Tanking in the NBA

In a recent chat, ESPN’s Chad Ford supported the idea of tanking (with regard to the Pacers).

The NBA gives them an incentive to do so. If tanking now gives me the chance to win MORE games next year, of course you do it. And I think the fans understand. What do you think Pacers fans want? Another three or four meaningless wins in late March/April or John Wall or Evan Turner?

I don’t disagree with Ford with respect to a team tanking to improve draft position. My problem is with the lottery rules that encourage teams to throw games.

We shouldn’t be rewarding ineptitude. All non-playoff teams should have an equal chance to land the top pick. Maybe the top 6-7 picks are randomly selected and the remaining picks are assigned starting with the worst record. Better yet, the entire lottery should be randomized. Then there would be no incentive to lose.

I suppose fans understand why teams tank, and would rather have John Wall or Evan Turner than a few meaningless wins in March or April, but a dad doesn’t want to take his kid to a game to watch their favorite team try to lose.

It’s just uncouth.

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Denard Span hits own mother with line drive

Twins’ outfielder Denard Span better get his mom a decent Mother’s Day gift this year after this incident (from ESPN.com):

Minnesota Twins outfielder Denard Span hit a foul ball that struck his mother in the chest in the first inning of Wednesday’s spring training game against the New York Yankees.

Wanda Wilson was wearing a Span jersey and sitting with about 20 family members and friends near the third-base dugout. Span, batting leadoff, took a defensive swing against Yankees starter Phil Hughes in the first inning and hit a liner right at her in the box seats.

A stunned Span sprinted from the batters’ box to the stands and stayed with his mother while paramedics treated her. The split-squad game was delayed for a few minutes as she was taken to first aid, and the Twins said she was sore but OK.

Span returned to the plate with the count 3-2 and struck out looking on the next pitch. The Twins originally said Span would leave the game, but his mother was sitting in a different seat by the bottom of the first inning and he went to center field.

She was treated by paramedics and back in the stands minutes later, but eventually went to a hospital after being convinced by medical personnel at the stadium.

What are the freaking odds?

Hopefully Denard’s mother is okay and has a full recovery.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

McCoy a perfect 58-of-58 passing on Pro Day

Sam Bradford wasn’t the only one that was impressive during workouts this week, as Texas quarterback Colt McCoyturned some heads Wednesday at his Pro Day.

From NFL.com:

Colt McCoy might not have the strong arm that Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford displayed earlier in the week, but that shouldn’t detract from a fine performance in front of scouts from 30 NFL teams (the Lions and Rams were the only teams not in attendance).

Of the 58 passes that McCoy threw at Texas’ pro day Wednesday, none hit the ground. McCoy connected on every pass to his four receivers — Texas’ Jordan Shipley, ex-Longhorns WR Brian Carter, Bengals WR Quan Cosby and former Rams WR Nate Jones — none of whom dropped a single pass.

McCoy kept all of his workout numbers from last month’s NFL Scouting Combine, and he didn’t do any individual drills. However, the consensus was that he had really good feet and moved around well while throwing the ball.

If I were a GM, I wouldn’t hesitate drafting McCoy in the middle rounds based on the offensive scheme I run. He’s a class act, a hard worker, a good kid and he’s a student of the game. Is he the best quarterback prospect in this year’s draft? No. Are there question marks surrounding his game? Absolutely – starting with the fact that he doesn’t have a strong arm and played out of the shotgun in college.

But while I wouldn’t classify him as a franchise quarterback, McCoy could do very well as a backup or fill in starter at the next level. He’s an athletic player and a very accurate passer. Again, he doesn’t have the strongest arm but he knows where he wants to go with the ball and usually delivers passes on time. He might be an ideal fit for the West Coast Offense and he certainly improved his draft stock with his performance today.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Bruce Willis with an odd interview at the Hornets/Lakers game [video]

Bruce Willis looked like he was having “nice…very nice” time in New Orleans during the Hornets/Lakers game.

In his defense, most of us would be “feeling good” if we were in New Orleans for night and taking in a basketball game. The difference is that we don’t have some guy running around with a microphone and camera asking us for an interview.

Who will win Rookie of the Year?

It’s that time of year again. Let’s try to figure out who will win this year’s Rookie of the Year…

Brandon Jennings jumped out in the ROY race with a 22-4-6 average in October and November, while shooting 43% from the field and 50% from three-point land. This included an epic 55-point outing against the Golden State Warriors in which Jennings hit 21 of 34 shots, including 7-for-8 from behind the arc. Since then, he is averaging 14-3-6 and is shooting just 35% from the field and 36% from 3PT. He has struggled with scoring from inside the arc, but he leads all rookies in assists and has a pretty nice assist-to-turnover ratio — 2.41, but he has posted a 2.72 ratio since the start of December. Maybe most importantly, the Bucks are 41-32 and are in the #5 spot in the East.

Tyreke Evans overtook Jennings with a 22-5-5 December and hasn’t looked back. On the season, he is averaging 20-5-6, and is shooting 46% from the field. He’s on the verge of joining LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only players to average 20-5-5 in their rookie seasons. However, the Kings have the 6th-worst record in the league and have been out of the playoff hunt for some time. This is both good and bad for Evans’ stats. On one hand, the Kings are so bad that he has to be the clear focal point of the offense — unlike Jennings, he doesn’t have to get the ball to Andrew Bogut or John Salmons — but the fact that the Kings are so bad means that defenses can focus on stopping him.

And then there’s Stephen Curry, whom NBA.com’s Drew Packham lists first in his rookie rankings. Since the start of December, he has averaged 18-5-6, while shooting 47% from the field and 44% from long range. And he keeps getting better. In February and March, he averaged 21-5-7. But at 21-52, the Warriors are even worse than the Kings. In fact, Golden State is tied for second third in fewest wins this season.

One thing that pure averages don’t account for is a team’s pace (i.e. the average # of possessions a team has during the course of a game). Is it fair to compare Jennings’ numbers to Curry’s when the Bucks are #18 in overall pace and the Warriors are #1? Using the league average of 95.15 possessions, here is a look at the pace-adjusted numbers for each player, along with John Hollinger’s PER:

All due respect to Mr. Packham, I think this is a two-man race between Evans and Jennings. Evans’ numbers are better than Curry’s and his team is a little better, so if we’re going to go with a good player on a bad team, it should be Evans.

As for Jennings, his case depends how much importance we place on a team’s record and how responsible the player is for that record. It’s funny — a good record is crucial in winning the league MVP, but for ROY, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much. Why is that?

In the end, I think Evans will win Rookie of the Year. Given the history of the award, if a player clearly has the superior numbers, winning just doesn’t matter. That’s the case here.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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