What kind of point guard WAS he?

My post from a few days ago was relatively well-received at reddit, and one of the readers there said that he’d like to see the same graph for some of the all-time great point guards.

So with a little help from Basketball-Reference.com, I compiled a list of (all?) the Hall of Fame point guards: Oscar Robertson, Lenny Wilkens, Bob Cousy, Jerry West, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Dennis Johnson, Tiny Archibald, Calvin Murphy, Pete Maravich and Walt Frazier. Unfortunately, the NBA didn’t start keeping track of turnovers until the 1977-78 season, so there’s no assist-to-turnover data for the first four (Robertson, Wilkens, Cousy, West) and the data for Archibald, Murphy, Maravich and Frazier is incomplete, so I could only use their post-1977 numbers.

I also compiled a list of the top non-HOF point guards who are both retired and still active: Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson, Steve Nash, Gary Payton, Rod Strickland, Maurice Cheeks, Terry Porter, Tim Hardaway, Andre Miller, Muggsy Bogues, Kevin Johnson, Derek Harper, Stephon Marbury (yes, Stephon Marbury), John Lucas, Norm Nixon, Mookie Blaylock, Sam Cassell, Avery Johnson, Baron Davis, Nick Van Exel, Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups and Mike Bibby. All of these players have at least 5,400 career assists, which seemed to be the cutoff for players I was interested in using for this study.

Lastly, I added seven of the top current point guards who have yet to break the 5,400-assist barrier: Tony Parker, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams and of course, Chris Paul.

I first tackled this subject two years ago, and settled on the shot-to-assist ratio to determine whether a player is “pass-first” or “shoot-first.” The higher the number, the more of a “shoot-first” player he is. To determine whether or not a player is “turnover-prone,” I calculated each player’s assist-to-turnover ratio. The higher the number, the better the player is at taking care of the ball, relative to what he’s asked to do as a playmaker for his team. The graph takes a gentle downward slope because assists are part of both calculations. (Note: While I do like FGA/A as the criteria for shoot-first/pass-first, I am not completely sold on A/TO as the criteria for turnover-prone. Perhaps (A+FGA)/TO would show shoot-first guards in a better light? Maybe I’ll try that next year.)

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Breaking down the Baron Davis/Mo Williams trade

Los Angeles Clippers guard Baron Davis scores past Miami Heat center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and forward Chris Bosh in fourth quarter action in Los Angeles on January 12, 2011. The Clippers defeated the Heat 111-105. UPI/Jon SooHoo

The Los Angeles Clippers just pulled off the unthinkable: they managed to trade away Baron Davis’s untradeable contract. But it cost them a lottery pick.

Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer has the details.

An NBA source has confirmed to the Plain Dealer that the Cavaliers are about to send guard Mo Williams and forward Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers for guard Baron Davis and a No. 1 draft pick in the 2011 draft. That likely will be a lottery selection, although this draft is not considered to be particularly strong.

Below you’ll find a table with each player’s age, ’10-11 Player Efficiency Rating (via John Hollinger of ESPN) as well as their salaries for the next two seasons. Both contracts expire in 2013.

The Clippers are going to save approximately $11.7 million over the next two seasons with this trade. Even though Davis has a higher PER this season, they’re probably getting the better player in Mo Williams, who has battled injuries this year and hasn’t been the same since LeBron left last summer. I suspect he’ll be revitalized playing with Blake Griffin just as Davis was for the first half of the season.

When I first saw the headline about the Cavs trading for Davis, I chuckled, but with the Clippers’ first round pick included in the deal, it makes a lot more sense. The Cavs are basically buying the Clips’ #8 overall pick (which could end up being quite a bit higher or a little lower) in the 2011 draft for around $12 million.

Side note: It just goes to show how out of whack the NFL rookie salaries are for the top picks because it’s almost impossible to find an NFL team that wants to trade into the upper part of the draft. And here the Cavs are spending $12 million for that right because the NBA rookie salary scale is a much better deal for teams drafting in the lottery.

There’s no telling how this trade is going to work out until we see what kind of player the Cavs get with the pick. One thing it does buy the Cavs is hope. Mo Williams wasn’t going to take this team anywhere and neither is Baron Davis. Williams has more value because he’s going to provide about the same production at a fraction of the cost, but by acquiring a lottery pick, the Cavs have another building block for their rebuilding project.

The short-term winner in this trade is definitely the Clips. Not only did they shed themselves of Davis and his terrible contract (which they gave him in the first place), they also freed up enough cash in the summer of 2012 to make a run at a max free agent, assuming the next collective bargaining agreement allows for this. There are already rumors swirling that Deron Williams could join the Clips that summer, and Chris Paul could be a free agent next summer as well.

One thing is certain — the Clips have to sign/acquire a great player to play alongside Blake Griffin before he has an opportunity to sign elsewhere. If they can sign Deron Williams/Chris Paul, re-sign Griffin, and can keep Eric Gordon in the fold as well, the Clippers will really be in business.

Blake Griffin and Chris Paul need each other

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin dunks over Miami Heat in fourth quarter action in Los Angeles on January 12, 2011. The Clippers defeated the Heat 111-105. UPI/Jon SooHoo

Hornets fans are going to cringe when they read the title of this post. I get it — the Hornets are a solid 31-18 and the Chris Paul trade talk has died down considerably since last summer.

But these facts remain: 1) New Orleans is not a legit contender, 2) the team’s second-best player (David West) is getting older (30) and approaching free agency, and 3) Paul can become a free agent in the summer of 2012.

After some trade rumors were floating around last summer, Paul met with the New Orleans newly-hired braintrust and has since kept his mouth shut, playing the role of good soldier. He’s having a good season (16.7 points, 9.7 assists, 2.6 steals) and the Hornets are having a nice year. But virtually no one believes that they’ll be representing the West in the Finals this summer. One online casino’s long-term market shows the Hornets as a 19-1 longshot to make the Finals. That’s pretty telling considering how inconsistent the Lakers have been this season.

So what does this have to do with Blake Griffin? Well, I went to see my beloved Bucks take on the Clippers last night at the Staples Center and got to see Griffin in person. He went for 32-11-6, and generally killed Milwaukee with a plethora of post moves, drives and long jumpers. The Bucks are a good defensive team, but they had no answer for Griffin who flat-out dominated the game offensively for the Clippers.

Griffin is a special talent. He can jump out of the gym, but he has the ability to channel his athleticism into effective basketball talent which is not always easy for someone so athletic. The 31-year-old Baron Davis is serviceable at point guard, but if the Clippers could somehow acquire Paul (25), and surround the dynamic duo with a couple of shooters and a defensive center, Griffin and Paul could lead the Clippers to the Promised Land.

How do the Clippers acquire Paul? I doubt the Hornets are going to listen to trade offers right now, but if I’m Clipper GM Neil Olshey, I’d call up Dell Demps and make a standing offer of Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and the Minnesota Timberwolves unprotected 2012 first rounder. The deal would net the Hornets a future All-Star in Gordon, as well as cap relief and solid post play in the form of Kaman. With the direction the T-Wolves are headed, that 2012 draft pick will probably be in the Top 5. Gordon would be a steep price to pay, but if you want a Top 2 point guard in a point guard-dominated league, you’re going to have to give something up.

Paul and Griffin would be devastating in the pick-and-roll and Griffin’s ability to post up would take the pressure off of Paul and allow him to take over in the clutch if the situation warranted it. Paul would also love playing with D’Andre Jordan, who has already shown a Tyson Chandler-like ability to finish alley-oops with outstanding power.

Worried about L.A. being a Laker town? Kobe is starting to show his age and if Paul and Griffin are headlining the Clippers, it won’t take long for a good portion of the Laker “faithful” to switch sides and start rooting for the city’s other team.

I’m not suggesting this is likely to happen, or even remotely possible. I’m just saying that it should happen. Even if Donald Sterling is the worst owner in the league.

Oh, and if CP3 isn’t available, Deron Williams would work too.

Clippers owner heard taunting Baron Davis from sideline

Mar 1, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (left) and Dave Winfield (center) watch during the game against the Utah Jazz at the Staples Center.

Clippers owner Donald Sterling is frustrated with the way his team is playing and is taking out most of his frustration on free agent disappointment Baron Davis:

Sterling has expressed his displeasure about Davis’ play by taunting him from his courtside seat at Clippers’ home games, several sources told Yahoo! Sports. Among Sterling’s verbal barbs:

– “Why are you in the game?”

– “Why did you take that shot?”

– “You’re out of shape!”

For his part, Davis didn’t go into specifics when asked about the situation:

“There’s nothing I can say,” Davis said of Sterling’s taunts. “I have no comment on that. You just get to this point where it’s a fight every day. It’s a fight. You’re fighting unnecessary battles. I’m fighting unnecessary battles.

Sterling is widely regarded as the worst owner in sports and the Clippers would be far better off if he just sold the team and focused on his real estate business.

NBA Draft Lottery: Who wouldn’t pick John Wall #1?

The NBA Draft Lottery is tonight, and as always, there is a lot riding on a few ping pong balls. Here is a list of the lottery teams (with their chances of winning the top pick in parenthesis) along with some discussion of their possible strategy if they do win the #1 pick.


Nets (25%)
The Wall-to-New Jersey/Brooklyn rumors have been strong all season, thanks to the Nets’ woeful record and Devin Harris’s struggles. Harris is now viewed as expendable, which means Wall would be a Net if the balls bounce their way tonight.

Wizards (10.3%)
Winning the right to draft Wall would allow the Wizards to cut ties with Gilbert Arenas and the franchise’s gun-toting past. It might also convince a free agent or two to sign for the chance to play with Wall.

76ers (5.3%)
Jrue Holiday is nice, but he’s not going to dissuade the Sixers from drafting a franchise-savior like Wall.

Pistons (5.2%)
See 76ers above but substitute “Rodney Stuckey” for “Jrue Holiday.” That is all.

Pacers (1.1%)
Indiana arguably needs a point guard more than any other team in the lottery, but with just a 1.1% chance of winning, they’re hoping against hope.

Grizzlies (0.7%)
Memphis would be buzzing with the arrival of Wall, who would seemingly be a great fit with O.J. Mayo, a re-signed Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Memphis would likely make the playoffs next season.

Raptors (0.6%)
The chances are very slim, but winning the right to draft Wall would offset the likely loss of Chris Bosh this summer. Neither Jarrett Jack nor Jose Calderon would be enough to convince the Raptors to draft Evan Turner.

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