True Hoop Drew

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

Tag: michael jordan

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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Dwight Howard’s historical night in Golden State

The Orlando Magic beat the Golden State Warriors 117-109 last night. Dwight Howard had 45 points, 23 rebounds and attempted an NBA-record 39 free throws, five more than the previous record of 34 set by Wilt Chamberlain during the 1961-62 season, in which he averaged 50.4 points per game.

Howard came into the game shooting just 42.6 percent from the line, a career worst. He’s been right at 59 percent the past five seasons. The trade rumors have clearly affected Howard on the court this season and as someone who doesn’t have trouble finding a reason to not give 100 percent effort level, a struggle like this isn’t surprising. Howard made just 21 of his 39 free throw attempts versus the Warriors, 54 percent.

It’s not shocking that a historical statistical night occurred against the Warriors. It happens all the time from Brandon Jenning’s 55-point night as a rookie to David Lee’s 37 point, 20 rebound, 10 assist game two years ago, the Warriors have a knack for getting the best out of their opponent.
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Clips beat Heat in NBA’s first playoff game this season

I planned to watch every NBA game last night. I did, but only one ended up mattering. Heat at Clippers with a 10:30 tip, thank God by the second half no other game was on (because trust me, I would have been flicking back and forth between a Timberwolves game if one was on).

Last season was tough for Miami in a lot of ways. One way was that night in, night out, they got everyone’s best shot. The rest of the league had a grudge against Miami and wanted to prove they weren’t the league’s best yet without earning it.

That’s impossible to happen again this year with the condensed schedule (part of why I picked Miami to win 54 games). But last night, Miami was in their first playoff game of the regular season on the road and lost in overtime, 95-89 to the Lob City Clippers.

Both teams came into the game having played the night before and lost. Before the game began, here were the keys I was looking for:
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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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Classic NBA Playbook – 1988 Michael Jordan vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Since the NBA finished up and there’s only been baseball, I haven’t felt the urge to write much. But I’m now living in a new apartment and finally have DVR and NBATV (a deadly combo for me and possibly my relationship). If there’s any other NBA blog out there that I’d like to model this one after, it is Sebastian Pruiti’s NBA Playbook.

He breaks down basketball in blog form as good as anyone out there and made this year’s playoffs a ton more interesting as if they weren’t already interesting enough. I plan to start a portion of this blog centering around a classic version of what Pruiti does. There might not be a season this year but I’m okay with that if NBATV keeps rerunning so many great games every day and NBA 2K12 is as good as it probably will be. Dedicating a portion of this blog to some classic NBA playbook breakdown seems like as good a way as any to spend my time.

Let’s start with…

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Forecasting the next decade of the NBA

Before the Finals started I did a little research looking at the past NBA champions and runner-ups. I basically came to the conclusion that the Dallas Mavericks could not beat the Miami Heat this year. The Heat’s big three were all in their primes and Dallas was simply older than any other team that won the title.

The only thing I could see that could explain Dallas winning the series in a historical context was that Dirk Nowitzki really was one of the greatest 15 or 20 players to ever play in the league and despite being in his 12th season was still in his prime and thus a worthy star to single-handedly lead this team to a title.

Now the Mavericks did win this series with great “team” basketball, as everyone likes to say, but at the end of the day when people look back at the record books and the teams that won it all, this Dallas team will stand out and be remembered for having one unbelievable star player.

When I looked back at all of the NBA champions since 1980, it was never surprising who won and why they did. Everything made sense. At the end of the day, you needed to have one of ten different players to even have a chance: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant. And now Dirk is on that list. He and Moses are the only ones I put on that list who only won a single title. Dirk could have easily won two and Moses was a top 12 player of all-time and deserving. Read the rest of this entry »

NBA Finals reaction

The Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat 105-95 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last night to capture the 2011 NBA championship.

LeBron James was horrific for the last three games of the series having what had to be the worst performance ever by a superstar in a championship. Dirk Nowitzki was clutch all series with one of the most impressive accomplishments in NBA history winning a title with this Dallas team.

But most importantly, the 2006 NBA Finals travesty has been avenged and in the most perfect fashion. Yes, now I am finally over those Finals.

So many things happened this season in the NBA. It was one of the best seasons I can remember and had such a dramatic NBA Finals to cap it off. Now there might be a lockout next year and how sad that would be if not for the unbelievable season we had this year and the memories that have come from it. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

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