This may be super meta, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t read my blog if it wasn’t written by me. Too many words. Not enough pictures. I’m also super lazy, I have to go over all my tags and unify the format . . . I’m really avoiding doing this.
Monday, May 18, 2009
If you’ve ever wandered onto an LA Lakers blog, message board, or listened to a nationally broadcasted game by Mike “Fellatio for the Lakers 24/7” Tirico then you’ll know, with complete certainty, that Andrew Bynum is one of the best centers in the league, and will without giving any prior notice, become the next best center in the league and join the pantheon of great bigmen. He will rightfully sit alongside Wilt, Russell and Kareem while using Ewing, Robinson and O’Neal as foot rests. The third footrest will be necessary because of how great and grand his male organ must be – as he has been photographed at the Playboy mansion (who cares) and is curiously linked to Rihanna right now. (who? exactly.)
As impressive as his potential appears, and as great as his off-court life may or may not be (I’d rather hang out at the Acharya mansion any day of the week) – I’m less than impressed with him as a player. I’m even less impressed when I actually look at his accomplishments as a player in the playoffs (aka. when it counts). Furthermore, I’m pretty much sick to death by the hype that he has received from casual fans, homer fans, and the media alike. Now, this isn’t meant to trash the hopes of the future of the Lakers at all – I strive to temper the expectations of him a little bit. For his sake, and ours.
My brother is the most rational Lakers fan I know, he is passionate, but not completely under the spell that countless others are on the internet. He’s more concerned with consistent play, rebounding and solid defense from all of the Lakers and does not have the time to worry about if Bynum is going to be the next Kareem – he’s worried about right now. If I was a Lakers fan I wouldn’t be worried about right now – you guys will trounce Denver on your way to the NBA Finals (where anything can happen). I would, on the other hand, be worried about the past – specifically Bynum’s past.
He’s 21 years old right now and was drafted as a 17 year old. What do we know about him that should really count? How about the fact that he had an injury ruined high school career (leg/knee injury), and in the NBA has had two more leg/knee injuries in his young career. He’s tall, but not nearly as super athletic and fit as freaks like Dwight Howard or Amare Stoudemire are – I don’t expect him to be physically made of the same stuff as those guys are. When you get over 7 feet tall, any injuries to your lower body seriously limit how reliable you can be, regardless of how much work one may put on their upper bodies. (You’re only as strong as your base is – look at Yao Ming, who has just a storied lower body injury history as Bynum, he misses lots of games every year, and is never 100% due to the strain his body puts on his lower body) Amare had two career ending (had this been the 80’s/90’s) knee injuries, but has come back due to a great work ethic. Bynum puts women on his shoulders during rehab. I wouldn’t be making a huge leap by suggesting that Bynum may have a career that features a number of injuries to his lower body, not unlike Yao Ming – as opposed to being virtual injury free like Dwight Howard. But I have no crystal ball, I’m just going on the fact that he’s a big guy with a history of lower body injuries who was injury prone as a teen and only looks to put an increasingly large strain on those same joints as his ages and increases mass.
That’s not very empirical though, it’s just an assumed health arc based on his body type, job, apparent work ethic, how healthy other big guys his size have been and medical history. What is empirical, on the other hand, is to dig deep and look at stats. I love stats. Stats are flawed, as I’ve explained on this blog before, but they still give a pretty good indication of on court production. (After all, that’s what counts, points, rebounds, blocks, assists, steals, turn overs and fouls, right?)
After this last game against the Houston Rockets the total number of playoff games that Bynum has participated in stands at 18. These 18 games have taken him from 2005-2006 till now to amass. In that time he has been brought along slowly – thanks to the fact that he doesn’t need to be useful when he’s so far down the pecking order behind at least 4 other guys. That said, his production does not appear to be indicative of him joining the pantheon of great bigmen any decade soon. I want to look at his stats in the playoffs and see the promise that appears to be there (and only appears in regular season games against bad teams sandwiched between injuries). As a point of reference I looked at Patrick Ewing’s first 19 games (why not 18? wanted to complete that one series to make it an even number of playoff off series for the two) in the playoffs. Ewing was a great center, but never will he be called the best of his generation, and thus, not up for entry into the pantheon of greatest bigmen ever (though the media has already reserved a spot there for Bynum).
Bynum’s first 18 Playoff games, and how they stack up:
Ewing creams Bynum statistically. And Ewing played in a time where big guys weren’t bailed out with foul shots, and played against much better competition. Bynum played against the Phoenix Suns, twice anchored in the paint by Frenchman Boris Diaw; the injury depleted Utah Jazz that was forced to start Jarron Collins; and the Houston Rockets, who during the course of the series, lost Yao Ming to injury a little more than 2 games in – and had to turn to a rotation of Chuck Hayes, Carl Landry and Luis Scola to battle LA’s 7 footers. Bynum gets killed – just look at the stats.
Alas, he is immune to any criticism for a great rebuttal exists: Ewing had much more experience from being a guy who actually went to college, won a National Title; and also played in the NBA for a few seasons before making the playoffs. All this is true, but nothing prevented Bynum from going to college himself – if he was really interested in experience. That said, I also took a chance to look at another young bigman, and saw how he faced the NBA pressure. David Robinson did manage to make the playoffs as a rookie (he led his team there, unlike Bynum who did his best to stay out of Kobe’s way). David Robinson is far from my favorite player in the world – but he also creams Bynum’s numbers when you take out experience and look just at Bynum’s FIRST FOUR SEASONS against David’s ROOKIE season.
Let’s not forget that David had to go to war against Joe Barry Carroll and the plethora of tough guys in the paint that Portland sported back when David was a rookie. Bynum, with 4 years of experience in the NBA, has yet to face anything like that in the NBA playoffs – and his numbers are completely pathetic.
Ewing: 22.1 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.37 bpg
Robinson: 24.4 ppg, 12.00 rpg, 4.00 bpg
Bynum: 4.83 ppg, 3.78 rpg, 0.67 bpg
Obviously the data is heavily skewed against poor, young Bynum. His first few playoff sorties were short and he was inexperienced. Obviously the stats are going to go against him when you include some of his early games. The Bynum of today is a beast though! Look at Bynum’s numbers from just his 4th season in the playoffs against other greats and you’ll see! You’ll all see!
Okay, let’s do that then.
Bynum’s Playoff stats from his 4th season, and how those stats stack up:
Bynum’s numbers improve very slightly, he ups his ppg from 4.83 to 5.58, his free throw percentage from 62.96% to 76.47% and he swats almost 0.2 more blocks per game. Still not impressed. He’s a far cry from, let’s just randomly say, Hakeem Olajuwon. In the Dream’s 4th NBA season he happened to tear the NBA playoff’s a new one with his scoring -- 37.5 ppg (57.14 fg%, 88.37 ft%); rebounding – 16.75 rpg; and all around game – 2.75 bpg, 1.75 apg, 2.25 spg.
Not only did Hakeem obliterate Bynum’s pitiful offensive output by a magnitude nearing 7x, but absolutely owned him all over the boxscore. He also did it against much tougher competition as well.
Heck, Bynum is so far from being impressive that Greg Ostertag’s fourth year playoff stats could (and do) give Bynum’s fourth year playoff stats a run for their money. It’s horrible to say, but really Lakers fans (and media, or is that redundant?) – take a look and weep.
Bynum is a much better offensive player than Ostertag (is this even saying anything?), but Ostertag owns Bynum when it comes to rebounds and blocks. Greg even managed to out-assist Bynum and made less mistakes (as seen in less turn overs and fouls per game).
What’s worse, the fact that Bynum just got his lunch handed to him by Ostertag; or the fact that Ostertag was doing this against super duper vets and talented players like Vlade, Arvydas, Dale Davis and Rasheed (when Ostertag was a 4th year player) – and looking better than media adored Bynum going up against Chuck Hayes and the guy who was behind Ostertag on the depth chart?
Furthermore, Bynum’s had 5 scoreless games in the playoffs, out of 18. And he’s scored less than 5 points 11 times out of 18. Ouch.
Take a look at Hakeem’s 37.5 ppg average again. Ouch.
Of course, there HAS to be a rebuttal for this . . . no way can Bynum been so far behind Hakeem at the same stage of NBA experience, and yet so close to NBA laughingstock Greg Ostertag . . . right? . . . .right? Don’t worry Lakers fans, of course there is . . . forget about NBA experience, that’s a flawed concept. Let’s not forget that Hakeem and Greg both played college ball (like Ewing and Robinson did) . . . Bynum didn’t play college. Look at how young he is! He’s only 21! Surely when you take that into account it makes up for 32 ppg (in the case of Hakeem), or nearly a block and a half (in the case of Ostertag)!!!
Okay, let’s take at a look at that. Try me.
Bynum’s Playoff stats as a 21 year old, and how those stats stack up against another 21 year old:
Bynum is a very brittle 21 year old who doesn’t have to do anything, and his team makes it to the NBA Finals. I’m not lying, the Lakers did that last season. That said, Bynum is a force of nature, and the future of the center position in the NBA. His 21 year old production is unrivaled. Right? Wrong. Take a look at this guy, and what he did in the playoffs at the tender age of 21 (his 2nd season in the L, not his 4th like Bynum). I just have one hyphenated word to describe this: Shaq-Attaq.
A lot of the same Lakers fans who champion Bynum marginalize how great Shaq was. I can clearly see why Kobe went out of his way to suggest that Bynum needed to be traded – because Kobe knew how good Shaq was. The difference between the two is quite telling when you look at these two centers at the age of 21, Bynum in his 4th season and Shaq in his 2nd.
The difference between the two was almost 15 points, 10 rebounds and over 2 blocks and almost 2 assists . . . in favor of the 2nd year player.
That’s a huge difference.
The difference between being called one of the best bigmen of all time, and being called a bust.
Bynum was a lotto pick man, and aside from his inspired dirty play in injuring two guys this season, and being afraid of Fesenko in the paint, he’s done nothing to earn the high praise that’s heaped on him. And he’s done nothing to make me feel like giving him any props.
His current playoff run isn’t over yet, and he’s got one, most likely two more playoff series to make his 2008-2009 playoffs slightly more memorable than his complete no-show in the 2007-2008 playoffs.
I’m taking it easy on Bynum here by comparing him to guys that he may yet one-day reach . . . even if it doesn’t seem like it. I could really try to down him if I wanted by comparing him to his contemporaries who are out-playing him right now. For example take Dwight Howard -- in his first 14 playoff games: 17.86 ppg (57.23 fg%, 51.72 ft%), 15.5 rpg, 2.71 bpg, 1.14 apg, 0.714 spg . . . those numbers are way better than Bynum’s. Also better are Dwight’s numbers as a 21 year old and Dwight’s numbers in his 4th NBA season.
If I really wanted to be a dick I’d mention that Dwight also has 3 less leg injuries. I’m not a dick though, so I’m not going to mention that.
What did we learn?
What did we learn? Well, for starters we learned that Andrew Bynum’s playoff performances leave much to be desired. His first 18 games in the playoffs pales in comparison to Ewing’s numbers over the same situations – and Ewing played against much better defensive clubs like Michael’s Bulls and the Bad Boy Pistons. We learned that David Robinson’s rookie season playoff numbers invalidates the argument that Bynum’s rookie numbers shouldn’t count. We also learned that Hakeem’s numbers as a fourth year player completely eclipse Bynum’s as a 4th year player. I didn’t even have to look up 2nd tier NBA centers like Rik Smits at all after I found out that at the same level of NBA experience that Greg Ostertag’s playoff performance was a wash with that of Bynum’s. Lastly, we learned that Bynum can’t even hide behind his age as an excuse for how poor his performances have been – as Shaq as a 21 year old eats Bynum up. Ultimately, we learned that it’s a bit too premature to call Bynum anything other than a bust at this stage. He’s much closer to Ostertag, albeit one who rebounds and blocks less, and fouls and turns the ball over more, than he is to being one of the greatest bigmen of all time – let alone in his own generation.
After all, Dwight’s numbers at each break down (first x number of games, 4th NBA season, and at age 21) are vastly superior to Bynum’s. Oh yeah, also Bynum has a history of injury problems to the same parts of his body and young guys who sustain so many injuries in short succession tend to have injury plagued careers. Yeah, I wasn’t supposed to mention that again . . . I guess I am a dick after all.
Bynum doesn’t deserve his hype until he does something. Something other than sucking when it counts, that is.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
. . . a major disappointment? . . . a serious step back? . . . a comedy of errors? . . . a season to forget? . . . the last season for this core group?
More than we’d like to admit, this last season was all of the above. You can probably think of a lot more ways to describe the 2008-2009 NBA Season for the Utah Jazz as well. I don’t like harping on past mistakes, as I feel that a more progressive, forwarding thinking attitude gets results. I did take a serious break between the end of Game 5, the end of our season, and now. In that time I wanted to have a chance to cleanse my palate of Jazz basketball so that when I get into the swing of blogging again (starting now) that I will not be writing from a skewed point of view – one filled with more emotion and less logic than it deserved. Games where your team gets eliminated in tend to magnify specific aspects of the team, the roster, and the coaching which steer fans opinions to extremes – extremes that would not logically make sense if the season was viewed as more than just that elimination game – but the entire months long journey that it really was. Sure, elimination games are important – look at all of the Ronnie Price love on Jazz message boards and blogs after his energized performance in the second half of Game 5, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Ronnie Price wouldn’t have single handedly fixed all of the problems the Lakers exposed if he played more.
I like how most of the other blogs did take the time to go straight into the ‘where did we go wrong’ and player analyses after the Jazz were eliminated. I enjoy other peoples’ points of views, though you can read that some of the player analysis were, indeed, fueled partly by emotion and recent memories. (After all, as fans we tend to be more a ‘what have you done for me lately’ group of people) I even had the opportunity to contribute with player write ups for the much maligned duo of Kyrylo Fesenko and Morris Almond at Jazz juggernaut SLC Dunk. (Thanks BBall John!) That said, I think now is the right time to get back to business here at All That Jazz.
Where to start? How about with me? We fans on the internet take the opportunity to type out our opinions and hold players, coaches and the front office accountable for their failings. I’m going to start up by looking at what I thought our team would do, and compare it with what the team did do.
My prediction for total number of wins:
Back in October I went out on a limb and suggested that our team would finish the season having won 65 total games (regular season and playoffs). Boy, did I get that one wrong! Injuries, road woes and the inability to focus against lesser teams aside, the 2008-2009 Jazz only won 49 games (and that’s including the measly 1 playoff game that the Jazz won). Not only is that a far cry from what I felt like our talented roster was capable of (probably our most talented roster ever), but a far cry from the last two seasons where the Jazz won 60 games each (2006-2007: 51 regular season + 9 playoffs, 2007-2008: 54 regular season + 6 playoffs). [And let’s be perfectly honest, 65 wins total was not a completely insane number, as the Jazz for the last few seasons were dropping games against the T-Wolves, Kings, Bobcats, Pacers and Knicks . . . that’s 5 wins right there to go from 60 to 65] There are reasons why the Jazz won less than 50 games – serious reasons – but that does not change the fact that I was dead wrong in my prediction for the Jazz. Wrong by a total of 16 games or (Hyperbole alert) basically the difference between the 2nd seed and the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.
I felt as though the first 20 games of the season were the key. (As having a great start to the season, 13+ wins in the first 20 games, is a very strong predictor of having a solid season, as seen in the last few years) Utah would be playing without Deron, or at best, a severely hobbled one. Looking at the schedule I still felt as though the Jazz would win 15 games out of their first 20. I was wrong as the Jazz only won 12. That was exactly how many games the Jazz won back to start the 2002-2003 NBA Season – a season that finished astonishingly similarly to this one. Here’s what I said back then:
Avoiding the low hanging fruit that could be “Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer’s last game together”, our team was bounced in 5 by the LA Lakers and finished the season 48-34. Perhaps years from now NBA historians will look back at this season as another season in transition. That would just suck though, as that means we’re back to square one after 7 seasons. Well, the silver lining is that this season proved my point that the first 20 games of the season are a very strong indicator for seasonal success for the Jazz, even if my ability to predict wins are significantly off.
My pre-season predictions of our roster:
Star Player: As far as no brainers go, I selected Deron Williams as our Star Player. Duh. We played our absolute best when he was at his absolute best. We played our worst when he played his worst. Nothing else really needs to be said. My predictions were pretty much on point for the rest of the team as well.
Position Spotlight: I chose our Shooting Guards for the position spotlight, and I think that for most of the season this was a fairly solid, yet unspectacular group of guards. Sadly, my predictions for the best case and worst case scenarios seemed to come true for Ronnie, Kyle, C.J. and Morris. Brewer did earn a title and rep as a defensive stopper (and got called for fouling a lot less), and was able to keep some defenses honest with his outside shooting in the regular season. In the playoffs he wasn’t even defended and I am beginning to feel like his current skill set may be better suited as a Small Forward on offense. Kyle did improve his defense as the season went on, but due to a variety of reasons his shooting percentages did taper off and his over-all importance with the team appeared to be reduced during crunch time. C.J. would put it all together during stretches of the season – being a very solid shooter and defender, yet disappear in other games altogether. He did become a starter, but lingering doubts about his true value to a championship contender exist. Nothing really right happened for Almond this season, and as I wrote, “his inability to be a complete player negates his technically proficient scoring skills” – and he did not get significant playing time with our club for the second straight season. In the playoffs none of our guards could make shots . . . a major point of that position spotlight was the search for a ‘making guard’, as more than a dozen shooting guards have been auditioned in our system over the years. Our problems at this spot appear to be in just a similar state of flux as they have been for the last few seasons. Things are better, but not completely satisfied – and that’s a problem when this is the number one skill position in the NBA right now (Kobe, Wade, even guys like Kevin Martin and Jamal Crawford give us the business when we play them).
Top Transaction of the Off-Season: As far as our current roster needs were at the start of the season (need for defensive big, defensive wing, and solid back up PG to spell Deron), I felt like the Jazz brass really only addressed one. They have been drafting project bigmen for a while (three 7 footers in the last 2 drafts) and feel as though our wings can develop into good wing defenders (Brewer, for one did) – so the Jazz brass focused on the back up PG issue. Kevin O’Connor turned a really bad player into a potentially very useful player. Clearly Brevin Knight was an upgrade over Jason Hart, right? Based on this premise I felt as though this was the top transaction of the off season. Even though Knight didn’t perform as well as we hoped, I still stand fast with this selection as the other moves did not make much of a difference this season. (Matched the offer for C.J. – maybe Korver would have been a better starter? Drafted Kosta, who didn’t even get a chance to play this season.) Of course, I have to come clean, as hindsight is 20/20, and say that while this was still the top transaction that it still wasn’t a good one. Knight turned the ball over too often for a guy who was advertized as a savvy vet who did not make mistakes with the ball. He had a stretch of over a week without a made FG. He played worse than an ancient Derek Fisher in the playoffs. Yet, he was cheaper than Jason Hart, and his deal is off the books now.
Top Position Battle: On paper the Jazz are a pretty solid group with a well defined rotation. Deron plays the lion’s share of minutes at the point; there’s a legion of similarly talented (in relative terms) wing players that can be shuttled in and out; and Boozer, Memo and Millsap handle most of the minutes in the paint. The only big question mark was back-up center, and that’s exactly how I felt going into this last season. As fate would have it, this battle became a battle of attrition as at times, as there was no back-up. Collins was injured for most of the season recovering from his hilarious Golf Cart accident. (And yes, his twin brother was also involved) Fesenko had Work VISA trouble which required him to leave the team, and country, in the middle of a road trip (that did not involve playing the Raptors). And Kosta, well, he was diagnosed early with rookieplayingforJerrySloanitis. The season ended with Jarron Collins starting in 3 of the last 5 games; Fesenko active, but collecting DNP-CD’s; and Koufos sitting behind the bench in a suit. If anything, this is exactly how the most disappointing season in recent memory should have ended. More precisely, this is exactly the opposite of what should have happened.
Collins is clearly at a state of greatly diminishing returns in his career. Sloan trusts him, but this isn’t exactly the best way to get your young centers a chance to improve. Sure – Collins has experience that guys like Kosta and Kyrylo do not have, but he got that experience by actually playing in and starting games as a rookie. Don’t believe me? Look it up! (If you didn’t click on that link please do so . . . and forward that link to guys like Sloan, Locke, Siler and crew) Fes has all the size, strength and athleticism to, at the very least, slow down bigs and discourage guard penetration. He’s not great on offense, but he’s not taking shots he can’t make (58 fg% would only be higher if he actually threw down half of the amazing dunks he attempts). Kosta has the work ethic, offensive polish (he was taking Brand and Dalembert off the dribble and scoring inside with nifty hooks in the 8th game of the season), superb shot blocking instincts and willingness to improve – basically he should have *won* out this position battle for the back-up center spot . . . though he was not even allowed to compete. Silly.
Don’t call me a crazy homer if I suggest that having a young guy like Kosta or Fes ready to contribute in the playoffs by playing regularly in regular season games wouldn’t have helped a teeny tiny bit against the Lakers (Gasol, Odom, Bynum) when Memo was injured and out of action. The rebuttal that I’ve gotten from the Utah Jazz press is that our club is in a win now mode, and doing so may have resulted in a variety of losses that would have put us out of the playoffs. Really? Is that the worst thing that could have happened – we would have missed out on getting embarrassed by the Lakers in 5 games? The Risk, in this case, clearly does not match up with the reward of having a useful back up center who can play defense where we are notoriously poor – in the paint. That’s why we have to double with a wing, leaving three point shooters open . . . because we can’t guard other teams bigs in single coverage because you just can’t defend a guy like Gasol or Bynum with a 6’8 guy like Millsap or 6’7 Harpring. Hence, the SOLUTION to our inability to stop threes is rooted in the INABILITY to stop inside play – we need better INTERIOR DEFENSE!!!
Break-Out Player: While I felt as though there were a few qualified candidates, it was either going to be Korver or Millsap. And as this season went along (complete with the near-annual 40+ game injury to Carlos Boozer) Millsap had plenty of opportunities to really break out. I was really surprised by Kyle’s lack of improvement on offense this season – I really felt as though he would have proven the Hornacek hypothesis (that even a gifted offensive player who is traded to the Jazz gets better after a training camp with the team). He has an injury to his shooting hand, so I can give him a break. It doesn’t really matter though, as Millsap was predicted to break out, and that’s exactly what he did.
X-Factor: The X-Factor for your team can pretty much make or break your season. Strangely enough, a lot of teams come to rely on these decidedly non-stars to be the true barometer of how well they play. For example, the Boston Celtics have three huge names in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen – though it is Rajon Rondo who powers them to wins. Back before the season started I dubbed Andrei Kirilenko as the team’s X-Factor this year. When he was healthy and anchoring out 2nd unit the Jazz were quite capable of winning games against better teams. When he was playing poorly, he left a hole in too many places. Surely Andrei was not as important as Deron Williams – Deron has the talent and stature to lead the team and will them to wins. The X-Factor, on the other hand, is capable only of preventing losses. Andrei wasn’t a huge game changer this season (his MPG keeps going down), but when he had a good game the Jazz’ record was 28-7. That’s an 80% win percentage. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that correlation and causation are completely different aspects of any result; hence, the necessity to understand that HE may not be completely responsible for that winning percentage, but when HE is involved and having a good game (as defined as close to a double double; or a good shooting percentage and scoring 10+ ppg in 22+ mins; or having at least 5 points, rebounds and assists and a combined 3+ of threes, steals and blocks; or any other combination of having a solid game off the bench) the Jazz are a very hard team to beat.
Basically, I was right about these things, even if I was really wrong about how many wins the Jazz would get.
My pre-season predictions of our rotation:
Because I’m just really super-duper into the Jazz I took the time to plot out how many MPG each player on the team would get this season, and I ended up being pretty accurate on this as well. Wow, go me.
Called it! (off by less than 2 mpg):
- Last season Deron played 37.3 mpg, and I suggested that with added PG depth that his MPG would go down, but only slightly. I had him in at 37 mpg, and this season he averaged 36.8 mpg. Yeah, called it. That was a difference in only 0.2 mpg.
- Morris Almond played 4.3 mpg in his rookie season and I felt like he would pretty much double that, and I suggested that he would play 9 mpg. This season he ended up playing 10.2 mpg, a difference of only 1.2 mpg. That’s pretty darn close for projecting the playing time for a guy who was a rookie playing less than 5 mpg.
- I felt like Memo needed more MPG, more than his 33.2 mpg from last season. I said 35 mpg, and he ended up playing 33.5 – a slight increase, but for me, still a difference of less than 2 mpg (1.5).
- Lastly, my hate for Jarron Collins (as a player) showed up by me plotting his mpg to go down from 10 mpg to 6. Jerry compromised and played him 7.7 mpg – meaning I was only off by 1.7 mpg.
Pretty Close (2-3 mpg off):
- Last season for the Clippers Brevin Knight played 22.6 mpg, and I had him playing 10.5 mpg for the Jazz. He ended up playing 12.7 mpg, making me miss calling it by the smallest of margins, and putting my prediction for him in the pretty close range: 2.2 mpg off. I think that’s pretty amazing, especially because we had no idea how much he would play as he was traded for.
- I went through the trouble to chart out Matt Harpring's decline last pre-season, and had him pegged for a fall from 18.1 mpg down to 13.5. Ol’Jer one upped me and dropped him down to 11 mpg. Putting me off on my estimation by 2.5 mpg.
- Carlos Boozer played in 34.9 mpg last season, and I just rounded that up to 35 mpg. Alas, this past season was not a good one for him, and his mpg actually dropped to 32.4 – putting me 2.6 mpg off.
Missed it by thiiiiis much (3-5 mpg off):
- Last season for the Jazz Kyle Korver played in 21.5 mpg, and I just couldn’t find that much more space for him on the floor – so I put him on the schedule for 21 mpg. Jerry found a way to play him half the game (24 mpg), making me 3 mpg off on my prediction.
- Ronnie Brewer really took off this season, having played only 27.5 mpg last season I had upped his time on the floor to 29 mpg. WRONG! He ended up playing 32.2 mpg, making me miss the mark by 3.2 mpg.
- Big Fes only played 7.8 mpg as a rookie, and with the advancing decline of Collins (in at least in my mind) had him set to play 11 mpg for the Jazz this season. Of course, Jerry found a way in a season when we were desperately in need of healthy bigs, to play him LESS mpg than in his rookie season: 7.4 mpg! Making me, and many Fesenko fans, 3.6 mpg off of where we thought he should be playing.
- On the opposite side of the spectrum, Ronnie Price played 9.6 mpg last season, and I felt that he would only receive a marginal increase (due to the injury situation for Deron), and bumped him up to 10 mpg. Price had to start a lot longer than we would have wanted to begin the season, and ended up playing 14.2 mpg this season – making me miss the mark by 4.2 mpg.
Way Off (5+ mpg off):
- C.J. Miles is quite an enigma. I didn’t know he was going to start, and when I knew he would, I didn’t know that he was going to play so much. Last season he played 11.5 mpg, and I projected him to play 16 mpg – while giving AK more playing time with the starters during crunch time. C.J. ended up playing 22.5 mpg for the Jazz this last season, making me underestimate him by 6.5 mpg.
- Perhaps I was a little too mean on Kosta Koufos. I surely didn’t expect him to average double digit mpg as a rookie for Jerry Sloan. I felt like he’d see more time than Mobe did, but less than Fes – around 5 mpg. He ended up playing 11.8 mpg this season! Wow! Putting me off by 6.8 mpg – to my credit, though, I would have played him a few hundred more minutes this season than he did end up playing – even if it would be at only 5 mpg over-all.
- Speaking of underestimating, I did not expect Millsap to be such a beast this year. To me he was a guy best suited as an energy player off the bench who was good enough to start. Now I see him as a potential starter on most, if not all, teams in the league. Last season he played 20.8 mpg and I felt like he could handle playing nearly half the game, at 23 mpg. He was pressed into handling a whole lot more, and finished the season averaging 30.1 mpg – making me wrong by 7.1 mpg.
- Last, and most wrong, was my highly optimistic and overly-generous use of Andrei. Last season he played 30.8 mpg and had an okay season. After looking at the stats I felt like this was too low, in terms of what he can produce for the Jazz. Excuse me for wanting our highest paid player to try to earn his paycheck. I bumped up his mpg to 37 – where he is absolutely a monster. Of course, CJ ate away a lot of minutes at the SF, and Andrei actually averaged less mpg than the season before (one of 4 guys in our key rotation who did so). Andrei only played 27.3 mpg which is really low for a guy being paid so much. I’m not advocating just playing him based on his pay, but playing him based on what he can do with those minutes. Andrei didn’t get enough burn, we lost a lot of games, and I was 9.7 mpg off on my estimation of him.
I’d like to give myself a passing grade here, as 7 of the 15 players (Deron, Morris, Mehmet, Jarron, Brevin, Matt and Carlos) were within one standard deviation (plus or minus 2.688724) of the net difference between my projected MPG and the actual 2008-2009 MPG. Another four (Kyle, Ronnie B, Kyrylo and Ronnie P) were within two standard deviations – putting that number up to 11/15. The only major outlier was Andrei (three standard deviations was 8.066172 – and he was off by 9.7), and this can be easily explained by the fact that Jerry Sloan has no idea what he’s doing with him, and I’m a serious Andrei homer.
Over-all, my first year as a blogger went okay. I had an okay ability to predict trends, events and identify important roles for our players. Hey, I even predicted that at some point during the season Ronnie Price would beat our Brevin Knight for 2nd on the PG depth chart – too bad it took the last half of the season for that to come true! I need to improve on my consistency in blogging (but hey, the number of posts I put out seems to be inversely proportional to my sex life . . . either way it’s win-win for me). I enjoyed blogging and will continue to do so until something really crazy happens. (Like the release of a long awaited video game, for example) The worst part of this entire year was that my pathetic blog ended up being more successful than the Jazz this season. Hopefully this will not be the cast next year . . . to all the loyal readers, thanks for sticking with me and through all the episodic, erratic postings. There’s a lot of work yet to be done, for the team and this blog. For starters, expect Part 2 of the season in review later on this week! In the meantime, here’s another reason why I felt like AK didn’t get enough PT this last year:
|Woo! Abject Homerism for the win!|