15 June 2011

A report from Jimmer's workout in Salt Lake

Photo: Francisco Kjolseth - The Salt Lake Tribune

Cougarboard.com member cougsrule posted a detailed analysis of Jimmer's workout for the Jazz earlier today. Obviously he's a huge BYU fan, so take this for what it's worth, but he came away very impressed.

I had the opportunity today to watch the Kemba vs Jimmer workout at the Jazz Practice facility. Here is what I saw.

Conditioning: Jimmer was in the best shape of all those at the workout. I don't know if altitude had anything to do with it, but all the players looked winded, except for Jimmer. You could see the other players huffing and puffing and Jimmer was breathing effortlessly. Kemba was not as in as good of shape as Jimmer.

Court length speed: Kemba is very fast up and down the court. Jimmer is also very fast up and down the court, but Kemba is a little quicker, not much though.

Lateral speed: Actually Jimmer looked much quicker than Kemba in lateral movements. Not only that, but like his uncle Lee Taft has said he is very efficient with his motions. There is really no wasted motions in his movements. He was able to get by every one that guarded him and more importantly he was able to stay in front of everyone he guarded. Impressive.

Shooting: Jimmer is by far the better shooter. In fact it is not even close. There was one point where Jimmer went 36/40 from just inside the 3 point line. It was insane. It was swoosh, swoosh, swoosh....Not much rim contact. So impressive. Kemba didn't shoot well. In fact it was horrid at times. He did catch fire on some NBA threes during one drill where he went 7/10. Other than that I was calculating that he shot about 34% to 40% on the day. Jimmer shot 85% to 90% for the day. Huge difference. This was so evident.

Dribbling: Kemba is a fast dribbler, but his ball control isn't refined. He was very loose with his dribbling and I could see this being a problem for him at times. Jimmer's ball handling was excellent. His crossovers, quick step, and moves to the hoop where really impressive. He looked really quick and fast today.

Passing: Jimmer had some nice passes into the big men setting up layups. They were the kind of passes that made you say, "Wow"! Kemba passed well, but nothing overly impressive.

You can read more of his thoughts here.


Infographic on The Jimmer. In recognition of him working out for the Jazz today.

As I've already said, I think Jimmer will be just fine in the NBA. Deadly accuracy from range, mental toughness, a nice crossover, strength, agility and creativity to get to the rim and finish... it will work out for him. Whether or not he'll ever be an All-Star, I don't know, but I expect he'll have a better career than Adam Morrison.

13 June 2011

Post-mortem Finals thoughts

AP Photo

1. After watching LeBron disappear earlier in the series, I was convinced he'd be back with a vengeance. This was not the case. Whether it was Dallas' zone defense, Marion's attempts at shutting him down or some mental breakdown, LeBron never jumped to that high level great players have in big moments. A disappointment in every way.

2. The Mavericks are possibly the only example in NBA history of a championship team with only one bonafide star. Who is Dirk's second banana? Terry? Kidd? Barea? None of these guys are All-Stars, thought they each had their times when they played well. It's amazing.

3. And Dirk wasn't exactly a virtuoso out there this series. He shot 41% from the field, 36% from deep and snagged 9.7 boards per game. He did hit an amazing 97.8% of his free throw attempts, but he didn't up his game like many of the great stars have done on the league's biggest stage. Game 6 was won mostly thanks to his role players, as he only connected on 30% of his shots (1-7 from deep) and scored 21 points. That said, Dirk hit shots late, when they mattered. Just a weird NBA champion overall.

4. This is the last professional basketball we will see for a good long time. The draft will be fun to watch, and maybe we'll have some summer leagues (?), but if the players and owners can't figure this out soon, we may miss half of the 2011-2012 season or more. Glad it was a hard-fought Finals.

5. It appears Rick Carlisle will get the recognition he's been working for all these years. His coaching was superb the entire series, and the way he managed to get his offense working against the vaunted Miami defense was impressive. And that zone... just shut down Wade and LeBron from time to time. I bet everyone in the East will work on implementing a zone defense in the offseason.

6. Good for Mark Cuban. The guy is often annoying and over-the-top, but he cares about his team a lot more than most NBA owners do. For him to see a championship resulting from his years of hard work and stress was good. Wouldn't mind him being the owner of the Jazz.

That's about it. Time to focus on the draft, then the imminent arrival of college football and we're back into the swing of things. Happy summer, everyone!

10 June 2011

Jimmer and the draft

Here's one outsider's (non-Mormon, non-Utahn) perspective on Jimmer as he works out for different NBA teams in the days leading up to the draft.
As a Mormon who played at a school that suspended a top player for having sex, Fredette seems to have a squeaky clean image as a nice young boy who just wants to play basketball. But he's actually pretty brash, both for moments like this one and the way he plays on the court. At BYU, Jimmer was a gunner at BYU who took shots that once got Allen Iverson(notes) termed a ballhog who wouldn't ever learn to play within a team structure. The man plays with brass balls; nothing about his style suggests humility or aw-shucks wonder at getting the chance to play a child's game on a huge stage.
Good to see people are recognizing his mental toughness and confidence. If professional sports has taught us anything, it's that ability can be (and often is) trumped by the mind. Kwame Brown, LeBron James, Ryan Leaf, Karl Malone... all of these names bring to mind immensely talented players who fell short due to mental breakdowns.

I think Jimmer will be just fine in the NBA. Will he be the league MVP? Probably not, but he can shoot, handle the ball and pass well. The shooting alone should be enough to guarantee his spot on a roster for years to come, because who doesn't need someone who can hit 30-footers? If Eddie House can remain in the league, so can Jimmer.

And his craftiness around the rim and a quick crossover and first step will be enough to get him layups from time to time, in addition to preventing all but the best defenders in the league from just getting up in his chest and daring him to shoot.

Of course, considering the state of the NBA, we probably won't even have a 2011-2012 season, so seeing Jimmer on an NBA court won't happen for a good long while.

09 June 2011

How the DVR kills sports

I like Chuck Klosterman. While he's most well-known for his writing (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Eating a Dinosaur), I was introduced to him because he's a frequent guest on Bill Simmons' podcasts. He has a very analytical mind, and is constantly challenging Simmons' arguments and why Bill feels the way he does about things. It's kind of exhausting to listen to, and it bugs Simmons sometimes, but I like it.

Anyway, these two get along so well that when Simmons started Grantland.com, a place for columns and essays about sports and popular culture, he immediately grabbed Klosterman and made him a consulting editor.

Klosterman's first contribution to the site is titled "Space, Time and DVR Mechanics" and is about how watching sports has to be a live experience or it's pretty much terrible.
It doesn't matter how much I sequester myself or how thrilling the event is — if I know the game has finished, it's difficult to sustain authentic interest in what I've recorded. I inevitably fast-forward to the last two or three minutes (even when I have no vested interest in the outcome). Since I'm watching the game purely for entertainment, it shouldn't be any different from the real thing. It should, in fact, be better, just as it's more enjoyable to watch self-recorded episodes of Frontline or Storage Wars or any other traditional show that lives inside my DVR. In theory, I should be able to enjoy every single game I want to see, on my own schedule — all I need to do is avoid the Internet for a few hours and not glance at the ESPN ticker on public TV screens. But it never works: I get home, I start watching the recent past, and I find myself rushing toward the present.

So why is this?

It's a question I've asked myself a few times. With my NBA League Pass, I was able to watch games from previous days, but I rarely, if ever did. And if I did load up the previous night's games, I found myself fastforwarding a lot, like Klosterman mentions.

Read the rest of the column, you won't regret it.

If I can't grow up to be Bill Simmons, Chuck Klosterman is a fine second option.

Oh hey, Game 5 all of a sudden


Whoops, kinda checked out there for Games 2-4. To make up for it, here are my random thoughts on the series so far:

1. Where on earth did LeBron go in Game 4? He refused to attack the basket, settled for 3-pointers and didn't seem all that engaged on defense. I've defended him through thick and thin these last few years, but Game 4 was terrible. He shows up in any way, shape or form on Tuesday and the Heat win, go up 3 games to 1 and have a 99.9% chance of winning the series. Instead, LeBron seems entirely disinterested. I don't get it. I have read arguments that he's just tiring out... he's averaging 44 minutes per game in the playoffs, and getting virtually no rest in the second halves of these games.

2. You can't allow game-winning layups in the NBA. You especially cannot allow them in the Finals. If I'm coaching Miami, I send help as soon as Dirk makes a move towards the hoop in that situation. I don't think he's a good enough passer to find the open guy, and once he's barreling in there I think the help man can pick up a charge.

3. Can we stop anointing NBA players who have a good game while sick? Yes, Michael Jordan destroyed the Jazz in the Finals while he apparently was on his deathbed. And yes, Dirk had a fever with a cough on Tuesday. He shot 31% from the field, however. Yes, going 9-10 from the line and hauling in 11 boards was nice, but it wasn't exactly a superhuman performance.

4. Remember when I wrote that Miami's lack of an actual offensive system would hurt them eventually? I figured it would catch up to them sooner than now, but the day has arrived. Miami's continual fail over the last 5-10 minutes of the fourth quarter is killing them. If their offensive ineptitude isn't costing them games, it's letting the Mavs get into a position to potentially win.

We'll start with a basic play-by-play of Miami's offensive possessions over the final six minutes and 50 seconds (of Game 4):

Missed jumper, missed jumper, turnover, turnover, turnover, missed jumper, missed jumper, missed jumper, missed layup, two made free throws, missed jumper, one made free throw, dunk, missed jumper.

Bottom line, when it's crunch time, the Heat are falling apart. That's gotta change.

5. Dear Chris Bosh: It was nice of you to show up for the first half of Game 4. But would it kill you to score in the second? Dude was terrible, taking really long jumpers and turning it over in the fourth.

6. Dear Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers: Your jobs are to hit open 3-pointers. That is it. If you go a combined 2-8 from deep, you might as well not be there.

7. Deshawn Stevenson, what has happened to you? You shot a very meh 37% from deep during the regular season, but in the Finals you're hitting fully 56.3% of your attempts from out there. 56%! Your form is ugly and I never expect the ball to go in, but wow are you on fire.

8. Mr. Barea, congratulations on scoring 8 points on 3-9 shooting. This was by far your best showing in the Finals... apparently the Heat play better defense than the Lakers, eh?

9. Finally, way to step into the Wayback machine, Shawn Marion. You're averaging 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and a block per game, while shooting 52% from the field and 90.9% (!) from the line. You're playing much, much better than I expected you to. If the Mavs win this thing, they should give you an extra big piece of the Credit Pie.

Before Game 4, I believed the Heat were winning the series in 6. But now, with the incredible Shrinking LeBron/Miami offense and the continued great play of Marion, I honestly have no idea who will walk away with the trophy.

Let's say Miami in 7. I can't imagine the Heat will fail this much down the stretch for two of the next three games.

01 June 2011

Game 1 recap

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

This was eerily similar to Game 5 in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat played it close or were down most of the game, then turned it on and smashed their opponent into the ground late. And just like Chicago, Miami shot poorly, but their own defense kept them in the game to allow them a shot at closing it out strong.

Despite my belief that Dirk is unstoppable, he is apparently pretty stoppable. Sure, he scored 27, but he was only 7-18 (38%) from the field. He hit all 12 of his free throws, which was nice, but he couldn't match LeBron and Wade's flurry late.

Shawn Marion had a great overall game, but disappeared in the fourth. When Marion in probably your best player, you're not going to win.

And really, who else did anything for Dallas? Barea was 1-8. Jason Terry scored 12 points in the first half, but ended with those same 12 points on 3-10 shooting. Peja was 0-3.

Meanwhile, LeBron was consistently good, ending with 24/9/5 on 56% shooting. His thunderous dunk in the fourth quarter was just part of a bunch of back-breaking plays, but boy was it impressive.

Wade struggled at times, but finished with 22/10/6 on 47% shooting, really a testament to how well he played when they needed him to show up.

You'll notice those two combined for 18 rebounds. When your perimeter players are corralling boards like that, you're in a good spot. Bosh added nine, and Haslem and Miller combined for 11, helping Miami get a 46-36 edge in that category for the night. They also grabbed 16 rebounds to Dallas' 6, a major factor in any win, but especially in the Finals.

In all, I don't see what Dallas can do. Kidd played Wade fairly well defensively, but in the fourth, Dwyane showed he can rise up and shoot over him any time he wants. LeBron scored from everywhere, and Bosh owned the first half.

If the Heat can continue to force Dirk into quick shots and make him extremely uncomfortable, look for this to be a short series, as no one else will get it done for the Mavs.

It's amazing the turnaround the Heat have made in close games. During the regular season they dropped close contest after close contest, and were labeled as a team of chokers by many.

Now? When it counts? Wade and LeBron turn on the afterburners and bury people. Remember when I said in the playoffs it often comes down to who can score on this one possession? These two have somehow managed to figure out whose turn it is to rip the heart out of the other team, and there's no bickering about who gets the alpha male status. It's kind of amazing. For all intents and purposes, LeWade killed Dallas last night, not the two separate players.

Hubie Brown was on Mike and Mike this morning talking about how impressive the Heat's defense has been lately. Since getting blown out in Game 1 of the Chicago series, they've given up 75, 85, 93, 80 and 84 points. In today's NBA that's ridiculous. Dallas averaged almost 104 points per game against a good defensive squad in Oklahoma City, but the Heat just throttled them.

We're probably seeing the start of a Miami dynasty here, and while I'll probably be sick of these guys in two or three years, right now I'm a fan.