Monday, January 31, 2011

Talk Around the Hardwood

Long time, no links? Let's chance that!

  • Orlando Pinstriped Post. Great look at how Hedo Turkoglu's offense dictates Magic wins and losses. Advanced stats like points contributed and possessions used are used in their initial breakdown, while also a look at more typical stats also shows a similar trend.
  • Mr. Irrelevant (via @wzzntzz). ESPN said Gilbert Arenas had left knee confusion?
  • NBA Playbook. Pictures, video and analysis on why Ray Allen is so tough to guard.
  • Blazersedge. Short look at the Blazers offense this season as compared to last season.
  • TBJ. Kobe and Kanye team up for another The Black Mamba trailer.
  • Daily Thunder. Really intriguing NBA Team Simiarity Network. Worth checking out, especially if you are statistical in your view of the league.

Jeff Teague: Soaring Hawk?

Athletic, indecisive and brilliant. Jeff Teague is a growing PG in his sophomore campaign for the Hawks. Teague plays about a quarter each night and has shown flashes, but also shown he has tons of room to grow. Sounds like any young player, right? Only problem is the Hawks aren't doing their best job of molding him. Playing him behind a guy who gives less and less in Mike Bibby frankly makes no sense. Nor does having him stand on the perimeter and chuck up three's!

Sometimes Teague's passes are terrible. Throwing it to Jason Collins in mid-range jumper territory? Not pretty. Teague looks as if he doesn't know his personnel with how he throws the rock. Teague also gives it t0 the wrong guy late in the shot clock. It makes it appear as if he has no awareness of the clock. That may be, he's not fully acclimated to the NBA game yet. The Hawks must praise him for what he does well, all the while giving him areas where he can improve.

The brilliance of Teague lies in his dunks, crossovers and Lion-like quickness. When he puts his head down and penetrates, high percentage looks become available. Problem is that the Hawks don't really give him the chance to penetrate when he's on the floor. He usually dribbles on the perimeter, passes it to the interior, moves around and maybe throws up a jumper or two. That's not proper utilization of talent and ability to improve on what is already a strength.

Teague needs to chance his mindset in order for the Hawks to realize the value he's got. Bulldoze to the bucket, take the contact and use your strength to finish. That will excite the whole squad, increase his confidence and Coach Larry Drew's trust in him. Then Teague can better define his role and get a true chance at fulfilling that role.

Atlanta really needs a more consistently cohesive offense (I could say this every year). Teague is the elixir to their offensive ailment. His penetration would open everything up. Easy finishes for big men, open jumpers and a team with a nice entrée of options. Sounds scrumptious!

With time, Teague can be much more serviceable than he already is. More playing time, attention to detail and trust in his abilities has to come. Who wants to see so much Mike Bibby play so much anyway? Free Teague!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Shoe of The Week: Nike Zoom Kobe VI Black Del Sol

Kobe Bryant knows how to pack performance into his signature sneaker. Each year he and Nike come out with one of the few low cut basketball shoes on the market. It's lightweight so you don't sacrifice speed and the VI's feature a snake skin appearance.

The Kobe V's were cleaner than the VI's. While I still love the VI's and the snake skin concept, a clean, yet stylish look has more appeal for me. Either way, you're getting a large amount of performance and style with these.

You can cop these now on NikeTown.com. If you're lucky enough to have the cash to throw down, do it. Everyone I've talked to with Kobe's likes the comfort and lightness. If you've got some Kobe VI's, let us know your opinion on them!

Photo from: Kix and the City

Monday, January 03, 2011

Dallas Mavericks: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Dallas Mavericks have steamrolled through their last stretch of games. They've beaten the Celtics, Heat and Spurs over this time. So, can this team legitimately compete for a title?

While their execution has been brilliant of late, this team still isn't equipped to win four straight playoff series. First, the weak points of their hot streak: the last month (November 27th to December 27th) of games featured only five road games. Secondly, stretches of this run have featured multiple games against below .500 teams (Minnesota, Sacramento, New Jersey). The month also threw only two back-to-backs at Dallas.

The Mavericks have only performed a wee bit better than expected during the easiest part of their schedule. As more road games and back-to-backs pile up, the likelihood of them maintaining their pace is slim. Every team, no matter how good they can be, inevitably has let down games. The latter end of a back-to-back, a few hard games in a row and traveling can make a team look awful. Despite the Mavs strong play to date, let down games will happen, guaranteed. The best teams go on their three or four game losing streaks. Even NBA players are human.

Back to the playoffs, the season that actually matters.

Dallas has solid depth, but one place they are weak is skilled centers. This is largely the lost luxury for teams on the cusp of being elite (the teams that have skilled centers are the Lakers, Magic and Celtics). Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood get the minutes at center and while they're solid, long defenders, they mostly pick up scraps offensively. While Dirk can post up and fade away for a jumper, the Mavs have no traditional post presence.

This is why I can't give the Mavs the seal of approval. When the jumpers aren't falling and drives aren't effective due to strong D, what will the Mavs do? They don't really have an answer, they don't have a player who can post and toast (Clyde Fraizer voice).

Adding to the big man woes is poor Brendan Haywood, who has looked atrocious on the free throw line this season. He's shooting about 28% and his form looks dopey. In the playoffs, couldn't a hack-a-Haywood be a great strategy? YES! Even though he plays only 18 minutes a game, teams could force him off the floor, or capitalize on his awful performance at the strike. This would limit the Mavs depth and/or scoring.

Also, let's not forget injuries, which are causing the Mavs trouble right now. Injuries to Dirk and Caron Butler are hurting during a more difficult part of their season. If injuries pile up like the have for Boston recently, their team could lose their edge. Stars aren't usually replaced. Hopefully Dallas is at full health when it matters most.

Dallas has earned some praise for their recent performance. They've shown strong play on both ends, played a team game and beat some decent competition over the last month. Winning in November and December means nothing if you're not "the," winner in June, though.

Photo by: Mike Ehrmann
Photo from ESPN