Triple Double Tuesdays – November 15th, 2016

Triple Double Tuesdays – November 15th, 2016

Welcome to my first Triple Double Tuesday column for the 2016-17 year.  It has been a weird year to say the least with many teams overachieving (I see you Nets and Lakers) and some high expectation clubs trying to figure out what is going wrong (Pacers anyone?).  Excited to bring this weekly column back. Three Positive Plays Lakers and Nets are combined for 10-11 Well it appears that none of us saw the Nets and Lakers combining for .500 basketball.  Both of these teams have overachieved so far, or maybe we were just wrong.  I touched on the Lakers reasons for success on the Hoopscritic Podcast, attributing to the culture change brought on by Luke Walton and the combination of the young talent getting minutes and making the most of them.   The Nets on the other hand are being carried by all-star center Brook Lopez.  It seems every year we tend to forget about Brook Lopez due to his career of injuries and the Nets lack of success.   Jeremy Lin is also better than we remember and the help of some of the younger guys like Sean Kilpatrick, Joe Harris, and Justin Hamilton have made the Nets a more competitive group than one initially thought. Hawks transitioned roster paying off Atlanta pulled off one of the better roster roll overs in recent years and haven’t seemed to miss a beat.  They saw Al Horford leave in free agency and traded away Jeff Teague.  This opened up the door for Dennis Schroder to take over and he has performed as expected if you were monitoring his per 36 numbers (19.5...
The Unspoken Threat in the East

The Unspoken Threat in the East

The Charlotte Hornets have taken the NBA and Eastern Conference by storm (or should I say, by swarm), winning 6 of their first 9. This has been Head Coach’s Steve Clifford 4th year with the team. Last year, the Hornets came back from a poor 33-49 performance in 2014-15, and won 48 games, finishing 6th in the Eastern Conference. The Hornets were badly bit by the injury bug. That they even got to 48 wins was an impressive performance, as key starters Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson (who left Charlotte for Indiana via free agency this offseason) missed a total of 139 games. That’s not even mentioning how many injuries this team had in totality – 35 reported injuries for 11 players. The past few years, the Hornets have built this team on the strength of quickly moving the ball, spacing the floor, and keeping possession of the ball. Steve Clifford has instilled a simple yet effective offensive system. By spreading the floor with pick ‘n rolls along with quick decision making on the perimeter, it has opened up the floor for the shooters on Charlotte. The Hornets rank 1st in turnovers allowed (10.5), 6th in assists per game (25.3) and 7th in three point attempts (29.9) and makes (10.4), they have taken advantage of more possessions efficiently by not turning over the ball and choosing to shoot long range shots. 5 players on the Hornets average 3 or more three point attempts per game, and collectively have a three point percentage of 36.3. Compared to each of the 30 team’s average three point percentage, 36.3 is tied with the...
Utah Jazz – Unheralded Force in the West

Utah Jazz – Unheralded Force in the West

The Utah Jazz are considered by many to be one of the most irrelevant teams in the National Basketball Association. Quin Snyder, third year coach for the Jazz, had only improved his team’s overall record by 2 wins last year, finishing with an 40-42 record. A very young team Quin Snyder was given to in 2014-15, and he’s worked with pieces he’s had, only to be mediocre. In fact, last year the Jazz had only three players above the age of 27. Their average player’s age was 24, tied with the Milwaukee Bucks as the youngest team in the league. Snyder’s fiery personality when coaching almost mirrored the young Jazz roster. His unique ability to see the game of basketball in a traditional way and shift lineups effectively gives him an edge over many of the high paced offenses that modern NBA coaches employ. This summer the Jazz silently overhauled their roster. They drafted Kentucky’s power forward Trey Lyles (Editor’s note: last summer) with a late lottery pick to replace Enes Kanter’s post presence lost to Oklahoma City. They traded for George Hill from Indiana to be their starting point guard. They traded for Boris Diaw, longtime point forward, to be a pivotal player off the bench for Utah. They signed longtime veteran Joe Johnson, who brings a great outside shooting threat (.372 career 3 point shooter) on a team who needed the extra depth and scoring. Those 3 veterans are 30, 34, and 35 years old respectively, bringing the Jazz’s average age to 26 years old. Still young, but consequently age 26 is a prime year for success...
Early Season Review: the Thunder, Hawks, and Timberwolves

Early Season Review: the Thunder, Hawks, and Timberwolves

We are nearly two weeks into the NBA season, and it is shaping up to be an entertaining one.  Everyone but the Sixers, Mavericks, and Pelicans has put one win in the books, while the Cavs are the only team to not yet feel the agony of defeat. In a word of caution about all 30 teams, it is simply too early in the year to form drastic conclusions that any team will be substantially better or worse than everyone thought during the preseason.  Strong or weak starts may be blips on the radar.  First, teams play through hot and cold streaks throughout the year, and the beginning of the season is no different.  A team that started better or worse than expected may simply be on a hot or cold streak.  Second, as teams play more games, differences in strength of schedule inevitably become less significant.  Some teams are benefiting at this stage, more than others, from a soft opening schedule. Third, multiple teams will be better or worse than we thought to enter the season.  That is simply inevitable.  As a result, it is difficult, at this juncture, to assess the quality of teams’ wins, or how bad their losses are. Nevertheless, the young season has provided some trends to monitor, and allows for appropriate evaluation of several teams as they compete for a championship, or a playoff berth. Three teams to keep an eye on: the Thunder, Hawks, and Timberwolves. Prediction: The Thunder will not be the contender their 5-1 start would have you believe             Everyone wants the Thunder to succeed in 2016-2017.  Whenever superstars...
The Bulls Are Proving Us Wrong Already

The Bulls Are Proving Us Wrong Already

  The Chicago Bulls experiment seems to be paying off early in the 2016-17 NBA season.  Coming into the season, many experts wrote them off.  The likes of Basketball Insiders and NBA.com writers and staff members have this team around .500 and barely making the playoffs, if at all.  Even some media members have them last in their division. With a disappointing season last year and an overhaul of the roster, there was reason to be skeptical heading into this season. Except this season hasn’t gone as we’d expect. In fact, the Bulls are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA out of the gate. They beat the Nets, Pacers and Celtics to start the season and will face the Celtics for the second time this year tonight on ESPN.  Chicago is currently the best offensive team in the league. Last year the biggest problem for the Bulls was scoring.  Their offensive rating was ranked 23rd in the league with 105.  They have always been a solid defensive team and struggled offensive, something that head coach Fred Hoiberg was supposed to fix.  This year, it seems his system is working much better, although it is only 3 games into the season.  The Bulls are ranked first in offensive rating with 117.6. The Bulls have been excellent in their offensive rebounding opportunities, collecting 33.6% of their missed shots, which is first in the league.  This group, with Taj Gibson, has always been good on the glass.  You can also look to the addition of Robin Lopez for the reason they have been rebounding at a higher rate offensively. Also, having...
Blake Griffin – The Key to the Clippers Success

Blake Griffin – The Key to the Clippers Success

After finishing 4th in the Western Conference with a 53-29 record in the Western Conference this year, and losing in the first round to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Clippers are running out of of options. Practically bringing back the same exact first team as they had last year, the Clippers haven’t revamped all that much. They added some bench pieces like Brandon Bass, Marreese Speights, and Raymond Felton, but overall their outlook as a team hasn’t changed. Chris Paul is 31 years old, and isn’t getting any younger. He’s consistently put up close to 20 points per game and 10 assists his entire career. His game isn’t changing. J.J. Redick is one of the league’s most underrated two guards – his ability to hit the three is huge next to a point guard like CP3. Last year alone he had an other worldly and NBA leading 47.5% three point percentage. His defensive and ability to put the ball on the floor isn’t going to improve. Luc Richard Mbah A Moute and Paul Pierce are both middling options at small forward in this NBA, with a combined age of 69. DeAndre Jordan, one of the league’s most ferocious center, isn’t suddenly become a threat from mid-range. Or better yet, hitting free throws at a 70% + rate. The Clippers have excellent depth – their second team of Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, and Marreese Speights may be the best in the league. What’s holding them back from getting a second or third team in the Western Conference? What’s holding them back from getting deep into the...