Thursday, December 26, 2013

On the First Day of Christmas, I Really Tried to Watch: 12 Hours of Basketball

In case you had to spend your Christmas with family members, or doing something other than watching over TWELVE HOURS of basketball – don’t worry, I tried to do it for you. This was me at 12:30 last night:

12:00PM EST – Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls

Q1 – 12:00Scrimmage Game #1 today features a rematch from the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last May. You can understand why the schedule included these two teams – Derrick Rose was supposed to elevate the Bulls to ‘contender’ status, and the Nets have spent more money on players than...actually than nothing. They've spent more money on players than anyone has on anything. Ever.  However, the teams are a combined 19-34 this year, somehow failing to be a part of the playoff picture in a dismal Eastern Conference. But Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich are both back in the Bulls lineup (they’re still missing Luol Deng), so maybe they’ll continue their upward trend from their last 10 games (6-4). The Nets, meanwhile, get Kevin Garnett back in action, which is a major boost after losing their leading scorer/rebounder/pickup line artist/basketball player Brook Lopez for the season. Plus...DJ Augustin!

Can you tell I’m trying to convince myself it is worth sitting in front of the TV for this game?

Monday, December 23, 2013

ICYMI: There's A New Jetson

We now bring you the first part of a new and what we hope will be a season-long series: Did You See What Happened on "Inside the NBA on TNT?"

The Scene: December 19, 2013.  Halftime of the Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs.

What: Charles "Chuck" Barkley fails to correctly remember Elroy Jetson's name, instead calling him Leroy Jetson.

Our favorite things about this segment:

7 Things You Can Do In 0.3 Seconds

On Tuesday, December 17, Florida Golf Coast had a game-tying shot in double overtime negated. They were playing South Florida and were trailing 66-68 with 0.3 seconds left when Chase Fieler caught a full-court pass and made a shot as time expired. He got the shot off before the buzzer sounded, but the officials ruled that it didn’t count. See it go down here:

Apparently, there’s a little rule in college basketball that states: 

“In any period, when the game clock displays 10ths of seconds and play is to be resumed by a throw-in or a free throw when 3/10 (.3) of a second or less remains on the game clock, a player may not gain possession of the ball and try for a field goal. Such player can only score a field goal by means of a tap of a pass or of a missed free throw.”

It’s hard to blame Fieler for his failed attempt at “Just the Tip.” There’s not a whole lot you can do in 0.3 seconds, but there are at least 7 things you can do in that amount of time...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Welcome to the Party, Freshman!

If any of you went to a small, private college, you know that the term “babe” is not used often to describe the female population at your school. The “hotties” are few and far between, there are not plenty of fish in the sea, and the development of beer goggles is crucial to a proud and satisfying love life.

At a private school, it’s every man’s dream to walk into their frat house and say, “Damn. I just saw the hottest chick,” but those moments are reserved for those bastards at the larger state school two hours away. Hey—at least we got to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in loans though, amirite?

If you have any idea what I’m talking about, then you also know that there are few moments as captivating as that moment when that one hot freshman walks into the party you’re at on Friday night. The level of excitement in that moment is hard to describe, and each gentleman deals with it differently.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

So What's Up with Portland?

What if I told you that an anonymous NBA team was led by a center that spends the majority of this time taking midrange jumpers - to the tune of 12.5 per game. Then I told you that their second best player was a second-year, shoot-first point guard...who doesn't shoot all that well, checking at 41.2% for the year. The rest of their starters were journeymen, having spent time playing for numerous other NBA teams, not to mention teams abroad. Their bench was just one year removed from being - by FAR - the worst bench in the league. And their coach was seen as a numbers nerd, who had never had a winning season as an NBA head coach before. How many games would you guess this team would win? 32? 25? Enough to get the #3 seed in the East?

When taken separately, none of these facts seem to be strong indicators of NBA success. But somehow, in Portland this year, a wild and wacky collection of players has come BLAZING out of the gates (I crack myself up sometimes). At 21-4, they have the best record in the West to this point and sit behind only Indiana, who they recently beat, for the #1 overall seed in the league. More impressively, they are doing most of this work with solid team play rather than outstanding individual work, although Lamarcus Aldridge is a shoo-in for the all-star team if they keep performing like this. But how, exactly, did they get to this point?

Here's a hint: None of these guys helped.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What Can We Say About Kobe?

Kobe Bryant is 14th in NBA history in total regular season minutes played.  45,502, as of this writing.  He's 2nd in playoff minutes played, at 8,641, with only a playoff series or two separating him from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  That's 54,143 minutes played over his 17 years in the league.  That's almost 38 days of playing basketball, and that only counts game time.  He's amassed these totals despite being only 25th and 4th in total games played (regular season and playoffs), and 37th and 43rd in minutes per game (regular season and playoffs).

That, my friends, is longevity.  It is also the combined luxuries of frequently sharing the court with other great players and having a traditionally deep bench, allowing Kobe to get a bit more rest than teams that have leaned heavily on one superstar, like Kevin Durant's Thunder (16th and 12th in regular season and playoff minutes per game career averages) or Lebron James's anything (6th and 6th in minutes per game averages).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Madison Square Garden Rims Consider Lawsuit Against Bulls and Knickerbockers

“The misses would have been more tolerable if only more of them were air-balls, and there were a good number of those, but we were wearing most of those shots straight to the chin. Who needs these work conditions?” said one rim. Upon review of the film, Daniel Gibson was not present, despite suspicions.

At the halfway mark of the Wednesday night matchup between the Knicks and the Bulls, Chicago was shooting less than 30% from the field and New York was managing a measly 40%, though by comparison 40% was jaw-droppingly impressive. In a half-time interview with the rims from basketball’s most famous venue at Madison Square Garden, each identical twin confirmed, “it was a bloodbath out there.”

Monday, December 9, 2013

Some Studs, Some Duds, and Kevin Love's Moustache

We’re back, baby! That’s right, after a lengthy hiatus due to the off-season, other time commitments, and general apathy towards the sort of NBA “news” typically found between July and October (Al Jefferson thinks the Bobcats are “ready to take the next step!”), Volume Shooters is returning for a second season. This year, in addition to the quality writing (OK, just quality .gifs, but please bear with us here) you’ve come to expect from Paul, Jack and Brian, we have a veritable stable of new writers coming into the fold this year anxious to share their thoughts on the greatest professional league in the world. We will have them introduce themselves when they write their first pieces, but trust us when we say they all will have good insight into the season – despite what you may think from talking to them every day.

But onto the important stuff: this NBA season! Most teams are 16-18 games in so far, so most of the extremely small sample size results (the Sixers can win the East! The Nuggets will be favorites in the lottery!) have evened themselves out. Despite this, there have been some major surprises thus far, and people are starting to backtrack on some of their preseason predictions. So which of these trends are likely to continue and which will die out by season’s end? Considering I was correct on a full ONE AND A HALF out of FIVE bold predictions last year, I feel as though I’m uniquely qualified to answer that question. We will examine some early season trends, and grade them as True, Truthy, Falsey, and “Skip Bayless-certified.” So here we go…

Trend: Indiana is the best team in the league

In fact, they are so good it bores Lance Stephenson

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Josh McRoberts’ Facial Hair Incites Chris Bosh Shooting Spree

On the first of December, the year of our Lord 2013, the Miami Heat managed to best the Charlotte Bobcats by a measly single point 99-98. The game itself was closely contested with the Bobcats leading by a point at halftime. In the 4th quarter the strangest of sequences took place.

Charlotte started to pull away from the Heat and, by the end of the 3rd, were up a full 12 points over Miami. With just under 4:00 left in the game, Josh McRoberts took a scraggly-looking 6ft jumper to put the Charlotte Bobcats up 87-80. Chris Bosh, so incensed by the gross, patchy, I can only presume smelly, and roadside-possum-resembling beard of McRoberts, that he had not yet noticed, went on the most unlikely of shooting sprees.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Triumphant Return, and A New Bullet in Washington

I know.  I can hear what you’re thinking.  “It’s about damn time.”

We’re sorry we were away for so long. We didn’t write during the summer because, well, we didn’t think you’d want to hear about how a simulated NBA2K13 season turned out if we each controlled 10 teams.  And also we didn’t want to do that much work.

But why did it take this long for us to come back?  That’s up there with the great mysteries of the universe, right next to: why do athletic shorts' pockets always come out of the wash inside out, why did they only make three Lord of the Rings movies for those three books (but turned the novel The Hobbit into 3 movies), and what does the fox say?

Actually the reason is simple – we wanted to ensure two things ( only took 3 paragraphs before I made my first list of the season): (1) We were committed to continuing to produce worthwhile content, and (2) we had the writers and support to do so.  The truth is, we loved doing this last season, but three people producing 6 items a week was just too much.

Enter: our new cast of writers.  You know Paul, Brian, and me – if you’re new to blog (hooray!) we started this around Christmas last year and largely covered the NBA all the way through the finals in June when the San Antonio Spurs mysteriously lost to some other team.  I can’t remember who it was.

If you’re not new, allow me to introduce Will Roberts, Joel McMurry, Sean Cunningham, and Dane Callstrom.  One sentence each, here goes:

-       Will lives in Charlotte, hails from the Bay area, and likes throwing one hand passes out of bounds.

-       Joel lives in Chicago, generally enjoys watching athletic competitions on the television, and is apparently moving to Hawaii, giving us a correspondent able to cover the nighttime broadcasting on ESPN8 – The Ocho.

-       Sean lives, breathes, and occasionally burps basketball, is living in North Carolina, and plays basketball like a mix of healthy Danilo Gallinari and 45 year old Antoine Walker.

-       Dane lives in Kansas City, shaved his head after losing a bet, only to have his hair not really grow back, and joins our staff as a senior college basketball correspondent.

As per usual, I am now 400 words into a piece and haven’t really said anything of substance.  So here’s what I’ll say:

John Wall.

I’ll grant you that his assertions (“I’m the best point guard in the league.”) may be a little crazy, at least in an era with a healthy Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and Russell Westbrook (although Russell Westbrook prefers to play the “I’m a freak athlete” position instead of point guard).  But I legitimately think the list of point guards ahead of Wall stops there.  Wait, I forgot Steph Curry, and this blog loves him.  But Wall is top 5.

According to John Hollinger’s stats (on Tuesday, December 3, 2013), John Wall is 24th in the league in PER.  He’s 13th in Value Added.

Wall’s overall field goal percentage is just slightly lower than his career averages, but that should improve has he settles for fewer long 2-point jump shots.  Otherwise, compared to career averages, he’s shooting 8% better from beyond the arc, averaging 1 more assist per game (9.2 this season), averaging more steals and fewer turnovers, and shooting 6% better from the stripe.  His supporting cast is decent, but there’s no clear second option while Bradley Beal remains hurt.  And Wall knows this – why else would he grab a board and race down the floor in 2.72 seconds to go one on two (and still manage to score)?

A healthy Wall, with an eventually healthy Beal, will walk the Wizards into the playoffs.  But I’m going to be bolder – if those two are health for 50 games, the Wizards will grab a top 4 seed.  Before you go claw your eyes out, please note two things: First, Beal and Wall are likely both all stars this year if both remain healthy.  More importantly, as of this writing, at 9-9 the Wizards are sitting pretty at .500 on the season and are in third place in the Eastern Conference.  This won’t hold up, but with a healthy roster the Wizards could lay legitimate claim to the third spot in the East.  (Really, teams are battling for the 3 through 6 spots to avoid Indiana and Miami in round 1.)

Come find me in March.  I’ll either be proud and attending as many Wizards games as possible, or hiding inside, pretending the nation’s capitol doesn’t house an NBA team.

Welcome back!