- The Season's Over -

NBA Fantasy Hoops: The Case for Streaming

March 26, 2008

This is a FIGHT TO THE DEATH!

Karina Taylor and Christina Riddering Photo Credit: Icon SMI

We’re about to broach one of the more contentious and divisive issues in fantasy hoops. With the playoffs just underway in most formats, it’s an issue that is more than likely rearing its head in one or more of your leagues. I’m talking about streaming: the act of making daily add/drops in order to maximize the sheer volume of players a fantasy hoops team can start in a given week. In head-to-head leagues it can cause more angry message board posts than the most lopsided of trades. As somebody who engages in streaming whenever and wherever it will give a strategic edge, I’ve already encountered protest in two leagues. It’s something you come to expect. I get it every year, and the arguments are always the same: that it’s “cheap”, that it’s somehow not fair, that it isn’t in the spirit of the game, that using “scrub” players is distasteful and that it is in some way a desecration of everything the league has been and stood for to this point.

Baloney. Not only can you stream, you should do it. I’ll give you some pointers.

Let’s take a moment and discuss the ethical status of streaming first: there is none. There is nothing wrong with streaming. First, it’s perfectly permissible within the rules. You can look them up. Nowhere will you find a clause specifically prohibiting adding and dropping players to gain a strategic edge. Second, this is a legitimate fantasy sports strategy: it takes basketball knowledge, it takes skill, it takes diligence, it takes timing, it takes the ability to project performances, it takes finesse and there are real risks built into the league (FG%, FT% and TOs). Third, this is a competition. It’s supposed to be cutthroat. So not only can you stream, as a participant in a communal contest it is incumbent upon you to maintain the competitive integrity of the league. We all frown upon those owners who give up on their teams weeks or months before the end of the season because it ruins that competitive balance. If you lose by 10 points and a couple of add/drops would have put you over the edge, you’re not much better.

Now, if you and your friends (or just the Commish) make the personal choice that streaming is somehow dishonest or offensive to the spirit of the game, then by all means put an end to it. Before the season starts. When the Commish sets up the league he can set a maximum number of roster moves, he can set up a scoring system that uses more ratios instead of pure counting stats, he can set a max number of games that can be used per position or he can simply set up a rotisserie league instead of a head-to-head league. By all means, do these things… do them before the league starts. If you set up or join a league that has settings conducive to streaming, it’s on you. We streamers don’t want to hear any crying about it after that.

With that said, let’s look at some of the finer points of streaming and anti-streaming strategy…

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4 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 26, 2008 at 12:03am in ETB Articles, NBA, NBA Fantasy News

Baron Davis and All That Could Have Been

March 25, 2008

B.Diddy is such a beast right now it’s easy to forget just how utterly explosive he was before blowing out that ACL in the NCAA Tournament ten years ago. He won the McDonald’s All-American Slam Dunk Contest in high school despite being the shortest player involved, and those hops are on full display in a few of these clips. He still has all the basketball IQ. He’s still got a flare for the dramatic. He’s still got the savvy. He can still cool it. And he’s even more of a bull going to the basket these days, but Baron rarely gets up like he used to.

Tags: Baron Davis

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 25, 2008 at 9:25pm in NBA

Reading is Great! Tuesday’s NBA Links

March 25, 2008

The NBA Read to Achieve program makes reading FUN!

- Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Let the Al Horford for ROY politicking commence.
- Need4Sheed – Mr. Big Shot was the hero late in the Pistons’ thrilling OT win over Phoenix.
- BallHype – Is the NBA becoming a “niche sport?” Arguments for and against.
- Too Much Rod Benson – On why using the Whizzinator for a drug test is very difficult.
- HOOPSWORLDNBA Poetry Corner favorite Rashad McCants might do a blog. Awesome.
- The Blow Torch – The 1991 Slam Dunk Competition has all kinds of wonderful nuggets.
- Fear the Beard – Bob Delaney’s phantom foul call on Monta Ellis ruined a great game.
- Depressed Fan – We’ve said it before: those Philly 76ers are pretty damn good.
- Hoops Addict – The final countdown, Scorpions style, is on for the Seattle SuperSonics.
- Star Tribune – Don’t try to double-team Al Jefferson; it’s usually not going to work.
- The On Deck Circle – Fantastic interview with professional b-baller Carl English

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 25, 2008 at 12:45pm in NBA

NBA Short Story: When Two Rookies Met an All-Star Veteran in a Metro-Detroit Palace

March 24, 2008

Prince tells Stuckey that guarding Nash is easyIt has to feel at least a little bizarre walking onto an NBA court as a rookie and for the first time playing against an NBA Icon you grew up controlling in video games and watching on TV.

Could you imagine actually getting out there, cameras flashing and drunken face-painters screaming, and really guarding, say, Steve Nash in the open court? Or hunkering down on the blocks as a 20- or 21-year-old kid with Shaquille O’Neal, a guy who’s first NBA game you saw as a preschooler? I mean, I’m sure it all becomes old hat rather quickly, but still… it’s got to be weird the first few times around.

Though Nash isn’t the first NBA player (or star) they’ve each respectively guarded, Detroit Piston rookie guards Arron Afflalo and Rodney Stuckey must have had one of those surreal moments Monday night at the Palace during the Pistons’ 110-105 overtime win. Drafted 27th overall last June and averaging 3 points and 1.5 rebounds on the season, Afflalo—the reigning Pac-Ten Player of the Year—was asked to step into the starting lineup with Rip Hamilton sitting out with a sore hip. You wouldn’t know it from his paltry averages, but Afflalo has shown excellent instincts as a man defender and held his own against both guards and small forwards during the spot minutes he’s getting off Flip Saunders’ bench.

Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Saunders assigned him the challenge of matching up with Steve Nash instead of Raja Bell, and in the first half the rook wasn’t phased (unlike Rowan on office-training day). Though Nash is clearly much quicker, Afflalo did a bang-up job of staying in front of him nearly every time the Suns PG tried to get to the hole. But Nash earned back-to-back NBA MVP awards based in large part around his prolific offensive talents—as soon as Afflalo made a mistake (slipped on a juke, took too long going over a pick, flat out left him open) Nash made him pay. To the rookie’s credit, however, those mistakes were the only ones Nash scored on in the first half. For the game, Afflalo had 6 points, 4 boards, 3 assists, and a steal in 21 minutes.

Stuckey, my point guard candidate for this season’s All-Rookie First Team, also benefitted from Hamilton’s absence in logging a career-high 30:12 minutes, the bulk of which came in the second half. He’s quicker and smaller than Afflalo, but Nash was still able to blow by him a few times and get into a groove in the fourth, finishing with 23 points and 9 assists. Still, Stuckey held his ground admirably for the most part, especially given the crunch-time minutes he was playing against a proven crunch-time closer. He had a very strong offensive game going too, finishing with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and an assist on 50% FG. He just missed two difficult shots after making two semi-acrobatic drives to the basket, makes that would have given him a career-best 17.

Afflalo and Stuckey both already faced these Suns back on February 24th when the Pistons embarassed the Suns on national television 116-86 in one of O’Neal’s first games as a Sun. Neither player had an especially big impact, however… certainly nothing close to what they did the second time around against Nash and O’Neal, two veterans who were at one time hopping aboard NBA team planes for a road game while these two rookies were riding the school bus and thinking about playing NBA Jam after school on their Sega Genesis.

Tags: Steve Nash, Arron Afflalo, Rodney Stuckey

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 24, 2008 at 11:15pm in NBA

They Can Leap Tall Buildings (Lately): Seven NBA Forwards on a Statistical Tear

March 24, 2008

Lamar Odom has been lacing his shoes tightly

Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers

There’s obviously one big reason why the Lakers haven’t fallen off a cliff following the injuries to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (hint: his first name rhymes with the first name of a famous Jedi), but Odom has been the unsung hero of the Lake Show’s continued success. The knock on Odom has always been that he’s too passive, too unwilling to assert himself on the court despite his rare combination of size and skills that should allow him to dominate on most nights. Lately, however, he’s been nothing short of an absolute force on both ends of the floor, especially on the glass. On the season, the 6-10 Odom is averaging a career-best 10.5 boards/per, a number that has been positively impacted by a stretch in which he’s pulled down at least 10 rebounds in 22 of the past 26 games. This includes 22 last night against Golden State (and oh, by the way, he also tacked on 19 points, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks). Odom now has a streak going of six straight double-doubles.

Drew Gooden, Chicago Bulls

Though half of his teammates are lining up to buy the first ticket out of town this summer, Gooden seems to have taken a liking to the Windy City. Since joining the Baby Bad Bulls in the trade deadline deal that sent Ben Wallace to Cleveland, the six-year vet (it seems like he’s been around a lot longer than that, doesn’t it?) has put up some of the best averages of his career over his first 15 games with his new team. Despite the constant meddling of the team’s rotation by interim coach Jim Boylan (or perhaps because of it), Gooden is logging the most minutes (a shade under 32/per) he ever has, and his per-game averages of 14 points, 9.1 boards, 1.5 blocks, 1.7 assists, and 47% FG are all marked improvements on his stats in Cleveland. It’s not necessarily translating to team wins, though—the Bulls are 5-10 during this stretch.

Five more players patting their fantasy owners on the back after the break…

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3 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 24, 2008 at 5:21pm in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

Portland’s Sergio Rodriguez: Point Guard by Day, Spanish Reggaeton Star by Night

March 24, 2008

While the Cavaliers are worried about losing LeBron James to Jay-Z and the Brooklyn Nets in a few years, the Portland Trail Blazers have more pressing concerns: the music industry is banging on the door of Spanish Chocolate, otherwise known as backup PG Sergio Rodriguez. Put him behind a mic and the man spits straight fire, as seen in this teaser clip for his upcoming reggaeton album (release date TBA). Charisma, energy, lyrics—the man has it all.


Tags: Sergio Rodriguez, Portland Trail Blazers

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 24, 2008 at 3:11pm in NBA

Reading is Great! Monday’s NBA Links

March 24, 2008

Raef LaFrentz makes reading FUN!

Newsday – Sources say The Logo is interested in the Knicks job.
NY Daily News – Is Rick Carlisle headed to Chicago? New York?
Wall Street Journal – The NBA’s Top Gossips reside in Spain; don’t really watch basketball.
Sacramento Bee – Don’t forget about Shaun Livingston, who will be a FA in July.
LA Times – The Clippers want Gilbert Arenas, and that makes perfect sense to us.
With Malice – Mark the Calendars: April 5th is Unsung Player Day.
Cavs News – Devin Brown is the illegitimate love child of Usher and Charlie Brown.
Stamford Advocate – Bassy Telfair wants to take over for his cuz in NY.
Hardwood Paroxysm – The Facebook virus has hit the NBA.
The National Post – The Toronto Raptors are S-O-F-T, soft.

2 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 24, 2008 at 12:36pm in NBA

The Day the Dallas Mavericks Died?

March 23, 2008

Dirk and Devin in Better TimesSince the 2005 season the Dallas Mavericks have been defined by two moves: Steve Nash leaving for Phoenix as a free agent prior to the 2004-05 season and the promotion of Avery Johnson to head coach on March 19, 2005. When Avery Johnson took over for Don Nelson he was tasked with taking a run-and-gun powerhouse and perennial also-ran and instilling the requisite defensive mindset and prowess required to succeed in the NBA playoffs. There was great early success, with Johnson named the 2006 Coach of the Year the Mavs advancing to the NBA Finals that season. They could easily have won a title if not for an internal collapse and the transcendent play of Dwyane Wade that led to four consecutive losses in those Finals.

Now a few years further into this project the Mavericks looks like a team that has completely lost their identity. They’re trying to be a good defensive and offensive team, but finding no balance and doing neither exceptionally well. After winning the top seed in the west last season they were embarrassed by former coach Don Nelson and his eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, one of the biggest upsets in league history. Dallas was completely lost against the running Warriors, seemingly unable to remember what it was like to score 110 points in a game. That’s been an ongoing problem. They aren’t Golden State or Phoenix, they aren’t San Antonio or Boston, and they’re getting beat by all of them. Dallas has lost nine consecutive games against teams with a winning record — teams that have a clear identity.

Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris Photo Credit: Icon SMI

That trend continued on Sunday with Dallas falling 88-81 to the San Antonio Spurs, slipping even further from the West’s elite. Dallas actually led by four points at halftime and ten in the third quarter, but they still looked lost and indecisive all game. The Mavs played great defense early, and in the first half they held Tim Duncan to 1-10 shooting and the Spurs as a team to just 36 points, yet Dallas was only able to muster a four-point lead at halftime. Then they fell apart in the third in the midst of a 19-point San Antonio run. The Mavs looked like an aging squad, unable to muster any offense when they needed it, and that was before tragedy struck. In the third quarter Dirk Nowitzki went up for a block, came down awkwardly and had his leg rolled on in ugly fashion. My initial reaction was that his season, and thus that of the Mavericks, was over. Early word is that Dallas is hoping Dirk will only be out two weeks, but in the insanely competitive West that could still spell doom for Dallas’s playoff chances.

More on how Dallas got into this mess after the jump…

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7 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 23, 2008 at 7:30pm in NBA

Tweaking the NBA Rules: Six Ideas to Make The League Even Better

March 21, 2008

Joey Crawford and Ron Olesiak Discuss Our Ideas

Joey Crawford and Ron Olesiak Photo Credit: Icon SMI

1. Charges Drawn Count as Steals

Although I make derisive remarks about the practice of flopping later in this article, I truly admire the player who is willing to take an actual charge. It’s all about timing, skill, strategy and self-sacrifice and it’s high time charges drawn started showing up in the box score. They should be counted as steals. The defensive player does the necessary footwork and positioning to force the opposing offensive player into a play where the defensive player’s team gains control of the ball. That sounds like a steal to me.

Additionally, the defensive player has put the opponent in further foul trouble and potentially drawn free throws, so in many ways the charge drawn can be a significantly more valuable defensive contribution than a traditional steal. Stats never tell the whole story of a performance, but their purpose is an attempt to quantify a player’s contributions. Steals are generally intended to convey defensive performance and it’s about time that drawing an offensive foul was included in this numerical summation.

2. Deemphasized Free-Throw Shooting in Endgame Situations

I’m a fan of the free throw and excellent free-throw shooters. Free-throw shooting plays an integral role in every NBA game, and I think it should. It’s a valid and important basketball skill and a fitting retribution for various rules infractions. That said, I’m tired of seeing the last two minutes of games come down to 30 real-time minutes of stop-and-go play comprised entirely of intentional fouls and free throw attempts. If a diehard NBA apologist like myself finds these sequences anticlimactic, monotonous and off-putting then you can be sure the casual fan is also turned off by the whole ordeal.

I’ve thought about a number of ways to deal with this issue over the years, but none have seemed perfectly satisfactory. Here’s the best solution I can come up with: when a team commits an intentional foul, as determined by the referee, within the last 1:30 of a game, the team with the ball receives one free-throw attempt and maintains possession of the ball. This would completely remove the incentive to essentially turn a basketball game into a game of horse where there’s only one spot on the floor you can shoot from. Other reader suggestions to improve the flow of late-game situations are more than welcome in the comments section.

Four more proposals for bold rules changes after the jump…

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17 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 21, 2008 at 2:23am in ETB Articles, NBA

Measuring Stick Night: Four NBA Powerhouses Square Off, Part II

March 21, 2008

.. now I am the master.

Deron Williams, Derek Fisher Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Game Two: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz

Prelude

No Andrew Bynum? No problem. Pau Gasol’s vagina hurts again ankle is sprained? Don’t need him. This year, it seems that as long as #24 is healthy and in the lineup, beating the Lakers is no small task. Tied for the top seed in the West with a 46-21 record, the Lake Show got back in the win column against Dallas the other day after dropping two in a row (to the Hornets and Rockets, respectively). Ronny Turiaf has stepped up in Gasol’s absence, logging at least 29 minutes over these past three and lending his usual hustle and post-presence at all times. Lamar Odom is the team’s leading rebounder, however, and has pulled down 60 combined in the last five.

The Lakers are the league’s fourth-best road team (22-13), but they’ll need to be at the very top of their game to have a chance in Utah. The Jazz have been nearly unbeatable in Salt Lake City, where the crowd is vanilla-white, the noise is deafening, and the home team has rattled off 19 straight triumphs. They’ve dropped just three games in Salt Lake all year long and have quietly become the trendy pick to ultimately emerge out of the Western Conference playoff fray and advance to the NBA Finals. Jerry Sloan has them playing a high level of team basketball, while third-year PG Deron Williams has been simply amazing, recording at least 10 assists in 10 of the Jazz’s last 12 games, including 20 on March 3 against the Mavericks. If they can get home-court advantage for the first few rounds, they are going to be very, very tough to beat. Some lingering health concerns, though, with Mehmet Okur, Carlos Boozer, and Andrei Kirilenko.

In-Game Notes

- A lot is being made of the booing Lakers PG Derek Fisher received in Utah in his first game there this season. Fisher, of course, was a big part of the Jazz’s success last year, but asked to be let out of his contract in the summer so he could move to LA and get better health care for his daughter. Charles Barkley said Fisher “shouldn’t take it personally, and that of course they’re going to boo him. He’s playing for a rival—he could have went to Seattle. Or Milwaukee. Or Miami. But he went to the Lakers.” For his part, Fisher’s response is to open the game’s scoring with a three-pointer. Give him 5 points in the first 4 minutes.

- Early time out for Jerry Sloan and the Jazz after Lamar Odom’s three puts the Lakers up 18-7. So far the crowd is not a factor, but of course this opens the door for a dramatic 12-2 run led by two consecutive Kyle Korver three-pointers. Nothing gets the Jazz fans revved up like consecutive Kyle Korver threes.

- It’s all Lakers early, with a little four-point run by the Jazz still only cutting the lead down to 12. Obviously, it’s very early and the exact deficit isn’t that important. But. But. The Lakers are getting whatever they want right now on offense, a combination of crisp passing, solid picks, and good spacing. It won’t matter if the Jazz snap out of their offensive funk or not; if they don’t figure out how to get some stops on the other end, they’re going to lose by 10+. At the end of the first, Los Angeles leads by 20, a lead largely built on 75% shooting, but also on fantastic team defense. The Jazz are all sorts of, uh, out of sorts.

- TNT’s Mike Fratello tells a story about Mehmet Okur that I’ll paraphrase here: “You can see Mehmet Okur is short of breath, don’t forget he’s still suffering from a flu bug. He hasn’t eaten much, he still feels sick, and he’s got his whole family in town from Turkey, so his whole house is full and they’re all sick, so he’s just surrounded by sickness.” Great story, Mike. Just great.

- Utah is doing their best to keep this interesting; Okur’s second three of the game cuts the lead to 17, which has riled up the crowd and gotten the “Defense!” chants going. But though the Lakers have cooled off (a little) in the second quarter, they’re still getting open shots and still getting to the hole for layups or fouls. It’s scary how good this LA team can be when they’re clicking on all cylinders—and without Bynum and Gasol. Very, very scary.

Notes on the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers-Utah Jazz game after the jump. Oh, the drama!

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1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 21, 2008 at 1:19am in ETB Articles, NBA

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