The NBA’s Big Three: What’s up with the Lakers, Celtics and Knicks?

January 23, 2012

By Jack Maidment

The NBA’s three biggest teams are in big trouble right now.

New York Knicks. Boston Celtics. Los Angeles Lakers. All united in history by similar levels of success, prestige and expectation, but most recently bound together by a seemingly irrevocable slide into oblivion.

The Knicks, them of the ‘obvious’ championship calibre, are currently mired in a six game losing streak and their saviour Carmelo Anthony is being booed every time he gets the ball.

The Lakers have lost their last three and have a 1-6 record on the road.

The Celtics are at 6-9, a miserable 4-6 in their last 10, with half of their wins coming against the woeful Washington Wizards.

So what the hell is wrong with the NBA’s Big Three?

For the Knicks it’s all about the offense, even if that does fly in the face of every winning mantra ever given air time by a coach.

I have watched the Knicks play more than any other team this season and I can safely say they play terrible basketball. Car crash basketball.

And yet. The pieces look so enticing. It’s Carmelo! And Amare! And Mike D’Antoni’s offense! In the Garden!

But it just doesn’t work. And the idea that Baron Davis will swoop in and fix all of New York’s problems is absurd.

The only way the Knicks get fixed is if Carmelo buys in to a system that involves him passing. That’s it and all about it.

When he is selfish with the ball the Knicks struggle, particularly Amare Stoudemire, who is looking more and more like the forgotten man in fourth quarters.

When they pass the pall they actually look like an okay team: Nothing was more telling last week than when Carmelo left the game against Phoenix in the third and the Knicks moved the ball and played their best basketball of the night. No kidding.

But passing is a rarity in New York this season with the Knicks in the bottom five in the league for assists at a measly 18 a game.

Until that changes, and Baron will help, the boos will continue to rain down in MSG. But the Knicks will be back this year, of that I am sure.

I’m not sure the same can be said of the Celtics or Lakers.

The Celts’ problems lie in rebounding the ball and a severe lack of depth. Boston is the second worst team on the boards in the NBA this season, pulling down a paltry 38 a game, and its bench is absolutely awful. Look.

Combine that with an offense scoring 89 a game (26th overall in the NBA) and an over-reliance on Rajon Rondo and the Celtics are praying for the 8th seed in the East.

Such an aspiration is shared by the Lakers right now as they wallow in 10th place in the West having scored more than 100 points in a game just once this season. After 18 games.

Oh, and their starting point guard is averaging 5-2 a game. And shoots .241 from three. And their bench has exactly zero scorers. And they traded Lamar Odom for a second round pick.

After four years of Celtic Laker dominance it feels strange to think of them as 8th seeds. And despite their refurbishment the Knicks continue to struggle to shake off their immediate past.

But that’s where we are. Tough times are ahead for all three of these teams.


The NBA’s best, and worst, three point shooters

January 17, 2012

By Jack Maidment

It’s been said to succeed in the NBA you have to have at least one elite skill. If you are a great defender, say Shane Battier, chances are you’ll stick somewhere. Precognitive rebounder, like Dennis Rodman, you have a great chance of staying in the league.

Similarly, if you can shoot the lights out of any gym you play in a team somewhere is going to want you – putting the ball in the hole is never going to get old, hitting the open jump shot will never go out of fashion.

With that in mind here is a break down of the best, and absolute worst, three point shooters in the NBA this season.

To qualify each player had to have taken at least 30 shots from behind the arc (about three attempts a game, give or take).

Without looking I had three of these guys on the list in my head. The rest were almost total surprises.

The Best:

  1. Ray Allen, Boston Celtics. No surprises here. The man with the most three pointers made in NBA history is officially the best shooter from beyond the arc in the league and it’s not even close. Who knew. Jesus has shot 31-54 from three, good for a suitably majestic .574 from behind the arc.
  2. Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns. The rookie big man has made 16 of 31. He is shooting .516 from three. Anyone who says they had Morris on this list is a liar.
  3. Richard Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs. 36-71. .507
  4. Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors. Right player in the perfect offense. 17-35. .486
  5. James Jones, Miami Heat. The second of my three. Junior is a given. 15-31. .484
  6. Hedo Turkoglu, Orlando Magic. Confusure. I thought Turkoglu stopped playing in 2010? 30-62. .484
  7. Nicolas Batum, Portland Trailblazers. 21-44. .477
  8. Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs. 14-30. .467
  9. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics. Pretty good when two of the top 10 three point shooters in the NBA are on the same team. Even if said team is awful. 18-39. .462
  10. Daniel Gibson, Cleveland Cavaliers. He was my third. He will take Eddie House’s moniker soon enough. 22-48. .458

The next list is ugly. I checked the stats on the number one guy at least four times because I couldn’t believe you could miss so many threes without the coach fitting you with an electric shock collar. I picked one right.

The Worst:

  1. Raymond Felton, Portland Trailblazers. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. 6-43. .140
  2. John Salmons, Sacramento Kings. I picked him. 8-44. .182
  3. Wesley Johnson, Minnesota Timberwolves. 8-41. .195
  4. Shawne Williams, New Jersey Nets. 7-33. .212
  5. Lamar Odom, Dallas Mavericks 9-42. .214

 


NBA Finals: Game 3’s Most Important Top 10

June 10, 2010

by Jack Maidment

1. The Rim

In a career that lasts 10 years, 15 if you are super lucky/talented/lazy, all NBA players make plans for taking care of themselves after retirement. Game 3 of the NBA Finals was proof of where Kobe has invested a small portion of his considerable wealth.

Take a look at the under side of the rim on both ends of the floor in Boston and there, clear as day, a stamp: Kobe Inc.

Some of the bounces that 24 got in Game 3 can only be explained by favours; favours that the CEO of any company can expect.

2. Garnett match-up against Gasol and Bynum

Garnett dominated Gasol all night, having his way wherever he wanted, evidence that his first step and canny face up game are still potent. The same can not be said for his time against Andrew Bynum who gave the Big Ticket fits. His length allowed him to contest every shot Garnett made, forcing at least one air ball and many a hopeful rainbow. Lesson? Keep Garnett the hell away from Bynum.

3. Gasol touches

Pau Gasol is basketball’s best big man. No doubt. Every time he got the ball in Game 3 he was causing Boston no end of problems: drawing the double team and utilising his unsurpassed passing ability, shooting the angled fifteen footer (unbelievable reliable) or driving to the hole. So when Kobe was doing his best impression of a greedy child the Lakers struggled; balance gone and Gasol frustrated. Just give the man the ball. More.

4. Kobe being selfish

Kobe is the best player in the game but that shouldn’t give him the license he currently has to shoot the ball at the expense of his team. He needs to take over the game in his spots for sure, but stepping in front of a pass meant for Shannon Brown and hoisting a 3 doesnt seem like the way Los Angeles will repeat.

5. Big Baby Davis

The man is untrue. If he is 6’8 then Nate Robinson is at least 6’1. But it doesn’t matter. In Game 3 he was fearless, relentlessly attacking the rim and challenging the huge Laket frontline. He was backing down Bynum with some success but it is example that is worth the most going forward. The Lakers are the school yard bully with their length and Baby is showing his team mates that their lunch money is not pre-destined to end up in the Lakers’ collective pocket.

6. Fisher

Easily the most likeable member of the Laker team, especially after his emotional ‘my team’ post game interview, Derrick Fisher won Game 3 for the Lakers. When the offense was stuttering in the third and fourth he came up big time after time.

One play stands out: after a Laker defensive rebound and outlet pass Fisher took the ball to the basket over three Celtics getting obliterated but converting the lay up and hitting the foul shot.

7. Odom 5 for 5

Odom turned up. Lakers win. Simple as.

8. Artest and Kobe defense

Aside from a hint of selfishness, Kobe was an animal on defence, as was Artest. Pierce is having a hard time against Ron Ron and his ‘in your shirt’ D is a major reason for The Truth’s lack of production so far this Finals.

9. Replay Rule

Three times in the last 2 minutes of the game the officials went to the monitor after making out of bounds calls. All three times they got it wrong and all three times they reversed their original decision. Just so important. Technology is good.

10. Vujacic free throws

Possibly the most hated man in American sports (discuss…) came into the game in the last minute having played 20 seconds at the end of the first half. He entered, was fouled, hit both shots. The Lakers were up 6 at the time. If he misses both (conceivable given the pressurised situation) the game is on. He was money and he closed the game out, much to Kobe’s delight: how much Sasha will cherish that little head pat.


The Boston Celtics best player? Rajon Rondo.

May 10, 2010

by Jack Maidment

Forget the 17 NBA Championships.

Forget the fact that the Boston Celtics play in a city which reveres their basketball team almost like no other.

Forget Bill Russell and his 11 rings.

Forget Larry Bird and the 1986 team that went 40-1 at home.

Forget Kevin McHale and his post game.

Forget about Dave Cowens, Robert Parish, Bob Cousy and every other Celtic legend to pull on the famous green and white of Boston.

Forget about the glimpse of Bill Walton’s greatness.

Forget about Antoine Walker and the days when the Celtic’s were in a lengthy funk.

Forget about the trades which brought Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the city and the Championship that followed.

Forget Garnett’s knee. Forget Paul Pierce’s Finals MVP.

Forget the Big Three.

Remember Rajon Rondo.

In the space of two years the point guard out of Kentucky has transformed himself from weak link to the best player on a contender.

That is what he is. He is the team’s engine and he makes them tick.

29-18-13 in last night’s Game 4 Celtic victory testifies to that.

He played almost 10 minutes more than any other team mate and through sheer force of will and a quickness unmatched by 99% of the NBA he drove a creaking Boston team closer to a series win against LeBron James and his Championship favourites Cleveland Cavaliers.


Rasheed Wallace agrees to join Boston Celtics, Jason Kidd to remain a Dallas Maverick

July 6, 2009

sheedby Jack Maidment

There is a knock at the door. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, accompanied by Boston Celtic’s GM Danny Ainge, have flown into Michigan especially just to talk to you about the possibility of joining there team.

Rasheed Wallace who played gracious host to the Celtic contingent was scheduled to visit elsewhere in his bid to find a new team.

However, it would appear that KG, Jesus Shuttleworth and the Truth were enough to sway ’Sheed into going green.

A 2 year contract for around the mid-level exception, $5.5 million give or take, will ensure that Wallace is suiting up in Boston next season, providing the C’s with valuable front court depth.

It remains to be seen whether or not he will start with less minutes or come off of the bench for impact, but the lure of another title with 3 genuine All Stars should put Wallace in the right place to stay focused.

The combination of KG and Rasheed could go one of two ways. Either they will be good for each other, sort of like two angry and volatile positives cancelling each other’s madness out, or they will combine to create the most combustible front court tandem in the League.

Entertainment guaranteed.

Wallace was not the only veteran free agent being courted by a number of teams. After talking to the New York Knicks amongst others, Jason Kidd has agreed to a 3 year $25 million deal to stay with the Dallas Mavericks.

To commit to that much money on a 37 year old is certainly brave; Mark Cuban must simply believe that Jason Kidd is the man to get the Mavs where they need to go.


Detroit Pistons Reject Boston Celtic’s Trade Advances

June 23, 2009

rip and princeby Jack Maidment

How many times have you tried talking to someone for them to apparently not hear you at all? And when they do acknowledge your attempt at communication, all you are greeted with is a look of annoyance that you have disturbed their peace.

NBA General Managers must be familiar with both sides of this ‘conversation’ given the amount of talk, especially in the off season, that takes place regarding the switching of player personnel.

There are those that love to talk, those who love to listen and those who do a little bit of both.

According to Yahoo Sports one man who has been doing a lot of listening this week is the Detroit Piston’s GM, Joe Dumars, with the Boston Celtics at the other end doing all of the talking.

The story is being told that neither franchise’s GM was involved in discussions, but that initial talks had taken place between lower level executives.

The Celtics were looking to trade Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen for Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey.

To say that these team’s ‘discussed’ a trade appears to be slightly hyperbolic given the simplicity of Detroit’s response: no.

The trade appears to be more wishful thinking than realism on the part of Boston. Such a deal is clearly built around the value of Allen’s $20 million expiring contract which would leave his team big time cap room heading into 2010.

The Piston’s however are more keen to rebound quickly, playing with the salary space that Allen Iverson’s departure has created.

With the desire for cap space eliminated, the trade, talent wise, just doesn’t make sense for Detroit.

Ray Allen is clearly in the autumn of his career, a very good player but for how much longer? In contrast, Rip Hamilton is realtively sprightly with many years of production ahead of him.

The same can be said for Prince who was no doubt desired by the Celtics for his ability to defend the lengthy 3s and 4s that will stand in between Boston and a return to the Finals.

Boston is apparently reluctant to re-sign Rondo to the long term and large contract that he will soon command. Stuckey appears to be the cheaper alternative.

The trade would almost certainly reinvigorate the Celtic’s, but given the fact that it makes next to no sense for Detroit, this simply ain’t gonna happen.


NBA Trade Rumors: Boston, Houston and New York all interested in #2 Pick

June 9, 2009
ricky-rubio2 
 
by Jack Maidment
 
Despite the perceived weakness of the 2009 Draft Class, many teams are still keen to get their hands on the top picks for a shot at taking the player can usher in a new era of success for their franchise.

For some this means finding the building block on which to add other pieces, looking ahead at least 2 or 3 years before really contemplating playoff success.

For others, a top 5 pick represents the opportunity to add ‘the last piece’ to a team that is ‘almost there’.

It appears that the Los Angeles Clippers are dead set on Blake Griffin with relatively little chance of a trade taking him away from Clipperville.

However, the same certainty cannot be applied to the Memphis Grizzlies who hold the rights to pick #2.

News is beginning to circulate that at least three other teams are keen to trade for their chance to pick second overall when Ricky Rubio, Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden, Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry will all be available.

The Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets are two of the three teams apparently interested but with neither team possessing a first round pick this year they will have to rely on a personnel switch to persuade Memphis to part with their valuables.

The third team, which does have picks to play with and is rumoured to be interested, is the New York Knicks. Rumour or no rumour, it makes sense for the Knicks to trade up with the franchise desperate for a player to build around.

Ricky Rubio will undoubtedly be the Knicks’ target: a player capable of boosting the team’s performance and popularity as well as providing the player the perfect market in which his management want him placed.

If these rumours materialise into something more concrete it will be interesting to see what the #2 is worth:

The Celtics will be the team with the least options given the liklihood that they will want to preserve the Big 4. That leaves Kendrick Perkins, Eddie House and other bench players as Boston’s bargaining chips?

The Rockets could try and offload Tracy McGrady’s salary for the pick plus player(s) from Memphis?

As for the Knicks? Well they could offer just about anyone from their roster.

I like Rubio in New York