Celtics Mid Season Grades

images-2

As we all take a breath and try to make sense of a first half of the season that saw the team trade its franchise player, multiple roster moves, a shift in philosophy from the head coach, and countless games that came down to the last minute of play, its a good time to grade the players that remain. Its impossible to tell who will be in the teams long term plans, but we must grade on what we’ve seen on the court to date. Players will not be graded on a curve, so no quarter will be given for youth, inexperience, or expectations…..what we saw is what they will be graded on.

Brad Stevens: B

Stevens has the Celtics headed int the right direction

Stevens has the Celtics headed int the right direction

Its been a wacky season for the young second year coach with no previous NBA experience. The season started with an all star point guard on the roster and a few capable vets and low expectations. For whatever reason they decided that trying to emulate the Suns from last season was a good idea, which turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. They blew big leads, made very few in game adjustments, and in general looked like a team without proper NBA leadership. Then they traded Rondo, Stevens declared that he “had to get better at coaching NBA basketball” and things took off from there. The subtraction of Rondo and Green turned out to be a positive for the Celtics, who carved a new identity as a hard working defensive team that grinded out wins. They began to make in game adjustments (especially at halftime) and the leadership of Brandon Bass, Teshaun Prince, and Marcus Thornton gave the team a winning west coast road trip and a signature win over the 43-11 Hawks heading into the All Star Break. Stevens was on a collision course with a failing grade and a trip to ping pongville, but he hung in there and made the team his own. The future looks bright at head coach.

Avery Bradley: B+

Bradley points to the team's MVP

Bradley points to the team’s MVP

After a rocky start, Bradley found his stride after the Rondo trade. He was outstanding at hitting mid range jumpers, corner threes, and generally being the teams most valuable offensive player. 13/2 with 35% from 3 is getting the job done on a team projected to win 26 games WITH Rajon Rondo on the club. He’s under contract for about 8 million per for the next 3 years, so its pretty safe to say he’s part of the future, although his salary wouldn’t deter the team from trading him to upgrade the overall talent on the roster.

Jared Sullinger: C+

Get out of my way or I'll sit on you

Get out of my way or I’ll sit on you

Like the team, its been an up and down season for Sullinger, who has added a three point shot (28%) to his game, to go along with acceptable rebounding and below average post defense. He probably is what he is at this point, and he’s going to need that three point shot to stick around in the league as a productive player in the long term. When motivated, he is a capable scorer in the paint, surprisingly so for someone as short as he is. 14/8 on 44% shooting is acceptable on a borderline playoff team, but probably a bench player for a quality NBA club. He is signed through next season at his rookie salary of 2 mil. Soon it will be decision time on Sullinger and he’s got lots of competition in house (and maybe the upcoming draft) for his roster spot.

Evan Turner: C+

Yeah, that was me hitting the game winner against the Hawks

Yeah, that was me hitting the game winner against the Hawks

Turner was arguably one of the worst rotation players in the NBA the last two seasons, which is why he ended up in Boston. Ainge took a low risk, high reward gamble on Turner and so far its paid off. He’s not a point guard, but he plays on on TV for the Celtics. This has hurt his statistics, which at 8/4/4 on 42% shooting doesn’t look all that impressive, but he has handled his duties at the point well, all things considered. The biggest consideration being they really don’t have a true point guard on the roster other than Pressey. Signed through next season at 3 mil, and its safe to say he’s not going anywhere, although I’m certain they don’t see him as a long term answer at his current position.

Kelly Olynyk: D+

I can fly!

I can fly!

Been hurt for the last month, but before that it was a hodgepodge of erratic play for the second year forward from Gonzaga. He can’t defend his position worth a lick, but he can shoot, hitting 3’s at a 35% clip, which makes him a valuable player in the right situations. He also has a nice nose for the ball and feel for the game, stuff that can’t be taught or show up in the box score, so its possible he can survive in the league without being able to guard his position. Not many cats in the NBA can accomplish this feat. Signed through next season at 2 mil, so like Sullinger it will soon be decision time on young Kelly. He could be out of the NBA in three years or a sixth man for the Spurs (doesn’t he seem like a perfect fit there?)…..his future is that unpredictable.

Marcus Smart: C+

This ball is superglued to my hand

This ball is superglued to my hand

He has struggled to find his role on the team and in the league. He really isn’t a point guard and has struggled to even initiate offense at times. He’s a streaky shooter who seems to enjoy taking and making clutch 3’s. He’s been surprisingly bad at attacking the basket, which is strange because he was a monster doing so at Oklahoma State. He’s been a capable defender at times, yet has struggled to keep quicker guards in front of him. His future in the league is probably that of a defensive specialist off the bench, and the sooner he embraces this role the better for everyone involved. He also better be able to get the ball to the tin, or he will be almost useless on the offensive end save for the occasional 3 point bomb. Signed for the next 2 years at around 3.5 mil per with team options for the next two years after that. Lots of time for the team to evaluate and for Smart to evolve. One thing is certain….he’s an NBA player and these days thats good enough when picking in the draft.

Brandon Bass: B

Brandon Bass tries to pop a basketball

Brandon Bass tries to pop a basketball

The consummate professional. Shows up ready to play every night, gives 100% on both ends of the floor, and shows a nice stroke from the 10-15 foot range. 9/4 on 47% from the floor is good enough, and its important to note the team really took off when he was inserted into the starting lineup. He’s the perfect role model for the many players on the roster devoid of experience, and they need all the mentorship they can get. Its players like Bass that prevent a team like the C’s from descending into the depths of NBA hell, a horrible place that can take a team years to dig out of.

Tyler Zeller: C+

Easy peasy

Easy peasy

Started off the season preposterously strong on the offensive end, shooting over 60% from the floor for the first 30+ games. He’s struggled without Rondo to feed him 3 or 4 easy baskets a game, and would never be considered a rim protector despite being 7 feet tall. His future in the league is a bench player who can score in the paint and play acceptable defense. What you see is what you get, now and probably in the future. They could do much worse for 2.6 million next season. Another in the long line of players who decision time is coming on like freight train.

Marcus Thornton: A-

Marcus doing what Marcus does.....shoot

Marcus doing what Marcus does…..shoot

An afterthought in the deal that brought Zeller to Boston, Thornton has been the teams version of a microwave, heating up and shooting basketballs as fast as he can catch them. Shooting an eye popping 41% from 3 and playing acceptable defense off the bench. In short he’s been the biggest reason the team has turned its season around other than Bradley. At 27 and signed through the end of the season, he’s not exactly what the team is looking for when they consider their future. But for Thornton the future is now, and he’ll be playing NBA basketball somewhere next season, it just won’t be with the Celtics. That said he’s easily the most exciting player on the roster, which is both a credit to Thornton and a knock on Ainge.

Jae Crowder: C+

I'm the only one left!!

I’m the only one left!!

As advertised. Plays hard, can hit the occasional three, deflects a ton of balls on defense, can rebound a bit, defend and generally provide hustle off the bench. 7/3 on 50% shooting is about the best you can expect from a player drafted 34th overall and making a mill per. Signed through the end of the year and I’m sure the Celtics would love to have him back at the right price.

Phil Pressey: D-

Nepotism is alive and well in the NBA

Nepotism is alive and well in the NBA

What he’s doing on this roster is anyone’s guess. You can’t swing a dead cat in this league without hitting a quality point guard, and the Celtics haven’t been able to find one of them to play backup, and now starter, for the better part of the last 6 years. 27% from 3 just ain’t gonna cut it in this league when your 5′ 8″ and turn the ball over way too much. If there is one thing Ainge should be able to do over the next offseason its find an actual NBA rotation point guard for the roster. He doesn’t have to look far, and if pressed I could probably find a few guys in the local YMCA’s that could duplicate Pressey’s contributions.

Tayshaun Prince: INC

It was fun while it lasted

It was fun while it lasted

I want to give him an A+, but he just hasn’t been here long enough and will probably be gone at the trade deadline. Its a shame because, like Bass, he has been a model NBA player and really provided a spark for the team in the short time he’s been here. If he’s auditioning for a spot on a contender’s roster, the results couldn’t be better. Has a great feel for the game, has a nice midrange shot, leads by example and shows the experience of a champion. He will be missed, and its a shame the team couldn’t get their mits on him four years ago or they might have won another NBA title.

James Young: INC

James Young, NBDL Maine Red Claws

James Young, NBDL Maine Red Claws

Full disclosure: I thought Young was the worst player among those likely to be drafted last season and said so on www.celticsnuts.com so I’m obviously biased. He’s spent most of the season hitting threes for the Maine Red Claws of the NBADL and actually asked to return there when he wasn’t getting time with the big club. I’m not sure thats the stuff NBA legends are made of, but giving him the benefit of the doubt, he did light it up against the horrible competition up north. His future in the league is a left handed Marcus Thornton and time will tell if he can get there. He’s young, and the team has him under control for the next 4 years at around 1.2 mil per. If I was to guess, if he makes it in the league it won’t be playing of the Celtics.

Gerald Wallace: F-

All the way to the bank.....

All the way to the bank…..

Thanks for those draft picks.

So thats where the team stands grade wise with a 20-31 record and one game back from the 8th spot in the playoffs as the second half of the season begins next week. Discuss all things Celtics at www.celticsnuts.com

copy-celtics-nuts-2

NFL Championship Sunday Gambling Picks

For all the marbles, and hopefully cash for the faithful

For all the marbles, and hopefully cash for the faithful

After a divisional weekend that saw the faithful taking 3 units from The Man, we head to Championship Sunday, where the two conference favorites try and make the grand daddy of football in the house that Jerry Jones built. These lines seem to be right on the money so it will be a tough road to navigate for those who like to put their money where their mouth is. But now is not the time to hesitate, so without any further ado, here are the plays.

Seahawks 7.5 favorites against the Packers, the over under 46. Both numbers seem right on the money, as the Seahawks dispatched the boys from Green Bay 36-16 in prime time on September 4th. Not a whole lot has changed since then, both teams struggled early in the season but found their stride down the stretch with impressive victories against quality opponents. As was the case last week, the health of Rogers will be key, as his mobility is the one quality that sets him apart from the mortals and makes him elite. Nothing that happened last weekend suggested he will be able to regain that mobility and Russell Wilson was firing on all cylinders, especially on third down. If not for a dubious call against Dez Bryant, the Packers might not even be playing in this game and the Seahawks defense looks as impressive as it ever has, making all the big plays at the right time. These teams have played each other only 5 times in the last 6 years, so there really isn’t much to go on past their meeting earlier this season. We’ll play it safe, make a few small plays and hope that history repeats itself.

Seahawks -7.5 for .5 units. Under 46 for .5 units. Rogers under 271.5 for .5 units. Eddie Lacey over 69.5 for .5 units. Will there be a special teams TD? Yes (+150) for .5 units The Seahawks have been strong late in games, scoring on both offense and defense and I expect this to be a close game where the Seahawks get a late TD to cover. Hopefully on defense.

Richard Sherman demanding a play on the Seahawks and the under.

Richard Sherman demanding a play on the Seahawks and the under.

Patriots -7 favorites against the Colts, the over under 54. This is another rematch of a game played in November when the Patriots were really hitting their stride, handling the Colts fairly easily 42-20. The Patriots have won the last 5 meetings, scoring 59, 43, and 40 points in their last three. It appears Belichick and his staff like what they see when facing the Colts defense but the monkey wrench in this game could be the weather. The forecast is for fairly warm weather and rain. The Patriots have always scored well in bad weather under Belichick, especially in snow, while the Colts play most of their games in the comfort of a dome. All signs point to the Patriots here, which makes this gambler very nervous, as when a play seems too obvious it usually is. In that vein we will be betting the Colts and the under here along with some props.

Colts +7.5 (buying a half point) for .5 units. Under 53 for .5 units. The Patriots over 30.5 for .5 units, in what is a hedge play. Longest TD of the game under 49.5 for .5 units. LaFell under 57.5 yards and under 4.5 catches, each for .5 units.
Given the recent past, the Colts should come out with an extra emphasis on defense, slowing the game on offense to give their defense a chance. A shortened game and a high total has me thinking under, and Braden LeFell should get extra attention downfield limiting his receptions and total yards.

We've seen this face quite a few times after playoff games the last decade.

We’ve seen this face quite a few times after playoff games the last decade.

To be honest I actually like the teasers here in any direction as I think neither game will be a blowout, but we’ll go with the Pats -1 and Seahawks -1.5 for 1 unit.

Good luck to all and hopefully we will once again be taking from The Man and add to our coffers.

What its all about

What its all about

Kevon Looney, UCLA vs. Stanford – Highlights

Kevon Looney

UCLA vs. Stanford

01.08.2015

Kevon Looney – #5 UCLA

Here, we’ve got a tough one to pin down, UCLA’s Kevon Looney. Opinions vary as to whether he’s a long SF or a smallish PF. He’s projected to go in the lottery, but he doesn’t really have any scoring moves aside from cleaning up offensive rebounds. Hopefully, we can clear some of this up today.

Looney is probably accurately measured at 6′ 9″ in shoes. His arms are long, but not exceptionally so. He doesn’t have the kind of elite length you look for in today’s NBA power forwards. He appears to be quick but he’s not a fast player, in that he can get by other bigs but he doesn’t have the speed to out-quick NBA small forwards. He jumps well and appears to be an excellent rebounder, though he is a mixed bag when it comes to blocking out.

In the game against Stanford, Looney scored 27 points, mostly off trips to the line. That’s a good thing, as a Leon Powe type who can foul out an entire second team has tangible value in the NBA. He also hit two shots from behind the arc, the form on which was cringe worthy. Looney showed some face up game, creating space with his first step, but the majority of his offense comes from put backs and hustle plays. He showed no real back to the basket game whatsoever and I cannot remember any mid-range jumpers.

The thing that makes Looney hard to pin down, for me, is his production. He’s averaging 13 points and 11 rebounds per game for UCLA this season. Usually, when you get that kind of production out of a freshman power forward, you are looking at a solid lottery pick who has something besides hustle as a calling card. This isn’t really the case with Looney. What you see is what you are getting, at least at this point in time with him. He’s an NBA PF. Any ideas about him guarding small forwards in the NBA is pure fantasy, and his offensive game is so raw that one wouldn’t dream of running him out there at SF.

UCLA plays mainly zone, so getting a feel for what Looney can do for you on the defensive end is practically useless, except for a couple nice help blocks.

Looney’s main attraction should be his rebounding. Freshmen that average 11 per game are rare, even when they are playing for a squad as bad as UCLA this season. He has the knack for getting to the right place on the floor and getting higher than anyone else to get them.

All of this spells bench player, to me. For at least the first two to three seasons as a pro, Looney looks like bench material. He just doesn’t have the offensive game that would allow you to start a player like him. If his game improves to the point where he is as effective as Leon Powe was before tragedy struck, then you are looking at a sixth/seventh man coming off your bench for valuable minutes. Unfortunately, as of right now, that is just a wishful projection.

NCAA Champ Gambling Plays

Football and cash; the American Dream

Football and cash; the American Dream, even if its NCAA action

The faithful are brimming with confidence after collecting 3 units from the man over our plays from the NFL weekend, thanks in large part to the dubious call against the Cowboys which garnered us our under on the contest and made it a big winning weekend instead of just a modest deposit into the coffers. Onto the plays.

Oregon -6 against Ohio State, the over under 73.5. The line is low simply because of the legend of Urban Meyer. They are starting a 3rd string quarterback, and this time the opponent will have multiple games of scouting to stop him. Oregon has been a covering machine in the second half of the season as they simply do not EVER take the foot off the gas, and almost never settle for field goals. Meyer will get his team going enough to score some points, and the pace is so fast that each team will probably get over 80 snaps on offense. It pains me GREATLY to be on the side of the public who is overwhelmingly on the side of the Ducks here, but this line is wrong (should be ducks -9) and I see this Ohio State team as being vastly inferior to the FSU team that Oregon destroyed in the semis. On to the plays, which will be small as we’re not looking to give back to the man what we got over the weekend:

Oregon -6 for .5 units. Over the total of 73.5 for .5 units. Cardell Jones (OSU) under 47.5 rushing yards for .5 units. Two team 7 point tease, Oregon +1/Seattle Seahawks pk for .5 units.

Looking to cash in on the Quack Attack!!

Looking to cash in on the Quack Attack!!

Good luck to all, and stay tuned for our plays in the conference finals!!

Cash Money

Cash Money

NFL Divisional Weekend Gambling Picks

Football and cash; the American Dream

Football and cash; the American Dream

Saturday will mark the beginning of arguably the greatest 3 day stretch in the history of football, with 4 divisional NFL playoff games on Saturday and Sunday, then capped off Monday night with the first ever NCAA football tournament championship. Its a football fans dream, and nothing goes better with a main dish of football, than a side of gambling to add some cheddar to the coffers. After a ho hum wild card weekend that saw our picks pay the man only the vig, we get another chance to make profits out of progonsis.

On to the plays:

Patriots -7 against the Ravens, the total 47.5. This has turned into quite a rivalry over the years as the Ravens are one of the few teams in the NFL that doesn’t seem to get intimidated by the dynamic, hall of fame duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They have won 2 of the last 3 playoff matchups, the one loss punctuated by a missed chip shot field goal to send the game into overtime. The last time they met in the playoffs was 2013 where the Ravens won 28-13, holding Brady to a paltry 63 quarterback rating. It is important to note that in those three post season games all world TE Rob Gronkowski wasn’t a participant. That will change this time around and the Patriots did win their last meeting against the Ravens, blowing them out 41-7 in 2013. While the Patriots have improved their defense, the Ravens have had success scoring on Belichick defenses and the Patriots offense has been unstoppable since they got blown out by the Chiefs in week 4. I expect a nail biting, back and forth war, with both teams moving the ball despite the frigid conditions. This line has fluctuated from 7.5 to 6.5 and will probably settle at 7 by kickoff. Its always a wise move to pay the extra vig (-120) to get that half point.

Ravens +7.5 for 1 unit and over 47.5 for .5 units. Prop bet: Steve Smith over 4.5 receptions for 1 unit.

Bill Belichick isn't happy about laying 7

Bill Belichick isn’t happy about laying 7

Seahawks -11 against the Panthers, the total 40. The wild card weekend always seems to have one team that looks great in their win, but it turns out they either expended too much energy to advance or were just happy with the one win and end up getting pasted in the next round. The Panthers seem like a prime candidate for such a swoon. The Panthers are only participating in the tournament because of their weak division and did nothing last week that suggested they were much better than their sub .500 regular season record. The two teams did play each other in week 8, the Seahawks holding onto a 13-9 home win. Pom Pom Pete Carroll’s boys are a much different team now and look poised for another run at a championship. Their defense looks particularly dialed in, allowing a total of 19 points over their last 3 games.

Seahawks -11 for .5 units. Under 40 for 1 unit. Prop bets: Panthers team total under 13.5 (+100) for 1 unit. Cam Newton under 35 rushing yards for .5 units.

Wilson likes the over, but the faithful will be betting under

Wilson likes the over, but the faithful will be betting under

Packers -5.5 against the Cowboys, the total 51.5. The big question here is the health of Rogers. News that he was extremely limited in Thursdays practice had the money flowing in on the Stars, dropping the line a point and a half. Its impossible to tell if the Pack are playing Belichickian type games here with reports on Rogers health, but all signs point to him being extremely limited in mobility. Injuries usually has the gambling public over reacting, moving a line to the point where I like to bet the hampered team. This is not one of those cases, as Rogers is probably the most valuable player in the league with regards to making or breaking his team. They also have lost 2 home playoff games with a HEALTHY Rogers over the years, which certainly won’t sway me to their side. The over under line here is wrong in this gamblers (not so) humble opinion. I had it at 48.5 before it opened at 51.5 and held there. I see real value in this under even if Rogers proves healthy, and Dallas should get a bump from digging themselves out of the half full grave they dug for themselves last week against the Lions, getting a massive boost from a couple of dubious calls in their fourth quarter comeback win without a cover. But I like it when a team gets told they don’t deserve to be where they are…..pro athletes live for proving people wrong. To stay in this game the Pack are going to need an inspired effort from their defense.

Cowboys +6 (buying a point for -120) for 1.5 units. Under 51.5 for 2 units. Prop bets: Eddie Lacey under 85.5 rushing yards (+100) for .5 units. Aaron Rogers under 299.5 for .5 units. Packers under team total 29.9 for 1 unit.

"I have wooden teeth"

“I have wooden teeth”

Broncos -7 against the Colts, the over under 53. This is a rematch of week 1, when the Broncos beat the Colts 31-24 at Mile High. A whole lot has changed since then, most notably the Broncos turning their running game over to CJ Anderson, who responded with nearly 5 yards a carry and a whopping 8 TD’s. The Colts have also cooled their passing attack and eventually turning the running game over to Daniel Herron, who had a wild wild card game, rushing for 56 yards and a td, catching 10 passes for 85 yards and fumbling twice, losing one. In their week 16 loss to the playoff bound Bengals, the Broncos and specifically Peyton Manning collapsed in the second half, and this gambler wondered aloud if there was something seriously wrong with Manning’s health. He and his team bounced back in a week 17 blowout at lowly Oakland, but those questions still remain. On the other hand, any playoff win against a Marvin Lewis lead team should be taken with a grain of salt, so this one is tough to sift through with the spread. But when in doubt, take the points and add a hook onto that 7 your grabbing.

Colts +7.5 for .5 units. Under 53 for .5 units. Prop bets: Herron under 78.5 rushing and receiving yards for .5 units. Manning under 297.5 yards for 1 unit.

Looking to see a lot of the "Manningface" Sunday

Looking to see a lot of the “Manningface” Sunday

I usually say that teasers are for suckers, but I’m going to add a few “hedge” teasers here that could allow us to cash in big while having a bit of insurance on catastrophe:

Two team 7 point tease Patriots +1/2 Panthers Broncos pk for .5 units. Two team 7 point tease Pats/Ravens under 54.5 and Seahawks/Panthers over 33 for .5 units. I really think there is a good chance we hit on both our game totals and these tease totals.

Hopefully this weekend will see they money headed out of the pocket of The Man and into the pockets of the faithful. As always good luck to all out there and may all your NFL games be green!!

Cash Money

Cash Money

NBA First and Second Team

Its never too early to take a snapshot of the top players in the league. Here is the Celticsnuts 1st and 2nd team All NBA as we creep towards the All Star break, held in The Big Apple this year.

1st Team:

PG: John Wall. I was flat out wrong about John Wall. He’s the best PG in the league right now. 17 ppg 11 apg and 2.1 steals per game. He still can’t really shoot, although I’m not going to nit pick his 30% from 3 because of what it comes with. He’s a good enough defender and is an absolute nightmare on the break, with only Allen Iverson being quicker in the storied history of the league.

John Wall points to where his career is headed

John Wall points to where his career is headed

G: James Hardon. Wrong again about this player. Thought he was Paul Pierce minus the rebounding, but he’s just such an elite scorer averaging a league leading 26.8. He turns the ball over too much for my taste, but he has absolutely improved his defense this season as I have watched several of their games and he certainly has made a point of giving effort on that end.

Fear the Beard

Fear the Beard

C: Anthony Davis. He’s just too good to keep off this team, although I suppose one could argue he isn’t a center. But he certainly plays center on his team and thats all that matters for this discussion. He’s averaging 23/10 with an astounding 3 blocks per game. Shooting an eye popping 56% from the floor which is amazing considering how many shots he takes from 10-18 feet from the basket. A mortal would be shooting around 50% from the floor with that many outside shots. Its time his play results in the team AT LEAST finishing over .500 for the season, and if they don’t, and he stays healthy, there might be discussion of a chink in the armor. The sky is the limit for Davis who is only 22 years old.

The future of the league has one eyebrow and limitless potential

The future of the league has one eyebrow and limitless potential

F: Lebron James. Honestly? He just makes this list. He has his lowest per game totals since his rookie season in scoring (25.2), his worst season ever in rebounds per game (5.3), his worst FG% (48%) since 2008, lowest ORPG (0.7) since 2010 and free throw % (74%) since 2008. He hasn’t meshed well with his two running mates in Love and Irving compiling a very modest 19-16 record in the bottom heavy Eastern Conference. But even with all that bad he’s still averaging 25/5/7, and can’t be knocked off his perch. Yet. Stay tuned to see of this decline, however slight, is a trend, as he has played in 871 regular season games and 158 playoffs games despite being “only” 30 years old.

Its been a down year for James but not enough to keep him off the first team

Its been a down year for James but not enough to keep him off the first team

F: LaMarcus Aldridge. Having another fantastic year, averaging 23/10.6 on 45% shooting and adding an eye popping 48% from downtown on 1.1 attempts a game, which means he’s not shooting them by accident even if the total is low. He is the best in the league at the advanced stats unfriendly mid range jumper, and has his team rolling to a 27-8 record in the loaded Western Conference.

Advanced metrics don't like this shot but Aldridge certainly does

Advanced metrics don’t like this shot but Aldridge certainly does

2nd Team:

PG: Chris Paul. Steady as a rock clocking in at 17.6/4.7/9.5 with 47% from the floor, 39% from 3, and 88% from the line. But its put up or shut up time for Paul as he has been a top 3 point guard for nearly a decade now with VERY little to show for it in the post season. He has all the horses to get it done now, with Jordan (13 RPG) and Griffin (23/8/5) being able to lend more than enough support for a deep playoff run. Its a roster taylor made for both him and head coach Glen Rivers, and with the departure of their lunatic, racist owner, there are no places to point fingers other than mirrors.

Its put up or shut up time for Paul

Its put up or shut up time for Paul

G: Steph Curry. His 2 point FG% is up, his 3 point FG% is down, but everything else is about the same. He’s a top ten NBA player on a top 10 NBA team. He is paired with another elite shooter in Clay Thompson, forming one of the best outside shooting duos in league history. At 26 years of age his time is now, and he will be judged by his post season performance and matriculation.

Curry showing what shot he likes

Curry showing what shot he likes

C: DeAndre Jordan. He’s having a monster season grabbing a league high 13.7 rebounds to go with an astounding 71% from the floor and 2.5 blocks per game. His kryptonite is the free throw line where he’s hitting less than half his unguarded shots (41%). He’s also 26 years old and like Curry, his time is now. Will cash in with a max contract after this season, probably from the Clippers.

"I have to shoot a free throw?"

“I have to shoot a free throw?”

F: Jimmy Butler. Has to be here. Career best statistics in every meaningful measurable, and a lockdown wing defender. Averaging 21.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, and 3.3 apg to go along with 48% from the field, 34% from 3 and 83% from the line. Like Jordan will be signing a max contract after the season, but with the Bulls having their resources spread among other quality players its anyones guess where he ends up. Wherever he wants to is my best guess.

Jimmy Butler reacts to news he will be a FA at the end of the season

Jimmy Butler reacts to news he will be a FA at the end of the season

F: Blake Griffin. Griffin makes it 3 of the top 10 players in the league on the same team. Averaging 22/7/5 on 48% shooting from the floor, 43% from 3, and 72% from the line. An elite player coming into his own at age 25.

"How many points does my elbow get me?"

“How many points does my elbow get me?”

So thats where we’re at as the calendar turns to 2015. Discuss all topics NBA and Boston Celtics at http://celticsnuts.com/forum/index.php

Karl Towns, Kentucky @ Louisville – Highlights

You know, it is tough work trying to key on a teammate of Willie Cauley-Stein when Willie is basically everywhere on defense whenever he’s in the game. I did my best, however, and here is the result, the first Karl Towns highlight/lowlight package.

Towns is only 19 but he’s huge. Giant feet, long arms and fairly nimble for his sheer size. He can also jump, which isn’t always the case with big men.

In this game, Towns was a feature on the offensive glass, grabbing five offensive rebounds in total. His work on the defensive glass was somewhat underwhelming, but you cannot really pick too many nits, as Kentucky has a plethora of huge frontcourt players that vulture off each other when it comes to rebounds. If he were the sole center on his roster, it would be far easier to judge what he’s doing out there.

Offensively, he’s got some back to the basket game, with hook shots mostly. His outside shot isn’t really set in stone, as it varies from a Reggie Miller scissor kick thing to a typical, boring big guy set shot. Both are highlighted in the video. I didn’t see much of a trace of a face-up game from him this time around.

His handle and hands overall look iffy. He got a couple rebounds snatched away and turned the ball over a couple times. He did catch all his entry passes, however, so there is hope that he is not stone handed. Towns did look great once, converting a Cauley-Stein steal into an and-1 layup from half court.

I did cut in a clip of Towns playing very good defense on a switch, coming out to challenge a guard. Other than that one time, he wasn’t relied on much to play defense outside the paint. Cauley-Stein guarded Montrezl Harrell and kept him bottled up all night, and Louisville doesn’t really have anybody outside of Harrell to challenge Towns defensively. I really need to see him up against a low post monster like Okafor before he’ll be getting my bon mots for his post defense. I’d also like to see him guard someone with an outside game, so circle February 28th to see him against Bobby Portis and Arkansas, though a Wisconsin matchup in the tourney would be great as well.

Overall, it was tough to take away much from this game, as it was a street fight from the opening tip. Right now, I can say Karl Towns is a big dude who can work the offensive glass and wasn’t nearly as lumbering as I thought he’d be. Anything more than that will have to be shelved until I see him more.

As always, please comment and let us know what you think or join us on the Celtics Nuts Forums.

Bobby Portis, Arkansas @ Clemson – Highlights

Bobby Portis

Arkansas @ Clemson

12.07.2014

Bobby Portis – #10 Arkansas

Here’s where I take on the puzzling case of Arkansas’s Bobby Portis. He’s a player I had a hard time getting a true read on. If you watch the video, I think you might see why.

Portis is an odd player. He has measured at 6′ 10″, 235 lbs. last year at the Nike Skills Academy, though I suspect he may have worn lead socks for his weigh in. With that kind of size, you would expect a typical college big man. That isn’t really the case. The play-by-play guy compared him to Kevin Garnett at one point, which as a Celtics fan, I found completely heretical. That does get closer to a comparison, though, and I think I’ve finally found it.

He’s Darius Miles reborn.

Now that I have that out of the way, on to analyzing his game against Clemson.

Offensively, Portis has some post moves but has trouble establishing position in the post for easy entries. He isn’t all that thick through the lower half of his body, so he has a tough time backing his guy down. Facing up and driving appears to be more effective for him, as he has a quickness advantage against most college big men. His jump shot, being generous, is about an inch high than a set shot and fairly flat as well. I have learned over the years that these big men with a set shot won’t translate to the NBA. Unless Portis puts a great deal of effort into his jumper, his offense will be severely limited as a pro. In the video, there are plenty of examples of this, ranging from three point shots to eight footers.

Portis is a fairly weak rebounder, mostly due to poor jumping ability. He boxes out effectively when he tries, though he only tries on occasion. Clemson got a lot of offensive boards in this game and there really isn’t any other big men on the Razorbacks roster who are taking rebounds away from Portis. His ability as an offensive rebounder appears to be mostly tip backs.

Where Portis really shines is on the defensive end of things. He definitely has the quickness to switch out on the perimeter and guard smaller players. If they get by him, he has the coordination to follow them into the lane and go for the steal or block. This is a rare skill and one that definitely translates to the NBA. Guarding big men, he will willingly bang down low, but his lack of hops limits his effectiveness handling post players.

What this boils down to, for me, is the question of whether Portis can improve his handle enough to play small forward. If he can and if he can work on that shot, he’s got a chance at being a pretty good Darius Miles clone. There’s more value in that than being just another generic big who can switch on the perimeter but is pretty much stapled to the floor. If he declares for the draft this year, I think teams will rightly see him as a project and draft him shortly after the lottery.

NFL Wild Card Gambling Plays

NFL and gambling go together like peanut butter and jelly, or wideouts and strippers

NFL and gambling go together like peanut butter and jelly, or wideouts and strippers

Wild Card Weekend from a gambling perspective:

Panthers -6.5 against the Cardinals, the total 37.5. The Cards come literally limping into the playoffs, down to their 3rd quarterback and key injuries to DL Frosty Rucker (probable hip), G Jonathan Cooper (probable wrist) and LB Larry Foote (probably knee). They have lost 4 of their last 6 games, although two of them are to the Seahawks. The Panthers are relatively healthy and coming off a decent win on the road in a de facto playoff game in Atlanta. But 6.5 is WAY too much to be laying for a team thats 19th in the league in offense at 21 ppg against a defense that allows 19. I love buying a half point here making the play -125. I also don’t see either offense getting a whole lot done.

Cards +7 for 1.5 units and under 37.5 for 2 units.

Hopefully we will be seeing a lot of this

Hopefully we will be seeing a lot of this

Steelers -3 against the Ravens, the total 44.5. The Steelers will be without their all world running back in Bell, but are coming off a decisive win against the Bengals to garner home field advantage. The Ravens have been up and down on both sides of the ball all year long, having Justin Forsett basically save their season with a 1,000 plus yards of rushing to replace Ray Rice. The teams rank 8th and 9th in points per game respectively so expect some fireworks here. The Steelers will probably look to pass the ball quite a bit without their star running back, which extends games and increases scoring.

Steelers -3 for .5 units and over 44.5 for 1 unit.

Gonna need all the help we can get to cash a ticket

Gonna need all the help we can get to cash a ticket

Colts -3.5 against the Bengals, the total 49. The Bengals struggles in the playoffs, and big games in general, are well documented, and the Colts come in winners of 5 of their last 6 contests. Andrew Luck was on pace to shatter the league record for passing yards in a season, but cooled down the stretch. I would rather eat glass than put my money on an NFL team coached by Marvin Lewis and quarterbacked by Andy Dalton. AJ Green going through concussion protocol two days before kickoff isn’t nudging me in their direction either. One interesting note about the game; The Bengals and Colts are two of the four teams that have made the post-season five times in the last six years. They join the Patriots and Packers.

Colts -3 (-120, buying a half point) for 2 units. Under 44.5 for .5 units.

The Andy Dalton Face

The Andy Dalton Face

Cowboys -6.5 over the Lions, the total 48. Despite having a quality quarterback and all world wide receiver, the boys from Detroit have struggled to score points all season ranking 22nd in the league. The Cowboys have been a machine on both sides of the ball all year long and seem to be peaking at the right time, although I have questions about the health of Demarcus Murray. It pains me to lay anything more than a FG in a post season game, but I have a hard time seeing how the Lions are going to score enough points to win the game.

Cowboys -6.5 for .5 units. Under 48 for 1 unit.

Jerry pointing where the money should go

Jerry pointing where the money should go

Good luck to everyone out there, and hopefully when the dust settles on Sunday night we’re going this:

3b838f55520b50100b5879f04692700f

Mario Hezonja, Barcelona vs. Panathinaikos – Highlights

Mario Hezonja

FC Barcelona vs Panathinaikos

12.18.2014

Mario Hezonja – #8 FC Barcelona

If nothing else, I can now make the claim of having seen former steal of the 2003 NBA Draft, Maciej Lampe in live action – on communist television, no less. He really exists. He’s really big. And he really sucks.

On to darling of the 2015 NBA Draft, Mario Hezonja. Hezonja is an allegedly 6′ 8″ SG/SF swing man playing limited minutes in the EuroLeague tournament for FC Barcelona. If you watch the video, it certainly doesn’t appear that he is 6′ 8″, though he’s got some hops for a Euro player.

I didn’t get much of a read on his handles, as he didn’t really do any dribble driving this game. His hands appear to be okay, though and he seemed quicker than most of the players on the floor, not that that says much in EuroLeague.

The shooting stroke looked fine, though he missed most of his outside shots. He has a quick release and doesn’t hesitate mid-jump like a lot of Euro players. His dunking game was on point, having flushed all three opportunities he had at the rim. That was a pretty big surprise for me.

Defensively, it appears he needs some work. Hezonja is quick enough to stay with his man but he turns into a magnet on picks. He might be able to improve with seasoning and coaching. He has the length and bulk to stay with shooting guards but NBA small forwards will feast upon his pale carcass. This is another reason why I’m interested in getting a fix on his handle, as he is probably a better fit at SG, the position he played this entire game.

By my count, he got in on one rebound, which says volumes about an 20 year old playing in Turkish Airlines presents EuroLeague basketball, making basketball a closer sport worldwide. I think that’s the name of the league these days, at least.

If nothing else, I’d like to see a bit more of the kid. Right now, he looks like a less polished version of Nik Stauskas. We’ll see if he gets minutes now that the competition is down to the top 16 teams entering the new year.

As always, comment and let us know what you think or join us on the forums.