2014 NBA Draft Top 14 (Lottery) Big Board

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This is an early look at my personal Big Board for the 2014 NBA Draft. I’m only going to do a Top 14 right now which, as you all know, is the Lottery portion of the NBA Draft. If anyone followed last year leading up to the draft, I also put forth comparisons for players but I’ll do those as we get closer to draft day. Enjoy. As always, tweet me (@FlyByKnite) if you want to discuss anything.

01.) Joel Embiid | C | Kansas
02.) Jabari Parker | SF | Duke
03.) Andrew Wiggins | GF | Kansas
04.) Julius Randle | PF | Kentucky
05.) Dante Exum | PG | Australia
06.) Zach LaVine | PG | UCLA
07.) Rodney Hood | SF | Duke
08.) Aaron Gordon | PF | Arizona
09.) Marcus Smart | G | Oklahoma State
10.) Gary Harris | SG | Michigan State
11.) Noah Vonleh | PF | Indiana
12.) James Young | SF | Kentucky
13.) 
Dario Saric | SF | Croatia
14.)
Willie Cauley-Stein | C | Kentucky

Just a quick few notes here.

  • I personally believe Joel Embiid has the highest upside in this class. Bar none.
  • The gap between 1 and 2 is a lot closer than the gap between 2 and 3.
  • I’m not a believer in Marcus Smart as a PG at the next level. Reminds me of Harden.
  • Noah Vonleh has the highest probability to move up on my list in the future.
  • Julius Randle lacks superstar appeal. Great prospect, but not a stud.
  • Zach LaVine, while playing great, will wow people at the NBA Combine.

Hope everyone enjoyed.

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How would you fix the Brooklyn Nets if you were Billy King?

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The Brooklyn Nets are the epitome of misguided. Their problems started shortly after Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov bought the team. They started when they made the trade for Deron Williams then snowballed with the Gerald Wallace trade, train wrecked with the Joe Johnson move, and finally hit rock bottom with the acquisition of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett this summer. What follows is a detailed look back at what the Nets gave up and what the Nets got back in return.

In the Deron Williams trade nearly three years ago, the Nets gave up Devin Harris, who at the time was averaging 15 points and 8 assists for the Nets. Granted, the Nets were pretty terrible that year – 17-40 in fact – but they gave up a king’s ransom to get Deron Williams when they weren’t a good team or one player away from contending. So, we have Devin Harris who was one piece of the trade. He had an additional two years and $17.8 million remaining on his contract after the trade was completed. Deron Williams had an additional two years and $34.1 million. So, we’re looking at a player who was paid nearly double that of a guy at the same position that he was traded for. If that was all the Nets had traded away, they still would have lost that trade in my eyes simply because Williams was a malcontent at the time and the difference in salaries was so astronomical. But the Nets added more to it.

The Nets, in the Deron Williams deal, also gave up Derrick Favors, who had just been selected with the third overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and was still, obviously, in his first year. Before the trade, Favors was averaging 6 points and 5 rebounds in 19.5 minutes while being a 19-year old rookie who had elite potential at both ends of the floor. The Nets gave up on him. For Deron Williams. There’s one first round pick, basically. The Nets then gave up two more first round picks. One in 2011 and one in 2013. The pick in 2011 turned out to be a top three pick. With it, the Utah Jazz selected Enes Kanter. In 2013, the pick that Utah got from the deal was used on Gorgui Dieng, another big man, but the Jazz flipped Dieng and their earlier pick to Minnesota for the draft rights to Trey Burke, the top point guard in the draft. So, essentially, the Nets traded away two foundational big men and two point guards, one who had promise, for Deron Williams. Three of those four guys are still in Utah and the three of them have been in the starting lineup. Three-fifths of a starting lineup, for this year, were sent in return for Deron Williams. Pretty crazy. And that’s just ONE! deal.

As if things weren’t crazy enough after that, 13 months later, the Nets traded away the expiring contract of Mehmet Okur, which at the time was nearly $11 million, and Shawne Williams, who had another year on his deal but for only $2.6 million, for Gerald Wallace. The Blazers actually waived Williams in the offseason that year. The irony of this deal is that both Okur and Wallace were set to be free agents at the end of the year and thus were just expiring deals switching places. Except the Nets had other plans in mind. They figured if they could re-sign Gerald Wallace, they’d be able to re-sign Deron Williams. Mission accomplished. They did. They re-signed Gerald Wallace to a lovely 4-year, $40 million deal. Keep Wallace’s name in mind. He’ll back up in a little bit. So they traded away Okur and Williams for Wallace but then decided to sweeten the pot a little bit. They decided to not only give the Portland Trail Blazers a first round pick in the deal but they only slapped top three protection on it since they didn’t like anyone in the draft after the top three players on their board. Funny, right? The top three that year being Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Bradley Beal. The pick ended up sixth. The Blazers then used it on Damian Lillard, who went on to win Rookie of the Year and has already looked like he’s going to be a damn fine point guard in the NBA for a long time. That’s super young talented point guard number two that the Nets basically gave away in draft pick form. On top of the two super young big men. Four potential franchise players. In two deals. For two guys. Who they re-signed for a grand total of $139 million. And away we go.

Is this also a good time to mention that on the same day they traded for Deron Williams, the Nets gave away the nearly $12 million expiring contract of Troy Murphy and a 2012 second round pick, which ironically turned out to be Draymond Green, to the Golden State Warriors for Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric? Seems like a good time to mention that. So that’s four cornerstone players and a key rotational player so far. Let’s continue!

After all those deals and misfirings, the Nets still dreamed big. So what did they do? They made a call to Atlanta who had just recently re-signed Joe Johnson for a whopping 6 years and $124 million. Yup. This actually happened. This isn’t a dream. This isn’t a different article. The Nets really did this. Oh, and not only did they do this but they did it by giving up multiple expiring contracts in the form of Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, and Anthony Morrow. DeShawn Stevenson was also in that deal and was used as a sign-and-trade to make the deal come to fruition on the financial front. But it gets better. The Nets also gave up a 2013 first round pick, which they had gotten from the Rockets, that turned out to be 18th overall. Who got picked? Shane Larkin. Another point guard. Sensing a theme here? Thought so. Oh but it gets better! The Nets also gave the Hawks the option to swap 2014 and 2015 first round picks. Meaning, if the Nets have a top five pick this year and the Hawks pick fall, say, in the 15-20 range, the Hawks can swap picks with the Nets thus giving Atlanta a top five pick and making Brooklyn pick in the 15-20 range. But, the Nets wouldn’t be able to use that pick. (More on that in a minute!) In 2015, the Nets actually have a first round pick but the Hawks can swap that pick with them as well. So, the Nets will have a pick but the Hawks control which pick they’ll get. Awesome.

This all brings us to what happened this offseason in July. After all these botched moves, draft screw-ups, and a first round exit to a Chicago team that was injured beyond repair, the Nets decided they needed to add not only more salary, but give up valuable pieces to get these guys. So, what did they do? Well, they traded for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry. And how did they do this? By giving up Gerald Wallace (REMEMBER HIM?!), Kris Humphries (who had a $12 million expiring contract), MarShon Brooks ($1.2 million expiring), Kris Joseph (waived by Boston 3 days after the trade), and Keith Bogans. Now, Bogans is interesting. He signed a near $16 million deal for three years. But here’s the catch. Only the first year is guaranteed. He’s essentially a $5 million expiring contract. The last two years are not even guaranteed for one penny. So he’s an expiring deal. If you lost count, the Nets gave up, basically, $22 million in expiring contracts to make this happen. And then they gave up THREE! first round picks (outright) and the right to swap one more. Their 2016 and 2018 first round picks go to Boston no matter what. Nets don’t have a pick in those drafts now. They gave up a 2014 pick in this deal, as well. The 2014 pick, as I mentioned was a right-to-swap pick with Atlanta but instead of it being Atlanta and Brooklyn doing the swap it’ll now be Atlanta and Boston doing it. Atlanta will get the better of the two picks and Boston will get the lesser. Boston has the option to swap 2017 picks with them. So the Nets, who will probably suck in 2017, could get a top five pick in that draft but pick way later. It’s the same thing Atlanta could do. Remember that situation? This is all bad.

And then it got worse. They not only re-signed Billy King as the GM this offseason but they hired Jason Kidd to be their head coach and decided to pay him more money to coach the Brooklyn Nets than the New York Knicks were going to pay him to actually play basketball for them. They then hired Lawrence Frank as an assistant coach, fired him a month or so into the season, and are basically stuck in a rut that no one can explain because they’re too old, too cash strapped, and too dumb for their own good. It’s a mess. A complete and total mess. But don’t worry. There is a way out of this for the Nets. Trust me. I got it. Trade everyone. Not even joking. Trade everyone.

After this season, Joe Johnson has another two years and $48 million. It’s all guaranteed. There’s no early opt out. The Nets are stuck with this unless they can find a taker for it. A team like Charlotte would make some sense. They’re on the verge of possibly being a playoff team this year and in the East they could stand a chance at winning a first round series if they can get into either of the 3-6 or 4-5 matchups. The Bobcats currently sit in a tie for the 6-seed but are only two games back of the 3-seed right now and a half-game back of the 5-seed. So, essentially, they’re right there. A trade of Joe Johnson for Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions would work. Gordon and Sessions have expiring deals of $18.2 million combined. It’s a little bit of a steep price for Charlotte to pay but a team of Kemba Walker, Joe Johnson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, and Al Jefferson with Gerald Henderson off the bench as the sixth man isn’t too bad. The Bobcats are also in an interesting spot. They own the Pistons pick (Top 8 protected) and the Blazers pick (Top 12 protected) this year. They’re going to get both. Both are playoff teams at this moment. However, their own pick is owed to Chicago but has Top 10 protection. Right now, Charlotte is outside of the top ten and in the playoffs. In the East, they’re too good to be bad. As crazy as that sounds. They’re going to have to make a trade that pushes that pick further down. A Joe Johnson deal would do that. And it’d give them a good chance of making it out of the first round this year.

Paul Pierce is a hard move even though he’s an expiring contract. A team would have to be convinced that his $15.3 million is worthwhile enough to add to the books even if it’s just for a few months. Rumors are circulating that New Orleans wants to get out from under the Eric Gordon deal that Phoenix signed him to as a restricted free agent about a year ago. They want to move Tyreke Evans to the two spot and a trade for Paul Pierce might make some semblance of sense. The Nets could give up Paul Pierce and the draft rights to Bojan Bogdanovic, who might come over next year and is a talented two-guard, for Eric Gordon and his remaining $30.4 million over two years. It’s a slightly long-term deal but Gordon does have an opt-out clause after the 2014-2015 season. So, it could just be a short stint in Brooklyn for him. The Pelicans get cap relief in the offseason, the ability to get rid of Gordon, the option to move Evans to the two spot, and a veteran to help in their playoff pursuit.

Next up is Kevin Garnett, who won’t be easy to move because of his no-trade clause but does have some perceived value out there on the market. After this season, he has one year and $12 million left and that could be a problem but odds are he’s going to retire anyways thus it’s almost like an expiring deal. An interesting trade partner is Phoenix. Right now they’re overachieving a little bit at 13-9 and currently sit in the playoff race. They could conceivably trade Emeka Okafor’s expiring contract for Kevin Garnett, who would give them a seriously viable defender and mid-range shot maker at the power forward spot. As decent as Channing Frye has been this season at that spot, Kevin Garnett could help that team make the playoffs and compete in their first round series. And, as mentioned, he’s basically an expiring contract. The problem would be getting him to agree to that deal. It might be tough but he might also do it.

I’m not even going to mention trading Jason Terry since I think it’s damn near impossible to even do. The other guys on the roster don’t offer much trade value and the only guy left is Deron Williams and his $63 million over the upcoming three seasons. It could be $40.8 million if he opts out after the 2015-2016 season but that’s neither here nor there. Moving him will prove difficult. Moving a point guard this day in age is almost impossible since nearly every team already has one that they trust and love. The only trade that I could come up with that both sides might actually consider, or at least the side obtaining Deron Williams might consider, is Deron Williams to the New York Knicks for Amar’e Stoudemire straight-up. It sounds crazy but Stoudemire has a player option for next season. It runs for $23.4 million. Even if he picks it up, it’s still a deal that runs two years less than Deron Williams’ current contract. That’s a win for the Nets. While Stoudemire does suck now, he’d at least provide some relief in the near future. On the Knicks side, a move like this might keep Carmelo Anthony there for the foreseeable future. A Williams-Carmelo tandem wouldn’t be half bad, especially if surrounded by some of the roleplayers that they have. It’d certainly be a major improvement over what they have now. I could see this happening but then I could see this not happening since I doubt either of these teams would swallow their pride and do this. But it’s what I would do.

That means that after these trades are complete, the Nets would have a starting lineup of Ramon Sessions, Eric Gordon, Alan Anderson, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Brook Lopez. That’s not a good team by any stretch but it’s a start. I’d have acquired $33 million in expiring contracts with the possibility of that number rising up to nearly $55 million if Amar’e Stoudemire opts out. This team would probably still pick in the top ten of the draft. I’m almost certain of that. We wouldn’t have that pick. And I’m okay with that. It’s all about purging the problem and starting anew even if it’s going to suck for a while.

The Nets feature no pick in 2014, not even a second rounder, and will only have two first round picks over the next five NBA drafts. That means the talent influx will be microscopic. No high profile free agents would be likely to sign over the next few years so a quick fix really isn’t that possible. It’ll be a slow rising from the ashes but at least it’ll be a rising. It’ll be better than what’s going on now. Even though the Nets sit just two games out of the playoff picture in the dreadful Eastern Conference, this is as good as it’s going to get for them. Even if they make the playoffs, it won’t be pretty. They’re two games out of the 4-seed. Even if they got that 4-seed, I doubt they win their first round matchup. They’re bad. And I think this is the way to help get them back on the right path. The problem is that the right path is so far in the distance that you’ll need a magnifying glass and Google maps to find it.

All in all, the Nets stink. And they’re in a stinky situation. They did it to themselves and have no one to blame. It was bad decision after bad decision. It was the quicksand effect. When one bad decision didn’t work out, it sunk them a little deeper into the quicksand so they panicked and made another bad move that only sunk them even deeper. The quicksand is over their heads at this point and they’re gasping for air with only one finger poking out of the top. The rope is still there. Their grasp is just further. It’s time to sink or rise. It’s up to them.

My Personal CFB Top 25 (after Week 15) + Other Various Info

  • Enjoy. Tweet me (@FlyByKnite) if you wanna discuss anything.

1.) Florida State Seminoles | 13-0 Image (LW: 1)
2.) Auburn Tigers | 12-1 Image (LW: 7)
3.) Alabama Crimson Tide | 11-1 Image (LW: 4)
4.) Stanford Cardinal | 11-2 Image (LW: 8)
5.) Baylor Bears | 11-1 Image (LW: 10)
6.) Louisville Cardinals | 11-1 Image (LW: 9)
7.) Michigan State Spartans | 12-1 Image (LW: 17)
8.) South Carolina Gamecocks | 10-2 Image (LW: 11)
9.) Oregon Ducks | 10-2 Image (LW: 12)
10.) Ohio State Buckeyes | 12-1 Image (LW: 2)
11.) Oklahoma Sooners | 10-2 Image (LW: 16)
12.) Missouri Tigers | 11-2 Image (LW: 5)
13.) Oklahoma State Cowboys | 10-2 Image (LW: 6)
14.) Clemson Tigers | 10-2 Image (LW: 14)
15.) Fresno State Bulldogs | 11-1 Image (LW: 15)
16.) Northern Illinois Huskies | 12-1 Image (LW: 3)
17.) UCF Knights | 11-1 Image (LW: 21)
18.) LSU Tigers | 9-3 Image (LW: 18)
19.) UCLA Bruins | 9-3 Image (LW: 19)
20.) Wisconsin Badgers | 9-3 Image (LW: 20)
21.) Arizona State Sun Devils | 10-3 Image (LW: 13)
22.) Georgia Bulldogs | 8-4 Image (LW: 24)
23.) Rice Owls | 10-3 Image (LW: NR)
24.) Duke Blue Devils | 10-3 Image (LW: 22)
25.) Cincinnati Bearcats | 9-3 Image (LW: 23)

Out: (25) Texas Longhorns

Heisman Frontrunner: Jameis Winston (FSU QB) – 237 of 349 for 3820 yards, 38 TD, 10 INT + 193 rushing yards, 4 TD

Offensive Performance of the Week: Tre Mason (AUB RB) – 46 carries for 304 yards, 4 TD

Defensive Performance of the Week: Telvin Smith (FSU LB) – 8 tackles (7 solo), 2.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 1 INT

Heisman Race
1.) Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2.) Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
3.) Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
4.) Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
5.) Andre Williams, RB, Boston College

Upset Picks Season Record: 5-3

BCS Bowl Selection Predictions
Rose Bowl: (4) Stanford [P12 Champion] versus (7) Michigan State [B10 Champion]
Fiesta Bowl: (5) Baylor [B12 Champion] versus (17) UFC [AAC Champion]
Sugar Bowl: (3) Alabama [At-Large; SEC] versus (11) Oklahoma [At-Large, B12]
Orange Bowl: (10) Ohio State [At-Large; B10] versus (9) Oregon [At-Large, P12]
National Championship: (1) Florida State [ACC Champion] versus (2) Auburn [SEC Champion]

Are the Los Angeles Clippers a legitimate NBA title contender?

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I’m a diehard fan. Those who know me best know this to be true. But I’m also a realist. I felt the need to talk about this since it’s something that has bothered me all season long. And the stats will show what I’m talking about but I’m also going to talk about the stats in depth just to give everyone an idea of exactly what I mean. I’ve gone back and looked at the shot data since 1996-1997. Everything you see and read will have to do with data since then. It’s as simple as that. First, let’s start by looking at the NBA champions since then.

1996-1997: Chicago Bulls
1997-1998: Chicago Bulls
1998-1999: San Antonio Spurs
1999-2000: Los Angeles Lakers
2000-2001: Los Angeles Lakers
2001-2002: Los Angeles Lakers
2002-2003: San Antonio Spurs
2003-2004: Detroit Pistons
2004-2005: San Antonio Spurs
2005-2006: Miami Heat
2006-2007: San Antonio Spurs
2007-2008: Boston Celtics
2008-2009: Los Angeles Lakers
2009-2010: Los Angeles Lakers
2010-2011: Dallas Mavericks
2011-2012: Miami Heat
2012-2013: Miami Heat

Okay, there’s the list. Now, let’s work backwards to see something. We’re going to look at three distinct shot locations. Those being “shots inside of 8 feet”, “shots from 15-19 feet”, and “three pointers.” The shots in the 15-19 foot range will just be referred to as “mid-range jumpers” to make things easier.The reason I’m looking at these three distinct locations is because, at least in my mind, there was a definite correlation between NBA champions and teams who got easy shots. There’s a widely held notion that jump-shooting teams just can’t win the title because you wear down over the course of a season, legs get tired, and jumpers start missing. It seems like a reasonable line of thinking, at least to me. Well, I crunched the data and below is what I found. For a reference, if you see anything in parenthesis, it’s their rank in the NBA that season in that respective category. For instance, if you see “(7/29)” then that means that team ranked 7th out of 29 teams in the NBA that season in that category. Got it? Good. Here we go.

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It’s not hard to see that not all NBA Champions since 1996-1997 have been created equal. Different teams can win titles different ways. The Chicago Bulls rarely shot the ball inside of 8 feet, took a ton of mid-range jumpers, and also didn’t shoot from three a lot. They still won a title. But, there is something to take notice of. Of the last 17 NBA Champions, only 2 ranked in the Top 10 in mid-range jumpers attempted per game. Those were the Chicago Bulls, as I mentioned. However, it’s even crazier when you notice that only 4 of those 17 champions have ranked in the Top 15 of mid-range jumpers attempted per game. But the far crazier part? It’s only happened once in the last 14 years. This means that NBA teams have started to realize that mid-range jumpers are not conducive to overall success. In reality, mid-range jumpers are the lowest quality shots in the NBA. They deliver the least amount of efficiency, the highest amount of risk, and are not something that delivers long-term success.

Now look at shots inside 8 feet. Of the 17 champions here, 8 have ranked in the Top 10 in attempts per game there. Another 2 have ranked in the Top 15. That means 10 of the 17 champions have ranked in the top half of the league in that category. With three-pointers, 6 champions have ranked in the Top 10 and another 7 have ranked in the Top 15. That’s 13 out of 17. But here’s where things get interesting. No NBA Champion since 1996-1997 has ranked in the Top 10 in both mid-range jumpers attempted per game and three-pointers attempted per game. In fact, only 2 have ranked in the Top 15 in both categories. And, as you’ve probably come to realize, those two teams were the Chicago Bulls almost 20 years ago. So, what does this have to do with the 2013-2014 Los Angeles Clippers, you ask? Well, this is what it has to do with them.

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The only team to win the NBA title since 1996-1997 to attempt less than 30.0 shots inside of 8 feet over an entire season were the 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks. The Clippers are at 28.7 per game. The Dallas Mavericks were at 28.1. The Clippers, however, make a higher percentage (61.0%) than the Mavericks did (59.6%). In reality, those Dallas Mavericks are what the Los Angeles Clippers have basically turned into. But it’s crazy, really, since the Clippers are attempting even more jumpers per game than the Mavericks did. They’re not even shooting as well as the Mavericks did on those very same jumpers, either. It’s even more maddening than that, as well.

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The picture above is the Clippers shot chart this season. The interior ring is the inside 8 feet spot. As you can see, the Clippers are fantastic at finishing around the rim and also at mid-range jumpers, which in this picture are 16-24 foot jumpers. They’re also great at corner threes but hideous at threes taken anywhere else. It’s like that for a lot of teams but it’s pretty ridiculous to see the Clippers take so many threes “above the break” instead of from corners.

The main problem with the Clippers shot data this year happens to be the fact that they don’t attempt nearly enough shots inside of 8 feet. It’d be one thing if they weren’t adept at finishing around the rim but they are. It’d be another thing if they simply didn’t have the bigs capable enough to finish around the rim but they do. It’s simply a matter of being too jump-shot happy. And it’s a huge problem right now. During the first three games of this current road trip, the Clippers have taken 250 shots. Of those 250 shots, only 81 were inside of 8 feet. They’re averaging just 27 shots per game over these three games inside of 8 feet. That’s nearly two shots per game lower than their season average. This is concerning. They’re not improving. In fact, they’re getting worse. They’ve made 47 of 81 (58%) inside of 8 feet in those three games. On all other shots, they’re 58 of 169 (34%). This means that, per game on this current road trip, the Clippers are averaging 27 shots inside of 8 feet and 56.3 outside of it. That’s appalling. Simply appalling. Especially when they’re not even making a respectable enough clip.

To put this into further detail, I’ll explain it like this. On the season, 602 of the Clippers 1729 shots have been inside of 8 feet. That’s 34.8%. On this current road trip, in the three games, it’s been 32.4%. They’re down nearly 2.5% over their season average. This means that 1127 of their shots have been outside of 8 feet. On those 1127 shots, they’re shooting 39% this season. Over the last three games, they’re shooting 34% on their 169 shots outside of 8 feet. That’s 5% worse. So not only are they shooting more from outside of 8 feet, but they’re also making significantly less. Good teams would see this trend and realize they needed to take the ball inside more. Not the Clippers. Oh no, definitely not them. They believe that means they should keep shooting. If at first you don’t succeed, chuck, chuck again.

Part of the problem, perhaps, could be that their guards are not really adept at either (a) finishing around the rim or (b) even getting into the paint with enough penetration to cause havoc. So let’s look at the five primary guards the Clippers have used this season — Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford, Darren Collison, and Willie Green. Let’s look at them and see just how well they stack up in terms of finishing inside of 8 feet and everywhere else that I’ve discussed.

lacguardshotdata

That’s how the main guards have done for the Clippers in those shot data locations. The percentage in parenthesis is how they’ve shot from there, in terms of field goal percentage. Only 47 of Chris Paul’s 276 attempts this season (17%) have come inside of 8 feet. For JJ Redick, it’s 32 of 200 (16%). Jamal Crawford is at 48 of 274 (17.5%). Darren Collison is at 48 of 128 (37.5%) and Willie Green is at 10 of 46 (21.7%). How sad is that? The two guards with the lowest shot attempts this season have taken the ball inside at a higher percentage. The sadder part is that Darren Collison has attempted more shots inside of 8 feet than Chris Paul has this season despite attempting 148 shots on the year. Chris Paul, who we all know can get into the paint whenever he wants, is a big problem this year when looking at this data. I wanted to understand just how much of a problem so I went to go look at a point guard who compares very favorably to him from a body size, style of play, and shot production standpoint. Here’s what I found.

mikeconleyshotdata

Mike Conley was my point guard of choice. He’s having a great season in his own right and, to be perfectly fair to him, he’s basically the left-handed slightly lesser version of Chris Paul right now. But there’s a major difference between the two players. Mike Conley, while being a really good mid-range shooter, has competently decided to go into the paint and finish around the rim. 119 of Mike Conley’s 269 shot attempts this season have come inside of 8 feet. That’s 44.2%. Remember what Chris Paul was at? It was 17%. That’s insane. There are other factors that drove me to compare both players, as well. They both play with two big men who like to operate around the rim and inside the paint. While Marc Gasol has been injured this year, the other bigs for Memphis can’t really stretch the floor. So Conley has the same paint clogging issues that Paul has but Conley still goes into the paint aplenty. Paul does not. He seems extremely hesitant to do so.

I’m not here to say Mike Conley is better than Chris Paul. He’s not. But Mike Conley is certainly more aggressive than Chris Paul is right now. And I don’t know why. In fact, the five Clippers guards that I mentioned have taken 185 total shots inside of 8 feet. Mike Conley has taken 119 by himself. That’s one on five and Conley is only 66 attempts shy. That’s unheard of. This is clearly a Clippers issue and not even just a Chris Paul issue entirely. It has to get fixed if this team wants to go anywhere. You cannot win a championship with guards who are afraid to go into the paint.

Earlier I mentioned the Chicago Bulls as the only team to win a championship while shooting a ridiculous amount of mid-range jumpers and rarely going inside of 8 feet. However, they also featured players who could take a game over by doing so when needed. You know, guys like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. They won two titles doing that — not overall, obviously, but two titles with the shot data I had — and it worked for them. The Clippers just shoot entirely way too many jumpers overall. It’d be one thing if they shot a lot of mid-range jumpers but not a lot of threes or vice versa. But it’s not that. They, overall, shoot a ton of jumpers and it takes its toll on them over the course of a game.

In fact, last night in the second half against Cleveland, the Clippers shot 11 of 44 (25.0%) in the second half. That’s ridiculous as it is but when you take a further look, it becomes even more disgusting. They took 25 threes in the second half. 25! They made 5. That’s 20%. That means that 25 of their 44 shots were threes. That’s unheard of. Seriously. That means 56.8% of their shots in the second half were behind the arc. That doesn’t even count the long two-point jumpers they took. And why did they miss all those jumpers? Because their legs got tired and the shots just wouldn’t fall anymore. I know, it’s shocking, right?

As it stands right now, the Clippers rank 5th in Offensive Efficiency and 15th in Defensive Efficiency. I’m going to say this right now for all to see. That 5th place rank in Offensive Efficiency will get worse if the style of play doesn’t change soon. Less jumpers, more interior shots. The more we continue to just chuck up contested jumpers, the more we’ll continue to struggle on offense. There are a lot of culprits. Chris Paul is a major one. As is Jamal Crawford. I’ve said it over and over. The 2013-2014 Los Angeles Clippers are just a moronic collection of players that continue to showcase their stupidity in epic ways. Nothing has changed. Over the last few games, it’s only gotten worse.

I know what people are going to say. It’s still early in the season. We’re still trying to find our identity under Doc Rivers and Alvin Gentry. We’re gonna figure it out. Yeah, that’s all well and good. Problem is that we don’t have the time to just “figure it out” and ride out this streak of stupidity. You have to get in front of it and keep pace with the rest of the conference or else you’re not going to have a homecourt playoff series to rest on. You’ll be on the outside looking in and wondering what happened. You can’t afford to wait until February, March, and April to kick it into high gear. You have to position yourselves now. You might not win the division or lock up a top four seed right now but you can certainly lose that chance right now. We’re 25% of the way done with the season. We’re at the quarter pole. This is when adjustments should be made. Not later. Now. Because as of right now, this team is not a championship contender in any sense of the phrase. They’re first round fodder. And that’s sad.

(My next Clippers article will highlight their defense or lack thereof.)

My Personal CFB Top 25 (after Week 14) + Other Various Info

  • Enjoy. Tweet me (@FlyByKnite) if you wanna discuss anything.

1.) Florida State Seminoles | 12-0 Image (LW: 1)
2.) Ohio State Buckeyes | 12-0 Image (LW: 3)
3.) Northern Illinois Huskies | 12-0 Image (LW: 5)
4.) Alabama Crimson Tide | 11-1 Image (LW: 2)
5.) Missouri Tigers | 11-1 Image (LW: 7)
6.) Oklahoma State Cowboys | 10-1 Image (LW: 6)
7.) Auburn Tigers | 11-1 Image (LW: 13)
8.) Stanford Cardinal | 10-2 Image (LW: 9)
9.) Louisville Cardinals | 10-1 Image (LW: 8)
10.) Baylor Bears | 10-1 Image (LW: 11)
11.) South Carolina Gamecocks | 10-2 Image (LW: 14)
12.) Oregon Ducks | 10-2 Image (LW: 15)
13.) Arizona State Sun Devils | 10-2 arrow_up (LW: 16)
14.) Clemson Tigers | 10-2 arrow_down (LW: 10)
15.) Fresno State Bulldogs | 10-1 arrow_down (LW: 4)
16.) Oklahoma Sooners | 9-2 arrow (LW: 17)
17.) Michigan State Spartans | 11-1 arrow_up (LW: 19)
18.) LSU Tigers | 9-3 arrow (LW: 18)
19.) UCLA Bruins | 9-3 Image (LW: 23)
20.) Wisconsin Badgers | 9-3 Image (LW: 12)
21.) UCF Knights | 10-1 Image (LW: 20)
22.) Duke Blue Devils | 10-2 Image (LW: 21)
23.) Cincinnati Bearcats | 9-2 Image (LW: 24)
24.) Georgia Bulldogs | 8-4 Image (LW: NR)
25.) Texas Longhorns | 8-3 Image (LW: NR)

Out: (22) USC Trojans, (25) Texas A&M Aggies

Heisman Frontrunner: Jameis Winston (FSU QB) – 218 of 317 for 3490 yards, 35 TD, 8 INT + 134 rushing yards, 3 TD

Offensive Performance of the Week: David Fales (SJST QB) – 37 of 45 for 547 yards, 6 TD + 33 rushing yards, 1 TD

Defensive Performance of the Week: Anthony Barr (UCLA LB) – 5 tackles (5 solo), 3.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF

Heisman Race
1.) Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
2.) Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
3.) Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
4.) Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
5.) Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Top 6 Games for Week 15
1.) (5) Missouri vs (7) Auburn
2.) (8) Stanford at (13) Arizona State
3.) (6) Oklahoma State at (16) Oklahoma
4.) (2) Ohio State vs (17) Michigan State
5.) (9) Louisville at (23) Cincinnati
6.) (22) Duke vs (1) Florida State

Upset Pick of the Week: Michigan State over Ohio State
Season Record: 4-3