Tag Archives: Brandon Jennings

Midseason Love/Hate, Part 1

We are closing in on the NBA All-Star break and so far this has been a pretty thrilling regular season, especially if you’re only watching the Western Conference. There have already been so many great moments this year. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, and we’ve seen Clippers owner Steve Ballmer dance to Fergie courtside during a game. So I thought I’d put together a completely biased and objective list of the things I love and hate about each team this year with some refined commentary.

Atlanta Hawks

Love: DeMarre Carroll as “the other guy” in the Hawks starting five

The Hawks are the biggest surprise of this season and have been flat out amazing, evidenced by their 19 game win streak. 4/5 of their starters (Teague, Korver, Millsap, Horford) are receiving the bulk of the credit, albeit very well deserved. But their fifth option DeMarre Carroll is the type of glue guy every team needs; he’s scrappy as hell, plays tough defense, and can hit a few timely three pointers. Many of his teammates will be up in New York for the upcoming All-Star game, but without DeMarre the Hawks certainly wouldn’t have the best record in the East.

Hate: People rebranding the Hawks as “Spurs-East”

Yes, Mike Budenholzer used to coach for Gregg Popovich. And yes, the Hawks do play a team oriented style of basketball that echoes former Spurs teams. But that’s not a good enough reason to marginalize what the Hawks have done this season by essentially saying they’re only good because they are mimicking the Spurs. If it was that easy every team would hire Gregg Popovich assistants. A-Town down!

Boston Celtics

Love: Brad Stevens trying to win despite his revolving door of a roster

Coach Stevens is doing his best despite Danny Ainge cleaning house; he has managed to get his team to keep playing hard and is occasionally stealing some games from contending opponents. Instead of just playing young guys who can gain valuable experience, he’s decided to implant Brandon Bass in the starting lineup and is now playing Tayshaun Prince 20 plus minutes a night off the bench. These lineups suggest one of two things; either he’s extremely competitive and hates losing, or he desperately wants to go back to coaching college ball.

Hate: Danny Ainge trading Rajon Rondo to the Mavs for some magic beans

I’m not mad at Danny for taking a first round pick and Brandan Wright (who was traded for two second round picks) in exchange for Rondo. But what the hell was he waiting for? Good GM’s don’t wait until their greatest asset is at its lowest possible value and then pull the trigger. He couldn’t have possibly seen the Celtics as a playoff contender entering this season, and if he did he gave up on that idea pretty early. Also if I’m a Western Conference team and I see the Mavs got Rondo for basically nothing, I’m genuinely going to be pretty peeved at Danny Ainge for affecting the West playoff race. It’s like when a guy at the bottom of your fantasy league trades one of their best players because they are giving up on the season. Danny Ainge is that guy, and we all hate those guys.

Brooklyn Nets

Love: Nets having a white player from Duke participate in the Slam Dunk Contest

That is a phrase I never thought I would say.

Hate: Watching the sad end to Kevin Garnett

It’s a shame KG has to go out like this. He’s one of the best at his position of all-time and to play on this pitiful Nets team is kind of tainting his statuesque career. Kevin Garnett has played so long I honestly can’t even remember his golden years in Minnesota when he was dominant every time he took the floor. The end to KG has similar overtones to Hakeem Olajuwon ending his career in Toronto, and as Mays Gilliam says “that ain’t right!”

Charlotte Hornets

Love: the honeycomb print on the home floor

Honestly, it’s pretty stupid and seems like something a DII college team might do. But for some reason I like that they embraced returning as the Hornets to its fullest extent. When is Time Warner Cable Arena hosting “Baron Davis Night” or “Larry Johnson Night” this year?

Hate: Panic! We’re running out of Lance Stephenson memes

The Lance “blowing air” meme has been pretty strong, one of the greats if you ask me. But it’s kind of a played idea at this point. Lance is going down in flames as a Hornet and he’s not even starting anymore. Lance for the love of god don’t leave us hanging like this, please come up with some new material. In case you didn’t see, he is taking fan suggestions for his next on court antics. Forward all submissions to ConeyIslandKilla6969@hotmail.com.

Chicago Bulls

Love: Renaissance of Pau Gasol

Pau has been a revelation this year and has really turned the Bulls into a true title contender; if they can stay healthy. It’s rare you see a player like Pau who ages, switches teams, and then seemingly gets better. I also think he’s in some silent game of chicken with his younger brother Marc and doesn’t yet want to relinquish the title of “The Best Gasol”. Pau has given the Bulls something that has been lacking in years past, a reliable post presence who the offense can play through in the halfcourt. With Pau commanding double teams it opens up the offense even more for Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. The one downside however is his defensive skill. It’s hard to overlook his lack of defense, but the offense he brings should override the fact that he is a horrific defender.

Hate: Doug McDermott’s trade value

I know Dougie McBucket’s injury has prohibited us from making a solid conclusion about what type of player he’s going to become, but as of now that draft night trade has a bad stench to it. I believe his ceiling as a player is as a good scoring threat off the bench, I’m not sure that warranted trading the 16th (Jusuf Nurkic!) and 19th (Gary Harris) overall picks for him. Due to injury this season the Bulls are forced to play guys like Tony Snell, Kirk Hinrich, and E’twaun Moore major minutes. The team could use an injection talent off the bench not named Nikola Mirotic. Trading for McDermott only gave away the potential to add another young player to the roster.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Love: LeBron as player/GM

The fact that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and actual GM David Griffin consult LeBron on all transactions is kind of ridiculous, regardless of the fact that LeBron is the best player on the planet. I feel like he’s always threatening to just opt of out his contract this year, and so David Griffin has to ship off every draft pick he has for the next decade in order to make LeBron happy. Of course trading two first rounders for Timofey Mozgov went down because LeBron doesn’t really care how the Cavs end up in five years. GM LeBron might actually be best for the Cavs anyway, at least he didn’t draft Anthony Bennett. Anything he does from here on out is an upgrade from the previous GM.

Hate: David Blatt not using Kevin Love correctly

Attention David Blatt! Kevin Love is more than a three point shooter! Stop sticking him in the corner and do some actual coaching. I hope trading future star Andrew Wiggins for a glorified three point shooter was not the initial plan when they acquired Love.

Dallas Mavericks

Love: Dirk Nowitzki is still basically unguardable

Dirk is the first of his kind, he’s the “Model-T” of European big men who can shoot from deep and who also have post skills. He has made the Mavs relevant for almost two decades, including this season, and I rarely show affection to anything German so this declaration has some weight to it. Even after all the additions of Rajon Rondo, Chandler Parsons, and Tyson Chandler, if the Mavericks make any noise in the playoffs it will undoubtedly be because of Dirk and that silky smooth jumper.

Hate: decline of the old rambunctious Mark Cuban

Mark, please yell at a ref or accost the league in some way and get fined. We want the old Cubes! Make it rain in the commissioner’s office and let Adam Silver know that those hundred dollar bills are just “fun coupons” and you won’t ever stop being you.

Denver Nuggets

Love: Jusuf Nurkic smack talk

When you’re a rookie and you’re smack talking and jawing at Kobe Bryant, DeMarcus Cousins, and Marc Gasol without any level respect for those guys who are more accomplished than you’ll likely ever be; that takes some guts and deserves a tip of the cap. Even though it’s stupid and unwarranted, I love him for that. I’m making odds on who the first guy to throw a punch at Jusuf in response is. Highest odds are DeMarcus Cousins (revenge) 2-1, JaVale McGee (accidentally) 9-2, and if you’re looking for longer odds Ron Artest (psychopath) 5000-1.

Hate: Ty Lawson’s inability to use Uber

Really Ty? Two DUI’s? C’mon dawg you make millions of dollars a year, shell out a couple bucks for an Uber or call Danilo Gallinari to come pick you up, he’s probably available. Professional athletes receiving DUI’s has almost become a regularity; how teams are not more proactive about this is outrageous. I realize the large majority of this problem is the personal responsibility of the athlete, but teams need to babysit these guys or have harsher penalties. Unfortunately it’s probably going to take someone’s untimely death before the problem is finally addressed further. Sorry that I had to be a little morose to prove a point.

Detroit Pistons

Love: Stan Van Gundy’s balls for waiving Josh Smith

It definitely must have been a tough sell for SVG to march into the owner’s office and say “Hey, so I want to cut Josh even though we still owe him $26 million. You cool with that?” If this move didn’t work and the Pistons ended up worse, I’m not sure how Stan Van would’ve survived. This is the ultimate case of addition by subtraction. I can’t even recall a similar situation where the release of one player created such an upturn in wins. Maybe when Brad Pitt traded Carlos Pena in “Moneyball”?

Hate: Brandon Jenning’s Achilles tendon for crapping out on him

As if sports in Detroit couldn’t get worse. We’re still relatively fresh off the NFL refs screwing over the Lions. The Pistons uptick and winning ways were a silver lining to that horrific Lions loss. Jennings going down for the season is really unfortunate because the Pistons were once again becoming a great team to watch. Brandon Jennings’ game was flourishing without Josh Smith on the floor dominating the ball, and he was directly contributing to the poor man’s “twin towers” Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond wreaking havoc on opponents. At this point, it’s hard not to feel bad for the city of Detroit.

Golden State Warriors

Love: Klay Thompson in 24/7 heat check mode

The kid is straight fire. Every time he launches a three and it doesn’t go in I think my eyes are playing a trick on me. Also he scored 37 points in one freakin’ quarter. I’ve played rec league basketball for over 15 years and I’ve yet to eclipse 30 points in an entire game. Just for fun, here are a couple names of players drafted over Klay Thompson: Derrick Williams, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, Jimmer Fredette. Those guys could go 4 vs. 1 with Klay and they’d lose.

Hate: Andrew Bogut’s health

The Warriors are a really exciting team to root for, but I’m afraid without a healthy Andrew Bogut they won’t have a shot at the title. It’s entirely possible they can win without him, but it will be a hell of a lot easier with him in the on the hardwood. They need his defensive presence against dominant frontcourt teams like the Grizzlies; his defense will need to hold teams close during the few games that Steph and Klay go cold.

The Blueprint to Gaming Your Fantasy Basketball League: Trade Execution

Hey Guys,

I hope you were able to put up with last week’s craziness and learn a thing or two about basic economic concepts and their application to the NBA.  Today, we’re going to couple last week’s lesson with some of the league’s latest happenings to construct profitable trade opportunities.

Remember, the key to developing trade targets and expendable trade chips is understanding where pockets of excess supply and excess demand exist.  Hopefully, you’ve taken the last week to identify these two parties specific to your league.  For simplicity sake, I’ve established lists of candidates for both that should generally apply to most scoring settings.

Serge-Ibaka

Pockets of Excess Demand (where buyers will buy at the slightest of opportunities)- Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka and Ty Lawson.  Notice how this group of players all have demonstrated superstar ability but have under performed (to some extent) in the early part of the season.  Nonetheless, their respective performances probably have been affected by short-term noise and there is a high probability that they bounce back sooner rather than later.  I included a guy like Ty Lawson on this list because prior to posting 15+ assists in two out of his past three games. the former Tar Heel had been reeling a little bit in Denver. Leonard is dealing with this weird, fluky eye issue. Ibaka is weathering the storm until KD and/or Russell Westbrook get back. You get the jist.  If you have one of these guys, don’t sell low.  If somebody in your league is impatient and a bit short-sighted, give him a ring immediately after you finish reading.

brook-lopez-1

Pockets of Excess Supply (where sellers will sell at the slightest of opportunities)- Goran Dragic, Al Jefferson, Dwyane Wade, Brandon Jennings, Kenneth Faried,  Brook Lopez, Josh Smith.  One thing these guys all have in common- a fundamental, serious obstacle that impedes each asset’s long term value.  For a guy like Dragic, it’s the glut of point guards in the Valley of the Sun. For players like Big Al and Brook Lopez, it’s their inabilities to jump and gobble up rebounds. Scott Skiles had similar remarks regarding a certain Bulls’ big man a decade back..  For creatures like Jennings and Smith, it’s their unwillingness to play team basketball. For Wade, the fact that he can’t physically be counted on for extended periods of time significantly deters his value. You get it. All of these guys are expendable if someone will ante up.  A suave owner would best either a) underpay for such assets or b) avoid them altogether.

Once we’ve established our targets, it’s finally time to formulate trades.  Here are some strategies that I find most effective.

1. 2 for 1 or 3 for 2 in shallow (10-12 teams) leagues– I talked about this last week, but the strategy of acquiring less elite players and giving up more good players is preferable when one’s opportunity cost for refilling roster spots is less significant.  In other words, the value of a rotating roster spot depends on the strength of your league’s waiver wire.  If I could get a guy like Boogie for Dirk and someone like Wes Matthews, I’d do it every time.

2. Selling into strength– When deciding it is most opportune to part ways with an asset, selling into strength is a counter intuitive must.  Most people understand the notion of buying low and selling high, yet these same individuals cannot successfully enact this strategy when the appropriate time comes.  At the height of one’s excitement regarding a certain individual’s play, a crafty fantasy owner should be asking themselves if it’s time to sell.  In the market, the phrase “Bulls make money, Bears make money, Pigs get slaughtered” has held true throughout history.  When profits (good trade opportunities) are there, take ’em and don’t look back. Even if the asset continues to perform or even outperform, green is green.  When you play in a league with 11 or so of your friends, the ability to have trading partners is often taken for granted.  It’s important that your friends feel like they are getting a fair (or even superior) deal when you decide to pull the trigger.  You never know when you’re going to need to draw from the well again :).

3. The Initial Offer– This may be common sense, but if you’re serious about getting a transaction completed, you best not make your first offer your best one.  As a buyer or seller, your strongest source of leverage is keeping your reservation price private.  If you spill the beans from the get-go, it will be nearly impossible to capture the edge in your trade.  Along with this strategy, I find the underutilized tool of proposing a “serious” offer, deleting it, and proposing a lessor offer very effective.  This tactic plays off the idea that recency bias is legitimate in fantasy basketball markets.  Even if you constructed the initial offer thinking it was too light, it will look great in comparison to the second offer and will provide you a solid starting point for progressing talks.

4. Knowing, then asking what the market needs– Bringing the article full circle, understanding the intricacies of the market is essential to sustainable success.  To put it simply, you need to understand your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses better than they do themselves.  Additionally, understanding his or her personality and biases toward marquee names is also beneficial.  It will allow you to a) not offend the person on the other end and b) potentially give up less real talent if you play your cards right. By asking what your opponent needs, you are already operating in good standing and your odds of getting a trade done are substantially higher.

You’ve got the basketball knowledge and you’ve got the strategies. Now, it’s up to you to turn your team from a dud into a stud.

Thanks for the read and happy Thanksgiving,

-Stav

BULLet Points: Healthy Starters Fuel Win Over Pistons

  • Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah all started a game together for the first time and the results were very enjoyable. Each starter had a positive double digit plus minus, while all the bench players were negative.
  • Rose looked great after sitting out the last two games. He was active early and often in his 32 minutes, scoring 24 points on 9/20 shooting and dishing out seven pretty assists. SB Nation has all sorts of highlights in Vines for you. The play that really stood out to me was a double clutch pass that shouldn’t be physically possible. Jo grabbed it and finished inside.
via @_MarcusD_
via @_MarcusD_
  • Speaking of Joakim Noah, he had by far his most complete game of the season. He finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes of his own. He only shot 5/13 and is clearly still working his way back, but the results were encouraging.

  • Pau Gasol locked up his fifth double double in eight games…by halftime! He finished with 17 points, 15 boards, four assists and four blocks. While his defensive rebounding had quietly been an issue, Pau did a much better job boxing out tonight. He’s been the Bulls’ most consistent player by far.

  • The Bulls finally won the rebounding battle, outboarding the Pistons 49-46. It was pretty much even throughout the game, but with a starting lineup including Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond (not Drummund), the margin was more than satisfactory.
  • Jimmy Butler played 43 minutes, including the entire second half. Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott got ten minutes combined. Tony Snell did not sniff the floor. Something to keep an eye on.
  • A late foul by ex-Bull DJ Augustin gave Derrick Rose the Big Mac clinching free throws that the fans were craving. The Bulls have played three home games but were yet to deliver the Macs.
  • No one on Detroit had a particularly good game, although it is extremely entertaining watching Stan Van Gundy shake his head after terrible Josh Smith shots and pull Brandon Jennings for Augustin.
  • Greg Monroe pissed himself while getting a DUI this summer. It has nothing to do with the game, but I think it’s important we remember this. Have any of your friends ever gotten so drunk that they peed themselves? They were probably too drunk to walk, let alone drive, right? Screw Greg Monroe. He put innocent people’s lives in grave danger. Remind people about this when you can.
  • The Bulls get two days off before taking on the conference leading Toronto Raptors on Thursday. The off days should do wonders for the banged up Bulls after a stretch of five games in seven nights.

 

2014-15 League Pass Legends: Detroit Pistons

Hey Folks,

I know it’s been an eternity since I last showed my face around these parts.  To tell you the truth, it’s been so long I forgot my WordPress login info.  But that doesn’t matter now. I’m back and ready to entertain you and hopefully educate you. And without further ado, it’s time to talk about why I think the Detroit Pistons will finally make some significant strides this upcoming season.

To put it quite simply, the Pistons were atrocious last season.  Almost as bad as Joe Nathan, Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria were coming out of the Tigers’ bullpen down the stretch. The Pistons finished the 2013-14 season with a 29-53 clip, eighth worst in the league.  They shot a putrid 44.7% from the field, and even worse from downtown (29th in the league at 32.1%).

Coming into last season, the Pistons had high hopes with the likes of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings arriving on the scene. Needless to say, the duo struggled mightily as Jennings proceeded to be the most selfish point guard east of the Mississippi and Smith got back together with his horrible ex-girlfriend (outside jumpers).  It was a disaster that got Mo Cheeks fired mid-season and had Pistons fans in the metro Detroit area sulking in their poor investment properties they call “homes.”

But, Pistons fans, I’m here to tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Similar to the beginning of last season, there are numerous reasons to be optimistic about the squad entering the new year.  This year, however, these sources of optimistic are actually legitimate.

After taking a two year hiatus from the game, a familiar face is back and he’s here to bring back the days of caring about DETROIT BASKETBALL.  His name is Stan Van Gundy. With a world of success on his resume, SVG will strive to make the most out of his talented front court and bring back a winner to Detroit.

With Greg Monroe down on the block and Andre Drummond protecting the rim, Van Gundy has a foundation in place that many teams around the league should envy.  In a league where extra possessions are so utterly important, the Pistons finished averaging the third most rebounds in the NBA.  For a team 24 games under .500, this notion foreshadows the makings of rapid improvement.

To put it simply, Detroit needs to shoot the ball better. Sounds simple enough, right? The 2013-14 Pistons literally would have been better off if Jennings (37.3 FG%) or Smith (26.4% from distance) closed their eyes before taking jumpers. Luckily for Detroit, there is a solution to this problem: Fine those two for taking jump shots!! While this idea might rile up the Player Union and causes the next strike, I think its implementation would go a long way towards success in Motown.

Detroit needs to stick to its bread and butter of taking shots near the rim. With Monroe as solid as any young big in the league and Drummond progressing towards being an absolute monster, the Pistons would be foolish not to take 70% of their shots from within 8 feet.  Add in some effective perimeter shooting from Kyle Singler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and you’ve got the makings of a nice, balanced offense.

While this lineup sounds good in theory, it sounded great last year too.  This is where I think the Stan the Man with the Plan makes his Stand. I don’t think he’ll put up with Smith and Jennings’ BS the way Cheeks did. In my opinion, he wouldn’t have ever accepted another position where a player’s demands or selfish behavior could headlock an entire organization (ie. Dwight in Orlando). That’s what Pistons fans should be banking on. No more nonsense.

And for this reason and others (watching my boy Andre take his play to the next level), the Detroit Pistons will turn heads in the upcoming 2014-15 season and be my team to watch on League Pass.

Rose HaShanah: Derrick’s and other NBA Stars’ Hopes for the 2013-14 Season

Derrick-Rose

Hey Guys,

While the NBA regular season does not begin until late October, there are certainly a number of players who are trying to make amends for past disappointment.

Whether it’s playing for your next contract or just playing to recapture some pride, a new season always brings in a sense of innocent optimism.

In the spirit of the Jewish New Year, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some individuals who surely have something to prove in the upcoming 2013-14 campaign.

Rather than daydreaming in synagogue, I decided to compile this list for your enjoyment.

1375845868000-AP-Pistons-Jennings-Basketball-1308062325_4_3

5) Brandon Jennings: Detroit Pistons- While Jennings didn’t necessarily get the big deal he thought deserved, at least he got himself out of Milwaukee.  Bucking the trend of improving shooting percentages from year to year, Jennings saw his numbers plummet across the board in 2012-13.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t all his fault. Bucks management didn’t do him any favors when they brought Monta Ellis in from Golden State.  Albeit dynamic and athletic, the two guards stepped on each others’ toes and couldn’t mesh in Milwaukee.  In Detroit, Jennings has the likes of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond to align forces.  Coupled with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on the perimeter, Jennings should have more structure in place in the Motor City.  Hopefully, Brandon will step up to the challenge and lead the Pistons back to the playoffs.

Screen-Shot-2013-07-10-at-8.54.28-PM

4) C Andrew Bynum: Cleveland Cavaliers- Needless to say, Bynum’s time with the Philadelphia 76ers was a complete waste of time for all parties involved.  Unable to find his way onto the hardwood, Bynum certainly didn’t receive his share of Brotherly Love from pissed-off Sixers fans.  Now supposedly healthy, Bynum signed a one year pact with a suddenly much-improved Cavs squad.  Whereas Philly was looking for Bynum to be the franchise’s savior, Bynum should just focus on staying on the court in Cleveland.  If he can do so, a squad also featuring Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett can make some hay in a weak Eastern Conference this upcoming season.

nba_howard_kh_400

3) C Dwight Howard: Houston Rockets- While last year wasn’t as bad as the 2011-2012 “Dwightmare,” Howard’s time in the City of Angels was hardly heavenly.  Battling shoulder and back injuries for the duration of last season, Dwight was unable to play at full strength in his time in purple and gold.   Throw in the fact that he was ostracized in Head Coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive schemes and you can see why Dwight bolted for H-Town this off-season.  Playing in Houston, Dwight will have the opportunity to be a focal point of the team’s offense as well as tandem with James Harden.  Look for Dwight to have a great season in the Lone Star State.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Minnesota Timberwolves

2) PF Kevin Love: Minnesota Timberwolves- Anytime David Kahn isn’t signing your paychecks anymore, one should celebrate.  For the Oregon native, there is certainly more to be optimistic about heading into this upcoming season.  For one, Love is healthy and slimmer.  Last season, Love was ravaged by both hand and knee injuries. Furthermore, the overall T-Wolves roster should be stronger.  With Ricky Rubio healthy, Nikola Pekovic resigned and Kevin Martin in town, I see Minnesota sneaking into the playoffs.  With Love’s future up in the air, GM Flip Saunders better hope Love and his teammates have a rebound season.

derrick-rose

1) Derrick Rose: Chicago Bulls- For Bulls fans’ sake, I hope he’s really back. While the Bulls were competitive this season, they didn’t necessarily intimidate opponents night in and night out.  Rather, they’d pester teams into taking bad shots and would eke out some disgusting victories.  With Rose back at the helm, Bulls fans hope the days of 78-73 games are over.  While many will question Rose’s rehab schedule, he can make his naysayers eat their respective words on October 29th in Miami.

A New Year signifies both the literal and figurative flipping of the calendar.  For many, the mere, physical act of seeing time elapse makes a player forget about his disappointments and shortcomings.

While I should probably be reflecting on my own shortcomings, I hope that you enjoyed this list and would love to hear who else you’re expecting to see bounce this upcoming season.

L’Shanah Tovah,

-Stav