True Hoop Drew

I breakdown basketball constantly in my mind and occassionaly translate it into blog form

Tag: larry bird

Heat, LeBron better without Wade?

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LeBron James led the Miami Heat last night to a 98-87 victory over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. He did this without Dwyane Wade. The Heat and LeBron are now 4-0 this season when Wade is on the sideline.

Is it possible that this Miami Heat team could be better when Dwyane Wade does not play? I think so and I’ve pretty much felt this way all along about LeBron.

My biggest issue with LeBron choosing to play with Wade was that we would now not see the true individual potential of LeBron reached. Had he gone to New York or stayed in Cleveland we would have gotten an entire career of LeBron playing at his peak.

When he plays with Wade, we will never see this totally. We get glimpses from time to time and they can team up for some pretty spectacular plays but for the entire course of a game or season, we don’t see it.

Far too often when you watch Wade and LeBron play together, there are instances when LeBron is just standing in the corner or on the wing, out of the play completely as Wade is doing his thing. You never saw that in Cleveland (except when he started doing that in Game 6 vs. Boston and let Mo Williams go to work while he made sure to grab every rebound off missed free throws at the other end).
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Who should be taking a shot with the game on the line

NBA fans love to argue about what player is the most clutch or who they would want taking the last shot in a game. It seems most would always say Kobe Bryant including other NBA players and GM’s.

It is amazing how everyone simply agrees with this when the numbers don’t entirely back Kobe up during crunch time. He is the most prolific at taking shots when the game is on the line. He is just not the most efficient in doing so.

For example, the Lakers over Kobe’s career tenure with them have had the most efficient offense in the NBA. The drop off in their efficiency once games enter crunch time is the greatest of any other team.

Chris Paul on the other hand, is by far the most efficient player once the game enters crunch time. And not only as an individual but his team has been the most efficient in the NBA during this time.

Henry Abbott goes into more detail about this.

Paul didn’t become the most efficient by taking fadeaway jump shots over two defenders but by always trying to run offense and find the open man in late-game situations.

But sometimes in the NBA you can’t always find an open shot and you have to take a bad shot. That’s why stats can’t definitely tell you who the most clutch player in the league is. Kobe’s skill and ability to get off a decent shot from anywhere on the court does have its value, it’s just not always the best decision.

Here’s my ranking of players I want taking a clutch shot in the NBA, based on the type of shot or scenario in the game.
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Part 1: Best players in the NBA by position

I’ve always wanted to take the time and make a list of the best players in the NBA. Anyone who loves the NBA does this all the time and people are always debating who the best player in the league is. It’s a debate that will always go on because it is nearly impossible to compare players at different positions and tell which is more valuable (although everyone thinks it’s easy).

I’ve spent some time trying to come up with the best players by position. But there aren’t really five positions in basketball because there aren’t five different types of players. So I’ve come up with the most relevant positions (player types) that help a team win a title and ranked their importance and tried to come up with the most relevant/valuable players in the league when it comes to winning a championship.

First off, here are the positions and by importance:

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Trying to understand LeBron

LeBron James had the most inexcusable performance in the history of the NBA last night. He scored 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting in an 86-83 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. The series is now tied at 2-2 but now LeBron has put himself in a no-win situation.

Before the season started all of the criticism of LeBron was well deserved and aimed appropriately. At least the real criticisms like he was taking the easy way out by going to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and the way he handled the whole “Decision.” As the season went on, people started to forget about why we really criticized LeBron. The Heat struggled and weren’t dominant so the focus shifted to simply this season, as it probably should. Heat and LeBron supporters started making their case for how LeBron and Miami would shut up the haters by winning a championship this season despite their struggles and everything before the season started. Well, that’s not what it’s about, not at all.

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History says Dallas won’t beat Miami

Timing is said to be everything in life and it is no different when it comes to sports and the NBA. I’ve been saying all year that this was the perfect time for LeBron James to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to win right away. If the timing is right for them, it most certainly is not for Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.

We overanalyze a lot in sports sometimes and can get into trouble doing so. Like looking at the Bulls and how they are a bad matchup for the Heat. They were but the Heat were still that much more talented and that much better at playing their game consistently that it didn’t matter in the end.

Underanalyzing is also a problem. Like saying the Heat will win because they have the best player (LeBron) is boring and not entirely true.

I tried to combine the two, while overanalyzing the underanalyzing when it comes to the matchup between the Heat and the Mavericks. Read the rest of this entry »

Winning can’t be everything in the NBA

Is winning everything in the NBA? This question will be as relevant as ever if we have a Miami Heat-Dallas Mavericks NBA Finals matchup. In terms of winning and as it relates to success, two franchises could not be more opposite.

You have the city of Miami that has three championships since 1997, two for the Marlins and one for the Heat. Other than those three seasons where they won it all, both the Marlins and Heat have been pretty awful teams. They each have had their stars but overall, not a lot of success outside of three rings.

Then there’s the Mavericks who have no championships ever yet have won at least 50 games in 11 straight seasons and have come so close to hoisting a championship trophy, most notably when they lost to Miami in 2006.

What would you take as a sports fan? What would you take as an owner? It’s nice to win it all three times but it must also be nice to be able to go see a great product on the court for 11 straight years with the best owner in sports and one of the greatest players in NBA history right? Read the rest of this entry »

I know it’s blasphemy but it might be true

Last night Dirk Nowitzki put together one of the signature performances of his career. He shot 12-of-15 from the floor, made all of his 24 free throw attempts and finished with 48 points as Dallas beat Oklahoma City 121-112 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

Another way you know this performance was awesome, as if the numbers aren’t enough, is that it totally overshadowed another great performance. Kevin Durant also went for 40 in the game and made 18-of-19 of his free throw attempts. While looking at the box score you might think this game will be remembered as a great duel between the two stars, it won’t be because Dirk was ht breathtaking.

Dirk’s career has seemed to of flown under the radar somewhat in terms of how high it should rank among other legends. It looked like he was peaking in 2006 taking a Dallas team to the Finals after finally beating their nemesis San Antonio in the playoffs. Only the ring that seemed meant for Dirk would not be as Wade and the refs swooped in and took it from him.
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LeBron will never be Jordan

Michael Jordan finally spoke up about LeBron James so now it’s time for me to as well.

I took my time thinking about what to write about LeBron because something of this magnitude needed to sink in and I didn’t want to let my emotions immediately following “The Decision” factor in too much.

LeBron made a huge mistake calling the one-hour special. This is no secret. It was ridiculous and proved how little guidance he has had over the years. He hurt Cleveland like no other person has ever hurt a city before and while I don’t particularly care about that, it still wasn’t right.

Jordan faxed the Bulls a sheet of paper simply saying “I’m back” in 1995 when he returned. LeBron did the opposite. He called attention to himself over the sport and embarrassed all professional sports and ESPN in the process.

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Nothing better than Walton cheering from the sidelines

Well, I didn’t watch a lot of sports today, at least not any recent sports. It’s past midnight now and that means fair game for just about every classic NBA game I own so there’s really no telling where the night will go. I think I’m going to try and go daily with this blog from now on. As long as I keep it short and sweet and all about me, there’s no reason why I can’t keep the updates coming.

On the subject of classic NBA games, which is another way of saying “while we’re on the subject of my life”, I double-dipped somewhat last night and had a solid 45 minutes of YouTube researching as well.

I started off with the “Bird Steal” game in Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit. You really can’t go wrong there. Bird pours in an amazing performance numbers wise and also caps the game off with the great steal. But hands down, the best part of re-watching the game was Bill Walton’s reaction to the play (no surprise here and fast-forward to the 5:28 mark for the reaction).

I had just gotten a solid dose of Walton the night before via Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals in 1995 that featured a Rockets-Suns matchup. Walton was announcing and on top of his game as usual. It’s always a treat to pop in an old game, not knowing who’d be announcing and then get Walton.

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