Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Citizen-Journalist-Fans and Scrutinized Players

True Hoop blogs about rumors surrounding Zach Randolph and marijuana. The story is, in short, that a fan saw Z-Bo in the mall, seemingly toked up on weed and allegedly cursing and making a fool of himself around some children. The fan posts about it on the internet, and it's picked up by the Blazers Blog, which is hosted on OregonLive.com, which is owned by The Oregonian - the biggest paper in the state.

True Hoop's Henry Abbott wonders if this is the basketblogosphere at its best or worst. I'm conflicted as well - I'm all for personal privacy. People in all walks of life should be able to keep to themselves if they so choose.

But if an athlete is doing unsavory things in public - ruffing up people, sexually harassing people, raping people, going puff-puff-pass, driving drunk or just being a damn fool - should fans care?

Obviously, yes. The fans are the ones paying a whole lot to root for a team - buying a team's apparel, going to games, devoting significant portions of their life to watching and reading about a set of athletes. Anything an athlete does off the court - whether it impairs his training or performance, lands him in the clink, or makes him a less than satisfactory role model - should be fair game for fans. Seriously, do you want to buy your kid a Randolph jersey after reading the above rumor? Probably not.

But beat writers aren't going to cover that stuff. It's impossible - beat writers no doubt know who smokes, who drinks too much and who is a jackass out on the town. But no beat writer is willing to alienate the people he sees daily for eight months out of the year just to get the gossip train going. No beat writer is that stupid.

Enter the internet. Sports bloggers right now, save maybe Blez at Athletics Nation and a few basketbloggers who've worked in the business in some other fashion, have virtually zero access to players and team officials. Bloggers, as a sort of independent media (which may be overstating it in most cases), have no one to answer to.

The Maloofs aren't running ads on this site, so I don't have to worry about revenue disappearing if I post an item on a player allegedly walking around Arden Fair high on dope. Peja Stojakovic isn't granting me interviews (not that I've asked for one, though), so I wouldn't worry about future access if I post a rumor spreading around the city about him.

But that doesn't mean I'm going to post those things, either. It's a choice each blogger, who all have their own biases and standards for discourse on their own site, will have to make. Blazers Blog and True Hoop chose to address the rumor, and in much different ways. I don't know whether I would have or not had it been a Kings player. It'll probably be situational.

Now that my soapbox is collapsing under the weight of my own head, I'll quickly leave a couple of links that are good resources on the citizen-journalist movement: the Wikipedia article on it, CyberJournalist.net's best practices and the home for the Institute for Interactive Journalism.

Carnival of the NBA #15: Contributions Wanted

Have an NBA blog? Read a good NBA-related post lately? Have a blog period and have a good recent NBA-related post? Well... in any of those cases, submit them to me so they can show up in the occasional showcase of the basketblogosphere!

E-mail me with a permalink to the contributed post and a brief one-liner about it by 12:01 a.m. Friday, Pacific time. The Carnival should then be posted Friday morning.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Next Summer's Blockbusters Today

So who's going to hit the open market next summer? NBA Source breaks it down.

The big names include Amare, Yao, Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and, of course, Peja.

Everyone says this is Bonzi's make-or-break season. Even more, I think it's Peja's. This is the season he could make himself a superstar. He's the number one option on a solid team. He's in a contract year. Every team in the league would love to have him. It's definitely the defining season in his career.

Ric Bucher: Not a Believer

Thanks to reader Roger, who sent in this Q&A from a recent Ric Bucher chat on ESPN.com:

derence,(jersey city,nj): You guys rarely or never take a kings question.How good are they this year as compared to last year adding Rahim and Bonzi with the trio still there(Skinner,KT and Corliss) that they got out of the C-Webb deal? You think they have the right pieces now to possibly win it all?

Ric Bucher: Win it all? Or win *at* all? The Kings are in cost-cutting mode. Teams in that mode don't win it all. My question is, how much longer will the Kings be in Sacramento? Stay tuned.


I <3 national writers trying to stir up shit here at home. We've heard nothing (read: NOTHING) on any arena crap in several months. Nothing good, nothing bad. The only news has been the 2007 All-Star Game going to Vegas. Unless a Maloof source or a Vegas source is talking to Bucher and not the Bee, we're not buying it.

Also, there are probably a half-dozen teams not in cost-cutting mode right now - Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago, Charlotte, Miami and Houston comes to mind. The league in general is in a cost-cutting mode - Cuban is cutting back, the Maloofs are cutting back, the Spurs are looking to lose the Nesterovic albatross to cut costs.

It's a fact of business. When your team is aging and you've been spending a lot, at some point, the smart thing to do is to cut what you can from around your neck. PLEASE, Bucher, tell us which one of those "cost-cutting" deals was a bad one for Sacramento? Webber for KT, Corliss and Skinner? Christie for Cuttino?

Also, Bucher, where do you get off trying to look like two Sacramento personalities combined?
+ = ?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Katrina Gone Wild: Bourbon Street Edition

The proprietor of Texas Rangers blog Lone Star Ball has a nice post on things more important than sports.

Prayers are going out to those in the Dirty Dirty seeing their lives change drastically today. And Godspeed to those going home later this week hoping to find a shred of their home in tact.

Preemptive donations are encouraged.

Booze and Hoops (And Not Vin Baker)

Actually, it's hard not to believe the guys over at 120 Proof Ball aren't on more than just drink. They've taken the luxury to breakdown each team's offseason, and the dead brain cells are evident! (Note: their motto is "When it comes to baseless conjecture, we're experts." So at least you know what you're getting into.)

In fairness, the blurb on the Kings was obviously written pre-Shareef. Nonetheless, here's a fisking of what is actually there:

120PB says: "The thing is they still have a couple of decent players like Mike Bibby and Peja. Brad Miller doesn't suck too badly but none of the aforementioned three guys are franchise type players."

No, Brad Miller doesn't suck too badly. In fact, he's the third best center in the West, and that's counting Amare Stoudemire as a C. He's incredibly efficient, the best passing big in the game not named Shaq or Vlade, a decent on-the-ball defender and probably the most valuable King. And Bibby and Peja are decent players? Um, if decent means top 5 PG and best shooter in the game respectively, then yeah, they're decent.

120PB says: "The Kings learned that the hard way with Peja. The brass gave him the proverbial captain's armband when they sent Chris Webber packing and instead of becoming a leader, he became a douche bag and bitched nonstop about how he wanted out."

Facts always get in the way of a good opinion, no? The truth is that Peja was never looked at as the "leader" - Bibby inherited it when Webber left. Peja may have gotten top-dog status, but that just means the offense focuses more on him. When you have someone that can shoot like Peja, that's hardly a bad thing. And Peja didn't "bitch nonstop" - he made two public statements about a trade, if I remember correctly (once in Europe and once here). And that was BEFORE Webber was traded. (It all stemmed when Webb seemingly called out Peja after Game 7 of the '03 T-Wolves series - hilarious seeing as how Webber ruined the season for the team by coming back and taking the team's offense completely over). Peja said nothing about wanting to be traded once training camp begun last season. And since then, he's said his goal is to re-sign with the Kings. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

120PB says: "Wildcard: The cowbells. Seriously, few teams benefit from home court advantage more than the Kings. Those rednecks can ring a mean cowbell. Still, I don't think they'll have much to cheer about. Cow tipping anyone?"

Not much to cheer about but the second-best winning percentage in the league since 2000. And the fact that post-SAR-acquisition, our team is poised to be a top-three seed in the West.

Nice try, 120 Proof Ball. Here's our prediction: you'll be having crow for dinner this spring. (And if you think the Clips or Lakers will finish higher than Les Rois, you can't be saved.)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Lean On Me: A Primitive Study of Sacramento's Players' Impacts on Teammates' Shooting

More analysis on the player pair stats made available by 82games.com was promised, so here we go.

We looked at True Shooting percentage (abbreviated as TS%) plus-minus figures for players on the Kings. True shooting is a measure of shooting efficiency that accounts for free throws, as well as field goals. You can learn more about why it's used at Sonics.com writer Kevin Pelton's stats primer. He makes a much better agrument than I can. But in short, the formula is:
TS% = Points/(2 x (Field Goals Attempted + (Field Throws Attempted x .44)))


So, we ripped the stats from 82games (thanks, Roland!) and calculated TS% for each player when a certain player is also in the game. True shooting wasn't one of things Roland included in the release, necessitating that calculation.

Then, we compared each player's TS% with a certain teammate with that player's overall TS%.

For instance, for Mike Bibby, we calculated his TS% with Brad Miller, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie, Cuttino Mobley, Darius Songaila, Kenny Thomas, Brian Skinner, Erik Daniels, Eddie House, Bobby Jackson -- every player he played a minute with last season.

Then we subtracted Bibby's overall TS% (which happens to be 54.3%) from those pair TS% figures (for example, Bibby's TS% when Miller was also in the game was 57.4%).

In our example, Bibby has a TS% 3.1% better with Miller in the game. But Mobley, for instance, had a negative effect on Bibby's TS% -- dropping it to 53.9%, or a net -0.4% effect.

This tells us a lot on an individual basis -- Doug Christie may not score as much or as well as Mobley, but his being on the court makes Bibby's TS% much better than does Mobley being on the floor.

But it can tell us something about players overall, too -- not just tandems. Looking at the data, some players seem to have a positive effect on their teammates TS% more than others. Can we put a number on this effect?

Yes! We resorted our data by the 'player2' -- the teammate that correlates with specific rises and falls of TS%. Instead of simply averaging the net +/- impact the teammates had on TS%, we weighted the values by multiplying the net +/- by the minutes the tandem played together.

For example, when Christie was in the game, Maurice Evans's TS% an astronomical 27.1%. Sadly, the pair played only 64 minutes together, negating the seemingly huge impact. Christie did play a significant number of minutes along Peja, though -- 864 minutes. Peja's TS% went up 2.2% in that time.

Multiplying the minutes and the net +/- magnifies the actual impact to the player's TS% with a certain teammate on the floor. We added all those up for each 'teammate' and divided by the total minutes as a 'teammate' (or four times the teammate's actual floor minutes -- each player is four players' teammate every minute on the court).

This gave us a weighted TS% impact for each player. Or put another way, this is the net impact a player had on his teammates' TS%. Here's the list, sorted from postive to negative (including the three new additions based on their own team's stats):

Surprising in places, isn't it? I expected Miller at the top -- he's a big guy that opens up the floor for everyone. I have to admit Webber was a minor shock -- the assumption is that he clogged up and choked the offense, making everyone else stand around and not look for good shots. But if not for Miller, CWebb would've been the best in this category.

Cuttino having a positive impact on his teammates' TS% was also surprising. Evans was lower than I would've guessed, as was Skinner. But injuries and the trades really provided a lot of turbulence in the rotation, and roles were pretty jumbled all season.

It's not encouraging that none of SAR, Bonzi and The Hitman (new nickname alert! new nickname alert!) positively affected their teammates' TS%. Shareef's stats showed a positive impact on other bigs (like Zach Randolph and Theo Ratliff) and a negative on guards (especially Mighty Mouse, for some reason). He did have a positive effect on Sebastian Telfair's TS%, though.

Bonzi's stats looked awful. Gasol, Watson and Miller saw their TS% increased a decent amount with Bonzi on the floor, but the TS% for every other major rotation player (including White Chocolate, Battier, Lorenzen Wright, Stro Swift and James Posey) saw significant decreases with Bonzi alongside them.

The Hitman helped Primoz Brezec and a host of role players. He hurt Gerald Wallace, Brevin Knight, Steve Smith and Jason Kapono substantially and Emeka Okafor and Keith Bogans a bit.

And remember, this only measures shifts in a player's teammates' TS% when said player is in the game. It does not account for the other three players on the floor (which is the biggest challenge to effectively measuring teammate impacts), the defenders on the other side of the ball and garbage time.

But I think it starts to tell us a little bit about what players have a positive impact on their teammates, at least on the offensive end. I haven't touched the rebound, assist, points or steals data, though, because I'm nervous about the whole "three other players on the court" thing.

Anyone have ideas how to further dig into this data? Comment or email me.

Hornets in China

From True Hoop: Former Sac State star Joel Jones is headed to China.

Jones got drafted with the fourth pick in the second round of the Chinese Basketball Association's annual draft. According to Henry Abbott, something like 70 sub-NBA players are invited to a camp in Oregon, where Chinese hoops officials are scouting. Then the draft is held, and players negotiate and sign contracts that day.

Joel (pronounced Joe-El -- two syllables), who played in Puerto Rico last year after some great seaons in the green and gold, got picked up by the Shandong Jinsidun Lions.

Wikipedia says that the Lions are based in Taian, Shandong. Shandong is an eastern province, with a Pacific Ocean coastline. So just right over the pond, really.

Have fun in Shandong, Joel!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Essence of Matt

Sam Amick has a predictably terrific story on resume-peddling Matt Barnes in the Bee today.

Barnes, in case you've forgotten, is a local product, having played at Del Campo High before going to UCLA. The Kings signed him in 2004, which excited everyone. He backed up Peja and added some front-line rebounding and a touch of defense to the team in about 16 minutes per game.

Then, he got shipped to Philly with Chris Webber. For whatever reason, Jim O'Brien threw Matty on the injured list with a phantom boo-boo. That was his season. Now, Sacramento and San Antonio are considered the major suitors for his services.

Amick mentions something in the article I'm not sure I've seen before: Petrie wants only 13 on the roster.

Let's count it out: You've got five starters - Bibby, Peja, Brad, SAR and Bonzi. Two back-up points - Jason Hart and Ronnie Price - and two back-up 2s - Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia. That's nine.

Your back-up frontcourt is KT, Brian Skinner and Corliss. There's 12. Jamal Sampson, unless he's training camp fodder, is number 13.

This could mean several things - Ronnie or Francisco or both are NBDL-bound, Ronnie or Jamal could be training camp casualties, or Geoff is blowing smoke up Matt's ass because the roster is set.

Or it could mean the Petrie Lord has another trade in the works. Of course, we haven't heard anything yet - not even so much as a rumor. But with Petrie, you never know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mo-Town

The Detroit News reports that Detroit is offering Mo Evans $1.5 million per in a multi-year deal.

They apparently want him to back up Tayshaun Prince. He played almost all of his minutes last season at shooting guard, and spent more time at the point than backing up Peja.

It was pretty obvious once Francisco Garcia was drafted and Bonzi Wells was brought over that Mo wasn't in Sacramento's plans for next year. We're surprised, though, it took a team so long to make a play for him. The Spurs were reportedly interested, as were the Timberwolves. But we haven't heard anything in weeks.

I still wonder if a sign-and-trade involving Darius and Mo can't be worked out in the next seven days (the time Petrie has to match the offer before Detroit gets Mo).

Preferential Teammates

82games.com -- the best use of bandwidth EVER -- has just published its 2004-05 box score statistics for player pairs. Sacramento's is here.

This data looks incredibly valuable, and the fact that Roland Beech & Co. have more data on player pairs that they haven't released should ensure that the guy gets hired by a franchise as a consultant in the near future.

The website explains much better than we can, but let's try to sum it in a couple sentences: you can see how a teammate being on the floor affected a player - data available includes +/-, offensive and defensive efficiency, FG%, field goal attempts and points and rebounds and assists and turnovers and blocks and steals and free throw attempts per 40 -- and more.

So, with this data, we can see that last season, Mike Bibby's FG% was 9.1% better when Matt Barnes was on the floor than when Peja Stojakovic was (though there was 122 minutes when Peja and Matt were both on the floor -- we assume Mike was playing at least some of those minutes, as well). Brian Skinner's FG% fell 12.9% when Maurice Evans was playing with him. Playing alongside Kevin Martin raised Peja's FG% 5.6%, while playing with Evans dropped Peja's FG% 6.5%.

I've ripped a majority of the Sacramento data and slapped it into a spreadsheet, and in the next few days will try to find fun stuff within it.

Chicaaago, Chicaaaago...

Apparently, the Bulls are looking at our Darius Songaila long and hard. The fantastic and aptly named Bulls Blog looks at The Scrapmaster's statistics and approves.

I have little doubt Geoff Petrie wouldn't match a short-term $2M/year offer for Darius. We have a load of PFs, yes. But that's a value The Petrie Lord just can't walk away from, methinks.

Kenny Thomas and Corliss Williamson are firmly on the trading block and will be until a) their contracts run out or b) Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Brian Skinner get run off the road by Kevin Martin and lose their legs. Darius at $2M per versus KT at $7M? Easy choice, if it comes down to it.

It's tough to gauge what the breaking point is for paying Darius -- so we won't try. Let's just say it's probably more than $2M and less than $5M.

We could make it work for Da Bulls, though: How about Darius and Maurice Evans (a defensive-minded SG they could use in the Chi) for Eddy Curry at a reasonable price of like $5M per for five years?

We'd go over the luxury tax threshold, but the deadline to get under that level isn't until the last day of the regular season. Plenty of time to swing even a minor trade (Skinner could be valuable to an Eastern defender sometime this year, as could KT or Scoreless).

What do you say, Chicago? You get rid of your ticking timebomb of a ticker, we get a big with potential for nothing, you get two contributors who can D up. Fair?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

How Good Were the Spurs?

Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis good.

No, seriously, that's a good team. I can't believe Detroit took them to a seventh game. Possibly the miracle of the young century.

We've crunched the numbers here at el Bloggo del Sacramento Kings and it's not pretty. Using proportional scoring margins (we'll explain why below), we calculated the rankings for the Western Conference for the last regular season. Phoenix may have had the most wins, but you'll see here that San Antonio was a much, much better team.

Here's the meat:

Team Scoring Margin
SAS 8.83
PHX 6.89
DAL 5.94
HOU 4.43
MEM 2.52
SEA 2.37
SAC 2.13
DEN 2.08
MIN 1.52
LAC -0.80
GSW -2.14
LAL -2.91
POR -4.13
UTA -4.39
NOH -7.41

The number is the proportional scoring margin for each team. The scoring margin for a team is easy - it's a team's points scored for minus the point's scored against. The proportional scoring margin is, then, the margin divided by the points against.

For instance, the above stats show us that San Antonio, over the course of 82 games, scored 8.83% more points than it allowed. New Orleans scored 7.41% less points than its opponents.

Why scoring margin and not wins? Well, there's a reason Sportscenter shows you that the Kings lost 122-118, not just that the Kings lost. A small margin tells you that the teams that played were pretty evenly matched that night. A wide margin tells you one team played much better than the other.

But the Suns won more games than the Spurs! Yeah, but some of those were close "toss-up" games and some of the losses were baaaad. The Spurs were more consistent - they typically won games solidly and didn't lose big when they did lose. (And because of SA's horrible foul-shooting, they probably lost some close ones they should've won - thus skewing the won-loss column.)

It's been proven that over the course of a season, a margin will tell you how many games a team should win with very reasonable accuracy - it makes sense because scoring and not allowing your opponent to score decides who wins and loses. (See this Dean Oliver article for more in-depth analysis on the scoring margin-winning percentage correlation.)

So why proportional scoring margin, then? Because raw scoring margin tells you a lot, but not everything.

For example, if Phoenix beats Houston 113-100, its scoring margin for that game is +13. San Antonio then beats Seattle 80-70, for a scoring margin of +10. Phoenix was better than SA, right?

Wrong. Phoenix scored 13% more points than its opponent. But SA scored 14.2% more than its foe - which is more impressive. This deflates the heightened pace the Suns play at and normalizes the scoring margins. It makes visceral sense, too - 10 points in a low scoring contest (where every point counts) is more valuable than 13 points in a higher scoring affair (where opportunities are plentiful thanks to pace).

Questions in the comments. Suggestion for further analysis likewise. Tylenol and decaf appreciated.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Hawks: Newly En Vogue

Here's a pretty amazing thread (thanks to Lang Whitaker at SLAM).

In short, Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson posted on RealGM that he's glad fans have been so passionate about the Joe Johnson situation. He also offers a special deal for the fans -- $10 lower level tickets for a game against the Clips in early November.

Five pages of well-deserved high praise ensue. The web breaks down all sorts of barriers -- ones that are far outside this blog's sphere of influence.

But the walls between the team and the fans are being broken down because of the internet, too. Curt Schilling and John Henry posting on a Red Sox forum, Bruce Levenson visited the RealGM forum. It's encouraging.

Also, it's scary. Have you seen some of the crackpot trade ideas on RealGM?!?! Someone take Geoff Petrie's computer away RIGHT NOW!

L.A. Wins McKie 'Sweepstakes'

It looks like the Lakers have signed Aaron McKie to man the point for the next two seasons.

Excellent Laker blog Forum Blue & Gold had a nice summary of McKie last week - take a look to see how the rival will improve. I expect Aaron's numbers to improve - starter minutes, a superstar partner in the backcourt and the absolute lack of quality point guard defenders in the WC will impact it. But McKie at this stage in his career is nothing more than a stop-gap placeholder.

Makes you wonder why L.A. didn't make a play to move up in the PG-heavy draft this year to get Chris Paul or Deron Williams. Next year ain't looking as deep at that position.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hurry, Darius! Camp is Almost Here

The Nuggets, not satisfied with getting our hopes up about Nene, want Darius.

Unless we move KT, Skinner and/or Corliss, we have no room for players or salary. None. So either making a play to keep Darius and going over the oppressive luxury tax level or sign-and-trading him for another player has little value. Denver has no trade exception, and draft picks don't count for salary-matching purposes.

The Nets seemed to have moved past Songaila, turning their sights instead on Robert Traylor. Have fun with that.

I think Darius will end up walking without the Kings getting compensation. Hopefully, it's to an Eastern Conference team, because I can see the guy being a Kings-killer in the future.

Worst. NBA Nickname. Ever.

Can we get Milwaukee back in the Western Conference? Because I'd absolutely LOVE to rag on "The Bogey Man" twice a year.

I had read the other day that Shareef Abdur-Rahim's old moniker was "The Future." Not sure it fits any more. One thing Sacramento needs is some good nicknames, so let's work on that. Here's our first nomination:

Kevin Martin: Speed Racer.

Post your suggestions in the comments! (Please.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Carnival is Back in Town

The fourteenth Carnival of the NBA is up at True Hoop. Lots of good insight from around the basketblogosphere.

News seems slow in Sacto. I smell Darius news in the very near future, though.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Shareef's Favorite Position

Kings fans are questioning whether Shareef Abdur-Rahim is the answer at power forward. Some say he's better and more comfortable at small forward, where we currently start an All-Star named Peja.

But according to the uber-fantastic-amazing 82games, SAR was a stud at the four last year.

In summary, Shareef played 30 percent of the Blazers' PF minutes and only 11 percent of the team's SF minutes (plus 5 percent of the center minutes). So the notion that SAR was at the three all last season is a misconception many Kings fans are making right off the bat. (Zach Randolph got 31 percent of the team's power forward minutes, by contrast.)

Using John Hollinger's PER statistic (learn more about this here), Small Forward Shareef rated at 1.5 PER less than his counterpart, seemingly because of a worse shooting clip than his opponent.

But Power Forward Shareef outperformed his opponents, getting 2.5 PER more in his minutes at the four. And yes, this is in the Western Conference.

His offense predictably picked up a bunch at the four, but surprisingly, so did his defense.

At small forward, Shareef gave up 21.1 points and a .528 eFG percentage (eFG, or effective field goal percentage, counts a made three-pointer as 1.5 made field goals, thus rewarding deep shooters in the statsheet as they are rewarded on the scoreboard). At power forward, Shareef gave up 20.1 points and a .521 eFG.

We must also remember a couple things: SAR had an off-year. The Western Conference has much better PFs than SFs, overall. Zach Randolph still had a better PER differential at PF than SAR last season.

This is all no great shakes, but it flies in the face of what many are saying about Shareef's natural position.

Spree in Motor City?

Ryan at Basketball Ramblings talks about a rumor that the Pistons are interested in Latrell Sprewell.

Yeah, I really don't see that guy's antics going over too well in a town like Detroit. The Pistons could probably use a shooter, but this isn't the right direction for that team.

Charley's At It Again

Charley Rosen has got yet another hate-filled column up at FOXSports.

Two Kings targets this time: Shareef and Jamal Sampson.

On SAR, Rosen politely suggests:
"This guy is a highly overrated player whose pluses are ostensibly a good fit with the Kings but whose flaws are noticeable and easily exploited. Abdur-Rahim makes the Kings the same kind of overly finesse team that they used to be."

The same kind of team that has the second-most regular season wins in the league since 2000, right?

Rosen also says that this could be Jamal's last chance in the league, but that he won't get off the injured list with a phantom injury. Also, he says Doug Christie is three years past his prime and calls Marc Jackson a loser. All in a days work, right?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Contender Again

I was almost kind of looking forward to being a dark horse in the Western Conference this year.

But it's very apparent that we're going into the season with high expectations - consider Ailene Voisin's Sunday column as evidence.

I've said I think the SAR move puts us at 55-60 wins. Petrie may not be done moving (I think he is), so we'll save more exacting predictions for October. But things ARE looking pretty right now. The buzz is building.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Rosen Drinks the Haterade

In response to another horrible column from Charley Rosen, the famed and analytical Knickerblogger delivers a solid if calm debunking.

Should you not wish to waste brain cells processing Rosen's column on the most overrated greats of all-time, here's a brief synopsis:

Barkley: Fat.
Walt Bellamy: A fairy.
Ewing: A loser.
The Iceman: Unstoppable, but still sucky.
Connie Hawkins: All show.
Elvin Hayes: Selfish.
The Mailman: Choke artist.
Bob McAdoo: Wussy.
Pistol Pete: The Original White Chocolate.
The Glove: Got owned by Jordan, therefore sucks.
The Admiral: "This guy was a cream puff." (That's a direct quote.)

As a commenter on KB suggested, Rosen has clearly gone insane. Either Mrs. Rosen ain't serving dessert no more, or FOXSports is paying Rosen by the snark, as we mentioned after Rosen's last column.

This guy is well on his way to being the Joe Morgan of hoops.

Petrie is Our Lord

$29M over 5 years. For Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Yes, that Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Marcos Breton has a surprisingly good column today about team doctors and SAR and the genius of Petrie. In short, if SAR sucks, NJ wins. If SAR is healthy, the Kings win. If SAR is great and helps the team do something special, Petrie is God.

Yet, there are STILL fans whining that KT will likely be on the squad instead of Darius, that our defense lacks, that our bench sucks compared to the glory days.

KT is now even more overpriced as a sixth man, we all agree on that. But damn, that's a helluva sixth man. He'll get somewhere near 20 minutes a game if you figure he'll get some time at both PF and SF as minutes permit. He could give you 10-12 points in those minutes given he's the second or third option on the floor.

Bench play is a major factor in the postseason, and ours just got a lot better.

Friday, August 12, 2005

O-fficial

King Abdur-Rahim is inked, according to The Bee.

No details yet. The Kings are now looking at being one of the best offensive teams in the West. The defense...well, you know.

Ink that Thing!

The Bee reports that the deal is all but done to bring Shareef Abdur-Rahim to Sacramento. Knowing how Geoff Petrie works, expect something to break this afternoon.

It looks like it'll be a five-year deal starting off at the mid-level and totalling up to around $31 million. Helluva deal for a potential All-Star.

Sam Amick's comments about SAR's rebounding ability were interesting. I never thought of the guy as a key rebounder. But on this team? He could average 12 per.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Little KMart, Don't Phunk With My Heart

We really don't think Shareef Abdur-Rahim will come to Sacramento by way of sign-and-trade - an outright signing seems more likely.

But that didn't stop Henry at True Hoop from trying! He suggests Darius Songaila and Kevin Martin for SAR and Sergei Monia.

This led to personal confliction regarding Little KMart. The guy, despite his faults, has really grown on me! He could end up being a super sub - a scorer who provides a bolt of energy a la Gerald Wallace.

A few months ago, I wouldn't have flinched at sending Martin off for a future second-rounder. Now, I'd think twice before making him a toss-in in a trade for Shareef Ab-freakin-dur-Rahim!

You've taken our heart, Mr. Martin! Please be gentle with it.

Charley Rosen = Asshole

There. I said it. Sue me.

Courtesy of True Hoop, Charley trashes just about every NBA player that's changed uni's in a column for FOXSports.

He mentions two new Kings and one former. On Bonzi, Rosen writes: "Wells is a notorious head case and a loser." On Jason Hart, the bloated, self-absorbed know-it-all says: "An adequate point guard who should be used only in emergencies."

And on beloved former King Bobby Jackson, the asshole writes: "Do teammates enjoy playing with him? Can he be trusted to help turnaround a sinking franchise? Probably not."

Does Rosen get paid per snark? I mean, what a sour man. It's amazing (AMAZING!) someone like Kobe (who Rosen tortured a couple seasons ago through an ESPN.com Page 2 column) hasn't put a hit out on the guy.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Who Turned Up The Thermostat?

It is getting H O T in Sacramento, where speculation is scorching around our second-chance to nab Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Here's the abridged version of "The Story of SAR," for those of you who haven't been paying attention:

SAR go to Cal. SAR wows scouts. SAR leaves school early, and gets picked up by the expansion Vancouver franchise. SAR puts up big numbers, but toils on losing team (along with future winner Mike Bibby). SAR takes the money and toils on another bad team, still putting up solid numbers. SAR is traded to a decent team, who becomes bad and misuses him badly on the court as teammates constantly get arrested.

SAR finishes out his contract while injured and attempts to exit NBA purgatory by signing with a winner. SAR visits New Jersey, who is led by fellow Cal star Jason Kidd. SAR gets in bed with NJ, caresses NJ and tells NJ he loves them. NJ finds out something about SAR's past and stutters. SAR gets pissed. SAR gets his pants and leaves NJ's studio apartment. SAR refuses to take calls from NJ. NJ, to proud to beg, starts flirting with a tough Lithuanian and a soft 76er.

Mulletted Geoff Petrie sees SAR at a bar and finds out he's no longer with NJ. Text messages between mutual friends of SAR and Petrie fly, hinting at a possible hook-up.

And that's where we are today. Sort of. In a sick, twisted, sexually deviant way.

All we'll say is this:

Sacramento's 2002 Starting Line-up:
Mike Bibby: A brass-balls point guard who rises to the occasion and has more clutch in him than River City Transmission and Muffler.
Doug Christie: A hard-nosed, tough-as-nails, defensive-minded two.
Peja Stojakovic: An All-Star caliber dead-eye shooter.
Chris Webber: Athletic, high-post perennial All-Star offensive machine. Solid rebounder. (We're talking 2002 Webber.)
Vlade Divac: The best passing center in the game, possibly ever.

And Sacramento's potential 2006 Starting Line-up:
Mike Bibby: See above.
Bonzi Wells: A hard-headed, tough-as-turkey-jerky-made-in-a-Ron-Popeil-Food-Dehydrator, defensive two.
Peja Stojakovic: See above.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim: Talented potential All-Star. Offensive machine. Solid rebounder.
Brad Miller: A triple-double threat. Hands like an Oil of Olay model. The best passing center in the Western Conference.

America, you do the math.

Kings Sign Former Cal Player

No, not that one.

The AP says the Kings signed former Golden Bear Jamal Sampson. Yeah, the guy that was waived by the Bobcats last year.

Whatever.

RealGM Ranks the League

Is this a joke?

Let's laugh through the Patrick Austin's RealGM team rankings together, okay?

He has the Heat at #1, ahead of the Spurs. Whatever. The Rockets are at #3, which is laughable considering the Pacers are at #4. The Rockets would have a tough time convincing people they were the third best team in the West. Hell, they're only the third best team in Texas.

Pistons at #5, Nets at #6. I think the Nets are top-ten material if they get SAR, but #6 is probably high. The rampant love for the Cavaliers spreading like The Clap puts Cleveland at #7 on the list.

I urinated myself when I saw Austin put the Knicks (yes, those Knicks) at #8. In the whole league. Not a typo. Here's Austin's take:
"You have to give credit to Zeke for landing Larry Brown. That move alone will put NY back into serious playoff contention."

Serious playoff contention does not equal the eighth best team in the land. That ranking means that the Knicks will be one of the eight best teams in the league. Sixteen teams get into the playoffs. Err, moving on...

Dallas is way low at #9. The Mavericks might be the second best in the West. The Lakers show up at #10, where Austin proclaims that Kwame "could bust out and become a new Jermaine O’Neal." Don't hold your breath (or maybe do).

Philly's spot at #11 made me vomit in my mouth (note to wannabe NBA writers: when all a really bad team from a really bad division does is re-sign its own overrated players and prays that one the most overpaid players in all of sports gets healthy, that's not a good offseason).

The Nuggets show up at #12, probably five spots too low. It's a tough team, a physical team and it's a shooter away from the Western Conference Finals, in my estimation. The Bulls land at #13, which is about right, if a bit high. The Wizards follow at #14.

The Suns (yes, they of the 2004-05 WCF) land at #15. Inexplicable. Austin said, "Dealing away Quentin Richardson and the rights to Nate Robinson for Kurt Thomas could backfire big time." Yeah, who needs one of the better defensive bigs in the L when you could have a 5-foot-6 back-up rookie point guard and a shooter with a bad back?

Finally, we arrive at the Kings at #16. Austin says, "This team is slowly but surely falling further back in the West." And I'm sure with CWebb, Divac, Christie and Bobby Jackson still on the roster, we'd be poised for a ring? Whatever.

What follows is a mess with little rhyme or reason -- Seattle, Boston, Golden State (Austin writes that the team will surprise many - what? by missing the playoffs? no surprise here!), Portland, Utah, Milwaukee, Memphis, Minnesota, Charlotte, the Clips, Toronto, Orlando, New Orleans and Atlanta. Those last four look about right, though Toronto should be the worst team and N.O. shouldn't be much better.

Ah, August. Assinine opinion is here!

Fall to Mediocrity - Step #1: Tough Schedule

We know you already know, but the regular season schedule is out.

Fans have already started filling out the standings, too. Some suggest that the Kings will start the season 1-4, thanks to a schedule that opens at Houston, at New Orleans, at Phoenix, versus Detroit and at Denver.

Ignoring doomsday prophecies, we looked at the schedule based on days of rest for our team and for our opponents.

The Kings have 17 games on zero days' rest this season (these are second games of back-to-backs). Four of those are at home, and 13 are on the road.

In the four home ones, our opponents are San Antonio, New Orleans twice and Golden State. All of those opponents will be coming in with at least one day of rest (GS with two).

In the 13 road zero day's rest games, two come against teams also on no rest (Houston and San Antonio). Seven are against teams on a single day's rest (GS, Detroit, Miami, Phoenix, Memphis, NJ and the Lakers) and the others come against teams on two or more days' rest (Denver, Portland, the Clippers and NY).

Fifty games come after one day of rest for the Kings. Twenty-eight are at home, and 22 are on the road. Sacramento has the rest advantage in 8 of those games (meaning that the opponent is on zero rest) and equal rest (both teams on one day's rest) in 30 games. The Kings' remaining 12 single day's rest game come against teams on more than one day's rest.

Sacramento has seven games on two days rest when the opponent has a single day's rest. The Kings have one game (versus the Clippers) where the opponent has four days of rest versus Sacramento's two.

Five games where the Kings have three days' rest and two games of five days of rest complete the schedule. For perspective, here's how the Kings fared based sheerly on its own short rest and home/road status last season:
2004-05 Kings
0 Days Rest/Home: 2-2, .500
0 Days Rest/Road: 5-8, .385
1 Day Rest/Home: 22-6, .786
1 Day Rest/Road: 9-10, .474

The longest roadie this season will be the January East Coast swing. It doesn't look terribly tough - Orlando, Miami, Philly, New York, Boston and Toronto is how it plays out. 3-3 would be a minimum requirement, 4-2 shouldn't be difficult barring major injuries and 5-1 would have been expected the past few seasons.

There is a tougher stretch in December that reads like this: Miami, Minny, Cleveland, Houston, at Seattle, New Orleans (on no rest), at Minny, at Detroit (on no rest), at San Antonio, at Charlotte, Dallas. That's almost a full month of tough games, with only NO and the Bobcats looking like easy wins. Some also depends on Seattle's expected regression, Cleveland's expected ascension and Minnesota's possible rebound.

The longest homestand is four games, and there are several of those. The easiest one looks to be Denver, NY, Utah and Milwaukee in November. The toughest one would be the aforementioned Miami-Minny-Cleveland-Seattle run to start December.

Phoenix comes to our gym Jan. 17 and April 11. The Lakers visit Jan. 19 and March 14. Sacramento only plays the Spurs thrice this season, once at ARCO (Nov. 21). And the team's first crack at Seattle comes at KeyArena on Nov. 20.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Technical Issues

In short, something ate most of my template file Friday. I couldn't figure out what happened until Monday morning.

A post I wrote Friday about Bonzi appears to have been eaten as well. It basically said, "We love Bonzi." So, nothing really missed there.

I had to use an old backup template to restore the page, so my blogroll is all messed up. It will be fixed by lunchtime Tuesday.

Hopefully everything will be back to normal soon! Thanks for your extended patience.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Preaseason Schedule Announced!

The Kings announced their preseason schedule this morning.

Here it is:

Tuesday, October 11 v. DALLAS at ARCO Arena at 7 p.m.
Friday, October 14 @ LA Clippers at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 16 v. GOLDEN STATE at ARCO Arena at 6 p.m.
Tuesday, October 18 v. DENVER at ARCO Arena at 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 22 @ Portland at 7 p.m.
Sunday, October 23 v. PHOENIX in Fresno at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, October 26 @ Phoenix in Albuquerque at 6 p.m.
Friday, October 28 @ LA Lakers in Las Vegas at 7 p.m. (on ESPN)

The regular season schedule may be out as early as the weekend. Also, it's good to see the only jet-lag will be from the 1-1/2 hour flight back from Vegas instead of the 18-hour flight from Beijing.

Patience, Young Bostonian Padowans

CelticsBlog.com - a fantastic NBA blog that combines insider knowledge, high-pitched analysis and seemingly fanatical readership - is ruing the term 'rebuilding.'

Jeff, the webmaster of the site, is right - the C's aren't going to the Eastern Conference Finals this year. But I have to imagine the team is looking better than at this time last year. It's not like Danny Ainge has had an awful offseason - he drafted Gerald Green and Ryan Gomes much lower than they should've went, traded a free-agent for essentially cash and made room for his best youngsters in the starting 5.

In-game development is so incredibly important for young players, and Al Jefferson, Tony Allen, Delonte West and Marcus Banks (if he stays around) will get plenty of that this year. That team will be good very soon.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

News Flash: Peja Can't Play D

Statistical wizard Dan Rosenbaum has rated the best and worst defenders at each position.

Not surprisingly to Kings fans, Peja is rated as the absolute worse small forward defensively. No other current Kings make any of the lists - not even Mike Bibby, who I consider one of the worst defensive point guards I've ever seen.

I actually thought Peja improved defensively a little bit in the last two seasons. Rosenbaum uses adjusting +/- numbers, along with a linear-weights-based +/-, to come up with his rankings. He calls them projections for next year, and uses three years of data for everyone with that many years in the L.

I have no reason to doubt Rosenbaum's numbers - he's forgotten more about statistics than I've ever learned - and the lists pass the laugh test. But it is slightly discouraging nonetheless.

"We've got other things we intend to do and want to do."

That's the money quote from the Petrie Lord in a SacBee story on this big day in offseason wheeling and dealing by Joe Davidson.

Teams can make deals and signings official today, and we're a little curious to see if anyone follows the Carlos Boozer Business Model this year. Also, the situations with Mo Evans (probably gone) and Darius Songaila (rumored to be involved in a trade with Washington) are as yet unresolved.

We're glad the Petrie Lord isn't done yet. Could this be the week that one of The Nucleus gets shipped, or are we making a non-core play for a new power forward?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Power Rankings? In August?

Actually, in July.

DIME Magazine released its first "NBA Hit List" a few days ago, though we have just come across it today thanks to Amar at Cavalier Attitude.

DIME has the Kings at 13th, behind seven Western Conference teams, along with the Pacers (fair), Pistons (fair), Heat (fair), Cavs (ha-ha), Bulls (umm...what?) and the Nets (fair).

The Bulls at 10 are the most surprising on the list. Quick: name one starter for the Bulls that will be better than his counterpart on the Kings this season.

You can't and be reasonable, with one possible exception. Chandler is good and improving, but Brad Miller is a proven center with high efficiency ratings and 15/10/5 capabilities. Luol Deng? Hi, Peja. Eddy Curry? He's showed signs of life, and is a much better long-term option than any PF signing by Sac right now. But this year, we'd take KT. Kirk Hinrich, meet Mike Bibby. Is Chris Duhon still on the roster? If not, Ben Gordon and Bonzi Wells is a potential wash.

Please, find me somebody who wants to bet that the Bulls will be better than the Kings this year. I could use some cash.

(Oh, and not to be the resident grammar-and-spelling Nazi of the basketblogosphere, but Petrie has an `e' on the end, DIME editors.)

Suns: Still the Best in the Pacific?

Brent at Rising Suns has a long post on the impact of Joe Johnson moving to Atlanta.

OddsChecker shows odds drifting on the Suns winning the 2006 title. It doesn't say by how much, and the odds we discussed last week haven't changed.

We'll see how effective the run-and-gun offense can be without a pure shooter on the wing. Say what you will about JJ, but he was a dead-eye last season.

Finley won't be nearly the same - 82games had Finley's jump-shot effective field goal percent at .481, about 5 percent worse than JJ's (.532). Finley didn't get inside last year and he won't this year.

And Finley has never been good defensively, whereas JJ can handle his business. Ignoring the tandem of Cuttino and Bibby for part of last year, Turnstyle Nash and Finley could combine to make up one hell of a historically bad defensive backcourt.

The Suns will be the early favorites for the Pacific Division, but these Kings will surprise.

HoopsAnalyst Rates Sacramento Trades

Harlan Schreiber at HoopsAnalyst has completed his series on the best trades in NBA history, finishing up with the old Pacific Division.

Schreiber gives Billy Owens for Mitch Richmond and Mitch Richmond for Chris Webber the top slot, with Jason Williams for Mike Bibby as the runner-up.

Last week, we gave the nod to Richmond for Webber, with Turkoglu and Pollard for Brad Miller a close second.

It's tough to argue that Bibby hasn't had more of an impact than Miller thus far - Mike's been here twice as long and was prominently involved in the Greatest Sacramento Season of All-Time.

But Miller is clearly more valuable to the team now in the post-Webber/Divac era - he's arguably the third best center in the Western Conference (curse you, Yao and Amare). Bibby is a top guard, too, but is a complete matador on defense.

If we had to lose one of The Nucleus players, I'd pick Bibby. I love the guy, especially his swagger and fearlessness. But Miller and Peja are rarities.

Mission 1: Break Up The Suns.

Mission complete.

We actually think this was the smartest thing El Scorchos could do. Paying JJ all that money would restricted what they could do in future years. They'd have JJ and Amare locked up to go along with an old PG and third banana Shawn Marion. That's it. They wouldn't be able to get anyone else of real value without aging players taking a paycut to get a ring, a la the 2004 Lakers.

But still, that team lacks a go-to shooter. Michael Finley isn't the answer. Let's hope they disagree.


Editor:
Tom Ziller

The Sacramento Kings are a tough act to follow, literally.

SKB does the dirty work so you can forget about the blood, sweat and tears.

Oh, you'll still need the tears in April, though.

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