Catching up

It’s been a while since I’ve been blogging regularly. Moving, jobs, blah, blah, blah.

But everything should be back to normal now. At least after this long post where I catch up on everything.

No respect

An ESPN panel ranked the top newcomers for next season. Unsurprisingly, Richard Jefferson, Shaquille O’Neal, Ron Artest and Vince Carter claim the top spots.

But Ben Gordon, the best player on a playoff team last year, doesn’t get a single vote.

I would’ve voted for Jefferson, but how do these guys get votes over Gordon?

  • Rasheed Wallace
  • Trevor Ariza
  • Jamal Crawford
  • Terrence Williams

What could have been

Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie listed the 10 best teams of the decade that didn’t win a championship. The 2005-06 Pistons came in fourth. Here’s Dwyer’s analysis:

With Flip Saunders turning what was a 17th-ranked offense into a 4th-ranked offense while sustaining the defense (dropped from 3rd under Larry Brown to 5th with Saunders), the Pistons were bandied about as a possible 70-win team until a March and April swoon saw what was once a 47-9 outfit finish 17-9.

Whether these Pistons tuned Saunders out is up for discussion, but the desultory end to the regular season was topped off by two sleepwalking turns against the Bucks and Cavaliers in the first two rounds (even losing by 20 to an underwhelming Milwaukee team), before the Heat downed the Pistons in six games (with three of Miami’s wins coming by double-digits, no small feat considering the snail-like pace) in the Conference finals.

No organization could have multiple teams on the list, butt two other Pistons teams were considered (2004-05 and 2007-08). The Spurs and the Kings had four teams considered.

The Pistons also eliminated two teams on the list: the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers (No. 6) and the 2004-05 Miami Heat (No. 10). Detroit also eliminated an honorable mention team: the 2003-04 Indiana Pacers.

When the Pistons won the title in 2004, most people called it a fluke. Experts questioned whether Detroit was the worst team ever to win a title.

But the Pistons’ high level of involvement in this list shows that title was much-deserved.

What could have been part two

Dwyer also ranks the 10 biggest draft busts of the decade. No real surprises as far as the Pistons go. Two were Detroit picks, and one plays for the team now. You should probably know who they are.

No. 1 Darko Milicic:

He’s the total package. His name eases right into the lame jokes ("you could get yourself another Dar-ko Milicic; you know what I mean? This guy knows what I’m talking about!"), he’s been an underachieving flameout, he only rose to prominence by taking advantage of well-sourced but not entirely basketball-savvy (at least, then) hoops scribes who were smitten by his ability to spin and dunk in an empty gym, and he was taken ahead of franchise types like Dwyane Wade(notes), Carmelo Anthony(notes), and Chris Bosh(notes). Darko is, quite easily, the biggest lottery bust of the decade.

No. 3 Kwame Brown:

Kwame’s the first top pick on this list, which holds quite a bit of weight because a top selection’s success or failure will rightfully be measured alongside all that come after him. Every pick. Even the free agents. Luckily for Kwame, the 2001 Draft wasn’t great shakes in terms of star power, though it was a deep and helpful prospect pool, so his middling NBA career can almost be left to its own merits. And his merits (seven points, 5.6 rebounds in 23 minutes a contest, career) are bloody awful.

No. 8 Rodney White

He came with a slightly shinier resume than Kedrick Brown, selected with an Andy Katz stamp of approval by Detroit’s Joe Dumars, who was in his first year as Detroit’s personnel chief (after merely working as a consultant the year before). White had skills and an offensive touch, but he never put any work into that game of his. He was sent to Denver before being packaged with Nikoloz Tskitishvili and shipped to theGolden State Warriors for a pick that eventually (after being tossed around by several teams) landed the Philadelphia 76ers the rights to Petteri Koponen(notes). History!

A hiccup in my Ben Wallace optimism

Before the Charlotte Observer reported Allen Iverson could sign with the Bobcats , I was reading Philadunkia’s Michael Kaskey-Blomain’s wish that Allen Iverson return to the 76ers.

So, isn’t it fitting for these two, who have done so much for each other, to reunite, allowing Allen to end his exceptional career in the only uniform that he truly looked right in?  Like I said, I don’t care that Ed Stefanski has proclaimed of Allen that the Sixers, “don’t see him in our plans with the age of our kids”.  A fan can dream, and if the dream doesn’t materialize and Allen Iverson provides me no new memories in a 76ers uniform, at least I have ten years of unforgettable ones.

My first thought: Michael, no. You don’t realize what Iverson has become. He’s not worth the headaches. He’s not the player he used to be. This will just tarnish your image of him.

My second thought: The reasons he wants Iverson in Philadelphia sound a lot like why I want Ben Wallace in Detroit. And the reasons I don’t think it would work are similar to the reasons many are saying signing Wallace was a bad idea.

But – maybe this is more hoping than thinking – the situations are different.

Iverson would start for the 76ers.

Wallace probably won’t start in Detroit. And if he does, he definitely won’t play starters minutes.

I really hope I didn’t have a revelation here.

This is Detroit’s likely starting center

Mike Kurylo of KnickerBlogger reviewed Chris Wilcox’s season, and the results are pretty discouraging.

I don’t know what concerns me more – Wilcox’s ‘F’ grade or Kurylo’s pointing out the Knicks seem content replacing Wilcox with Darko and Eddy Curry.

Who?

Life on Dumars has a pretty cool series on forgotten Pistons since 1996-97, since he first started following the team closely. Here’s his list so far:

1. Kornel David

2. Steve Henson (I’d never even heard of him before this)

3. Tremaine Fowlkes

4. Cedric Ceballos

Amir Johnson traded for Carlos Delfino

1. Kind of crazy

2. This should tell you something about Amir Johnson’s value.

Deron Washington not the athletic freak everyone thinks he is

Washington reflected with Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Blog on his famous dunk over Duke guard Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus.

Except, it wasn’t a dunk. It was a layup.

Nobody likes the Pistons

The Pistons are just 23rd in ESPN’s poll of everyone’s second-favorite team.

And none of the TrueHoop Network bloggers picked Detroit.

Can’t say I’m surprised.

An argument for building around a team instead of a superstar

Wired Science has a plan for building a team based on mathematical analysis.

First, Skinner explains how people making the best decisions for themselves can hurt the efficiency of a total system. Let’s say that there are two roads, a highway and an alley shortcut. The alley takes up to ten minutes, but sometimes less depending on traffic, and the highway always takes ten minutes. Individuals realize they could save time by taking the alley, so they do. Unfortunately, when everyone takes the shortcut, it ends up taking the full ten minutes.

It’s a suboptimal arrangement that statisticians call “the price of anarchy.” If you force some cars to take the highway to give other cars a faster alley commute, then the average commute time goes down.

In more complex simulations, even closing down some roads actually leads to reduced traffic — and some real-world evidence [pdf] from cities like San Francisco appears to agree with theory, Skinner wrote.

By analogy, perhaps, getting rid of Kobe Bryant could actually make things better by dispersing the “cars” (i.e. possessions) more evenly. Offensive balance could reduce “traffic,” making putting the ball in the basket easier.

The analysis admits it doesn’t consider the difference in scoring ability between a team’s best player and his teammates.

But this makes the Pistons’ plan look even better. When there are four or five quality scorers on the floor, that seems to be a path to efficiency.

@PistonPowered

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Tags: Ben Gordon Ben Wallace Kwame Brown

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