James
"Hey...do my tonsils look okay to you?"

Bobby Simmons: Back in August of 2005, fresh off a breakout season in which he was honored as the NBA's Most Improved Player, Simmons signed a five-year, $47 million dollar contract with Milwaukee, and everybody in the Bucks organization was flipping their lids. General Manager Larry Harris said, "Bobby is an extremely versatile player and adds depth to our roster at a number of positions. He can score from anywhere on the court, he's a very tough defender and he wants to win. He had a great year last season and we're excited to add him to our team." Then-coach Terry Stotts said, "We're pleased to add a player of Bobby's quality and character to our team. I’m very impressed with how he has continued to improve so far throughout his career. It speaks to his dedication to the game." Little did the Bucks know, Simmons' improvement as a professional basketball player had ended before the ink on his new contract had even dried. Two years later, Simmons is still the Bucks second-highest paid player, but by the numbers -- 6.7 PPG (on 42 percent shooting), 2.3 RPG, and 0.9 APG in about 19 minutes per game -- he's only their seventh best player. So even though the Bucks scored their first road win of the season last night, a 111-107 victory over the Cavaliers, Simmons was barely part of it: 2 points (1-6), 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 21 minutes of action.

Fun fact: Lebron James was 1-7 from three-point range last night.

Jermaine O'Neal: Remember how last summer Larry Bird tried to demand both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum from the Lakers in exchange for O'Neal? The Lakers said, "Uh, thanks, but no thanks," and that's one decision that Jim Buss won't be taking heat for anytime soon. O'Neal hasn't been playing like an All-Star this season -- 13.2 PPG (on 38 percent shooting), 7.1 RPG, and 3.1 APG -- and last night was no exception. In what was supposed to be his audition for a potential trade to the Lakers, O'Neal shot 4-13, grabbed 3 rebounds, and blocked zero shots while the Lakers were obliterating the Pacers 134-114. Bynum, on the other hand, scored 17 points on 6-6 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked 4 shots. Odom chipped in 10 points (2-4), 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Fun fact: In the 1978 NBA Draft, the Pacers selected Rick Robey with the third overall pick -- despite the fact that he was the best college player in the country and an Indiana native -- because they weren't willing to wait a year for Larry Bird to graduate from college. So in a way, bad personnel decisions are like a Pacers' legacy.

Wizards / Sixers: How badly did Philly get beaten down last night? Well, they had to outscore the Wizards 33-18 in the fourth quarter just to get the final deficit down to 15. The only reason to watch this game last night would have been to see Gilbert Arenas being Gilbert Arenas. Unfortunately, Agent Zero didn't play. Oh well. At least Andray Blatche hit a buzzer-beater at the end of the second quarter, and the G-Man did some cool dunks.

Fun fact: The Sixers are 3-7 after 10 games. Last year, with Allen Iverson in the lineup, they were 4-6 after 10 games. So you can see how much they miss him.

Solomon Jones: There wasn't much to get excited about in the Spurs' 95-83 win over the Hawks, unless of course you have Tony Parker (31 points, 13-20, 2 rebounds, 9 assists) on your fantasy team. However, according to the box score, Jones notched what may be the season's first one trillion: In other words, he played one minute without without recording any other statistic (so his stat line is a one followed by a bunch of zeroes). Congratulations, Solomon!

Fun fact: Did you know that Dr. J once played for the Atlanta Hawks? Seriously.

New York Knicks: The Knicks lost their seventh game in a row, and they did it in pathetic fashion, losing 108-82 at home to the Golden State Warriors. The MSG boo birds were out in full force, railing against their awful team, and -- amazingly -- Isiah Thomas agreed with them: "When you're watching a game like we played tonight, the venom that comes out, you deserve it. The booing, 'Get rid of this guy, get rid of me, get rid of him,' that's how the fans react. It comes with the territory we have and the place that we live in. That's how it is, that's how it goes." That may well be the closest Isiah has ever come to accepting some blame for the mess he's made in New York. Anyway, the Knicks stunk last night. They shot 39 percent and committed 27 turnovers. Nate Robinson was 0-5. Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry combined for 2 assists, 10 turnovers, and no blocked shots. Oh, and guard Quentin Richardson outrebounded Eddy Curry 10-3.

Fun facts: The Knicks average 17.7 assists per game...and 17.5 turnovers per game.

Chicago Bulls: Okay, this is getting painful. It's not the slow start; we've seen that before: 0-9 to begin the 2004-05 season, 3-9 last year. It's the fact that the Bulls seems content to just roll over and die any time they're challenged. They might have started off slowly last season, but at least they showed flashes. Nobody's playing well right now (although Joakim Noah looked great last night). Offensively, they're the third worst team in the league, ahead of only the Miami Heat and the New Jersey Nets. Defensively, they're smack dab in the middle of the pack -- sandwiched between the Washington Wizards and Milwuakee Bucks -- after having been the fifth best overall defensive team in the league last season. And the scary thing is, we haven't seen a single sign that things are going to get any better any time soon. Disturbing. Also, who's Thomas Gardner, and why'd he lead the Bulls with 16 shot attempts last night?

Fun fact: At this time last season, Kirk Hinrich was shooting 47 percent, Ben Gordon was shooting 43 percent, Luol Deng was shooting 55 percent, and Ben Wallace was averaging 10.2 RPG and 2.5 BPG. This season, the players' respective averages are 34 percent, 37 percent, 45 percent, and 7.2 RPG and 1.4 BPG.

Phoenix Suns: In the NBA, any road win is big, but the Suns won ugly last night. Their "defense" allowed a lousy Kings team to rally from an 17-point deficit and tie the game at 94-all with three minutes to go. Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire did their best to give the game away, missing two freethrows apiece in the final minute. But as a Suns fan, the most disturbing aspect of the game was the team's complete lack of ball movement. Sure, Steve Nash had his typical 12 assists, but Marion, Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, and Grant Hill combined for one lonely assist. To put that in perspective, Eric Piatkowski out-assisted all four of those guys with two. That's sad.

Fun fact: Ron Artest is very quietly having himself an All-Star-type season: 23.5 PPG -- on 55 percent shooting, including 58 percent from three-point range -- 6.5 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 2.3 SPG. And we haven't heard a peep out of him. Of course, he's only actually played four games so far, which means there's plenty of time left for him to start sucking and/or do something crazy.

Special Extra -- Hilarious Headlines: The always charming LooseChange brought this to my attention yesterday. Check out the last headline:

Sweet Stroke 2

That's right: Swift, Grizzlies ride sweet stroke to pound Sonics. I don't know who's responsible for writing headlines for ESPN.com, but anybody who can make a Grizzlies / Sonics game sound like hardcore porn is awesome. Note to self: Start watching Grizzlies games.

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12 Comments:
Blogger flohtingPoint said...
Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire did their best to give the game away, missing two freethrows apiece in the final minute.

Oh boy did they ever. I'm terribly afraid that Shawn is going to get to the point where he hits that Randy Moss/Vince Carter type funk where his give a crap gets deposited directly into the toilet. Combine that with NoMoreKnees Stoudemire and were really going to look like total jerks for not dropping the hammer on the KG trade.

On a Phoenix side-note tangent, I really miss the days growing up in the valley of the sun, when the whole team didn't live or die by the three. Back when Phoenix had an interior game with Chuck, Ced, Danny Manning and even AC Green's virgin ass was helping out. Our only liability was wondering if Dan Majerle was going to go berserk with launching 3's. The way things are now, you don't even have to look at the final score to know if Phoenix won or lost, you can just look at the 3pt fg% and that tells the whole story.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
flohting point -- I was screaming for the Suns to make the KG trade this summer. But oh well; that's spilled milk.

The funny thing about what you just said is that the Barkley-led Phoenix team was accused of relying too heavily on the three-pointer. In '93, they led the league in both attempts (1095) and makes (398). Heck, Barkley went from 137 attempts in '91-92 to 220 attempts in '92-93.

And, even more ironically, they were criticized for their over-reliance on offense and lack of committment to defense. Sound familiar? The main difference is that today's Suns have no inside presence whatsoever...and therein lies the problem. Everyone points to the fact that the Suns probably won't win a title, but they blame their defense or fall back on the old "Fast break teams don't win titles" line. But the real problem is that the Suns live and die by the jumpshot. If they had one strong inside scorer/defender, they'd be unstoppable.

Blogger djnumbers said...
question: does anyone know what the plus/minus stat on nba.com's box scores? are they turing into hockey now?

Anonymous Eduardo said...
Eddy Curry is inch for inch, pound for pound the worst rebounder in the NBA (wrestling away the title from Rashard Lewis by about 60 pounds) and he doesn't seem to care. When Curry pulls down 7 rebounds, I consider that a good game for him, as it has always been the norm that he is usually the third best (is there such a term?) rebounder on his team. Hell, Hinrich averaged more rebounds than he did during his Bulls years. Everyone shit on the Bulls the year after they traded him but while Chicago certainly misses his inside presence, which opened up everyone else's jumpshots, it didn't make up for the holes he otherwise created with his onedimensional game. Considering his price tag I was quite satisfied to be rid of him as a fan.

Jermaine O'Neal has always been overrated, an inside-outside(mostly outside) player whose numbers were always accompanied by conspicuously low FG percentages for a power forward. Unless I'm New Jersey (maybe) and the guy passes some serious physicals I don't trade for him.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
djnumbers -- Go herefor an explanation of the plus/minus stat.

Honestly, I'm not sure I totally understand it. And, just like a woman's menstrual cycle, I never trust that which I don't understand.

eduardo -- Eddy's rebounding is embarrassing. The only rebounds he ever grabs are uncontested rebounds...the kind that fall to a guy when nobody else is around. He never blocks out or crashes the boards.

Jermaine O'Neal is only effective if you feed him a steady diet of 16-foot jumpshots. But in general, you want your best "inside" player to spend more time around the basket and shooting better than 45 percent for his career. Honestly, O'Neal would be better suited to being a rebounder / interior defender. But he sees himself primarily as a scorer. Can't teach an old dog new tricks, and all that.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
My favorite headline was atually from the Sonics/Grizzlies game earlier this season. I believe it read: "Memphis rallies past Seattle thanks to hot-shooting Gay."

Blogger flohtingPoint said...
The funny thing about what you just said is that the Barkley-led Phoenix team was accused of relying too heavily on the three-pointer. In '93, they led the league in both attempts (1095) and makes (398). Heck, Barkley went from 137 attempts in '91-92 to 220 attempts in '92-93.

Oh, believe me, I'd be the last to say that we didnt hoist up our fair share. The Barkley thing is more a result of being a fastbreak team (which we've been a good portion of my life, seeing us beat the Lakers at their own game back in 91 was a thing of beauty). More posessions means more opportunities.

Like yesterday, when I mentioned Durant and Morrison hoisting up 3 after painful three, Chuck would do that from time to time also =/

Everyone points to the fact that the Suns probably won't win a title, but they blame their defense or fall back on the old "Fast break teams don't win titles" line. But the real problem is that the Suns live and die by the jumpshot. If they had one strong inside scorer/defender, they'd be unstoppable.

Yes, this was more what I was getting at. Ainge and Majerle made sure we tossed up a heavy portion of threes, but our inside presence allowed that, as teams could not ignore Charles and then our slashers.

As we stand now, with Amare quickly morphing into being the new owner of Bill Waltons legs, teams can allow him to get his touches with minimal loss. Yea, Amare will get his points, but at the rate he's going, if we keep him on the court for 40 minutes a night, he's going to break down before the all star break.

Our other problem is that when you break down the Suns, we dont really have quality slashers. We have, *drumroll please*, Barbosa and.... Barbosa. So you have a team with one guy who can cut, one guy who is semi dominant inside and one guy who D'antoni ignores all together while drawing up one of his five plays all year (Marion) and so he pouts a lot. Add in the fact that we play 7 deep (and saying 7 is being kind, we really play 6 deep and then just a random 7th).

A team with fatigue issues, one cut-man, one interior gimp, a pouter and a point guard that only knows how to run. That pretty much puts us at our spot we are now, a team that shoots too much because it's less tiring than running off screens and setting up the quality shot or low post game. This wouldn't be too bad if we had people that looked like they cared about offensive rebounding, but that takes energy too.

Sorry, didn't mean to go all Bill Simmons and focus on one team. Thank God I didnt bring up the Cardinals or Diamondbacks.

To touch on LeBron for a second, you make the call: He's got a decent sized contract but he's not untouchable because of it. Since his soph year kicked off, he has become quite the offensive force, but as an overall basketball player, it looks like he's regressing. Everyone they bring in to assist the situation goes down the crapper and it looks like the team will soon be sputtering for quite some time in mediocrity. You're the owner, do you pull the trigger on a trade and start from scratch? Please negate things like ticket sales and fan reaction, focus on production on the court only.

At this time, I'm thinking another season might be the key here. See how this year goes, and if the inevitable happens and the Cavs are the worst best team in the league, move him, gut the team, and pray someone like Dwight Howard comes out of the draft to bail you out and have someone you can actually build around, like what happened with Orlando after the TMac trade.

Blogger eljpeman said...
someone else posted a 1 trillion first! on November 2!

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/boxscore?gid=2007110211

i'm sorry, i'm down with the chickenpox so i have $hitloads of time here at home..

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Erving never played for Atlanta. The ESPN article states he *signed* with them, but did not mention ever playing a game (because he didn't).

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/e/ervinju01.html

Blogger Basketbawful said...
eljpeman -- Thanks for the fact checking! I was pretty sure someone else must have done it...I was just too lazy to review all the box scores.

anonymous -- The Doc played three exhibition games for the Hawks, alongside Pistol Pete Maravich.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Erving

Blogger Hersey said...
I guess Grant Hill ceased to be a slasher when he signed with the Suns...

Despite a bunch of injuries, the team is winning and finding a decent rhythm together.

I liked the early 90's Suns too but Barkley and KJ where always hurt. Complaining about Amare's injuries, while popular now for some reason, seems kinda shortsighted to me. The guy just turned 25 and he's still improving.

That Barkley team choked away two playoff series to Houston despite having superior talent and depth. The current version has trouble with the Spurs- but so does the entire league.

I don't think the team is as deeply flawed as most fans would like to label them. Then again, I think some fans should just root for the Spurs and quit living in denial.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
BULLS are the worst team ever. Their game against Boston was so pathetic I will NOT watch another NBA game. I've never seen a team with no heart like that. Worst pro sports team period!

The NBA is a joke, overpaid prima donnas with no heart and no concept of team.

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