John Wall rocks the Melo Center [video]

Looks like quite the festive environment…

I do like that after the wicked around-the-back/crossover move, he was looking to pass. He’s going to be a good one.

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Ilgauskas elbows Wall, Wall punches Ilgauskas [video]

Zydrunas Ilgauskas and John Wall got into a bit of a dust-up last night. Wall was pressuring Ilgauskas, who had the ball and Z swung his elbow through and popped Wall in the face. Wall, of course, took exception and punched Ilgauskas in his torso.

The best shot of Wall’s punch is at around the 1:15 mark, while the best view of Ilgauskas’ elbow is at around the 1:30 mark. No one likes to get hit in the face, but Wall needs to keep a cool head there. He really hurt his team by getting ejected.

What kind of point guard is he?

The Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose shoots a free throw while playing the San Antonio Spurs during the fourth quarter of their NBA game in Chicago February 17, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

We hear it all the time. NBA analysts call one point guard “pass-first” and another “shoot-first.” Or they say one guy is “turnover-prone” while another “takes care of the ball.” But really, what makes a player a “pass-first” point guard? How carefree must he be with the ball to be considered “turnover-prone”?

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.

I narrowed the list of players to 33, one for each team plus a few extra for teams like Cleveland, Sacramento and Denver, who have a couple of players manning the position. I also added eight prospects (indicated in green) just to see where a few of the younger guys land. Here’s the graph — it’s small, but if you click it, you’ll get to a bigger version:

So the pass-first/shoot-first aspect goes left to right, and the turnover-prone players will be towards the bottom, while the guys that take really good care of the ball will be up top. Players indicated with a blue diamond are in the Top 10 in this group in Efficiency Per Minute. I set the axis for each category at the average of the 33 players in question, so 1.97 for FGA-to-assist and 2.70 assist-to-turnover.

Two years ago when I conducted this study, seven of the top 10 EPM performers were in the top left quadrant (pass-first, takes care of the ball). This year, only five of the top 11 (I included both Rondo and Calderon, since they tied for #11) are in that quadrant. This is due to the emergence of three shoot-first, (fairly) turnover-prone guards who are emerging as stars: Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry.

A few takeaways:

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Wall, Cousins lead rookies to win

Rookie team’s John Wall of the Washington Wizards holds up the MVP trophy after the Rookie team beat the Sophomores during the Rookie Challenge as part of NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, California, February 18, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Rookies 148, Sophomores 140

Wall racked up a record 22 assists to win the MVP award, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins had 33 points and 14 rebounds, and the rookies rallied to beat the sophomores 148-140 at the NBA’s All-Star weekend Friday night.

Blake Griffin scored 14 points for the rookies in front of the high-flying Clippers forward’s ecstatic home crowd, sticking to his commitment to play in the game even after making the West team for Sunday’s All-Star game.

It should be noted that the Sophs were at something of a disadvantage since they lost Griffin, 2009’s #1 pick, to a season-ending knee injury last season, so now he’s considered a rookie.

There was virtually no defense being played, as the Rookies shot 64% from the field while the Sophs shot almost 55%. James Harden led the Sophs with 30 points while DeJuan Blair chipped in with 28 points and 15 rebounds. Just four of the game’s 18 players failed to score in double digits (Taj Gibson, Brandon Jennings, Derrick Favors and Eric Bledsoe).

Check out this crazy alley-oop from Wall to Griffin:

Top 10 Rookie Plays of November [video]

Some nice highlights here, though I would have moved Blake Griffin’s reverse dunk up a few spots and swapped #2 for #1, but I’m nitpicking. Take a look…

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