North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Archive for the ‘basketball’ Category

Lou: Sixth Man of the Year

leave a comment »

I’d been hearing buzz about Lou Williams deserving the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award over the past couple weeks, but truthfully I hadn’t really paid it much heed: I like Williams, I guess, but I truthfully never really thought of him as the league’s best off-the-bench player.

Maybe it’s because in my mind, I want to compare anyone who wins the award with people like Manu Ginobili or (Oklahoma City Thunder-era) James Harden: guards who play off-the-bench but dictate the action when they’re on the court. But I suppose maybe the comparison is unfair: Ginobili is a generational talent and Harden is, well, really good. I mean I just picked him as the NBA’s MVP.

And while Williams isn’t either of those, nobody’s saying he is. But he is good, especially in the role he’s been placed in. So let’s dig in!

This is Williams first season in Toronto and his tenth in the NBA. He’s 28, which is about when players start peaking and his play this season has been full of career-highs. He’s played in 80 games, his most since 2008-09, and logged over 2000 minutes, a career high. Per 36 Minutes, Williams is averaging about 22 points, three rebounds and three assists. Compared to previous years, his rebounding is about the same, his assist rate is down and his scoring has gone through the roof.

In part, it could be called a simple twist of fate: as per a 82 Games report, the second-most used Raptors squad is Williams, Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, James Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough. Not what you’d call a fearsome squad, but that’s basically their second unit. And of those five, only Williams averages more than 10 points per game.

So he focuses on scoring, letting Vasquez control the ball and Patterson or Hansbrough rebound. Remember, Vasquez’s Usage Rate is averaging around 20 per cent, meaning he’s used in a fifth of all plays when he’s on the court. Not bad for second-string guard!). And Williams takes a lot of shots.

This year, Williams has attempted 928 shots, third-most on the team and only slightly behind DeMar DeRozan’s 990. And honestly, I’m surprised is only that few: in my mind’s eye, I can see him taking like a dozen shots a game, hitting a few big ones and missing a few, too.

For every time he’s hit an important bucket (here’s one, here’s another and here’s one from the preseason), I feel like there’s been a game where he shot them out of contention. Two examples: a 109-93 loss to Brooklyn where Williams went 1-of-11 and a 82-75 loss to Milwaukee where he went 1-of-12.

I don’t mean to shit on his parade, though. I’m pretty psyched that Williams won the award and frankly, it’s pretty cool to see any Raptor win an award like this. And usually, after a poor shooting night or two, Williams rebounds with something good. So here’s hoping his 4-for-16 afternoon on Sunday was his Bad Game of the series against Washington.


Written by M.

April 21, 2015 at 11:22 am

A Quick NBA Finals Prediction

with 2 comments

Last week, I wrote about the Western Conference champs and a few days ago, about the Miami Heat going to a game seven, so I’ve already written a bunch about the Finals already. But here’s a few more loose thoughts and a prediction for the Finals, which start tonight.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Point: Glory Days: Kobe, Jordan, Marv and The NBA on NBC

leave a comment »

I was watching some older NBA stuff the other day when I realized it’s been 10 full seasons now since the NBA ended it’s run on NBC. It’s kind of a strange period: everybody looks back fondly at the NBA on NBC while barely caring about any other old broadcast: who pines for the days when Brent Musburger called games on CBS or for Chris Schenkel’s bowling stuff? Probably has something to do with a certain couple personalities.

From my essay:

There were many things to love about the NBA on NBC: the Jordan Dynasty with his six titles; the Kobe and Shaq Lakers winning multiple championships; the iconic theme song. But another was how wide-ranging its broadcasts seemed: I remember when the Raptors played on a national game. And I remember when they aired two, sometimes three games on single day.

Click here to read the whole thing!

Written by M.

August 4, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Small sponsor patches in the NBA are hardly a big deal

leave a comment »

Years ago, back when I was still in high school, I was really into Adbusters and Naomi Klein and signed up for a course called Media Studies, taught by a new teacher called Ms. Bell, who was the kind of person who used to reprimand people for buying shirts with logos on them: why would you pay to be a billboard, she’d ask them, it’s supposed to go the other way around.

I thought of her when I heard about the NBA’s plan to put ads on jerseys.

The NBA’s plan is to out a small sponsor logo on the uniform, a patch “inches above the heart”, as a Bloomberg report so colorfully puts it. That report estimates these patches will bring in something like $100 million a season, which is pretty good money but nothing compared to some deals the NBA already has in place. Both TNT and ESPN pay over $900 million a year for broadcasting rights, for instance.

And it’s not exactly like the league is hemorrhaging money, either: 15 teams lost money in the 2010-11 season, but the collective bargaining agreement shifted revenue towards owners, meaning they’re not really out that much. So it’s not exactly as if the league needsthis patch money, but who ever turned down free cash? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by M.

July 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Posted in advertising, basketball, NBA

Jack McCallum’s Dream Team and the basketball book pantheon

leave a comment »

I finished Jack McCallum’s new book about the Dream Team today. It’s a good read – look for a review at The Good Point and maybe elsewhere sometime soon – and I enjoyed it a lot.

There’s one thing about it, though, that keeps nagging at the back of my mind: how often McCallum turns to other authors. It’s not something he does often, but every so often he quotes a passage from Jackie MacMullan’s When the Game Was Ours or Bill Simmons The Book of Basketball and occasionally from something else. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just kind of a weird thing to me. After all, he interviewed Magic Johnson, so why is he using a quote of his from another book?

That’s a minor thing, but it got me thinking about those books. And once I started with that, I went a little further and looked at all the basketball books I own and thinking about the ones I’ve read and how they all compare. What follows is a few words about my favorite basketball books and if I’d recommend them over Dream Team.

  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by M.

July 18, 2012 at 8:49 pm

The Good Point: Linsanity and Carmadness

leave a comment »

The people at The Good Point were nice enough to let me use a word that doesn’t exist in my headline: Carmadness.

I have a few ideas and one I go back to often is the hype and hyperbole of the sports section. Right now, the best example of this is happening in New York, where a seven-game win streak ushered in Linsanity and made Mike D’Antoni some kind of savant for letting Jeremy Lin run amok. And then came a cold streak and D’Antoni resigning amidst claims that Carmelo Anthony wanted him out.

It’s a nice story. It’s something you can spin into three, five, a whole week’s worth of columns. But it’s not very accurate and blaming the coach or an individual player is blaming the wrong person. And it’s not just a basketball thing, either: just look at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Anyway, read the whole thing by clicking here.

Written by M.

March 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm

The Good Point: Is Andrea Bargnani the NBA’s most improved player?

leave a comment »

There aren’t many storylines – which aren’t even a thing, really – around the Toronto Raptors, but there’s one that I couldn’t get out of my mind: what’s happened to Andrea Bargnani this year. Over at The Good Point, I explain how he’s changed from a black hole and why it matters:

In a year marked by some bad teams, the Toronto Raptors are one of the worst. This is not a new thing. They’ve been bad for years, with a defense more porous than Havarti cheese. Last year, they regularly allowed 120 per game, sometimes as much as 140. You don’t have to know basketball to know that’s bad. 

The stats bear that out: the 2011 Raptors allowed the fifth most points per game, the fourth-lowest SRS and lost the third-most games in the league. And Andrea Bargnani, their much-maligned star, finished the season with just 2.6 Win Shares and a 16.4 PER, despite playing the second-most minutes on the team. 

Things aren’t much better for the Raptors this season. They dropped eight in a row in January, are 8-16 and have the league’s second-lowest points scored per game (86.8). And that’s mostly because of Bargnani. I mean it in a good way.

Continue reading at The Good Point

Written by M.

February 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm