Monthly Archives: February 2012

Steve Novak Enjoys the Jeremy Lin vs. Ricky Rubio Matchup

(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

The matchup of Jeremy Lin and Ricky Rubio brought plenty of fans to the Target Center, but it was Steve Novak who put the Knicks in position to win the game.  Let’s take a look at how Novak, a player whose only offensive skill is shooting threes, found himself wide open in crunch time.

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New Post on All Star Snub James Harden at

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One way Harden improved his overall numbers was to focus on his strengths.  He was excellent as a pick-and-roll ball handler last year, ranking 9th in the NBA in points per possession.  This year, he’s been involved in more pick-and-roll possessions per game, and he’s become even better at it.  Harden is at his best when attacking the hoop, and the pick-and-roll puts him in position to do just that.  Harden has become an excellent finisher; he’s shooting 70% at the rim, which is better than the average center.  Watching him turn the corner and slash through traffic makes those comparisons to Manu Ginobili seem very appropriate.



Nikola Pekovic Playing Prison Ball

AP Photo/Alan Spearman

Nikola Pekovic has undergone a complete transformation into a highly useful player this season.  His PER has jumped up to 21.6 from a below league average of 11.2 in 2010-’11.  He’s shooting at a higher percentage and hitting the offensive boards at a much higher rate.  Since last year, Pekovic has improved in almost every offensive situation:

Despite having the 5th best PER among 1st and 2nd year players, he still got snubbed from the Rookie-Sophomore Game.  Let’s take a look at Pek’s under-the-radar success.

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Nick Young Misses the Memo on the Whole Dangerous Inbounder Thing

(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

How many times have we heard an announcer prattle on about how the inbounder is the most dangerous player on an out-of-bounds play?  Down by three with 1.5 seconds remaining, the Raptors had the ball on a sideline out-of- bounds play with a chance to tie.  Let’s take a look at how the Wizards and Raptors put the “dangerous inbounder” trope to the test.

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Andre Iguodala Cements His All Star Spot

It can be tough for defensive-minded players to get accolades, especially if they aren’t accumulating blocks and steals at a league leading pace.  However, Andre Iguodala has gained some All-Star momentum this season on the strength of his defensive play.  This year, any small forward going against Iguodala has turned into Devin Ebanks.  By shutting down Kobe Bryant in crunch time on Monday night, Iguodala strengthened his All Star candidacy with a signature moment.  Let’s take a look at three minutes of hell for Kobe Bryant… Continue reading

Monta Ellis: Low Post Star?

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

When one thinks of the perimeter players that attack defenses from the post, Monta Ellis is not usually the first name that comes up.  However, the open court speedster has quietly developed a post game that is 2nd best in the NBA in points per possession, according to Synergy.  Yes, Ellis has been better in the post than Kobe, Lebron, Carmelo, and Joe Johnson, among others.  Ellis has spent less time in the post than those players, but his improvement in undeniable.

Head Coach Mark Jackson wanted to get more touches in the post for Ellis.  Not only did  Ellis increase his number of post-up possessions per game since last season, going from less than one to more than two, he has also become more efficient.  Let’s take a look at some of the moves in his arsenal.

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Reading Defenses With John Wall

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

Coming off a strong rookie campaign, John Wall was expected to make progress in the 2011-12 season.  That, however, has not happened yet.  His shaky jump shot has been dissected, but Beckley Mason’s post on Derrick Rose at made me think about John Wall’s struggles in reading the defense.  Mistakes like this are just part of learning on the job.  As Mike Prada pointed out, even Gary Payton did not look good early in his career.  But he wasn’t forced to carry his team.  Unfortunately, John Wall makes the Wizards go, and his decision-making is key to that.

According to the invaluable numbers at Wall’s assist rate has dropped drastically, and he is taking more shots at the rim and from 3 to 9 feet when compared to last season. His perimeter shooters, Nick Young, Rashard Lewis, and Jordan Crawford (using the term “shooter” loosely here) are all being hurt by this change.  Young and Crawford have each seen their percentage of assisted three-pointers drop.  Lewis, who relies almost completely on others to set up his three-point attempts, is shooting 1.5 fewer threes and has seen his percentage drop by nearly 11 points.

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