When only the ends remain

Usually when people talk, I bark back loudly and pretend it never happened. Sometimes, though, I stow away their thoughts for later, until I'm ready to use them to enhance the quality of humanity. So it was with a brave reader who wrote, when we counted down the Top 50, that "all of these players seem to have instantly recognizable stat lines." This was pure charm, and I've waited until today to say my peace on it. I knew it was time when, in an unlikely twist of functions, FreeDarko proved useful as a source of information. StatTracker down, busy with the Rockets game, I found out from the comments section that Andre Miller had posted something ridiculous like 29-8-9.

Andre Miller has never been fun to watch. He drives too much for someone who doesn't force a defense to collapse, shoots too readily for someone with limited offensive versatility, and makes too few noticeable passes to qualify as a sizable point guard. But this season, he has recaptured what made him so facinating to me when he was on the Cavs: the ability to create stat lines that, when coupled when a rich NBA.com mug shot, leaves you with the impression of something stronger than action.

Except for when I used to sneak Bill James into synagogue, I've never been all that much into stats. Fantasy sports hasn't made me love them; on the contrary, it's so thoroughly degraded and ghettoized the numbers that fixating on them religiously seems laughable. I check the boxes like the next man, but I know that it's a lower level of consciousness. There are, however, definite exceptions to this, as with the Andre Miller case above. I avert my eyes when Miller plays, but feel a certain shiver in my glands when I see he's put up one of those lines. Bust-out in points, strong rebounding, endless assists. No three's, and a couple of steals. Maybe Nash produces equally striking stats, but with him, I can't help but see them as the byproduct of beautiful game. Miller, though, seemingly exists only to present me with this crude rendering, so that my imagination might float accordingly.

This is almost certainly a pathetically extreme case. Yet there are players, many of them among the most FD, whose stat lines are a kind of joy in themselves. Ben Wallace before the Sheed was a perfect example of that; I could've stared at those 6-18-7 blocks tallies for days. Josh Smith is actually becoming a very, very good player, but even if I don't catch the Hawks I can content myself with a look at 23-4-9-4 blocks, 2 three's. LeBron's 30-7-7 certainly fits this bill, as has been previously observed. Odom's actual play is a spirit-entrancing mix of sublime and hideous; the box scores, though, preaches nothing but pure poetry.

Nash functions according to his game, and there are the numbers to prove it. We know what kind of player he is, and have clear statistical expectations for it. What makes the above investigators so important is that their novel stat lines only underscore the degree to which they are setting off mini-revolutions within the traditional order of basketball. Producing a singular kind of stat line is further evidence of this larger breakthrough; in fact, it can sometimes allow you to appreciate the profundity of their style in a way that might get lost during the actual game-viewing. Andre Miller may be an aberration in this respect, but my willingness to fight on his lie is only proof of how valuable stat lines can be for true prophets.


At 11/15/2006 1:49 PM, Blogger seezmeezy said...

wince carter's stats in sunday's game v. wiz game don't reflect what actually happened.

here's a cool stat:

7 seconds, what the f*ck, die joey crawford die

wv-kqnwmo= still bitter

At 11/15/2006 2:34 PM, Blogger R.G. said...

AK-47's lines use to strike me like this. I just had to get a glimpse of the guy grabbing boards and throwing shots at a breakneck clip.

At 11/15/2006 2:39 PM, Anonymous J.E. Skeets said...

It’s a little eerie how regularly these late lunch Shoals’ are beginning to echo the previous night’s convo between friends, the HD, and myself. Example:

Heat Announcer: Andre Miller is just two rebounds shy of a triple-double.

Me: What!?

Ken: Wow.

Me: How does he do it? He’s done nothing but put up solid stats throughout 4/5ths of his career; he never misses a game; and yet, he still seems like nothing more than a glorified back up. I don’t understand it. How does he do it?

Ken: Moxie.

At 11/15/2006 2:48 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

It should be somehow instructive to note that the last two players to post triple-doubles in Final Four play are D-Wade and Andre Miller. Brings several FD threads together.

At 11/15/2006 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Wade's 2003 triple-double against #1 Kentucky. Transcendent.

It's even memorialized on the Wade ads all over the city of Chicago right now (which list "touchstone" moments in his development)...

That game was awesome.

At 11/15/2006 4:13 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i'll come clean: i'm a fan of wade in numerical form. i find him more exciting than the real thing.

At 11/15/2006 5:29 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

college triple doubles are meaningless.

the only two carolina players to ever post a triple double while in college:

jason capel
brendan haywood

At 11/15/2006 5:47 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

meaningless triple doubles in the nba are somehow even more impressive. like who among us will see ryan gomes the same after last week's 3X2?

At 11/15/2006 5:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I nominate Monta Ellis for some freedarko recognition? He has the style, if not the stat lines (yet).

At 11/15/2006 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Triple doubles rarely happen in college. Almost never.

I don't know if they're meaningless or not-- Wade's was in a huge NCAA tournament game that led Marquette to the Final Four.

I guess it's meaningless in the sense that if he had 9 rebounds instead of 10 Marquette still would have won-- but, it certainly didn't seem to be without meaning.

It was the exclamation point on Marquette's ridiculous season. And it announced that Wade was, without question, the real deal. Before that game people questioned whether he was ready to play pro ball. Hard to remember now, but many thought of him as a poor man's Arenas.

At 11/15/2006 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the 3x2's are always good and never meaningless, I'm more thrilled by the 20 pt/20 reb outings. D.Howard seems a threat to do this every night. Bosh did it last night and he may have battle d harder for every point than the boards. There is something inherently cool about the 20/20. When a player posts it, you can look at the box and know that a man was playing amongst boys.

At 11/15/2006 7:46 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Another little NBA stats secret: KG is not a great rebounder. A lot of gimmes at the defensive end and quite few offensive boards.

At 11/15/2006 8:17 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I guess my comment was intended to connect the gloomy 3x2 that Miller is apt to produce, and just place it on a spectrum with Wade's transcendent gloomy production that happens every game he plays. And that those feats may be cut from the same cloth, and the fact that they have this thing in common from the college days may be illustrative of that.

Kaifa: depending on how you like your stat gurus, you might say that offensive and defensive rebounding are totally different skills and shouldn't necessarily be combined. Certainly we can find examples of players on either side of the coin.

Anon702: Big Bulls fans may tell you the legend of the ultimate meaningless 20/20 game. That would be the Marcus Fizer 30/20 "Is it even worth it to consider this a sign that he could be good?" game.

Best meaningless 50: Tony Delk, Tracy Murray (tie)

At 11/15/2006 11:10 PM, Anonymous Torgo said...

Continuing with the trapped in a foreign land theme, I gotta say I read almost all of the box scores, day in, day out. It's really my only way of knowing what's going on. I tend to check the box scores to see what happened, and if I should bother to read the recap. When I see something like the Redd 51 points (no assists) line, I end up checking out the recap. If it's just standard stuff, for teams I'm not interested in, I just keep going.

Things that make me read the recap:

Big names with embarrassingly low stats

Big names with short minutes (injury?)

Guys I've never heard of with ridiculous numbers

Stupefying stats (over 15 asts, more than 20 boards, 8 or 9 blocks)

And, well, why is it that Damon Stoudamire got crapped on for 51 with no dimes last year, and it's okay for Redd? Just realized that.

wv eqmumsb: Horse mothers, stay back

At 11/15/2006 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfect example of a stats player 20/10 from chris webber last year. being a 20/10 guy is officially meaningless to me.

WTF is up with Chris Webber missing the same elbow shot EVERY Game... I remember when he was nice, because it wasn't that long ago. what happened to his game.

At 11/16/2006 5:42 AM, Anonymous jack said...

Kwame had a fling with the 30/20 a couple of years ago. I don't know what his deal is these days, he seems content to put up exotic fg% and ft%.

kaifa: KG is a really good rebounder. Is he not as good as his stats suggest? Perhaps. Is he a man among boys when it comes to rebounding? Definitely.

Robert Horry had a line like 6pts 20rbds, against Sacramento in 2002. That's always been my favorite weirdest stat line. That's always been my favorite weirdest stat line. Watching the game, it didn't seem like he was rebounding especially well, or at all, even. The stat line was magic.

At 11/16/2006 8:13 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

@jack: Should have been more precise. Of course KG is no Eddy Curry, grabbing 5 rebounds in 35 minutes. What I wanted to hint at is that the number of rebounds is not the whole story. KG's 15 boards are not the same as, let's say, Ben Wallace's 15 (or maybe Dwight Howards, haven't seen enough of him yet). As I said, KG gets most of his on the defensive end, a good percentage of those being rebounds that a guard is in position to get to directly but KG grabbing it and handing it off. This is no knock on KG and even further from suggesting he's trying to pad his stats or something. I just think that the pure numbers just don't tell the whole truth.

A similar point could be made about a PG who averages a high number of assists not by his own "brilliance" but by having high-percentage low-post players he just has to dumb the ball to or good shooters on the wings. Haven't seen enough games to give a good example from this season. Ideas?

At 11/16/2006 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone going to point out Renaldo exploding for 18 last night? (and shooting a better percentage than la pata in doing so?)

At 11/16/2006 9:47 AM, Blogger seezmeezy said...

i think steve nash and his assists speak to your point. obviously dude is nasty and puts his teammates in great positions to score, but he is also surrounded by some of the game's best transition finishers/streak jump shooters. imagine how his dimes would drop if brenda heywood and some other stone handed mutants were blowing layups in transition.

my apologies for the earlier wv, i just wanted an excuse to complain.

At 11/16/2006 10:06 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

well also, nash is part of a system set up according to his skills and populated to complement his style. there's no mystery about where those stats come from, or how someone could produce that line.

speaking of STATS, an NBARS alert: morrison goes 12-23 and pop calls him "a tremendous young talent?" only two trips to the line? i know it's early in the season, but seriously, he deserves that many attempts? i know that team needs a lead scorer, but funneling all shooting through him is going to keep their other potential scorers from developing.

At 11/16/2006 11:04 AM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Maybe Morrison does it to boost Emeka's rebounding stats and as a result his confidence?

At 11/16/2006 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoals, I know you're a Morrison hater, but he won that game for them last night and he did most of it with Montel guarding him.

Morrison is the best offensive threat on the team. Okafor and May are better inside and Felton obviously has a better handle, but Morrison is the best option to score from virtually anywhere in the half court-- and last night he was smart enough to move and use screens.

I mean no disrespect to G. Wallace, but Morrison is better.

At 11/16/2006 11:26 AM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Okay, I'll bite - I won't start the "I told you so" yet on Balkman (too early), but I will continue to say that you will see good, solid bench work out of him. He's a hustler, and he's done that since he got to the Knicks, preseason and now regular season. He will be as nice as David Lee, another hustler, only more defense oriented.

And the Knicks bench is really incredible. Has there ever been a team with a starting 5 that was as incompatable as their bench 5 is perfectly matched? Should the Knicks use their starters for 5 minutes stretches only, and let their bench carry them? How does one take advantage of their personel? Has their ever been a situation where a team's second team works that much better than their first team?

At 11/16/2006 11:28 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i knew it was wrong the second i wrote it. look, i am fine with morrison being a guy who comes off of screens and scores smart, a la rip. i just don't want to see him turned into/allowed to turn into some kind offensive wizard.

At 11/16/2006 11:39 AM, Anonymous Tinns said...

Reggie Evans: 20 ribbies, 0 points.

At 11/16/2006 12:15 PM, Anonymous SK said...

In Gomes triple-double game last week Paul Pierce pitched in with the following:

35 pt/13 rb/12 to

It's like he doesn't trust anybody else on the team to do anything because he's so much better than they are.

At 11/16/2006 12:41 PM, Blogger c-los said...

@Kaifa...how can you say KG isnt a great rebounder...his rebounds are gimme?....if they are so gimme then y doesnt everyone average 12+ rebs a game....Im tired of the ben wallace talk....he's a one dimensional player...at least bowen can hit a corner 3 and sprain people's ankles

At 11/16/2006 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to nominate Tywon Lawson as FD. His game, at least sylistically, is seemingly a perfect fit. plus, he played soccer at Oak Hill last year. That has to count for something.

Another nominee for most meaningless 50 pt. game: Ced Ceballos.

At 11/16/2006 1:02 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

@c-los: If it matters, I hate Ben Wallace, he just was the first to come to mind when talking about game-changing rebounders playing right now. And again, I was not trying to say KG is bad rebounder. You're right, several other guys would have to average 10+ rebounds if it was that easy. My point was that the stats don't tell the whole story as I've seen several games where you never had the impression of KG dominating the boards but him ending up with 15.

At 11/16/2006 2:52 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

tywon lawson played SOCCER at oak hill??? how did i not know this? was he good? if he concentrated on it, he could be a great midfielder.

At 11/16/2006 10:29 PM, Blogger Sergio said...

Wow. You hear tons about people doubling up in football and basketball, but b-ball and soccer? Nuts. Tywon Lawson for senator.

At 11/17/2006 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Occaisionally, I hear Andre Miller (bringing us back to that) called a "true point guard" or something because he averages 8 or 9 apg... but
having actually seen those games, two or so might come on the break, two of them are those handoffs to camby at the top of the key when camby just sort of looks around and then takes the shot, and a couple of them are the alley-oop plays the team loves...

Given the high incidence of miller driving the lane, losing the ball, and throwing his arms in the air like he wants a continuation call or something, I'd call him a shoot-first point who has a couple set plays that happen to account for an unusual accumulation of stats

At 11/17/2006 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Tywon Lawson playing Soccer at Oak Hill. I had no idea either until I looked up his page during UNC's game against Winthrop. It says it right here:


At 11/17/2006 5:45 PM, Blogger Stumbleweed said...

Yeah, Andre Miller is the perfect example of the PG with inflated assist numbers type. I mean, dude can pass (really well, in fact), but he's primarily concerned with driving and only really passes when he realizes he's screwed (which often comes entirely too late). Because he plays in a fast-paced system with so many transition points, he gets tons of garbage assists on passes that anyone could've made. He's a lucky man to be in that system.

And holy shit, Baron Davis highlights galore after last night -- talk about stat lines that make you want to watch the game.

At 11/18/2006 12:11 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

baron davis when he's on definitely belongs in this category. the good one, not the andre miller one.

At 11/19/2006 9:52 PM, Blogger Sergio said...

Quick question: did anyone care enough about Cleveland to actually watch the season when Miller lead the league in assists? There seems to be such a monstrous discrepancy between those stats and the guard I find myself now watching.

Anyone? Anyone?


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