what the hell do I know?
  7. McHale gags (again).  The whole Corey Brewer as athletic stopper story took a hit the other day in John Hollinger’s analysis on ESPN.com:
    Corey Brewer rates way lower than most people would imagine. Brewer’s rating of 462.4 makes him a marginal first-rounder, and that’s only because of the paucity of Euros in this year’s draft. Since this pretty much flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which has Brewer rated as a top-five or at worst top-10 pick, I have to point out that his numbers don’t match the general consensus on his athleticism.

    Brewer’s 8.5 rebound rate teetered on red-flag territory, and he blocked only 15 shots all season, which is quite low for a 6-9 NBA hopeful. Additionally, his ballhandling is a concern — his -0.74 pure point ratio was pretty poor for a perimeter player. Brewer brings his share of positives too, but I’m not sure teams will get what they think they’re getting if they take him high in the lottery.

  8. I watch quite a bit of Oregon hoops, as a Duck myself.  I like Aaron Brooks.  I feel he can play in the league as a change-of-pace Boykins-type player.  Not sure how he fits in with Yao/McGrady.  Maybe Adelman can figure it out.

The Time for NBA Change Is NOW!

June 21, 2007

As mentioned in the previous post, their has been considerable angst in the sport community about the NBA Playoffs. In particular TV ratings are cited as an ongoing issue, punctuated by the perception that the two best teams (PHX and SA) did not meet in The Finals. Remedies suggested have included eliminating Conference considerations in creating a 1-16 NCAA-type bracket and an NHL-esque re-seeding after each round.

But the view from here is that the post-season problem is merely a symptom of the ragged, lackluster regular season. For example, I conducted a quick study of the top two per game scorers on each team, presumably the most recognizable players to casual fans. These sixty players averaged 36.1 minutes and 20.2 points per game. They include most of the marquee names in the league. Yet, they averaged fewer than 68 games played, meaning on average each missed nearly 20 percent of the season. Wouldn’t owners/coaches/fans/TV networks want to maximize these players’ appearances? While some major injuries are always going to occur, a shorter season, with more consistent off days, would likely increase the ability of stars to shake off nagging injuries.

Thus the solution should be overhauling the length and scheduling of the regular season. As currently presented, the NBA schedule is and 82 game slate. My proposal calls for a drop to a 66 games, home/away against each of the other teams (29 x 2 = 58), plus an additional home/away against the four teams within a division (4 x 2 = 8).In addition to lessening player wear and tear, another advantage of shortening the schedule would be increased practice time. A frequent complaint about the league is that there is not enough time to implement coaching strategies during the grind of a season that has a lot of travel and few off days. By decreasing the number of games, more coaching and player development could take place.

From a fan perspective, fewer games would make following the league an easier proposition.  Particularly, if the schedule were set up with a maximum of three games per week scheduled Wednesday through Sunday.  By shuttering the league on Mondays and Tuesdays, fans could enjoy a few off days before gearing up for more games, similar to the rhythm of the NFL season.  The majority of games would happen on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with a national doubleheader on Thursday and Sunday.  The only exceptions to this format would be Christmas and MLK Day games that are fine traditions.

Such a system would allow fans to establish viewing patterns and would drive media coverage on Monday and Tuesday to review the previous week and preview the next week’s slate.  It would also spell the end of “the four games in five nights” problem currently employed for long road trips.

The 66 games could be played over the 23 weeks from roughly November 1 through April 7.  This system would allow for a full week off around the All-Star game and have the regular season end the week after the NCAA Final Four, thus allowing the NBA to begin its post-season riding the wave of hoops frenzy following the Final Four.

Increasing in season viewership, limiting injuries and providing a better overall product during the regular season would likely do more to fix the perceived playoff problem than any other proposal.

Summer Solstice Splog

June 21, 2007

Hi All!

Back from an extended hiatus.  Back from an extended hiatus.  In the rear view mirror we can see the NBA Finals,  the predictable (and not at all lamentable) collapse of the SF Giants, The Great Northwest Victory in the NBA Lottery and loads of other sport stories.

The discussion point in the media that has caught my eye is the debate about the lackluster NBA playoffs.  Here are a few informed opinions for you to peruse before I add my own two cents in my next post:

John Hollinger points out many issues the NBA faces.

Bill Simmons’ proposal for fixing The Playoffs.

GS Warrior  broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald opines on reworking the conferences and The Playoffs.

Meassage to The Sports Guy RE: Tim Duncan

May 10, 2007

An interesting article on Tim Duncan was posted by the Sports Guy (Bill Simmons) on ESPN.com today.  To read it follow this link:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/070509&sportCat=nbaThen you can read this e-mail I forwarded to Simmons in response to his article:

A timely article on Duncan.  Just the other day during a Spurs telecast Jon Barry called him “the greatest power forward ever”.  Barry added Duncan has now eclipsed Malone.  Really?

I found this comment interesting, so I looked up Duncan and Malone’s career stats.  Looking over just the first ten years of their respective careers, the first thing to jump out is that Malone scored 4,949 more points in his first 10 seasons.  On rebounds, they are virtually deadlocked over the same period (Malone had 64 more).

Duncan has 1142 more blocks, Malone 571 more steals.  Malone shot 52.6%, Duncan 50.9%.  Malone 72.1 from the line, Duncan 68%.

Your argument that Duncan never played with a top 15 player is interesting, but other than Stockton who did Malone play with in his first 10 years?  Certainly not players of Robinson, Finley, Parker, Ginobli, Horry quality.  Plus, you and I would agree that the league was better in Malone’s first ten years.

Like you, I don’t enjoy the “underrated game” much, but I think it is fair to say that announcers consistently over rate the players they cover.  In fact, Barry also called Nash “the greatest” passer ever, with Magic Johnson in the building.

Game 3…Live! (First Half)

April 28, 2007

Hello readers… I’m joining you live watching the Warriors Mavericks game 3.

Using technology to my advantage, I have decided to post live thoughts as the game goes. We are joining in progress, that is after watching the first quarter and the beginning of the second. Score right now is 40-25, Golden State holding the lead.

First off, I should mention that I’m very jealous as my dad is at the game sitting center court row four. I talked to him about one hour before tip as he pulled into the Coliseum parking lot and told him he had an obligation to bring home a winner. So far so good.

Observations thus far: as the three B’s (Barry, Bill and Breen) observed, one of the distinct advantages the Warriors have over most NBA teams is that anyone can go for 30 plus on any given night: Davis, Richardson, Ellis, Harrington, Jackson… you get the idea. So far the star of tonight’s game is Jason Richardson who has 17 points in the first 16 minutes of play.

Great interview with Commissioner Stern early in the second quarter, as The Annoying Jim Gray tried to bait him into talking about issues that the Commish wanted to avoid, like the report that Seattle’s owner wants to move his team to Las Vegas. Stern deftly avoided the question and said “trust me by tomorrow he’ll be taking that back”.

Nice call by Nellie tonight, sending Harrington to the bench and starting Biedrins. As I mentioned in an earlier post, he doesn’t give a whit about egos, he cares about productivity and Harrington has stunk it up the first two games. That’s what makes Nelson the special coach that he is. I am reminded of this fact because Baron Davis’s eyes just got huge as he drove past Devon George and found Harrington who was fouled and now goes to the line. as a side note, I don’t understand Avery Johnson’s interest in putting Devin George on Baron Davis. It seems a strategy doomed for failure. Did he not see the game tape from game one?

44-27 after a Matt Barnes follow slamdunk. The next sequence George air balled about 2 1/2 feet wide of the rim. Back to the Stern interview… the Commish had a silly grin on his face when Jim Gray asked him to explain the atmosphere here in the arena. I think people that aren’t from the Bay Area underestimate exactly how basketball crazed at town Oakland is. Tonight is the proof.

Breen correctly points out that the lawyers were number one in the league in steals. He did not mention the Baron Davis led the league himself, but that is noteworthy as well. It is also why in the officiating is such an important factor in the series. If the lawyers are allowed to reach without ramifications, they become a much better defensive team. As their whole defensive philosophy is based on switching and reaching.

49-31 after Jackson has a circus shot. The Warriors are shooting 60% thus far, raising the question of will they be thwarted by regression to the mean. In fact just as I was typing that thought Walton says “The question is can the Warriors sustain it?”. Seems like great minds think alike!

Nowitzki: 16, 7, 1 assist.the guy is a hell of a player, but I would be surprised if he breaks into the all time greats. As his body language and disposition just aren’t dominant as the great ones are.

After a timeout the Warriors are getting a little sloppy and the lead has been cut to 14. About four minutes to play in the second quarter.the announcers are reviewing the big midseason trade. And reminding us that Al Harrington is 4-23 in the series.on dress just blocked Terry shot, prompting Walton to claim it was a beautiful block, while Barry countered that he hacked them on the elbow. I love Walton.

As much as I’m enjoying Jon Barry on the game, it it would be so much better if it were Rick Barry exchanging barbs with Walton. can someone at ESPN/NBA make this happen?

Back to game action …Terry knocked down a three to cut the lead to nine with about three minutes to play in the second quarter as Walton says “with Baron Davis and Richardson on the bench the Warriors have lost their offense of flow and rhythm”.it is an interesting point, as on the road in Dallas, there was never a time when Davis and Richardson were on the bench together (I believe).

the pace of the game is slowed considerably.  It has become what my dad likes to call “whistle ball”.  To kill time during the whistle ball, with Walton just said it was a disgrace that Mullen and Nelson are not in the basketball Hall of Fame.  I’m inclined to agree.  I’m not sure, but I think it’s next year that David Robinson and John Stockton and Michael Jordan are all eligible for the Hall of Fame.  In fact it may be the most stacked class to enter the hall in one year. so, I would not look for any breakthroughs from Nelson wore Mullin.

Baron Davis with a spectacular drive lay in and the foul on Nowitzki, with under four seconds left takes a score to 61-48. Howard hit a runner at the buzzer- strike that, after the buzzer.  So the score at the half remains 61-48.

I’ll be back after halftime.

Goldies Win Game 1!!!

April 23, 2007

A few quick observations on the Warriors’ Game 1 first round surprise at Dallas late last night, before heading off to discussion regression analysis with a group of budding scholars:

  • Avery Johnson was weak. As Barkley correctly pointed out: the Mavs won 67 games. Why are they adjusting to the Goldies? Yes, I know the Warriors have beaten Dallas five straight, But as Marc Stein points out, Dirk DID NOT START AT CENTER ONCE this year. So, in effect, Coach Johnson planted seeds of doubt with his team – you know, the one with THE BEST RECORD in the league – before the tip of Game One. Very clever, Avery.
  • Nellie was brilliant. Look, my two favorite coaches in the last 25 years are Nelson and Jerry Sloan. I’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of their teams games. My enjoyment of Sloan’s teams comes from their absolute predictability. As proof check out this quote reported in a recent SI piece on video scouting “Perhaps no team puts less stock in film than Utah, the fourth-seed in the West. Coach Jerry Sloan knows that opponents have his team so well video-scouted that they’ll “sit” on the Jazz’s plays — so Utah prospers with counterpunches. ‘When I was with the Jazz, we wanted the other team to know our play calls,’ says the Cavs’ Donyell Marshall. “They’d jump out, and we’d run a counter to it.” Well Nelson is the opposite…his teams are so unpredictable, the other team’s coach shakes in his boots. Well everyone but Sloan.
  • Another part of Nellie’s success is that he does not give a shit about player egos. Alleluia! Monta Ellis looked overwhelmed at the outset, he yanks him. Andris Biedrins was a MAJOR factor in the team’s success all year, in fact Warrior TV guys Fitz and Barnett have called him the team’s most consistent player and MVP many times in the last month. How did Nellie use him in Game One? Plays him eight minutes.
  • On the flip side of that point, he has never been afraid to play low salary CBA guys and other teams’ cast-offs in big roles in big games. In Nellie’s last iteration of theWarriors he unearthed Vincent Askew and Mario Elie from the CBA. This year it was cast-off Matt Barnes earning a spot in camp and subsequently playing brilliantly last night. While not seen last night, Kelenna Azubuike also fits this profile.
  • Finally, in an earlier post I wrote about how Nellie’s playing Mullin and Hardaway too many minutes likely detracted from their overall careers, and that he was playing Baron too many minutes. To prove my point, Davis went out for a minor knee surgery shortly thereafter . But in the playoffs Nelson’s habit of playing starters BIG minutes works. Sure Baron Davis is fragile, but with no back-to-backs and three days between Games One and Two, playing Baron 44 minutes makes sense. This was one of my beefs with Sloan when the Jazz were good. He’d rest Stockton and Malone with largely the same pattern as the rest of the year. In the playoffs there is no tomorrow…play your best guys now!

That’s it for now…Dr. Dick

Goldies are IN!

April 19, 2007

The GS Warrior playoff drought ends.

First taste of post-season since 1994…you know, the year Friends debuted on NBC.  Yes, it has been that long.  The Goldies long-suffering fans remember, at least those old enough do.  I have not been a “die hard” all those years, as the Stockton-led Jazz were the apple of my eye until Stock’s retirement.  Nonetheless, I’m a lifetime Warriors observer, all the way back to when my Dad took me to a few games a year in season tix right behind Mrs. Attles and Al Jr.

But since my triumphant return to the Bay Area two years ago, I have been a fan and have been working hard on indoctrinating my seven year old.  In fact, we were at Sunday’s game against the T-wolves…and had a tremendous time.

So, for the next few weeks, I’ll focus on Warrior/NBA issues as The Bay gears up for the NBA playoffs.

That’s it for now…Dr. Dick

Tourney’s Over…

April 3, 2007

Congrats to FLA on the back-to-back titles…congrats to Billy Donovan on doing his best to keep the focus on his team and not his (seemingly imminent) departure to KY…fairly certain J Noah is nothing more than an NBA role player: teams that lose out on the potential Oden/Durant lottery, beware…heard Mike DeCourcy on the Tony Bruno Show this morning say that “any GM that chooses Durant over Oden should be fired”…Oden was awesome last night for about 25 minutes, then was so gassed I would have been surprised if he could have tied his own shoes…while most seem to think that Billy D (does anyone else feel silly calling a grown man “Billy”?) will bolt to the Bluegrass state, I see his staying at FLA until a killer NBA job comes along – Celts or Heat? – as the most likely scenario…Corey Brewer looks like a versatile shooter, defender, third ball handler-type that lots of NBA teams could use…yesterday’s coaching moves filled positions at Iowa, Arkansas and Michigan, but left openings at Butler, Creighton and West Virginia, so plenty of coaching movement still to come…Of those moves, I have the most optimism about Beilein’s arrival at Michigan…when I was teaching at St. Bonaventure, I became enamored with the offense he ran at Richmond and have tracked his work closely at WVU, where Bona transfer Mike Gansey teamed with Kevin Pittsnoggle to get Beilein into the Elite Eight.  After the two stars graduated Coach Beilein propelled the Mountaineers to the NIT title this year… His teams always play smart and are a joy to watch.

That’s it for now…Dr. Dick

Dr. Dick Nails Final Four

March 26, 2007

In an earlier post, I nailed the Final Four.

Of course to do so requires extraordiry skill.  A mastery of the teams.  A systematic approach for estimating probabilities.  An inate sense of which teams will respond to the rigors of the Tournament.  A critical analysis of match ups.  An unerring ability to deconstruct coaches’ past performance and predict their future success.

Or I was just plain lucky.

In either event, this year represents the first time I have shared NCAA predictions with the world.  And I correctly predicted the Final Four.

Not bad.

Dr. Dick