In case you were out changing the world with the first-ever mass-produced backyard eagle coop (patent pending), here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
On a day when men in the trenches were in demand, the Kansas City Chiefs selected OT Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. "Oh, that's awesome, I love Eric Fisher," said casual Chiefs fan and Kansas City transplant Bill Franzen. "I remember watching him in college and thinking to myself, 'Man, I hope that guy ends up on my Chiefs.' What an exciting year to have the top pick in the draft. I remember last year; I was in the break room at the actuarial firm where I work, and I was like, 'This team is an Eric Fisher–type talent away from contending.' I just can't wait to watch him stop guys from hitting newly acquired quarterback Alex Smith next year." Franzen then paused, looked over his shoulders and asked in a whisper, "Right? Was that a good reaction to have? I have no idea what to think."
Manti Te'o was among the high-profile prospects to drop out of the first round of the NFL draft. Te'o's embarrassment was compounded by a phone call he received from someone purporting to be an NFL general manager. "He said his name was Trick Footballsworth of the Los Angeles Footballers and that I was for sure going to be his first-round pick," a sheepish Te'o explained after the first round was over. "All I had to do was give him my social security number, some bank passwords, and then mail my car keys to a P.O. Box in Simi Valley. Anyone could've fallen for that, though, so I'm not going to beat myself up too hard over this. Though I do need a ride."
A survey of the players and teams making moves in last night's NBA action.
1. Monta Ellis
Ellis had 34 points on 15-21 shooting last night, leading his Milwaukee team to their second overtime win in as many games (this time over the Jazz), and their fourth straight win overall. With J.J. Redick in the lineup, Monta's averaging 21.5 points, 9.3 assists, and 4.3 steals per game. He also does stuff like this.
As spatial analytics slowly creeps its way into the NBA, we're beginning to evaluate performances and tendencies in new ways. Perhaps the most basic illustration of the virtue of spatial approaches applies to shooting. Although field goal percentage is concise and simple, and, as a result, has made its way into the parlance of basketball fans everywhere, it can also be a misleading judge of shooting ability; generally speaking, FG percentage ignores space and the basic basketball tenet: Some shots are easier than others. Layups are easier than half-court heaves, and players who thrive exclusively close to the basket are always the league leaders in FG percentage. Consider the top five all-time career leaders in FG percentage: Tyson Chandler, Shaq, Artis Gilmore, Mark West, and Dwight Howard. Now these guys are obviously incredible scorers, but are they great shooters?
One simple way to evaluate shooting in the NBA is to examine FG percentage in different court spaces. As of January 22, the NBA had made 44.7 percent of its 100,607 shots, but its shooting efficiency varies considerably depending on space:
It’s never too early in an NBA season to judge a player or team’s performance — just ask Mike Brown. The season has just begun, but important trends are already emerging. Some are familiar; some are brand-new. In terms of scoring, as of Friday, NBA players had made 11,039 out of their 24,940 shots (44.2 percent), which is slightly down from last season’s 44.8 percent, which was slightly down from the 2010-11 season mark of 45.8 percent. Looking at scoring across the league on a team-by-team basis, some interesting things start to emerge. One of them is the disparity between two teams in the NBA’s Southeast division: Miami and Washington. It's been a tale of two cities. In one, we see unmatched offensive firepower. In the other, it’s a tale of woe.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
Stephen Strasburg struck out seven over six scoreless innings to earn his 10th win of the year as the Nationals beat the Marlins 4-0. In the home locker room, Ozzie Guillen took a long hard look at himself in the mirror and realized he had to motivate his team. It had been too long. Without wasting another second, he took out his iPhone and Googled "inspiring Fidel Castro quotes."
1. Hope Solo: God Forgives, Hope Don't
The USWNT goalkeeper was warned this week by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for testing positive for something called Canrenone, which I may or may have not had at Olive Garden last night, incidentally. She was basically like, "Cool warning." Rem and I talked about this briefly.
Rem: Am I allowed to nominate Hope Solo for beating her charge? Chris: Not guilty, y'all got to feel her. Rem: Teflon Don. Chris: Hope Solo treated those charges like she treated Briana Scurry back in '07.
On Tuesday night, I sat at a bar booth smugly explaining to a couple of Miami Heat pals that they were deluded. I threw out the terms Boston was offering to re-sign Ray Allen — two years for $12 million, doubling what was then reported to be Miami’s offer — and took a pull on my beer and declared, definitively, that there was no way upstanding gentleman Ray Allen was leaving Boston for less money. By Saturday afternoon, I was being mocked with texts of doctored photos of Ray Allen rising up for that immaculate jumper of his in a Heat jersey. And as I licked my wounds, I didn’t think much about how his defection would impact Danny Ainge’s offseason plans, or what kind of minutes he’d be getting in Miami. Instead I thought, so should I hate Ray Allen now?
Over the weekend, Ray Allen chose to leave the Boston Celtics' original big three to join the Miami Heat's villainous big three. Since Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James joined forces, the Heat have sorely missed having a knock-down shooter. Mike Miller and Shane Battier were both supposed to play that role, and while they both did well in the Finals, they struggled during the regular season. That's what they need Ray Allen for, which is very clear when you compare the Heat's shot chart with Allen's. (Note: Green indicates above-average, yellow average, and red below-average.)
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports since Tuesday.
Phoenix Sun? More like Phoenix done! Steve Nash is headed to the Lakers the Los Angeles Lakers, that is. The Suns point guard worked out a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix that will send him to L.A., where he'll chase an NBA title with a certain fellow superstar. Maybe you've heard of him: Kobe Bryant.
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.
For most basketball fans, there are two types of people in the world: Those who like Kevin Garnett and those who do not. For Kevin Garnett, there are two types of people in the world, as well: People he likes and nobodies. You hear those trumpets blaring and those banners unfurling? (You can totally hear the banners unfurling.) That's Jeff Teague being inducted into the latter group.
You crazy for this one, Danny! Yeah, it's early March, Danny Ainge is putting on his clown makeup and emotionally tying up the Big 3 (+ 1) in some warehouse and making them choose which one gets to survive. That must mean it's Silly Season, a.k.a. NBA Trade Deadline Time. We've only got until March 15 for some team to do something very, very stupid. Let's see which franchises are trying to commit competitive suicide!
My favorite moment of this NBA season came last Thursday, with the Boston Celtics on the road against the Orlando Magic. Boston had already beaten Orlando (at home) that week, which was surprising enough even without the 31-point margin of victory. On Thursday, it looked like Orlando was all set to smack up Boston right back; at one point, the Magic held a 27-point lead. I was cool with it. I couldn’t possibly expect two wins against the big, bad Magic in one week, right? Especially with Rajon Rondo still sidelined with a wrist injury? And then, somehow, the wily underdogs scrapped back. Paul Pierce went off, the defense locked up, the breaks started coming. With just about eight minutes to go, the game was tied.
Marquis Daniels has the ball. He backs his man up, then swings it cross-court to E’Twaun Moore -- a rookie who is only in the game because of Rondo’s injury -- and he calmly drills a 3. Boston never trailed again.