Monday, March 28, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
"Carmelo Anthony hit just 2-of-12 shots for six points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block as the Knicks lost to the Pistons on Friday. Melo didn't even get off the bench for a timeout at one point, sitting and sulking without showing any interest in what was going on in the huddle. And the fact the Pistons had their entire bench on the floor with the game on line is not going to sit well with anyone in New York."
There were those who felt that the Bulls should have acquired Carmelo Anthony at all costs, even if it meant trading Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, just because he's, well... Carmelo Anthony, and winning an NBA title is all about how many stars you can accumulate at the top of your roster. The rest is "easy" to fill in.
Others were not so sure. They were concerned that Anthony shows little interest in defense and tends to just stop the offense when he gets the ball. They (we) were also concerned that introducing another "alpha dog" might make the Bulls less of Derrick Rose's team, and undermine the defensive development of a team that was clearly taking to Tom Thibodeau's defensive teachings. In short, they (we) felt like the name of Carmelo Anthony was bigger than the reality of the player.
There were those who felt that if you put Anthony on a team with a defensive minded head coach, he would suddenly start to care about defense. Essentially, Denver's defensive issues were on George Karl.
Others (me) felt that Carmelo was, in fact, the driver of the defensive issues that had prevented Denver from making it out of the first round of the playoffs in all but one year of Anthony's career.
So I decided to dig into the numbers to see what the early returns are since Anthony was traded to the Knicks. To say the results are striking would be an understatement.
Before trading Anthony for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Ray Felton, the Nuggets were one of the worst defenses in the NBA, allowing 105 points per game on 46.5% shooting.
In 13 games since the trade, Denver's points allowed have dropped a whopping 10 per game (!) to 95, and their field goal percentage defense has improved 2% to 44.5%.
Even more stunning is that 9 of the 13 games Denver has played since the trade have been against winning teams.
Simply removing an offensive star who didn't have the least bit of interest in playing defense has transformed Denver from a bottom 5 into a top 10 defense in the NBA!
The Nuggets are 9-4 since the deal.
The Knicks, meanwhile, were bad defensively before the trade... and they're still bad.
There is no question that a head coach who stresses defense and knows how to teach individual and team defense can make a huge difference to a team. (See: Thibodeau, Tom)
But if your leaders on the floor, your "alpha dogs", don't buy in... it won't matter.
Carmelo Anthony vs. Tom Thibodeau would have been an interesting battle of wills. Would a $20 million man who has never been asked to D up in his life suddenly find God? Carlos Boozer hasn't, so you set the odds on 'Melo.
At the cost of Deng and Noah, it would have been a tremendous risk to find out. The Bulls have a nose in front of the Eastern Conference pack heading into the season's final lap. They're a title contender right now. Making that trade would have run the risk of screwing up the chemistry of the team, eviscerating the defense that has been so central to their success and status as a contender, and in the long run risked losing Derrick Rose if he no longer felt the Bulls were a place where he could win a title.
All for what?
What we can see in the early returns in Denver and New York only confirms what you should have known all along: Deng and Noah for Anthony would have been a high risk/low reward endeavor that John Paxson and Gar Forman were very, very smart not to even consider.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
-Prediction: if the Heat lose to the Lakers, Spoelstra's cooked. Pat Riley will come down and do it himself. He's too competitive to just watch this thing fail in front of his eyes.
-Some people (cough)me(cough) were saying back in July that three superstars surrounded by a bunch of scrubs wasn't a sure thing to work. Miami is now severely limited in how they can build around the Two-And-A-Half Men. They have no midlevel exception. The Bulls own their first round pick. There is only one logical course of action here:
1. LeBron and Mike Miller to Philly for Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday and a #1 pick.
Young, 23, is a good player who has found himself blocked by a resurgent Elton Brand. He's a legit young starting forward in this league. Holiday, 21, is an emerging young point guard (who at 6'4" could also shift to the 2 when playing with Chalmers) who is averaging 14 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and almost 2 steals per game. And Iguodala is an established very good player who has been racking up more than his share of triple doubles this year. A lineup of Holiday, Wade, Iguodala, Young and Bosh - with Chalmers and Haslem off the bench - is just better than what Miami has now.
2. LeBron and Miller to Golden State for Steph Curry, David Lee and Dorell Wright.
Curry is a star player and Lee is averaging 16 & 10 (after 20 & 12 last year and 16 & 12 the year before that). Dorell Wright is one of the league's best kept secrets. The former DePaul commitment (and former Heat first round pick) is 25 years old and averaging 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.5 steals while shooting close to 40% on threes. A lineup of Curry, Wade, Wright, Bosh and Lee is WAY better than what the Heat throw out there now.
3. LeBron and Miller to Minnesota for Kevin Love, Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington and the rights to Ricky Rubio.
This is actually kind of my favorite because it's interesting on so many levels. First, just the awesome schadenfruede of not only forcing LeBron to leave his buddies and take his talents from South Beach to the coldest market in the NBA, but it reunites him with Delonte West. Delicious. Kevin Love has turned into a legitimate star in this league. Wesley Johnson is a high upside youngster. Ellington is not a bad bench player - he's a very good three point shooter. Rubio has some delayed value for Miami. But this deal uses Minnesota's available cap space to free up $12 million for the Heat on top of an existing lineup of Chalmers, Wade, Johnson, Love and Bosh (with Haslem returning to come off the bench with Ellington).
There are ways to do this that work for everyone: they let another team that's currently in NBA hell have the dream situation of building around LeBron, while making the Heat a more viable title contender with a better-constructed TEAM than they have now.