I don't know about y'all, but I'm really excited about tonight's game. We have two teams that relatively few writers and fans thought would be doing much off to great starts facing one another. The total line for tonight is set at 221.5, and that sounds about right. It's going to be a fun game.
John Hollinger has the Rockets and Suns ranked 6th and 7th, respectively (thanks to Rockets4Life for making a fanshot about this). "What?" I hear you all saying. Well, that's true - ESPN's resident stat-dude has the
plucky scrappy resilient talented Rockets ranked slightly ahead of the 9-2 Suns. Most of that has to do with scoring margin and opponents' winning percentage. And, indeed, if you look at B-Ref's Simple Rating System (here's a description of the stat), the Rockets are 7th in the league, while the Suns are 14th. And Tas at TBJ has taken the Rockets in their "book-off" tonight. Yes, the plucky little Rockets have come a long way from Barkley's "worst in the league" prediction.
Let's get to some news!
After just three games, the AI Experience is done in Methopotamia. Iverson's agent, however, says he'll play again. I'd like to see it, because I think he can still contribute, but I doubt it's going to happen. Oh, wait,
Speaking of the Knicks, the New York Times has noticed that D'Antoni's soul has finally been crushed under the realization that he left Phoenix for one of the worst organizations in the NBA, and that he's banking all of his hopes on the 2010 free agent class. Good job, dude. You truly are a genius.
(there's also a good Chuck Hayes interview in that link. Chuck discusses a little of how the defense will play against the Suns forwards and Amare)
Empty The Bench looks at the Pythagorean Theorem (the one for wins, not for triangles) in the NBA. The Rockets are right where you'd expect them to be, but a few teams can expect to move up and down.
The value of a formula that calculates expected winning percentage, when real winning percentage is already known, is in predicting future success. Teams that are doing much better than expected tend to fall down a bit after a while. Teams that aren’t winning as much as expected tend to improve.
The 2006-07 NBA season–regular and playoffs–provides some great examples of how this can work. The Heat were scoring 94.6 ppg, but giving up 95.5. Their expected winning percentage was 47%, but they actually won 54% (44-38). The returning champs got unexpectedly swept 4-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
Similarly, Dallas was scoring 100 ppg and surrendering 92.8 for an expected winning percentage of 74%. They actually won 82% (67-15), and also faced a shocking first round exit. On the other hand, the Spurs won 71% (58-24), but were expected to win 78% (98.5, 90.1). They of course cruised through the playoffs to win the championship.
The Painted area predicted that Brandon Jennings was going to be good, but they didn't think it would be this early. And they have a couple of lessons learned from his hot start to the season:
1. The Euroleague is a significantly better level of competition than U.S. college basketball. Period.
Anyone who has a rough sense of Euroleague basketball must be wondering why we even have to state something so obvious. Yet a misguided sense of college basketball exceptionalism was an undercurrent of all the incorrect Jennings evaluations.
There's a lot more there, and I encourage (obviously) everyone to read it.
John Wall is expected to be the first-overall pick in the 2010 draft, and his Kentucky Wildcats won on his game-ending jumper last night, and B-Pro has more:
Wall’s going to be every bit as good as advertised. Certainly the UK fans in Rupp Arena were glad to have him on hand after he answered Kenny Hayes’ game-tying three with eight seconds left with a game-winning 12-footer with three seconds on the clock, giving the home team a 72-70 win.
"I shot 75 percent last year," Artest reassured Jackson.
Yao Ming is helping to rebuild playgrounds destroyed in Hurricane Ike.
The Houston Rockets standout says Galveston still has not totally recovered from the storm. Yao says people in the area "treat me like family, and I want to give back."
Yao is also apparently hitting it off with the president.
"Yao Ming is just one signal of our shared love of basketball -- I'm only sorry that I won't be able to see a Shanghai Sharks game while I'm visiting," Obama said, referring to the basketball team that Yao purchased earlier this year.
On Sunday, Yao Ming posted a message to his Twitter and Facebook pages for the president.
"I hear Obama is in Shanghai, my hometown. Welcome to China. Hope you enjoy. Like NYC, the best food is sold on streets (I know u r busy tho)" the seven-foot, six-inch star of the Houston Rockets basketball team wrote.
"He really battled (Andrew) Bynum," Adelman said. "He's got to learn how to play people like that. He's got to hold his own at that end so he can be a factor at the other end. That's what's crucial. You just saw what he did: He stretched them out, and he was always the guy open. It's important that he can compete at that defensive end, though."
I think we need a nickname for Andersen. I propose "100% Crocodile Dundee," because he'll forever rock steadily.
Last, there really aren't enough Aaron Brooks highlight videos on youtube.