Web Site: http://www.alltimehoops.com
Bio: Ian Parfrey is the author of Ten Thousand Minutes: Pro Player Rankings 1952-2012. His next project is a history of Brooklyn basketball. He's also an avid rec softball player who gets at least 500 at bats a year. He was born in East Flushing, Queens, and now lives in Greenpoint with his wife and daughter.
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By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
The Pacers played 52 minutes and 58 seconds of smart, tough basketball last night, but came away with a disheartening Game 1 loss when LeBron James (30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) blew by Paul George and dropped in a lefty layup as time expired.
It was an extremely close game where neither team held a lead larger than seven points, and it looked like the Heat would win in regulation, with a 91-89 lead and Ray Allen on the line, but Allen, a career 89.4% free-throw shooter, missed the first before making the second.
This gave Indiana one last chance, and their young All-Star Paul George hit possibly the biggest shot of his career to date, an off-balance 28-footer from the left wing, on a handoff from David West, to tie the game. Ray Allen missed a contested corner three on the other end, and the game went into overtime.
With the Pacers leading 99-96 and 49 seconds left in OT, Chris Bosh tipped in a Shane Battier miss, was fouled, and converted the free throw. It was one of only two rebounds that Bosh managed to grab all game. After David West missed a difficult turnaround on the other end, LeBron James took advantage of a mismatch against Pacers point guard George Hill, and drove in for a layup with 10 seconds to play.
Paul George again came up big for Indiana– he was fouled by Dwyane Wade on a three-pointer, and converted all three free throws, to give the Pacers a 102-101 lead.
However, a questionable substitution by Frank Vogel, a defensive lapse, and a great play by LeBron left the Pacers empty-handed.
Vogel took out 7-2 center Roy Hibbert for the final defensive play, replacing him with Tyler Hansbrough. LeBron managed to lose Paul George, and caught the ball at the top of the key. George closed out too aggressively, allowing LeBron to spin to his left and drive down a wide-open, Hibbert-less lane, with the help defender (Sam Young) arriving too late.
Of course, against a team as strong as Miami, the Pacers have to win the 50-50 games to have any chance at taking the series. By snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Game One, they’ve set themselves an extremely difficult task.
The Pacers were led by Paul George (27 points) and David West (26 points). Dwyane Wade had 19 for the Heat. The series resumes Friday night in Miami.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
The best part of ex-Net coach Byron Scott’s tenure in Cleveland came tonight. Scott’s team posted a 24-58 record, third-worst in the league. This led to his firing last month, but also to their second #1 pick in the last three seasons.
Since the acrimonious departure of LeBron James, the Cavs have stocked up on high draft picks, taking budding superstar Kyrie Irving first overall in 2011, and also adding Tristan Thompson (#4, 2011), and Dion Waiters (#4, 2012). The only trouble is that this year’s draft isn’t expected to be a strong one, with the near-consensus #1 pick likely to be freshman center Nerlens Noel, who averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 4.4 blocked shots for Kentucky before tearing his ACL in February.
If the Cavs decide to pass on Noel, they might be intrigued by Indiana guard Victor Oladipo and his strong defensive reputation. Oladipo, at 6-4 and 215 pounds, has the potential to be a defensive star like Memphis’s Tony Allen, but already has a more polished offensive game, and legitimate three-point shooting range.
This is the fifth time the Cavaliers have picked first in the draft. Their previous #1 picks were Irving, LeBron James (2003), Brad Daugherty (1986), and Austin Carr (1971).
The #2 pick went to the Orlando Magic, and the #3 pick to the Washington Wizards. The Charlotte Bobcats, despite having the league’s second-worst record, will pick fourth.
The only lottery pick to change hands was Toronto’s #12 pick, which will go to Oklahoma City via Houston as part of the James Harden trade.
2013 NBA Draft
|29||Oklahoma City||see above|
The Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, and Toronto Raptors have no picks in the upcoming draft; and the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and Memphis Grizzlies do not have a first-round pick (though the Grizzlies have three second-rounders).
The 2013 draft will be held right here at the Barclays Center, on June 27.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
The 1997 Vancouver Grizzlies were a bad, bad team. Other than rookie forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, there wasn’t much reason to watch them as they staggered to a 14-68 record. In the offseason, they decided that the missing piece that would put them over the top was 35-year old forward Otis Thorpe, and they sent their 2003 first-round draft pick, protected only for the #1 spot, to Detroit for him.
In the 2003 draft, the Grizzlies got the #2 pick, which they had to forward to Detroit to complete the Thorpe trade. The Pistons, of course, used it on Darko Milicic, but let’s indulge in a quick game of NBA What-If. Suppose Grizzlies GM Stu Jackson says to himself, “We completely suck as a team, and acquiring Otis Thorpe is not really going to help.” Suppose he decides to trade for Thorpe, but realizes that most NBA drafts have more than one good player in them, and insists on stronger protection for the pick.
And the 2003 Memphis Grizzlies select Carmelo Anthony, and add him to a nice little core that includes Pau Gasol, Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Jason Williams, and James Posey. Without getting anything from the 2003 draft, the Grizzlies still had three consecutive playoff appearances from 2004-06, which goes a long way towards making the fan base forget Carmelo Anthony.
Which brings us to Billy King and Gerald Wallace.
Table 1: Regular Season
Table 2: Postseason
You might recognize Player A as Gerald Wallace. Player B is Harrison Barnes. Let’s compare some of the stuff that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet. Player A is a plus defender, and player B is nothing special. Player B is also a bit of a black hole on offense… however, player A is going to be 31 at the start of next season, and is definitely on the decline. Player B will be 21, with his whole career ahead of him.
For this game of NBA What-If, we assume that Billy King decided not to make the Gerald Wallace trade, or put enough protection on the pick that the Nets were able to keep it in the 2013 draft. The Nets do not take Damian Lillard, because they expect to re-sign Deron Williams, and drafting a potential replacement might not look too good. Instead, they draft Barnes, whose ceiling is a better version of Rudy Gay.
At worst, Barnes makes the “play MarShon” argument obsolete from Day One. He comes off the bench, scores a few points, helps the Nets’ spacing with his deep shooting ability. Within a year or two, he’s ready to start, and he provides terrific insurance in case Joe Johnson doesn’t age gracefully.
The tenure of Billy King as Nets’ GM will be judged on three things– the acquisition and re-signing of Deron Williams, and the trades for Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson. In the case of Williams, everyone’s already forgotten that he didn’t play particularly well for almost two years after the trade. When the Nets needed someone to step up and drive them towards the playoffs, D-Will was there, playing some of the best ball of his life. Only Avery Johnson remembers what he was playing like before that.
For Joe Johnson, the Nets gave up little in the way of tangible assets– the #20 pick in the upcoming draft, five marginal players, and a lot of cap space. While you could argue that there were better uses for said cap space, nobody misses DeShawn Stevenson and Johan Petro.
For Gerald Wallace, who was alarmingly bad for most of the 2012 season, you can watch the exploits of Harrison Barnes, who had four 20-point games in this year’s postseason, and wonder what might have been.
Fortunately, most fanbases have short memories. When a 400-pound Eddy Curry earned more than $30 million for playing 74 minutes for the Knicks from 2009-2011, most of the ire was directed at Curry himself, and at Isiah Thomas and James Dolan for their gross ineptitude at running a franchise. Nobody really remembered that the two draft picks Thomas gave away for Curry turned into LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah.
At the 2011 trading deadline, the Clippers were so eager to dump the remaining year and a half of Baron Davis’s contract that they included the pick that became Kyrie Irving in the deal. No one remembers that either, because the Clippers were able to use some of their additional cap space to trade for Chris Paul a few months later.
So, all Gerald Wallace needs to do is play like he did in the postseason this year, and all will be forgiven.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
If you like classic Eastern Conference playoff basketball, this was a game for you. The refs swallowed their whistles, the winning team scored 85 points and shot 41%, and there was plenty of physical defense and barely watchable “offense.”
In the end, the Knicks rode Carmelo Anthony’s 28 points (12-28 FG), and a surprising 13-point outburst from Chris Copeland, to victory.
The key to the series may end up being Indiana point guard George Hill, who sat out tonight’s game with a concussion. His replacement, D.J. Augustin, had 12 points (3-9 FG) and zero assists in 39 minutes, and the Pacers’ offense– ranked 20th in the league during the regular season– struggled mightily to generate points, with Paul George and offensive rebounding being their only real options.
George scored 23 points, but picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter, which allowed Raymond Felton an uncontested fast-break layup a little while later, and forced the Pacers to guard Carmelo Anthony with Sam Young down the stretch.
Roy Hibbert was also limited by foul trouble, and managed only 9 points and 7 rebounds.
Anthony started hot, scoring the game’s first five points, but the game slowed down to this series’ usual sludgy pace after that, with the Knicks taking a 40-34 lead into halftime. The two teams exchanged boneheaded fouls in the final seconds, with Tyson Chandler inexplicably fouling Lance Stephenson in the backcourt, and Sam Young giving it right back when he grabbed J.R. Smith in the act of shooting a desperation three-point heave.
Indiana got within four on Paul George’s three with 6:42 left, but the Pacers managed only one field goal– a Gerald Green pullup jumper– the rest of the way. Carmelo Anthony outscored Indiana 6-2 over the next three minutes to put the game away.
Anthony proved his value to the Knicks tonight, by getting a semi-efficient 28 points in a low-scoring physical battle. Chris Copeland had his biggest game in a Knick uniform, chipping in 13 points (4-6 FG) and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes. J.R. Smith also had 13 points off the bench, though his shooting woes continued.
The Knicks play in Indiana, where they are winless in four tries this year, on Saturday.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
They didn’t go down without a fight. In Miami, the Bulls dug themselves out of an early 18-point deficit only to lose by three, with Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler each missing from downtown on the final possession.
In Oklahoma City, the Thunder trailed by 12 in the fourth quarter, and got one last chance down 86-84 when Zach Randolph missed a pair of free throws. On the Thunder’s next-to-last possession, Kevin Durant shook free of Tony Allen, only to miss a potential game-tying 18-footer, and the Thunder sans Westbrook went down on their home floor to Memphis.
With the Knicks and Warriors each facing an elimination game (on their respective home courts), we could have the conference finals penciled in by tonight.
Of the two teams who just bowed out, it’s a lot easier to explain what happened to the Bulls. When your franchise point guard misses the entire season recovering from an ACL tear, and you lose both his replacement (Kirk Hinrich) and your leading scorer (Luol Deng) midway through the first round, a five-game exit to the Miami Heat isn’t surprising.
What’s surprising is the contributions that the Bulls got from future star Jimmy Butler (think of a less offensive-minded Paul George), and from their bench guards, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli.
The Bulls expect to have a healthy Derrick Rose next season, and should be a stronger team for the experience of playing a reasonably successful season without him.
It’s a bit of a different story in Oklahoma City, where the defending Western Conference champs lost Russell Westbrook in the second game of the playoffs to a partially torn meniscus, and struggled to put away the Houston Rockets before laying an egg against Memphis.
There’s plenty you can second-guess, starting with their decision to trade James Harden. Had OKC kept him, they would have been able to turn over the playmaking responsibility to him, instead of second-year guard Reggie Jackson (who played extremely well, but still isn’t James Harden).
Serge Ibaka, who the Thunder chose to extend instead of Harden, didn’t have a very good series, and starting center Kendrick Perkins, who is owed $18.5 million over the next two seasons, averaged, um, 2.3 points on 17% shooting in the series. That’s not a misprint.
It’s beginning to look like the OKC front office has lost its edge when it comes to evaluating talent. The haul for Harden could eventually prove to be worth it (rookie guard Jeremy Lamb and two first-round picks), but it’s clear that Sam Presti severely under-estimated Harden’s abilities, while overrating the gaudy shot-blocking numbers of Ibaka and the “veteran toughness” of Perkins.
Scott Brooks, not known for his ability to adjust on the fly in last year’s finals, has continued to stick with Perkins, even as he’s declined from “washed up” to “walking corpse.” Perkins proved even more useless against Memphis’ big front line than he did against Miami’s small-ball attack last year.
Another interesting storyline to this year’s playoffs is that unless the Knicks pull off a miraculous comeback in their series, the only small-ball team left will be Miami. And maybe that’s because you can play any damn kind of ball you want to when you have LeBron and Dwyane Wade. The other three likely conference finalists play traditional two-big lineups, but with skilled big guys who are equally at home posting, passing, and knocking down long jumpers.
Knicks-Pacers Game 5 will be tonight at 8:00pm on TNT, and Warriors-Spurs follows at 10:30 on ESPN.
Our look back at the players who made the first season in Brooklyn ends here, with the starting lineup:
DK: Reggie Evans screwed everything up. Kris Humphries was going to be the starter because. He was going to rebound and knock down midrange jump shots. The offensive spacing was going to be picture perfect. But the defense was a sieve, Hump couldn’t shoot, and Evans became the best rebounder in the NBA. He grabbed 27.4% of the available rebounds while he was on the floor which was the best in the league for anybody who played regular minutes. He also gave the Nets an energy and a toughness that this laid back group sorely needed. Were a lot of his rebounds the result of nobody guarding him? Yup. Did he completely destroy the offensive spacing? Sure. Was his rebounding important to the Nets’ success? Absolutely. The Nets finished the season as the second best rebounding team in the NBA and the 3rd best offensive rebounding team. Evans is not an ideal starting power forward. But he gave the Nets everything he had on every possession. And it’s not his fault that the Blatche or Wallace power forward experiments were never really given a chance.
IP: Tough call. Yes, he played the best ball of his career. He vacuumed up every board in sight. He provided the Nets with some valuable defensive effort. But in some ways, Evans’ year was a disastrous success. He kept Humphries, the more complete player when his head is screwed on right, on the bench. He pushed Gerald Wallace out to the perimeter, where he went through a near-season-long shooting slump. And Reggie isn’t Dennis Rodman, who was a deft passer in addition to his rebounding. If Reggie gets the ball in the paint, he’s either going up with it or turning it over. It’s hard to watch. So, while you have to give Reggie credit for making the most of this opportunity… if he plays 25 minutes a game again next season, the Nets failed.
DK: Crash was meant to be the team’s best defender, a solid rebounder, an explosive transition finisher, and an occasional half court slasher/scorer. He fulfilled his duty as a defender but the rest of his game fell off a cliff somewhere in New Jersey. After making some threes to start the season Wallace fell into a deep dark hole of missed shots and lost confidence. His rebounding numbers might have been down because of Evans, and his lack of transition buckets had more to do with the Nets’ half court defensive issues than it did with Wallace’s deterioration as an athlete. While his inability to shoot came as no surprise, his inability to get involved at all on offense as a cutter or a slasher was horribly detrimental to the team’s offense. I was probably in a small cult of Nets observers who felt that Wallace deserved to get some isolation catches on the wing/mid post. Particularly against smaller defenders. Maybe PJ was in that cult too but Wallace sure wasn’t. My suspicion is that he’s still a solid player in this league who probably needs a “fresh start.” His contract is not going to allow for any relocation so he’s going to have to figure it out next year in Brooklyn.
IP: In the playoffs, Crash shot .463/.379 and averaged 12 points. Some of this came with the Bulls completely ignoring him, but he did what he had to do. He made them pay. If those were Wallace’s season numbers, it would have been a fine season. There are excuses you can make– he was banged up most of the year, and his role and his court time fluctuated a lot. The coaching change, and maybe the insertion of Evans into the starting five, made the difference. Crash scored in double figures in 11 of the 21 games he played for Avery, and then only 7 times in 48 games the rest of the way. That’s worrisome. He’s a pretty good defender, but that doesn’t come close to offsetting whatever happened to him this year. Three years ago in Charlotte he averaged 18.2 points and 10 rebounds, on a decent team. He’s only 30 years old. He shouldn’t have been this bad… and yet he was. There’s three more years on his deal, and there’s Damian Lillard kicking ass in Portland.
DK: Brook Lopez has arrived. His offensive efficiency was amazing and amazingly consistent all year. He edged out Tim Duncan for the Least Sexy Player in the top 10 of John Hollinger’s PER statistics. Lopez finished 5th behind Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. Aside from his impressive collection of moves in the low post Lopez was effective as a galloping roll man in D-Will’s pick-&-roll’s and as a set shooter in pick-&-pop situations. His defensive presence around the rim was perfectly fine and his rebounding was not embarrassing. The two biggest improvements he could make over this off season would be as a pick-&-roll defender and as a passer. And it wouldn’t be a horrible shock if, at some point in the next half decade, he extends his range to the three point line.
IP: A really nice season for the big guy. Most players are pretty dependent on context– not him. Two years ago, 24-win team, Brook has 20.4 points, 6 rebounds, 49% shooting. This year, 49-win team with much better teammates– 19.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 52% shooting. He’s a terrific scorer, and he can put it in from anywhere inside the three-point line. He’s got just a terrific touch– almost like he’s the third Gasol brother– on offense anyway. Yes, Brook has some inherent liabilities in his game. He’s still weak on the defensive boards. He doesn’t pass well out of double teams– he’s regressed in that area. He may not be the best team defender, but he can protect the rim (2.1 blocks per game). When the Nets signed him to that extension, giving him Kevin Love money, I thought there was no way he’d live up to it. But he was their most consistent player, and I think he really showed us something this year.
DK: If Gerald Wallace wasn’t such a disappointment this season then Joe Johnson would have competed with Hump for the award. It’s not that ISO-Joe had a horrible year. He was third on the team in scoring, second in assists, and first in minutes played. He shot 37.5% from deep and 42.3% overall. Those are all solid numbers. But for 20 million dollars “solid numbers” aren’t enough. Johnson deserves some credit and respect for his impressive performances in the waning seconds this season. But his overall play left a lot to be desired. Before the season I wrote that we were going to see a nuanced version of Joe Johnson this year that combined his lights out shooting in Phoenix with his iso-scoring in Atlanta. I thought he would be a playmaker early in the shot clock and a spot up shooter/iso scorer at the end of shot clocks. That playmaker never appeared. Sure he got some assists throwing nice cross court passes over double teams but he was basically invisible all year unless he had the ball. He is not a cutter, a screener, or an offensive rebounder. He waits on the wing for the chance to catch. If he doesn’t catch he’s fine with that. He’s not a selfish player. He’s just not a particularly active player either. How much of this was Joe Johnson and how much of this was the Nets’ system/shortcomings? Not sure. But Joe Johnson is going to make over 21 million next season and the Nets deserve to see a more evolved version of ISO-Joe.
IP: People kill Carmelo Anthony for being a one-dimensional scorer, but Joe was even worse in that regard this year. Melo can at least get to the line, or attack the glass if his shot isn’t falling. Joe didn’t do anything other than a little bit of secondary playmaking, and there’s a difference between 16 ppg and nearly 29. Now, in Atlanta, his point guards were Mike Bibby and Jeff Teague. Bibby by that time was a guy who brought the ball up, and stood in the corner to wait for a three. So Joe had a lot of responsibility in that offense. Here, Deron’s got the ball. He’s content to run his two-man game with Brook all night. Joe becomes your bailout guy when Deron can’t get anything. A $20-million bailout guy. Now, how much of this is on Joe, and how much of it is on Billy King for getting trigger-happy in the offseason? I’ll give Joe a pass here. Everyone knew he wasn’t a max guy, and yet Atlanta maxed him, and the Nets traded for him. You can’t blame Joe for signing a contract born out of front-office panic. You just have to hope, whoever the next coach is, they figure out a way to get him moving off the ball.
DK: D-Will was hurt but we didn’t know how bad it was until he drove around Wayne Ellington and dunked:
That was his formal announcement that the pain was alleviated and his game was back. Despite the injuries and the early struggles D-Will finished the season averaging almost 19 points per game in addition to 8.4 assists (which was good for second in the NBA, an impressive accomplishment given the Nets’ slow pace). He shot 44% from the field and almost 38% from downtown. Most importantly he looked like that franchise point guard down the stretch, worthy of his 100 million dollar contract. If he was healthy the entire season the Nets would have gotten a higher seed and they might still be playing right now. Regardless, Billy King and Nets Nation should feel relieved that D-Will reclaimed his elite point guard status.
IP: What a magnificent second half. We were beginning to wonder– when he was limping around barely able to make a layup– what kind of franchise point guard this was. Then, he took a few days off before the All-Star break, got treatment on his ankles, did a juice cleanse, and wow. For the first time, really, the Nets got to see Utah D-Will. Now, Bill Simmons had an interesting thing to say about the pick-and-roll a few years ago. He called it “the greatest basketball play, except in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter,” or something like that. With a lot of the Nets’ crunch time offense going through Joe Johnson, there’s some truth in it. That was the one thing Deron didn’t show us a lot of– he didn’t make many big shots or big plays late in games. I think you can expect more out of him in that department next year, as it’s hard to imagine the team will have more instability going forward. My favorite shot of his has to be the fast-break pull-up three from the right wing. It seems like the defender always plays him to drive, and whoops! He seems to never miss from there.
Continue to Part 2 of the Postseason Wrap.
By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
The league’s #1-ranked regular-season defense didn’t disappoint, holding the Knicks to 71 points, and Carmelo Anthony to 21 on 6-16 shooting. Melo had absolutely no help in this one, as no other Knick scored in double figures. J.R. Smith, battling a cold and a shooting slump, had 9 points (4-12 FG), and Raymond Felton had his first bad game of the playoffs, as he managed only 6 points (1-8 FG) and 2 assists.
The Knicks once again couldn’t contain Roy Hibbert, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and scored 8 points on putbacks alone. They did a fine defensive job on the rest of the team, especially Paul George, who finished with 14 points on 4-17 FG. Both teams shot an unholy 35%, but the Pacers’ 18 offensive rebounds and 10 three-pointers made the difference.
At halftime, the Knicks trailed 36-33, but Indiana began to pull away in the third quarter. Amar’e Stoudemire, in his first game action in over two months, kept the Knicks barely in it by scoring 5 points in the final 6 seconds of the third quarter– first by tipping in a J.R. Smith miss, and then by draining a left-wing three at the buzzer that brought the Knicks within 62-53. Stoudemire finished with 7 points and 2 rebounds in 9 minutes of action.
The Knicks never threatened in the fourth, as Melo missed his last seven shots.
Neither team ran anything resembling cohesive offense, but Hibbert thoroughly dominated his matchups with Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin. The Knicks have a few days to make adjustments, as Game 4 won’t be until Tuesday night. They’ll need to find a way to negate the Pacers’ size advantage, and will need to win at least once in Indiana if they hope to advance.