GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Monday, November 21, 2005

Courtside Times

I found this site a few weeks ago when I noticed that something I had written had shown up on there. I meant to put a link to it here, but I neglected to do so until just now.

It's an excellent site with many well written and insightful articles that are meant to cater to a more modern approach to thinking about the game.

I've actually meant to write a further response to the above, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. My quote only got one comment, but I think it's worth clarifying my stance.

It doesn'’t seem to me that man defense on the perimeter is particularly overrated, or at least overvalued, given that players such as Bowen and Hassell, weak offensively but known as strong perimter defenders (and Dan Rosenbaum'’s adjusted +/- rankings suggest that they'’re both top 10 at their position) make 3 and 4 million per (respectively), while the league'’s worst perimeter defender, Michael Redd, got at least two max offers this summer.

I don'’t think it's hard to argue that strong team defense is a good (although I guess not essential) quality for a basketball team to have and strong man defense makes help defense that much easier.

Another point made in this article was that an offense can simply "“ignore"” a strong perimeter defender. Would this not imply that a team has to ignore one of its offensive options? And does a team'’s perimeter defensive specialist not usually take on the other team's most dangerous perimeter scorer? So to simply ignore the defender would also mean that you ignore your top perimeter scorer.

Unless you have a very balanced offensive attack, I think it makes more sense to simply try to get your guy open, maybe by setting a screen, at which time either one defender'’s ability and willingness to fight through a screen or another perimter player'’s help D might make a huge difference.

I should first mention that of course a players defense is important. If Wally could play D like Hassell it would be a large asset for the Wolves. However, a player who's only strength is pereimeter defense can become almost completely useless to a team in certain situations, whereas a strong offensive player will remain an asset no matter what.

It's a strict matter of initiative. In basketball, the offense has all of it. The defense can do nothing but react to what the offense does. Period. You can scheme and plan for how to react to what the offense might do, but you can't ever force them to do anything.

The reason that good offensive players demand larger contracts (and rightfully so) is that thier skills are useful in more situations because of that initiative. A player like Trenton Hassell or Doug Christie is most valuable when playing against a player like Kobe Bryant who will take shots even when he shouldn't. In this case, the value of a good defender is largely because of the incorrect play of a selfish player who shoots when he shouldn't. Hence, that player is passing up better scoring opportunities elsewhere on the court to take the shots himself.

When a Trenton Hassell type is going against a team like the New Jersey Nets or Phoenix Suns who are spear-headed by strong passing guard, that players impact will be greatly reduced or even eliminated entirely if the player cannot also produce on the offensive end of the court. The point here is that becaue of the initiative, the guards will still generally get off good shots when they are available, but will also be able to pass up the bad shots and get the ball to a different player who may have a better scoring opportunity.

On the other hand, when a good offensive player is playing against a good defender, he will still get his good shots (again, because of initiative), although he will not get as many. However, if he plays correctly and passes the ball, he can do a large part towards getting his teammates good shots. Because the player is a strong offensive weapon, the strong defender is tied down to him and can't risk venturing too far away which will give the rest of the offense more opportunities for good shots elsewhere on the court.

On a mostly unrelated note

It's same shit different day for Sprewell, who said that being offered the veteran's minimum $1.1 million was "a slap in the face" and that he'd rather sit out the entire season than play for that. Can you believe this shit? Remember what happened to the last athlete that complained this much about money? He got cut from the Eagles.

No bets today

Yesterday: 2-1 +$19.20
YTD: 36-45-2 -$231.73