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Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey is one of the most polarizing executives in the NBA. He had a rough weekend – he let a good player walk away and got nothing in return (Chandler Parsons) and couldn’t convince Chris Bosh to walk away from the Miami Heat. This has set off a new wave of Morey-hate, which I explored over at Hardwood Paroxysm:
“Those who are leery of (or downright resistant to) the important role analytics plays in how the game is understood and evaluated love to hate the Rockets. But to criticize Daryl Morey isn’t necessarily rooted in an antiquated, pre-SportVU mindset. Even front offices run by people with analytics backgrounds would admit their numbers inform decisions rather than make them. The degree to which analytics holds sway for franchise decision-makers is what varies from city to city, rather than whether they’re utilized or not. Morey and the Houston Rockets may be skewed toward their analytic approach, but they aren’t robots. They must, at some level, consider the human element.
Whether they consider that human element enough is where one criticism of Morey’s approach can really take shape.”
Recently, I discussed the phenomenon of revisionist history and breakup coping mechanisms as they pertain to Kevin Love, all through the lens of William Shakespeare:
“In Shakespearean tragedies, ill-fated romances almost always conclude with the gruesome, if eloquently narrated, death of one or both the characters involved. Thankfully, the tumultuous partnership between Kevin Love and the Timberwolves isn’t so dire; he’s merely leaving for employment in another city, and possibly soon. The conclusion to Minnesota’s Love affair resembles the second type of breakup, the slow kind, quibbles bubbling to the surface every now and again, the atrophy taking its toll until Flip can no longer bear it and Kevin is sent packing.”
Over at Hardwood Paroxysm, the entire crew is taking turns waxing poetic about The Decision 2.0, the impending free agency of Lebron James. My contribution centered around everything that will be different this time around. An excerpt:
“There will still be hot takes. There will still be morons on social media. There will even be former players who mutter “tisk, tisk, I never would’ve done that” should LeBron actually pull off the formation of another superteam, whether it’s in Miami or not. All of that happened in 2010. The difference is, this time around, the majority of people will be rolling their eyes at such things, rather than nodding in agreement.”
With the 13th overall pick in the NBA Draft, the Timberwolves selected Zach LaVine, guard, UCLA.
His reaction led plenty of people to overreact (myself included) because we couldn’t really tell if LaVine was expressing frustration or relief at the prospect of heading to Minnesota. At 6’6, 181 pounds, LaVine averaged 9.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 44/38/69 shooting splits in 24 minutes per game for the Bruins in 2013-14. He’s an athletic specimen who can finish in transition, but lacks polish and will be a bit of a project.
His DraftExpress video:
It’s impossible to say if this was a good pick or a bad one, and while it surprised many in the media when it was announced (myself included), there had been leaks that LaVine had been promised by Flip Saunders during his workout that if he was available when the Wolves’ turn came at 13. Despite the rumors, I am still shocked that Saunders passed on more pro ready prospects such as Gary Harris, Adreian Payne or Rodney Hood. Harris seemed like the ideal two-way player Flip claimed he was after, Payne is a stretch four who could have contributed immediately, and Hood’s smooth midrange jumper seems suited for Saunders’ offense.
At any rate, LaVine’s the pick, and unless an unforeseen trade comes around, he’ll be the Wolves’ top haul from the loaded 2014 Draft class.
Last week at Hardwood Paroxysm, Jordan White and I debated whether former Timberwolf coach Randy Wittman deserved the three year extension he received from the Washington Wizards. The owner of the worst record in NBA history among coaches with 400 or more games of experience, Wittman underwhelmed in the nation’s capital before a late-season surge into the (albeit weak) Eastern Conference playoffs, where they upset the Chicago Bulls in the first round.
Kevin Love took a little trip to the #CityofChamps this weekend (Boston), which turned up the heat on the Minnesota front office. I wrote about the difficult position Flip Saunders has found himself in over at A Wolf Among Wolves -
“It’s easy to view the Summer of Love from the outside and wax rhapsodic about what the Wolves ought to do, or what they should get back in a trade. It’d be much different to be inside the luxury suites, offices and long-distance phone calls where the actual business is done. Few people have jobs where a singular moment will define their entire tenure, and to most people, such a thing sounds like a frightening proposition. But that’s what Saunders faces, right now, and the franchise is in a holding pattern until it’s done.”
The Wolves’ enigmatic shooting guard was the focus of my latest roster review over at A Wolf Among Wolves, and the result was a post that was much more stats-heavy than anything I usually write.
Martin derives much of his offensive value from his ability to shoot threes and get to the foul line. While he did get to the line at a higher clip than either of his previous two seasons, his free throw attempts per-36 in 2013-14 (5.6) were still well below his career rate (7.0). And despite the fact that he made 39% of his threes, he attempted those at a lower rate as well (4.9 tries per-36, his lowest output since 2009-10). Instead, he took a lot of contested midrange jumpers, often out of isolation sets; among players who tried at least 350 midrange shots, only Josh Smith made them at a lower clip than Martin’s 35.9%.
Yesterday I summarized the latest Kevin Love news for A Wolf Among Wolves:
“Jon Krawczynski’s afternoon post for the Associated Press affirmed that Flip Saunders and Glen Taylor would consider trading the superstar forward “if the right deal comes along,” a shift from their previous public stance. Krawczynski also reported (via Twitter) that “Love and his reps have NOT asked for a trade or told Wolves he definitely will not re-sign.” However, Wojnarowski updated his story in the late afternoon and stated that Love’s representatives at Excel Sports were, in fact, pushing the Wolves’ front office to “find a trade acceptable to them before the beginning of summer free agency in July – preferably by the June 26 NBA draft.” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein chimed in as well, stating that Golden State and Chicago were two potential destinations that intrigue Love. Finally, this morning, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune provided quotes from Glen Taylor, who acknowledged the shift in the team’s philosophy, but remained hopeful that the team could find a way to entice him to stick around.”
I compared the current environment around the team to my favorite scene from the iconic Vietnam movie “Apocalypse Now”:
“The look on Roach’s face when he says, “yeah,” the fact that he doesn’t elaborate, doesn’t need to elaborate, is one of the most powerful moments in the film. Willard is far up the river, deep inside the horror, darkness and pandemonium of war. Roach knows who’s in charge. No one’s in charge. Every one’s in charge. For the rest of his journey, nothing about the normal protocol of battle applies, and information will be hard to come by. Which is right where we are.”
For my debut post at Hardwood Paroxysm discusses the Washington Wizards. Was their 2013-14 season a mirage, or are they here to stay?
“The Wizards skipped a few steps on the rough-hewn ladder to success. They were a lottery team in 2012-13, winners of just 29 games. Preseason predictions (and stated expectations from owner Ted Leonsis) for Washington to make the playoffs seemed feasible (and reasonable), but were far from a sure thing. In the end, they not only earned a postseason berth, but they defied the odds (and most expert prognostications) by beating Chicago in the first round before ultimately falling to Indiana in six during the Conference Semifinals.
Could the Wizards’ run become a double-edged sword, raising expectations for a team with a young core who achieved more than they were expected to achieve?”
You can check out the rest of the piece right here.
I reviewed Alexey Shved’s 2013-14 season over at A Wolf Among Wolves, and it definitely wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had writing about basketball.
“Among players who attempted 200 shots, only Phil Pressey (30.8%) made them at a lower rate than Shved (32.1%). Only 11 players who attempted 100 or more three pointers made a lower percentage than Alexey did (29.4%). He attempted 41 midrange jumpers; 4 of them went in. Shved was actually pretty decent at the rim, making 53.3% of his shots in the restricted area, but on non-restricted area attempts in the paint, he was 2-for-19. Another way to put it: he shot 53.3% at the basket, 29.4% outside the arc, and 10% (6-for-60) everywhere in between. In short, he’s a shooting guard who can’t shoot.”