Even the ALDLAND Podcast is not immune from Lebron discussion, and so we start off the episode with that very topic. Where will he go? Why will he go there? All these questions and more are discussed. But don’t worry, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, we haven’t forgot about you and also predict your landing destinations. Not to be left out, soccer makes its presence felt in this edition of the ALDLAND Podcast as the World Cup final gets a healthy preview.


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Families that play together (periodically) win together: NBA champions edition

Following the San Antonio Spurs’ dominant win over the Miami Heat in the NBA finals, FiveThirtyEight decided to examine whether the popular narrative about the winners and losers– that the Spurs played a more complete, team-oriented style of basketball the Heat, increasingly reliant on their solitary superstar, could not combat– was borne out in the numbers. They did this by comparing the relative usage rates (USG%) of the teams’ lineups. Plotting the difference in USG% between each team’s “top” player, the one who “used” the most possessions to either shoot, be fouled, or commit a turnover, and each successive player, should show how well the team spread the ball around. A team that did a good job of sharing the ball should plot a flatter line than a team that did not. FiveThirtyEight’s chart supported the popular narrative: San Antonio’s line was flatter than Miami’s, and the league average, while Miami’s line topped both.

As FiveThirtyEight pointed out, this isn’t how NBA championships are supposed to be won. As much as the Heat’s assemblage of its “big three” was seen as groundbreaking, it fit the narrative that grew out of Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers (and certainly existed before Phil Jackson coached both of those teams to multiple championships) that the NBA was a star-driven league, and the way to win championships was to have a superstar. The Heat simply presented as an extreme version of that reality, with little in the way of supporting cast members.

FiveThirtyEight only compared this year’s teams, but the article made me wonder how the last NBA champions who deviated from the star-heavy model– the Detroit Pistons team that won it all exactly ten years ago amidst a solid run– compared statistically to this year’s Spurs.

I tallied the numbers using Basketball-Reference‘s team playoff data, sorted by USG%. Before doing so, though, I made an executive decision to omit data from players who appeared in fewer than ten playoff games that year, which swept out Austin Daye (one game for the 2014 Spurs) and Darko Milicic (eight games for the 2004 Pistons). The resulting plot lines for each team are essentially equally flat:

nbachampusagechartFor perspective, keep in mind where the Spurs’ line– red on my chart, black on the one above– is situated relative to the rest of the (2014) league. It seems these Spurs and those Pistons were on the same page when it came to playing team-oriented basketball. Meanwhile, Miami is discussing adding Carmelo Anthony for next season. Anthony has been in the top ten in the league for USG% in nine of the past ten years.


Coaching changes are happening everywhere these days, and by everywhere we mean in Detroit and San Francisco or Oakland or wherever the heck Golden State is. And since they are happening, ALDLAND is going to talk about them. But we haven’t forgot college hoops, as we touch on the biggest story of 2014, coming out of New Haven, CT. Come for the basketball, stay for the soccer, which is also here in this podcast too.


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A very special edition of the ALDLAND podcast this week as blog founder AD joins us to talk NBA free agency and the MLB all-star game. Marcus and I revisit some of our MLB picks from the start of the season and AD makes his own.


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The ALDLAND Podcast might have taken two weeks off, but it is back and better than ever. Listen to your favorite cohost get all melodramatic about the NBA Draft before moving on to actual NBA discussion as we recap the exciting NBA Finals. Also featured is discussion of Darren Rovell’s interesting take on the Aaron Hernandez situation. Last, but not least, I unveil my innovative compromise to the Washington Redskins name situation.


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Rasheed Wallace, perhaps the NBA’s best character, has again retired

ESPN New York reports:

Veteran forward Rasheed Wallace has retired from pro basketball for the second time, the New York Knicks announced Wednesday.

Wallace played in 21 games this season with the Knicks but had missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his right foot.

A first-round draft pick in 1995, Wallace played 15 seasons in the NBA and won a title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. He retired in 2010 after one season with the Celtics in which the team lost to the Lakers in the Finals. Wallace came out of retirement to sign with the Knicks in October.

He finishes his career with averages of 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. The four-time All-Star has been known as a volatile player and finishes as the all-time leader in technical fouls with 304.

About a million things could be written about Sheed, but none of them would be as interesting, engaging, or fun as Sheed himself. (E.g., this Grantland profile.) Instead, let’s just say that Sheed played hard, most of the time, and Sheed don’t lie, all of the time.

Hollywood Nights: The Detroit Pistons’ Season in One Play

As Marcus points out, the image of the next generation of Lob City fans, who will know the Lakers as little more than middling renters of their team’s arena, is heartening.


Hollywood Nights: Generally, No man is an Island
Hollywood Nights: No World Peace in the Windy City

Hollywood (Disco) Nights: A Hero at the Forum

Hollywood Nights: A Magic Haiku

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

Zach Lowe on Tayshaun in Memphis

Grantland’s Zach Lowe is a fairly technical NBA observer, and in his latest league rundown, he twice mentions the Grizzlies and their newest acquisition, Tayshaun Prince.

He first discusses the issue of spacing, a topic that’s come up here and elsewhere in the context of the Prince trade:

Prince is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range, and he’s been especially good from the corners, but the notion that he would help Memphis loosen its spacing just a tick hasn’t played out yet. Prince has been operating a lot in the elbow area, often in a two-man game with Marc Gasol, and when he does spot up, he’s often a step inside the 3-point arc. And while he has shot well from deep, Prince needs time to lock and load, which means he’ll often pump-fake and take a step inside the line against aggressive closeouts. There’s a reason he barely attempts one 3 per game. But let’s give this new Grizz team some time to jell.

He has more to say about Prince and his new team later in the article:

Rudy Gay wasn’t exactly a knock-down 3-point shooter in Memphis, either, and when you watch the new Grizz, you can see how the front office might have envisioned Prince being more polished at all the cuts and screens and quick-decision passes inside the arc through which Memphis has long tried to manufacture spacing. Prince and Gasol have shown potential in a two-man game around the left elbow, and Prince can run a side pick-and-roll in a pinch.

Prince can also post up, with Gasol taking on Greg Monroe’s old role as Prince’s entry passer on the right side of the floor. And here’s a new wrinkle for Memphis: After delivering that entry pass, Gasol will amble across the foul line and to the left side of the floor, as if he’s clearing the right side for Prince to work. Zach Randolph will already be stationed on the left block, Gasol’s apparent destination, but as Gasol gets into the paint, Randolph will suddenly cut right around him, so that the two crisscross in the paint. It works as a kind of (legal) moving screen for Z-Bo, whom Prince can hit in the post for a close-range shot.

Memphis’s assist rate is up since the trade, but they started the season with three weeks of high-assist play that proved a blip.

As a native Michigander, I always will love the 2004-era Pistons, and if one of the members of that team was going to come and join the Grizzlies, I think Prince is the best option in 2013. Any team would love to add a Chauncey Billups or Rasheed Wallace (yes really), of course, but neither of those guys would fill a need for Memphis at this time. On the other side of the coin, Antonio McDyess is retired, Ben Wallace has washed out, and the once-tireless Rip Hamilton seemingly has become tired of being a great teammate.

Prince really is a perfect fit for this Grizz squad. He remains a very viable player in his eleventh year in the league, and he carries a very complimentary set of assets that would benefit any team on both ends of the court. As far as his personality, let’s just say most people are shocked when they remember he went to Kentucky. (Of course, some were somewhat belatedly shocked to learn of his recent transfer to Memphis.)

Barring any off-court distractions, Prince’s presence is going to fit right in and make these Grizzlies fun to watch down the stretch this season.

[Cross-posted from Grizzly Bear Blues. -Ed.]

How bad are the Detroit Pistons?

Nevermind the score or the number of empty seats at The Palace, it’s the occupied seats that were of note in last night’s Mavericks-Pistons game; specifically, two seats on the Dallas bench. I have yet to read any explanation of who these guys are, but apparently professional basketball in Southeast Michigan has become such a joke that two guys who look like Jersey Shore hobos can sit in the middle of the visitors’ bench without a second look from former Detroit coach/current Dallas coach/current Jim Carey lookalike Rick Carlisle. On the other hand, maybe it’s part of some sort of fan-player reintegration following the 2004 brawl with the Pacers. The Pistons should be demoted to the And1 Mixtape Tour and exchanged for a starting five of Half Man Half Amazing, Skip 2 My Lou, The Professor, Escalade, and Sik Wit It, with player-coach Main Event coming off the bench.

(HT: Deadspin)

(UPDATE: Deadspin has identified the jabronies as a suburban Detroit “fashion entrepreneur” and his friend.)