Sports Illustrated’s latest anonymous poll of players is out, and the subject is the biggest floppers in the league. The top guys will not surprise you. Here’s the top 5:
- Anderson Varejao
- Manu Ginobili
- Luis Scola
- Derek Fisher
- Kevin Martin
Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, and Shane Battier all make appearances in the top 15 as well. It’s interesting that the top three players are from South America. Is it something in the water down there? Is flopping taught as a fundamental like dribbling or moving your feet on defense?
But what’s probably the most interesting thing about this list is that it could have been the same list from four years ago. The league has put in rule changes to discourage flopping, and still the same players are always on these lists of floppers. To be fair, since that rule change, there has been a dramatic decrease in flops (from my perspective, it’s kind of hard to quantify flops vs. normal reactions to fouls). But these guys are still the main culprits. It’s part of their game, and it’s remained so. You’d think at some point the league would look to make examples out of a few to make it apparent that the game shouldn’t be played that way. But considering some of the star power on the list, maybe that’s unrealistic.
It’s also interesting that you have different kinds of floppers. Pierce and Bryant, for example, are more likely to flop on the offensive end, looking for a call off a pump-fake, while Fisher and Scola of course are more the kind to body up their man on defense, then go skidding across the floor when contact comes. Kevin Martin may be the most prolific offensive flopper on the list, even more so than Ginobili. Martin’s best offensive skill is drawing contact and accentuating it. When he pump faked a Spurs defender in the Rockets’ win over San Antonio Friday night, then flailed to the floor, I actually assumed prior to replay it was a flop. Not based off of visual evidence, but what I’ve seen of Martin before. It was actually a legit foul.
But of course, Martin still flopped to sell it.
In reality, flops are not just part of the game, but being good at it is a crucial skill. Players who try and play without it may be valiant in our eyes, but they’re less effective. Until changes are made by the NBA to try and eliminate it all together (don’t hold your breath), being on this list isn’t a bad thing.
(HT: Red’s Army)
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.