Posts Tagged ‘Tex Winter’

Worthwhile analysis of two NBA games

November 21, 2008

When Kelly Dwyer [BDL] gets the fat part of the bat on the ball … which is generally acknowledged to be the single most difficult action to do proficiently in all of team sports … there’s a good chance that said sphere is going yard.

Without an excessive reliance on hard & fast empirical statistics, i.e. either ‘new-age’ or ‘old school’, when he simply conveys what he sees happening on the floor, in a general sense, from each of the participants, and his arrows’ strikes are true … as they are in these two specific instances, concerning last night’s Celtics/Pistons & Suns/Lakers match-ups, respectively:

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Behind the box score, where the C’s don’t let up and Detroit does
Exhibit A
Coaching matters. Stern decisions have to be made, and a lot of that “buck stops here” nonsense actually helps. It helps drive away excuses, and it helps to make you cringe should you have to spit out “we’ll get ‘em next time” after the game. If it hurts to say that, you’re on the right track. If you’re shrugging your shoulders, then something is missing. And I don’t care that the season is 82 games.

So when you see the Piston reserves acting like pampered former All-Stars, or Detroit failing to close out on shooters, or stepping into open lanes in order to make sure that the open lanes cease to be open lanes, you have to wonder when the buck is ever going to be able to stop.

This isn’t to say that Detroit played the same poor way the entire night, far from it. They just did it long enough to lose handily again. That’s the difference between a pretty good team that occasionally plays great and … the Celtics. The Celtics are just about always there.

Exhibit B
Winter is the architect of the Lakers’ offense, and likely the strongest principle of his famed Triangle offense is the way players are supposed to penetrate the defense. With a pass (preferably, because that means there is an open player somewhere in the teeth of that defense), a drive, a shot, or a rebound.

The last two may not seem like the best moves overall, because shots over the top of the D and ugly offensive rebounds don’t seem to go hand-in-hand with the spacious and aesthetically-pleasing Triangle offense.

But these things are important, especially when the player creating the penetration is among those (like, say, the Laker youngsters that come off the bench) who might not be the most structurally-sound Triangle denizens. There’s a reason Derek Fisher starts, you know.

So there LO is, shooting the ball, or getting into the lane for a lefty runner or hook that might not fall. Not only is his per-game numbers way down from last year, but his per-minute numbers have taken a dive as well. Even with all those chances to pad his stats among the bench corps. And yet, he’s helping. So, so much. Don’t let them convince you that he isn’t.

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it’s a pleasure and a treat to read the man’s prose about the game, and how it works at this level of competition.

First-rate stuff, right there, by the one, the only KD.

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2nd Comings in the Pacific Northwest

September 23, 2008

Q1. What are the reasons you have lost your mind and predicted boldly that the 2008-2009 LA Lakers will win 70+ regular season games and capture the NBA Championship?

A1. If you must know, it’s a two-part answer.

PART ONE
The Lakers have done a solid job re-assembling a 1st-class roster of highly talented, athletic, skilled, complimentary players around Phil Jackson & Kobe Bryant, two expert practicioners in their respective fields, i.e. ZenMaster Warlord, and his Most Trusted Samurai. On the heels of the experience this team gained last season, losing in the NBA FINALS, it is now poised to strike back with lethal vengence, this season … to provide the 10th NBA Title, as a coach, for their venorable Sensai; and, the 1st Ring (overall) for his protege, Black Mamba, unaccompanied by his former partner-in-crime, the Biggest-Shogun-of-All-Time. According to these eyes, this is THE season for these Lakers to make history, as a group. Here & Now. Next season? Who knows where Phil Jackson is going to be, at his age? Or, Lamar Odom? Or, Derek Fisher? Or, Tex Winter? Or, the rest of the Lakers’ extended family. The time for this group, to ‘Be In The Moment, as One‘, is NOW. 

“Life is fast; and, things happen quickly”.Derek Fisher

PART TWO
This MAN, right here …

is about to make his long-awaited debut, in the NBA, this season …

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Q & A with Greg Oden
NBA.com: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Greg Oden: Just to win. To try to get out there and help my team win as much as possible. I’m not really worried about individual stats. For me, if my team can make the playoffs or we can win a lot more games than we did last year, then that will satisfy me.

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and this corner just happens to believe that he is going to prove to be, in the long run, the closest thing this League has seen, in the LAST 40 YEARS, to the re-incarnation of The Great Man, himself … Mr. Bill Russell (figuratively speaking, of course, as the original incarnation is still going strong!) combined with Wilt Chamberlain (at his most powerful best) … in terms of his Commitment to REBOUNDING, Defense, Team & Individual Offense AND his overall attitude toward The Game (specifically) & Life (in general).

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NBA.com: You got to know the greatest big man in Blazers history, Bill Walton, a little bit. What advice has he shared with you?
Greg Oden: He’s just telling me if you go out there and play, you don’t have to worry about what people say about you in the news or the media. Just go out there and play your game and have fun with it. It’s just a game. You’ve got to understand that you’re a rookie. Don’t put any pressure on yourself that isn’t needed.

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If the Lakers DO NOT win the championship this season … each year that goes by it is going to get more and more difficult for them – and the other elite level teams in the Western Conference – to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers, anchored in the middle by Gregory Wayne Oden, Jr., over the course of the next decade, or so.

When you find yourself standing squarely between a Rock (i.e. last year’s group of Boston Celtics) and a Hard Place (Greg Oden’s Portland Trail Blazers for the next 10-15 years) … it can do wonders to create an extraordinary sense of urgency, and R.E.S.P.E.C.T., for the moment at-hand. Carpe Diem!

Destiny Awaits! … THIS, specific Lakers’ team

… which will NEED to strike while the iron is hot … and, before the sparks ignite, full blown, up the Pacific Coastline, in the Emerald City.

Hubris, The Big Aristotle and the Phoenix Suns

February 8, 2008
Re: The ‘Big Risk’, Steve Kerr Rolls the Dice 
 

 

Hubris: The most common form of tragic flaw, usually ascribed to excessive pride or arrogance.

Insightful observations, the last 24 hrs …  

Roland Lazenby, on SportsHubLA, Twin Towers For The Lakers? Head Scratching For The Suns? 

I’m surprised (Steve) Kerr would do that,” (Tex) Winter said of the Suns’ trading Shawn Marion this week for Shaq. “It’s a strange trade. Shaq sure misses a lot of games. He’s not a very good defensive rebounder, or offensive rebounder for that matter. He does rebound his own misses a lot.” 

Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports, Suns hoping O’Neal has something left in tank 

Kerr insists the Suns doctors – considered the benchmark staff in the sport – are sold that they have a rehab remedy for Shaq’s troublesome hip to work him back into shape. “He’s going to make dramatic improvement with us,” the two doctors told Kerr, and that carries credibility with the Suns basketball people. Before the Suns signed Nash, Hill and Antonio McDyess with serious past injuries, the medical staff assured them that they could keep these players healthy.

and

Henry Abbott, TrueHoop, The Way Shaquille O’Neal Plays Now 

Better than looking at numbers is watching video. I just did a ton of this, thanks to Synergy Sports. I watched him against the kinds of Western powers that the Lakers are likely to face. And I watched him against other teams.

Here are some things I can tell you with assurance:

* He’s not as slow or fat as rumored. He looks pretty fit, frankly. And on the ground, he moves well. Sometimes he even beats the opposing center down the floor. When pressed, he can still win deep post position against just about anyone. Once he catches it there, his footwork has long been splendid. Without looking rushed, he can probe the defender’s attack and make the right maneuver — spin, jump hook, power dribble, whatever — time and again. He is doing an excellent job of getting himself good, clean, short-range looks, and then …

* … he’s blowing layups. Layup after layup after layup after layup. It’s horrible to watch. He’s a first-rate talent. He’s getting the shot every coach dreams about: point blank, with no real defensive distractions. And then he just misses it. Five years ago, he dunked all of those. Now, thanks to his physical limitations, he’s not going over anybody with anything. So he has to finesse it, and watching him finesse a layup is a lot like watching him finesse a free throw. Hard to watch. 

* I had watched about 20 clips of him before it really struck me how true it is that the man can not jump anymore. Rebounding, scoring, blocking shots … everything he does now is within a few inches of the ground. It doesn’t make him any slower, weaker, or smaller, but it does significantly up the chances that the opposition stops him from doing what he wants to do. (For instance, James Jones blocked his shot earlier this year. That didn’t happen five years ago.) So stark is this limitation that I won’t be at all surprised if we learn later that some essential element of a good jump — some muscle, some ligament, some something — is incapacitated or missing entirely from O’Neal this season. And that really hurts his potential as a stopper, basket protector, and rebounder in Phoenix. If the Suns doctors and trainers can re-install whatever’s missing, he’ll be dunking again, which will change everything.

* There has been the suggestion that he might help the Suns stop big men like Andrew Bynum and Tim Duncan. Maybe that’s part of the plan. But I can tell you that he has not yet seen the new Bynum, and when Miami played San Antonio early this season, O’Neal was strictly on Fabricio Oberto and Francisco Elson duty. Three times, late in the game, he ended up on Duncan in a switch or as a helper, and here’s what happened: Duncan put the ball on the floor and made a layup, Duncan kicked out to Manu Ginobili for a made three, and Duncan dribbled the ball out of bounds — my money’s on it going off O’Neal, but it was called Miami ball. So, without a dubious call, you have exactly zero success with O’Neal as a Duncan stopper.

When an elite level athlete loses his/her legs … he/she cannot play ‘the game’ any more. 

Shaquille O’Neal’s legs are gone. 

In fact, they’ve been gone since the 2005-2006 season, when his ORPG dipped below 3.4 for the first time in his career. 

When the Heat captured the NBA Championship that year, storming back against the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals, from an 0-2 deficit, they did so without Shaq on the floor for extended stretches of the game and, most importantly, not at all in the closing minutes of the last 4 games. 

The 2005-2006 NBA Championship belonged to Dwyane Wade & Co. … not to The Diesel & His Friends.  

Q1. Are the Suns a better team today than they were two days ago?
A1. Yes, they are. 

Q2. Are the Suns more of a threat to actually win the 2007-2008 NBA Championship, right now, than they were two ago?
A2. Yes, they are. 

Q3. Are the Suns good enough, as is, to win this year’s NBA Finals?
A3. No, they are not. 

Q4. How come? 
A4.
Because Shaq simply doesn’t move well enough (with agility & power) any more to: 

1)      Defend his own check effectively, especially away from the basket;
2)      Block shots effectively;
3)      Defensive Rebound effectively;
4)      Rotate properly on Defense; and,
5)      Offensive Rebound his teammates’ Misses effectively.

And, it’s only Hubris for him and members of Suns’ Athletic Training Staff to believe, unequivocally, that their State-of-the-Art rehabilitation techniques will be able to restore this behemoth of a man to sound working order, after 15 years of NBA pounding, once this type of physical decay has set in. 

Restoring the health of relative youngsters … like Amare Stoudemire and Antonio McDyess, after serious knee injuries … and maintaining ‘horizontal’ athletes … like Steve Nash & Grant Hill, respectively, despite serious back & assorted other ailments … is not the same thing as returning ‘the Hops’ to a 312 lbs Giant, who hasn’t been able to jump properly for 2 years, due to a series of debilitating knee, thigh and hip injuries, which required several surgeries & extensive rehabilitation/treatment during the last 24 months, including a series of cortisone shots.   

Proverbs 16: 18