Posts Tagged ‘Greg Stiemsma’

Suspension just adds to Mayo’s disappointing Bucks season

VIDEO: O.J. Mayo suspended for hitting Greg Stiemsma.

The NBA doesn’t give out a Most Disappointing Player Award, but if it did, one of the prime candidates this season would have to be Milwaukee’s O.J. Mayo.

Mayo’s debut season with the Bucks already included a vexing conditioning issue and a blooper moment when he chose to tie his shoelace on a defensive possession. Now he’s added a one-game suspension, his penalty from the NBA on Saturday for striking Pelicans big man Greg Stiemsma in the throat Friday in New Orleans.

Mayo had taken contact on a Stiemsma screen and reacted angrily, earning a flagrant-2 foul and automatic ejection with 1:32 left in the first quarter of what became Milwaukee’s 112-104 loss at the Smoothie King Center. Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova already was sitting out a one-game suspension for slugging Sacramento’s Reggie Evans in the stomach earlier in the week. Mayo will sit out the Bucks’ home game against Washington on Saturday.

The sixth-year guard apologized to teammates after the game and also in an interview for his loss of temper. “I reacted the wrong way and handled it for sure the wrong way,” Mayo said. I just want to apologize to the Bucks fan base, the city of Milwaukee and obviously New Orleans and the [fans] who came out and watched the game. It’s definitely the wrong way to conduct yourself. I’ve got to do better and I will be better.”

The Bucks have been waiting all season for Mayo to be better for them. His production is at or near a career low: 11.8 ppg, 2.2 assists, 40.2 percent from the field, 37.0 percent on 3-pointers. His plus/minus data is the team’s worst: minus-12.5 per 48 minutes, minus-339 overall. Milwaukee, of course, has the league’s worst record (12-49) and Mayo mostly has played off the bench (the Bucks are 5-18 when he starts).

He has missed 11 games, including six in January for illness and four more in February for illness and conditioning. At one point in the season’s first half, Mayo was so out of shape he looked as if he was wearing a flak jacket under his jersey. There’s no doubt Milwaukee had grown frustrated with Monta Ellis, whose spot Mayo plugged, but it expected much more after signing him to a three-year, $24 million contract.

The No. 3 pick in the 2008 draft was traded that night from Minnesota to Memphis for No. 5 Kevin Love and it mostly has been downhill since then. In games he has played, Mayo’s teams have gone 192-240. He appeared in 20 playoff games for the Grizzlies in 2011 and 2012, not exactly rising to the occasion (10.5 ppg, 35.2 FG%).

A week ago, Bucks coach Larry Drew said he finally was seeing “flashes” of the player Mayo can be. “O.J., he’s kind of a gunslinger,” Drew told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I can’t recall a guy whose shots are contested as much as his are, but he knocks them down.”

Drew was dealing with a small sample size: Mayo played four games in February and shot 47.7 percent, including 46.4 from the arc (13 of 28). But in four games in March, he was back down to 36.4 percent and 16.7. And with a forced absence Saturday, the sample size of Mayo’s worthwhile contributions in 2013-14 will remain rather puny.

Air Check: Showing Their Colors

aircheck-250HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than League Pass. Having the ability to watch every game every night (and then again the next day) is heaven.

Of course, with local broadcasts, you get local broadcasters, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because these guys know their teams better than most national broadcasters. It can be bad, because these guys love their teams more than most national broadcasters. And they’re usually not afraid to show that love.

The national guys aren’t perfect either. And if they’re not careful, they may be featured here, where we highlight the best and worst of NBA broadcasts.

Here are a few moments from the season thus far that made us laugh, made us smarter, or made us shake our heads.

1. Trifecta of bias

Game: Minnesota @ Denver, Jan. 3
Broadcast: Denver

Denver analyst Scott Hastings really shows his colors here. First, he infers that the official should take a previous J.J. Barea complaint into account when making a call. Then, he disparages Barea’s size. And finally, he infers that the number of fouls that Kenneth Faried had at the time should have affected the call. Oof.

2. Mid-game education

Game: Golden State @ Minnesota, Nov. 16
Broadcast: Minnesota

One of the biggest problems with some NBA broadcasters is that they’re behind the curve in regard to advanced stats. When a play-by-play guy or analyst references points per game and/or field-goal percentage as a measure of offensive or defensive quality, those of us who know and believe in advanced stats just want to squirm and/or mute your television.

So when one of these guys takes the time to educate their audience about pace and efficiency, it’s worthy of a mention. This clip starts out on the wrong foot with a graphic citing PPG, but Dave Benz and Jim Petersen quickly turn the conversation toward efficiency.

Hopefully, talk of pace and efficiency will be the norm (and not the exception) in the near future.

3. Foul? What foul?

Game: New Orleans @ Portland, Dec. 16
Broadcast: Portland

There are a lot of times when broadcasters need to hold their tongues until they see a replay before questioning an official’s call. Let’s just say that Mike Barrett and Mike Rice don’t do that very often.

On this play, Barrett (play-by-play) first questions the idea of Nicolas Batum‘s foul being a flagrant. Rice takes over from there, seems to ignore an obvious blow to the face of Anthony Davis, makes a silly remark about the official not wanting him to eat dinner on time, and then takes a grade-school-level shot at Davis’ eyebrow(s). Oh yeah, like Hastings in the clip above, he infers that a previous call should somehow influence this one.

One more thing: Broadcasters should know that referees will err on the side of caution when initially determining whether a foul was a flagrant or a common foul, because one can be reviewed and the other can’t. If the refs initially call a flagrant, they can review the play and change it to a common foul. If they don’t call a flagrant initially, they can’t review it or change it. So if there’s any doubt, the best thing to do is call a flagrant foul and check the replay.

4. I take that back

Game: Minnesota @ Brooklyn, Nov. 5
Broadcast: Brooklyn

Let’s end on a good note, shall we?

Ian Eagle is a Hang Time favorite, because he’s calls games straight, he’s got a quick wit and he certainly isn’t afraid to laugh at himself. Here, he regrets his premature assessment of Greg Stiemsma‘s perimeter game.

The Collapse Of The Wolves’ Defense


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — As we continuously debate and wonder whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers will make the playoffs, another team is making it a little easier for them.

On Dec. 16, the Minnesota Timberwolves stood in sixth place in the Western Conference at 12-9, even though Ricky Rubio had just played his first game of the season and Kevin Love had shot just 35 percent in his 11 games.

Since then, the Wolves are 4-10 and sinking fast. Rubio has been in and out of uniform and has played just 20 minutes per contest in the 10 games he’s played. Love, meanwhile, reinjured his right hand and is out 8-10 weeks. So, yeah, in a race with Houston, Portland, Utah and the Lakers for the two final playoff spots in the Western Conference, the Wolves are in a tough position.

The Wolves survived that first month and a half because they had a top-five defense. They ranked fifth in defensive efficiency through Dec. 15, allowing just 98.6 points per 100 possessions.

Since then, the Wolves have a bottom-five defense, allowing 108.2 points per 100 possessions.

Timberwolves efficiency, 2012-13

Timeframe W L OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
Through Dec. 15 12 9 100.8 16 98.6 5 +2.3 11
Since Dec. 16 4 10 98.9 28 108.2 26 -9.3 29

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

That is one heck of a turnaround, and not an easy one to explain.

What’s crazy is that the Wolves are the No. 1 defensive rebounding team in the league over the last month. They’re also keeping their opponents off the free throw line. But they’re not forcing any turnovers and they’re not forcing enough missed shots.

Timberwolves defense, 2012-13

Timeframe OppeFG% Rank DREB% Rank OppTmTOV% Rank OppFTA Rate Rank
Through Dec. 15 47.9% 9 74.4% 7 15.6% 12 .240 3
Since Dec. 16 53.1% 29 77.6% 1 13.8% 26 .227 6

OppeFG% = (FGM + (0.5*3PM)) / FGA
DREB% = Percentage of available defensive rebounds obtained
OppTmTOV% = Opponent turnovers per 100 possessions
OppFTA Rate = FTA / FGA

The Wolves’ defense has been at its worst in the paint, where they’re allowing opponents to shoot 58.4 percent since Dec. 16, the highest mark in the league.

The problems seem to start with big man Nikola Pekovic. The Wolves have allowed an atrocious 110.6 points per 100 possessions in Pekovic’s 436 minutes since Dec. 16. But they haven’t been any better (110.4) with Greg Stiemsma playing center either.

One thing to note is that the Wolves’ schedule has been pretty tough. Nine of their 14 games in the last month have been on the road and 10 have been against teams above .500. Overall, they’ve played the fourth-hardest schedule in the league this season.

But you don’t go from fifth-best to fifth-worst because of the schedule. In the last four days alone, the Wolves have allowed the sub-.500 Hornets (19th in offensive efficiency) to score 104 points and the sub-.500 Mavs (17th) to score 113 in a pair of slow-paced games.

It’s clear that the Wolves’ problems are about more than their opponents. And they’re about more than Love or Rubio, because they were doing fine without them early.

What’s also clear is that if the Wolves can’t defend, their season is over.

Wolves Make Push For Batum, Others

HOUSTON — It sure doesn’t look like the Timberwolves will be content to just tread water until Ricky Rubio returns from his ACL injury. The promising team that appeared headed for a playoff berth when their star point guard went down in March is aggressively attacking free agency.

The Wolves are evidently getting ready to extend a four-year, $50-million offer to Portland swingman Nic Batum. But that’s just a start in Minnesota.

After the Wolves brass of owner Glen Taylor, G.M. David Kahn and coach Rick Adelman traveled to Seattle over the weekend to meet with retired guard Brandon Roy, that visit was enough to land Minny on a list of five finalists along with Chicago, Dallas, Indiana and Golden State.

The team also has plans to meet with Lakers free agent power forward Jordan Hill and are said to be trying to put together a trade with L.A. that could land Pau Gasol. Boston center Greg Stiemsma was flown into Minneapolis for a visit on Sunday morning.

But all indications are that Batum is the one on the front burner, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: (more…)

Celtics Hopeful On Allen, Green

At last February’s trade deadline, Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge sounded like he was ready to break up the team’s vaunted Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to start over in 2012-13, either rebuilding around Rajon Rondo or dealing Rondo and starting over altogether. But a few months later, the Celtics look like they are determined to keep the band together and make another run at a championship next season with their veteran core.

The Celtics, according to sources, are increasingly optimistic they’ll be able to re-sign unrestricted free agent forward Jeff Green to a new contract, and are also more hopeful now they can keep Allen in the fold instead of losing him to the Miami Heat. The final decision is Allen’s, of course, and he’ll weigh offers from several teams (including the Heat and Grizzlies) in the next few days.

But Boston is hopeful that the last few days’ worth of events, starting with Garnett’s decision to agree on a three-year extension, combined with the selection of Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo in last Thursday’s Draft and the team’s strong showing in the East finals, will convince the 36-year-old Allen to accept the team’s two-year, $12 million offer.

That offer is more than what Miami, which only has its mini mid-level exception starting at $3.09 million, can offer Allen. The Grizzlies have their full mid-level exception starting at $5 million, however, and want to sign Allen to replace O.J. Mayo, the now-unrestricted free agent that Memphis did not tender with a qualifying offer last week. The Celtics had initially targeted Mayo as a primary free agent possibility, but now believe he’s going to get more money elsewhere. Several other teams, including the Pacers, are interested in him.


Help Wanted in Boston: Apply Within

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Veteran basketball team seeks center and/or power forward for final 20 games of season and playoffs. Relocation necessary.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. And right now, the Boston Celtics are desperate.

Their starting center, Jermaine O’Neal, is out for the season. Their back-up center, Chris Wilcox, is out for the season. Their third-string center is an undrafted rookie you probably hadn’t heard of before December unless you somehow have a tolerance for low-scoring college basketball games. (His name is Greg Stiemsma and he played for Wisconsin. Oh, he also missed shootaround on Monday with a sore foot.)

So yeah, the Celtics could use whatever help they can get from any free agent big man who might be available. And cue Rick Pitino, because Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish aren’t walking through that door.


Blogtable: The Aging Celtics

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Conventional Wisdom: The Celtics are too old to compete with the best. Are your words of wisdom any different? How can they compete?

Steve Aschburner: Maybe I’m in middle-aged denial myself but I don’t see the Celtics as too old. I think their roster makes them vulnerable to size, to speed and to athleticism in ways that, even if we all could turn back the calendar by five years, would challenge them regardless. They still miss Kendrick Perkins or any viable center – it’s not Jermaine O’Neal’s age that limits so much as his aches, since he was damaged goods before he arrived. Ray Allen doesn’t play any different than he did in his late 20s. Kevin Garnett has lost lift and seemingly confidence in his shot, two by-products of age, but he still should be able to pass and defend his position (just not three or four positions anymore). Boston needs more talent, not a time machine.

Fran Blinebury: Getting Paul Pierce healthy and into shape is a good first step and I think that is starting to happen. But that is not enough to lift the Celtics back into the true contender category. They can’t stop penetrators, can’t defend the middle and in the end just can’t keep up.  Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers have gone to the well one too many times with the aging Big Three and now the bucket is empty.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Words of wisdom, but no different. The Celtics’ roster is amazingly competitive. That will only take them so far, though. This team is good enough to make the playoffs, but the great run has reached the finish line. (more…)