Category:NBA
Posted on: June 28, 2010 4:03 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 6:02 pm
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Ball don't lie. No, seriously, ball does not lie.

You've heard the phrase. You've seen the blog . You know the drill. "Ball don't lie." The infamous Rasheed-Wallace-penned quote that has since become a fixture in NBA lexicon. Turns out, Sheed was actually tapping into something buried deep in our subconcious. That's right. Rasheed Wallace has a higher level of astral convergence than you. Deal with that.

Fringe NBA blog FreeDarko today has the first in a series of posts looking at social psychology and the NBA. Wait, don't run! This is actually kind of interesting! The post outlines a paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology" that has to do with the performance of NBA players at the free throw line, following an erroneous foul call . You can read more about the paper at FD, but here's the punchline:

"...the authors calculated free throw percentage for the first shot after these incorrect calls, which turned out to be a whoppingly low 53.2%, substantially lower than the league average for the season on first-shot free throws, 73.6% (the league average was 77.8% for second-shot free throws). This suggests inequity aversion--players felt significantly less comfortable making a free throw after receiving an unjust foul call."

It's a bizarre trend that may be more coincidence than anything else, but the numbers are pretty staggering. Who knew there was such a thing as a "guilt miss?"

-Matt Moore

Category: NBA
Posted on: June 28, 2010 3:05 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 6:02 pm
 

Everyone wants Joe Johnson all of a sudden

Look, I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.

You're going to be hard pressed to find a bigger Joe Johnson advocate in ye old Blogosphere than the author of this post right here. An Arkansas native (Johnson grew up in Little Rock, went to school at U of A), and someone that dug the SSOL-era Suns (who didn't outside of San Antonio), I have followed the explosive wing's career in Atlanta with great interest. That little crossover business with Boston? That's some pretty stuff, right there.

But is he worth all the attention he's suddenly receiving?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Mavs intend to pursue a sign-and-trade to acquire the services of the soon-to-be 29 year-old shooting guard. This coming on the heels of reports that he's on the fast train to New York, and of course, that Chicago is on the target list as well.

The Mavericks have been banking on a sign-and-trade option for free agency for a long time (and Mark Cuban's already invested money to that effect in the form of a fine for talking about it ). They have a talented roster and are willing to absorb more salary, as they've consistently been at the top of the luxury tax for nearly the past decade. A combination of Caron Butler and pieces might be enough to entice the Hawks into going for the deal. For Johnson, it would mean getting the extra year's worth of money that comes with signing with his former club, plus not having to be "the man" for the team, playing in tandem with Dirk Nowitzki. It would also move him closer to his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.

But is Johnson worth the kind of money that would be coming to him in a max-contract sign and trade? There's been a lot of speculation about Johnson being willing to take less than a max deal, but those rumors were tied with him being headed to New York. Regardless, his deal will still be an albatross, and will remain so throughout the length of his contract. By the time it ends, Johnson could be a 35 year old shooting guard with faded elevation. His jump shot isn't pure like Ray Allen, and there's been a noticeable plateau in his efficiency as he approaches the apex of his career.

With that being said, there's something to be said in that article linked above from Hawks blog Hoopinion on how his game could adjust in the right circumstances:


"...he could become more efficient in a lower-usage role but likely at the cost of some the volume of points he's scored and assists he's earned over the last five seasons."

That's precisely the type of role he'd fit in with the Mavs. Jason Kidd as the creator, Dirk Nowitzki (assuming the highly probable re-signing) as the lynch pin, and Johnson as the perimeter finisher. It would put the Mavs offense immediately in the top of the league offensively... hypothetically. Then again, the deal for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood was supposed to put them in similar context, and instead resulted in a swift first round ejection.

There's one thing we can tell from this report. Mark Cuban, yet again, will not be sitting around twiddling his thumbs during the most important offseason in NBA history.

-Matt Moore


Posted on: June 28, 2010 1:53 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 1:58 pm
 

The coaching factor in Lebron James' free agency

Our own Ken Berger outlined for you the totality of what LeBron James is condering in his free agency courtship ritual that starts Thursday. But lost among the discussions of weather, teammates, finance, marketing, wine, women, and song is that somewhere in there, he's got to play actual basketball. And while the roster certainly plays a part in that, what about the potential head coaches he'll be leveraging a system with? Let's be clear on this, his new coach's system will be molded to fit James' game, not the other way around (ironic, since James is the one free agent with the most versatility of this monstrous class of 2010). So what exactly is he going to be examining starting Thursday at 12:01AM EST (yes, yes, we know, he's already looking at those things. Play along, will you?).

Chicago: Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau is coming in as a blank offensive book. He's been focused on defense for the past ten years, and there's been scare discussion of what exactly Thibodeau has in mind. One thing we do know is he wants to initate the offense with Derrick Rose , capitalizing on his speed and strength. The question for James is if he's prepared to play off-ball and be set up to use his incredible array of talents, or if he wants to run the LeISO sets, as they were called in Cleveland, where he single-handedly orchestrated the offense. Certainly in crunch time those are the possessions you want, with your best player with the ball in his hand. But if James recognizes that Rose's dribble penetration and mid-range game can open up more opportunities while saving his energy, Chicago could become a lot more attractive.

New York: Mike D'Antoni. If James has visions of wanting to challenge for averaging a triple double, New York is where he needs to be. Seven Seconds or Less will boost anyone's stats, and when you examine what Shawn Marion was able to do (21.8 points, 11.8 rebounds) with a lesser skillset under the 'stache, James' numbers could be through the roof. It's the defensive side of the ball where James is likely to be hesitant. If there's one thing his playoff failures have taught him, from Detroit to San Antonio to Boston to Orlando and then Boston again, it's that defense wins championships. He's had that mantra pounded into him from the day the Cavs made the playoffs, and all his most succesful teams have been built around defense. It would take a dramatic departure for James to embrace D'Antoni's style, which would defensively result in more highlight breakaways off of turnovers, but would also make life much harder for him against the Eastern elite. Numbers aren't everything, and the team defensive numbers are likely to matter more.

Miami Heat:
Pat Riley's pitch is going to be simple. Talent matters, and if you play with Dwyane Wade, everything else is irrelevant. The problem is that while Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has made the playoffs with the Heat and won consistently, the offense has been a bit of a disaster. Too often Spoelstra has surrendered command to Wade and not induced enough off-ball movement and against playoff schemes designed to converge on ISO players (like, say, Boston), the Heat's strategy has wilted considerably. Spoelstra's defensive components should be sound, and he's well liked by the players and organization. Miami could be an attractive option if James decides he wants more control over the offense, since a simpler system will have fewer principles for him to crack.

New Jersey Nets:
Avery Johnson has experience with creating offense. His Mavericks teams were good on both sides of the ball, but under Johnson they were versatile behemoths, slayed primarily because of a series of bad matchups in the playoffs. Johnson had success using Devin Harris as a drive and create guard, and circling the offense through Dirk Nowitzki in the high post. We heven't seen James operate much in the high post, curiously, as he usually either attacks from the perimeter or sets up in the low block. Using James as a Josh Howard/Dirk Nowitzki hybrid could yield some explosive results under Avery, and his commitment to man-defensive principles could appeal to James' simplistic concept of defense without as many of the help systems he adhered to under Mike Brown.

The Clippers and Cavs currently don't have a coach. The question is if that's a good thing or a bad thing for them as they attempt to lure James. It could be good from the perspective of giving James the option of selecting his own coach from a series of candidates. But it could also look like the organization doesn't have their house in order. Both candidates the Clippers are exploring do have head coaching experience, but aren't considered top rung. And the longer the Cavs get jerked around by Byron Scott waiting on the Lakers, the worse it looks for them, especially with Danny Ferry out.

As Berger said, there's a world of things James will be considering, and he'll be the final one making the decision. Coaching in the NBA isn't the most important thing, but it's certainly a factor. And in a competition where you're judged down to the minute detail, because James simply has the luxury of examining you to that degree, things like coaching will matter. What James decides to go with will say a lot about what he thinks of his game, and where he thinks his future is best invested, system-wise.

-Matt Moore

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com