The All-Underutilized Team, and random thoughts from the All-Star Game
On NBA benches around the league, there are energy guys, shooting specialists, defensive stoppers and Windex men. It can be tough to parse the stars-in-waiting from the specialists, but one way to identify young players who should be getting more minutes is to use the NBA’s Efficiency statistic...
EFF = ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) - ((Field Goals Att. - Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. - Free Throws Made) + Turnovers))
…and divide it by the number of minutes the player has played.
By removing the top 150 players (30 teams x 5 starters) in minutes per game (MPG), we can identify a few subs that should be getting more minutes. After removing the top 150 players in average minutes, the cutoff is 25.8 MPG. We want to keep out the riffraff and the aberrations, so we’ll set a lower limit of at least 10 minutes per game.
Here are a few players that should see more court time:
Jordan Farmar, PG, Los Angeles Lakers
20.8 mpg, 9.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 47.0 FG%, 38.1 3PT%
If not for Derek Fisher, Farmar would be the Lakers’ starting point guard in his second season. The quality play that those two guys are giving the team is a major upgrade over Smush Parker, who started much of last season. Fisher may be able to hold Farmar off for a while but the youngster’s production demands more minutes, and he’ll eventually see them. In the meantime, Farmar sees his elder as a role model, and Fisher isn’t a bad guy to emulate.
Sasha Vujacic, SG, Los Angeles Lakers
15.2 mpg, 7.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 47.6 FG%, 42.6 3PT%
The Lakers have good reason to be proud of their bench. Not only are they getting great play out of Farmar and Vujacic, Trevor Ariza and Ronny Turiaf almost made this list as well. For his part, Vujacic is shooting the lights out. At best he is a mediocre defender, but as long as those shots keep falling he’ll see minutes off the bench. He becomes a free agent at the end of the season, but teams should be leery of players that make a big jump in production in their contract year. Is his new work ethic for real or is the guy just looking for a payday?
Hakim Warrick, SF, Memphis Grizzlies
16.4 mpg, 8.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 51.6 FG%
If Warrick were to get around 30 minutes, he’d be posting 15-16 points and 6-7 rebounds per game, which is a nice line from a small forward. Sadly, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get much of a chance to develop playing behind franchise cornerstone Rudy Gay. Warrick becomes a free agent after next season, so teams in need of a solid forward should take note.
Carl Landry, PF, Houston Rockets
14.0 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 60.0 FG%
Landry is just recently starting to see semi-consistent minutes and his rebounding rate is one of the best in the league. He is a little undersized for a power forward, but more and more the league is moving to a small-ball approach. He is willing to do all the dirty work but he can score a little in the post. He’s a bit reminiscent of Utah’s Paul Millsap, who was on last year’s All-Underutilized Team (and was beat out by Landry this year).
Sean Williams, C, New Jersey Nets
21.1 mpg, 7.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 54.8 FG%
The Nets knew they were rolling the dice on Williams, who had some “character issues” while at Boston College. The guy is a defensive force who blocks shots at an alarming rate. He has shown some serious promise this season, posting 11 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks against the Clippers in January. He also had an eight-block game against the Kings and a five-block game against the Wizards. He can score a little, too; he has hit double figures 14 times this season. If he keeps playing like this, he may make the All-Rookie team this year.
See, being an NBA GM isn’t that hard of a job. Crunch a few numbers, watch a few games, and a sign a few players. Easy as pie.
Now, for some random thoughts about the All-Star Game:
- Is it just me or was the All-Star Game much more entertaining back in the day? I don’t want to become one of these sports fans who is always living in the past, but when MJ, Bird and Magic were playing, there was an intensity and a competitiveness about the game that just doesn’t seem to be there now. When those guys stepped on the court, there was no loafing, and there are only a few guys that I’d put into that category now: Kobe, Nash and maybe Chris Paul.
- Speaking of Paul, it’s fun to watch him and Deron Williams compete for best point guard from their draft class, but I’d take Paul in a heartbeat. He is the quintessential point guard. He’s lightning quick with a great handle and terrific court vision. He also has an improving jumper, which will be devastating once it’s a bit more consistent. The East had control until Paul changed the tempo of the game and brought the West back. Nash is still the best, but Paul is closing fast.
- There was some high comedy during the introductions. With a New Orleans jazz band playing in the background, Rasheed Wallace was dancing around while the other six reserves just stood like statues. Then LeBron came out and danced his fool head off. I just can’t see Jordan doing that, but LeBron isn’t MJ, is he?
- During the intros, I noticed a few pre-teen girls dancing alongside some of the Hornets cheerleaders in the background. It made me wonder -- do young girls idolize NBA cheerleaders? Do they want to grow up to wear tiny shorts and dance around in front of thousands of people?
- We were treated to more Jason Kidd trade speculation during the game. Now it looks like a revised deal that doesn’t include Devean George or Jerry Stackhouse (but does require bringing Keith Van Horn out of retirement) will actually happen. I still don’t like this trade for Dallas, as giving up Devin Harris plus two first-round picks for a 35-year-old point guard just doesn’t seem like a very good strategy. Still, it will probably increase their title chances for this season.
- What if Kidd had been traded before the deadline after being named a starter for the East? Would he still play for the East in the All-Star Game, or would they have moved him to the West? These are the things that I think about while watching the All-Star Game.
- Dwight Howard’s new nickname is “Superman.” He made all seven of his shots en route to 16 points and nine boards. It was fun to watch him go at it with Amare Stoudemire. That is becoming one of the better one-on-one rivalries in the game.
- The jerseys were quite confusing. The East players were wearing uniforms that were blue on the front and silver on the back, while the West players were wearing a gold/white combination. Whoever thought this up should be punched in the face.
- There was some more comedy after halftime. With the East in control, Allen Iverson apparently made a speech in the locker room telling his teammates to step up the effort. This is the same Allen Iverson who was throwing the ball all over the arena en route to six first half turnovers. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
- Rasheed Wallace shot three or four LEFT-HANDED three-pointers. He made one of them, but I doubt the fans in attendance wanted to see him brick a bunch of shots trying to prove that he can shoot from long distance with his off hand.
- Are LeBron James and Carlos Boozer close? I didn’t see them interact at all during the game.
- What is with Dish TV saying that their DVR is “better than TiVo”? There isn’t any fine print at the bottom of the commercial explaining how they came to that conclusion, so I can only assume that it is the biased opinion of the Dish TV marketing department. Better than TiVo? Says who?
- Harry Connick, Jr. headlined the halftime entertainment, which featured several New Orleans jazz piano legends. Watching them play, it got me thinking: listening to jazz is a lot like drunk sex. It’s fun at first, but it’s sloppy, goes on forever, and you never really seem to get anywhere.
- I did like Allen Troussaint’s performance of “Yes, We Can.” He wrote the song, but Lee Dorsey made it famous in 1970.
- The West made it a game, but in the end, LeBron’s near triple-double and Ray Allen’s 28 points in 19 minutes helped the East prevail. For the West, Chris Paul led the way with 16 points, 14 assists and four steals.
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