Stephen’s Statements A little bit of everything from Stephen Duncan Jr, a Software Developer in Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

San Antonio Spurs 2005 Draft Pick

Ok. The Spurs selected Ian Mahinmi with their only draft pick this year. He is 6'10", so I guess that's why the Spurs picked him over Wayne Simien. But I think if you're not drafting for that one needed spot at the 3-spot, you should go for the best, proven player, and Simien is definitely that. The Spurs have been very good at picking foreign players, obviously, so I hope they know more than me.

And, of course, Simien goes at the next pick to the Miami Heat, a likely foe for the Spurs to go against in future NBA Finals. I hope the Spurs don't come to regret this, as Simien deepens the Heat bench.

Update: R.C. Buford came on the show via tele-conference to explain the pick right before I was about to turn off the television. They intend for Mahinmi to remain overseas for a few years and develop. That's certainly seems like it's going to work well with Scola. The Spurs get to own the rights to the player while he develops, without him affecting the roster. Maybe this is part of the Spurs plan on maintaining their long-term success. I need to look into how this works though. What happens if the Spurs decide they don't ever want to bring him over to the NBA? What if they're in a situation where they don't have the space for him, but some other team wants the player?

Friday, June 24, 2005

NBA Draft

Even though the Spurs pick 28th this year, I'm still interested in the draft. One reason is that Wayne Simien, the star of my alma mater, Kansas, might be available for the Spurs. In fact, that's exactly where has him. Other mock drafts I've seen have him going before 28th, or have him getting passed over by the Spurs.

Honestly, with Luis Scola coming in, there may be too much similarity in the players, and the Spurs may pass up a chance at Simien. But having watched Simien, I think he's underrated for the draft, and will be a successful NBA player. He's very tough, can rebound well, and has an excellent mid-range shot for a 6'9" player.

Guessing at what's available at pick #28, and knowing enough about all these players, is very difficult. Who knows what the Spurs will really do; maybe they'll trade the pick for a future one, maybe they'll make another impressive choice of someone most of us have never heard of late in the draft. But I look forwrd to finding out.

More on the Finals MVP Choice

I wrote before that Duncan deserved the Finals MVP, even though I felt torn, and that Ginobili was really close. I voted for Duncan over on the Spurs Blog poll, and supported that vote in the comments.

But Matt just posted something that convinced me that I was wrong, and that I should have listened to my instincts more. Ginobili deserved the MVP, and Robert Horry deserved the small consideration, at least, that I was feeling. Now, you definitely can't take those numbers to mean everything. But Ginobili's numbers are so good, that there's no doubt he was the most valuable player. Horry's numbers are also too good to discount through other statistical anomalies. The rest of the players numbers are probably skewed based on how much they spent on the floor with Ginobili or Horry.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Spurs Vs Pistons, Game 7

The San Antonio Spurs are the 2005 NBA Champions! The most important factor was that their terrific defense finally reappeared. My theory is that playing that up-and-down high-scoring series against the Phoenix Suns kind of put the Spurs down the wrong track for a while. But in Game 7, they played excellent defense in the second half, and really limited the Pistons. The Spurs also shot three-pointers very efficiently. Plus, Tim Duncan rediscovered his outside shot, hitting a couple bank-shots that he'd been missing all series, as well as the long two off the pass from Ginobili towards the end.

Tim Duncan deserved the Finals MVP, but Manu Ginobili was really close. Both played excellent, and I hope to see them continue as the foundation of future Championship teams for the Spurs. Robert Horry and Bruce Bowen were also extremely important for this win. Bowen spent more time on Billups in this game, and consequently Billups was held to 13 points. Horry hit his shots, and he did several little things that kept the Spurs in the game. There are very good reasons why he's won 6 championships.

I think, perhaps, that the blowouts in the first two games gave an unfair impression that San Antonio had choked. The Pistons deserver a lot of respect and credit. They really are a terrific basketball team. Chauncey Billups is an impressive clutch player, who manages to both score and dish out assists at an impressive rate. Ben Wallace is a defensive monster, plus he really stepped up his offensive game in this series. Rasheed Wallace's jump shot seemed unstoppable, and his defense on Duncan was certainly effective. Rip Hamilton has an amazing mid-range jump shot that the whole league should be envious of. And Tayshaun Prince, though he struggled against the Spurs, is a terrific player and will continue to develop into a major match-up problem for the Pistons' opposition in the future.

My point is, that this championship for the Spurs shouldn't be diminished for taking 7 games to do it. Instead, this is a special championship: a very hard-fought win against a near-equal opponent: one of the best teams around. Congratulations San Antonio Spurs!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Spurs Vs Pistons, Game 6

The San Antonio Spurs blew a good chance to win the Championship. They had it close must of the game, but couldn't quite make it happen. It was a tough game. The Pistons, especially Billups and Hamilton, hit a lot of very well-defended shots, while the Spurs, especially Barry and Ginobili, missed several wide open three point shots. But, in the end, the problem is the same as it has been all series and for the last several years: turnovers. The Spurs had 11 while the Pistons had only 5. Tony Parker had 4 and Manu Ginobili had 3. You just can't have your primary ball-handling guards turn the ball over that much. Several of the turnovers were unforced errors. If the Spurs can change that, then they will win Game 7. If not, then Detroit deserves to win the NBA Championship: execution at the highest level is what it's all about.

Rasheed Wallace made a lot of the big plays down the stretch for Detroit. He did it with 5 fouls. I wonder how the game might have been different if the Spurs had made a concerted effort for Manu to drive the lane, since that's where Rasheed tends to pick up fouls.

Speculating on the Finals MVP

I'm quite hopeful that the San Antonio Spurs will finish off the Pistons tonight, especially since Detroit hasn't won in San Antonio since 1997. So, now may be my last chance to speculate on the Finals MVP (other than during the game).

In my mind, how players played during losses doesn't matter. So lets examine the top players in each of the Spurs 3 wins so far. Game 1 MVP: Manu Ginobili. Great numbers, and most importantly, picked up his game in the 4th quarter. Tim Duncan's stats were very good as well. Game 2 MVP; Manu Ginobili. Even more impressive 4th quarter, and great stats. Tim Duncan was solid, but not as good as in Game 1. Game 5 MVP: Robert Horry. Duncan had better numbers all-around, but played poorly at the end of the game, while Robert Horry gave a legendary clutch performance. Manu Ginobili's points and percentage were down from games 1 and 2, but he provided 9 assists, including the great pass to Horry for the game winning 3-point shot.

If either Manu or Duncan take over this game, then whichever one does deserves the MVP. If Horry somehow turns in another performance like Game 5, then he could even become the most unlikely Finals MVP of all time. But, if things are fairly balanced, who do you go with, Ginobili or Duncan? I think it'll come down to just a feeling as to who is more important and consistent in the fourth quarter of the Spurs 4th win.

Now, if the Pistons were to somehow come back and win this series, who's leading them for MVP? With only half the required wins, it's really too early to speculate, but I'd say Ben Wallace was the most important player in their wwo wins so far.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Spurs Vs Pistons, Game 5

Nevermind the stats: Robert Horry was the MVP of Game 5. After four blowouts, we now have a game go to overtime, where Robert Horry makes the game-winning three. He went 5-6 from three-point range in the game.

After Manu Ginobili's performance in Game 1, Rasheed Wallace said about Manu: "Ain't nothing too special about the kid." And yet, Rasheed chose to double-team Ginobili and let the hottest player on the floor, Robert Horry, be open for one of his patented game-winning three-point shots. Hmm...

The San Antonio Spurs now have a two chances to beat the Pistons at home to win another NBA championship. Go Spurs Go!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Spurs Vs Pistons, Game 4

Why, oh why!? Why have the San Antonio Spurs decided to make me (and a lot of other folks who gushed over them after games 1 & 2) look like utter fools?

The poor officiating in the game (though, again, not a primary cause of the Spurs failure) was only exceeded by the continuing atrocious announcing. Coming into the series, I thought Al Michaels and Hubie Brown were pretty good announcers. But they have been awful. Their analysis of play has been extremely superficial. Their analysis and explanation of fouls and controversial plays, a primary function of announcers, has generally had no connection to what actually occurred. I don't know if it's laziness, or what, but I really, really miss the TNT staff. I'd love to be listening to the analysis of Steve Kerr. I'd like to be entertained by the halftime discussion of Charles Barkley. Instead, I get the snoozefest that is the ABC staff. I wonder if the poor ratings for the finals might have more to do with the television crew than with the basketball teams.

The similarity so far to the breakdown the Spurs had against the Lakers last year are disturbing. Well, there's three more games left, two of them in San Antonio. Three chances for the Spurs to prove that they're closer to the great team we'd been praising, and to avoid going down as the some of the biggest chokers of all time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Spurs Vs Pistons, Game 3

So many things went wrong in this game, it's hard to catalog them all. The officiating was bad, and lop-sided, but that's not why the Spurs lost. Any time both Duncan and Ginobili have bad games, the Spurs are in big trouble. The Pistons defense does deserve some credit, especially inside on Duncan, but Duncan missed a lot of shots he should make, and Ginobili was unable to play as aggressively as normal, perhaps slightly hampered by the early collision to his thigh/knee. Expect for the Spurs to play much better next game, and win it, as the Pistons win wasn't nearly as convincing as it should have been, given all the Spurs mistakes (turnovers, etc.).

Monday, June 13, 2005

2004-05 Spurs the Best Ever?

That's the question that Tyler Cowen asks over on Marginal Revolution asks. I was suprised to see this post, as I read Marginal Revolution because it's a fantastic economics blog... Tyler doesn't have any answers, but he does have provocative questions:

Can you imagine Bruce Bowen holding MJ to thirty points and Duncan going around Bill Cartwright at will? Could they keep the fast break of the Showtime Lakers in check, while exploiting the relatively weak defense of that team? How would they match up against the 1989-1990 "Bad Boy" Pistons, or the Celtics with Bill Walton?

Even though I'm a huge Spurs fan, I think they haven't yet proven themselves worthy of such consideration. They're playing terrific this year, but need to show consistency to be rated as highly as the classic "great teams." It'll take at least two championships (this year and, hopefully, next year) to make up for their collapse against the Lakers last year and take their place among the legends. Luckily, everything is in place for that to happen: their top players are signed for the future, and are young enough to either maintain their current abilities, or even improve. Of course, if next season isn't a full season, that will hurt their them in terms of their chances to prove themselves. Already one championship came in a lockout-shortened season.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Spurs Vs Pistons, Game 2

The Spurs win big, 97-76! Manu Ginobili scores 27 pts on 6-8 shooting, 4-5 from 3pt, and 11-13 FTs, with 7 assists, 3 steals, and 3 rebounds. A nice "did you know" from the end of the game: the Spurs are the first team since 1951 to win by 15+ in the 1st two games of the finals? Manu put up another Finals-MVP-candidate game, though Duncan had a great game as well, with 18 pts, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks.

Here's looking forward to similar success at Detroit!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Scoop Jackson on Manu Ginobili

Good read on the man, Manu Ginobili, from Scoop Jackson. Via San Antonio Spurs Blog.

Toby Becomes Symbol of New Blog

There's a new blog about PVRs (TiVo and the like). I found this out because the author of the blog dropped me a line to let me know he was using this picture I took of Toby. So, congratulations to Toby on his new-found stardom, and kudos to Flickr tagging and the Creative Commons Attribution license for making this so easy.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Spurs vs. Pistons, Game 1

The San Antonio Spurs got a solid win against the Pistons in Game one of the NBA Finals. The Spurs struggled early, but in the 4th quarter, Manu Ginobili really picked up his game, and finished with 26 points on 10 of 16 shooting. Another amazing performance in the end. I'll let Matthew give you the real analysis. All I have to say is: Tim Duncan played great too, but Manu just put up his first piece in a portfolio that may lead to a Finals MVP for Ginobili, rathar than Timmy if the Spurs take the series.

Lazy Announcing

Game 1 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Detroit Pistons is still close late, and it's a good defensive game. But one thing not good so far is the announcing. The analysis is fine: nothing amazingly insightful, but nothing rediculous either. However, they are being really lazy when it comes to be factually accurate about what's going on. Not really going back to check replays to figure out if the right call was made, etc. It's getting a bit annoying...

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Soccer and Advertising

As always seesm to happen lately, I meant to blog this a while ago, I've been too busy. This thought struck me as I watche the U.S. Men's National Soccer team play Costa Rica in a World-Cup qualiying match on Saturday. But before I get to that, I have say how impressed I was by the play of Kasey Keller. Several brilliant saves helped ensure the US's win. I don't know how he's considered and ranked around the world, but from what I see of soccer, he deserves to go down as one of the best international goal-keepers over the span of his career.

On to the topic: television advertising and soccer. For the longest time, it's been the consensus that soccer was an adversting disadvantage in America because there are no pauses in play for commercial breaks. On the other hand, though, there's been a lot of talk about the effect of TiVo and other DVR/PVR devices on commercials. When you can fast-foward or skip commercials, they become completey ineffective. The logical next step is trying to insert advertising into the game. Since this is what is already done in soccer matches, soccer may have a head start when it comes to the future of adversting when TiVo and DVR/PVRs become more prevalent.