Friday, April 15, 2011

A Little Q & A Session...

Greetings everyone... Yes, we're still prepping for the NBA playoff preview... that'll be out Saturday morning... but in the meantime, I was asked a few questions this week, and wanted to get to them... questions courtesy of my cohort Ryan...

  • What has happened to Joe Johnson in the 2nd half of the season? Well, this is an interesting one... first, some stats... Joe averaged 26 points, 5 assists, and 5 boards in 13 games in January... that is superstar-type output and pretty much what the Hawks need him to do... then, the 2nd half happened... for the final 3 months, he never averaged over 17 points a game in any month, and he's averaged under 16 points, 4 boards, and 4 assists since the All-Star break... I think it's a combination of things... there's a slight (I repeat, slight) regression in talents I believe due to age (he's 31 now with a lot of miles)... in addition, there's been a concerted effort to get the ball out of Joe's hands (iso-Joe), and while that's a season long effort, Joe's usage rate is down even further in the 2nd half... Basically, I think his lack of production seems to dwell on being uninspired, and because he's the face of this team, it's been similar throughout the roster...
  • Who is the most improved player in the NBA this year? This is a very tough one... This is actually the toughest award to evaluate for me because the criteria is ridiculously open-ended... There are certain types of guys who get involved in this award... Guys who "breakout" from good to great, and guys who go from obscurity to become contributors... there are varying things on this, but everyone usually falls into one of these categories... I'm picking LaMarcus Aldridge... Hear me out... he's averaged a career-high 22 ppg, 9 rebounds per, and for about a 2-month period, absolutely CARRIED Portland on his back in the absence of Roy... I feel like he's one of two guys (with Kevin Love) who made the leap from good to great this year, but Love still has weaknesses (defense and the fact that is team is wretched, even if that's not his fault) and slightly inflated stats... Aldridge is the single most improved guy in my eyes because he passes the eye test... he FEELS like a superstar now in a way that he's never felt, and I can see him being a #1 on a good team (which he already is)... Other candidates: Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan, Dorell Wright, Deandre Jordan, Serge Ibaka
  • What do we make of Denver? This is a great question... since the Carmelo Anthony trade, Denver is 18-7... 18-7!... It's now a team with ridiculous depth (we'll come back to this), but no superstar, and they are extremely entertaining to watch... Here's a question... Where do they go when they need a basket? I'm really not sure... Nene is the best player on the team IMO but he's a big... I don't think of Felton or Lawson as "closers"... JR Smith is insane... Chandler and Gallinari aren't exactly "creators"... Is it really Arron Afflalo? He's been their best crunch-time scorer but I don't know... that's an issue... but here's the big problem... I believe the #1 culprit of their success (other than MELO IS GONE! YES! WE GET TO SHOOT!) is their depth... but their 10-man rotation isn't going to do them any favors in the playoffs when there's no back-to-backs, and when teams are trotting out only their best 8... they draw a decent matchup for them in OKC, but I'm not sure they are really a threat to do any real damage...
Changing gears...
  • What baseball teams are you impressed with in this short timeframe? In quick form... Texas and Colorado are probably the most impressive... 9-3 and 10-2 respectively, they are both hitting the ball all over the yard, and I think it continues... Texas caught an injury with Hamilton, but they have crazy lineup depth, and their pitching (Ogando especially) has been better than most expected... Lineups carry you over 162, and they're built to win that division... for Colorado, it's not unexpected, but Tulo is absolutely mashing, they have underrated pitching (I love Chacin, and even De la Rosa), and they aren't going away... Also, Cleveland and KC at 8-4 each is pretty impressive... I don't really buy it in either case, but it's a good look... Do I really have to say that Philly is impressive?....
  • What are you more impressed with, Derek Lowe's pitching start or Chipper Jones' health? This one had me laughing... the answer is Lowe... yes, Chipper has looked more spry than I anticipated so far this year, but at the same time, it's a 13-game sample, and he's one of those guys where every time he slides, you're praying for him to get up... so I can't really judge the health yet... Lowe has been electric so far... 1.47 and 1.o7 WHIP so far... he's burying guys down in the zone, and it seems like the movement is fully back on his pitches (as evidenced by 15 K's in 18 innings)... I really like what I've seen from Lowe since August of last year...
  • What is your overall assessment of the Braves so far? It's obviously early so I'm not going into a long-scale rambling here... but in short, I'm not worried... the bats have gotten off to a slow start... there are really only 2 guys (maybe 3 if you count Heyward) that have hit to their potential so far... McCann is raking, and Chipper's .800+ OPS is about all you can ask for... but Uggla is still asleep (.552 OPS), Freeman started quite slow, and the Gonzalez/McLouth pu pu platter is, well, a pu pu platter... that said, I'm still excited about the lineup when Uggla starts hitting... I absolutely disdain the best hitter in the lineup (Jason Heyward) losing ABs by hitting in the 6 hole... I do understand the unwillingness to hit Chipper lead-off because it would just SEEM crazy, but you already have a lead-off hitter who 1) isn't fast, and 2) NEVER walks... whatever... but I can't endorse McLouth in the 2-hole and getting more ABs than Heyward... on the pitching side, My only real concerns going forward are with the veteran relievers... Linebrink and Sherrill have been mini-disasters so far... I anticipated Fredi actually realizing that Sherrill can't pitch to right-handers (ever) and he doesn't seem to grasp that yet, but the real key is Linebrink... they need him to be semi-effective, and right now, he has a 1.59 WHIP... that won't get it done... As far as Beachy and Minor are concerned, I'm not worried... Minor got roughed up in his one start, but he won't surface again unless there's an injury, and Jurrjens takes the hill Saturday...
Alright then... there's that.. if there's anything you want/need addressed, feel free to hit up the comments page... stay tuned...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the Q and A

pasmember06 said...

@imryan: any thoughts on soccer related issues? @browismyhero: feel free to add any of your own...