Saturday, July 07, 2007

M's Very Legit

The last two games told me a lot about the Mariners. These were two different wins and both were equally impressive.

Today they just blasted the A's in every sense. They had the 3-run home run early coupled with a dominant performance from Felix. The M's got the three runs early and the A's knew their day was done. That is really very impressive. Their is a level of intimidation to this team.

Friday night was more telling to me. Really good teams know that if the game is played the full nine innings their superiority will eventually prevail. The M's were locked in a 1-1 tie and blew a few chances on the base paths. Watching their was a feeling they would put it together at some point.

McLaren pulled Weaver after 5 almost saying my pen is better than yours and we will outlast you. Sure enough the A's crumbled. Complete teams can outlast people and the Mariners have shown that ability a ton.

Let me voice on concern. McLaren seems obsessed with getting the game in motion and forcing the action. I like aggressiveness, but this team may not need that. They are pretty solid top to bottom and with the proliferation of offense the running game doesn't always ad up.

Free Agents -- Morris Peterson

With Rashard off the board and Billiups and Carter re-signing with the their respective teams we have fallen to the mid-level free agents. This is where most of the mistakes are made by teams. For some reason over the past years, teams have felt obligated to pay players the entire mid-level exception regardless if they are worth it.

Morris Peterson of Toronto is one of those players that is being courted. According to my offensive numbers he comes out very well. However, he has become a purely spot up three point shooter. 47% of the possessions that ended in his hand were three point attempts. He goes to the free throw line very rarely. For Toronto he was a bad match. The Raptors were far better when he was off the floor than on the floor.

However, for another team that wants a spot up shooter he is a nice fit. His offensive rating has him a productive bench player with a similar rating to a Matt Barnes or James Posey.

The Utah Jazz will be hosting Peterson on Monday and may be able to finalize a deal.

Friday, July 06, 2007

How to Evaluate Summer League

I think more mistakes are made by teams in Summer League than any other time of the year. Every team wants to love their own prospects, because it makes them look smart. So when teams get to summer league and one of the players they drafted or found as a free agent, plays well they see it as validation of their brilliance and foolishly sign the player to contracts or plan on that player in the upcoming season. It is guaranteed to happen. It is just about guaranteed to fail.

The reality is the summer league is a big man absent league that includes rookies and the 9th to 14th man on NBA rosters at best. In other words, rarely is there more than one player on the floor that is going to make a huge contribution in the upcoming season.

Remember last year Steve Novack of the Rockets was a summer league star and never saw the floor in the season.

Here is what you should look for.
1) The top players should be dominant. For Durant and other high picks their should be no question when you watch the game that they are the best player on the floor. How they shoot and what numbers they put up is not as important that they are obviously the best players on the floor.

2) Look for rebounders. Rebounding is the combination of a skill, athleticism and desire. Some guys run out of the skill or the athleticism and they can't rebound at the next level. Others don't have the desire and when it gets more difficult they fall off on the boards.

3) Keep an eye on shot attempts. If a player who should be shooting isn't it might be a red flag that they are struggling to get their shot off when the game speeds up.

Finally -- DO NOT FORGET --- these are at best the 9th man on a team. There is not a veteran anywhere to play a veteran trick or lay a big hit or bury a kid on a pick to see how he reacts. DO NOT OVERPLAY SUMMER LEAGUE. Keep an eye out some team will make a mistake because of Summer League.

Reaction to comments

Super job on the comments. Here is some reaction.

1) It will be hard for PJ to have a long tenure because that is the reality of the NBA

2) The Spurs have been as good offensively as they have been defensively over the past years. I love the Spurs and think they should be the model but the Spurs aren't the Spurs because of a model they are the Spurs because of Duncan.

3) It is going to be a huge challenge to get this team to play well defensively. They are so young and very fun young players are good defenders.

4) The real issue defensively will be Robert Swift. No team is good defensively unless they have a 7 foot anchor.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sonics Hire PJ - We talked about this in April

Today the Sonics continued the remodeling of their franchise in the ilk of the San Antonio Spurs. Last April I sat down with PJ and talked about what he has learned in San Antonio and what he can implement if he gets a head coaching job.
You should have a link to the interview. If not check you blockers on the web page.

Quick Thought on the Hire
: I like PJ. He is a very personable individual who will bring some energy to the franchise. In his last previous coaching stints at Seton Hall and in the NBA he was known as a yeller. That will not work with this team as it is currently built. However, I think it is short sighted to assume PJ has not grown or evolved from his past experiences and knowledge he gained at San Antonio. The key moments of his tenure will be when the pressure mounts does he revert back or in fact has he evolved. PJ is bright and bright people usually evolve.

On a personal note if I was an NBA team anywhere Dwane Casey would be on the top of my list. He is going to be a terrific head coach when he gets his next shot.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Why is NJ cool and Boston bad?

Over the past week the Boston Celtics have gotten ripped for trading for a 32 year old (opening day 2007 age) shooting guard Ray Allen. New Jersey has been praised for re-signing Vince Carter.

Let me ask you this. Who would you rather have - Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson or Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Al Jefferson?

I would rather have Boston's threesome. So why is New Jersey cool and Boston getting ripped for a bad deal.

Sidenote -- Ray Allen as the third option offensively on a team with a post presence in Jefferson and a good driver in Pierce, who can penetrate and kick. If their is a scenario where an aging shooting guard can survive and thrive this is the one.

Rashard to the Magic -- For the Max

Rashard Lewis gets the max. Is that right? Would you pay him the max? Is he worth it?

The issue is not always how good the player is but rather how the team's salary structure is and where the player fits. I believe if you have two max contract players you better be ready to be in the conference semi-finals each and every year. The Magic will have Howard and Lewis as their max contract players. I am not convinced that makes them a Conference semi-finalist. from that standpoint I wonder if this was the right move by the Magic.

On the other hand, Lewis will be a great help to Howard. The Magic offense last season was putrid, ranking 23rd in the NBA. This was largely because everything revolved around Howard and he isn't ready for that burden yet. Lewis will assist him greatly. His ability to handle to ball allows him to do everything offensively from running the pick and roll, to isolation or creating his own shot.

Howard struggled badly last year when he was double teamed. Lewis will help with that a good deal.

From a Sonics standpoint maybe Rashard was worth the max. With Allen out of the picture, Rashard would have been your one max player and with the collective bargaining agreement you wouldn't have to max out Durant for another four seasons. Therefore, inside the salary structure it might have been feasible.

How Lewis, Durant and Green would have all coexisted will never be answered. It is imperative for the future of the Sonics that nothing impedes the progress of Durant.

The other issue is whether or not Rashard is a max player talentwise. Rashard can get you 20 every night and most importantly gets you 20 every night rather than 14 one night and 28 the next. His consistency is what has elevated his game to the elite of the NBA. According to my offensive numbers he is the best offensive small forward in the NBA. That seems like a stretch, but let's see what happens when he is a number 1 option.

On a personal note, I have covered Rashard longer than any athlete I have ever covered in my career. It has been fantastic to watch him grow from the Houston teenager into a man. He will have his first child this off-season and embark upon a new challenge in Orlando. Rashard is a good guy who deserves good things. From day 1 with Dwane Casey and Nate he worked very hard at the craft and it allowed him to reach this day as a max player.

Regardless of whether or not everyone thinks he is a max player.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Hello Friends

For those of you who have ventured back here to see if I am blogging I am warming to the idea. I am not entirely sure what I have planned for this site but check back and see how it evolves.

I know this. The decision by the Sonics is obviously disappointing. What disappoints me the most is not being able to communicate with the sports fans of the region. Therefore, this will have to be the place.

I also know this.
1) It will not be NBA only
2) It will facilitate conversation
3) It should be fun and informative.
4) Without an editor it will be an embarrassment to the English language.

Glad to be talking with you,

David Locke