Friday, September 21, 2007

It's getting to be that time of year again

In his column at today, Marc Stein gives his evaluation of the off-season moves made by each Eastern Conference team. He likes the Sixers pick-up of Reggie Evans, but other than that gives the Sixers low marks--primarily on the basis of the lack of moves made this summer. I'm not in agreement with all of his evaluations (for instance, I think Orlando took a step backwards this summer), but his column is a clear sign that "season preview" season is just around the corner. Training camps start in two weeks, and things around here will probably pick up a bit once that happens. I can't wait!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Finding a good pick-up basketball game in Anchorage

I successfully arrived in Alaska last week (despite the best efforts of the bear crossing the Alaska highway right in front of me). My first order of business was to set-up my room, but close behind that task on my list of things to do was to find a place to play pick-up basketball.

This is the first time in years, possibly in my entire life, that I've needed to figure out the best place to play pick-up basketball without having access to a reliable source of information on the subject. Growing up, I always played with my friends at one of the local courts. In college, I just went to the school gym. After college, I was still living with my college roommates. We played at one of the local outdoor courts and occasionally sneaked into the some of the nearby college gyms (before they added the electronic swipe cards!). Then, when I went back to school, I played at the school gym again.

Here, in Anchorage, Alaska, I have no idea where the best place to play pick-up basketball is located. I was going to say that it isn't something you can just google, but apparently it is (as you can see here--[update: I googled "anchorage pick-up basketball"]). Kind of amazing that google books can take you directly to the page in Hoop Nation that talks about the best places to play pick-up basketball in Anchorage. Of course, I have no idea if the recommendations are good or not (for indoor they recommend the University of Alaska-Anchorage gym which is open to the public for a reasonable fee). For a general fitness membership, I've been told that The Alaska Club is really the only game in town. And since they also have a basketball gym (and tennis courts, squash courts, etc), I was just assuming I would join there. The only problem is that they require a year-long membership--so I want to get it in the next couple of days (since I'll only be here for another 11 months), but I'll also be stuck with it if it does turn out that University of Alaska-Anchorage really is the best place to play.

Take a look at the two websites and share you thoughts. Plus, how do you go about figuring out where to play basketball when you move to a new location? Any methods other than trial and error?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oh yeah--Calvin Booth

Easy to overlook since he's probably not going to play substantial minutes, but the Sixers also picked up Calvin Booth last week. One thing Booth is not going to do is score--he averaged as many fouls as points last season (1.6). He's regarded as a defensive/shot-blocking specialist, but in looking at his numbers from last season I'm not sure that he deserves that reputation. Per 40 minutes, he averages 3.1 blocks, but only 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 fouls. That makes him a better shot-blocker than Samuel Dalembert (2.5/40 minutes), but a significantly worse rebounder (11.6/40 minutes). Plus, his extremely high foul rate makes him a bit of a liability--giving the other team lots of free throws isn't the best way to help the Sixers defense. And in case you were wondering, his WP48 last year was a measly .010 (remember, the average is .100). I don't know that the Sixers could have gotten anyone better (although I still think they should make the long-shot offer to Anderson Varejao), but I don't think Booth is going to be much of a help this season.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Reggie Evans, Philadelphia. Philadelphia, Reggie Evans.

What do I think of the Sixers' acquisition of Reggie Evans (and the rights to Rickey Sanchez) from the Denver Nuggets in return for Steven Hunter and Bobby Jones? I can tell tell you in three short words: I like it. Want a few more words? I like it a lot!

The Sixers really needed a power forward who could provide rebounding and solid interior defense, and Reggie Evans fits the bill. As the Philadelphia Inquirer put it:
The 6-foot-8, 245-pound Evans will give the Sixers some much-needed toughness in the interior. Last season, he led the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes (19.7). Evans averaged 7.0 rebounds in 17.1 minutes per game.
Even more impressive, Reggie Evans had the best rebound rate in the NBA in 2004-05 (23.9%), 2005-06 (21.4%), and 2006-07 (23.0%). Also, he isn't a rebounder on just one side of the ball. He gets both offensive and defensive rebounds, averaging 5.5 offensive rebounds and 10.8 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes.

As for the non-rebounding portion of his defense, I recall him being a very physical defender (although not necessarily a very good defender). His average of 5.1 fouls per 40 minutes supports this observation about his defense. It also helps explain why he has been traditionally overlooked--coaches are reluctant to keep him on the floor because he gets into foul trouble (and because coaches generally don't like to play non-scorers, despite all the talk about the importance of defense). I say leave him on the floor until he fouls out. If we can get 30 minutes a night out of him as our starting power forward and get his rebound production for that amount of time, then I think accepting a few extra fouls as the price for his production is a good trade. Yes, I'd prefer fewer fouls, but you take players as they are, not as you want them to be!

For what it's worth, Win Score metrics also indicate this trade was a steal for the Sixers. The numbers available show that both Steven Hunter and Bobby Jones were below average players last season. Reggie Evans, on the other hand, was well above average with a WP48 of .300 (.100 is average for all NBA players). The proof is in the pudding, but for now I'm very enthusiastic about this trade for the Sixers. Now we just need to hope that the Sixers' coaches are smart enough to take advantage of the rebounding machine they've been given.