Author: John Krolik

Steve Nash, Earl Watson

Phoenix the league’s healthiest team


From Basketball Prospectus’ Kevin Pelton:

In analyzing why the Phoenix Suns have exceeded expectations by staying in the playoff race through the season’s final week, the training room is a good place to start. There’s likely to be plenty of room, because the Suns are enjoying one of the healthiest seasons in NBA history. Combined, the entire Phoenix roster has missed just 18 games to injury all year. That’s fewer than 55 different players in the league have missed all by themselves.

During a compact schedule that has tested depth around the league, Alvin Gentry has had the luxury of relying on a full complement of players nearly every night. The impact of the Suns’ terrific health has been crucial to the playoff race. Consider that Phoenix has lost just 521 player minutes (calculated by multiplying minutes per game when healthy by games missed) compared to the league average of 2,245. That’s an average of 28.7 minutes per game the Suns haven’t had to call on deep reserves rather than rotation players.

Suns players have only missed 18 total games this season: Grant Hill has missed 12 games, Steve Nash has missed 4, and Markieff Morris and Jared Dudley have missed a game apiece. That’s fairly incredible in today’s NBA, and as Pelton notes, it probably has a lot to do with the Suns’ well-regarded training staff, who use cutting-edge practices to keep their players on the court.

It’s clear by now that the Suns aren’t just getting lucky with player health — their training staff seems to be a step ahead of most other staffs in the league, and teams having health troubles should look at Phoenix as an example of how they can do better. Click through to the full article to see some very informative graphs, courtesy of Piston Powered’s Dan Feldman, that illustrate how healthy or unhealthy each team in the league has been this season.

Carmelo Anthony has a giant painting of himself hanging over his fireplace, because of course he does

Carmelo Fireplace Painting

From the always-hilarious Dan Devine of Yahoo! Sports’ Ball Don’t Lie Blog:

Carmelo Anthony’s wife, La La Anthony (née Vazquez), recently spoke with the New York Post about her reality TV show, her role in the upcoming film “Think Like a Man,” and the couple’s place in the Hell’s Kitchen section of Manhattan. The only piece of critical information in the Post’s story is that, as you can see above, the Anthonys have a huge painting of Carmelo Anthony’s head hanging above their fireplace.

From the Post:

How much input has Carmelo had in the design of your home or did you manage the project yourself?

Believe it or not, he has more input and gets more involved than I do. He was really into working with the decorator, Alicia Darby, who also decorated our home in LA.

Have you recently purchased any artwork? What is your favorite piece?

This past Christmas, we purchased a huge, modern picture of my husband from the artist Paul Gerben, whose studio is located in SoHo. It was great to be directly in touch with the artist himself, which enabled us to create this fantastic, very large and abstract piece that we love.

We could try and look at this painting as some sort of window into Anthony’s true character, or we could just come to the agreement that putting a giant purple painting of yourself in a tuxedo and sunglasses above your fireplace is hilarious. I prefer the latter, if only because I like imagining how awkward it must be for the Anthony family’s houseguests when they have to compliment the giant purple painting of Carmelo staring at them behind sunglasses.

Mike Woodson talks about starting Mike Bibby in the playoffs

Tyson Chandler, Mike Bibby, Carmelo Anthony

From the NY Post’s Marc Berman:

Don’t be shocked if [Mike Bibby] winds up starting playoff games, with all of Baron’s injuries. Woodson got him 36 minutes in Newark, no limits like with Baron. 8 assists, 1 turnover. That’s what Woody cares about. Bibby has played in 100 career playoff games. That matters to Woody. “In games like this, you need a stable guy out there that can direct traffic. He played a lot of minutes. I thought he was solid all the way through in terms of running our offense.”

Woodson coached Bibby when the 33-year old Arizona product was in Atlanta, so he’s certainly familiar with Bibby’s game. Bibby was picked up by the Heat after the deadline last season, but ended up being a disaster of historic proportions in the playoffs. Bibby averaged 3.7 points per game on 28.1% shooting in 20.8 minutes a game in last season’s playoffs. From a PER standpoint, Bibby had what could be considered the worst playoff run in NBA history. Still, with Jeremy Lin and Baron Davis both battling injuries, the Knicks may have no choice but to hope Bibby can bounce back from last year’s playoffs this time around.

League sets record for D-League call-ups

New York Knicks' Lin pumps his fist from the bench as teammates score during their NBA basketball game in Toronto

The NBA D-League made the following announcement today (h/t:

The NBA Development League (NBA D-League) experienced its most successful season ever in developing NBA talent as it set all-time records with 50 GATORADE Call-ups, breaking the previous record of 40 set during the 2009-10 season, and 64 NBA player assignments, surpassing the previous record of 56 assignments established last year.

As the NBA regular season draws to a close, 25 percent of team rosters consist of players with NBA D-League experience (108), including 36 percent from the 2010 and 2011 NBA Draft classes (43). Featuring former Erie BayHawks and Reno Bighorns star Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks, former Los Angeles D-Fenders star Gerald Green of the New Jersey Nets, former Tulsa 66ers star Ramon Sessions of the Los Angeles Lakers and former Rio Grande Valley Viper star C.J. Watson of the Chicago Bulls, all 30 NBA teams now have at least one player who previously made his mark in the NBA D-League.

None of this should be surprising: teams are getting more and more comfortable using the D-League as a place to find players, the lockout-compressed season necessitated a need for more fresh legs and injury replacements, and players like Jeremy Lin are making teams realize that former D-Leaguers can turn into really, really effective players.

The D-League will never be a “true” minor league system like baseball’s is — don’t expect Anthony Davis to spend a minute in the D-League next year unless he’s rehabbing an injury — but it’s become an extremely valuable resource to a number of teams. Even though the money that top European teams pay will likely always be better than what D-League teams can offer, it appears that the D-League is here to stay.

Kobe to miss 3rd straight game with shin injury

Kobe Bryant

From ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin:

SAN ANTONIO — The condition of Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant‘s inflamed left shin continues to improve, but Bryant will sit out his third consecutive game Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs, Lakers coach Mike Brown said.

McMenamin reported that Bryant is no longer in a walking boot, and will have had a full week to rest his shin if he chooses to suit up for the Lakers’ next scheduled game against the Nuggets on Friday.

Bryant has averaged 28.1 points per game on 43.0% shooting this season. The Lakers have gone 1-1 in the two games Kobe has missed.