Russian Vodka Confuses Pargo, Resigns With Old Team

10 07 2009

Jannero Pargo has returned to the NBA after spending a season with Dynamo Moscow. He has signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bulls for $2 million.

Pargo’s last stint with the Bulls lasted three seasons. He played 102 games, while averaging 6.4 points, 2.1 assists and shooting 39% from the field overall. He really didn’t have a huge role on the Bulls. He would seldom play more than 20 minutes as he averaged 14.2 minutes per game during those three seasons.

He went on and played two seasons with the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. After that stretch, he must have felt that he deserved more than what was being offered to him so he jumped the pond to Russia.

Pargo is a very one-dimensional player. His numbers per 36 minutes are almost identical throughout the years.  If he’s out on the court for 36 minutes, he’ll give you 15.2 points but will jack up 15 shots.

Some media outlets are calling him Ben Gordon light, which I don’t exactly agree with. Both are undersized gunners best suited to play 2 guard. Neither can play a lick of defense. Pargo’s a little more careful with the ball than Gordon is but not by much. Pargo’s career assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.74 per 36 minutes while Gordon’s is 1.21. But Gordon is a much more efficient scorer with a 55.4% true shooting percentage (which accounts for 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free throws), Pargo comes in at 47.8%.

So both are looking to jack up shots but the results are much different. Plus, Pargo does not command defenders’ respect like Gordon does.  And that makes a huge difference in the gameplanning process.

Given the Bulls’ current roster, I’m perplexed by why they would throw $2 million to add another undersized guard. And this one can’t even guard larger players like Kirk Hinrich can. 

The inherent problem with having Ben Gordon on the Bulls was that he was a nightmare on defense. The Bulls would basically concede points with Gordon on D, although they would try to mask his deficiency by putting him on the opposing point guard.

I assume that Hinrich (if they keep him), will keep most of the backup PG duties. Pargo simply does not have the playmaking prowess of an NBA point guard. So if Pargo gets into the rotation, he will pose all the same problems that Gordon did. If he is paired with Derrick Rose, Pargo cannot adequately defend 2 guards without becoming a huge liability. So the only backcourt pairing that’s adequate defensively is when Rose is off the floor — Pargo on the PG, Hinrich on the SG.

Isn’t this defensive liability Joe Dumars’ problem now?

Denver Gives Birdman Money For Haircut

8 07 2009

The Denver Nuggets have signed Chris Andersen to a five-year deal. His contract is reportedly worth up to $26 million with incentives.

The Birdman was money for the Nuggets during the playoffs. He was very active on both the offensive and defensive boards. He’s a good finisher — especially with alleyoops. Andersen’s athleticism, length, height and ever-improving timing makes him an intimidating weakside shotblocker. And the Nuggets have missed this type of presence since Marcus Camby left the team.

Andersen is coming off of a career year (which doesn’t say too much). He played 20.6 minutes a game while tallying 6.4 points, and career highs of 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. His numbers were basically identical during the playoffs.

His statistics don’t scream “five-year contract.” But what he lacks quantitatively, he makes up for in other areas.  His weakside defensive is a perfect foil to Kenyon Martin’s aggressive man-to-man D. Andersen’s style is also a great change up from the physical Nene Hilario.

The Nuggets must really want to shore up their reserves in the eyes of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups because there’s no other reason to sign a 31-year-old rotation player to a long-term deal.

I have to think that much of this is marketing-driven. Pan shots of the Denver crowd during the playoffs were telling. They love the Birdman in Denver. Almost ever kid they showed had a goofy, gelled-up mohawk going on. Let them have cake because the Birdman is here to stay.

Lazar Hayward, 2010 NBA First Rounder?

7 07 2009

A 2010 NBA mock draft has Lazar Hayward, the senior Marquette forward, picked late in the first round.

I’m a big Lazar fan but I’m equally surprised to see him getting so much respect. The guy’s got the physical tools — he was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school. But his tremendous heart, rebounding savvy and sweet stroke during the last three years was overshadowed by the spectacular play of the Three Amigos (Jerel McNeal, Dominic James and Wesley Matthews).

Those players have now graduated and are fighting for spots on various NBA teams. And now Lazar is pulling a Macaulay Culkin.  He’s alone and coming into his own, making USA Basketball’s World University Games team.  His challenge next season will be maintaining highly-productive numbers with a very inexperienced Marquette squad.

If Jerel McNeal, universally-lauded for his collegiate play, couldn’t get a team to bite on a no-strings-attached 2nd round draft pick, I highly doubt Lazar can get himself selected in the first round.

The names and orders on NBA mock drafts are completely different before and after the NCAA basketball season.  At least a dozen college ballers you’ve never heard of will play their way onto that list, meaning that some of those names will drop off.

For example: before UNC’s Ed Davis physically dominated in the paint during the Final Four, do you think he was a consensus top 5 pick?

All that to say, I think it’ll be tough for Lazar to keep his footing.  I’ll be rooting for him though.

Vinsanity Joins the Light Show

26 06 2009

Are you ready for a light show that will eclipse Disney’s?

The New Jersey Nets’ Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson have been traded to the Orlando Magic for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee.

You knew the Magic were going to move Rafer.  One: Jameer Nelson, their injured All-Star point guard, will be 100% healthy on opening day.  Two: if the tail-end of the Finals were any indication, Rafer would have gotten absolutely no burn next season had they kept him.  Three: Rafer’s a solid veteran rotation player with an expiring contract.  But I did not expect they would get Vince-freakin’-Carter.

If the Magic are able to lock Hedo Turkoglu, can you imagine how much firepower their starting five will have?

Nelson will be running the offense.  Vince and Rashard Lewis will be near the wings. And Dwight Howard would lock down the paint.  This is a recipe for success especially if Dwight Howard develops some semblance of a post-game or at least a countermove.

A major acquisition by a team fresh off a Finals berth bucks the recent trend.  It is a bold move by Magic GM Otis Smith but I think it’s ingenious.

Generally, Finals teams sit on their rosters during the next summer.  They may pick up a player with a mid-level contract but they have not made any huge splashes. After their recent Finals appearances, the Heat, Mavericks, Spurs, Cavs, Celtics and Lakers all sat on their hands during the summer.  With the exception of the Lakers, none of the other teams really had enough potential to get better with their transactional inertia.

Losing Courtney Lee is a marginal loss because Mickael Pietrus is still around to provide solid defense and can hit system-created 3-pointers.  Losing Tony Battie is also a marginal loss because of Marcin Gortat’s wonderfully-adequate defense and rebounding.

It’s a huge win for everyone on the Magic and it finally gives Vince Carter a real opportunity to silence his doubters.  He can follow in the footsteps of Kevin Garnett and shed the erroneous “loser” label like a Jonas Brother stepping into a middle school.  I’ve got my Mickey Mouse ears on and I’m ready to go.

Meddling NBA Owners

6 03 2009
I like long walks on the beach and yelling.  Lots of it.

I like long walks on the beach and yelling. Lots of it.

A few days ago, the Dallas Mavericks (36-24)  lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder (15-45).

The Thunder, playing without Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, rocked the Mavs on their way to a 96-87 win.  The Thunder were only up by four points at the half and then they came out and outscored the Mavs 31-to-15 in the third quarter.

Mark Cuban, the owner of the Mavericks, blamed it on a lack of effort and energy. 

It’s only one game, which I keep reminding myself of but let’s just say I wasn’t happy with our preparation, execution or effort. Not only did it look like we had no idea what we were doing, but we did it without effort. The effort and energy, on both sides of the ball, by each player will decide their future with the Mavericks.

If each player can’t take the personal initiative to make every game important and play like it, I don’t see them being here next season

Looks like the NBA’s most meddlesome owner is trying the tough love approach.  But since his players get chewed out for displaying the wrong on-court behavior, shouldn’t Cuban be accountable for his distracting just-off-court antics?

According to a 2006 statement, Dirk Nowitzki isn’t ready to give Cuban the green light:

Do I think it’s a bit much sometimes? Yeah. He’s got to learn how to control himself as well as the players do. We can’t lose our temper all the time on the court or off the court, and I think he’s got to learn that, too. He’s got to improve in that area and not yell at the officials the whole game. I don’t think that helps us.

We all know what Mark brings to the team, how he supports us. We live with who he is, and we love him that way. But do I think it’s good for us always? No.

But does Cuban really affect the on-court performance on his players?  The man bought a majority share of the Dallas Mavericks effective January 20, 2000.  Since the 2000-2001 season, the Mavericks have gone 495 and 222 — they won 69% of their games.

But why is it that Mark Cuban is generally thought of as the driving force behind the Maverick’s resurgence?  Shouldn’t Don Nelson get most of the credit for establishing the Mavs as a perennial playoff squad?

After all, Dallas’ record improved as soon as Nelson was hired; it didn’t wait until Cuban showed up.

Dallas Mavericks record with Nelson on-board:
’97-’98 | 16-50 (24%) – replaces Cleamons midseason
’98-’99 | 19-31 (38%)
’99-’00 | 40-42 (49%)
’00-’01 | 53-29 (65%) – Cuban buys majority share
’01-’02 | 57-25 (70%)
’02-’03 | 60-22 (73%)
’03-’04 | 52-30 (63%) 
’04-’05 | 42-22 (66%) – replaced midseason

Pre-Cuban, Don Nelson was both the head coach and the acting general manager. He was responsible for drafting Dirk Nowitzki and he also acquired Steve Nash.

If it weren’t for a 4-1 first-round playoff loss to the Sacramento Kings, escalated by growing tensions between coach and front-office, Nelson should still be the coach of the Mavericks.

Mark Cuban isn’t afraid to throw his money around.  No one can deny that.  The Mavericks have, unarguably, the most luxurious locker room and ancillary facilities known to the NBA.  But is Cuban really that relevant?


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