Posts Tagged ‘Marcus Camby’

Where Have All The Shot-Blockers Gone?

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – The demise of the true center is typically lamented by the dearth of low-post skill on offense, but we can’t ignore its effects at the other end, too.

You know what they say about every action: there is an equal and opposite reaction. Among other things, the evolution of the face-up, jump-shooting “big”, and the age of the drive-and-kick 3-pointer have taken a toll on the art of shot-blocking. With seemingly fewer one-on-one, low-post defensive opportunities there is an equally diminishing chance to deliver an opposite reaction.

There are tremendous shot blockers in the league. Thunder power forward/center Serge Ibaka will attempt to become the first player to lead the league in shot blocking three consecutive seasons and average at least 3.0 bpg in three straight seasons since Marcus Camby did it from 2006-08. Ibaka’s 3.65 bpg in 2011-12 was the highest since Alonzo Mourning‘s 3.7 in 1999-2000.

Bucks rim protector Larry Sanders could cross the 3.0 barrier. Indiana’s young, old-school center Roy Hibbert made a significant jump last season to 2.61 bpg, fourth in the league, from 1.97. A healthy and happy Dwight Howard could surge to 3.0 for the first time in his career.

Still, today’s drooping block numbers are eye-popping when compared to prior decades. Blocks weren’t recorded as an official statistic until the 1973-74 season. That season, five players averaged at least 3.0 bpg, led by Elmore Smith (4.8 bpg), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3.5), Bob McAdoo (3.3), Bob Lanier (3.0) and Elvin Hayes (3.0). In the seven officially recorded seasons in the 1970s, two players averaged at least 3.0 bpg in a season five times.

In the ’80s, it was seven of 10 seasons, and at least three players averaged at least 3.0 bpg four times. Utah’s 7-foot-4 center Mark Eaton still holds the single-season record of 5.56 bpg in 1984-85. The ’90s — with shot-swatters such as David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Shawn Bradley, Theo Ratliff, Shaquille O’Neal and Mourning — marked the salad days of shot-blocking.

Every season during the physical, hold-and-grab ’90s saw at least two players average at least 3.0 bpg. Eight times at least three players recorded 3.0 bpg or more. Four times the season leader topped 4.0 bpg, and two more times the leader finished at 3.9 bpg.

Those numbers haven’t been sniffed. Since the close of the ’90s, only four times in the last 13 seasons have at least two players finished a season averaging at least 3.0 bpg  (and largely credit Ben Wallace and Ratliff early in the 2000s for that). It hasn’t happened since 2005-06 when Camby (3.29) and long-armed small forward Andrei Kirilenko (3.19) finished one and two, respectively.

The lowest league-leading shot-block averages have all come since the turn of the century, and two of the three lowest have been posted in the past five seasons. Andrew Bogut‘s 2.58 bpg in 2010-11 is the lowest season leader of all-time. Howard’s 2.78 bpg the season before is the second-lowest and his 2.92 bpg to lead the league in 2008-09 is better than only the 2.8 bpg put up in 2000-01 by Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal and Bradley.

Could 2013-14 be the season we see one, two or even more players join Ibaka in 3.0 territory? Sanders is trending that way and Hibbert and Howard are candidates, but it’s hard to envision Tim Duncan surpassing last season’s career-high of 2.65 bpg.

Maybe 3.0 is a stretch for most. Only five players averaged between 2.45 bpg and Ibaka’s 3.03 last season.

Here are my five players that could vault into this season’s top-5 (but may not necessarily get to 3.0):

1. Derrick Favors, Jazz: The 6-foot-10 power forward is going to see his minutes jump as he moves into the starting lineup with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap gone. Favors averaged 1.7 bpg in 23.2 mpg off the bench last season. He’ll go up against more elite front-line players this season, but it’s not a reach to suggest he could average 2.5 bpg.

2. JaVale McGee, Nuggets: With Washington in 2010-11, he finished second in the league at 2.44 bpg, but his minutes dropped dramatically the past two seasons in Denver under George Karl. The 7-footer should be in for quite a change with Brian Shaw taking over for Karl and ownership wanting to see McGee earn his money on the floor. More minutes are in his future. Are more blocks?

3. Brook Lopez, Nets: Last season was the first of his young career to average more than 2.0 bpg (2.1) and that number could be on the rise this season playing next to Kevin Garnett. If KG doesn’t teach Lopez a thing or two about defending the post, he might just frighten the 7-footer into protecting the rim at all costs.

4. DeAndre Jordan, Clippers: Potential is running thin for this 6-foot-11 center from Texas A&M. Entering his sixth season, it’s time to mature and play big in the middle for a team that will need it to contend for the West crown. He took a step back last season and under Doc Rivers he’ll need to prove he’s worthy of more minutes. He can do that by swatting basketballs.

5. Anthony Davis, Pelicans: The youngster just looks like a shot-blocker with those long arms and all. He’ll head into his second season healthy, accustomed to the NBA game, smarter and stronger. He’s got great natural instinct, athleticism and a desire to dominate defensively. During his one season at Kentucky, he averaged 4.7 bpg. The 20-year-old blocked 112 shots in 64 games as a rookie. Expect more.

Camby A Smart Move By Rockets

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HANG TIME, Texas – It’s quite possible the Rockets won’t trade Omer Asik before the season opens, meaning that newly signed Marcus Camby could join a rather crowded stable of centers.

Dwight Howard, you might have heard, has moved to Houston. Asik is coming off a season in which he put up a double-double average, and Greg Smith has come out of the NBA D-League to show his mettle in the middle.

Therefore, it’s possible that, barring a significant injury to someone else, the 39-year-old Camby could wind up seeing less time on the court next season than when he played an average of just 10 minutes in 24 games a year ago with the Knicks.

Yet it is a solid and smart move nonetheless for a Rockets team that is clearly moving into another stage. Gone are the days when general manager Daryl Morey practically scoured junior high playgrounds for young talent to fill out a roster that he was constantly turning over.

The Rockets have jumped squarely into the Western Conference playoff dogfight and the importance now is in filling up the vacant spots with tested veterans who can play and lead.

For all the hullaballoo that surrounded his arrival, there is still a big question about Howard. Not concerning his physical skills or athletic talents, but his ability to be a leader on the court and a stabilizing force in the locker room. There will remain the close scrutiny of his boyish (clownish?) behavior until Howard shows that he can be a professional in every way on every night that he pulls on his jersey.

While there was much noise about the Rockets getting Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to sign on officially with the franchise to work as a tutor with the big men, the greatest Rocket ever will still live most of the year overseas in Amman, Jordan, and have his biggest effect on Howard during offseason workouts. Olajuwon will not be on the practice floor or in the locker room every day and each night of the long season to give lessons in how a franchise player comports himself.

That’s where Camby fits in: As a veteran entering his 18th season, as a well-regarded teammate who can be there in a pinch in certain games situations, but more important to be there on a daily basis to lead by example.

That role was played for two-plus seasons in Houston by the venerable Dikembe Mutombo at the end of this career. He stepped into the brink on plenty of occasions for the often-injured Yao Ming, but his greatest contribution was simply with his presence, which commanded respect.

That’s not to suggest that Howard will follow Camby up and down the court like a young pup. But even if he rarely plays, it never hurts to have an old dog around who can teach a few tricks — and lead by example.

Knicks Deal For Raptors’ Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani

Andrea Bargnani played in just 35 games last season for the Raptors.


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY –
The Toronto Raptors have found a taker for Andrea Bargnani, further evidence that no contract is untradeable.

For some reason, the New York Knicks are willing to take on the remaining two years and $22 million left on Bargnani’s deal. The trade, first reported by Howard Beck of the New York Times, was not approved by the league Sunday night. So the original swap — which had Marcus Camby, Steve Novak and the Knicks’ 2016 first-round pick going to Toronto — will have to be tweaked, and nothing can become official until the free-agency moratorium period ends on July 10.

Because Bargnani’s salary goes up on July 1, while both Camby’s and Novak’s salaries go down, more salary will need to go in Toronto’s direction. That can happen if New York works out a sign-and-trade deal with Earl Barron, Kenyon Martin, Quentin Richardson or Pablo Prigioni. Barron and Richardson are the most likely candidates.

As long as the deal goes through, it’s new Raptors GM Masai Ujiri working his magic once again, getting something in return for Bargnani’s burdensome contract. In fact, you have to wonder how the Draft pick isn’t going in the other direction.

Not only do the Raps get a pick and get rid of Bargnani, but Novak is a useful piece for a team that ranked 26th in 3-point percentage last season and has two starting wings — DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay — that don’t shoot particularly well.

Bargnani has shot well at certain points in his career, but has really struggled over the last two seasons, shooting 42 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range. He has tunnel vision when he gets the ball, unable to make plays for others. And even if he finds his shot at Madison Square Garden, he’s a serious defensive liability.

Really, you have to wonder why the Knicks want Bargnani. Though they struggled against the Pacers’ top-ranked defense in the conference semifinals, they ranked third offensively in the regular season, scoring a potent 108.6 points per 100 possessions. More than anything, they need help on defense, where they ranked 16th. You need to be ranked in the top 10 defensively if you have dreams of making The Finals, and Bargnani isn’t going to help them get there.

One of the Knicks’ biggest issues over the last few seasons has been their lack of two-way players. They’ve had some great offensive players and a few good defenders, but not enough guys who can get the job done on both ends of the floor. And Bargnani obviously isn’t that. Could you imagine how awful New York’s defense would be with Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire on the floor together?

Furthermore, the Knicks will now have four guys — Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Bargnani and Stoudemire — making more than $10 million a year. Three of the four play power forward or center full-time, and the fourth (Anthony) is at his best playing the four.

Capped out, a trade is the only way the Knicks can really upgrade their roster. And though they’re not really giving up much value, this just doesn’t seem like the trade to do it.

Knicks Keep Winning Big, Keep Losing Bigs

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NEW YORK – As the New York Knicks extended their winning streak to 13 games on Tuesday, they extended their list of injured big men to six.

Six is the number of big men the Knicks have on their roster, by the way.

Early in the fourth quarter of an easy win over the Washington Wizards, Kenyon Martin went down a sprained left ankle. Martin (who was previously dealing with a sore knee) joined Marcus Camby (foot), Tyson Chandler (neck), Amar’e Stoudemire (knee surgery), Kurt Thomas (foot) and Rasheed Wallace (foot) on the list of (old) injured bigs in New York.

Frank Isola of the Daily News reported Wednesday that the Knicks intend to waive Thomas in order to sign Chris Singleton, who is 6-foot-8.

The only one of the true bigs who could possibly play in Chicago on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, TNT) is Camby. But most likely, Carmelo Anthony will be the starting center against the Bulls, who are still without Joakim Noah.

Now, the Knicks have only played 20 percent of their minutes with two bigs on the floor this season (a contrast to their vanilla-lineup neighbors in Brooklyn), and have been much better offensively when they’ve played small (like with two point guards). So if there’s one team that absorb the loss of a big man or two, it’s this one.

And a little bit of attrition is probably a good thing for New York. Since they traded for Anthony two years ago, they’ve simply been a better team without Stoudemire than they’ve been with him. It’s fair to assume that they’d be better off if Stoudemire didn’t come back this season from his most recent knee injury.

Chandler and Martin are another story. Both are known for their defense, but the Knicks’ one-big offense has been at its best when the one big is one of those two guys.

Knicks efficiency with one big on the floor

On floor MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Chandler 1,546 110.2 104.0 +6.2 +172
Martin 347 112.9 101.1 +11.8 +71
Stoudemire 319 101.7 105.9 -4.2 -33
Wallace 204 102.1 94.7 +7.4 +26
Thomas 188 106.8 111.1 -4.4 -19
Camby 140 106.8 92.6 +14.2 +33
Total 2,744 108.6 103.1 +5.4 +250

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

Beyond Chandler, the sample sizes are small. And both Chandler (76 percent) and Martin (57 percent) have benefited – meaning their offensive numbers have benefited – from playing most of their minutes with Anthony.

Still, Chandler and Martin have brought something to the table. Chandler is the perfect example of how you don’t need post moves to be a good offensive center. He rolls hard to the basket, finishing strong and drawing help defenders from the perimeter, which creates space for the Knicks’ shooters. And while Chandler would rank second in the league in field goal percentage if he had enough shots, Martin has actually finished better than Chandler in his short time with the Knicks, shooting 48-for-61 (79 percent) in the restricted area.

And obviously, both guys give New York, a below-average defensive team, some sort of presence inside on that end of the floor.

So the injuries to both Chandler and Martin have to be a serious concern with the playoffs just nine days away. Woodson called Martin’s ankle sprain “severe” on Tuesday. Chandler, meanwhile, returned for just four games before his bulging disc flared up again. Woodson said that his center would be playing if it was playoff time, but back/neck issues don’t go away easily and Chandler at less than 100 percent certainly compromises the Knicks’ chances of winning games and series in the postseason.

Report: Stoudemire To Miss 6 Weeks

From NBA.com staff reports

We mentioned it in this space yesterday how the Knicks are among several teams facing a mountain of uncertainty as the season opener nears. Not only is New York fighting to move up a few notches in the Eastern Conference pecking order, but they’re also fighting to keep their new in-state NBA brethren, the Nets, from supplanting them as New York’s premiere team.

That mountain the Knicks have to climb, both in the league and in their own state, just got a whole heckuva lot higher. All-Star big man Amar’e Stoudemire is reportedly going to be out at least six weeks — not the expected three weeks — after he re-injured his left knee in a preseason game against Toronto on Oct. 19. Chris Broussard over at ESPN.com has the details on Stoudemire:

New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire will miss at least the first six weeks of the season after re-injuring his surgically repaired left knee, according to league sources.

The news comes as a blow to the Knicks, who initially expected Stoudemire to return within two to three weeks after he ruptured a popliteal cyst behind the knee during the Knicks’ exhibition game against Toronto on Oct. 19.

But after Stoudemire received a second opinion over the weekend from Dr. Thomas Carter, the Phoenix Suns team doctor, it was determined he would need more time to heal. Carter performed microfracture surgery on Stoudemire’s left knee in 2005.

It is not clear whether Stoudemire will use the extra time off to have a procedure or for rest and rehab. Stoudemire may be out between 6-8 weeks, according to two of the sources.

The Knicks, who open the season Thursday at Brooklyn, are expected to make an official announcement on Tuesday.

With Tyson Chandler reeling from a collision with Gerald Wallace in the preseason, Knicks fans will have to hope that the veteran frontcourt combination of Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas (among others) have enough energy left to do a yeoman’s job in the post while Stoudemire and Chandler heal up. Carmelo Anthony is there to pick up the scoring slack and has the stage set to start off with a monstrous scoring outburst, but is that best for New York’s long-term plan? No matter how it shakes out, the start of the season for the Knicks just got a whole lot tougher.

Add Knicks’ Chandler To Growing List Of NBA’s Walking (On Crutches) Wounded

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Amar’e Stoudemire the list of names on the NBA’s walking wounded list is growing by the day.

Add New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler to that group of players whose availability for his team’s regular season opener next week is in doubt.

A collision with Gerald Wallace in the Knicks’ win over the Brooklyn Nets last night left Chandler on crutches after the game and in need of an MRI today to determine the severity of his injury. More from Ian Begley from ESPNNewYork.com on Chandler’s injury and the mounting injury issues the Knicks are facing right now:  

“It was awkward,” Chandler said. “My foot was planted when he fell into me. It just torqued my knee outside a little bit. I kind of didn’t feel it until I started laying there.”

The team originally said Chandler’s injury was minor and he was held out of the game as a precaution.

If Chandler’s out for an extended period, it leaves a huge void for New York on the defensive end. Chandler, the reigning defensive player of the year, helped transform the Knicks into a top-10 defensive team last season, his first in New York.

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Woodson Ready For Challenges In NYC

 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This is just about the time Knicks fans will recognize the true benefits of having a no-nonsense coach like Mike Woodson running the show as opposed to someone who is, shall we say more concerned with the politics of coaching.

After six often tumultuous seasons leading the Atlanta Hawks, Woodson earned an advanced degree in drama (owner, front office and player related). And it’s one of the reasons why J.R. Smith being upset about not being named a starter won’t so much as register a blip on Woodson’s radar, not when he knows there are so many other obstacles standing in the way of the Knicks and their goal of being a contender in the Eastern Conference.

Woodson’s response, courtesy of Al Iannazzone of Newsday, to the stir Smith’s reaction caused was classic “Woody,” especially to those who know how he operates:

“Two things this team has got to think about: team and win,” Woodson said before the Knicks ‘ 108-101 win in their preseason opener against the Wizards. “Other than that, I’ll manage everything else. You just have to think about team and winning games. No matter who plays — team and winning games.”
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Ancient Knicks Oldest Team In NBA History?


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –
If veterans and the experience they bring is truly the key to championship basketball in the NBA, someone in New York needs to start mapping out a parade route.

Of course, we all know it’s not that simple.

But there is no denying the fact that the New York Knicks have cornered the market on seasoned veterans’ help this season. While other teams around the NBA are hitting the court for training camp with rosters filled with young stars, the Knicks have done the exact opposite, piling a crew of relative silver foxes into their locker room for Mike Woodson‘s first full season as coach.

TNT’s Charles Barkley is going to have a field day with his Father Time jokes this season, what with the crew of 30-somethings — Pablo Prigioni (35), Marcus Camby (38), Jason Kidd (39) and Kurt Thomas (40 this week) and potentially Rasheed Wallace (38), who is expected to sign this week — on the Knicks’ roster.

And they’re not just the oldest team in the league this season, they could end up being  the oldest team in NBA history, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s Chris Herring:

General manager Glen Grunwald said the transactions undoubtedly improved the team. “We don’t think we got older. We feel we got more experienced and better,” he said, adding that these are “some hungry veterans that know how to win and are still very good players.” He cited Kidd and Wallace winning titles elsewhere, and Camby having previously won the defensive-player-of-the-year award.

“We can play,” Camby said, bristling at the notion that he and other players might need days off during the season to stay fresh. “Otherwise the organization wouldn’t have brought us in here.”

Still, it is fair to question whether the signings will help the Knicks close the gap between them and faster-paced teams like the defending champion Miami Heat. Kidd and Thomas in particular are coming off of the least productive seasons of their careers, and Grunwald acknowledged he wasn’t sure how Wallace would respond after having taken two seasons off.

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Wallace’s Workout: ‘SHEED! Or Sheesh?



“Ball don’t lie.” WWE-style championship belts. “Both teams played hard (snicker, snicker).” ‘SHEEEEEEED!

Now that we’ve got that out of our system, do we really need to take seriously any speculation that former NBA big man Rasheed Wallace is thinking about a comeback with the New York Knicks? With anybody, for that matter?

The man turned 38 last week. He hasn’t played in the NBA in more than two years — since June 17, 2010, to be exact, when he filled in for Boston’s injured Kendrick Perkins and nearly needed oxygen while logging more than 35 minutes. In the Celtics’ Game 7 Finals loss in Los Angeles, Wallace scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds before fouling out.

‘Sheed, by that point, was a role player. His 9.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 22.5 minutes per game were the lowest numbers of his career. On a 36-minute basis — 14.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg — they were right at his career averages (14.6, 6.7). But there was a message being sent by the rims of the NBA, because the 3-point shot that he increasingly favored (5.9 attempts per 36 minutes, highest of his 15 seasons) was successful just 28.3 percent of the time.

Besides, Wallace by his own admission wasn’t in shape at age 35 — any more than he had been at 34, 33 … (you get the idea). He said he planned to work out with Philadelphia pal and prizefighter Bernard Hopkins before the 2010-11 season. Instead, Wallace retired.

So factor that in when considering reports from ESPN.com and now Newsday that Wallace worked out with the Knicks’ Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas — oh, the cartilage! — and that New York is thinking of signing him. (more…)

Knicks Tap The Dream As Tutor

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If there’s going to be a big man renaissance in New York this season, it will come with a huge assist from one of the all-time great big men in the history of the game.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson, a former teammate of Hakeem Olajuwon‘s, approached the two-time NBA champ about tutoring members of his frontcourt rotation as preparation for the 2012-13 season.

Amar’e Stoudemire, who worked with Olajuwon earlier this summer (above), Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby will all get a chance to learn from a master. Olajuwon normally tutors big men, but he’s also going to work with Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com.

Having Olajuwon school his guys on post moves and the art of winning at the highest level is a masterstroke by Woodson, who knows that the key for the Knicks this season will be finding the right fit between his biggest stars. It’s an understanding that Olajuwon already seems locked in on as well, per the report from Broussard:

“They both have to realize that the most important thing is not how great you are individually,” Olajuwon said. “You’re remembered for how many games you win. So to get to play with another great offensive player should help you. It should make your job easier. You have to work well together. You can’t be competitors with one another.”

While Olajuwon has taught Stoudemire back-to-the-basket post moves, he said the Knicks’ game plan should not be simply to post up Stoudemire while Anthony dominates the perimeter.

“It shouldn’t be Amar’e just staying in the post because he can be a scorer in the paint and outside,” Olajuwon said. “It’s the same thing for Carmelo. He can score in the post and outside. So if Carmelo is in the post, Amar’e can be at the foul line and he can make that shot. If Amare’s in the post, Carmelo can make the shot from the free-throw line, too. They shouldn’t be competing against each other; they should be complementing each other. They need each other to win.”

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