Tag Archives: NBA All-Stars

Khris Middleton an All-Star? Not this year, the Eastern Conference coaches say, for the 3rd time . . . The Miami effect . . . Kemba Walker

Goran Dragic didn’t quite have All-Star numbers this season, but his Miami Heat did, going 6-0 against the Bucks and the Hornets and vaulting to 4th in East with a 27-20 record just in time for the coaches reserve All-Star voting. The Bucks face the Heat in Miami tonight in the teams’ last regular season meeting. Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Minn. Star Tribune. License: Standard non-commercial use.

Bucks forward Khris Middleton felt “disrespected” when Miami point guard Goran Dragic was selected to replace injured Kevin Love in the All-Star game. He was disappointed again this week as Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker was chosen to take Kristaps Porzingis‘ place in the Feb. 18 game.

Porzingis tore the ACL in his left knee earlier this week in the Knicks 103-89 loss to Middleton’s Bucks. Funny, just before the game Middleton was talking to JS reporter Matt Velazquez about how it really did kind of bother him that he was passed up — not once, but twice — to replace injured All-Stars (Detroit center Andre Drummond was tabbed to replace injured John Wall Jan. 30).

“I definitely feel disrespected because of the numbers that I had and we had a good record,” Middleton said before the Knicks game, not specifically referring to Dragic or Drummond. [Drummond shoots 55% from the floor and is leading the league in rebounding; to this point in the season (Feb. 8), he’s been the 3rd most statistically impactful player in the NBA, according to BIER* — so it was most likely the selection of Dragic that left Middleton feeling dissed.] 

Drummond  was 13th in the coaches vote, so he was next in line. Dragic was next in line after Drummond, according to NBA.com.

How did Dragic end up with more votes than Middleton or Kemba Walker? The coaches voted after the announcement of the starting All-Stars  Thursday Jan. 18 on TNT. The All-Star reserves were announced Tuesday Jan. 23, so the votes were cast that weekend, Jan. 19- 22. I seem to recall that Bucks GM Jon Horst sacked coach Jason Kidd on Jan. 22, and that Middleton was not playing particularly well at the time — but this is about Dragic and the Heat.

The Heat were 27-20 on Jan. 18, and winners of 8 of their last 9 games, including two wins against the Bucks in four days. Dragic had dropped 25 on the Bucks in a blowout in Miami and 16 in a down-to-the wire 106-101 win in Milwaukee. The Heat were alone in 4th place in the East.

The Bucks were in a different place altogether, and had lost four of their last six games, including the two they lost to the Heat, and had fallen to 7th in the East with a 24-22 record. Over those 6 games, Middleton scored 18.2 pts per game but shot just 42.6% and 7 for 31 on threes (22.6%). Not to pick on Khris — Eric Bledsoe was mired in a shooting slump and the entire team looked gassed vs. Miami Jan. 17, their 13th game in 23 days — but the two losses in four days to the Heat became kind of memorable when Kidd was fired just a few days later.

It’s a strange disconnect. Middleton may have had “All-Star-like” numbers but they were slipping. The Bucks weren’t winning when the coaches were casting their ballots and Giannis Antetokounmpo had won a starter’s spot, so the idea of a 2nd Bucks All-Star was pretty far-fetched, no matter how much anybody loves the team. If a Bucks player got any reserve All-Star votes from the coaches, chances are it was Bledsoe, who had higher impact numbers (6.74 BIER) than Middleton (5.37 BIER) at the half-way point, before wearing down mid-January.

Middleton’s numbers are looking better now (20.1 pts, 5.3 rebs, 4.2 assists, 5.78 BIER) than they did then; he won Eastern Conference Player of the Week Jan. 22-28, and the Bucks have won 7 of 8.

In those 8 games (Jan. 22-Feb. 6) since Kidd was fired, Middleton has played like an All-Star, scoring 20.1 pts per game and shooting 42% from three and 50.4% overall, a BIER of 8.57, more than double the average for a small forward. But those games were played AFTER the All-Star ballots were cast.

(The non-reality of the Velazquez’s story yesterday deserves a note, here — none of it was real.)

“It wasn’t lies, it was just bullshit.” — Elwood Blues, circa 1979.

Put the shooting slump and the good shooting together and you’ve got Khris Middleton’s season – prolonged lows mixed with All-Star highs, a borderline All-Star with no cool shoe commercial running 24 hours on ESPN (yeah, that’s a crack at Paul George).

Below are the 2017-18 per game stats of Middleton and Kemba Walker, plus Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin and Otto Porter. Simmons’ name was mentioned as a possible choice to replace Porzingis. Griffin’s a bonafide All-Star suddenly playing in the East after being traded to Detroit. Wizards forward Porter plays the same wing-small forward position as Middleton. And there’s Dragic, picked ahead of the other five for this year’s All-Star game.

Per Game Table
Player G MP FG FGA FG% 3P% eFG% FT FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
Goran Dragic 50 31.9 6.5 14.7 .443 .356 .493 2.9 .762 4.1 4.8 0.9 0.2 2.4 2.3 17.4
Blake Griffin 37 34.4 7.7 17.5 .439 .337 .493 5.2 .790 7.9 5.5 0.9 0.3 2.9 2.4 22.5
Khris Middleton 53 36.9 7.4 15.9 .464 .348 .522 3.5 .864 5.3 4.2 1.3 0.2 2.3 3.2 20.1
Otto Porter 50 31.6 5.5 11.2 .489 .410 .562 1.4 .831 6.2 2.0 1.6 0.5 0.9 2.1 14.0
Ben Simmons 50 35.1 7.0 13.3 .529 .000 .529 2.6 .564 7.8 7.2 1.8 0.9 3.7 2.8 16.6
Kemba Walker 51 35.0 7.5 17.7 .424 .367 .502 4.9 .846 3.4 5.8 1.1 0.3 2.2 1.4 22.6
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/8/2018.

 

It’s a tough call, sort of. At first glance, I wouldn’t cast an All-Star vote for any of them. Blake Griffin’s not having a good shooting year and has missed some games due to injury, but his numbers still say “All-Star” (he wasn’t eligible as an East reserve, anyway). Simmons’ numbers look great – 7.8 rebs, 7 assists, 53% shooting – from a rookie! But he is a rookie, and at last check his team was 2-8 without center Joel Embiid, an All-Star starter. Maybe next year for Simmons, if the Sixers continue to improve.

Otto Porter’s efficiency numbers are fantastic, and he’s a tough defender — he battled Middleton to a 5-13 shooting night, 0 for 4 on threes, in Milwaukee earlier this year. The Wizards have been winning without John Wall, and Porter has a lot to do with that — but he just doesn’t score enough at 14.0 pts per game.

Middleton does have a point — Dragic’s numbers aren’t that hot, and his BIER* checks in at 4.42, just 0.36 above the average for an NBA point guard. Miami’s All-Star is Hassan Whiteside, the center, but Whiteside hasn’t played enough this year to merit All-Star consideration. So it fell to Dragic, proof that coaches value winning more than numbers when choosing All-Stars.  Whiteside, Dragic and the Heat are 6-0 against Walker’s Hornets and Middleton’s Bucks. Enuff said.

Middleton’s numbers are nearly good enough, and the BIER works out to 5.84, his best season. His 3-point % is down — 34.8% is below the league average. There are 25 teams that have shot the three better than Khris this year, and his teammates are one of them. On the other hand, he’s 2nd to only Steph Curry in mid-range shootings this season at 52.3%.  The bag tends to be mixed with Middleton. One of the issues during his slump was that Jason Kidd was guilty of overplaying him, insisting on big minutes on nights when Middleton didn’t have it.

The Bucks face the Heat for the last time this season tonight in Miami. Winning a game against the Heat this season might help Middleton’s argument, though the point itself is moot. The Heat have lost five in a row, and Kelly Olynyk‘s not expected to play (out with a shoulder strain). The Bucks have a chance to steal one on the road. (Ed. note – it didn’t happen, as the Bucks played a miserable 3rd quarter, scoring only 8 points, and their 4th quarter comeback fell short 91-85.) 

Kemba Walker actually has a better Impact and Efficiency rating (7.26) than John Wall (6.20) this season — it was a down year for Wall even before he hurt his knee, which made his All-Star selection a bit of a surprise. Walker could be more efficient as a shooter, and his good and bad shooting tends to come in streaks. Charlotte’s troubles as a team shooting the ball (they’re 29th in the league) and the difficulties they’ve had winning close games made Wall an easier choice by default (and Drummond and Dragic, too, based on the results).

The Miami-Dragic effect on Kemba Walker’s season was far more dire than an All-Star snub. The Hornets lost all four of their games with the Heat this season, all the difference between being in the playoff hunt or out of it at 23-31. The season in shambles, the Hornets front office was scouting trade offers for Walker up until the deadline yesterday at 3 p.m., hoping the lure of Walker would get other teams to take some of their bad contracts with him. Within hours, Walker went from the trading block to being named the All-Star replacement for Porzingis. Then the Hornets went out and lost an overtime game in Portland.

It’s been that kind of season for Charlotte — a dozen losses by 5 points or less or in OT, three of them to the Heat (the 4th loss was by six). None were more poignant than the 106-105 loss on Jan. 20, the weekend the East coaches were clutching their All-Star reserve ballots. Dragic didn’t play due to a bruised knee. The Hornets had control of the game, a ten point lead at the end of the 3rd quarter. Walker was playing like an All-Star — 20 pts and 6 assists through three quarters. But two costly turnovers by Charlotte’s Nic Batum and a controversial call by the refs handed the game to the Heat.

In the 4th and final Heat-Hornets game, Jan. 27, Charlotte blew a 15 point lead and shot a horrendous 4 for 20 in the 4th Quarter. Walker was again playing All-Star basketball through three quarters (26 pts) but went cold in the 4th, shot 1 for 8 from the floor and 1 for 5 from three. Dragic played, and had all of five points, missing 6 of the 8 shots he took. It’s been that kind of year in Charlotte.

*Basketball Impact & Efficiency Rating (BIER) numbers (current)

  • Greg Drummond – 17.36 – leads the league.
  • Giannis Antetokounmp – 16.34 – 3rd in NBA. Anthony Davis is 2nd at 16.82
  • Ben Simmons – 8.98
  • Blake Griffin – 8.40
  • Kemba Walker – 7.26
  • Paul George – 6.86
  • John Wall – 6.20
  • Khris Middleton – 5.84
  • Kristaps Porzingis – 5.69
  • Eric Bledsoe – 5.61
  • Goran Dragic – 4.42

NBA All-Stars: Bogut and Milwaukee snubbed again!

Andrew Bogut, bad back and all, blocks New York Knicks F/C David Lee's shot in New York, Dec. 2008.Cripes, this is too much.  

NBA Commissioner David Stern, he who names all injury replacements for All-Star games, today chose New York Knicks big man David Lee “over” Bucks center Andrew Bogut, ESPN reported. Lee will replace the Sixers Allen Iverson, who’s really getting too old for this All-Star stuff anyway.

David Lee? Haven’t the Knicks lost and lost badly enough (50 pts at home to Dallas) to eliminate Lee from consideration? The Knicks are 19-32, heading for another lottery. But Commish Stern just couldn’t pass on another opportunity to again screw small market Milwaukee (oh, remember the 2001 East Finals). New York is New York after all, home though it is to a truly bad NBA team that plays little or no defense.

Well, we’ll always have the rookie game … And Brandon Jennings’ new gumby hairdo!  Heck, there’s even a ‘do poll on the Bucks site.

Lee is an excellent player who puts up All-Star numbers with 20 pts and 11 boards a game — but Bogut does this too, and more. In the 12 games since the Bucks returned from a bum trip West, Bogut has averaged 18.6 pts and 9.7 rebs. Good enough for Dallas right there, Mr. Stern.

What’s separates Bogut from Lee is that the Bucks center plays both ends of the floor. I realize this is unheard of in New York, and nobody really wants to see a lot of defense in the All-Star game but AB is charged with anchoring Scott Skiles’ 7th-rated defense. In those 12 games, Bogut has blocked 29 shots, an avg. of 2.41 per game, good enough for 2nd in the NBA behind the game’s best center, Dwight Howard.

But there’s more Mr. Stern: In those 12 games since the West road trip, the Bucks are 8-4. They’re winning! In fact, since Michael Redd was injured in Los Angeles Jan. 10, the Bucks record is 9-8. Could be better, I know, but it was the first long western trip for our rookie point guard.   

And let’s not forget that the Knicks under coach Mike D’Antoni have yet to beat Bogut and the Bucks. Since D’Antoni took over in NY in 2008, the Knicks and Lee are 0-5 against Scott Skiles’ Bucks — when Bogut suits up. The Knicks lone victory came last March at the BC while Bogut was recovering from his season-ending back injury.

Bogut is back, he’s healthy and the Bucks (24-27) are in the playoff hunt. Against D’Antoni’s Knicks earlier this season, the Bucks center scored 22 pts and hauled in 8 rebs Nov. 7 to lead the Bucks to a 102-87 win. Lee had 18 pts, 7 rebs.

Last weekend in NY, Bogut left the game early with a migraine and it just might have cost him the All-Star spot (assuming the games matter to Commish Stern). Lee scored 32 pts and grabbed 15 boards in the Knicks 114-107 loss to the Bucks. I’d like to emphasize the word “loss” in the previous phrase.

Like me, the Knicks blogger at Buckets Over Broadway is “stunned” that Atlanta’s Josh Smith wasn’t the automatic choice as first East reserve. Smith was clearly the more deserving Hawk than Al Horford, who the East coaches picked as the back-up center to All-Star starter Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. 

Buckets Over Broadway also concurs that “major market is another huge plus in Lee’s favor over Milwaukee’s Bogut.  Anyway, one thing’s for certain: initial reports that Stern only chose Lee because they have the same first name have proven to be false.”

The selection of Horford by the coaches, of course started this mess, all this transitive snubbing. How Horford amassed the necessary votes at center is still a mystery, considering that he’s overpowered at the position when matched against Howard and Bogut, and other full grown centers. Bogut has certainly overpowered Horford ever since Horford came into the league.

No less a source than Howard’s coach, Stan Van Gundy, who will also coach the 2010 East All-Star team agrees: If Howard gets a back-up at center in the All-Star game, Bogut should be the guy.

What does a guy have to do, block 100 shots?  Check that, Bogues happens to have blocked only 98.

Richard Jefferson meets Milwaukee… Nets sell Yi jerseys… Brewhoop Hammond trilogy

Milwaukee will be introduced to forward Richard Jefferson today at a press conference, where he’s expected to have all sorts of ways to explain that story from Nets GM Rod Thorn about how unhappy he seemed when Thorn told him about the draft day trade that sent RJ to the Bucks for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.

“He didn’t seem very happy about it,” Thorn said after talking to his agent and text messaging him. Thorn didn’t say whether Jefferson said anything at all one way or another beyond seeming to be unhappy, though I’m sure his agent said plenty. Somehow in Milwaukee, Jefferson has been repeatedly refered to as “All Star forward Richard Jefferson” though he has never made the All-Star team. (It’s basketball-reference.com again – scroll all the way down for the career achievments).

Bucks fans will be relieved to know that RJ doesn’t pass the ball much either … but he does other stuff …




 

Yi Jianlian - JerseyMeanwhile, in New Jersey …

The Nets are ecstatic about the deal — and happy to have Bobby Simmons $10 million per year clearing out for 2010, setting the team up nicely for Lebron James pal and part Nets owner Jay-Z’s plan to lure the King to Brooklyn and the new Nets arena. The Nets are also busy giving away Yi jerseys with every season ticket purchased from here on out and happy with the three young players they picked up in the draft. Brooke Lopez (I still say the team that develops Robin Lopez will be happier in the long run than the Nets with Brooke), Ryan Anderson and Chris Robert-Douglas out of Memphis, a hustle player who can guard three positions. The NY Times reports on the Nets website:

“It opens up a truly new fan base for us,” said Brett Yormark, the Nets’ chief executive. “Yi is going to give us the opportunity to be relevant to Asian-American fans in ways we haven’t been before.”

Within hours of the trade’s confirmation, the Nets’ marketing efforts were in full swing. Their Web site had a splash page of Yi in a Nets uniform, announcing, “Something big has come to New Jersey.” They offered a free Yi jersey to everyone who purchased a season ticket. According to Yormark, the Nets sold 200 season tickets in the 36 hours after the trade.


Check out the Nets store here. It’s all Yi all day.

Meanwhile … back in Milwaukee

The Bucks don’t seem to have a marketing plan in gear for the players on the team just yet, as Hammond isn’t likely done reshaping the roster — though Bango did appear in the city’s Fourth of July parade. (Nobody works much in Milwaukee in the summer.)  Yi had been the pitchman used in the Bucks store and and in many of the team’s ticket appeals.

Brewhoop scored a long interview with John Hammond and its well worth the read. Comes in three parts and in pint glasses too like the Lord of the Rings, wherein it is explained how the one ring came into being and found its way to Michael Redd who may or may not relinquish it to Richard Jefferson … though he could, and somehow this could all work with Mo Williams as the point guard, and why not because Scott Skiles is kinda like Gandalf and will make it work, somehow, someway.

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

Oh, and Joe Alexander can guard the 4 spot, Hammond says, though he won’t be expected to do that all the time or most of the time, though he could if called upon.

Here’s Liv Tyler, who could play the elvin love interest in the story if Mo, Redd and Jefferson resist the power of the ring through the sacred art of teamwork, ball movement and defense.

By the look in her eyes, she’s beginning to run out of patience.

Liv Tyler as Arwen