Something Isn’t Adding Up: Pistons Off To A Rough Start

The Detroit Pistons are showing this season that an NBA team is about more than just the names on the roster. Despite a major upgrade in talent, the Piston’s have struggled to a 4-7 record this season. So far the doubts about how this roster would mesh seem justified. Why exactly has the team played so poorly though? It starts with a major commitment to a player many thought would sign elsewhere.

            This offseason the Pistons made a splash when they signed free agent Josh Smith to a four year 54 million dollar contract. This move puzzled many analysts because with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond already in the mix, Josh Smith would have to play major minutes at small forward where he is not a very efficient offensive player. I thought perhaps Drummond would come off the bench and Smith could play power forward but Detroit is starting all three players so far this season. With Drummond and Monroe clogging the paint Josh Smith has spent too much time on the perimeter. Everyone knows he is a poor jump shooter, and in his return to Atlanta last night fans were actually cheering whenever they saw him rising up for an ill advised jump shot. This has led to Smith having a career low in field goal percentage this year and he is also shooting more three pointers than ever before. I still believe Josh Smith is a good player, but when he is used like this he becomes a real liability on offense. Ideally he is cutting to the hoop and attacking the rim off the dribble but the Detroit offense frankly doesn’t have a lot of movement. In the game against Atlanta the offense was reduced to a series of isolation plays for Monroe and Smith with some bad shots by Brandon Jennings mixed in. Needless to say that is not a winning formula. Continue reading

Nikola Vucevic: Learn The Name

ImageWhile the Orlando Magic have been mearly mediocre this season, they do seem to have a glimmer of hope for the future in 23-year old center Nikola Vucevic. While you’ve probably never heard of him, Vucevic, standing at 7ft – 250lbs, is really showing an array of pure center skills that are very rare in todays NBA world and worthy of national notice. Combining a skill-set of solid post moves and rebounding, along with a decent mid-range game and some defense, Vucevic is really looking like the future centerpiece for this Orlando Magic squad. Check out his noteworthy stat breakdown through ten games this season.

The Numbers:

Per Game Averages: 15.8 ppg, 11.4 rpg (5th), 2.9 apg, 1.4 stl, 1.0 blk

Per Game Shooting Numbers: 55% field goals, 74.3% free throws

Efficiency: 23.6 (7th)

More Interesting Numbers:

Against .500+ teams:

Game Averages: 16.6 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 3.4 ast, 1.8 stl, 1.2 blk

Shooting: 52% FG, 81% FT

Efficiency: 25.4

The Most Interesting Numbers:

Win Shares (number of wins a player has contributed): 1.4 – 2nd on team (Afflalo)

Matchup Record (number of match-ups won vs opponent based on efficiency): 5-2

Per 48 minutes: 21.8 ppg, 15.7 rpg, 4 apg, 32.6 efficiency rating

As you can see, this dude can ball. While maybe not as glamours of a player as Dwight Howard, or as flashy and striking as DeAndre Jordan, Vucevic sure deserves the praise so far this season. If he can keep these numbers up, and the Magic can stay around that .500 mark come All-Star weekend, look for this guys’ name amongst those 13 players invited to the celebratory showdown.

Check out these highlights from his performance earlier this year against the Clippers (30 pts, 20 reb)

Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Who’s Been Good Early: Part II

Earlier this week I picked one player from each Eastern Conference team that has played well early on this year. Today I have my Western Conference picks (again, I tried to avoid superstar players). These guys probably won’t sustain their current level of production but they have set themselves up for nice seasons.

Find Part I Here

*note: stats do not include Thursday games

Dallas Mavericks: Dejuan Blair has proven to be a reliable NBA player and he’s had no let up after moving to Dallas. In just 20 minutes per game he’s pulling down 8 boards.

Denver Nuggets: Timofey Mozgov has gotten an expanded role this season and is making the most of it. He’s shooting close to 60% and averaging 10ppg .

Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson is shooting 47% from deep this season and 52% overall. Having him next to Curry is just unfair.

Houston Rockets: Jeremy Lin is ballin in Houston this year, shooting 51% from beyond the arc. This is probably a fluke (he’s never shot above 35% over a full season) but so far he’s on fire.

Los Angeles Clippers: Outside of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, no one on this team is playing particularly well. However, Jamal Crawford is shooting close to 50% so that’s good for him. (I really got nothing here, sorry).

Los Angeles Lakers: There are 10 players averaging at least 18 minutes per game on this team, showing that D’Antoni is back to his old ways. Jordan Hill has been an anchor starting the fast break, with a defensive rebound percentage of 25%. Continue reading

Someone…? Anyone…?: A statistical look at how bad the Timberwolves bench actual is.

In case you’re behind this NBA season, let me bring you up to speed on a few things.

First: The Indiana Pacers are good, really good.

Second: The Heat, Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, and Rockets are all doing pretty much as expected.

Third: The 76ers, while “tanking”, are leading the Atlantic Division.

Last (pun intended): The Minnesota Timberwolves bench might be one of the worst of all time… Yes, of all time.

Without going into much of the detail, let me just tell you that Timberwolves fans (myself included) have a hard time cheering for, let alone watching, this dismal unit they call our “bench”. Through nine games of the 2013-14 season, this Timberwolves team (while playing really well and looking like a contender) have established a pattern that makes every fan cringe and leads to many mini-heart attacks come games end.

Here’s how it goes: build a lead, bench comes in, lose lead. Build a lead, bench comes in, lose lead. And so on, and so fourth, until finally the starters come in and either build a big enough lead to where bench play is irrelevant, make a late game run and win the game, or just flat out lose.

Anyways…I’ll cut to the chase. Here are the unbelievably embarrassing numbers that sum up your Minnesota Timberwolves 2013-14 second unit.

Minnesota Timberwolves bench (2013-14): Ranking in parenthesis.

Defensive Efficiency: -21.3 (Last)

Efficiency: 20.1 (Last)

FT Percentage: 63.9% (23rd)

3-pt Percentage: 17.8% (Last)

FG Percentage: 35.6% (Last)

Reb: 11.4 (24th)

PPG: 19.6 (Last)

Ast: 5.3 (25th)

Yeah… I wasn’t exaggerating. While this is a small sample size (8 games), and we are missing some key pieces (Budinger, Turiaf), being last in five categories is still pretty pathetic. And since this is so fun, I’ve decided to throw in one more category below to really boost our spirits!!

Bench Defensive Efficiency Ratings in November (since 1998):

1. Portland Trailblazers (2012-13): -25.6

2. Vancouver Grizzles (1999-00): -21.4

3. Minnesota Timberwolves (2013-14): -21.3

4. Cleveland Cavaliers (2012-13): -20.6

5. New York Knicks (2008-09): -19.9

So there you have it. So far, third worst defensive bench in the last fifteen years. Let’s just hope this doesn’t continue (we do have roughly three weeks of November left..)

Who’s Been Good Early: Players To Watch

It is still very early in the NBA season but that doesn’t mean we can’t point out who’s playing well so far. Here at Sportsnonsense, we decided to do a rundown of one player on each team who’s impressed so far (we tried to avoid obvious choices such as Lebron). Who knows, by the end of the year everyone on this list might be terrible, so lets give them their due now. We have broken it down into two parts, so we’ll start with the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference will come out later this week.

Atlanta Hawks: Paul Millsap has been great so far for Atlanta, shooting a ridiculous 57% from the field. He and Al Horford have teamed up to make Atlanta a better team than many thought coming into the season. Image

Boston Celtics: Jared Sullinger is quietly having a nice stretch to start the year, giving the Celtics 10.8ppg and 5.2rbg in just 18 minutes per game. Hopefully he can stay healthy.

Brooklyn Nets: Even with all the huge names on this team, Brook Lopez has been their best player. He’s averaging 20ppg to go with 2.3 blocks per game.

Charlotte Bobcats: Bismack Biyombo is playing a lot of minutes for the Bobcats, 27 per game, and he’s being productive. He rarely shoots but he’s hauling in 8rpg and blocking shots. Remember, this guy is still just 21 years old.

Chicago Bulls: It’s been rough so far in Chicago, but Carlos Boozer (yes, Carlos Boozer) has been a stabilizing force, shooting close to 60%.

Continue reading