Correcting Bill Simmons, Part 3: Bill is at it again

“The Sports Guy” is killing me. He’s at it again, harping on players that take too many three pointers even though they aren’t accurate from behind the stripe. I’ve already gone through this once, about a year ago, after Simmons slammed Tracy McGrady from shooting too many threes. Now, in his otherwise fine “Dumbleavy” diary/column, Bill’s targets are Baron Davis, Zach Randolph and…gulp…LeBron James.

7:35: LeBron bricks a 3-pointer that leads to Thornton’s fast-break dunk. Clips by 17, timeout Cavs. Let the record show that (A) LeBron is a 32.5 percent career 3-point shooter, (B) he went 0-for-6 in this particular game and (C) he should be fined every time he takes one.

6:54: Speaking of guys who should never shoot a 3, it’s Baron Davis! He just bricked one. If he told you that he’s a 32.3 percent career 3-point shooter and averaging 29.5 percent this season, then I told you that he takes five per game, would you believe me? You probably wouldn’t, right?

4:35: Randolph (aka Z-Bo) sinks an open 3 that he never should have taken because he’s a career 28.9 long-distance shooter. Maybe we should make it like a driver’s license — if you dip under 35 percent through 250 career attempts, you’re suspended from shooting 3s for a year?

Coaches live with guys shooting in the low 30’s from long range because…well…the shots are worth an extra point. It’s (almost) that simple.

LeBron is shooting 33.1% from long range on the season. He’s shooting 53.6% from two-point range. For argument’s sake, let’s say that for 100 straight possessions, LeBron launches a three every time down the court. If his numbers bear out, he’s going to make 33 of them, scoring 99 points. That’s 0.99 points per possession. Now, let’s say he shoots a two-pointer for 100 straight possessions. He’s going to make 54 of them, so he’ll score 108 points on 100 possessions, or 1.08 points per possession.

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What kind of rookie season is Michael Beasley having?

One thing that struck me about Bill Simmons’ trade value column was his unabashed hatred for Michael Beasley’s game. He made three separate references to the rookie:

Jason Thompson: I mocked him on draft day and he shoved it in my face like a cream pie. Top-notch energy guy, good defender, lots to like. You know, if Michael Beasley wasn’t such a colossal disappointment and semi-fraud, the 2008 draft could have ranked among the best ever (and certainly superior to the more ballyhooed ’07 class).

Colossal disappointment? Semi-fraud? Ouch.

Jeff Green: Great teammate, tough as nails, gives a crap, does whatever you need. He’s the anti-Beasley.

So Simmons is saying that Beasley is not a good teammate, isn’t tough, doesn’t give a crap and won’t do whatever you need? Ouch.

You have to love a country where Love’s best rookie card (Upper Deck’s ’09 SPX set, the signed autographed jersey card) goes for one-eighth the money of Beasley’s card … and yet, Miami could offer Beasley for Love right now and Minnesota would make a face and hang up. Whatever.

Ouch.

All right, so how is Beasley faring this season? Here are his numbers:


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Correcting Bill Simmons, Part 2

Welcome to the second part of my infinite-part series, Correcting Bill Simmons. To find out why I started this series, feel free to read the first part. Simply stated – Bill Simmons is an entertaining writer, but sometimes he goes off the reservation and says something absurd.

This week, in his Ramblings column, he defends his Patriots over the whole Spygate fiasco.

If you have a national column in which you’re excoriating a sports team for cheating even though it already paid a severe penalty for what it did, and you’re hinting more revelations are coming down the road, and then it’s proven you were barking up the wrong tree … you need to admit defeat and quit blowing the situation out of proportion. No, really.

What gets me is that he thinks that the Patriots “already paid a severe penalty” for what they did. This is why Boston fans annoy me. Let’s see, the Patriots were caught videotaping the Jets sideline in a game last season and Matt Walsh produced more videotapes from 2000-2003, so it’s pretty clear to anyone that’s objective about the situation that the team has been videotaping their opponents’ sidelines during Bill Belichick’s entire run. And the “severe penalty” is losing a single first round pick and paying a fine? Is he serious?

If you took a poll of all NFL fans, I think the overwhelming majority would say that the Pats got off with a slap on the wrist. Their “punishment” was a joke considering that they knowingly broke the rules by stealing signals for at least seven years. If this were the Giants, Boston fans would be foaming at the mouth, bitching and complaining that the penalty wasn’t stiff enough.

Bill, take the Patriot Glasses off for a minute and look at this situation objectively.

Correcting Bill Simmons, Part 1

Bill Simmons, also known as “The Sports Guy,” writes a column for ESPN. He regularly blends his wide interest in sports with pop-culture references, and on the whole, I enjoy reading his stuff.

But every once in a while, he goes off the reservation and says something absurd – like his whole campaign to become the Milwaukee Bucks’ new GM. It might have started out as a joke, but as he was reading that fifth or sixth email from a Bucks fan that supported his campaign, I think he actually started to think that he was qualified for the job.

It was at that point that reality stood in the way of his fantasy world. A world where you could get a job running a NBA franchise just by writing a NBA column and owning Clippers season tickets. Simmons seems to know a lot about basketball, but every once in a while he’ll say something that tells me that he’s never played the game at a competitive level.

For example, in the second part of his recent MVP column, he talks about T-Mac:

Speaking of T-Mac, here’s my No. 1 NBA pet peeve this season: When a lousy long-range shooter has no qualms about jacking up 3-pointers every game. For instance, T-Mac shot 34, 33, 31, 33 and 30 percent on 3s the past five seasons, but that didn’t stop him from jacking up 4.5 per game this season. Really, T-Mac? If you can’t shoot 3s, why shoot them?

Granted, McGrady had his worst season shooting the ball from long range since the 1999-2000 season when he made just 28% of his threes. But that doesn’t make it a good idea to stop shooting them completely. First, there’s the extra point to consider. Shooting 28% from three-point land is the same as shooting 42% from inside the arc. McGrady shot just 46% from two-point range this season, so it’s not like the discrepancy is so big that it’s a no-brainer for him to completely shelve the long ball.

Besides, McGrady is a career 34% three-point shooter. Not great, but that translates to 51% from two-point range. I doubt T-Mac headed into the season knowing that his accuracy was going to take a dive and consciously decided to keep jacking threes. In fact, his 4.5 three-point attempts were his fewest since the ’01-02 season when he shot 3.7. Throw in the fact that McGrady took 0.3 fewer threes a game after the All-Star break and I’d say that he managed his shots pretty well.

Lastly – and this is the thing that really bugs me about Simmons’ comments – the three-point shot is so important to an offensive player with T-Mac’s physical ability. McGrady is quick, but not super-quick, so he needs the threat of the long ball to force his defender to close out aggressively, or else there won’t be any room to drive. If he reduces his three-point attempts even further, his defender will know that he can close on him with caution, looking for the drive. This will make McGrady’s penetration less effective.

This isn’t to say that every player who is chucking up threes is doing the right thing. Taking the ball inside is generally the better idea, because the shots are easier to make and there’s a much better chance of getting to the line. But for a guy like McGrady, who relies on deception and position more than quickness to get to the hole, the threat of the long ball is crucial.

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