Sunday, October 12, 2014
What makes Giannis so unique is his elite skills on both sides of the ball. Sure we have the newest NBA prodigies :Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, but none match the totality Giannis's skill set. On the offensive side of the ball, he sports a point guard's handle with an innate ability to change speeds and directions . He can create off the bounce, make plays for his teammates, post -up, face up and blow by opposing bigs, and finish strong at the rim .In transition, watching him get out and fill the lanes with those gazelle-like strides is a thing of beauty. If that is not enough, he is also sporting a new Magic Johnson baby hook across the lane.
In addition, his hoops IQ belies his abbreviated NBA tenure and tender age-19. He has a preternatural feel for the game. The way he moves off the ball, slashing, cutting, curling to the basket, perpetually moving makes him unguardable. Giannis is as fundamentally sound as you will ever see in someone so young. You Tube has become his personal highlight reel. See him in last nights preseason game against the Chicago Bulls. He blocked Taj Gibson's shot and then sprinted down the court on the same play for a thunderous dunk. This past summer in August, with Greece playing Turkey, Giannis covered 72 feet in two dribbles before slamming it home.
Defensively, he has the ability to disrupt a game the way few players can. He can be a shut-down wing defender and a true rim-protecting big. Last year you would see him flying in from the weak side- the way a young Amare Stoudemire did- to smack away a shot. In a point guard-driven, pick-and-roll league, Giannis can also chase shooters off the 3-point line, and hedge and recover on picks, Giannis also causes total chaos in the passing lanes and forays to the rim with his massive wing span and length. Last year the Bucks gave up nearly 7 points less with Giannis on the court. He also held opposing bigs to a below league average 14.2 PER.
Although Giannis put up modest numbers last year in 77 games for the woeful Bucks playing only 24 minutes: 6.8 points, 1.9 dimes, 4.4 boards, one could see the glimpses of this game-changing talent.
With new coach Jason Kidd as the guiding force, expect to see some very creative and imaginative offensive experiments. Kidd already has Giannis playing point forward .The one glaring weakness in Giannis' game is his perimeter shot. Once he gets that down, he will become a perennial all-star. Giannis Antetokounmpo has injected some much needed hope into one of the NBA's worst run franchises . With the No. 2 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, stud small forward, Jabari Parker now on board, things may shine a bit brighter in Buck town. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls the Giannis Antetokounmpo show is not to be missed. You are about to bear witness to the next superstar in the NBA.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
We'll speak again David in May. Welcome to the NBA.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Sunday, August 17, 2014
In theory, unfettered capitalism's free market tenets allow for the highest price the market will bear. In essence, $10 for a cup of coffee will sustain itself only if there are enough folks willing to pay $ 10 for it. In professional sports the doctrines are the same. Last year, the New York Yankees did not think second baseman , Robinson Cano was worth a 10 year $240 million contract. The Seattle Mariners did and signed Cano. So why has one of the NBA's rising stars, Phoenix Suns point guard, Eric Bledsoe come up empty in his request for five-year contract north of $ 80 million ?
Furthermore, can you pay Bledsoe number one option money, when he may not truly be a number one option? You can argue Bledsoe's numbers are inflated because he plays within a two lead guard system. There he plays on and off the ball with equal frequency. But he clearly excels when he shares the court with Dragic. Goran Dragic often initiates the offense and excels in the pick-and-roll, drive-and dish game. Bledsoe does not excel in the pick-and-roll. Phoenix's offense often stalls when Bledsoe plays without Dragic. When Bledsoe operates solo the Suns score just 100.7 points per 100 possessions. When Bledsoe shares the court with Dragic, the Suns score nearly 8 points more.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Now what? James' arrival has injected hope back to a city still reeling from his soul-crushing departure. James will enjoy oracle status among Cleveland's collage of rising stars. It starts with the super talented, yet fragile and defensively deficient point guard Kyrie Irving. At only 21, Irving has played in 174 out of 215 games in his 3-year NBA career. There are already many question over his durability. Were not even mentioning the college toe injury that saw him play in only 11 games at Duke. You also have 2013 number one pick, Anthony Bennett( notice I have not used the word bust, way too early) and of course this years number one pick, uber-athletic, Andrew Wiggins. Sprinkle in under sized power forward, Tristan Thompson, wily veteran center, Anderson Varejao, and swing man Dion Waiters, 3 first round draft picks in 2015, and you have the framework of something special-albeit with a rookie coach. But with so many alluring assets, and the specter of a new " Big Three, " the trade machine is now operating at full throttle. Enter Kevin Love.
Kevin Love, the offensively prodigious, rebounding machine, and 2015 unrestricted free agent has already mentioned if traded to Cleveland he would consider signing an extension. Ya think! Do the math! LeBron, Kyrie, and Love? Toss in a few key rotation players, and you will have an extended run at multiple NBA rings. Hoops media is already ablaze with potential trade scenarios involving top pick Andrew Wiggins. The Cavaliers are already saying there is no way Wiggins will be traded in any package for Love. Notwithstanding, the stroke of brilliance in the return of the prodigal son, James, no one is confusing Cleveland with being a Spurs East. This is a team with a meddling owner and a marginal front office. Let's not confuse luck with exceptional competence Wiggins for Love, in any package is a no-brainer.
Although supremely athletic and very talented, Wiggins has already been miscast as a franchise-altering talent: he is not. This has been presciently pointed out by the absurdly talented NBA analyst and writer Jonathan Tjarks, Wiggins has a number of holes in his boat. Applying a universal baseline devised by Tjarks similar to the five tool metric in baseball, and you get a qualitative measure for evaluating NBA talent. The five measures are: creating your own shot, creating shots for others, shooting off the pass, rebounding, and defense.
Looking at the surface, it's easy to get viscerally excited over Wiggins. 19 years old, 6-8, 200 with a 7- foot wingspan. But with further scrutiny. Wiggins projects to be a taller Andre Iguodala( an elite rotation player).Wiggins is not a particularly skilled ball handler, passer, or shooter. His demonstrative athletic advantage will be less so in the NBA His already too high assist-to- turnover ratio also shows me a player who is yet to develop the elite hoops DNA to think he game( and see things before they happen). So with our new five-tool baseline, Wiggins grades as very good at not elite.
Conversely, Kevin Love is an ELITE NBA talent. This season he just missed with 12.5 boards of becoming only the fifth player in NBA history to average 26 points, 13 boards and 4 dimes for a full season. Wilt, Kareem, Billy Cunningham, and Elgin Baylor are the four. Love is also coming off a season where he was third in PER and EWA( Estimated Wins Added) behind LeBron and Durant. It should also be noted he is doing this with a second rate supporting cast. Let's also factor in the C word-chemistry. Love is perfect fit with Kyrie and LeBron. Those two excel at breaking down defenses leaving Love with plenty of open looks to knock down perimeter shots on drive and dishes. Moreover, you get positional versatility with Love. Due to his court vision,and superb passing skills, you can run high-low offense with he and LeBron. Love can go to either high post or blocks and so can LeBron
With Cleveland's three first round 2015 picks, and an abundance of young talent, Wiggins moves the trade needle to get Love from Minnesota. Rule 101, of NBA elite front office management- know the value of your assets. Its simple-Love is an franchise talent, Wiggins is not. The only drawback would be Minnesota insistence of taking back Kevin Martin's bad contract.contract. That is is a no-no. Martin's matador defense with Kyrie's defensive woes would be toxic. To balance out the LeBron, Love,Kyrie "Big Three,"Cleveland will need a long 3 and D 2- guard, and an athletic rim protecting center who can defer the pick-and roll and cover for Love's porous defense.
Cav fans, welcome back to hoops relevance. Minnesota fans, losing Love is not the end of the world( or maybe it is). Miami, you have two rings, plenty of memories,and great weather. Cavs pull the Love trigger. Remember what I said about luck.