One of the great debates in the NBA statistical community is the issue of clutch play. The conventional wisdom is that Kobe Bryant is awesome in the clutch — did you see the dagger jumper he hit over Randy Foye Wednesday — but the statistics say he misses far more than he makes in that setting.
Part of the problem is that you can define clutch a million different ways.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey recently had some fantastic thoughts on being clutch, in a Q&A on the Rockets site. (Hat tip to the great Henry Abbott of TrueHoop for finding this.)
I think the reality is that no one is any good at crunch time. I think if you’ve got a guy who can create his own shot then you’re better off than not.
I think the biggest misnomer people have … I’ve seen a lot of things like, ‘You should run a play. You should just do your normal things.’ Well, the reason why teams go with a particular isolation play, even though that often has a low efficiency because it’s just hard to score for anybody, I don’t care how good you are, is not because teams think that’s optimal for scoring, it’s because it’s optimal for controlling the amount of time the other team has after the play. If you’re just running a set and a team jumps it or tries to disrupt it, it can really change the timing of when your shot goes off and it’s a massive, massive difference how many ticks are left when the other team gets the ball.
So a lot of what people want to criticize coaches for which is ‘Don’t they know that guy is bad in isolation; don’t they know this?’ — it’s really because they’re not, in my opinion, thinking about the big picture which is controlling the clock the other way in terms of when your opponent gets the ball back. Even three seconds with an advance of the ball is a huge difference versus only having one second. The efficiency drop based on you controlling the clock the other way is a massive difference.
Basically, in the clutch you have fewer fallback options — double-team Kobe and the Lakers don’t have the time to make two or three passes to get a good look right at the end of the game. So Kobe or the first relief valve has to go up with the shot. Percentages drop when that happens.
Still my favorite thing to remind people about clutch play — the best teams do not win a lot of close games, they avoid being in them in the first place. The best teams win a lot of blowout games, not a lot of games in the final minute when random things can happen.
A Malawian newspaper, writing about Michael Jordan’s statement on race, used the Crying Jordan photo accompany the article.
How did that happen?
A page designer who didn’t understand the meme? A joke never fixed before printing? A staff-wide ignorance of the photo’s cultural relevance?
Justin Block of The Huffington Post:
As it turns out, the newspaper is called The Nation, or The Malawi Nation. When reached for comment on Thursday afternoon, The Nation Senior News Analyst Joy Ndovi stated that using the Michael Jordan Crying meme was intentional, and said Sports Editor Garry Chirwa picked the photo.
Chirwa told us that when he read the story, he felt that the emotions packed within Jordan’s quote, “I could no longer keep silent,” were represented in the Michael Jordan Crying meme.
“I just imagined him crying,” Chirwa wrote via WhatsApp.
Ndovi echoed Chirwa’s sentiments:
The article on Jordan reacting to the violence in U.S. was just the perfect one for the meme to be used. It depicts the emotional state of the former NBA star. Though it might seem unconventional, what other photo could be more suitable than the infamous Crying Jordan meme?
I can think of a few.
Before signing with the Knicks to retire, Amar’e Stoudemire reportedly wanted to sign with the Suns this year and last.
He essentially confirmed both accounts.
Stoudemire, via Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:
“The last two years, we made phone calls to Phoenix but I wasn’t getting any positive response,” Stoudemire told azcentral sports on Thursday. “That would’ve been the perfect way to go out. I didn’t want to beg Phoenix. My heart was in two places – Phoenix and New York. I just went where I was wanted.”
According to the report, Stoudemire wanted to play for Phoenix next season — not just retire as a Sun. If that’s the case, I see why the team passed. The Suns have 15 players (the regular-season roster limit), are rebuilding and already have Tyson Chandler as a veteran big.
But if Stoudemire wanted sign an unguaranteed deal with the Suns then retire as a ceremonial move, it’s a little harder to explain Phoenix’s reluctance. Perhaps, the Suns were caught off guard by such a request. Nobody in memory had done something like that in the NBA. The gesture is far more common in football and baseball.
Either way, Stoudemire retiring as a Knick wasn’t designed to show a long-standing bitterness toward the Suns.
A recent bitterness toward the Suns? Maybe.
Karl-Anthony Towns has replaced Anthony Davis as the consensus MVP-in-waiting.
Are you ready, NBA?
Here’s a sneak preview of the Timberwolves center’s future:
NEW YORK (AP) — Craig Sager’s fight with leukemia will prevent the basketball sideline reporter form covering the Rio Olympics for NBC.
NBC said Thursday in a statement that the 65-year-old Sager is preparing for a third bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Sager was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and announced in March that he was no longer in remission.
The Rio Games would have been Sager’s fifth Olympics.
Sager has worked for Turner Sports for 34 years. At the ESPY Awards this month, Vice President Joe Biden presented Sager with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.