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.

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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%.

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Back to Back?

bosh hahaWith a 94-91 win over the Chicago Bulls on May 15th, everyone was feeling deja vu setting in. The Heat had won 50 of their last 55, swept the Bucks, nearly swept the Bulls, and were rolling once again. Even with their recent grueling seven game series with the Pacers (which they won), its hard not to see this Miami Heat team repeating. They have the best player on the court every night, an incredible supporting cast, and just seem to be unbeatable in a best of seven series. But will they repeat?

After the jump, I go into detail on why the Heat will win the NBA finals, and why the Heat won’t win the NBA finals. There are plenty of reasons for both and a case can be made either way, but if you really want my prediction, I say Spurs in 7, Duncan MVP.

P.S. I’m hoping for an incredible series, Stern, so don’t let me down….I’ll surely be watching the foul/flop count…

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Kevin Durant Can Only Do So Much: How the Thunder Have Stacked the Deck Against Their Own Superstar

Kevin Durant just cannot win these days. Despite doing everything possible, he lost the MVP award almost unanimously to Lebron James and now he finds his team down 2-1 to the Memphis Grizzles. Never has a player been so good but clearly just the second best player in the NBA. It appears this year he won’t get the chance to prove himself against Lebron, through no fault of his own. Westbrook went down due to a freak injury in his otherwise very healthy career. I still favored the Heat in a finals rematch, but the Thunder certainly had more than just a punchers chance with Westbrook.

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         Coming into the playoffs the Thunder seemed like a lock to make the finals and face Miami in a highly anticipated rematch. Now the Thunder are in serious jeopardy of being bounced out in the second round despite Durant averaging 32pts/12reb/6ast all while shooting 50% against a strong defensive team who can concentrate all their energy on him. The inability of Durant’s teammates to generate anything offensively has the Thunder in dire straights (that would be even more dire were it not for Durant’s heroics in game 1). Kevin Martin has shot just 38% in the series and left all the pressure for Kevin Durant. The Thunder have zero shot creators outside of Durant, the only player who comes close is Reggie Jackson, who has played well in stretches. Most Thunder fans must be thinking, “It sure would be nice to have James Harden right about now…” Continue reading