Friday Super Challenge

First, for everyone who lost his job on account of that tits yacht, here's a harmless video of Nicolas Batum attempting a trip to Burger King (about 2:00 in):

I love this guy. On so many levels, he's like the missing other half of Barbosa. Moves weird, mild and yet aggressive in the most slippery way imaginable, by all accounts a lovable ingenue on these shores. But as of now, you see it mostly off the ball and on defense.

-Here's something to ponder: Read this TSB column of mine on a proposed overhauling of the NBA salary system, and explain to me where it lands me on the political spectrum. I truly have no idea.

-New Quotemonger, where the comments section gets especially silly.

-Share your favorite Harrington/Bender memories in the comments section.

-Also, at the Launch Thing on Wednesday, I was badgering Kevin Pelton about what I deemed "the single game indicator." As in—off of the Anthony Morrow phenomenon, of course—are there any one-night performances that can definitively mark a player as of lasting worth? The caveats here are Anthony Johnson and Tony Delk; they'd seem to throw scoring out the window, unless maybe you set the bar over 60 or something. That's pretty rarefied air.

My suggestions were a little more sneaky: The Hakeem triple-double and Kirilenko's 5x5. I don't have the data to back this up, but I just don't think a player reaches one of these statistical benchmarks—however fleeting—unless there's real substance there. And you? Any new submissions?

UPDATE from DR. LIC: Our old friend and FD affiliate, Emynd, has blazing remix of Paper Route Gangstaz' "Woodgrain"

Woodgrain (Emynd Remix) - PRGz

It appears on the new Fear and Loathing in Hunts Vegas project. COP here.

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At 11/21/2008 11:45 AM, Blogger freekhalidelamin said...

I was at the Bender 30 point Christmas game and the best word I've been able to come up with to describe the croud's mood that afternoon is "confused." It was against Orlando during the beginning of the McGrady era and they looked incredibly similar out there. Since it was the Christmas game there was all this buzz leading up to it, and then Indy got up and everybody got excited and then everybody got, well, confused.

At 11/21/2008 11:48 AM, Blogger goathair said...

You don't luck in to 20 rebounds.

The Pacers once had Bender, Harrington, O'Neal, Artest, and Tinsley but I can't find evidence they were ever all on the court together. That's too bad.

At 11/21/2008 12:02 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Jeff Foster? Really? Also, I'm not convinced that Emeka is one for the ages.

Harrington was always stuck behind Artest, since the Pacers still had Reggie Miller. I would also like to remind everyone that Brad Miller was also on that team.

At 11/21/2008 12:13 PM, Blogger Brendan K. said...

This time last year (pre-Pau trade, post "hey, why aren't the Lakers sucking right now?" talk, I was expecting Sasha to have his Pistol Pete game and post, like 48 (with about 8 treys) and 7 assists. That obviously didn't happen, so how about Linas Kleiza's 41 points in 41 minutes last year against the Jazz's solid D?

At 11/21/2008 12:13 PM, Blogger Big Rils said...

That salary structure is preposterous! you are clearly either a proto-marxist or neo-fascist with authoritarian tendencies.

(In all seriousness, I think it makes sense, although while it's nice to have nice even numbers, they would probably need to be based on percentages of the cap for any given year).

As for statistical benchmarks - I'm really not sure there are any. A quadruple-double maybe, but I once watched Mark Blount go for 28 pts and 21 boards, so that's out. Points are too fluky, as are assists on a single-night basis (see Anthony Johnson, Ramon Sessions). Given the right combination of luck, playing time, and streakiness, I think that most players in the NBA have the potential to hit any benchmark we create for one game (unless of course, we set the bar absurdly high, like 50-20-20 or something).

At 11/21/2008 12:19 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

It's merit-based socialism that's meant to protect those at the top, who are already being screwed over by a de facto version of this. I guess the corollary of this would be to just demolish the cap altogether, but no one wants that.

And yeah, it would probably be percentages, but there'd have to be some general consistency so that qualitative aspect could remain.

Who gets quadruple doubles? I thought that the points/boards/blocks 3X2 was insane enough.

At 11/21/2008 12:37 PM, Blogger trouc said...

only four quadruple doubles in the history of the league

Nate Thurmond, October 18, 1974, Chicago vs. Atlanta; 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, 12 blocks. (OT)[1]
Alvin Robertson, February 18, 1986, San Antonio vs. Phoenix; 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals.[2]
Hakeem Olajuwon, March 29, 1990, Houston vs. Milwaukee; 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, 11 blocks.[3]
David Robinson, February 17, 1994, San Antonio vs. Detroit; 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 blocks.[4]

(from wikipedia)

At 11/21/2008 12:43 PM, Blogger Chaz said...

What about limiting scoring to big men? Off the top of my head I can't think of any big men who've dropped 40 or 50 who aren't great, or potentially great (Villanueva).

At 11/21/2008 12:45 PM, Blogger goathair said...

I wholly retract my rebound statement after further research. I mean, Rony Seikaly once had 34 in a game.

At 11/21/2008 1:13 PM, Blogger Big Rils said...

I had Hakeem and Robinson in mind when I talked about quad-doubles. The Hakeem/Dwight Howard triple double is impressive, but my overall point was that I could see a guy like Keon Clark or Sean Williams getting 10 blocks in a game (and from there, how hard is it to grab 10 boards and score 10 on put-backs), which lends to my overall point that almost any benchmark is attainable by a mediocre NBA player. Let's not forget that everyone in the league is still incredibly talented.

As for the salaries, I think the cap is there for the right reason - to improve competition in the league (in a basketball sense, not a free market sense). In a league with minimum salaries for some players in 7-figures, I am okay with a system that "screws over" the superstars by limiting them to some set amount because it is meant to level the playing field among small, medium and big market teams (of course, it inherently gives an advantage to teams in warm weather climates with low state income taxes, and hurts the Raptors). Let's not forget that the NBA also provides an outlet through which the superstars are able to showcase their talents as widely as possible and increase their earning potential visa-vis endorsements and the like.

At 11/21/2008 1:16 PM, Blogger Big Rils said...

I also think a semi-hard cap that is set higher, with maybe a 10% grace window for teams looking to retain their own players, would be better than the one they have now, which encourages teams to handicap themselves with all the Bird, Mid-level, and Veteran exceptions.

At 11/21/2008 1:16 PM, Blogger goathair said...

Since 86-87, the only non-great to get 60 is Tom Chambers. That seems like a pretty impressive benchmark.

At 11/21/2008 1:24 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Tom Chambers was an All-Star, so it's not like he's some scrub dropping 60. It is pretty eye-opening to look at just how many people have scored over 30 points in an NBA game.

At 11/21/2008 1:28 PM, Blogger The Electric Zarko said...

10 minutes before reading this, a co-worker described Morrow as "the new Tony Delk".

wv: exurse - Dirk's cousin misses a workout session with an NDBL team.

At 11/21/2008 1:28 PM, Blogger Phil said...

Martell Webster scored 24 in one quarter. He came out of no where and he disappeared immediately after.

At 11/21/2008 2:01 PM, Blogger antonymous said...

Like the salary cap concept - don't know exactly where it puts you on a political scale, but the introduction of artificial salary tiers to increase overall competitiveness has plenty of real-world counterparts. On the one hand, it's more "efficient" from a personnel standpoint - a team can take a chance and pay a particular player more to come over.

But I don't think the NBA is all about this - from a league perspective, keeping superstars with one team is good for the sport, and good for each team's identity. Should Executive of the Year be elevated to the level of MVP? Will franchises start trading front office personnel?

Your system also brings to the forefront the salary structure that many die-hards internalize. Amare is a "good" $15 million dollar investment, while Ben Wallace is a "bad" $15 million. Would Wallace be considered "good" if he were making the vets minimum?

I realize the cold reality of NBA fandom - we cannot blatantly ignore dollars and sense - but it does cloud our judgment of a player's worth. Obviously your system makes this process even more transparent, and this may be a good thing or a bad thing. But when I watch a modern marvel like KG play, I think "that's the greatest player on the planet," and not "that's the most highly-paid player on the planet."

I do like how the bargaining process now involves more team and player options though - that's a relatively new development which adds a new twist (the Brand opt-out, for example).

Oh, check out Bender at :30 in this video (right after Nick Collison's, uhhh... "cartwheel" dunk).

At 11/21/2008 2:08 PM, Blogger j. edwin brandt said...

You seem to be making two very different arguments here.

(1) Rigid pay grades will enhance decision making among GMs.

(2) Shorter time periods on contracts give the market more liquidity, so teams are able to respond quickly to bad decisions.

Your first argument actually gives the market less fluid -- if we assume all GMS are equally savvy, and that players talent is distributed smoothly (players do not naturally fall into one of six categories), then your first proposal would lead to worse decision making. Donnie Walsh might be wrong about how much a player is worth, but his best guess (or compromise) will probably be closer than having to choose between two categories far apart. If there is debate about Ben Gordon being an 8 or a 12, it makes sense to give him a 10 contract to minimize the risk of being wrong. Your counter to this argument ("we have an idea of what kind of player goes with each of these labels") doesn't resonate with me. There are some instances where limiting choice improves decision making, but I see no reason for this being one of them. If GMs knew what kind of player fell into each category, they could simply offer them those contracts under the current system. No one is stopping them. Your final (and main) claim on this issue ("What's important, though, is that rather the quibbling or playing hardball, the value of a player would be a function of his importance.") seems equally unpersuasive. The quibbling and playing hardball are all about determining the exact importance of a player. If there are certain strategies that consistently lead to bad decisions, then those specific strategies should be regulated. But, as is, your first argument boils down to "negotiating bad."

Your second implicit proposal -- that players should have shorter contracts -- is the type of market regulation that does help protect fans and teams. However, you need to take seriously that this would limit the ability of players to contract freely, and often would hurt players. For players like LeBron, short contracts make sense. For other players - like, oh, i don't know, a three hundred pound mountain in the phx desert - locking into longer contracts makes sense.* Especially if you want to stop conditioning in the off-season.

Finding analogs between beliefs about the structure of the NBA and the structure of society is extremely difficult because the two have such divergent purposes. For example, I'm fine with bad NBA players being cut from teams, but I'm not fine with citizens being cut from society. I want the NBA to maximize the quality of games. I want society to prize fairness and equality at the cost of maximizing economic efficiency. Moreover, our thinking on the NBA is undoubtedly shaped by the knowledge that it exists within a larger political structure. Our comfort with player salary caps comes partly (or mostly) from the fact that everyone in the NBA already makes so much money. "Hurting individuals" like Lebron to help the overall quality of the league is morally permissible because no one really thinks we're doing Lebron any extensive damage. Similarly, the large salaries of Lebron, etc. would be much less tolerable if society itself were more egalitarian. BUT I DIGRESS.

*Although Shaq has been better than expected this year, probably not worth 20 mil.

At 11/21/2008 2:15 PM, Blogger Austin said...

fucking crazy how this site and i are on the same wavelength. I snatched that mixtape yesterday from maddecent and have been bumping it since, it's quality. Stuntastic is a tru jam.

At 11/21/2008 4:21 PM, Blogger goathair said...

Chambers was good, but he's not on the Jordan/Kobe/Robinson level, obviously. It just seems like, if a dude gets 60, that's not a fluke.

At 11/21/2008 4:39 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Edwin Brandt was nice about it, but this plan is totally retarded. But since you only asked where it lands you on a political spectrum, you are proposing that a bureaucratic government is smart enough to make decisions that private actors are too stupid to make. I'm not sure that anyone thinks this, like, anywhere.

re: Single game indicator, I think that over 30 points with over 10 assissts is a fairly difficult feat in addition to being plausible enough for a really good player to achieve in his career. If a players reaches this, they were directly involved in at least 50 points. What also might help these indicators is to punish the players for steals, since the fast break points earned from a steal don't really count towards a player's offensive ability.

At 11/21/2008 5:20 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

SO glad someone linked to Bender's dunk from the FT line in that high school dunk contest. He was already 6-11 and I thought there was no way he wouldn't, one day, be a star in the league. Anyone know what he's up to? He's gotta be playing ball somewhere...
D-Rob notching the quad dub and dropping 63 to edge Shaq (who dropped 50 in the same game) and win the scoring title on the last day of the regular season is one of the most FD things EVER. I just ordered the Book, actually my ol earth did...

At 11/21/2008 6:07 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Clarification: Shaq put up 50 on the last day of the regular season and on the same day DRob cracked 60,but it wasnt in the same game. DRobs 63 came against the Clips (which makes it only slightly less impressive)

At 11/21/2008 11:26 PM, Blogger kris said...

I used to check box scores in the newspaper and I remember waking up and bugging out when I saw Willie Burton dropped 53. He only took 19 shots. He was 24-28 from the line. This could be the most underwhelming 53 in the history of the league.

On Wikipedia, Willie is referred to as a "journeyman."

His 53 points accounted for 6.53% of the points he scored that year.

At 11/22/2008 1:01 PM, Blogger mdesus said...

That proposal makes you some degree of socialist obviously if it is a mandated thing from outside. Otherwise it isn't really much different from the current situation just a bit restructured to allow for less flexibility. I'm not really of the mind that parity is lacking in the league. No team in my life has been dominant for that entire period (not especially long). In football the Steelers have almost never been bad since chuck knoll retired. Baseball has a complete lack of parity, but basketball stands as a paragon parity relative to the other sports (redwings hockey ftw)

At 11/22/2008 8:04 PM, Blogger Both Teams Played Hard said...

I'm not reading all these comments, but Acie Earl dropped 40/12 in his "return" "vengeance" came to the FleetCenter after he was traded to the Raps before the season.

And I was there.

Don't be jealous.

At 11/24/2008 7:44 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Every now and then Cedric Caballos could get up for a game. And with him, it wasn't necessarily a surprise that he dropped 50, but it also didn't sit well. You knew it was an "everything had to go exactly right" sort of accomplishment, which almost made it less of a feat and more the fulfillment of some spectacle of Fate for which he was simply a vessel. Not that cool.

At 12/01/2008 9:04 AM, Blogger Gabe said...

Five-by-fives and 20/20s aren't that hard to find.

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