Would JR Smith Play Defense In San Antonio?

24 06 2008

I’ve been on countless teams in my life. Teams at work, teams for school or teams to volunteer. Athletic teams or scholastic teams. You name it and I’ve most likely participated in it.

If I could take one aspect from my experience and apply it to team-building, it would be this: never make your teams homogeneous. Even if only one person is different, it would be a mistake if everyone’s the same.

It’s better to have a different perspective on a team. Switching it up puts a different spin on the ball.

While developing their new mini-van, would Ford brainstorm only with suburban soccer moms? No.

Would Miller Brewing recruit only college kids from Milwaukee? No.

Would the US Congress allow only upper-class, white men to serve as representatives? Wait a second…

JR Smith, the explosive prep-to-pro 2 guard, will become a free agent this summer. There are rumblings that San Antonio is interested in him. The thought of this signing has been dismissed by many.

It’s really not that crazy. I’m not talking about USA men’s soccer qualifying for Beijing.

Gregg Popovich has drawn outside of the lines before. He’s brought disagreeable personalities into the Spurs locker room before. Remember Cherokee Parks?

Remember when Popovich brought Stephen Jackson? Captain Jack helped Popovich to his second ring and his first 60-win season.

Granted, Jackson didn’t get his cuckoo label until he left San Antonio but his game is somewhat similar.

Both Jackson and Smith are athletic guards that can hit the long range J. Smith can attack the basket but has shown hesitancy to do so at times which is similar to a young Stephen Jackson.

They are decidedly different though. Although a lot of people rag on Jackson, I’m a fan. People once argued that he was the Spurs’ best defender — this was a team featuring Bruce Bowen, Manu Ginobili (in acclimation phase) and a still-formidable Steve Smith on the roster. JR Smith, on the other hand, plays what my friend likes to call “matador defense.” He jumps around with a lot of arm movement but then manages to get out of the way at the last second.

Another key difference is locker room presence. Jackson, like Rasheed Wallace, does not have a good relationship with the media. But by all accounts, including coaches Don Nelson and Rick Carlisle, he’s a great guy to have on your team. The same has not been said for JR Smith.

It’s interesting to note that Smith is 22 years old which is the same age Jackson was when he joined the Spurs. Although Smith has more professional years under his belt, Popovich would be dealing with a young man in the same emotional level of development.

Smith is a more efficient, if not better, scorer than Jackson was at this age. Smith shoots 46.1% from the field and 40.3% from three. Before he joined the Spurs, Jackson shot 42.5% from the field and 33.5% from three.

Jackson has always intrigued me because he can fit in a defensive system (Spurs) and flourish in an offensive system (Warriors). JR Smith has shown that he can explode in the Nuggets’ offense. Can he be the next Stephen Jackson?


On the Road Back Home

14 05 2008

Interestingly enough, Manu Ginobili seems to have better statistical showings on road games. 

At home numbers:
17.9 points while shooting 44.9% from the field, 4.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists

On the road numbers:
21.0 points while shooting 47.0% from the field, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists

Tim Duncan’s only home-to-road game difference shows up in point production: 18.3 points at home and 20.3 on the road.

None of the other notable Spurs showed drastic home-to-road statistical differences.

This is really inconclusive to me.  On home-cooking, the Spurs can better execute their defense-first gameplan.  They are a tremendous home-court team so a slow-paced game with an insistence on ball-control and good shots is just what the doctor ordered. 

During these playoffs, when the Spurs lose, they lose big.  And when they win, it’s always an entertaining game.  Game 6 in San Antonio is going to be great.

Beno Udrih’s Internship Is Over

3 03 2008


Beno Udrih has a very good agent. He sets Udrih up with an internship under Gregg Popovich and Mr. Longoria. Udrih hangs around long enough to pick the brains of Jacque Vaughn, Brent Barry and Michael Finley. Not to mention getting free San Antonio courtside seats and two complimentary championship rings.

Udrih’s agent then helps him sign with Sacramento to learn the offense for half a season. As soon as Sactown unloads Mike Bibby, Udrih slips his Starter jacket on and starts to ball.

In the eight games since the Bibby trade and Beno Udrih has doubled his career averages. The Slovenian Slinger has averaged 15.4 points, 6.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds in 37 minutes during that time span.

Udrih definitely doesn’t make up for Mike Bibby but he’s well on his way to doing so. He’s also only 25 and I’m pretty sure they’re only paying him €2 a year — which converts to about $35,000. He’s a lot cheaper than Mike Bibby and he can definitely play.

Look for Udrih to be have a Derek Harper-type career. They both defend and seemingly have a good handle on the game. They seem to take the same kind of shots but Udrih is a much better shooter from beyond the arc.

It’s a shame the Spurs didn’t keep him. I definitely understand that he and Tony Parker are the same age and play the same position which gave Udrih a bit of cabin fever. I’m just not understanding why Vaughn was the Spurs’ backup point guard while Udrih rode the bench.

But I guess that’s why I’m in health care and not in a NBA front office. Damn.

Senior Citizens Unite!

9 02 2008


Wiry, old NBA veterans only get signed by championship contenders nowadays.

Need some evidence? Take the fact that the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics were all allegedly making a play on a 12-year pro who has averaged only 7 points and 4 assists while playing roughly 20 minutes in the last two seasons.

Given the circumstances, has the Mighty Mouse made the right move in signing with the Spurs? Tony Parker is battling injury problems. With Brent Barry also injured, Jacque Vaughn and Manu Ginobili have been left with the keys to the offense. Manu is naturally a swingman and his valuable aggressiveness is limited when he starts the offense from the top of the key. Vaughn is a solid defender and knows the Spurs offense but he hasn’t scored since his second child was born.

Stoudamire gives the Spurs a left-handed point guard that can hit the long ball and stretch the court for Timmy Duncan. Unfortunately, if they had held onto Beno Udrih, they would not have encountered this problem.

Let’s run through the other places Stoudamire could have landed on.

In Cleveland, Stoudamire would have teamed up with another Damon. Interestingly enough, Damon Stoudamire’s game is exactly what Damon Jones’ game is at this point in their careers. Stoudamire is a little more versatile but certainly only marginally. He is definitely not enough of an upgrade to throw a couple million at for the year.

The Phoenix Suns would not have improved with Stoudamire. He would have been sipping lemonade during games with Sean Marks and Alando Tucker.

The team in Dallas does not need Stoudamire unless they are truly looking to move Devin Harris. It’s crowded enough at the point with Harris, Jason Terry and the ubiquitous Jose Barea. Besides, if Mark Cuban wants to make his team older, he would go with a crazier move like Latrell Sprewell.

The Boston Celtics would have made sense for Stoudamire. Going to the City on the Hill would not only have helped the 5’10” guard’s stature, it would have given him an opportunity to start. Regardless of how much TNT in-game commentators love Rajon Rondo, I highly doubt the Celtics are in love with him. The man is turnover prone, he cannot hit a jump shot and, unlike Jacque Vaughn, he has no kids to show for himself.

In Stoudamire’s first three games with the Spurs, his minutes have been hovering around 20 minutes. That will bump up just a bit until Tony Parker returns. But once TP returns, Stoudamire will essentially be getting free San Antonio court-side seats. Holla, Jared Sichting!