Monday, August 23, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Noah; 7 Storylines; All-Stars?; 10 Bold Predictions; SF Ranks / Deng)

BBS post yesterday: Week 2: Cutler's S.O.S.

BBS post earlier today: Click-a-Bull (Derrick Rose Links)

VOTE: How many games will the
BEARS win this season? ---->


Joakim Noah giving back to community

It's a few minutes past 4 p.m. on an August Friday and the excitement is palpable at the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria Queens.

Several preteens stand in the lobby while a few parents and a photographer look on, waiting for the arrival of the day's special guest. Volunteers scurry back and forth trying to tie up some loose ends as other neighborhood children shuffle in and out of classrooms, some trying to figure out exactly what is going on. Small banners dot the walls announcing the special events that have already started taking place in the building. The old facility on 30th Street has a different kind of energy to it on this day.

It's not every day that an NBA player, who spent many of his formative years working on his game around the area, comes back to visit. It's also not every day that you see a 7-foot, 260-pound man with a curly ponytail walk around in a red tank top and blue checkered shorts. But then again, you never know exactly what to expect when you see -- and hear -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah.

That's why everyone has gathered here today, and that's why they're so excited when the happy-go-lucky big man walks up the steps and strides through the double doors. Seemingly everybody gets a handshake or a hug. He would stand and talk to everybody for a while if he could, but the events are underway and he's got to attempt to stay on schedule. It's his foundation's inaugural Stickman Day, after all, and everybody wants a moment of his time. So he heads down the stairs and down the hall with the same confident swagger he displays on the basketball floor.

Noah has control of any room he enters because of his outgoing personality, but this particular room in the far corner is a little different. That's because the arts and crafts room is filled with young girls, as well as two of the most important women in his life -- his mom, Cecilia Rodhe, and his sister, Yelena. Rodhe, an accomplished sculptor and art therapist, has spent the past couple hours working with the girls, and now it's time to show some of the finished clay sculpture to the man of the hour.

"Hello ladies," Noah says as he ducks underneath the doorway to enter the classroom.

7 curious things about the upcoming season

The defense in Chicago
The Boston Celtics' return to the NBA's upper echelon was predicated first and foremost on their defense. They unleashed a pressurized force field designed and implemented by Tom Thibodeau, and ultimately adopted by other teams around the league, including the Los Angeles Lakers. This June, the Bulls tapped Thibodeau to fill their head coaching vacancy. He joins a Bulls team that put together a strong defensive season last season, finishing 10th in efficiency. Skeptics might look at Derrick Rose -- whose defensive instincts are a far cry from Rajon Rondo -- and Carlos Boozer and conclude that Thibodeau doesn't have the personnel to succeed the way he did in Boston. Yet in 2007, Thibodeau took a quintet that featured Ray Allen (who had a horrendous defensive reputation coming from Seattle), an undisciplined big man in Kendrick Perkins, a second-year point guard in Rajon Rondo who'd started only 25 games and made them one of the best defensive units in basketball. With Joakim Noah anchoring the interior, the lanky tandem of Luol Deng and Ronnie Brewer on the wings, Boozer's sharp basketball IQ and Rose's gifts, Thibodeau should have the tools to sculpt a top-5 defense. If the Bulls buy in, we'll have a better understanding whether Thibodeau's kind of tactical expertise is transferable -- and an inkling of just how dangerous the Bulls could be.

2011 All-Star Game: How Does Free Agent Movement Affect Who Goes?

With all the offseason movement this summer, a lot will look different this upcoming season. One of the biggest and most noticeable will be the new faces who might appear in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game.

The biggest differences will likely take place out West. With players like Amar’e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer now residing on Eastern Conference teams, a few frontcourt positions have opened up.

But most importantly is how the moves affected the power rankings of the teams in each conference. A couple teams that made the Western playoffs could end up dropping out of the playoffs altogether, whereas a few teams that made the playoffs in the East last season actually improved drastically.

Reason why I mentioned the teams and how they presumably rose and dropped is because winning comes into the equation of selecting who does and doesn’t make the All-Star Game.

For example, Amar’e leaving Phoenix and the likelihood of the Suns dropping in the standings could knock a player like Steve Nash out of contention for a roster selection, whereas a player like Russell Westbrook could be in a great position if the Thunder get off to a quick start like expected.

Andrew Bynum might steal a roster berth if he gets off to a fast start, but then again, Yao Ming is back and will be the starting the season and Tim Duncan will get selected by the coaches regardless of what kind of season he is having.

In the East, Amar’e could find himself left off the roster if the Knicks don’t win early and often. Yet a player like Joakim Noah or Andrew Bogut could find himself on it if their teams improve on last season’s success.

Chris Bosh might miss the game if he isn’t voted in by the fans and it’ll be interesting to see how many fans don’t vote for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

All in all, I expect to see more than a handful of new faces at the game this season.

Here’s my picks of the players with the best shot at making it at each position.

Sky High: 10 Bold Predictions for the Chicago Bulls This Season

It's late in summer and most of the dust has settled, the smoke has cleared, and now it's time to look forward to the future.

Notably, the team we are going to be looking at are the Chicago Bulls. I will do my best to make 10 bold predictions for the Bulls' upcoming season in hopes that most of them, if not all, come true.

Keep in mind that some of these may seem a little too optimistic, but that's why they are BOLD predictions.

Without further ado, here are my top 10 bold predictions for the Bulls' upcoming season...

Ranking the small forwards, 11 through 1

8. Luol Deng(notes), Chicago Bulls (last year: 19th)

After a year or two in the wilderness, Luol finally got his wits about him in 2009-10, averaging 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds alongside his typically sound defense. Deng also chipped in about a steal and block per game, and this is important: Luol came in at under two turnovers a game for the sixth time in a six year career. I understand that his mid-range, rarely-dribbling game doesn't see him taking many chances, but to be able to field a solid-scoring forward for nearly 38 minutes a game and see him turn it over just 1.9 times per? Good stuff.

Ranking Luol Deng

According to Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie, Luol Deng is the eight-best small forward in the NBA, behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Gerald Wallace, Andre Iguodala, Danny Granger and Paul Pierce.

Here’s Dwyer’s commentary: “After a year or two in the wilderness, Luol finally got his wits about him in 2009-10, averaging 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds alongside his typically sound defense. Deng also chipped in about a steal and block per game, and this is important: Luol came in at under two turnovers a game for the sixth time in a six-year career. I understand that his midrange, rarely dribbling game doesn’t see him taking many chances, but to be able to field a solid-scoring forward for nearly 38 minutes a game and see him turn the ball over just 1.9 times per? Good stuff.”

That seems fair. Now let’s take a quick peek at the comparitive 2010-11 salaries of Dwyer’s top eight SFs (from ShamSports): LeBron ($14,500,000), Durant ($6,053,663 from his rookie contract but jumping to $13,603,750 in 2011-12), ‘Melo ($17,149,243), Wallace ($10,500,000), Iggy ($12,345,250), Granger ($10,973,202), Pierce ($13,876,321) and Deng ($11,345,000).

This biggest knock against Deng is his supposedly cap-killing contract. And yet based on Dwyer’s rankings, Deng’s pay is roughly commensurate with his standing among the league’s elite small forwards.

This — in addition to all the recent talk about potentially trying to flip Deng (and other assets) for ‘Melo — got me to wondering how Luol ranks statistically compared to the league’s other small forwards.

Deng versus the Average Small Forward:
According to Hoopdata, the average NBA small forward gives his team 9.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG (2.7 DR and 0.8 OR), 1.4 APG, 0.7 SPG and 0.4 BPG while shooting 44.9% from the field, 34.9% from downtown and 78.6% from the line (on 2.2 FTA).

Last season, Deng averaged 17.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG (5.4 DR and 1.9 OR), 2.0 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.9 and 0.9 BPG while shooting 46.6% from the field, 38.6% from beyond the arc and 76.4% from the line (on 4.7 FTA).

At a glance, it’s clear that Deng is solidly above average. But let’s delve further. The following comparitive rankings also come from Hoopdata. I have compared Deng to other “full time” small forwards — that is, SFs who played 40+ games and 30+ MPG — across several categories.

1 comment:

Pete said...

wow, that ranking Deng article is very eye opening. I'm still not sure i wouln't rather see deng's money go to other players. he still cant carry a team like the other top 7 guys but maybe he isnt that bad of a deal.

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