Sunday, August 14, 2016

Team USA: Basketball Gods Lacking Miracles

The United States of America national basketball team so far has been doing pretty well in the Olympics: they‘ve won three out of the three matches that they‘ve had so far, promptly demolishing China and Venezuela and managing a more difficult victory against Australia. Now they’ve got two more European opponents to play until the QF – but the dream team is a bit short in the dream department, or so it seems this far.

While victories against China and Venezuela came predictably easily, it was a whole different story when Australia’s team had to be faced. The third game was definitely a tough nut to crack for the Americans, and they couldn’t be sure of a consecutive win until the very last minute of the match.

Andrew Bogut’s quip on Australians being fully capable of beating USA caused quite a reaction amongst the fans. Many of them were very sceptical and it caused more than a few comments full of ridicule. However, there was a small percentage that took Bogut’s words to heart – probably because of the sheer intensity that the teams displayed during their duel.

Australia did manage to crush one of the group’s favourites France and Serbia – so it wasn’t like Bogut was talking purely out of nationalistic pride. What about the national USA team? At a first glance, their gameplay may seem pretty ideal and their track record – spotless, however, those who know well how this team plays, must have realised that it looks pretty different this time around.

Americans are known for putting up a show and having a very precise way of playing – and those are the main arguments for their ongoing basketball domination. We’re used to seeing them demolish their opponents in style – just take a look to the Dream Team of 2008 or 2012. Now we’re not seeing as much of aggressive defence leading to rapid attack.

Counterarguments may come with the fact that the team is without the greatest nation’s players – LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard or LaMarcus Aldridge. But we didn’t see the best of the best in 2014 World Cup, either.

Playing with a “second” team, Americans won every single game and the worst advantage was against Turkey - 77:98. Everyone watching could admire the silent determination of Mike Krzyzewski‘s squad – the defence was so intense that often the opponent‘s attack would be ended with a rebound, and counter-attack was finished with an immaculate speed and precision. That was, of course, solidified by the performance of Kenneth Faried, Anthony Davis, James Harden and Stephen Curry.

While neither China nor Venezuela could act as barometers of the potential that the Olympic favourites could go on to reveal, Australia was the team to put their current abilities to a good test. Going by the outcome of the matches that these teams had, it is pretty safe to assume that the strongest Olympic teams may very well come as tough challenges for the star-studded USA team. However, the UK-licensed bookie TonyBet is confident in their success – the odds for their gold are at 3/100.

So did team USA slacked off with their preparation? Well, knowing the usual reserve that they have and the lesson that they have learned in the past, we can expect Mike Kryzezwski’s army to shine when it will be needed the most and get back to their intense defence, nimble attack, unparalleled individual skill and impeccable teamwork. That would prove that team USA, just like the others, get better after active participation in the tournament.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

NBA Finals: X Games until Triumph

Two games in to the finals, and the Golden State Warriors are two victories and 48 points ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The dominance that the GSW are exhibiting is literally historic – the biggest advantage in two games achieved before this was six points shy of their truly exuberant record. So, does this mean that the Cavs are doomed already?

Well, it may not be as simple as that. Even though if we were to judge the fate of the Cavaliers by the first two games, there is still a chance that they will turn up their game – after all, GSW won both fixtures at home. The TonyBet bookies, however, wouldn’t bet on the Cavs: the odds for their triumph are 7.00 against just the 1.12 that the Warriors got.

On the other hand, these two upcoming matches in Cleveland may very well shake up this competition a little bit and give it a taste of intrigue it has been lacking so direly. Golden State Warriors were better at home – they have only lost two games in Oracle Arena as opposed to seven on the road. Obviously, that’s still some very impressive stats – but beating them somewhere away from Oakland is easier, it seems.

Still, it is very telling that GSW have started with a 2:0 series even without as much contribution as usual from their leading men. Steve Kerr has taught his men well – and it did show, for example, in the first game, where neither Stephen Curry nor Klay Thompson didn’t play as well as they normally do – and the team still got out with a 104:89. Even in the following game it was only Draymond Green who managed to score more points than his usual average – and GSW still won 110:77.

The Cavs aren’t lacking the talent – even though they may not be able to continue counting on Kevin Love who will potentially have to skip a game or a few – LeBron James isn’t to be discounted just yet, and if Kyrie Irvings will play as well as he did in the first game, all hope is not lost yet. Add the fact that the Cavs too play better at home – and here’s your recipe for a potential win right here. However, it would be a bit na├»ve to forget that GSW did win seven games straight against their upcoming opponents and that they do manage to win even without fully relying on their leaders.

Could this end in a triumphant, but ultimately predictable 4:0 Golden State Warriors’ series win? That really isn’t out of the question, but then again the Cavs could still potentially turn the tables around (hey, even Curry didn’t win the three-point contest in All Stars this year, although it seemed like a no brainer). Even if they don’t manage to win the whole League, they could put up a good fight – and make it all that more fun to watch for us all.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Complete History Of NBA Luxury Tax Payments, 2001-2015

This website and its sole proprietor keep a spreadsheet containing to-the-dollar information on all luxury tax paid to date, updated annually. Here is the latest update.

In the 14 seasons since the luxury tax was created, it has been applicable in twelve seasons; in twelve eleven seasons, 26 NBA franchises have paid over $1.1 billion in payroll excess. The exact details can be found here.

(Sorted alphabetically - click to enhance.)

(Sorted by expenditure - click to enhance.)

(Orange cells denote the team that won the championship that year.)

Please use the spreadsheet freely for resource purposes, and feel equally free to suggest any improvements. However, please do not just take it, and if you do cite its data somewhere, please acknowledge its source. While the content is not my IP, I did spend a long time sourcing the relevant information, and in return, I seek only credit and a few page hits for that. Thank you.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

2015 NBA Summer League Rosters - Brooklyn

Darius Adams

A 6'2 scoring guard, Adams is trying to emulate David Logan and go from Division 2 Indianapolis right to the highest levels of professional basketball. And he's doing a bloody good job of it. In fact, he's already done it. A scoring machine, Adams has worked his way to the Spanish ACB in three short years after graduating. He led Division 2 in scoring as a senior with 23.2 points per game, followed it up with 18.9 points per game with Guaiqueries in Venezuela, followed that up with 19.3 points per game in the Ukraine with Kryvbasket, followed that with 18.0 points per game with Bremerhaven in Germany, and followed that up with 18.3 points per game with Nancy in France. There aren't many more levels to go up after that - Nancy were a Euroleague team this year - and after a mid-season move to the ACB and Laboral, Adams is now knocking on the NBA's door. Adams is not just a scorer - he's also a high assist guy, a very good rebounder for his size, and a decent defender with great hands. He's streaky as a shooter and takes some bad ones, but such hot streaks can be extremely hot, and although he is small and does little at the basket, his energy and dynamicism make him a pest on both ends. Adams is fast, athletic, energetic and relentlessly aggressive, and he is becoming one of the better American point guards not in the NBA. Be prepared for a LOT of turnovers, however.

2015 NBA Summer League Rosters - L.A. Clippers

Branden Dawson

From this year's NCAA small forwards list:

Dawson is a power forward in a shooting guard's body, which of course makes him a small forward by default. He is undersized but explosive, and capable of defending inside and outside. Capable in various matchups, Dawson can match up at the two, three and four positions, and is a physical specimen, combining athleticism with strength and a wide, wide frame.

Normally defending the post, Dawson gets by on defense despite the height disadvantage with this strength and with great discipline. He might be smaller than most opponents, but he is almost always stronger and more athletic than they are, and his long arms help make up for some of the difference. Dawson grabs tough rebounds and is measured in his aggression, and has good anticipatory skills and positional awareness. This does not negate the size disadvantage, but it surely helps a lot.

Offensively, Dawson has developed a little bit of a mid-range shot, but it's not pleasant looking, and he has absolutely no three point range at the moment. With little handle to speak of either, Dawson is entirely a finisher and not a creator, not even down low in the post. Rarely getting to the line (and shooting dreadfully when he does), Dawson is an opportunistic offensive player who gets by through transition, cuts, offensive rebounds and hustle. Yet when he does get such a look, he tears the rim off. This is pretty much all he does on offense, but it's both fun and useful.

Dawson, then, is limited to only a couple of areas of the game, but is extremely effective within them. If he can spot up a bit and keep the energy up, he could stick in the league for a while.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Second 2014 Tremendous Basketball Player Names Tournament - Sweet Sixteen

(Click image to enlarge.)

From the "screw it, we might as well finish it" archives comes the continuation of this aborted attempt at a sequel to the initial Ridiculous Names Tournament. This series originally ran on another site, but that site decided to close down indefinitely for whatever reason, which halted the series. Nevertheless, we resume it here. Might even open a sportsbook so you can bet on the outcome. <

We've already lost three quarters of the entrants. And now, things start to get tougher.

The Name Is The Window On The Soul Regional

(1) Chastity Gooch v (4) Calamity McEntire:

The Gooch has followed the form book thus far, unchallenged in contests versus Ashley Awkward and Arthur Pervy. Now, she comes up against McEntire, who thus far has over Epiphanny Prince and the sneaky-good Mike Smelkinson. There is probably a "Calamity" pun to be made here, but sometimes you have to be the bigger man.

Chastity Gooch or Calamity McEntire?

Friday, September 26, 2014

How Agents Make Money Out Of Rookie Contracts

(originally posted elsewhere)

The general rule for agents is that their earnings off of negotiated player contracts are capped at 4% of the player's salary. Indeed, 4% is an assumed amount unless otherwise agreed upon, as outlined in section 3(B) of the Standard Player Agent Contract:

If the Player receives compensation in excess of the minimum compensation applicable under the CBA for one or more playing seasons, the Agent shall receive a fee of four percent (4%) of the compensation received by the Player for each such playing season, unless a lesser percent (%) or amount has been agreed to by the parties [...]

In practice, this 4% is rarely deviated from. 4% is the norm, and rarely is it any different, especially in contracts involving the more powerful agents. There was an intriguing case involving Antoine Walker and agent Mark Bartelstein some years ago, in which Bartelstein had agreed the fairly unusual concession upon Antoine's signing of a contract with Atlanta of lowering his standard fee from 4% at the time of signing to 3%, at the player's discretion, if it was felt that Bartelstein 'wasn't doing a good job'. (The case went to arbitration over a disagreement over quite what that phrasing meant, and of how much Walker had to pay him. It was not in dispute that Walker owed Bartelstein, but merely how much, based on the arbiter's findings of whether Walker was entitled to pay only 3% or not. Bartelstein won the case and was awarded a judgement of $671,373.) But this case stands out for its novelty, and is certainly not par for the course.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Second 2014 Tremendous Basketball Player Names Tournament - Second Round

(Click here for first round matchups. Also, click image to enlarge.)

The first round over, and there weren't too many upsets. All 1, 2 and 3 seeds made it through, although Nelson Mandela only just beat the plucky Sydney Smallbone, and Ivana Mandic only barely squeaked out the legendary World B. Free by a couple of votes. World B. Free was the last named put on this ballot, as, due to his level of fame (and thus lack of surprise element) plus the fact that his name had a small if acceptable whiff of fakery about it, I nearly did not include him. But I did, and he rewarded this reluctance with a near 13 v 4 seed upset over one of what I assumed would be one of the pre-tournament favourites. This was arguably the best matchup of the first round, and yet it shouldn't have been.

For rules, entry criteria, proof that this people actually exist and the like, see the intro to the first round. For now, with the polls now closed, it's time for more polls. Here are some more polls.

The Name Is The Window On The Soul Regional

(1) Chastity Gooch v (8) Arthur Pervy:

The first matchup is a great one. Gooch returned 81% of the vote in a hefty victory over the plucky but overmatched Ashley Awkward, while Pervy was even more dominant in an 83% landslide victory over Jackie Bedwell. For this to only be a second round matchup speaks either to the overall strength of the regional, the overall strength of the tournament, or my inability to seed. Or some combination thereof.

Chastity Gooch or Arthur Pervy?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Second 2014 Tremendous Basketball Player Names Tournament - First Round

Funny names are funny, and the idea of bracketing a bunch of them is not new. The Name of the Year competition started back in 1983, before the author of this bracket was even a sperm, and that baton has been passed to new ownership, who last year awarded Leo Moses Spornstarr the 2013 winner of the world's ultimate accolade.

Inspired by, and in homage to, this decades long legacy of doing God's work, there hereby follows the second Tremendous Basketball Player Names Tournament Bracket, featuring basketball players of different sizes and calibre, of players both current and retired, male and female, from all around the globe. The question we ask here, as always: which name is better?

To give some context as to the standards we hope to achieve here, the inaugural Basketball Player Names Tournament was won by Steeve Ho You Fat, who beat Grienntys Chief Kickingstallionsims in a tense final. Standards are high. Dreams are bigger.

As can be seen in the full draw above [click to fully expand], the bracket accords with the March Madness tournament bracket style, except arguably with less arbitrary divisions for the regionals. Things of note:

* No consideration is given to a player's current status. Some are long since retired, and some never even went pro. Yet it matters not - if you were a basketball player to an organised standard (e.g. college, its equivalents, and above), whose existence, career and name can be found, you count. Anything college and above is sufficient, although this does mean high schoolers and recreational players are not permissible, which is bad news for fans of Sean Sohappy, Tommy Ghost Dog and Rocky Three Irons the world over. But you gotta have rules, even if I do bend and outright break them later on.

* The age cut-off limit is slightly arbitrarily set at 17, due to anything less than that being impossible to verify. This is bad news for fans of Spanish team Unicaja Malaga, who boast in their youth ranks a 13 year old named Golden Dike. When the story of the hilarity of his name breaks in American media in a few years, remember that you heard it here first.

* All names are verifiably true via other internet resources, and links to such are given where necessary. In one instance, there exists only one reference to the person on the entire internet. But it will do. Play along.

* Little consideration is given to how names are actually pronounced. The only criteria used is how the name looks like it would be pronounced by a particularly ill-informed English speaker.

* What constitutes a 'better' name is entirely in the eyes of the voter only. Vote with your own criteria. Different strokes for different folks. The only demand is that names are judged on names alone, irrespective of the skills, life, times and career of the players to whom they are attached.

* The depth of research that went into this is mildly disturbing, but there is always the chance good names have been missed. If you know of a great name not listed in either this pool or the other one, email it in to

* This tournament follows the NCAA tournament bracket style, save for the abolishment of play-in games, because, duh.

* There is no condescension here. We love the names and thus we love the people behind them. There may be occasional amazement as to how such names came to pass, but it is not ever intended to be derogatory. Give me the esoteric over the bland all day. (Also, my own name is basically Dirty Penises, so I have no room to talk.)

* Seedings are somewhat arbitrary and open to much conjecture, as is unavoidable, but were determined via consultation with others (who I supposed you could term a selection committee). Amin Elhassan of, who enjoyed the first incarnation more than anyone should ever really enjoy anything, was not of much use at all really.

To the matchups!

The Name Is The Window On The Soul Regional (a tenuously cobbled-together group of players whose names either contain anything that could be conceived as vaguely descriptive; the regionals get less tenuous later on!)

(1) Chastity Gooch v (16) Ashley Awkward:

Awkward, a one time WNBA player and financial consultant who who wants to fatten up Allen Iverson, boasts an awkward surname and the always beneficial use of alliteration. But she surely stands little if any chance of the 1 v 16 upset against Gooch, one of the best players in female college basketball, who sports all three of a tender body part, a belt and a former England cricket captain in her name. If you don't know where on the body the gooch is, then guess, and you're more than likely within a few inches of being right.

Chastity Gooch or Ashley Awkward?

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