So far this season, the Nuggets’ Danilo Gallinari is shooting 42 37 percent from behind the 3-point line. This is kind of impressive, although unremarkable by itself, but when we account for shooting angles, something more noteworthy is revealed. First off, Gallinari shoots 3s from all over. He’s pretty active in the corners and at the top, but he’s most active along the wings; this season, well over half of his 3-point attempts have come from the wings, where he’s gone 41-for-123 (33.3 percent). Again, this is unremarkable. However, breaking it down further reveals Gallinari is much better from the right wing than the left one. In fact, of the dozens of players with at least 50 attempts in each of these zones, Gallinari is the best from the right wing (28-for-53, 53 percent), and the worst from the left (13-for-70, 19 percent).
The two most fundamental components of spatial analytics are distance and direction, but too often we neglect the import of direction in even our most “advanced” NBA metrics. The case of Gallinari reminds us why that is limiting. By lumping all of his 3-point attempts into one convenient distance-based bin obscures a key bit of information about his game.
Anyway, since we looked at the best shooters around the court space yesterday, it makes sense to look at the bad news today. And, while Gallinari does appear on this chart, he doesn’t deserve to be the focal point of a discussion about inefficient NBA shooting. Instead, I will devote that to the player who blends incredible talent and fan infuriation like no other; the guy who deservedly comes up every time we talk about players who are really active outside of their proper jurisdictions, that crazy sheriff down in Georgia — no, not this fella.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever.
So, LeBron reached a milestone yesterday in amassing 20,000 points (along with tallying 5k assists) — the youngest player to ever do so since, well, since forever. So while the importance of that accomplishment and his performance in general is all fine and dandy to talk about, what I want to focus on is something more subtle. Look at what he said at the halftime interview:
"While I'm accomplishing it, we're also winning at halftime, so that's a good thing."
Which got me thinking … How many NBA players have reached significant statistical markers that were overshadowed by a poor performance from their team or from themselves? Here are a few quick ones (read: Los Angeles-heavy ones) that I thought of/that Google search yielded:
Of all the possible moments that could be miked up, David Stern welcoming newly drafted first-round picks into the NBA never is. So I was forced to imagine. (Shout out to Jose3030 for help with the pics)
In their eight years of existence, the Charlotte Bobcats have drafted three players from UNC, one from Duke, and one from Boston College, a school that plays up to seven games a year in the state of North Carolina. They have drafted one player from Texas, a Naismith runner-up from Gonzaga, and two UConn greats. Outside of trading for Alexis Ajinca’s draft rights in 2008, the Bobcats have found nearly every undersized or questionably athletic college star in the country. Some, like Jared Dudley, turn out to be valuable players on other teams. Others, like Sean May, quickly confirm that college post moves sometimes don’t translate to the NBA. The Bobcats haven’t fully developed a player since their inception in 2004. They handcuffed Raymond Felton, they didn’t tell the managers of all Charlotte-area Waffle Houses to stop serving May, they turned Gerald Henderson into the worst version of Kobe Bryant in the history of versions of Kobe Bryant.
Of all the positions in the NBA, maybe the toughest one to project is the point guard spot. The pro game is very demanding on point guards, constituting a real leap from college, especially in terms of the defense the players face. The most interesting point guard prospects in this draft class — Damian Lillard, Kendall Marshall, and Austin Rivers — will have to perform right away.
1. Austin Rivers, Snapbacks Back
David Cho, arguably the second-best-dressed man in the Grantland office, chimes in with this fashion trend watch: "In case you haven't been keeping tabs on the sartorial decisions of Jay-Z, LeBron James, and a handful of other rich friends of Kanye West, there's been a headwear trend that's slowly spent the last year going from being 'sort of a thing' to 'definitely a thing': snapback hats with customized snakeskin bills. Yep, that's right; this is a thing! In fact, it's a $400 thing (each hat retails for $400)! The most recent example of its "definitely a thing"-ness came during this past Sunday's ABC telecast of the Heat and Celtics when Austin Rivers was being interviewed in the stands while wearing a throwback Tampa Bay Buccaneers version of the snapback. These hats are handmade by Don C, Kanye West's manager and best friend, for his 'luxury boutique' (their words, not mine) RSVP Gallery in Chicago. Swing by if you've always wanted to own a piece of clothing that really shows people that you definitely know how to waste money."
It was a drab Thursday and Friday at the ACC tournament, but the drama of the weekend atoned in a big way. First, you had Carolina riding a wave of favorable calls to a close win over NC State, then a brutal FSU win against a game but under-talented Duke team, and finally the explosive championship, with the Noles holding off Carolina (sans John Henson) for a three-point win. The weekend games were good enough to make this the best Power 6 conference tournament of 2012.
But what stuck out to me, more than the results and more than the close finishes, was the excellent pressure play of three players — Austin Rivers, Kendall Marshall, and Michael Snaer.
There are two options here. One: I can talk about them and leave it at that. Two: I can start you off with two great referee stories from Saturday. Pick your poison.
The thing with objectivity, in sports journalism as in life, is that it's a myth made to sustain something that's already dead, and was never truly alive. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Lying to you or lying to themselves, but lying either way. Everything is subjective, including your reaction to this opinion. Welcome to being human — the water's fine.
Don't get too high, don't get too low. A lot of famous folks have uttered those words, or some close approximation thereof. I remember Barack Obama uttered something like that during the campaign. Dollars to donuts ole Abe Lincoln uttered them too. In fact, I'd wager right here and right now -- I would throw bills on your doorstep, amigo -- that every single American president has uttered those words at some point. All of them except Taft. William Howard Taft didn't have time for philosophical utterings; the man was an eatin' fool.
Sports hatred, when directed en masse at a particular team, is rarely based on that team's style of play. The Yankees hit a lot of fan-friendly home runs. Kobe Bryant's appealing electricity was the engine of the recent Lakers' titles. The Cowboys of Aikman, Irving, and Smith were high-scoring and never dull. And Duke -- the most polarizing team in college basketball -- is no exception. In good times and bad, regardless of how the season ends, the Blue Devils have some of the most dynamic guards in the country.
I would argue that elite guard play is the most entertaining aspect of basketball. People want fast breaks, people want 3-pointers, people want dunks, people want great passes, and people want dribbling theatrics. All of these are provided by guards and small forwards, while only two elements -- the dunk and the occasional pass -- generally result from post play. Unsympathetic fans will reel off a litany of reasons for hating Duke, but the word “boring” is never among the gripes. The lineage of great Blue Devil guards -- from Johnny Dawkins to Tommy Amaker to Bobby Hurley to Trajan Langdon to Jay Williams to Chris Duhon to J.J. Redick to Nolan Smith to present -- have provided years of quick, fluid basketball. Sure, there have been some excellent big men at Duke, but there have also been some not-so-excellent ones, and the legacy of the program will always begin and end with the guards.
Austin Rivers, ESPN's no. 3-rated recruit, came to Duke as one of the most hyped freshmen in the school's storied history. Given his immense profile and his pedigree, Rivers was expected to immediately contribute and fill the holes left by the departures of Nolan Smith and Kyrie Irving. And if you just look at his scoring line, you'd say that Rivers has adjusted nicely, averaging 13.3 points per game. But those numbers don't tell the whole story — the truth is, Rivers has struggled, especially when it comes to taking the ball to the rack.
Attention Fans of Duke Basketball: Yes, it's the offseason. But this month, you can catch a preview of your team. The Blue Devils are visiting China for the "Friendship Games." What are the Friendship Games? Glad you asked! Let's take a look, Q & A style.