Examining and Analyzing Sports the Way They Should Be

In 2012 Kyle O’Quinn was one of the Cinderella superstars of the NCAA Tournament. O’Quinn led his 15th seeded Norfolk State team to a stunning victory over second seeded Missouri Tigers. O’Quinn finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds in the Spartans huge win and even though O’Quinn and his teammates fell to Florida in the second round of the tournament, O’Quinn made a name for himself.

After being selected 49th overall by the Magic, O’Quinn carved out some playing time thanks to his energy, hustle, and drive. He emerged as a solid rebounded and a good passer. Last season O’Quinn started 19 games and averaged 17 minutes, 6 points and 5 rebounds per game, all while shooting more than 50 percent from the floor.

This season O’Quinn has continued to show his improvement. At this juncture in the season, O’Quinn is 9th in the NBA in PER (Player Efficiency Rating), a statistical to track a players per minute contribution.

While O’Quinn is only playing 19 minutes per game, two more than last season, he has increased his scoring average to 10.1 and his rebound total to 5.1 per contest. With O’Quinn off the court the Magic’s plus/minus is -5.9. Not surprisingly, the Magic are much better defensively with O’Quinn on the floor.

O’Quinn’s size and strength make him a formidable defender, think a poor-man’s Draymond Green. The Magic are better defensively from 5-9 feet, 10-14 feet, and 15-19 feet with O’Quinn on the floor.

The Magic are also better offensively with him on the floor, while they shoot similar percentages, the Magic score a much higher percentage of shots as a result of an assist which is a testament to the floor spacing that O’Quinn helps to provide the Magic with.

The Magic currently sit in the 9 seed of the Eastern Conference at 9-16 seem destined to be back in the lottery come June. But with a young core of Victor Oladipo, Elfred Peyton, Aaron Gordon, and Nikolai Vucevic coupled with the steady play of O’Quinn look for the Magic’s continuous improvement.

-Ben Pickman 


LeBron’s return to Cleveland was the number one storyline this past summer, but Steve Kerr coming from the booth to the bench replacing Mark Jackson might have come second.

After one month of the 2014, the Warriors’ success has made everyone throw out any concerns they had of Kerr — and with it, veil their allegiances to Mark Jackson. That’s not to say Jackson wasn’t important to the Warriors current success. Jackson built the Warriors into a legitimate playoff team. He took them out of the NBA dumpster and into the NBA relevancy pool. He made what seemed like an offensive heavy team actually become a defense-first squad. He revitalized Stephen Curry and didn’t bench him for turning the ball over like his predecessor Keith Smart did.

One of Kerr’s strength’s was Jackson’s downfall: trust. Both Jackson and Kerr trusted their roster, but Jackson didn’t trust his assistants while Kerr has surrounded himself with an offensive wizard Alvin Gentry and a defensive mastermind in Ron Adams and has shown complete trust in them.

Kerr and Gentry have drastically changed the Warriors offense. There is more ball movement, different lineups, and a more aggressive and dynamic Klay Thompson. All that is a result of Kerr and Gentry. On the defensive end of the floor, Kerr and Adams have improved the Warriors’ pick-and-roll defense and made little tweaks improving on the defensive groundwork Jackson laid out.

Center Andrew Bogut has been gushing praise of his new coach per Australia’s The Age:

I don’t think it’s so much a physical thing, for me it’s a big mental thing. Having a coach that has the confidence in me, even with the scorers in Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson), to say, ‘We want you to be aggressive and look for your own shot’, it does wonders for my game. […] It’s huge, I’m a huge confidence player and I think Steve Kerr’s been unbelievable so far.
They’re running me in the high post a lot more and utilizing my passing and it’s been great so far. Steve Kerr’s turned around my career and getting me back involved offensively, too, helps.
He’s adapted (multiple championship-winning coaches) Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson and taken the best of all those guys and he continues to learn,” the 30-year-old said of Kerr. […] I think guys are starting to feed off that, he’s a very fair coach, he’s not a negative guy, he’s just got a positive vibe about him to be around every day and I’ve really enjoyed working with him so far and I think it will only get better.

None of Bogut’s comments are supposed to be viewed as an insult directed at Mark Jackson, but it’s hard to not compare the two.

Due to the concept of regressing towards the mean, the Warriors are bound to slow down at some point. But the deed has already been done, and Kerr has made people forget against the Jackson era.

-Ben Pickman

See more at Bluemanhoop.com

Former NBA point guard Delonte West was released earlier in the week by the Shanghai Sharks, a basketball team owned by former NBA star Yao Ming.

West, 31, has not played in the NBA since October of 2012 and has bounced around international waters before signing with the Sharks. But after only four games, West's run in the Far East is over.  His contract was non-guarenteed and would have paid him almost $500,000 with incentives that could have made his salary almost $1,000,000. 

The former Cleveland Cavaliers point guard has a well documented history of mental illness. But this summer spent much of his time conducting interviews about how being a father had changed him and how he was excited to get back on the basketball court and only worry about basketball. 

West is not an angel in any way shape or form because of his history with gun possession and drugs, but it is sad to see a player who was excited for an opportunity only last four games on what is now an even longer road to recovery.

-Ben Pickman 


The first game of the season for the Boston Celtics was mind boggling. A team that no one thought could shoot from an empty gym seemed to quiet all those offseason critics. Game two was a completely different story. The Celtics scored 90 points, many of them in garbage time. But the bigger story was that they shot 4 percent from three. 1-of-25 for four percent. That’s not good.

While the Celtics will not shoot worse than four percent from three all season, the Celtics will continue to have shooting woes. Avery Bradley shot a mere 39 percent from three last season which to be fair was up from 32 percent in 2012-13 season. Bradley shot 74 more three’s last season than the year before as well, which is a testament to his improved confidence in his three point shot.

Look at Bradley’s shot chart compared to some other point guards in the NBA. The blue and purple means you struggled from that area, the red means you were dominant from that area. Look at all the blue and purple on Bradley’s shot chart. He was not exactly a sharp shooter from behind the arc, and the lone red spots are long two’s which are the lowest percentage shots in the NBA.

Now look at George Hill’s chart. Even an average guard like Hill still is a legitimate three point shooter. He struggles from within the arc, but because of his three point ability he is at least an offensive threat.

Just for reference look at Stephen Curry’s chart. A lot of red from behind the arc, and not a lot of blue. Keep in mind that the spots where the are blue are closer to the rim and its not surpsing that a guard scores more of his points from the perimeter than from near the rim.

But the Celtics problem is bigger than just Bradley.

Rookie guard Marcus Smart is going to play a huge role for the C’s this season. But Smart couldn’t shoot in college and likely will not be much better in the pros. He shot only 29 percent from three in his two seasons at Oklahoma State. He averaged only four assists per game as well meaning he is not a true facilitator either.

Rajon Rondo is not a good three point shooter either. Neither is Jeff Green who was only a 34.1 percent three point shooter last season.

The Celtics are allowing Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger to shoot three’s as well, but neither will be able to shoot three’s consistently. Neither Sullinger nor Olynyk were even big contributors on the offensive ends last season.

Olynyk took only 7.2 shots per game last season and average only about 9 ppg in his 20 minutes of action. Sullinger battled through multiple injuries which derailed his season.

One guy who could help the Celtics is rookie shooting guard James Young. Young was drafted 17th. Young was supposed to be a sharpshooter at KU, but struggled shooting only 35 percent from three. He did average 14 points in 32 minutes of play, but didn’t shoot the ball as well as many had hoped. But Young has already picked up a DNP and played only 6 minutes of garbage time against the Nets.

Look for the Celtics offense to struggle all season long. It won’t be four percent bad, but it won’t be much better.

-Ben Pickman 


It’s still a bit premature to think about, but there is a chance, a slim chance that the 12th pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Dario Saric plays in the NBA this season.

Saric, a Croatian star, is currently signed to a two year agreement with Anadolu Efes, an Istanbul based basketball club that competes in the Euroleague. Anadolu Efes’ season just began with Saric not dressing for either affair.

Part of that is because the first two games of Efes’ season were in the Turkish Basketball League which stipulates that only six foreign players can dress for a TBL game. The other part though is a bit more interesting.

Saric’s father, Predrag Saric talked to a Croatian newspaper earlier in the week about his sons DNP’s. “It’s not good. I’m afraid it’s time for the alarm.” He said, adding that, “if this continues, we will look for someone who can pay to breach the contract. Dario has to play, not watch the match from the stands.”

Saric’s current contract does not have a buyout built in which could present some trouble if the situation did escalate quickly. Philadelphia does have cap space, but NBA rules prohibit teams from paying more than $600k towards and buyout. Saric’s buyout would surely be more than $600k which is what his father is referring too when he says, “we will look for someone who can pay to breach the contract.”

The 76ers expect Saric to join the team next season and seem content to let him play the 2014-15 campaign in Europe. If Saric’s current situation with Anadolu Efes is not resolved look for him to play this season on another European team rather than in the NBA.

-Ben Pickman  

Damjan Rudez signed with the Pacers before the Paul George injury. He was expected to be a backup in the Pacers frontcourt. But then again the Pacers expect Paul George to play this season.

In a recent podcast with Grantland.com’s Zach Lowe  , Pacers coach Frank Vogel said that Rudez was going to play a lot of small forward this season and listed him with C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey, Chris Copeland, George Hill and C.J. Watson among other wing players.

Rudez, 28, is in the prime of his career. After being initially expected to play 10-15 minutes per game the injury of George has opened the door for Rudez to play a bigger role. Of course the Crotian forward cannot replace all of George’s production, but can he even match a portion of it?

Rudez is 6’ 10’’ tall. He’s a lean 200 pounds. Because of his size he was widely considered to be a power forward, but due to the George injury he will be playing more small forward. This immediately creates a matchup problem for opposing team’s. Picture a 6’10’’ Rudez guarding a 6’7’’ Matt Barnes or 6’8’’ Luol Deng. Rudez is a good shooter. Playing

Basket Zaragoza 2002 last season in the Spanish league, Liga ACB, Rudez was a matchup problem. He shot 44.1 percent from three and 46.5 percent from the field. But Rudez was merely a shooter.

He averaged 10.7 points per game, but only hauled in 1.6 rebound and 1.9 assists. This summer in the FIBA World Cup, Rudez came off the bench averaging a mere 5.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 14 minutes of action. He shot an unimpressive 30 percent from the field which will not cut it in the NBA.

In other related International tournaments such as the 2013 Eurobasket and 2008 Olympics, Rudez has performed better, but only marginally.

Rudez will be able to stretch the floor well for the Pacers, but if he can’t contribute by pulling in rebounds or defending his position, then Rudez will likely not make as much of an impact as many had hoped.

-Ben Pickman 


Don’t feel bad if you don’t know much about Matt Shoemaker.

The Eastern Michigan product had recorded a total of 5.0 major league innings entering this season, but after throwing 136.0 innings of dominant baseball for the Angels this season, he has emerged as the second best starter on the best team in the American League’s staff.

But should he be starting what could easily be a pivotal game two?

I get it. 16-4 win-loss record. 3.04 ERA. But is he good enough to be apart of the Angels three man rotation?
For this article I compare the numbers of the Shoemaker with the Angels next best three starters, C.J Wilson, Jered Weaver, and Hector Santiago along with the Kansas City Royals best four starters, James Shields, Yordana Ventura, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas.

C.J. Wilson is scheduled to start game three for the Angels, with Shoemaker slated to start Games 2 and 5. Manager Mike Sciosia is making the right call though. Shoemaker has a higher O-Swing percentage, a stat that tracks how often hitters chase pitches outside the zone. Of the 8 pitchers in the sample, he throws the highest percentage of first pitch strikes and has the highest percentage of swings and misses. A lot of this is because of Shoemakers slider which he throws almost 20 percent of the time. His sinker also helps him get ahead in counts. Shoemaker is not a flame thrower on the mound by any means, but he is not afraid to challenge hitters and more importantly does not walk batters. Occasionally he leaves pitches over the plate, but if he is able to get ahead he becomes far more successful.

C.J. Wilson has the lowest O-Swing percentage but has the highest groundball ratio of the group and a stellar groundball/flyball ratio. For a pitcher throwing a playoff game on the road these are crucial statistics. Wilson does not walk a lot of hitters. He is no longer the ace that he was in Texas, but his control is still excellent even though is stuff is not as good as it once was.

Wilson’s excels at keeping the baseball down and because of his array of pitches, he has emerged as a solid groundball pitcher. Kansas showed Tuesday night that it is a volatile place to play. It felt like a football game not a baseball game. I guess 29 years of waiting will do that to someone. Wilson, a veteran who has pitched in World Series games will not be phased by the moment and his ability to keep the ball down and more importantly in the park is even more augmented.
Shoemaker is still a rookie. Even though he is in the rookie of the year conversation, being a young pitcher and going into a hostile environment is not easy. He is not a groundball pitcher and if he doesn’t get ahead his statistics show that he is far more likely to fail. That’s why Sciosia is right to start him game two. Game five on the other hand is a different story.

-Ben Pickman  

It didn't take long for the Brooklyn Nets' Andrei Kirilenko to get injured. The 33 year old Russian small forward back has began acting up. Kirilenko's back was his problem last preseason when the former Jazz forward missed 25 of the Nets' 29 preseason games. 

Kirilenko battled back spasms all of last season missing the first two months of the season completely and never fully getting back into a rhythm. Kirilenko called his back spasms last season the, "worst of his career."  He played in only 45 games, his lowest total since the 2004-05 season. 

Kirilenko reportedly spent a lot of time in the gym this summer working on strengthen his core and back muscles hoping to avoid this very problem, but it appears that age and attrition is catching up to Kirilenko. With Paul Pierce now in Washington, Kirilenko was slated to be the starting small forward, but it appears that Bojan Bogdanovic or Alan Anderson will be the starting small forward for the Nets come opening night. According to the New York Post, Kirilenko sat out the Nets' sunday morning practice. He also made it clear to reporters afterward that he would sit out several days if he had too. 

It's good that Kirilenko recognizes that his team needs him in December, January and February more than in November. But this does not bode well Kirilenko and the Nets this season.

-Ben Pickman


Bojan Bogdanovic and his name are coming to the NBA. 

Bojan Bogdanovic, no relation to Bogdan Bogdanovic a Serbian and recent draft pick of the Suns,  was one of the best international players at the FIBA World Cup. The Croat, 25, finished the tournament as the third leading scorer. Although Croatia was eliminated by France in the round of 16, the surprisingly tall 6 foot 8 inch small forward put on a stellar performance finish with 27 points (on 11 of 19 shooting) and grabbed six rebounds as well. After playing in Istanbul for the last three seasons, Bojan will join the Nets this fall.

Bogdanovic will be a crucial part of the Nets success this season. Depending on the health of small forward Andrei Kirilenko, Bogdanovic might actually be the Nets starting forward on opening night.

Well, he’s another versatile player, new coach Lionel Hollins said after watching tape of him with King. “He’s a 2-3, a 3-2 basically and he can shoot the bal and he can put the ball on the floor. And the more shooters you have, the better. The more versatility, the more playmakers you have, the better your team can be.”

Bogdanvoic has fared well in his two appearances against NBA teams. He scored 11 points in an exhibition against the Celtics in 2012 and dropped 19 in the preseason against the Thunder this past preseason.

The 6’8’’ wing player likes to put the ball on the deck and attack the basket, and since he was originally drafted in 2011 has also improved his three point shot.

Scouts say that defense has always been the weakest part of Bogdanovic’s game so it will be interesting to see how he performs guarding NBA wings night after night. One major difference between the European and American game is the level of physicality. European games tend to be far less physical in terms of banging on the boards, or physical post up play. Rather they tend to be more up and down, transition offense, quick ball movement and shooting.

Bogdanovic will have ample opportunities to play this season with the Nets and his potential impact could take the Nets from a possible playoff team to one of the four or five best teams in the Eastern Conference.

-Ben Pickman 


Milos Teodosic was one of the brightest stars of the FIBA Basketball World Cup. The 27 year old guard led Serbia to the championship game where they were outmatched by a superior United States team. But will he ever make an impact at the next level?

Teodosic though turned many heads with his play. His 13.6 points and 4.4 points were both tops for his team. His 23 and 24 point performances against Brazil and France respectively are impressive enough,  but against an France team with multiple NBA players Teodosic shot 75 percent from the field. He dominated off the pick-and-roll and proved to be a pest to many of his foes.

Teodosic not surprisingly drew interest from multiple NBA teams. Before the tournament ESPN.com Marc Stein reported that Teodosic's last contact with an NBA team was in the summer of 2013 with the Memphis Grizzlies. Post-Tourney, multiple teams are reportedly interested in the Serbian guard. 

The Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Utah Jazz are the only teams in the league that can sign the Serbian guard to the multi-year $3 million contract that he wants. Teodosic has made it clear that he needs to have job security and a significant salary for him to even consider leaving CKSA Moscow.

In Europe many of the top players prefer to stay in their home continent. They chose money, fame, and minutes over the challenge of playing at the highest level in the world. Teodosic seems to be no different. It is unlikely that he will ever make the jump to the next level, but if he does he has the game to make him a solid bench player for an NBA team.

-Ben Pickman