Posts Tagged ‘John Hollinger’

Next few steps critical for Grizzlies

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: The Grizzlies fell in Game 7 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The picture of instability.

The living and breathing definition of disarray.

That’s what that smoke cloud in Memphis looks like from afar.

The Grizzlies, a year removed from a trip to the 2013 Western Conference finals and weeks after a first round exit from the 2014 playoffs, dismissed team CEO Jason Levien and assistant general manager Stu Lash on Monday, ensuring a major shake-up would dominate their summer for the second straight year. They parted ways with HT fave and well-respected head coach Lionel Hollins after last season’s trip to the conference finals.

Further complicating matters this time around is the Grizzlies giving Dave Joerger – who succeeded Hollins and led the Grizzlies to a 50-win season – permission to speak with the Minnesota Timberwolves about their coaching vacancy.

On the surface it’s yet another head-scratching decision from a franchise that’s making that a habit:

“The Timberwolves are the only NBA team of the 30 in the league that are in his home state and after having a long and honest conversation with Dave, he felt he owed it to his family, which resides entirely in Minnesota … and we felt we owed it to Dave to at least have a discussion in this regard,” Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace told ESPN 92.9 FM in Memphis.

Asked if that was best for the Grizzlies, Wallace said he didn’t see anything wrong with granting Joerger the chance to talk.

“He’s just been granted permission to talk and will do so soon,” said Wallace, who has assumed interim watch over the basketball operations while [Grizzlies owner Robert] Pera restructures the front office.

All signs point to Pera being the one instigating these changes after a reported clash with his management team, changes that elicited this simple but appropriate response from Grizzlies guard Tony Allen:

All this is yet another disconnect between ownership, management and the coaching staff that leads to dysfunction and entropy. The Grizzlies aren’t true championship contenders. But they’re certainly closer to the Western Conference power elite than they are to the consistent lottery crowd.

Pera has every right to do as he pleases with his franchise. He’s paying a handsome price for that right. But he should be careful. There have been others in his shoes who have chosen to do it their way, a “new” way, despite being advised to hire smart people and then step back and allow them to do their jobs.

The richest or smartest man or woman in the room isn’t always right when it comes to basketball decisions. It makes me think back to the way things unraveled in Phoenix when the Robert Sarver-led group took over a contender and slowly but surely reduced the team to a lottery-dweller that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2010.

(Granted, the 2013-14 Suns won 48 games and became just the second team in the past 40 years to win that many games and miss the postseason.)

In a copycat league in which teams structure their franchises based on the most successful outfits, down to the way the socks are organized in the equipment room, it boggles the mind that anyone would want to retrace the steps the Suns took when they broke from the sturdy leadership of Jerry Colangelo and Bryan Colangelo.

Yes, the Suns survived for a couple of seasons without the Colangelo-Mike D’Antoni power structure in place. But that talented roster they initially had — Steve Nash, Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Joe Johnson –  eroded over the years leaving nothing from the glory days but an aging Nash,who was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Lakers..

The Grizzlies would be wise to tread cautiously as they go down what appears to be a similar path. Wallace has been in the front-office game long enough to know just how hard it is to get back to where the Grizzlies are now if they do dip below the playoff line.

Memphis battled back this year from early stumbles and an injury to Marc Gasol to secure that seventh spot in the Western Conference playoffs. Who knows what would have happened in Game 7 of the opening round against the Thunder if they had been able to play Zach Randolph, who had been suspended for clocking Thunder big man Steven Adams in the jaw in Game 6?

The point being, overreacting after a season like this could be detrimental to the long-term health of what’s been built in Memphis. Randolph, Gasol, Allen, Mike Conley, Mike Miller and the rest of the the Grizzlies are ready to compete for the foreseeable future.

Someone needs to wake up, quickly, to refrain from any more of the foolishness that has marked the Grizzlies’ offseason for a second straight spring.

NBA Minds Meeting In The Middle On ‘Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics’

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau uses a mix of advanced statistics and old-school in his coaching style.

Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau mixes advanced statistics and “old-school” in his coaching philosophy.

At one end of the gym the other night in St. Louis you had Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, basketball lifer, a fellow who reveres the old-school mentors he has had and spews the sort of coach-ese (“Don’t skip steps,” “next man up,” “more than enough to win”) that existed even before Doc Naismith hung the peach baskets.

At the other end, an hour or so before an NBA preseason game, you had Memphis Grizzlies VP of basketball operations John Hollinger, one of the league’s “new wave” of advanced-analytics gurus. A former columnist at ESPN.com, Hollinger helped to turn the statistical analysis of basketball not just into a new job but a new way of thinking about, appreciating and ultimately playing the game.

And yet, when it comes to crunching numbers, valuing some and discarding others, the two aren’t as diametrically opposed in philosophies as their backgrounds or personalities might suggest.

“I’ve been big on statistics for a long time,” Thibodeau said. “I like to use Elias [Sports Bureau]. There are a number of things I look at. … I get a stat pack both on our opponent and on us for every game.”

With postseason baseball picking up steam toward the World Series and the “Moneyball” Oakland A’s alive until Thursday night in the American League, the use of advanced stats vs. traditional eye- and gut-evaluations in shaping NBA rosters and devising 2013-14 strategy seemed a timely topic.

What got introduced into baseball over a period of 30 years due in part to “sabermetrician” outsider-turned-insider Bill James has traveled along more recent learning and acceptance curves in basketball. Where the former has gained devotees of OPS and defensive range factors over, say, RBIs or pitchers’ victory totals, the latter is making its case for team pace, player usage rates and individual rebound percentages.

Hollinger – quick to admit he is “biased” – said he’s heartened by how swiftly the NBA, its media and its fans have embraced many of the new tools.

“If basketball had as much initial resistance as baseball, there’s no way in hell I’d be working for a team right now,” Hollinger said, laughing. “I thought it would take a lot longer for a lot of these things to be accepted than it has. Even the simpler stuff, like ‘per 40 minutes’ or ‘offensive and defensive efficiency.’

“It took way longer in baseball,” he said. “I think part of the reason is that Bill James kind of plowed a trail through the snow for the other sports.”

Nowhere near as tradition-bound as baseball, basketball, Hollinger said, “has always been more open to trying new things, changing the rules, changing approaches.”

But before the new breed pats itself on the back too much, Thibodeau noted some early influences on him, coaches such as Pat Riley and Bill Musselman who were regularly seeking and utilizing numbers by the 1980s at least. When Rick Pitino went from a Knicks assistant to Providence College in 1985, the Bulls coach said, he upped the ante in his use of 3-point weaponry long before the competition.

“From a math standpoint, you could figure out how you could offset a talent disadvantage,” Thibodeau said.

The Bulls rely on Steve Weinman to mine a lot of statistical info, Thibodeau said. Many other teams – Boston, Houston, Memphis, Miami among them – go further in what most admit is a copy-cat league. As far as a pendulum effect, Hollinger thinks it hasn’t swung nearly far enough while Thibodeau seems comfortable with where the mix sits right now. He notes that few analytical breakdowns account for every variation, such as home/road or 4-in-5-night schedule quirks, and he’s wary of small sample sizes.

Besides, what was it Mark Twain said? “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”

Churchill has a great quote, something along the lines of, he didn’t believe in any statistics that he didn’t doctor himself,” Thibodeau said. “There is a place in our league and I think it’s good. It may be getting overplayed some right now. I think the trained eye is very important. But numbers are certainly a big part of the equation.”

Hollinger, meanwhile, concedes that basketball is different from baseball or even football, which allow for easier isolation of measurable events. Think of each sport’s flow: Baseball is a series of individual acts strung together. Football is a sequential activity of participants, from snap to block to drop-back and pass to reception and run.

Then there’s basketball, where the ball can reverse directions, teams have 24 seconds to act, react and counter, defenders switch and switch back, and games can turn on so-called 50/50 balls where best-laid plans vanish.

“You’re trying to break it down into almost baseball-like segments,” Hollinger said courtside, sipping from his ubiquitous cup of coffee. “It gets tricky when, much like football, you’re counting on the interaction of multiple players in any one play. Where in baseball, the left fielder could be doing almost anything and he won’t impact the batter-pitcher confrontation unless the ball’s hit to him.”

So while it is said to be basketball’s wave of the future, the use of advanced statistics also has one foot firmly planted in the game’s essence and past. The best thing is that, in 2013-14, there’s room for both.

Those raised on  Xs & Os and squishy stuff like “effort” and “sacrifice” don’t have to butt heads with the slide-rule set, any more than mainstream news media in their scrambles to survive butt heads these days with the blogosphere. Woe to the old-school coach or GM who scoffs at spreadsheets.

Then again, “Moneyball” hasn’t made it to the World Series yet.

Recent Hires Emphasize Player Evaluation

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Under the new collective bargaining agreement, screw-ups drafting, trading and signing free agents carry greater consequence than ever before. Teams can no longer simply spend their way out of mistakes. A more severe luxury tax, a crushing repeater tax and annual restrictions on exceptions, plus other roster-building limitations are changing the way front offices think — and hire.

More organizations are looking out of the box to find new minds with new ideas from differing backgrounds to better evaluate talent. The Memphis Grizzlies last year hired then-ESPN.com columnist John Hollinger as vice president of basketball operations, a move straight out of baseball’s “Moneyball.”

Hollinger is a leader in the advanced statistical analysis movement increasingly carving out significant space in nearly every NBA front office. For all teams, and especially tight-fisted small market franchises like Memphis, determining the subtleties and nuances of a player’s game and how that player benefits the team structure, at what position, for how long and for how much is paramount to sustainability.

“With the rules set up the way they are, there’s minimal room for error,” Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien said during the playoffs. “You’ve got to be very thoughtful in your approach to how you build your team.”

Last week, Yahoo! Sports reported that the San Antonio Spurs, one of the league’s legendary talent evaluating organizations, particularly internationally, dipped into the ESPN work force after hiring respected recruiting analyst Dave Telep. He worked as a senior analyst for the network and owns and operates Dave Telep Scouting Services. As a recruiting analyst, Telep watches more high school and college basketball in a year than most people will in three lifetimes.

He can provide the Spurs reams of information on the character and talent development of players across the United States from a young age, theoretically giving San Antonio an edge in future drafts. Think of the coming day when the Spurs’ Big Three really will ride off into the sunset and the organization will once again — gasp! — draft in the top 20 or even 15 and will be seeking a franchise-type player to remain relevant.

The longtime Mark Cuban-Donnie Nelson-led Dallas Mavericks didn’t raid ESPN this summer, but they did make a significant hire that underscores the critical nature of talent evaluation in today’s practically hard-capped NBA. Gersson Rosas was lured away from the Houston Rockets to take over as the Mavs’ general manager, a title vacated in 2005 by Don Nelson when he stepped aside as GM/coach.

“I think I bring a strong basketball evaluation perspective, a strong process-oriented focus,” Rosas said. “The responsibility that Mark’s given me is to support the positive things that are going here, evaluate the areas that we need to improve on and continue the efforts of the staff to improve that.”

Unlike Hollinger and Telep, Rosas, 35, did rise through an NBA front office — from video coordinator and scout with the Rockets to becoming the GM of the Rio Grande Vipers, Houston’s NBA D-League team that won two titles under his control.  Like Hollinger, Rosas is a proponent of cutting-edge analytics and technology as key player-evaluation tools. And like both men, Rosas was hired to implement his areas of expertise to strengthen Dallas’ talent evaluation processes.

In consecutive summers, Dallas did not land its top free-agent targets. They also don’t possess a base of young talent, leaving them a franchise in flux since shifting roster-building strategies following the 2011 championship and ratification of the new CBA. In chasing titles throughout the 2000s, Dallas often overspent to get players it wanted and used first-round picks as trade chips. Still, they’ve also missed badly on first-round selections such as Mo Ager (2006), Rodrigue Beaubois (2009), Dominique Jones (2010) and Jared Cunningham (2012).

With Dallas now looking up in the Western Conference, drafting well and finding the best-suited, most cost-effective free agents are imperative to building a sustainable roster. That was implied in the Mavs’ surprising hire of a rising, young executive to be their GM

“Where this team is, the focus on the draft, on trades and free agency is paramount, and we’ve got to make sure that our processes are thorough, that they’re very detailed and that we can make the best, educated decision that you can make,” Rosas said. “This isn’t the type of business where you bat a thousand. You want to make the right decisions for the right reasons. Sometimes, unfortunately, they won’t go your way, but we want to be prepared when all those opportunities present themselves.”

Q & A With Grizzlies VP John Hollinger

BOSTON – The seventh annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is being held Friday and Saturday at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The conference brings together folks from several different sports and continues to grow every year. This year’s panelists and speakers include R.C. Buford, Mark Cuban, Michael Lewis, Adam Silver, Nate Silver and Stan Van Gundy.

Co-chaired by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, the Sloan Conference has a huge NBA presence. This year, 29 of the 30 teams (the Los Angeles Lakers being the only exception) were in attendance.

Like the conference, the role of analytics in the NBA continues to grow. And when owner Robert Pera and CEO Jason Levien took over the Grizzlies in the fall, they knew they needed an analytical mind to help them make their basketball decisions.

They turned to ESPN writer John Hollinger, naming him vice president of basketball operations in early December.

Hollinger was thrown right into the fire, as the team looked to restructure it’s payroll and regain some flexibility under the parameters of the new collective bargaining agreement. In late January, the Grizzlies made two trades involving three other teams and nine total players. At the trade deadline, they made one more minor deal.

Most notably, the Grizzlies traded leading scorer Rudy Gay to Toronto, breaking up a starting lineup that had enjoyed a decent amount of success over the last few seasons. They replaced Gay with Tayshaun Prince and also added Ed Davis to a bench that had taken a hit when they traded three players (and a first round pick) to Cleveland for Jon Leuer.

The Grizzlies are 9-4 since the Gay trade and had won eight straight games before falling in Miami on Friday. They continue to be an excellent defensive team, but are still looking for some answers offensively.

NBA.com exchanged e-mails with Hollinger this week to discuss his new job and how the Grizzlies are moving forward…

NBA.com: How does your approach to analytics as a team executive differ from your approach as a writer?

John Hollinger: The biggest change is that I’m looking at everything through this more narrow lens of “how does this impact the Memphis Grizzlies?” That means I’m probably looking at certain players much more closely and all but ignoring some national stories that I’d be discussing nearly every day in my former gig (like one that rhymes with “Spakers,” for instance), and it means I’m paying a lot more attention to non-NBA stuff (college, Europe, etc.) because that’s the pipeline for incoming players. As a writer I had the luxury of waiting until those guys got to the league if I so chose.

NBA.com: How has your team changed with the trades you made?

Hollinger: Well, hopefully we’re better. More seriously, I think we’ve diversified our offense a little, not just in terms of Tayshaun’s versatility, but also with adding guys like Austin and Ed that come off the bench and give you a major boost.

Rudy was a very good player but Tayshaun’s ability to pass and hit catch-and-shoot jumpers hopefully replaces some of the athleticism and shot-creating ability we gave up in this deal. Defensively we probably get even better, because we still have that 6-9 small forward who can guard, but now we also have an athletic big who plays above the rim in Ed, which is something we really didn’t have before.

And finally, we’re pretty deep in the front line now, because we also have bigs like Jon Leuer and Dexter Pittman waiting in the wings from our other deals.

NBA.com: I think we all understand the basic reasoning for the Rudy Gay trade and that you have more flexibility going forward. But can you explain the reasoning behind the Cleveland trade in the context of the trade that followed?

Hollinger: One thing I think a lot of people don’t understand is that we still were facing a potential luxury tax hit even with the Rudy trade we made, because of certain incentive deals in our player contracts. So even though all those little charts on the Web had us $4 million and change into the tax, in reality our potential liability was about $6 million. Because of that, it was inevitable that another deal also had to be made in addition to a Rudy deal.

Also, there was a fairly important chess element to this — we were able to improve our leverage in the second deal by being under the tax, because beforehand people were demanding a premium for all the money they’d be saving us. The basketball offers for Rudy got better once we’d done this.

As for the particular deal we chose, it was clear given the frontcourt depth we had that moving off that [Marreese] Speights deal for both this year and next was the way to achieve the greatest savings at the least basketball cost. I suppose it’s possible he opts out of his deal now that he’s in Cleveland and getting minutes and playing well, but if he had stayed here and been our fifth big I’d say those odds were pretty minimal.

And going forward, if we’d had him on our books it would have been almost impossible to keep Tony Allen and stay under the tax. Obviously this isn’t the kind of move you’d prefer to make, but we came into a situation where our hands were really tied financially, and now we have options again.

While I have the floor, I’ll also point out two other things: First, that the Speights trade exception was parlayed into an even larger exception in the Rudy deal, because we took Daye into it, so we now have a $7.5 million chip that could prove valuable in the offseason. And second, that our breathing room allowed us to take in Dexter Pittman and a second-round pick at the trade deadline.

NBA.com: How much interaction have you had with players and coaches about numbers that can make you a better team? Does Tayshaun Prince understand the value of a mid-range shot vs. a three?

Hollinger: This is where coming in partway through a season probably limited what we could accomplish somewhat. We’ve had some discussions about it, but we’ll probably be able to have a lot more impact once we’ve had a full offseason together. And obviously time is a factor here two, just in terms of getting to know each other and develop a trust and rapport.

As for Tayshaun, you’re right that it’s probably not ideal to have just 11 percent of his shots come from beyond the arc, given that he shoots it fairly well from out there. We’ve talked about it some internally and with the coaches, but this is another example of an area where we’d be more likely to have an impact in the offseason.

NBA.com: Where are NBA analytics most valuable? (Coaching strategies, lineup combinations, evaluating your own personnel, opponent personnel, draft, etc.)

Hollinger: I think the greatest value is still in personnel, and especially in the personnel that you don’t see everyday. The whole thing about numbers and analytics is that they summarize all the games you can’t see, which is great because you can’t possibly watch every team play every game.

With the Grizzlies obviously analytics helps too, but because we’re seeing all the games there’s a lot of times where we already know the answers and the data just confirms it — not all the time, but a lot. As you might expect, the analytics are probably most valuable at the NBA level, because there is a lot less to translate than there is when players are jumping from college, Europe or the D-League.

That said, the answer to this question may be in flux, especially as the use of video explodes. I wouldn’t be shocked if in five years the answer to this question is “coaching.” And I’ll also contradict myself by saying that the translation of going from lower levels to the pros, while harder, also potentially offers more advantages for those who can break the code.

Gay’s Gone, But Hollins Should Stay

HANG TIME, Texas – Yes, it was about the money.

The Grizzlies had given far too much of it to Rudy Gay, a guy who was sitting on the sidelines nursing a bad shoulder when they scratched out the only playoff series win in franchise history.

That’s not to say that Gay hasn’t been a nice player during his six-plus seasons in the NBA; the kind who could often fill up the basket and make it look easy.

But that was the trouble. The Grizzlies have carved out their place, if tenuous, in the upper half of the Western Conference. Like Tina Turner and her band: they never, ever do anything nice and easy.

Gay has been barely shooting 40 percent from the field this season, checking it at a myopic 31 percent from 3-point range. For a player taking such a big bite out of the payroll, Gay too often seemed to drift, which was the rap as far back as 2006 when he was drafted eighth overall out of UConn.

Now the Grizzlies get veteran Tayshaun Prince, who can knock down the 3s, play solid defense and do all of the dirty work/little things, if he’s still so inclined at 32. They also get Ed Davis’ ability to finish at the rim and a couple of contracts that are far more palatable.

In short, the Grizzlies saved themselves a bundle and in a roll-of-the-dice way may have gotten some answers for a team whose chances to reach the NBA Finals this season were probably closer to a scratch-off lottery ticket than money in the bank.

Now the question is whether they’ll do the right thing by coach Lionel Hollins, who’s been allowed to quack like a lame duck without a new contract all season.

While the new ownership group (which is led by Robert Pera and celebrity pals Justin Timberlake and Peyton Manning) and the management team (which includes stat guru John Hollinger) are clearly making their mark on the operation, it is Hollins who has already placed his stamp on the Grizzlies.

Yes, he’s often cranky and challenging. But those are the same attributes that describe the Grizzlies when they’re at their best. A lot of coaches talk about professionalism and accountability, Hollins demands it. He learned during his playing career from championship teams in Portland and Philadelphia that sacrifice and teamwork are not just to be valued, but expected.

Much was made of Hollins recent statement when he said: “We get hung up on statistics a little too much, and I think that’s a bad trait all over the league.”

Was it a shot at Hollinger and the new regime? Or simply Hollins being Hollins? Likely a little bit of both.

In the four years since Hollins has been on the Grizzlies bench, he has pushed, prodded, cajoled, driven and turned the quaint little franchise in the league’s smallest market that had never won a single playoff game into a “Grind House” team which Memphis could support. He did it by making the Grizzlies a reflection of his own personality, often flinty and contrarian.

This is Hollins’ team, even if they change pieces, because they share his DNA. You can’t have the “Grind House” without the head grinder.

You Try Explaining This One Away

OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook‘s confidence is admirable.

The Thunder All-NBA point guard refused to budge on his ongoing stance in these Western Conference finals that whatever struggles his team endures are self-inflicted.

“We just didn’t make shots,” he said after the Thunder’s Game 4 meltdown that coincided with the Mavericks’ miraculous comeback to shift the momentum in this series decidedly into the favor of the men from Dallas.

Does he believe that? Or is it his defense mechanism for trying to cope with that which he can not — or does not — comprehend?

It’s more than just missed shots young fella, so much more. (Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd and the rest of the relentless Mavericks’ veterans had a little something to do with it, no?)

But in your defense, there were plenty of us that struggled to make sense of what we saw last night. Lots of us will have a tough time explaining this one away, as no doubt you and your Thunder teammates will for years to come.

A few brave souls tried to do it on the spot.

Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com saw it this way:

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook didn’t have to be great down the stretch to win this game. They’d already been great, Durant especially, for most of four quarters. That gave Oklahoma City a 15-point lead with less than five minutes to play, and from that point, greatness was no longer required. Mediocrity would have worked. Hell, below-average play would have gotten the job done.

But Durant and Westbrook were neither mediocre nor below average. In the final minutes, they were awful.

And Dirk Nowitzki was not.

And that’s how it happened. Durant missed shots. Westbrook missed shots. Nowitzki didn’t miss a damn thing. That put the game into overtime, where it continued. More misses from Westbrook and Durant. More turnovers. More Nowitzki. In the final 10 minutes of regulation and OT, Westbrook and Durant were 1 for 12 from the floor and 0 for 2 from the line, and they committed three turnovers. Nowitzki? He scored 14 points in those 10 minutes.

That’s how Dallas won, taking a larcenous 112-105 victory for a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

… and Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman:

Now we know.

Now we know why experience matters. Now we know why you’ve got to pay your dues.

Now we know why young teams, no matter how good, no matter how talented, now matter how athletic, no matter how blessed, eventually get derailed in this meat-grinder known as the NBA playoffs.
The old Mavericks beat the young Thunder 112-105 in overtime for the simplest of reasons.

The tortoise kept running. The hare, not so much.
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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – While the men and women who cover the NBA continue to debate his MVP merits, Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose continues to do the only thing he can to make his case.

The Toronto Raptors serve as the latest victim on the Rose hit parade (check the video above).

The chasm between those in the Rose-for-MVP-camp and those on the other (statistical side) is as deep as it has been on almost any other issue, as NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner detailed so eloquently in his most recent Race To the MVP column:

It has become MSNBC vs. Fox News, where one side is all right and the other side is all wrong. Regardless of the side you’re on.

Some of the most snide, strident and extreme MVP arguments have come from factions that can generally be defined as “statistics” vs. “storyline” partisans. That is, those media members who favor a “best player in the league” interpretation of the award and can marshal a flash-drive full of stats to separate candidates vs. those who don’t. Many of these metrics are new, or relatively so, and most often are embraced by the growing number of Web writers as opposed to (with definite exceptions) newspaper beat writers, national NBA columnists or team and network broadcasters.

That latter group of folks, from their side of the gulch, traditionally have favored scenarios that focus on the tricky definition of “valuable” in the MVP. They tend to give more weight to the expectations for a team and it star player, along with intangibles such as the gap between the award candidate and his “supporting cast,” a club’s overall “chemistry” and a range of squishy factors such as freshness, voter fatigue and more.

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Hang Time Podcast (Episode 32)



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The movement starts right here, right now.

And it won’t stop until Indiana Pacers forward Josh McRoberts, known around these parts as “McBob,” is working the Staples Center crowd on Saturday night during All-Star Weekend in February.

Like Shannon Brown before him, McRoberts need a little help from the people to make sure he gets an invite to the party. The Hang Time Podcast crew is trying to make sure we get that assist by serving as McBob headquarters from this moment forth.

As an introduction, McRoberts was the first of two special guests on Episode 32 of the Hang Time Podcast, joining ESPN.com’s John Hollinger, on the latest installment of the show.

LISTEN HERE:

An author and analyst, Hollinger is a columnist for ESPN.com and featured regularly on ESPN.com’s Insider. He’s also the first HTP guest with his own statistic. Hollinger created the PER (Player Efficiency Rating), which is a figure that attempts to combine all of a player’s statistical contributions into one number that can be used for evaluation.

We quizzed him on the Hornets, Heat, Lakers, Celtics and Magic and also discussed Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love‘s 30 for 30 performance and so much more.

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog and your host Sekou Smith on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.