What goes through my brain…

…when I read a Bill Simmons mailbag.

Anyway, there was a really funny moment Thursday that could have only happened at a Lakers game. Near the end of a third-quarter timeout, the camera caught Val Kilmer and three of his chins on the JumboTron, punctuating the moment by playing “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins. You know, a “Top Gun” homage. He took a second or two to get the joke, then unleashed one of those “Very funny, you got me, just know that I’m on a lot of meds right now” smiles. And this would have been enjoyable on its own, but they cut to someone else in the stands. …

That’s right. …

Tom Cruise!

He caught on a little quicker and did the Tom Cruise Over-Laugh. And this would have been great on its own, but the Lakers pushed it to another level: They went split-screen with Kilmer and Cruise with “Danger Zone” still blasting. As far as I was concerned, this was the most emotional reunion in Lakers history. Cruise kept laughing; Kilmer looked mildly perturbed. (After all, he’s an actor, dammit! That was 23 years ago! He’s made a lot of movies since then!) At this point, I was praying they’d cut to Anthony Edwards in Section 312 but he wasn’t there.

Ha! Great one about Anthony Edwards sitting in the upper level.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

NBA playoff picture clearing up

There’s a pretty good chance that the current top eight teams in each conference will be the same 16 teams that make the playoffs. According to John Hollinger’s playoff odds, the Charlotte Bobcats have a 4.5% chance and the Indiana Pacers have a 1.1% chance to earn a spot. The Bobcats are four games back of the Bulls and the Pistons with five games to play, so they essentially have to win out or go 4-1 and hope either Chicago or Detroit has a complete meltdown. The Pacers are five games back, so their margin for error is even slimmer.

In the West, the Suns’ recent play (2-4 over their last six) has whittled their playoff chances down to 1.2%. Last night’s game in Dallas was pretty much a must-win, but the Suns lost by 24 points. There is a logjam amongst the likely playoff teams in the West; #3 San Antonio and #8 Dallas are separated by just 3.5 games, so we could see a serious shuffling of playoff matchups over the last week of the season.

Discussing John Hollinger’s NBA playoff odds

Like most basketball fans, my attention at this time of the year has a tendency to be focused squarely on March Madness, but there’s this little thing called the NBA regular season that is still going on (who knew?) and there are several teams involved a heated race for the playoffs that start in mid-April.


ESPN’s John Hollinger says that there are six Eastern Conference teams that have better than a 99% chance of earning a playoff spot this year: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando and Atlanta, who are all at 100%, along with Miami and Philadelphia.

Right now, Hollinger gives the Bulls (90%) and the Pistons (89%) the inside track for the last two spots in the East. There are four teams — Charlotte (9%), Indiana (7%), New Jersey (5%) and Milwaukee (3%) — that are varying degrees of longshots to earn a final spot. They’re sitting at 30 or 31 wins, three or four wins behind Chicago or Detroit, so with about 10 games remaining, it’s conceivable that the Bulls or Pistons could collapse and one or more of these teams could get hot.

Read the rest of this entry »

No Love?

The rosters for the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge have been announced and there are a few surprises.

The rookie roster consists of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon, Rudy Fernandez, Michael Beasley, Brook Lopez, Greg Oden and Marc Gasol.

The sophomore roster includes Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Brooks, Kevin Durant, Wilson Chandler, Jeff Green, Al Thornton, Luis Scola, Al Horford and Thaddeus Young.

Kevin Love isn’t on the nine-man roster for the Rookie Challenge, and it’s a big, glaring snub. ESPN’s John Hollinger agrees.

For starters, the decision to select Eric Gordon ahead of Kevin Love for the rookies was completely inexcusable.

Don’t get me wrong; Gordon is going to have a fine career, it seems, and in almost any other year he’d be a shoo-in for the team. But he made this squad mainly because the forlorn Clippers have no choice but to play him extensive minutes.

As good as he’s looked, Gordon is the only rookie team member with a Player Efficiency Rating below the league average, while Love has a better PER than every player on the rookie team except Greg Oden. Love leads the league in offensive rebound rate, as I mentioned the other day, but his prodigious work on the boards has gone largely unnoticed because he plays only 23.2 minutes a game, far less than Gordon’s 32.2.

Love’s absence is especially surprising considering how the rookie roster is loaded with four guards (Rose, Westbrook, Mayo, Gordon), one G/F (Fernandez) and only one true forward (Beasley). You’d think that if it were a tossup between Gordon and Love (which it isn’t) that they’d at least want to get another true forward on the roster to balance things out.

Hollinger goes on to rail against the sophomore roster snubs, which included Wilson Chandler over Jamario Moon, Al Thornton over Carl Landry and the worst of all (he says) — Aaron Brooks over Ramon Sessions.

Interestingly, seven of the top 11 picks of the 2007 draft — Mike Conley, Yi Jianlian, Corey Brewer, Brandan Wright, Joakim Noah, Spencer Hawes and Acie Law — did NOT make the sophomore roster. (I counted Greg Oden amongst the four since he made the rookie roster.) Conversely, six of the top 11 picks in the 2008 draft did make the rookie team.

The Top 10 NBA Rookies by PER

John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating is a nice way to compare players without having to account for the number of minutes each guy gets. It’s an efficiency statistic, so just about everything is included. A PER of 15.00 is average for the position.

Let’s take a look at the top rookies. I’m only going to list guys that are getting more than 20 minutes per game…

1. Kevin Love, T-Wolves
PER: 16.39
Surprised? I am…a little. I really liked Love coming out of college, but he got off to a slow start and the trade Minnesota made (sending O.J. Mayo) to Memphis wasn’t looking too good early on. He’s not shooting the ball well (41%), but he’s rebounding like a champ (8.4 rpg in 22.7 mpg).

2. Greg Oden, Blazers
PER: 16.35
Technically, Oden is still a rookie since he missed all of last season due to injury. After Love, he has the second best rebound rate of all first-year players.

3. Brook Lopez, Nets
PER: 16.26
Rebounding is the stat that most easily translates from college to the pros, so it’s no surprise that three good rebounders top this list. In 29.5 minutes, Lopez is averaging 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds, and he has more blocks per minute than Oden.

4. Rudy Fernandez, Blazers
PER: 16.25
Rudy has had no problem adjusting to the NBA game. His three-point shooting 39% is outstanding and he’s averaging 11.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 26.5 minutes per game. Plus, he was even voted into the Slam Dunk Contest as well.

5. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies
PER: 15.40
The other Gasol is getting starters minutes (30.6) in Memphis and is averaging 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

6. Russell Westbrook, Thunder
PER: 15.74
In January, Westbrook is averaging 15.7 points, 6.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 34.9 minutes of action. He got off to a slow start, but seems to be figuring things out now.

7. O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies
PER: 15.66
Of all the guys on this list, Mayo might be the guy that asked to do the most. He got off to a blistering start, but defenses are adjusting and his numbers are falling.

8. Derrick Rose, Bulls
PER: 15.45
He and Mayo play more than 37 minutes per game, which is by far tops on this list. It’s hard to argue with the 16.9 points and 6.4 assists that Rose produces every night. Point guard is arguably the toughest position in the NBA to learn as a rookie, and this guy sure looks like a keeper.

9. Michael Beasley, Heat
PER: 15.23
Beasley is getting better as the season wears on. He’s averaging 14.9 points (on 50% shooting) and 6.0 rebounds in January. He’s also as good as expected from long range (39%).

10. D.J. Augustin, Bobcats
PER: 13.75
It’s not easy being a point guard under Larry Brown, but Augustin is getting big minutes (28.4) and is producing 12.1 points and 4.1 assists per contest. His shooting (40%) is pretty suspect, though he’s very solid from long range (39%).


– Marreese Speights leads all rookies in PER (20.44) but only plays 15.9 minutes per game.

– Anthony Morrow and George Hill just missed the minutes per game cutoff. Otherwise, they would have been on the list.

– Given how tough it is to play point guard in the NBA, Derrick Rose still gets my vote for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls are asking him to play huge minutes, which is going to take its toll over the course of the season.

Related Posts