Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Second Half Buzzer

Yeah, I know. I failed to blog during the All-Star game. Actually, I DID keep notes on here, but they were embarassingly bad. Nothing worth wasting anyone's time with. So I figure, to make up for it, I'd just mention a few things from the trade deadline, the first half just past, and the second half which is just getting started. (I'm watching Mavs/Clippers right now.)

THE DARKO TRADE: You know what? I think that Joe Dumars is an outstanding GM. I think that the Pistons are probably the best TEAM in the NBA (and they apparently don't need Larry Brown to succeed). But I'm tired of him getting a free pass on the Darko Milicic pick, because taking someone like Wade or Carmelo would have cut into Rip Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince's minutes, and thus ruined the team's delicate chemistry, and resulted in their not winning an NBA title, which indeed they did during Darko's rookie season. Nice theory, I suppose, but isn't that a case of trying too hard?

Why wouldn't you want the best player available, no matter how your team is set up? Wouldn't you want to try to work Carmelo or Dwyane Wade into that rotation? Seems like some analysts go so far to say that the pick was actually the RIGHT move for the Pistons. In that case, would it have been an equally good pick had they just passed? Or picked, say, me? I would have been even better than Darko, because I wouldn't have cared about playing time. Not only that, but if you're going to play fortune teller and assume that the Pistons would have won neither title with Wade or 'Melo (which I still think is ridiculous), couldn't you also assume that, had they traded Darko for solid bench help at the end of his first season, that they could have won two straight and been looking for their third? Sure, they got back a lottery pick from Orlando, but this year's draft id full of question marks. Kind of like Darko.

As for Darko himself (some SLAM readers will remember I picked him over LeBron to be Rookie of the Year, thanks to extreme Chad Ford-driven hype—never again), it'll be interesting to see how he fares in Orlando. If nothing else, he should get a lot of playing time, and maybe have a chance to get into a rhythm, which he never was able to do in Detroit. Even when he did get extended minutes, which was a rarity, it was usually in garbage time, which doesn't much resemble real NBA action. He's still only 20, and I do believe that the reasons Detroit liked him so much HAD to be based on some fact and real skill. It's far too early to declare him a bust. Will he have a Jermaine O'Neal-type breakout season? It's possible.

And what if he does? Does Detroit look bad for dealing him? Probably not, actually. As long as they remain contenders, and put out a young, talented lineup who all seem to get along swimmingly, there's no regrets. They continue to pursue titles, and Darko finally gets to play and perhaps blossom. But Carmelo Anthony would still look mighty good in royal blue.

THE KNICKS: Yeah, I know, I talk about them every time I post. I can't help it. They're absolutely amazing. And now there's talk of them trading for Steve Francis without giving up Stephon Marbury in the process. Do they not have to pay the remainder of Larry Brown's salary if he commits suicide? I like Steph and Franchise personally, but is that a backcourt you want to have out there (one that's owed roughly $100 million over the next three years, at that). It's hard to say that Jamal Crawford is a bargain, but he's a blue-light special compared to Francis. And if Maurice Taylor is included, this trades an expiring contract for another long maxed-out one. Pardon me for being cynical, but at this rate Ground Zero is going to be rebuilt before the Knicks are.

It'll also be interesting to see what happens with the rookies. I fully expect at least one to be gone by Thursday, for no other reason than they'll have to include one in any trade just to interest any other teams. My money would be on Nate Robinson, who doesn't really fit in to begin with—and would fit in even worse behind Francis and Marbury, neither of whom are very tall.

Back to Francis for a minute, haven't most of his recent issues been with coaches? Brian Hill and Jeff Van Gundy? Why would things be any different with Larry Brown, especially in a situation as hopeless as this one? I'd rather see the Knicks try and land a bonafide superstar—like Kevin Garnett or Allen Iverson—to at least give them some identity.

THE MVP: Right now I'm looking at Steve Nash. Chauncey Billups is up there, but the fact that three of his teammates were All-Stars seems to indicate that they all share the credit. All Nash has done is lead a Phoenix team who have been without three of last year's starters to a 35-17 record. Credit Shawn Marion with a lot, but it's Nash who has helped turn afterthought Boris Diaw into a stellar player, and kept the team going without Amare Stoudemire.

THE TRADE DEADLINE: Judging from the staggering number of players who have been brought up in potential trades—and the names of them—it appears readily apparent that there are just a lot of teams out there who have basically no idea what they're doing. That, and the fact that it's harder and harder to justify your players huge salaries when your team is losing.

There's probably a whole four teams who can afford to do nothing—Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio and Detroit. Every other team should have an active war room. Of course, this probably means that next to nothing will happen. Or, you could see names like Garnett, Pierce, Iverson, Martin, Marbury, Francis, etc., changing teams. I'll definitely write more on this stuff as it happens.

CHRIS KAMAN'S HAIR: What's up with that, dude?


Ben said...

Interesting read - I have to disagree with the Nash making Diaw better comment, however. It seems to me that the media makes a huge deal over Diaw's improvement, and attributes it all to Nash. I certainly agree Nash makes his teammates better, but more is going on with Diaw than just the "Nash Effect."

A quote from an article at 82games.com: "Because Diaw has taken such a dramatic step forward this season and is a leading candidate for Most Improved Player, there has been a school of thought that Nash has made him better. Not really so, however; Diaw is taking the ball more to the rack when Nash is on the bench, leading to more free-throw attempts and a better [...] shooting percentage. It has also meant more turnovers, however. The credit for Diaw's breakout season has to go to him, Bryan Colangelo and Mike D'Antoni and his coaching staff, which moved Diaw up front after he floundered as a guard in Atlanta." (http://www.82games.com/pelton15.htm)

I think that the media and fans, in general, discount the value of roles that players play. When players are uncomfortable in their role, their production will slide. The most extreme cases of this you see with players like Diaw - he simply is not a guard, and PHX changing him to an upfront player changed his game entirely. He was much more comfortable in that role.

So give Nash all the credit you want for helping his teammates (and I certainly think he deserves credit for the spot-up-shooter types, a la James Jones, Eddie House and Raja Bell). Those 3 all take over 90% of their shots as jumpers and are assisted on over 75% of them. Those are people who are getting much better looks due to Nash. And certainly that helps the team.

But don't take credit away from Diaw for improving, and mainly from Colangelo and D'Antoni, who have rolled with the injury and dealt with it beautifully on both sides of the ball.

Nothin personal said...

Well, nice stuff, again. But as of Darko, I've had enough of everything I hear. I live in Europe (Greece) and I follow the basketball scene around here preety closely so you just have to trust me: Euro's (and international players in general) aren't Euro's if they don't get to PLAY(not train-what up Skita!) for at least 3-4 years in Europe. You can't say that Tony Parker or Pietrus, or Darko have the game of an international player. They have not played enough to get the "team mentality " and jumpshooting type. They are essentially highschoolers, their potential brought them in, and they shaped their raw games according to the situations the got into. The same goes for players that get to the Nba through college, they are shaped in the particular program they've been into. That's why Bogut came to be a better player than Darko and Shortsianitis, guys of his age and thats why Vasguez diid the right thing and postponed his rookie season for a year after.
P.s. Peja, Kirilenko and Dirk were huge for their tems since they were fifteen!!!! (Dirk even played in te national team, from a minor league.)
P.p.s Pau, I cannot explain. Every theory has it's holes!

Nothin personal said...

For the Diaw-matter, i think we should blame D'Antoni and the Euro inspired system he is utilising. Nash is definitely the bestmaestro you could get, but it's Mike's orchestra. The funny thing, is he wasn't that good even in his national team, which is actually a more NBA like setting. Or maybe it's just me trying to blame the French for saying that TP and Pietrus were drafted raw and unproven when they were 22 and 5year veterans in their home League!