1. All-Star Fun: In what seems like a blink of the eye, the NBA All-Star game has come and gone in this abbreviated season. Neither who made the All-Star game nor the result of the actual game (a narrow and competitive win for the West) concern me too much. It’s all about history to me. I thought we could look at some of the odd moments/performances of the past to see what forgotten performances we should remember for one reason or another. We examined all the All-Star box scores since 1980 to see what fun little tidbits are out there:
-The greatest player of All-Time has had some All-Star clunkers. MJ was amazing in most of his All-Star appearances in the 1980s (except the famous “Freeze Out” game his rookie season). In the 1990s, Jordan had some weak shooting games: 10-25 in 1991, 10-25 in 1993, and 5-14 in 1997. Jordan also probably had the worst high volume shooting All-Star game since 1980 in his final All-Star game, going 9-27 from the field and notching an ugly 20 points in 2003. Jordan also did not really shot many threes in All-Star play (3-11 in 13 All-Star games).
-James Worthy played in seven All-Star games and was pretty good in his first two but had a really poor two-year stretch in 1990 and 1991, where he shot 4-22.
-The general feeling seems to be that all players shoot as much as possible when they get in the games but some big guys have other roles ingrained in them James Donaldson and Mark Eaton each made exactly one All-Star game (both were rebounders and decidedly not scorers). Neither player took a shot from the field, though Donaldson did hit two free throws. Chris Gatling, on the other hand, took eight shots in 12 minutes in his only All-Star game (though he missed seven of them).
-The most uninspiring under the radar All-Star performance goes to Joe Johnson in 2009. He shot 0-4 in 21 minutes and had five turnovers and did not rack up any others stats. You would think an assist or steal would happen by accident when you play 20 minutes with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Go figure.
-Because everyone is shooting so much, the amount of turnovers is pretty low for most All-Star players. In fact, most players (even point guards) stay under five turnovers in an All-Star game. The player who had the most high turnover games was Magic Johnson. Magic was almost always under four turnovers a game in his regular season but he took some serious chances in the All-Star games, having four games with at least seven turnovers (including his final comeback All-Star game in 1992, when he won MVP).
-Terry Cummings was a surprisingly high volume shooter in the 1985 All-Star game, taking 17 shots in 16 minutes and leading all All-Stars in shots on a team with Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan, and Bernard King. Cummings shot 7-17 and had 17 points and seven boards that day.
-Speaking of shots, a few other surprising shot leaders: Robert Parish in 1981, Gus Williams in 1982, Eddie Jones in 1998, and Jamaal Magloire in 2004.
-I’m not sure who is less enthused about the All-Star game than Rasheed Wallace. He appeared in four games and shot 6-24 overall and 3-18 in the final three games, where he mostly just chucked threes poorly (1-10 from three in those three games).
2. A Quick Comment on Lin-Sanity: We would be remiss if we didn’t say a word about Jeremy Lin’s surprising emergence as an All-Star point guard this month. Our site has had a fair amount of attention and traffic lately because our own Ed Weiland predicted good things for Lin two years ago. Obviously, no one saw Lin scoring 25 ppg and he probably isn’t quite that good but he looks like a legit above-average NBA point guard. Lin’s emergence is due to a confluence of factors including playing in Mike D’Antoni’s point guard favorable system (second in the NBA in pace) with no other scorers available (while Anthony and Stoudemire were out) and, of course, his own talent. Lin, though, should not be stereotyped as a marginal athlete getting by on his Harvard smarts. Lin is a serious athlete and his style of play has much more in common with Russell Westbrook than with Mark Price or John Stockton.
Going forward, Lin’s scoring will come down a bit but the Knicks have a bona fide player to pair with Carmelo Anthony and New York can move up the playoff ladder Philly or Atlanta falter. Oddly, the Knicks have registered as a very good defensive team (fifth) and a poor offensive team (23rd) so far this year. If Lin and J.R. Smith help the previously terrible backcourt score, while also keeping near this defensive efficiency, the Knicks could look interesting going forward. The weak offense also shows that there are more than enough shots to go around for Lin and Anthony and any implications by the press to the contrary really have no substance to them. Finally, great work by Ed, again, predicting the biggest story of the decade a few years before it happened.
3. The Shrinking Offense of J-Kidd: It has often been commented that players retreat to their core talents over time. For example, Dennis Rodman, as a younger player, defended, rebounded, and even scored a little bit. Over time, as he lost some athleticism, Rodman’s secondary abilities faded away and he lost the ability to score at all and pretty much could only rebound by the end. It happens to most players after enough time.
Currently, Jason Kidd seems to have lost quite a few of his other abilities. At one time, Kidd could get to the rim, averaging almost five free throws per-36 minutes in his prime with the Nets. Kidd can still board and pass (if not as well) but the ability to get to the rim on offense has virtually disappeared. Kidd’s only offense consists of the three-point shot. He is averaging 6.7 shots per 36 minutes and 5.7 of those are three point shots. Kidd also getting only 0.5 free throws per-36 minutes. So, all Kidd can do now is shoot threes on offense. More problematic is that Kidd no longer can hit the shot (.299% from three this year and a disgusting .326 from the field overall). He can likely still shoot the three-point shot pretty well but the scouting report probably is to not leave Kidd or give him any room to drive (because he hasn’t done so far this year). If it is any solace to Mavs fans, Kidd shot mostly threes last year too and was better but still not that great (.361% from the field and .340% from three) and he took off in the playoffs, hitting 43-115 (.374%) from three in 21 playoff games. Hopefully, Kidd can get a little more balance to his offensive game but if he can’t, it is probably time to use him as a back up and look for a new point in Dallas.
As this draft comes into better focus it is shaping up as a draft heavy on forwards and backup centers. Anthony Davis remains the top pick. He’s the only player who looks like he has a good shot at becoming an all-star. After Davis it is something of a mixed bag. Overall the quality is weak compared to drafts of the previous decade, but still an upgrade on 2011. What could hurt this draft is most of the best prospects are underclassmen and a lot of them seem destined to be headed back to college for 2013. Right now there are enough intriguing players and role players to make this draft interesting for at least the first round.
These rankings are for college players only, without regard to whether or not they’ll declare for the draft. It’s still early in the process so these rankings should be considered fluid and likely to change some by draft day. As flaky as this draft is shaping up, my guess is I’ll do a lot of flip-flopping on any player other than Anthony Davis before my final analyses. I’ll add the foreign players later, when I’ve had more of a chance to assess them..
1. Anthony Davis, PF Kentucky: Easy choice as the top guy right now. Anthony Davis will be the first pick in the 2012 draft unless he completely falls apart. Right now he projects as an all-star and possibly more. I can’t say that about any other player.
2. Tony Mitchell, PF North Texas: A top 20 prep prospect in 2010, Mitchell was recruited to Missouri a year ago. That didn’t work out, so he headed for North Texas to start his freshman season a year late. So far he’s been dominant. Is it crazy to rush him into the #2 spot? I don’t think so. The negative is this is for only 13 games in the Sun Belt Conference. The Sun Belt isn’t exactly the ACC, but it’s a decent mid-major. In a draft that’s painfully thin at the top, Mitchell is a better pick than anyone other than Davis at this point. Of course if the final month exposes some weaknesses, we’ll reassess. Continue reading NBA Draft 2012: Prospect Update…