DAILY DOSE OF HOLLINGER
Who's got the best shot at 70 wins? He doesn't think it's Boston or L.A., he thinks it's the Cavs. The most interesting (and valid) point he makes: Boston & Cleveland each have a better shot than L.A. because they'll be pushing each other for home court through the playoffs the whole season. Another reason: Over their last 10 games, Cleveland is outscoring their opposition... by 20 points per game.
Cleveland's the best offensive team in the league right now, who do you think is 2nd? I'd probably give you 10 guesses and still be confident you wouldn't get it. It's the Portland Trail Blazers. I saw this team play on Sunday and was amazed by their depth, and their balance of scoring both inside and on the perimeter. Numerically speaking, they're a top 10 team in every offensive category (turnover rate, assist rate, effective field goal %, etc...) and they're the best offensive rebounding team in the league (which shouldn't come as a surprise when Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Pryzbilla, Travis Outlaw, Nicolas Batum and everyone else is flying around.
How likely do you think it is that the Raps make the playoffs this season? 75 percent? 50 percent? Hollinger's playoff odds say Toronto has only a 23.7% chance of making the post-season. Ouch!
It was a battle of two hard-luck teams last night: For instance, you probably heard Indy was struggling heading into last night's game, but did you know who their last five opponents were? Orlando, Boston, Lakers, Boston again, and Cleveland? Personally, I'd take a 1-4 record from that sked any day of the week. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Indy & Toronto have had the two toughest schedules in the league so far this season. Combine that with the fact that Indy hasn't had Mike Dunleavy all year (who should be returning soon), and I'll stick to my pre-season assertion that they'll be a playoff team
THE "EXPECTED" FROM O'NEAL
Many of you Raptorites have been claiming that Jermaine O'Neal's game has been improving. Maybe he has, maybe he hasn't. Here's what the overall numbers say:
- Ranks 31st among NBA centres in productivity (right behind Tyson Chandler, and slightly ahead of the great Kosta Koufos)
- Ranks 42nd in FG% (behind Roy Hibbert / ahead Johan Petro)
- 33rd in Turnover Rate - And this one bugs me.. he ranks slightly behind Joel Anthony, and slightly ahead of Brook Lopez... Should a veteran like O'Neal really be lumped in with a couple of rookies and sophomores when it comes to taking care of the basketball? Shouldn't he be learning by now how to make the right pass; realize a double-team is coming, etc...?
- And he ranks 38th in offensive rebounding (behind Haslem, ahead of Battie)
As you can tell by my creative header, that last point brings me to.... MY NEXT POINT! The common held belief around these parts is that the problem with Toronto's rebounding stems from a lack of help from the wings. That if Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Jason Kapono et al... all chipped in a little bit more, things would be better. But as you just read, Jermaine O'Neal hasn't set the world ablaze with his rebounding. And here's my next nugget for you:
Chris Bosh ranks 25th among NBA power forwards in rebounding rate.
So no matter the wings do, if you have two post players who are both below-average rebounders and play roughly 80-85% of the time, well, you're going to be a very poor rebounding team.
CALDERON, ALL-STAR NO MORE
His play hasn't been as good as we thought it would be. But it hasn't been that bad either. He still ranks as the 8th most productive point guard in the league, and he leads the East in assists per game. But believe me, Jose Calderon has no shot at being an all-star this year. For one simple reason: Devin Harris has turned himself into a Top 10 player (not point guard, player) in the NBA. It's actually amazing to see, and makes that Dallas/New Jersey trade look worse every day. Here's a question: Harris must be considered for future dream teams right? Here's another question: Who do you take as your starting PG if you're starting a team right now, Harris or Deron Williams?
But back to Calderon, I've got a theory about Jay Triano's insistence on upping the tempo, and not calling plays. He'll tell you that it's about increasing the pace of play and all that (which is fine), but I think what he'd never tell you (but secretly is thinking) is that he wants his point guard to be less robotic, and take more chances.
Why do I think that? Well, because what I've found is that Jose Calderon isn't the "best" passer in the league. He's the "most conservative" passer in the NBA.
People frequently cite the fact that Jose's league-leading assist-to-turnover ratio is evidence that he's perhaps the best passer in the league. But how misleading is that ratio? Consider the following:
NBA ASSIST LEADERS
1. Paul 131-84-215
2. Duhon 114-75-189
3. Calderon 128-52-180
4. Kidd 109-63-172
5. Rondo 92-76-168
6. Nash 89-78-167
7. B. Davis 72-90-162
The first two numbers add up to the third number (which is total assists). The first number represents assists on outside jumpers (two or three-pointers). The second number represents assists on inside shots.
So first off, Calderon's assist totals stem from easy passes to shooters moreso than any other player on that list.
Wait! You might be saying, what about the value of finding an open three-point shooter? Wouldn't that be more valuable than finding someone for a dunk? Possibly (though the likelihood of a dunk going in is obviously much, much higher than even the most wide open three point attempt). But let's look at those numbers anyway:
NBA ASSIST LEADERS
1. Paul 131-84-215 (66)
2. Duhon 114-75-189 (78)
3. Calderon 128-52-180 (40)
4. Kidd 109-63-172 (40)
5. Rondo 92-76-168 (37)
6. Nash 89-78-167 (42)
7. B. Davis 72-90-162 (24)
The number of three-pointers they earned assists on is in brackets. Those numbers tell us that Calderon assists on more two-point jumpers than anyone else in the NBA.
Add in the fact that only Nash actually shoots less from in close than Calderon (among the players on that list) and you start to get a clear picture:
Calderon is a nice player who almost always makes the right decision from the perimeter. He knows how to play the pick & roll game, and can make defenders pay who go under screens. But he's a player who doesn't find teammates for high-percentage looks, and someone who doesn't drive for easy finishes either. To me, based on "how" he plays, Calderon should have the highest assist-to-turnover ratio in the league.
But that doesn't make him the "best" passer.