Monthly Archives: December 2011

(Lack of) Effort in the NBA and clock management

The lockout shortened NBA season is officially rolling, and everyone is talking about the demanding, condensed schedule. The Lakers start was a case in point: three games back to back against the Bulls, Kings, and Jazz. They should have beaten the Bulls but blew a 5 point lead in the last minute. Then came the predictable, tired-legs loss to an inferior team in Sacramento.

The Lakers came into the season in disarray. The league denied their trade for Chris Paul, Kobe hurt his wrist (a full ligament tear that will likely get worse, not better, this season), they traded extremely disgruntled Lamar Odom for next to nothing (he was part of the Paul trade offer), and Pau Gasol remains somewhat disgruntled (also part of the Paul trade offer). To make matters worse, the Clippers swiped Chris Paul instead and beat the Lakers twice in the preseason. New coach Mike Brown felt it necessary to assure the media that the Lakers would make the playoffs before their third game against the Jazz.

After their loss to the Kings, a lot of people expected an 0-3 start for the Lakers. The Kings game was close until the final 1:30, so they should have been especially tired against the Jazz. Instead, the Lakers came out and demolished the Jazz.

I have a different theory for what happened to the Lakers. Continue reading

NFL week 17: contenders and pretenders

Week 16 was huge. Fifteen teams entered the week with work to do to make the playoffs (7 more had already clinched). Ten of those 15 teams played another team within the same group. That meant 5 guaranteed wins for these teams; only the Titans got a win outside of the group.

Before I break down the carnage, let’s look at the real contenders. Here are the True Wins standings for the six teams that I think have a chance (you can learn about True Wins in my previous post, which are my quick and dirty luck-free measure of team quality): Continue reading

Howard and the Lakers

At halftime of the Lakers and Bulls Christmas day game, the commentators speculated on whether the Lakers can compete as they are or whether they should keep pushing to trade for Dwight Howard. Magic Johnson said unequivocally that the Lakers cannot win a championship with their current team and should continue working on a trade offer with Andrew Bynum as the centerpiece. Chris Broussard went even further, arguing that the Lakers should trade Bynum and Pau Gasol, which seems to be what the Magic want.

This was music to my ears. The Lakers have some interesting new role players this year (good rebounders Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts, sharpshooting rookie Andrew Goudelock). Even if they have to trade one or two of these guys and a stocking full of draft picks, it’s a great time to follow my South Beach Talents model by pairing top 15 superstars. I no longer put Gasol in the top 15, at least not with the specter of Kobe staring down ready to criticize every mistake.

With Brook Lopez out, the Nets missed their shot. The Lakers should do EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to get Dwight Howard. If they do, they will immediately become strong contenders for at least one more NBA championship. What more could they want under their Christmas tree?

Thank you, Lions!

I got a Christmas present from the Lions one day early this year. In convincing fashion, they clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 1999!

From LA, I wish a happy holiday to all my readers.

Everyone can hate Kobe now

Apart from a select few sleazeballs who admire Kobe Bryant’s philandering ways, I think everyone will hate him after the National Enquirer story this week (summarized online by Deadspin – thanks to Adrian the Canadian for the link). Apparently, Kobe has slept with 105 women — that his wife Vanessa knows about — during their 10 year marriage, which makes for 10.5 women a year. Wowsers.

I chuckled when I read Jack Dickey and Timothy Burke’s analysis in the article above. Based on his on-court scoring average Continue reading

A hockey game worth your attention

Last night, I stayed up to watch my Red Wings take on the Canucks on the West coast. These are two of the hottest teams in hockey, led by veterans who rely on passing, puck handling, and precision (the Sedins for the Canucks, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Lidstrom for the Red Wings). I figured I was in for a clean game with lots of exciting plays.

You can check out some highlights on TSN. This game had it all: Continue reading

The Brooklyn Broken Metatarsals

It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? They could have been the Brooklyn Talents, on their way to the playoffs. Instead, the Nets will be lucky to win 30 games without Brook Lopez. They should have given the Magic whatever they wanted in exchange for Dwight Howard. Who cares about a few more draft picks or a role player? Too late now.

No one watches bowl games — let’s evolve to the College Football Premier League

There’s another nice summary piece by Tyler Cowen (Marginal Revolution) and Kevin Grier at Grantland this week (thanks to my PhD buddy Felipe for passing it along). Their topic: the college football bowl system. Their conclusion:

In sum, we have a system where the games are not designed to produce the best on-field matchups, the competitors often lose money [since no one watches most bowl games] but fight fiercely to participate, outsiders and observers complain vehemently, and the organizers amass and waste a great deal of money with little oversight.

They also note Continue reading

True Wins update heading into week 16

NFL playoff races heated up in week 15 (just like always). The Packers finally lost and the corks popped for the ’72 Dolphins (just like always), while all other NFC playoff teams held serve. The AFC was the mirror image. The Patriots are now cruising with the top seed (just like always) and a six game win streak, while all other AFC playoff teams lost but maintained their playoff positions. Yes, that’s correct, Tim Tebow lost.

Despite losses by the Broncos, Titans, Raiders, Bears, and Giants, no new teams were eliminated. The NFL must be thrilled! With two weeks to go, 22 out of 32 teams still have a shot for only 12 spots.

Before we see who actually deserves a shot, Continue reading

How to build an NBA winner

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about an alternative course for small market NBA teams: the Seattle Scientists. The Scientists model would capitalize on unconventional, undervalued assets in the NBA — fitness, effort, and intelligence — and run an offensive/defensive press to catch opponents flat  footed.

Today, I propose an entirely different approach: The South Beach Talents. This strategy is harder to implement for small market teams, but the risk level is very low. It will almost surely succeed if you can pull it off. There are three steps: Continue reading