The Clippers are on a winning streak that’s impossible to ignore

It’s true. Lob City has won fifteen straight games, and they haven’t even been close. The biggest consequence? NBA analysts are running out of things to write about them. Everyone worked through the novelty of LAC being good last season, along with every criticism and critique of Donald Sterling, Clipper Darrell, and Vincent “Vinny” Del Degro. After the fifteenth-consecutive noncompetitive win, what’s there to say?

ESPN’s J.A. Adande has an idea: winning easy actually is a bad thing for the Clippers. I mean cheese and potatoes you guise! What are these guys supposed to do?? They tried not winning for, oh, forty years or so, and that didn’t work out. Then they decided to draft Blake Griffin, had Chris Paul thrust upon them, and tried winning for a change, and now you’re saying that’s bad too? These guys just can’t win. Err…

But don’t worry, because Adonde’s found a silver lining to this dark cloud of endless, dominating victories:

But for every flaw the Clippers have, it’s easy to point out areas in which they can get even better.

Really easy, in fact. He later noted that the first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club.

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Let’s get statistical: Playing the NBA Draft Lottery

The NBA Draft Lottery is the ping-pong-ball-centered game the league plays with the four worst teams from the previous season to determine the order of selections for the next player draft. It’s basically beruit/beer pong with millions of dollars instead of Keystone Light, and, like timid lightweights, the winner doesn’t want to stay on the table for the next round.

The positions are selected in descending order, and the number of balls a team has in the hopper is inversely proportioned to how well the team finished the prior season. The ostensible idea is to give the last-place team the best shot of getting the first overall pick (i.e., the best chance at improving its lot in the future). Why not just award the worst team the first pick as a rule? I suppose the idea is to avoid the sort of tanking that allegedly is a problem in the NFL, where such a rule is in effect. Injecting an element of chance means it’s harder to game the system in a way that’s detrimental to the game– losing on purpose– although it can’t fully do away with the incentive to lose so long as it maintains its rehabilitative goal.

This year, the Charlotte Bobcats had the worst season in NBA history. The New Orleans Hornets, recently late of league ownership, merely had the fourth worst of the 2011-2012 season. This year’s draft lottery thus was arranged with the stated goal of giving the Bobcats the best shot at the first pick and the Hornets the worst.

Of course, once everyone saw that the Hornets would be in the mix for this year’s draft lottery, the conspiracy theorists, folk singers of my literary heart, rolled out their obvious prediction: the league was going to rig the lottery so that the Hornets got the top pick. Keep reading…

LeBron James is the 2011-2012 MVP, and rightly so

Back in February, I asserted that LeBron James was the best basketball player ever, and at that point, he was. He had at that point, by a comfortable margin, a higher player efficiency rating than any player ever had achieved. (General explanation of PER in the previous post; full explanation here.) Although he regressed from 32.8 to 30.74 to finish the season, it still was good enough to be the tenth best season ever by an individual player. In so doing, James knocked David Robinson out of the top ten, meaning that James (4, 9, 10), Wilt Chamberlain (1, 2, 5), and Michael Jordan (3, 6, 7, 8) collectively turned in the ten best seasons of professional basketball ever played.

James’ competitors for the MVP this year weren’t even close to him:

Rank Player PER
1. LeBron James 30.74
2. Chris Paul 27.04
3. Dwayne Wade 26.31
4. Kevin Durant 26.20
5. Kevin Love 25.36
6. Dwight Howard 24.24
7. Blake Griffin 23.43
8. Derrick Rose 23.02
9. Russell Westbrook 22.94
9. Andrew Bynum 22.94

For comparison, Paul is the only other player whose 2011-12 charted on the top 100 all time— at #79.

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Previously
LeBron James is the best professional basketball player ever

Hollywood (Disco) Nights: A Hero at the Forum

Who was that masked man on the floor at the FedEx Forum in Memphis for games five and seven of the Clippers-Grizzlies series? The internet can’t figure it out, although BaconSports and SB Nation have some gooddecent pictures and GIFs.

What we do know is that his use of the towel and mask (and, apparently, the Force) was not enough to will his team to competency in a home game seven. A full four quarters of competency is all it would have taken for these Grizzlies to win– even sweep– this series. Instead, they made like Lebron James and mailed in the fourth quarter each time before totally skipping game seven.

The Clippers now limp down to San Antonio, where Pop’s Geriatrics are unlikely to be interested or flapped by LAC’s nonsense, and injuries are likely to curtail any traditional advantages Paul and Blake Griffin could have exerted over the Spurs.

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Related
Raiford’s Hollywood Disco is back on the market – Memphis Business Journal

Previously
Hollywood Nights: A Magic Haiku
Hollywood Nights: Z-Bo and Bishop Don The Magic Juan

Upset Monday

As hoped for here on this site, Robert Griffin III became Baylor University’s first Heisman Trophy winner on Saturday night. Griffin was the clear choice for the award, in my mind, and the voters agreed.

No sooner had the Kentucky Wildcats become the top team in the basketball land then they went into Bloomington and fell to the unranked Hoosiers on a last-second three pointer. Unranked Michigan State went out west and beat a ranked Gonzaga team at their place, and unranked Murray State took down #20 Memphis on the road to go to 10-0 on the road.

In the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, and Denver Tebows held serve this weekend, doing what they’ve been doing the way they’ve been doing it all year. Despite a defense stripped by injuries and a suspension, the Lions held on to go to 2-0 on the year against division foe  Minnesota, a game Detroit had to have.

In the nascent NBA, the nixed Chris Paul trade still is on hold despite early reports that the Hornets, Lakers, and Rockets had reworked the deal. As I write this, the latest from ESPN’s “sources” is that the Los Angeles Clippers have moved onto Paul’s shortlist of acceptable destinations behind the Lakers and New York Knickerbockers.

The emerging offseason baseball story is NL MVP Ryan Braun’s positive PED test, but fans should be aware that Manny Ramirez, who I assumed was totally dunzo, may be back in baseball in the upcoming season.

The sum total of these and other stories lead me to believe that December is mere prelude to 2012’s sportspocalypse.

Programming note: ALDLAND’s live coverage of the biggest events in sports will continue in the coming weeks with NHL hockey and college football bowl games. Related, a recap of Michigan’s win over Ohio State in Ann Arbor will not run because I only got one good picture and it was a couple weeks ago and everybody knows what happened, and my only real insights on the experience were that there were more Nebraska fans in the Big House the week before than OSU fans that day and that people still have and are drinking Four Loko. Here’s the picture:

C-3P-No: Chris Paul, David Stern, the fourth wall, and McCulloch v. Maryland

In a matter of hours last night, the following events occurred, in sequence, beginning around 8:00 Eastern:

  1. The Hornets, Rockets, and Lakers agree to a trade that would send Chris Paul (aka CP3) to Los Angeles, Lamar Odom, Louis Scola, Kevin Martin, and Goran Dragic to New Orleans, and Pau Gasol to Houston. Or something like that.
  2. The NBA and the re-formed players’ association finalize the new collective bargaining agreement, officially ending the lockout.
  3. David Stern, on behalf of the league, nullified the trade for “basketball reasons.”

In trying to understand what happened here, citing “basketball reasons” is pretty unhelpful. I suppose it’s preferable to “bocce ball reasons,” but still. Stern ostensibly was acting on behalf of small-market owners, including Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert, who objected to the deal. What he won’t tell you in this conversation, but everyone else knows, is that the league owns the Hornets. Keep reading…