Thursday, May 26, 2016

Here's why Cavaliers fans should always be thankful to Jason Williams for turning up 10 seconds late to practice

This "sliding doors" gem comes from Reddit's NBA forum, posted by LemmeHollaAtMyBabies earlier this week:
It’s February 2008. Shaq is in Miami now a full season removed from the Heat’s victorious 2006 Finals win. He is averaging career lows in points (14.2), rebounds (7.8) and blocks (1.4). Due to his increasing number of injuries and extremely low production despite the $20 million per year Pat Riley had him signed on till 2010 for, things weren’t looking too good. Come a standard weekly practice and the following happens in Shaq's own words:
" There was a lot of tension between Pat and the players. So we're about to start practice and Jason Williams comes in about ten seconds late. Pat being Pat, he starts swearing at him and screaming, "Get the hell out of here!"... I tell Pat we're a team and we need to stick together, not throw guys out of the gym. Pat is screaming at me and says if I don't like it, then I should get the hell out of practice, too. That's when I said, "Why don't you make me?" I start taking a couple of steps towards Pat. Udonis Haslem steps in and I shove him out of the way. Then Zo tries to grab me. I threw him aside like he was a rag doll. Now it's me and Riley face-to-face, jaw to jaw. I'm poking him in the chest and he keeps slapping my finger away and it's getting nasty. " 
Shaq was on the block by the end of the week. On February 6, 2008, Shaq is traded to the Suns for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. 
Now with Shaq gone after a year and Mourning recently retired, the Heat needed a third big man alongside Joel Anthony and Mark Blount . On February 13, 2009, Heat trade Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks from the Suns, for Jermaine O’Neal, Jamario Moon, a 2010 2nd round pick and 2011 first round draft pick. They now have the back up big man they need, and 3 trade assets in Moon and two draft picks. 
With the Cavs needing a back-up small forward behind LeBron James, they sign Moon to an offer sheet on July 17, 2009, which Miami chooses not to match. 
Come 2011, the Clippers are no longer interested in their ageing and mildly productive point guard Baron Davis and need a younger point guard, as well as a small-forward considering they only had one prior to drafting Al-Farouq Aminu. On February 24, 2011, they trade Baron Davis and a first round pick for Mo Williams, and the only other player on the Cavs roster that fits within their needs, Jamario Moon. 
Come May 17 and its the NBA Draft Lottery. Cavs have a 19.9% chance of winning the first pick with their own, and a mere 2.8% with the Clippers pick. By half a stroke of a miracle, the Clipper's pick that was gifted in an almost meaningless trade ends up being the number 1 pick. 
On June 23rd, 2011, that pick turns into Kyrie Irving. 
TL;DR - Jason Williams rocks up late to practice, results in a fight between Pat Riley and Shaq that ends in Shaq being traded. Causes a ripple effect of trades that ends up with Clippers trading away a first round pick that turns into Kyrie Irving. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Will Derrick Rose Be The First NBA MVP To NOT Make It Into the Hall of Fame?

To date, every NBA MVP Award winner has made it into the NBA Hall of Fame soon after becoming eligible, a trend that goes back to 1955, when the NBA announced their first MVP winner, Bob Pettit. (Here's a complete list of MVP award winners by year.)

That shouldn't be terribly surprising. A player who is considered to be the most valuable player for an entire season is obviously someone who's quite talented and has had or will continue have a stellar NBA career. Moreover, many players who won MVPs were so dominant that they won several MVPs, e.g., players like Kareem, Russell, Wilt, Magic, Bird, MJ and LeBron.

Currently, there are nine MVP winners who aren't in the Hall of Fame, all because they are still playing (although quite a few on this list will retire this year, most likely) or aren't yet eligible for induction into the HoF (Nash):

  1. Tim Duncan
  2. Kevin Garnett
  3. Steve Nash
  4. Dirk Nowitzki
  5. Kobe Bryant
  6. LeBron James
  7. Derrick Rose
  8. Kevin Durant
  9. Stephen Curry
How likely is it that all of those players will make it into the HoF one day? Clearly, many of those nine players are absolute, guaranteed, don't even talk about it locks for the HoF. But there is one extreme outlier in that list... If we go by Basketball-Reference.com's Hall of Fame Probability metric, the list (ordered from most likely to least likely) looks like this:
  1. Tim Duncan - 100%
  2. Kevin Garnett - 100%
  3. Dirk Nowitzki - 100%
  4. Kobe Bryant - 100%
  5. LeBron James - 100%
  6. Kevin Durant - 99.43%
  7. Steve Nash - 98.29%
  8. Stephen Curry - 85.12%
  9. Derrick Rose - 10.52%
Basketball-Reference.com outlines the math used for determining HoF probability here, but in short it takes into account NBA Championships, what stats they led the league in, Win Shares and All Star Game selections, among other criteria.

All that to say, things are not looking good for Derrick Rose - 10.52% probability! Eep. Looking at just active players, that puts Rose in the same neighborhood as Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Deron Williams, three guys who are good, sure, but not what you'd consider Hall of Famers.

Now, the HoF probability metric isn't perfect. There are players in the HoF who have extremely low probabilities per the Basketball-Reference.com formula, the most jarring being Bill Walton, who only has a 2.04% chance per their math. But given that Rose's peak was interrupted so early by injury and that his Bulls team wasn't ablt to win a championship in that small window, it seems quite probable that Rose will have to live with the ignominy of being the only NBA MVP to not make it into the Hall of Fame.