1. Some Random Musings: It’s been pretty clear that the Eastern Conference is weak and plenty has been written about this fact. Here are a couple more facts that you might not have noticed:
-There are only five teams in the east that have outscored their opponents for the season. The last time that happened was the Eastern Conference in 2003-04 (when the Pistons actually won it all).
-The worst scoring team in the NBA, so far, is the Hornets. They average 89.8 ppg, the only team below the 90 ppg mark. After last night’s win, the team is 207 since Chris Paul went down. They are the type of team that could actually use an inefficient, high volume chucker. The team is relying heavily on Jannero Pargo, who can’t shoot (.363 FG%).
-As bad as the Atlantic is, the Nets are still the “class” of the division. They have a point differential of -0.7 ppg and the Celts are second at -1.8 ppg. If Nets had a home record near what they’ve done during the Jason Kidd Era, they’d be way ahead. Here is the Nets season-by-season home records in that span
Year Home W-L
Over that same span, the team has never been above .500 on the road. This year the Nets are 11-10 at home and 4-9 on the road. I have to imagine the team can reestablish a semblance of it’s respectable home court edge. Incidentally, trading Vince Carter really makes no sense. VC may be a bit casual on the court but he’s still very good and you won’t get much but cap relief for him. With Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, sans Carter, they will contend for the division by accident, so, they can’t tank it for a good draft pick even if they wanted to. They may as well ride this out and hope they can get a cheap division title.
-The east has only one team with a winning record on the road, Detroit at 11-7. Detroit was the only good road team last year, though the Heat did squeak out a 21-20 record. The last time a conference had only one team with a winning road record was in 2002-03 when the middling Sixers (48-34) were 23-18 on the road. That Sixer team lost to the Pistons in the second round of the playoffs 4-2 and lost all three of its road games.
-The best teams by point differential by conference are the good old Spurs at +8.7 ppg and the Bulls at +4.3 ppg. The Spurs are like old reliable…they’ve led the NBA in this category in every year since 2003-04. The Bulls point differential, if it holds up, is the lowest differential to lead a conference since the 2001-02 Nets at +4.2 ppg.
2. AI and Melo: We’ve already examined how Iverson’s shots might be affected by playing in Denver. I’d thought it might be interesting to see how trades affected other high scorers in the past. Here’s a list of players who were scoring big and found themselves traded shortly thereafter. We’ll compare the year before with the year after, or in some cases the mid-season split:
|W. Chamberlain||1964-65||Golden St.||45.9||38.9||16.7||33.6||0.499||5.5||13.2||29.8|
|B. McAdoo||1976-77||New York||39.1||26.7||10.7||20.1||0.534||5.2||6.9||22.6|
|W. Free||1979-80||San Diego||38.1||30.2||10.8||22.9||0.474||8.4||11.2||22.7|
|W. Free||1980-81||Golden St.||36.5||24.1||7.9||17.8||0.446||8.1||10.1||19.5|
Most of the time, the big scorers were going to better teams and, predictably, stats dropped. McAdoo seemed to be a special case because he was going to a bad team and he was very unhappy in Buffalo at that point. Free also didn’t go to a much better team but he saw a drop as well. What have we learned? The price for going to contention is usually points. Indeed, even without Melo and playing for a high scoring team, AI’s numbers are down with Denver (from 31.2 ppg with Philly to 26.0 ppg with Denver) and (surprise!) his field goal percentage is up too (from .413% to .430%). With Anthony’s imminent return, we should see even more drop for Iverson.