The All Powerful Hawks

Since early January when the Hawks were put up for sale they have been absolutely on fire!  The NBA power rankings have been dominated by the Golden State Warriors all season but recently they have been dethroned by these Hawks.   My first statement is a little short-sighted since technically these Hawks have gone 26-2 since Thanksgiving.  So the question must be asked… What is their key to success?

They lead the league with assists on made field goals at 70%.  This would make us look toward their all star candidate point guard Jeff Teague.  He “only” averages 7.4 assists per game.  With point guards like Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Ty Lawson, and Chris Paul who all average 10 assists per game, it is surprising that the Hawks hold this type of stat.  Teague is assisted (no pun intended) in this area by his front court.  The way that Horford and Millsap share the ball is something not commonly seen in today’s league.  Most big men will post up and either put up a shot at the rim or pass out to the perimeter after the opposing defense proves impenetrable.  Sometimes, commonly seen with the Pacers, you will see the forward halfheartedly roll to the top of the key/elbow area and shoot an 18 foot jump shot.  Horford an Millsap have no problem at mid-range, they can penetrate and drive and have enough basketball IQ to find open shooters and hit people cutting to the basket.  Not everyone is perfect though.  They like to get dunked on:

Kyle Korver has also been big in their success.  Recently he has been nicknamed Threesus because it seems like he just doesn’t miss.  Korver leads the league in three pointers made but ranks 11th in three pointers taken.  That is almost unheard of efficiency and is shown in his 53.5% success rate from behind the arc.  Korver is on track for a historic season leading the NBA in points off of catch-and-shoot opportunities (381), catch-and-shoot field goal percentage (52.4 percent), catch-and-shoot three-point percentage (53.2 percent), and catch-and-shoot threes made per game (2.8).  Korver also owns the NBA record for most consecutive games with a three-pointer (127).  If he keeps putting up numbers like this he will join not only the 50-40-90 club with the likes of Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Dirk, Steve Nash; but he may become the second member of the 50-50-90 club joining only Steve Kerr.

These assists seem to come easy when you have a shooter like this lurking on the perimeter.

Oh, and he can also dunk:

Another thing that is interesting about this team is that they have no players in the top 30 for minutes or points per game.  This team works well together.  They are unselfish.  On any given night any member of the team could have a career game.  Their starters get rest since they have a competent bench.  Defensively they have high motor guys like DeMarre Carroll making energy plays.  With all this going for them, I would be surprised if we didn’t see them in the eastern conference finals, if not the NBA finals.

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Rajon Rondo Saves Ball At Marc Gasol’s Expense

The city of Louisville’s favorite son, Rajon Rondo, was part of an odd exchange the other night in the Mavs/Grizzlies game. Explaining what happened between Rondo and center Marc Gasol honestly just wouldn’t do it justice. Thus, we watch..

This is great on so many levels. One, it’s classic Rondo. Making the savvy play while kind of being an ass about it is what Rondo has done his whole career. Two, Marc Gasol ‘daps’ up Rondo after the fact.  This guy just got his rocks rocked and is seemingly unfazed. Three, it’s pretty ironic, right? Rondo saved the ball while sacrificing…something else.  Overall a pretty funny exchange in my very mature opinion.

In all seriousness though, it’s good to see Rondo returning to his old self again. He is averaging just under 10 points and 10 assists per game since being traded to Dallas, with a couple monster games mixed in.  If the team is able to keep it up (and there is no reason to think they won’t) we should at least get to see flashes of the vintage playoff Rondo that was so fun to watch during the Celtics’ Championship runs.

 

 

Pacers V. T-Wolves

Last night I attended the Pacers basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Indianapolis.  I took advantage of the cheap ticket prices and made the short trip up I-65 to the arena.  As a Pacers and Louisville Cardinals fan I was excited to see my favorite team and an old U of L favorite, Gorgui Dieng, play in the arena.  The game certainly did not disappoint bringing plenty of drama and excitement.

The leagues big story of the night was the 11 year veteran, Mo Williams scoring 52 points against the Pacers.  Williams has shown his scoring prowess against Indiana in the past.  Most recently doubling his season average of 11 points per game by posting 20+ points in their last meeting.  Many of his 52 points were the result of acrobatic off-balanced three pointers.  It really seemed like the guy couldn’t miss.  This performance tops the league this season passing the 46 point games from Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol.  Check out his highlights here:

Roy Hibbert was also ejected after a flagrant 2 foul midway through the third quarter.  As he fell he was seen drawing Dieng down to the ground with him.  Accident or not the in arena replay looked bad.  Gorgui left the incident unhurt.

There was plenty of drama and excitement in the arena.  In my opinion, the most interesting and pleasurable part of the evening was meeting the acquaintance of two Louisville natives at the game.  At this point I would like to introduce you to Stephanie and Dan Cline.

Stephanie and Dan Cline

(Sorry guys, I had to crop myself out of the picture.  My eyes were closed)

These two lovely individuals represent what the citizens of Louisville should be.  They are diehard Louisville fans that made the trip to see Dieng play again.  They do happen to prefer college ball but unlike some people in the city say, “Why not?” to the prospect of having an NBA team.  These two are perfect examples of why we should, could, and would support an NBA team in Louisville.  It was an uneventful Tuesday night in the city, so they decided to find plans; get tickets and go to the game.  It would be much easier and more sensible to allow people like the Clines to take a short trip to their own back yard in the Yum! Center.

Combined, there are currently 20 players from U of L and U of K in the league.  So whether you are a Cards or Cats fan, there are plenty of opportunities for you die hard college fans to support your own favorites.  I say we all take a page out of Stephanie and Dan’s book and support this movement.  In fact, 4 of the next 5 Pacers home games are against teams housing former UK and UL players.  Jan 16, 27, 31, and Feb. 4th.  Pick your poison.

Of course if you are still opposed, I am still waiting to hear a valid argument and see any data on a negative impact an NBA team would bring.  There is room in the comments! 🙂

Growth, Development, and Buckets

Alright.  Let’s talk Louisville.  It really gets on my nerves when people are against an NBA team here.  NBA fan or not, it would make sense.  Let’s address several arguments I hear against a NBA team in Louisville.

PEOPLE HERE LIKE COLLEGE BASKETBALL AND WON’T SUPPORT NBA

What?  So much evidence suggests otherwise.  First of all, people in this city love basketball.  As a former high school player I played in many packed and high energy gyms across the city.  I never heard anyone say, “High school players play with more heart, they aren’t worried about scholarships and money.  It’s more honest basketball”  (You may sense some hostility to this comment; as you should.  I’ll address that later).  No. Let’s address that now. You can’t tell me that without the regulations from the NCAA some of these college players would be going directly to the NBA. You may also consider their choice of playing at Kentucky or UL is directly related to the ability of the coach to get them to the league.  Therefore, for some of these kids it’s all about the money.

As a repeat season ticket holder to UL you see the same passion but on a larger scale.  Instead of high school loyalty dividing fans, they can unite under the University of Louisville.  This city is still divided.  I don’t even have to mention the rivalry that divides us when it comes to sports.  Imagine the energy and pure magic that could be instilled in the city if we actually had something we can all root for as one.  I cite December 8th, 2010.  The Louisville home game in the Yum! Center that evening had an attendance of 21,000 fans.  Simultaneously the University of Kentucky hosted Notre Dame in Freedom Hall with an attendance of 18,000 fans.  That is a total of 39,000 fans in the same city, miles apart, at the same time, supporting a team that they love.  This is almost double the seating capacity of the Yum! Center for basketball games.

Lets task October 4th, 2014.  The Yum! Center hosted an NBA exposition game between the Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans.  Even in the wake of Lebron leaving the Heat more than 21,000 people attended the game.  This was in competition with a waterfront/river road music festival and events on Fourth street as well.  You don’t have to take it from me, see what the Heat have to say about their experience in the Yum Center.  I sat in the fifth row at the game.  The energy when Russ Smith and Anthony Davis took the floor was unparalleled to any energy I have felt at any NBA game I have attended.  Moral is that the Heat think they can make money playing in our arena…. why can’t we have our home team to keep that money in-house?

I also would like to refer you to an earlier post talking about former UL and UK players in the league and further reasons why Louisville would support the NBA.

Also, remember that exhibition game that occurred on October 4th, 2014?  81% of the people who attended were from Louisville or Southern Indiana.  Take a look at the population trend of this region.

WHERE IS THE CORPORATE MONEY TO SUPPORT THIS?

By no means can I speak for any corporation.  What I do see and would like to point out is the commitment corporations in Louisville have made to the city.

The obvious one is the fact that our arena is named the YUM! center.  If Yum! did not anticipate success, they would not have put the 100 million plus into the arena to have it build.  It is and will be their contribution and legacy in the city.  They are rooted in the town and seem to be itching to have something to get the city behind and excited about.  With a market cap of 33.69 billion dollars as reported by Forbes, I am sure that they can find a way to give support to the potential team.

Brown-Forman is another local name that has taken interest in our town here.  Our city is growing, especially downtown.  Neighborhoods are improving, remodeling, and trying to contribute to the growth that the Yum! Center may seem to be helping.  For example Whiskey Row downtown just east of the arena is continuing to grown.  With a name like that, who would you guess is having a hand in this directional growth? If you guessed Brown-Forman you would be correct.  This shows their dedication and involvement with the growth of the city.

NuLu is another neighborhood on the rise!  They host a variety of events and festivals for the citizens here.  The NuLu fest that occurred over the summer tops that list.  I encourage you all to attend next summer to see the new-found energy in an all but seemingly forgotten part of the town.

Louisville will continue to grow.  Current plans for a new Omni Hotel to be built shows that not only I, but parties outside of the city believe in the growth that we are kick starting in the city.

IT WOULD MESS WITH UofL AND THEIR SCHEDULE

I believe in this city and its potential.  It is impossible to ignore the positive economic result of bringing an NBA team to Louisville.  That is why I am such an avid supporter.  The University of Louisville does not own the Yum! Center.  I fear that is what people are expecting.  They are merely a resident.  If you do not think we could coordinate schedules of the teams then I laugh and would like to direct you to the Staples Center in LA.  If they can handle coordination of hockey, 2 NBA teams, concerts, and other national training type events, we could handle a couple of basketball schedules.

I close with simply this.  If you don’t like the NBA, that is fine.  I am not here to directly turn you into a die-hard fan.  There is however no reason why would should be opposed to this prospect.  Maybe you are scared of change. I will warn you though.  The worst way to run your business and life is with a “This is how we have always done it attitude.”  That prevents growth, efficiency, and profit.  You can choose to not attend, but I’ll be at the game with a beer, apparel, plenty of heckling, and 22,000 other people.

Junior Bridgeman Linked to Atlanta Hawks

A well-known Louisville name has recently been linked to the purchase of the Atlanta Hawks.  Per a number of media outlets, an investment team consisting of Junior Bridgeman, Grant Hill, and Jerry Colangelo will be making a play to acquire ownership of the franchise.

Bridgeman, who is well known in the area for his playing days at the University of Louisville and with the Milwaukee Bucks, is currently the head of Bridgeman Foods.  The company owns several chain restaurants nation-wide and is headquartered in both Louisville and Milwaukee.  Bridgeman and his company were highlighted in Fortune Magazine just this past July. He has an estimated net-worth of over $200 Million, according to Louisville Business First.

While this news may not directly impact the city of Louisville, it is promising to see a powerful individual with ties to the city showing invested interest in the NBA.

Video: Artis Gilmore Does The Undoable

Our favorite Kentucky Colonel Legend, Artis Gilmore, didn’t care that Kareem’s sky hook was deemed unblockable, just like I don’t care that it’s not Throwback Thursday. The Colonel-Journal will salute you any day of the week, Artis. Tell Kareem that weak stuff isn’t welcome in Louisville Gardens.

Atlanta Hawks Availability: What it Means to Louisville

Recently, news has broken that the three owners of the Atlanta Hawks have decided to make 100 percent of their franchise available to the highest bidder.  To fans of the addition of an NBA franchise in Louisville this may come as good news.  I assure you that it is; just not in the way that you would think.

To set the record straight, there is no way that the Hawks will relocate anywhere at all.  No conversation over where they should move will be had.  With the change of ownership will come the exchange of money, a neat stack of papers with some rather powerful signatures, and the keys to the Phillips Arena.  Several factors will keep the Hawks in ATL.  The current bond agreement between the Hawks and the Phillips Arena has them tied to the arena for another seven years.  Termination of this bond would require the Hawks’ new owners to not only pay the bond off in full but also an “early termination fee” to the tune of $75 million.  Major corporations housed in Atlanta also have vested interest in making sure the Hawks stay put.  TNT/Turner owns the assets of NBA TV; with Atlanta being rated as the 8th largest TV market in the nation TNT would certainly want to keep the team local.

The major interest that the city of Louisville has in this deal is what the price tag would be.  This would be an indicator of an expansion fee price in the current NBA market.  This would allow J. Bruce Miller and his potential group of investors/buyers to know what kind of figure they need to have together when putting in an application for expansion from the NBA.  Until then keep watching, reading, and being a fan.

NBA Expansion: Ranking The Top Draft Picks

Because this blog is brand new, and therefore has very little following, it will likely move in several non-sensical directions. But who says non-sensical directions aren’t fun and entertaining? This is my first of many posts. While I will likely hit on a range of subjects, it is my goal to appeal to the everyday NBA fanatic, and in-turn, relate that fanaticism to the NBA movement in Louisville. Let’s do this.

An expansion is the most likely way an NBA team ends up in the fine city of Louisville, KY.  Many people debate whether or not that will happen in the near future given the new TV contracts etc, but there is one fact that is non-debatable… Expansion Drafts are awesome.

Because Expansion Drafts are awesome, I’ve ranked the top 5 Expansion Draft picks of all time. Enjoy.

5. Mugsy Bogues (1988)

After being selected 12th overall in the 1987 NBA Draft by the Washington Bullets, Mugsy was left unprotected and taken in the following year’s Expansion Draft by the Charlotte Hornets.  While he averaged a modest 7.7 points and 7.6 assists per game for his career, Mugsy was widely regarded as one of the most exciting guards in the league and is an all-time favorite amongst the Hornets organization.  Plus he was in Space Jam.

4. Gerald Wallace (2004)

Wallace was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the 25th pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. After struggling to find the court early in his career he was selected by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2004 Expansion Draft.  Wallace was voted to the 2010 All-Star game and was selected to the All-Defensive First Team the same year. He has averaged a career 12.4 points per game.

3. Jerry Sloan (1966)

Sloan was selected in the 1966 Expansion Draft by the Chicago Bulls. While Sloan is known more for his coaching legacy, he produced two All-Star appearances and made the All-Defensive First Team four times.  His most elite statistics come in the form of coaching victories, as he is the only Head Coach to win 1,000 games with one franchise.  He is currently in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

2. Walt Bellamy (1974)

Bellamy was selected in the 1974 Expansion Draft by the New Orleans Jazz. Unfortunately for the Jazz, Bellamy was at the end of his outstanding career. He was selected with the first overall pick in the 1961 NBA Draft, and averaged 31.6 points per game in his rookie season. He ended his career with over 20,000 points and 14,000 rebounds and is currently in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

1. Pat Riley (1970)

Riley was selected in the 1970 Expansion Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.  His playing career was not particularly great, but he did win an NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972.  It is his post-playing days where Riley truly made his mark on the NBA. Since his playing career, he has accounted for 7 total NBA Championships (4 as a Head Coach, 1 as a Head Coach/President, and 2 as a President). He is arguably one of the greatest basketball minds to have been through the NBA.

Feel free to share your top expansion players in the comments!

2015 NBA All Star Preview

Here are the results if the NBA All-Star voting were ending today based solely off votes received:

Western Conference Starters: 

Front Court: Anthony Davis (NO): 732,154 votes; Blake Griffin (LAC): 403,415 votes; Marc Gasol (MEM): 343,587 votes

Back Court: Stephen Curry (GS): 755,486 votes; Kobe Bryant (LAL): 694,665 votes

Eastern Conference Starters:

Front Court: LeBron James (CLE): 775,810 votes; Pau Gasol (CHI): 372,109 votes; Carmelo Anthony (NY): 365,449 votes

Back Court: John Wall (WAS): 439,395 votes; Dwayne Wade (MIA): 396,757 votes

 

Competition for all-star spots in the western conference has been fierce.  This is evidenced by Russel Westbrook currently falling in 8th overall in back court votes in the western conference.  With a stat line along the tune of 27.6 ppg, 5.6 reb, 7.2 ass, and 2.3 steals per game its hard to imagine a player of this caliber may not make the all-star team.  Other names on the fringe include Damian Lillard; a critical component of a Trailblazer team making a run at Golden State for the best record in the west, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Rajon Rondo, and Chris Paul.  Any one of these people would seemingly deserve the title of all-star.

Also interesting to note the popularity of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony in these voting results.  With the amount of injuries and even time off for “old age” you would think that the veterans would enjoy some sort of all-star break in order to rest.  This could free up positions for young up and coming guards to gain all-star experience.  Players like Jeff Teague, Eric Bledsoe, and Nick Young may not only appreciate an all-star title more, but they may also provide more excitement and entertainment for the games and weekend itself.  I would say more “Swaggy P” camera time is better for vines, tweeters, bloggers, and fans of the game itself.  This is especially true if Kobe is out leaving him to “feel like Django unchained”