Rookie Rankings, Week 20: Who Will Impact the Playoff Push?

2 Comments

While Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke chase Michael Carter-Williams for Rookie of the Year, a handful of anticother rookies are helping their teams chase postseason berths and higher seeds.

The Eastern Conference has three teams in the playoff chase whose finish will be somewhat impacted by the play of their rookies. The Western Conference has five teams in the hunt with rookies playing a prominent role.

The team relying most on rookies is undoubtedly the Atlanta Hawks, who have two rookies in their rotation as they try to hold off the New York Knicks for the final playoff berth in the East.

Pages: 1 2

Goran Dragic: Creative, energetic, unafraid and the savior of the Phoenix Suns’ season

1 Comment

PHX_Dragic_GoranGoran Dragic slashes, drives and penetrates into the lane like no other NBA player, creatively opening up space to create for himself and his Phoenix Suns teammates. That creativity, though, comes with a heavy price: the beating he takes on a nightly basis as he hurtles into and bounces around defenders with his breathtakingly fun to watch forays towards the basket which sweep opponents and fans alike off their feet like a swift and strong gust of wind.

Dragic’s offensive game is so unique stylistically, but this year he’s coupled his singular energy and fervor with the efficiency both Dragic and his Suns have lacked. For any ball-handler to shoot over 50 percent from the field and nearly 42 percent from three is impressive. For Dragic to do so with his number of minutes and a usage rate, especially when guard Eric Bledsoe was injured, makes him one of the NBA’s most valuable players this season on the league’s most surprisingly successful squads.

“He’s really stepped up his game this year, especially when we needed him when Eric went out,” said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. “He was playing great prior to that, but then without Eric he maybe averaged 22 points a game. He had to play bigger minutes for us. He’s a great player.”

Pages: 1 2

PODCAST: Phil Jackson Isn’t The Only Item Up For Discussion

2 Comments

Phil Jackson to the Knicks was definitely the story of the day. When a guy with 13 championship rings takes on a new job, there’s no getting around the importance of the moment.

But there are 29 other teams making news of one kind or another, and I found time on 1280AM in Salt Lake City to deviate away from Jackson and discuss Coach of the Year, the sleeper teams in the East and the West, and the debate over whether Blake Griffin has become a more worthy MVP candidate than LeBron James.

Popular Basketball Internet Radio with Sheridan Hoops Radio on BlogTalkRadio

How Did Most Improved Player Candidates Fare in March Madness?

1 Comment

andredrummondIt’s March Madness, and that can only mean one thing.

I just spent the past 48 hours writing three paragraphs on all 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament for my blog, RoundballDaily.com. If I have to hit the parentheses button one more time, I’m going to lose my index finger (I put a lot of the stats in parentheses). Dammit.

In the spirit of the Big Dance, I’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about the greatest March Madness moments from each of our Most Improved Player candidates. Lord knows it’s a better idea than putting them all into a fake tournament.

So without further paragraphs, let’s take a look at each player and how they fared in March Madness:

Goran Dragic: OK, bad start. Dragic didn’t play college basketball because he’s from Slovenia. But if he had, I think he would’ve gone to St. Mary’s, and led them to the Sweet 16. There, his Gaels would have gotten hosed on every call and subsequently lost to an overseeded Duke team led by a bunch of future crappy NBA players. I think Jay Bilas would have described him as a “really good” point guard with “excellent ball skills.”

Andre Drummond: UConn was a disaster the only year Drummond was there. The Huskies lost to Iowa State in their first game and Jim Calhoun’s last one. Andre averaged 10 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 Calhoun Panic Attacks per game that season. He was way too talented for those numbers.

Lance Stephenson: He played one season at Cincinnati, which didn’t make The Dance. “Born Ready” was probably outstanding in the NIT, even though the Bearcats bowed out in the second round.

Anthony Davis: The ‘Brow is the clear winner here. He’s a college legend for his ridiculously successful freshman year at Kentucky in 2012. Davis won the National Freshman of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Player of the Year awards. He also won the national championship and ended up as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, something no one else in NCAA history has done. Other than that, he sucked.

DeAndre Jordan: A Jordan-led Texas A&M team almost upset Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love’s UCLA squad in 2008, falling 53-49, in a second-round heartbreaker. I can remember Jordan holding onto his shorts in the lane as the camera panned to him immediately after the buzzer sounded. It was a heck of an effort. Jordan only spent one season at A&M and averaged just 7.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

Isaiah Thomas: The Hustlin’ Husky was a star at Washington, where he played in the Big Dance each of the three years he was there. UW hasn’t been back since. The best tourney moment for Thomas had to be when he led the 11th-seeded Huskies to the Sweet 16 in 2011. That Washington team manhandled Darrington Hobson and No. 3 New Mexico, 82-64, in the second round.

Well…that was fun, wasn’t it?

And the best part? No Rony Seikaly Region.

On to the rankings.

Pages: 1 2

Sixth Man Rankings: The Knicks’ current win streak should be taken with skepticism

Leave a comment

knicksThe Knicks have won five straight games and now sit just 3.5 games from the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The fans of Gotham are finally excited about the Knicks for the first time this season. The Bucks come to New York on Saturday, and if the Knicks can pull out an expected victory, they’ll close the gap between them and the Hawks even further.

Right now, ESPN.com has the Knicks’ playoff odds at 15%. With the Knicks having five very winnable games over their next six, I’d spot their chances at about 33% today.

Moreover, on a larger level, with Phil Jackson reportedly close to signing on with the team this week, there’s a sense of relief among the fans that the team may finally have a realistic plan in place to build a roster for the future.

Unfortunately for Knicks fans, the temporary excitement in the Knicks’ hot streak is slightly misguided. As analytic-guru and writer Dean Oliver calculated in his book Basketball on Paper, winning streaks of five or six games are actually quite common in the NBA — even for underachieving teams.

The Knicks are currently 26-40, good for a winning percentage of .394.

As Oliver discovered after extensive research of historical NBA seasons, teams with winning percentages of .400 or better have a 55% chance of winning five games in a row over an 82 game schedule.

Even if the Knicks defeat Milwaukee on Saturday (not a given, considering they dropped their last matchup to Milwaukee in February), a six-game win streak for a mediocre team is still quite common in today’s NBA. According to Oliver, a .400 team has a 27% chance of winning six games in a row over the course of a season. Just last month, the Cavaliers won six games in a row and proceeded to lose seven of their next nine. Winning a string of games is not indicative of a team turning their season around.

Furthermore, out of the teams New York has beaten recently on this little streak, only the Timberwolves own a winning record (32-31). This win streak is more a reflection of the poor competition the Knicks have faced rather than the Knicks having magically figured things out. Head coach Mike Woodson still doesn’t seem to grasp who can (and can’t) play well together:

On a more positive note for Knicks fans, one thing they can be happy about is J.R. Smith’s sudden positive turnaround. Over the Knicks’ five game streak, Smith has averaged 16.6 points, 3.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds. As his production’s increased, his efficiency has improved as well. He’s shooting 43% from deep over the streak and hasn’t committed a turnover in four of the team’s five wins.

Considering he has been averaging just 13.3 points and shooting under 40% from the entire field for the season, the Knicks must be relieved to see their longterm investment starting to look adequate again.

On to the rankings…

Pages: 1 2