Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Just to Pile On... Matt's post-game thoughts, I just did a quick +/- for Tyrus Thomas during this game using the play-by-play. He was +7. (Not counting the final 32 seconds when the game was already decided, he was +10.)

If I calculated Nocioni's +/- correctly, he was -11.

UPDATE: According to the NBA Box, Ty was only +3, Noce was -12. I would take their word over mine, but still, general point stands.

The L Was Worth It To See Richard Jefferson Hurt Himself Recap

Because no one has uploaded video of RJ blowing a gut gasket due to excessive chest pounding:

Hurricane relief is a good cause and all, but I would rather fund (or make blood sacrifices to) the PopcornMachine. Link to the fancy box score!

Like everyone is saying, too much Nocioni (-11), too little Tyrus Thomas (+4). There wasn't a choice to play Duhon less, thanks to the Captain's not surprising foul trouble and subsequent DQ, and Sefolosha was awful. Skiles was right to permanently sit the Swiss Mister for the second half and overtime. A series of Thabo turnovers at the end of the second quarter were ugly and unnecessary.

Tiny ball was brought back, and while I'm in agreement with Rick Morrissey that Kobe longing after one loss is stupid and for the more easily amused Bulls fans, a veteran three point specialist guard is something Pax should have acquired over the summer. A 3 guard lineup would look better with a shooter in place of Duhon.

And that Antoine Wright guy? His performance last night made cutting David Wesley today an easy decision. No, he's not the three point specialist the Bulls should be looking for.

We're Midway Through the Third...

...and Ben Gordon has officially caught fire.

Need distractions until 6:30!?

Given the continual slide in the dollar, maybe a sticking point for
Deng is that his salary be set in Euros. Or not.

A few days old, but it seems this really
nice profile piece on Deng from the Financial Times has gone unlinked.

p.s. I'd kill to be a sports writer for the FT.

But Who Will Cliff Robinson Root For?

His former point guard, or his greatest benefactor? (Rick Carlisle and Peej Carlesimo actually played Clifford more, but I might as well start poking Skiles' rotations with a sharp stick now.) I'm just rooting for a story or a subplot, because that seems to be the thing to do these days. Watching the sweaty men on the court isn't that big of a deal. TNT's Kobe Bryant Special With Some Basketball last night is a new direction for NBA broadcasts, and I hope it's here to stay. I had to watch the "Break Up Your Band" video like 10 times just to get my fill of dudes, but the regurgitated rumors from what seems like the past 6 months instead of boring commentary on the games was still more than worth it.

Thankfully the Bulls are on Comcast tonight, home of Stace, Red, and Tom Dore. Kobe Bryant is as well known to those 3 as Jorge Garbajosa, and after the nauseating yack last night that's a good thing. I normally hate Red's obsession with bench points, and Aaron Gray talk, but it's welcome in my home this evening. I do not care about the Lakers, Jerry Buss, L.A. fans portrayed as morons who are only pleased by recognizable names, or Kobe Bryant. That the vast majority of this crap starts out with a lie is proof that it's not worthwhile to subject myself to it.

May Duhon and Nocioni grit out a victory for Red tonight, and may the more popular message boards out there choke on their own jabberwocky.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ben Gordon: Errrr-Rahhh!

Courtesy of mrberg, who is putting up Bull mixtapes at his place all week.

Expect the Best

Well, those wascally wabbits at We Wite Gwoode twicked me with their whole "high-concept, low-rent" NBA preview, but the end result is pretty cool, so I'm holding off on flying to D.C. and wreaking my vengeance. (I still maintain the right to do this, however.)

Basically, they asked a bunch of different bloggers from different teams to predict their most ideal and most realistic outcomes for the upcoming season. The trickery came in because they didn't tell any of us that they were then going to tally the results separately to see if us sweaty bloggers had a self-correcting mechanism that took into account competition or whether we were all just idiot fanboys. The verdict? Most bloggers do correct their optimism and it comes pretty close to a wholly corrected, "objective" prediction.

You'll note that I didn't correct my prediction for the Bulls, because a) I believe this team is fully capble of meeting my regular season expectation of 55 wins and b) my wildly ideal scenarios for this team really have to do with the Playoffs (sweeping the Pistons, winning the East, winning the Finals, etc.) along with All-Star nods for Ben and Luol. Hopefully, it's a good sign that, to my mind, the regular season is really just a formality that will prove this team's talent can rise to the top over a long haul. In other words, while obviously I want the Bulls to do well in the regular season, it is no longer a definitive measuring stick when it comes to this team. It's not just Playoffs or Bust; it's Win in the Playoffs or Bust.

Ignoring Contract Extension Chatter Because Nothing May Or May Not Happen Until The Last Minute Anyway

Reggie Theus, you are no Scott Skiles. Not until someone writes a column about your use of disapproving body language anyway.

I believe BenGo07 has some preview linking to do, but you can enjoy these marble-mouthed characters debating what team Chris Paul plays for until then.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Last Word On Kobe Bryant Trade Yack

sbulls9030's "Three Stupid Reasons To Trade For Kobe Bryant". sbulls totally ripped off my previous post on the subject, but I'm pretty sure I did a shabby job ripping off sbulls when I wrote it. For the sake of summing everything up in a single statement that will piss people off: Kobe Bryant is not the best player in the NBA, and the trade scenarios floating around the rumorsphere are break even or worse for the Bulls.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I'll Just Say This:

If the Lakers don't want to trade Kobe to the Bulls unless they get Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah, then they don't want to trade Kobe.

UPDATE: Bulls Blogger Extraordinaire sbulls9030---this dude puts the rest of us to shame--- drops some knowledge here. It should be a rule: Any pro-trade argument that does not grapple with, much less rebut, the points that sbulls makes here should be disregarded as nonsensical blathering.

Tigers Anstey Unbeaten

The greatest NBL player of all time, or just an excuse to post the greatest jpg of all time? I'd say you be the judge, but the former MVP and "man-mountain" Chris Anstey's Melbourne Tigers are 8-0. Preemptive shame on anyone who writes, "Eat your heart out, Aaron Gray," in the comments.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sam Smith's Latest As Sharp As A Sledgehammer

BenGo07 is much better at this, but I didn't need Sam Smith to jump up and down on a downer of a preseason finale. I'll ignore Sam's thesis that the Bulls aren't having fun, because I don't care, and Sam just wanted to rip on Tyrus Thomas anyway.
As for Thomas, he is young, though perhaps someone should allow him to study the system. He seems to wander around on offense looking for a lob. He doesn't appear to have much of an impact on the game, which is somewhat embarrassing given the fabulous production of Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, just coming off a 31-point, 13-rebound effort after 29 and nine a few nights ago.
Yep. I really wish Aldridge had scored 31 meaningless points in a meaningless game for the Bulls instead of Tyrus Thomas. Is anyone impressed by that? What was Aldridge doing in an exhibition long enough to score all those points?

Relevant evidence (+/- rating) from the 2006-07 season shows Thomas made a more positive impact for the Bulls than Aldridge did for the Blazers. Someone tell Phil Jackson to tell Sam to grow up.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Breaking: Tyrus Thomas Is Not A Great Interview

From the K.C. Blog:
Check back after the game for some interesting, self-reflective comments from Thomas about his role, his thoughts about starting and how important this season is for him personally.
My advice? Tyrus Thomas sits down with a media relations coach, and K.C. reflects on his days covering absolutely not warm or interesting characters like Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher.

How Much Does Skiles Enjoy Dicking Around With The Media?

That's the obvious question after the first half of tonight's preseason game. His lineup--and furthermore, his rotation--was precisely what I had hoped it would be before this whole Gray flap got reported. The starting five was Wallace, Thomas, Deng, Gordon and Hinrich. Off the bench were Joe Smith, Sefolosha, Duhon, and, finally, toward the end of the second quarter, Noah. Along with Nocioni (who was out with an injury), these are the only 10 guys I want to see on the court. And the divvying up of the minutes was also what I would expect in the regular season. Joe Smith (or perhaps, when healthy, Nocioni) should be the first to come in for Ty; Sefolosha should be the first guard off the bench; and then Duhon and Noah pick up whatever minutes are dictated by foul trouble or any other in-game contingencies. This is a lineup and rotation that wins 55 games this year. I was excited to finally see it. Now let's just hope the injuries to Wallace, Tyrus and Noah aren't that serious.

One other thing: Ben Gordon looked gooooooood.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Aaron Gray Experience...

... appears to be over. Skiles is starting Ty on Thursday. It's pretty ridiculous that he might be basing his final decision on the final preseason game, but whatever. I'm relieved.

Revising Downward

With this trade, I'd like to change my previous prediction concering the T'Wolves win total this year. Let's say, ohhhhh, I don't know, 15.

In Bulls-related news, I thought this opposing scout's take on the Bulls was interesting, mostly because I disagreed with quite a bit of it. He says they're going to miss Malik Allen and P.J. Brown. Uh...really? He suggests they can get a frontcourt scorer by trading Noce, Duhon and somebody else. I'd be all for that, but who is this mystery frontcourt scorer you can get in that deal? And which GM's going to make it? (McHale seems pretty much out of guys). Hell, I'd like the working class to revolt and take over the means of production--I'm pretty sure they'd let me live--but I just don't see it on the horizon.

That said, in light of HotShit's latest reactionary stance, I found this bit pretty intriguing:

Skiles talks a lot of junk to opposing players during games, and he starts a lot of stuff and gets away with a lot of stuff that people aren't aware of because he hides it so well. But there's a point in life where Skiles can be like Larry Brown, where guys get tired of hearing him bitch every day. Players might think his style is cool when they're young in the league and they're from good programs where they were used to being coached as a lot of the Bulls players were. But after they've signed their new contracts and he starts to get on their nerves, they might start saying, 'I've got a lot of power too.' You could see one or two important guys saying, 'Screw you.' ...

A Shiny, Hair-Free Head May Have To Roll (Okay, It's Skiles)

Highly reactionary on my part, I know.

When I see "Skiles suggested his opening lineup Thursday will probably be the same one he uses in the Oct. 31 season opener at New Jersey" in the Daily Herald after a night when a second round pick started at center, pushing Ben Wallace out of position, I have to wonder if Scott Skiles is ever going to change. I have a homerrific theory that a young coach can develop just like a player, and flaws will eventually disappear like turnovers and fouls. My theory might be crap, just like Skiles' commitment to inefficient lineups, and the gritty players who inhabit them.

When Skiles took the coaching job in 2003-04 his frequent substitutions of a clearly gassed Eddy Curry, and ice cold Jamal Crawford were applaudable. They weren't winning games, and the Jannero Blount Johnson IIIs of the world weren't hurting anything. Kendall Gill even caught fire one night. There didn't seem to be a plan, or a true second unit. Skiles just brought out the hook and yanked players in and out regardless of the situation. Skiles has been doing the same thing since, but the players taking a seat on the pine are more talented, and I know what +/- is now. Skiles' days in Phoenix showed a similar inefficient offense, and way too many minutes given to inferior players. If Cliff Robinson ever has a charity named after him, Skiles is on the board of directors.

The coach should be the most insignificant factor in any sport, and one who appears to be holding a team back because he can't recognize what the best lineup is (it's easy) isn't doing his job right.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Deng blog

First K.C. and now Mr. Deng. The locker room is getting bloggy!

Monday, October 22, 2007

And the Man in the Middle, Aaaaaaaaron...Gray?

I don't know if Skiles is just whistling Dixie, but according to K.C., Skiles is floating the notion of possibly starting Aaron Gray.

Intuitively, I am against this, but I didn't catch much of the last two preseason games. (And what little I did catch convinced me that no, Sam Smith is wrong: Noah should not be a starter. He looked absolutely horrendous.) Now, obviously, it's ridiculously early in the season--indeed it hasn't even started yet--and the only way to really know if something will work or not is to try it and see what happens. (It's the definition of illiberal to foreclose possibility.) That said, this kind of talk worries me. I knew going in to this season that there would be a question surrounding our starting PF: Would Ty show enough improvement to take the job? Or would Skiles lean on the veteran Joe Smith to essentially fill the PJ role of last year? Or would the energetic and hard-working Noah perhaps play the role of darkhorse? The one question I wasn't considering was whether the (by all appearances) lumbering and slow-footed Gray would best all of those candidates. It's quite possible I'm just not giving Gray enough credit for what he's been able to accomplish in practice and the preseason (or for how well his game meshes with Wallace's), but I find it pretty disheartening that, thus far, it appears Smith, Ty and Noah have all failed to decisively outperform Gray. I'm curious to hear what others think.

UPDATE: Hopefully, this website will be as short-lived as this notion.

Streaming Stat Smut: Dan Rosenbaum At 2007 NESSIS

Link from Sabermetric Research via BBTF.

Watching it now... Looking forward to comments.

Check out the other presentations. Dean Oliver is involved in the panel discussion, and Justin Wolfers' presentation on racial discrimination among NBA referees is available as well. I believe Tim Donaghy is Malaysian.

Southeastern division preview

Last year - 30-52

Will this be a breakout year for Marvin Williams? No.
With a better supporting cast, will we realize Joe Johnson is over-rated? Yes.

Their rookies will help them contend for a playoff position, but too many other teams in the East have improved. The Celtics, Milwaukee and Charlotte will deny the Hawks a post-season berth.

Go the Hawks wikipedia page and you’ll see some ill logos. Their early ‘70s logo looks like it totally belongs to a villain in a dystopian comic book. And, of course,

Predicted finish – 39-43

Last year - 40-42 (8)

Losing Grant Hill is going to hurt more than gaining Rashard Lewis will help. Lewis does a lot of the same things as Hedo, but not a whole lot better; he takes more shots and shoots a higher percentage, but doesn’t pass or rebound significantly better. J.J. Reddick can’t do many of the things Grant Hill did, and that’s really going to hurt them, But it seems Jameer Nelson is back on track and Dwight Howard is adding some finesse to his power game. So I think they win a playoff game or two with some 30,20, 5 performances by Howard. Can we get a nickname for him please?
Perhaps, Sir Dunk-A-Lot.

Predicted finish – 43-39

Last year - 41-41 (7)

I really feel for Ethan Thomas, especially cause he’s a lefty, but maybe the tension around him and Haywood that now should be gone will help the team. But Haywood’s not able to play 35 minutes and game without getting in foul trouble and I don’t think Blatche is ready to step in.

Arenas, Jamison and Butler are a very nice core, but staying too many other teams improved for the Wiz to get back to the playoffs.

Predicted record - 38-44.

Last year - 33-49

"It's disappointing with Adam going down -- especially because he's been putting so much effort in during the summer, trying to pick up our system and improve his defense," said Vincent, who will distribute Morrison's minutes among Derek Anderson, Walter Hermann and Matt Carroll.

More Carroll and Hermann is a good thing.

I really can’t think of a worst big city to live in than Charlotte.

Predicted record – 44-38

Last year - 44-38 (4)

I’m really surprised that anyone thinks the Heat are in the mix for the Eastern Conference Championship, not the regular season title, that this squad is still capable of getting a 5 or 6 seed and then making a run in the playoffs.

Ain’t gonna happen.

I know the Heat mortgaged their future for that 2005 title, but a team with this many holes could have been avoided. Riles has simply done a terrible job managing the roster the last two off seasons. Letting both Kapono and Posey go was the cherry on top; losing them both deprives the Heat of two things they dearly need - three-point shooting and, in Posey, an athletic, tough wing defender. Maybe D. Wright can make the leap, but that’s a big if, he certainly can’t shoot the three ball with precision.

If you’re watching Heat games this year I think you’re going to hear a lot of this – “Shaq doubled teamed underneath, kicks it out to Walker, Walker for three, he misses badly and the [fill in the blank] fast break to the other end.

Miami’s big three is their key to returning to the playoffs. Unfortunately for Heat fans their core is old, injury-prone or both. Outside of the big 3 there’s not a lot of ability there. Zo still blocks a lot of shots, but 4.5 rebounds in twenty minutes a game is pedestrian. I would say Boston has more outside of their big 3 than Miami.

Rotation players

Pg- Jason Williams, Robert Hite
SG – Wade, Smush Parker
SF – Antoine Walker, D. Wright
PF, Haslem, Alexander Johnson
C Shaq, Zo

So the question becomes how often will J. Wil, Shaq and Wade see the court together?

Shaq has averaged 62 games over the last six seasons. J. Wil has averaged sixty games the last two. We all know Wade is far from healthy. Any games that Shaq, Wade or J. Wil are out it’s going to be real hard for them to win.
Wade can run the point, but he doesn’t have the wing players to score if he’s setting things up. And with very little quality three-point shooting on this team, Shaq is going to get mugged more than ever. What does J. Will have left at 32?

Let’s not even get into how bad this team is going to be defensively. Remember that game to begin last year when the Bulls won by 42 and ran the Heat into the ground – that’s going to happen a lot to this team.

Predicted record – 33-49


Tell me why I’m wrong.

The Midgrade Myth

Because it isn't preview season until someone uncovers a media conspiracy. WEEK 25 Peoria, you're on notice.

In the interest of perpetuating the ravings of a lunatic who has never enjoyed a tasty ear of corn, I will not include Milwaukee (too far west), Cleveland (too far east), Detroit (too close to Canada), or Indianapolis (too far south) in my Central Division Preview. On to previewing the rest of the division.

1. Chicago Bulls (82-0)

Red Auerbach once said, "I'd rather be an assistant trainer with the Chicago Bulls than Boston's Vince Lombardi. [cough]" I always appreciated the moment when a New York legend like Auerbach showed the tiny cow town I call home some love. In that same carcinogen-filled spirit, I predict the Bulls will fail to lose any games this season. I promise to make offerings of Ditka Dogs to He Who Walks Behind the Rows once a week, and Common and Kanye are recording the championship track tomorrow.

Other TYI Previews: Northwest Division

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Note to the Bad Boys

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Night Video Blogging

Obviously, I was remiss in not posting this along with my Northwest Division preview:

Hat Tip to Noce.

Meanwhile, a note to Hot Shit: If you want to make Cubs fans really cringe, this is the video you fucking post:

If you can make it through the whole thing, you are made of gutsier stuff than I

P.J. Brown Has Retired Maybe

The Daily Herald's Mike McGraw reports the incredibly hard to navigate Florida Today is reporting P.J. Brown's retirement. I feel like I should link to an ancient Angelfire fan site honoring Peej, but maybe my brain just hurts from sifting through a blog that's clearly a message board. Can anyone find this story? I'd appreciate some confirmation in the comments.

UPDATE: Matt found the Florida Today story (from the comments). Denton's piece also ran in USA Today. Nothing straight from Peej's mouth, so the "maybe" stands for now. I doubt this changes the P.J. Brown sign and trade in many a Kobe scenario. Brown's free agent status, and past concern for the comfort of his family in Chicago (they'll love L.A.!) have had little bearing on anyone tossing his name in there for funzies.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Additions to the Blogroll

Two new entries on the TYI-Approved Blogroll:

1) We Rite Goode is a fun group sports blog that recently (and very kindly) asked me to take part in what they're calling a "low-rent, high-concept NBA preview." I told them, "Fuck off! What, you think I'm in the free content biz, beeyotch?!!" "Of course," so you'll get to read my incredibly profound prognostications about the 07-08 edition of your Chicago Bulls over there sometime relatively soon (I would think).

2) If you're a fan of sick children (i.e., if you're a fan of these assholes, then you probably won't want to stop by 1001 Miles. But if your soul isn't shrunk to the size of a pinhead, you'll definitely want to stop by my roommate's brother's site and, if you can afford it, pledge some cash to his 1001 Miles project. Bascially, Chris is going to try to run 1001 miles this year and he's asking folks to make tiny pledges for each mile he runs. Some businesses have offered to match all of the individual donations, and at the end of the year, the whole pile of dough will go to the Children's Cancer Association. And you can track Chris' progress on his journey on his daily blog, Notes from the Road.

And as an added bonus--although I haven't necessarily cleared this with Chris--I would guess that all pledgers will also be offered the chance to take part in The Greatest NCAA Tournament Pool of All Time, which Chris created years ago and manages like a champion every year. (If anyone doubts its superlative greatness, 2006 Winner Coach Skiles will vouch for its total-rockingness in the Comments.) So not only will you be helping sick children and their families, but you even get to make March Madness somehow more enjoyable for yourself. This is win-win, people.


I cannot let my brother journalists report non-news alone. One week ago, Chris Duhon attended the party for the opening of the new Uggs store in Chicago. You can purchase pictures of Duhon in his favorite "I'm Only Here For The Beer" t-shirt at the event here.

Thanks to the diligent beat writers, every rumor about everything has been denied.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NBA Preview #1: Northwest Division

Last Year’s Standings:

Utah 51-31
Denver 45-37
Portland 32-50
Minnesota 32-50
Seattle 32-50

Utah—I like this team. Not much needs to be said about Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. Williams made a quantum leap last year, and if Boozer can stay healthy again, there's no reason to expect he won't put up similarly impressive numbers. They have a surprisingly nice third scorer in Mehmet Okur. The loss of Derek Fischer doesn't hurt them too much; even with him, they didn't get much production from the two-guard position, and the early returns on second-year shooting guard Ronnie Brewer have been promising. If he turns into a productive player, Utah will have really scored in the 06 draft, having already laid claim to that draft's sleeper in Paul Milsap. (Of course, the bastards didn't realize they'd made another steal in the late 2nd round and ended up forcing my man Dee Brown to play in Turkey this year. Jerks.)

The X-factor, of course, is Andrei Kirilenko. If they had an award for Most Degraded Player, Kirilenko would have been last year's hands down winner. I don't know the whole story behind his fall (and don't particularly care to find out), but just looking at the numbers, it looks like his minutes and his number of shots fell significantly, and his 3 pt. percentage (already bad) plummeted. Despite that, however, his TS% actually rose slightly. My guess from afar is that Boozer's increased role in the offense and the team in general cut into his shots and minutes, which probably hurt his confidence, since he's apparently something of a headcase. Still, Kirilenko performed incredibly well in this summer's Eurobasket tourney and right now the Jazz are making all the right noises about working through his earlier trade demand. (Jerry Sloan, it seems, was offended by Kirilenko’s idea that basketball should be fun.) I figure he'll either revert back to his previous fine form this year, or Utah will manage to trade him for Shawn Marion. Either way, it should work out nicely for the Jazz.

Prediction: 54-28

Denver—Optimism is a mile-high in Denver, with some players claiming they’re going to get 60 wins this season. Call me Captain Bringdown.

Denver, which won 45 games last year, went 25-20 with Melo and Iverson in the lineup, a percentage that over a full regular season would lead to...46 wins. The obvious counter to that is that the two needed some time to feel each other out, which is why they started out 15-19 together. Then, however, tings started clicking and they ended the season 10-1. My response to that? Enh. Seven of those Ws were against Seattle, the Clips, Minnesota, Sacramento, a Lakers squad in a late-season swoon (twice) and a meaningless last game against the Spurs, in which Duncan, Ginobli, Parker, Melo and AI all sat out. If you're fighting for a playoff spot, you'd better win those games.

Still, it seems possible that AI and Melo can productively co-exist. But as for the rest of the team, I don't see much there. Their only semi-legit two guard, J.R. Smith, recently had to tell his teammates that he's "not trying to be a team cancer." In other words, he might be a cancer, but he’s not trying to be one. (Man, I wish the Bulls still had that guy.) Meanwhile, the Nugs' main bigs are going to be K-Mart, Nene and Camby. When those three are playing well, that's a very nice frontcourt, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The problem is, they're rarely playing. Martin has played 58 games combined over the past two years and hasn't played more than 70 since 02-03. Nene hasn't been much better, playing a total of 65 the last two seasons, and he hasn't played in more than 64 since 03-04. Compared to these two, Camby is a rock, averaging only 16 missed games each season the last 4 years, and that's easily the sturdiest 4-year stretch of his career. Odds are, two of these three will be missing some serious time this season, and after that, it's Linas Kleiza and Stephen Hunter. Yikes.

Nevertheless, there's going to be a better than average chance that on any given night, the Nugs will have the two best players on the court on their squad. Is that good for 60 wins? No. But it should be good for 50.

Prediction: 50-32

Portland—Yeah, it’s a shame about Oden, but this team should still improve without him, assuming last year’s ROY, uh, Roy, can stay healthy. (Easier said than done.) The Blazers don’t have a stunning frontcourt, but word out of their camp is that LaMarcus Aldridge is looking very good, and they should be able to have a nice inside-outside game going with him teamed up with Channing Frye. (I’m still trying to figure out how a 7-footer who averages 4 points and 5 rebounds makes $5 mil a year, but I suppose it’s good for Aaron Gray that he’s got a bona-fide inspiration in Joel Przybilla.) The other positive news out of Blazers’ training camp is that Martell Webster has looked good, scoring 28 in their first preseason game (although since 22 came in the second half, any optimism should be tempered). If he doesn’t work out, though, maybe the Blazers can trade a couple of their point guards to pick up a decent three. Between Jarrett Jack, Steve Blake, Sergio Rodriguez and my main man Taurean Green (who David Thorpe is “absolutely convinced” is “starting material, ultimately”), the Blazers have four decent points. With Oden, Aldridge, and Roy, simply decent play from the point might have been enough for this team to battle for the West’s 8th spot, but with no Oden and the question marks surrounding Roy’s heel, I think the Blazers are going to struggle unless Aldridge just brings it and Martell can consistently score. I see improvement, but not a ton of it.
Prediction 36-46

Seattle--I don’t know what to make of Kevin Durant, the only player who even remotely interests me on this team. Some reports have him as one of the best players on the floor during the U.S. Olympic Team training sessions this summer in Las Vegas. Then Kevin Martin absolutely schools him in his first preseason game, prompting this column that suggests there are real concerns about both his position (he’s playing the 2 for now) and his defense. And then the next time out on the floor, he shoots 5 for 22 against the Cavs. So I think the wise thing to say is that he’ll be consistently inconsistent, dominant in some games, woeful in others, and perhaps fluxuating wildly between them at times in the same game. Since he’s now Seattle’s best player, this, I think, doesn’t bode well for their present, but obviously he’s one of the best pieces you could possibly have for the future.

Prediction 28-54; and despite his up-and-downs, Durant wins the ROY

Minnesota--Let’s see: Last year, Boston won 24 games, and they had Paul Pierce. Now, Minnesota’s roster is essentially Boston’s from last year, except instead of Paul Pierce, they have Ricky Davis, a, uh, mercurial player who is not as good as Pierce and who, regardless, is rumored to be on the move. Oh, and the West is much, much better than the East. Take away Davis, and I think Corey Brewer’s Florida team could beat this lineup. Seriously, let’s matchup their starters:

Taurean Green v. Randy Foye: I’d give the edge to Green here, but maybe it’s a wash.
Lee Humphrey v. Rashad McCants: The edge goes to McCants, but if Humphrey gets hot from distance, this could easily go the other way
Brewer v. Brewer: Wash
Horford v. Jefferson: I don’t care how good a 2nd half Jefferson had last year; Wash
Noah v. Corey Blount: Edge to Noah, for running the floor, passing and finishing strong at the rim.

This is going to be really ugly.
Prediction: 20-62

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Insta-Zürigschnätzlets? Aisle 12.

Shop smart. Shop Coop Zeitung. Link from the Big Finn who notes:
This week, the Coop Zeitung has a picture of Thabo Sefolosha on the cover along with a feature article. In case you you've never heard of Thabo Sefolosha, he's a half-Swiss, half-South African basketball player who plays for the Chicago Bulls.

Yes...he's a Swiss basketball player, playing for the Chicago Bulls...

...who's flipping the bird on the cover of the Coop Zeitung!
Take notice, American grocery stores.

Trades, Trades, Trades

The Bulls need more fixin' than the rusty Studebaker in my neighbor's driveway. John Paxson ought to do interviews carrying an acetylene torch and wearing a tool belt. Why do I even bother rooting for the youth movement that hasn't accomplished anything but 3 postseason appearances in the 3 years since Ben Gordon and Luol Deng were drafted? Last time I checked championships can only be won in the rookie year of a team's third best backup point guard right? I keep reading rules like that, so they must be true.

Strange how a stat mashup like Win Shares makes a good argument that Kobe Bryant won't make a big enough impact to make up for the loss of production for whomever the loud voices send to L.A., and win a championship. It must be objective and cliche-free or something.

I like to use Win Shares to put a player's complete season in perspective, and if you look at the best seasons in the three point era you'll notice some obvious trends. The most obvious: there are only 3 non-big men in the top 30, and none of them are named Kobe Bryant. The second most obvious: Terry Porter's 1990-91 season is #99. Give that man a medal. The crux is a really good big man accounts for more wins than a really good guard. Unless that guard is Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant isn't Michael Jordan.

Simple addition and subtraction with last season's Win Shares shows that Kobe would likely have to top his best season to make up for the loss of two of Gordon, Hinrich, and Deng. The trade doesn't look good for the Bulls before salaries are even considered.

On to the less flashy trade idea that inspired this post. Taking it to the Rack's Steve Weinman suggests Ricky Davis could help the Bulls' offense as a sixth man. There is merit to this idea. Davis can post guards up, and score points in bunches. The drawbacks include his expiring 6.8 million dollar contract that's too valuable for the Timberwolves to trade, and the Bulls locked up a sixth man with a higher TS% in Nocioni for 5 years. By comparison, Nocioni's scoring contributions are slightly better than Davis'. Nocioni can't be traded until December either, and Kevin McHale is likely fishing for youth and draft picks this season.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Preview Posts Are in the Post

So us TYIers drew straws to see which one of us would get which NBA division to preview. Here's how it shaked out:

Eddie Basden will be previewing the Atlantic
Hot Shit will be previewing the Central
Coach Skiles will be previewing the Southeast
Big Sweet will be previewing the Pacific
And I'll be doing the Northwest and Southwest

There's not going to be a specifc format or anything, or really any rhyme or reason as to when they go up, because I'm a lazy blogger and it killed way too many brain cells just for me to plan this. But it's something to look forward to over the coming days and/or weeks, if you happen to have one of the bleakest existences imaginable.

Sam Smith Should Have A Blog Part MMMDLXVII

I know you've been using Google Image Search, Sam!

Just in time for Halloween too. Someone should change the locks at the CBS archives.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dad, turn that shit off!

Joakim, keeping it real, according to Phil Arvia.

Oh, and even if you were a fan of Yannick Noah's exquisite brand of tennis, don't dare tease Joakim about Dad's brand of Easy Listening World Beat Euro-pop.

"I'm very proud of him because he's doing what he loves and he's the No. 1-selling artist in France," Joakim said. "You tell me another athlete in the world who's a No. 1-selling artist ... that's unheard of.

"I mean, is it something that I'm going to listen to in my iPod? No, I'm not. But at the same time, he's found a second career and he's killing it and he's doing what he loves to do, so I couldn't be more proud of him."

UPDATE: From K.C., JamesOn using his iPod for more productive things. Thoughts on shipping Curry back and forth from the minors?

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Best Basketball Website You've Never Heard Of Except When Kelly Dwyer Told You About It A While Ago

Mark of the ambitious has a monster post on the recent exhibition between the Timberwolves and Celtics in London. The game notes are insightful and entertaining, and I found the glimpse of overseas NBA fanship interesting to say the least. It's not a shocker to run across basketball fans from different hemispheres on the internet, but I've never realized how much trouble it is for them to even catch a game on television, let alone see a preseason fringe fest in person. Like Sham says, "humping Fred Hoiberg's leg," is a near impossibility. It's an admirable amount of dedication to a sport I often fall asleep to before the outcomes of games are even decided. (I've skipped a first half or five to catch Lost as well.)

Isiah Booed By World's Largest Gathering Of Marcus Fizer Fans

Red Auerbach once said, "the stage fits the man," when referring to Marcus Fizer's 18 point 12 rebound night for Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday at the Madison Square Garden. Newsday's Alan Hahn reported a pro-Maccabi Elite crowd lustfully booed Isiah Thomas and the Knicks during the home team's introduction. It's possible I'm exaggerating some minor details.

The only other former Bull who matters, Chris Anstey (left of the auto-mOE-beeel), has lead the NBL's Melbourne Tigers to a 5-0 start.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Y'all Think Ty Rise Has Off-Season Issues?

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Mr. Antoine Walker. Seventeen pounds over his playing weight and 15 percent body fat. Hell, even my percentage is probably lower than that.

Also wanted to point toward this K.C. story on the recently cut Joseph Blair. Obvously you can't choose a roster based on how cool guys are, but if you could, it sounds like Blair would be an All-Star. K.C. did a great job of portraying that as well. It seems to me this is exactly the type of in-depth, personal story a beat writer should be doing during the slow time of training camp, rather than fanning the flames of non-existent rivalries.

Also, True Hoop has David Thorpe's thoughts on Justin Cage. Down, but not out.

Skiles, Noah Shoot Down The Latest Tyrus Thomas Fabrications

Who knew TNT's 'drama' ads would be so influential on the reporters Tyrus Thomas doesn't massage, pat on the back, coddle, take out to the movies, get hookers with, etc., etc., etc. (Surely this is the first time a blogger has made a reference to both basketball and TNT's long running ad campaign.) I won't link to all the Ty Thomas is not good cuz he's lazy stories, not because I fear the Ballhype implications, it's that they're days old, and I'm lazy.

Joakim Noah on Thomas in John Jackson's column:
''We're definitely working hard in practice,'' Noah said. ''He's a competitor, I'm a competitor. We're working hard fighting for minutes, but at the same time I think we realize we can make each other better and it's all about winning. I'm really happy that a guy with his athleticism, his ability, is on my team.''
Scott Skiles in Mike 'The Omega Man of Reason' McGraw's column:
Skiles also downplayed the notion that Noah is in a battle with Tyrus Thomas to start at power forward. The two players basically represent the Bulls' front court of the future and may play together, or Skiles could opt to use veteran Joe Smith at the position.

"I wouldn't read a lot into who starts on opening night anyway at that spot," Skiles said. "I don't think it makes that much difference.

"Each guy does a little something different, so we've got to be a little more concerned about which guy or guys can come off the bench and maybe fit better with (Andres) Nocioni and (Chris) Duhon and Thabo (Sefolosha). So we're trying to balance both lineups out there."

At least no one makes sweeping generalizations about the work ethic of NBA players anymore.

I'm all for criticizing players (take them down a peg to my level!), but the vague criticism of Thomas seems to be a non-story fit for the preseason. Noah doesn't need to be pumped up on the corpse of Tyrus Thomas' reputation either. Fans have learned an important lesson: never be rude to anyone who needs a word count, and meets a deadline.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Our Former Center

Has some tight rows. I'm not even talking about EC...

h/t Slam

Lig rankings

dWill at The Starting Five has unveiled "The NBA According to TSF: the Top Fiddy Players in the Lig," already to some wide criticism.

The big three all make the cut.

Luol Deng, Chicago: Deng is good, very good. He’s underrated in every aspect of the game, yet he is the linchpin of the Bulls. He is much like a younger Manu Ginobili, except with a higher upside. He can shoot from anywhere on the court and has nice post moves. He rebounds well. He defends well. And he plays with fire. This season expect to see Luol bust out.

33. Ben Gordon, Chicago: At 6′2″ The Commissioner guards taller shooting guards and does an excellent job. Plus, who is The Man when it’s time to take a big shot in Chi-town?

34. Kirk Hinrich, Chicago: Captain K is a baaaaad young man. Clutch, tough defensively, and a good decision-maker. Plus, he always seems to get under the opponents’ skin.

Not sure what defense BG supposedly plays, but a pretty complimentary rundown.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

First Preseason Game Thread

I might update this throughout the night, or I might change the channel. For now, a couple first quarter thoughts:

1) Deng playing the two might be most useful in picking up fouls on the other team's two guard when he goes in the post. He's gonna be much bigger than most twos, and so I think he's going to draw a lot of fouls just by establishing position down there. Considering how good so many of the two guards in the East are (Wade, Vince, Redd, Rip, Ray Allen, etc.), this could be a nice asset to have. Much as I love Ben Gordon, he seems to draw most of his fouls on big men when he drives to the hoop, not out on the perimeter at the point of attack, and certainly not in the post.

2) It's nice having a guy inside who is tall and can dunk (Noah). He had a nice block too. And a nice assist to Noce in the corner. The post moves, however...uhhhh, not so good.

3) To judge from his first jumper, Ty should have been taking 900-1,000 shots a day in the offseason.

4) After the second half of the second quarter, I think I'm switching channels. Keeping in mind it's an utterly meaningless game against less than stellar competition, Noah, I thought, looked pretty impressive.

Joakim Noah Blinks, Beat Reporters Fall Over Each Other To Tell The Tale

If you didn't make it past the 3000 page novel on Joakim Noah's future as the world's worst doughnut delivery boy, then you missed some interesting tidbits:

Ladewski in the Southtown:
Gordon denied a New York Daily News report that claimed he was in the market for a five-year, $70 million contract extension. He is eligible to become a restricted free agent after the season. Asked whether $55 million is closer to the truth, Gordon said, "No comment."
K.C. Johnson's Trib Column:
General manager John Paxson will consider sending Curry to the Bulls' D-League affiliate occasionally during the season to make sure the second-round pick gets playing experience.
In the MJS: Yi may be starting against the Bulls tonight, and Krystkowiak likes a good sweat on game day.

Monday, October 08, 2007

In case you get hungry, there's an open beer in the fridge.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday Readin': Bill James On The NBA

Link from BBTF. BJ in the Globe:
In the NBA, the element of predetermination is simply too high. Simply stated, the best team wins too often. If the best team always wins, then the sequence of events leading to victory is meaningless. Who fights for the rebound, who sacrifices his body to keep the ball from rolling out of bounds doesn't matter. The greater team is going to come out on top anyway.

A fan can look at the standings in December, pick the teams that will make the playoffs, and might get them all. This has a horrific effect on the game. Everybody knows who's going to win. Why do the players seem to stand around on offense? Why is showboating tolerated? Because it doesn't matter. Why don't teams play as teams? Because they can win without doing so (although teams like these may crumble when they run up against the Pistons or Spurs).

So how should the NBA correct this? Lengthen the shot clock. Shorten the games. Move in the 3-point line. Shorten the playoffs.

If you reduce the number of possessions in a game by giving teams more time to hold the ball, you make it more likely that the underdog can win - for the same reason that Bubba Watson is a lot more likely to beat Tiger Woods at golf over three days than he is over four. It's simple math. The longer the contest lasts, the more certain the better team is to win. If the NBA went back to shorter playoff series - for example from best-of-seven games to best-of-three - an upset in that series would become a much more realistic possibility. A three-game series would make the homecourt advantage much more important, which, in turn, would make the regular season games much more important. The importance of each game is inversely related to the frequency with which the best team wins.

The best of 5 1st round is sorely missed, but a 3 game series? I agree with James that there's room for improvement, but the 24 second shot clock is one of the few things no one watching closely gripes about. That would seem to give an advantage to the already slow paced top of the league as well. A longer shot clock, and the resulting fewer possessions are changes less likely than a shorter playoff series.

Less Than A Month Left

Reports from around the world on contract negotiations local reporters have only guessed about.

From New York City (thanks to wjb):
Ben Gordon wants a $70 million extension from the Bulls, who are looking to give Gordon no more than Kirk Hinrich money ($47.5 million) and first want to extend Luol Deng, a player they regard more highly than the Mount Vernon product.
From the UK:
[Luol Deng] is currently in negotiation with his team, the Chicago Bulls, over a five-year contract worth £30MILLION — working out at a whopping £115,000 a week. (something like $60 million -hscs)
Is this stuff to be believed? Probably not, but it's fun to read the speculation, and Gordon definitely deserves a bump ahead of Kirk Hinrich.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Points in the Paint--Meaningless?

I noticed today in K.C.'s daily report (about how Deng might become the Bulls' main low post option) the interesting statistic that the only three teams that scored less points in the paint per game than the Bulls' 35.7 last year were Detroit (35.3), Houston (35.3) and Dallas (35.3). The most striking thing about that, of course, is that all those teams are very good.

Well, it turns out that K.C. was actually a little bit off; both Toronto (35.3) and Minnesota (35.0) also scored less. (Just goes to show you can't believe everything you read in the papers.) But I think the general impression still holds and 82Games' Roland Beech had a fascinating analysis a couple months back that suggested the points in the paint stat as currently constructed is just not very informative. And as far as the Bulls go, any dearth of low-post scoring is largely offset by how few points in the paint they give up each game (35.1), which was third best in the league, and which had a larger correlation to won-loss record than how many were scored.

Anyway, I think it's one more piece of evidence to be marshalled against the incessant "Bulls Need A Low Post Scorer" nonsense.

Positively Average

The NY Post's Marc Berman blogged about Jamal Crawford's offseason training. It was rather vague, 'cept for a reveal of JC's new listed weight (204 lbs.). That, and a quote about a desire to start, is apparently enough to ponder "why Jamal Crawford isn't a bigger name. Or rather, why he wasn't put in a position to become one."

Crawford's status as a guy with oodles of potential and little to show for it hasn't changed. Obviously he's not alone in that odd grouping of players (Hi, Eddy!), but a veteran of 7 NBA seasons shouldn't be expected to suddenly play way above the level of averageness he's existed at for 6 of 'em. He's certainly had his chances to play at a higher level; 35.1, 38.4, 32.3, and 37.2 MPG the past 4 seasons. The 35.1 was for the Bulls, in case you think Crawford "regularly drew the wrath of Scott Skiles in Chicago". Tyrus Thomas would love to regularly draw the wrath of Skiles if it means leading the team in minutes played.

The opportunities have been there, and Craword has played well. A consistently average PER, and positive +/- ratings are respectable accomplishments. There just hasn't been a trend of improvement, and the ups and downs of Crawford's play from game to game are infuriating. Let's give the potential label a rest, and maybe email Crawford a screenshot of his oogly shot chart.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Chris Young? He's No Good

Stephen Drew? He's No Good.

To inspire the Cubbies at home, here's Bill Murray, filling in for Harry:

All Forwards Considered

'Fire and Ice' Skiles on the power forward situation from K.C. Johnson's column:
"I wouldn't read a lot into who's declared the starter," Skiles said. "Much like P.J., Joe has a nice veteran way about him. We need that while Tyrus is still coming on, but Tyrus is, without question, better than he was. Joakim has unique things he can do. It's a matter of how quickly he'll pick things up. So far, so good. But each guy does something a little different."
sbulls9030 quickly responds:
Finishing inside better, taking better care of the ball, and rebounding better are the three areas where the Bulls should and need to improve this season. Replacing the trio of Brown, Allen, and Sweetney with better more athletic players is a clear and often overlooked improvement. I was surprised that John Hollinger didn't get past the low post scoring issue enough to notice the impact of the change in frontcourt personnel. Improvement in these areas will not only help the Bulls finish better than 20th in offensive efficiency, but will help the defense be even better as well. For the 1st time in Skiles's tenure, all of his frontcourt players will have the necessary physical ability to trap and recover in the Bulls' defensive system. That combined with improved defensive rebounding and better offense creates a real opportunity for significant improvement in the league's best defense. There are clear opportunities to increase the team's point differential. By how much will depend on the improvement of the individual players.
It wasn't really a response to the quote, but it's pretty clear that the Bulls are better off in the big man department this season. The starting spot may be a point of pride for whoever gets it, but it's not that important as all the options, unlike last season, should suffice. Except Nocioni (and that's not a knock on him, he's better off as a sixth man).

Game Two

Dear Aramis Ramirez,

Please get your head out of your ass when you're at the plate. We can't win with you swinging at any shit that gets thrown up there. Sincerely,


PS If you see Ted Lilly, tell him he had a great season, but that I now hate him. Should you douchebags somehow manage to turn this around at Wrigley and get back to Arizona, he will have another chance to get back in my good graces.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Carnac the Smithnificent

To make up for the Cubs post, I'd like to note that Sam Smith writes a column with the subhed "Gordon, Deng could challenge Bulls' salary philosophy." After noting how decent and swell the two players are as people, he writes "So you wonder how it is that Gordon and Deng could be saying no to earning $10 million a year in the NBA. But that's apparently the situation."

Um, okay. We have one "could" in the subhed, one "could" in the piece, which is then immediately followed by an "apparently." We then move on to a "might," as in "the situation is a concern because it might be the first major test of the Bulls' philosophy." Why all the hedging? Well, there's no need for me to hedge about the answer. Sam tells us himself, admitting toward the end of the column, "I'm not sure where the Bulls are with Gordon and Deng." He's just "guessing."

Christ, man! I can do that! You're a reporter! For the love of your craft, report!

Game One

Sorry Bulls (and Sox) fans, but I'm in full-on Cubs mode until at least Saturday, and hopefully a lot longer. Of course, there's not much to say about this game: Webb pitched a gem, I can't get too irate over how shitty the Cubs looked at the plate. I guess the noise they'll use to fill up air on talk radio is that Lou took Z out too soon. While I would've liked to see him pitch another inning, any serious complaining about that is hindsight garbage. Marmol has been the best pitcher on the staff, starter or bullpen. Period. The hope is that this'll make him tougher, not ruined, and if it does ruin him, then the Cubs aren't going to do anything in the post-season any way. This kid saved our season this year, and he'll get another chance to save the postseason. Here's hoping he's up to it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Do the Right Thing

Spike's gonna cancel his season tickets over this, right?

For many obvious reasons Dolan should fire Isiah, but let's examine the economic ones. NYC is a pretty liberal place and I think a lot of season tickets holders will cancel if Isiah stays on. A lot of women go to games now, and more than a few NYC women who are hoops fans are pissed about this. (Informal survey conducted be me over the weekend.)

Agreed that Stern banning Isiah would cause a shit storm of litigation, but somehow Isiah has to go. I think there will be a backlash against the Knicks league wide; I'll surely be booing Isiah when he comes to Chicago. Not the players, not the owners, not Stern: the fans have the ultimate power and all the NBA fans I know think this is disgraceful.

Or maybe I'm just in a blue state bubble about this.

UPDATE from BenGo: Fascinating True Hoop Interview here with Martha Burk. The takeaway: Don't count on much to change.

UPDATE II from BengGo: Hey! Asshole! That is precisely the problem! Maybe if you gave thought to the world outside of basketball, your actions in that world would be more admirable.

TYI DIY: The Adams-Tedeschi Shot Doctor Device

From Hanley:

During practice, Noah has a paddle strapped to the outside of his left hand, a device designed by assistant coach Ron Adams and made by team trainer Fred Tedeschi, which the Bulls believe will help fix Noah's less-than-textbook shooting style.

''Coach Adams, we call him the shot doctor,'' Noah said. ''I have a weird release on my jump shot. So he's trying to change my spin. I guess it's just a new method to change it. A lot of coaches have tried different things, but that's definitely the most unique one. We've been working on it all summer.''

TYI's crack team of graphic artists put together a rendering of this device using telepathy, pens, and paper. Halloween is right around the corner.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Bulls Blogger Slightly More Knowleadgeable Than Me

K.C. Johnson of the Tribune has a blog! It's about the Bulls! Read it before K.C. gets sold with the Cubs and those rusty old filing cabinets Skip Myslenski lives in!

(thanks Sue!)


I Can't Dribble, Pass, Or Shoot Threes. Who Am I?

Scott Skiles' "new-look" shooting guard, Luol Deng. Ben Gordon will be playing point in this scenario, a position Gordon isn't best suited for, but one he's been very productive at. The more shots Gordon takes the better, and the Bulls' leading scorer should be clocking more than last season's 33 MPG. At least Skiles is considering a backup backcourt that could score a lot of points, something the Duhon-Hinrich-Gordon tiny ball lineup rarely accomplished. Seems like an unnecessary musing, and it makes me uncomfortable that Skiles isn't talking about keeping the best lineup on the floor as much as possible. At least the starting backcourt of Hinrich and Gordon seems solidified this season.

Monday, October 01, 2007

TYI's Official 'Heroes' Thread

Not really, but just as relevant. The UK dwelling Sham of may have confirmed an earlier report that Ben Wallace will be covering his nude forehead with a headband in 2007-08. Sham posted the media day photo at Bulls homer headquarters. Keep that chemistry destroying textile tasteful, Ben.

UPDATE: Confirmed by K.C.

"The first step to winning a championship is deciding what to wear." -Red Auerbach