Draftial Chaos Theory: Dan's Choice

2013 NBA Draft Lottery

A few months ago, prior to the trade deadline, I wrote a piece entitled Josh Smithial Chaos Theory based on an episode of NBC's Community. The episode "Remedial Chaos Theory" sees a group of seven friends forced to decide who is going to pick up the pizza they ordered, thanks to a broken buzzer. The groups de facto leader, Jeff, determines that the fairest way is to roll a die to decide who goes. Of course, the die has six sides, and there are seven people. Jeff rigged the game so that he'd never lose. Right as Jeff is about to roll the die, the group's pop-culture maniac notes that by rolling the die, the group is creating six different timelines, all of which are later shown in the episode, with various degrees of shenanigans ensuing each time.

Last night was draft night, and the Cleveland Cavaliers stood to make a choice.  Chris Grant and Dan Gilbert seemed  to have no idea who they should draft with their first pick. Every player has their pros and cons. Unable to find a draft day trade they'd like, they enter the Barclays Center. Soon afterwards, they hear David Stern speak the now-dreaded words. "Cleveland is on the clock." As minutes tick away, they scramble to find a solution, and eventually, not being able to find the right answer, they turn to their ultimate good luck charm, Dan's son, the awesome Nick Gilbert. Nick pulls a die out of his pocket, along with a list of six names the Cavs could draft. Dan nods and rolls the die. The universe is giddy at the thought of six different timelines being created.

Disclaimer: Adam is not a draft analyst. He's just a blogger. Do not treat this as draft analysis. DO NOT.

Timeline 1: Cleveland selects Alex Len

Dan Gilbert sighs with relief. At least he got a big guy. He wouldn't go against luck, not after winning two draft lotteries, anyway. And so, Alex Len becomes the first Ukrainian born player to be drafted first overall. Hooray! Nobody in Kiev or Lviv really cares, though, since they're busy fighting off an semi-autocratic regime.

Len immediately contributes as a pick and roll player, working very well with Kyrie Irving and finally leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the playoffs. The problem? They're the 8th seed. LeBron doesn't care about the boos, as the Cavs are swept away. After the series, a disappointed Len bashes James, saying that him leaving Cleveland was dishonourable and that it would never fly in the Ukraine. In response, an agitated James tells Dan Gilbert that he's not coming back to Cleveland unless Len is gone. This immediately leaks and Cleveland is unable to find a good trade for Len, as the other teams recognize the desperation of the move. Eventually, Len is sold for two second rounders to Houston, as Daryl Morey laughs manically. LeBron doesn't come to Cleveland anyway, announcing that he's keeping his talents in South Beach. Irving eventually leaves as well, disappointed with the way the front office handled his time there. Dan Gilbert, meanwhile, suffers a panic attack anytime he sees a die.

Timeline 2: Cleveland selects Nerlens Noel

Dan Gilbert sighs. Another year of tanking, as Noel's ACL isn't ready for play, at all. The Cavs have an extremely mediocre season, ending up with the 10th spot in the lottery... Lo and behold, they win it, and follow it up by drafting Andrew Wiggins. LeBron James signs with them in the offseason, and the 2014-15 Cavs obliterate the league on the way to their first franchise championship. The happy riot after the win is so huge, however, that the city is utterly destroyed, forcing the Cavs to relocate to Seattle.

Cleveland never gets another NBA team.

Timeline 3: Cleveland selects Victor Oladipo

Dan Gilbert sighs. They didn't need a wing, but once again, Dan Gilbert is hardly one to go against fate. Oladipo is apparently either the next Tony Allen or the next Dwyane Wade. Whatever the case, on twitter, a war between Conrad Kaczmarek and Matt Moore erupts over whether Oladipo should play over Dion Waiters, continuing throughout the season, dividing all of basketball twitter. As they play alongside each other. Cleveland barely makes the playoffs and gets ousted by Miami. LeBron James signs with Cleveland, intensifying the twitter war over who the wings should be. Nobody even notices that Mike Brown played all three along each other, with LeBron at the 4. The war eventually destroys "basketball twitter" as Cleveland wins the title. Since all Cavs fans were too consumed with fighting each other, there is no riot, only an empty arena. Adam Silver is still booed by the empty seats, though.

Timeline 4: Cleveland selects Ben McLemore

Very similar to the Victor Oladipo timeline, but McLemore is immediately recognized as an excellent complement to Irving and Waiters. He puts up one of the best rookie three point shooting seasons ever, cementing his reputation as the next Ray Allen. This time, though, due to a butterfly effect LeBron James decides not to sign with Cleveland after ousting them from the playoffs, staying in Miami. This leads the Kyrie Irving Cavaliers to a rehash of the early 90s, as the hyper-talented Mark Price Cavaliers were constantly ousted by Jordan at various stages of his power. These Cavaliers are ousted by Miami at various stages of LeBron's power for several years, eventually leading to a disappointed Kyrie Irving's sad departure.

Timeline 5: Cleveland selects Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert? What? For reasons passing understanding, Nick Gilbert wrote the super-tall Frenchman's name down on his sheet. Dan Gilbert panics, trying desperately to act against fate, but even as he tries to write down "Alex Len" on the card submitted to the league office the ink smudges and Gobert's name still appears. After a rant for the ages, Conrad Kaczmarek quits twitter and becomes a Boston College blogger full-time. Cleveland has a nightmarish season, with Gobert quickly becoming the all-time laughing stock of the league's rogues gallery of failed #1 picks. Shades of Kwame Brown, perhaps. Even though they're in line for another first overall pick, fate doesn't respond kindly to Dan Gilbert's attempts to cheat it. Cleveland ends up at #4, the lowest possible draft position, and Chris Grant gets a bit too cute and drafts Przemek Karnowski. The reason? Unfathomable, even to him. Karnowski busts similarly to Gobert. Kyrie Irving demands a trade in a furious angry rage, and the team's beleaguered owner inexplicably decides to grant his request. Gilbert trades Irving to Houston for Daryl Morey's loose change, and moments later, sells the Cavaliers to Chris Hansen. And we all know how that ends. Hansen moves them to Seattle immediately. Cleveland gets an expansion team to soothe their pain, but it never wins a championship, the city's dreams shattered by close calls year by year. Dan Gilbert, meanwhile, ends up in a mental institution for the rest of his life, haunted by even the passing mention of dice.

Timeline 6: Cleveland selects Otto Porter

Otto Porter turns out to be a perfect pick for Cleveland, getting them to the 4th seed in their first year. After a second round upset of Miami, the Cavs cruise to the Finals, where they're beaten in seven games by a strong Thunder side. LeBron doesn't want to join the side that beat him, leading to a back-and-forth Eastern Conference Finals rivalry between the Heat and the Cavs that lasts for the better part of the decade. The East is finally interesting! Impossible? Not in this timeline! The fun ends only after LeBron retires at age 42, leaving lifetime Cavalier Kyrie Irving to rule in his prime as the sole proprietor of the East. (Along with his sidekick Otto, of course.)

Timeline... 7?

The die is stuck on it's side, as the two Gilberts and Chris Grant stare at it blankly. What does it mean? They should probably make their own choice, right? The clock runs out, and just as Stern is about to announce the Cavaliers have ceded the #1 pick to Orlando, they send their pick to the presses. It's a lock. After all the drama, the hand-wringing, and the confusion? The Cavaliers have chosen Anthony Bennett, the board-hungry Canadian straight out of Las Vegas. How does this timeline end for Cleveland, then? Of all possible worlds, is it the best? The worst? The bratwurst?

As luck would have it, that one's ours.

So I suppose we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?

Adam's Weekly Nettles: Turnovers, Callouts, and Dwight Howard

kobe bryant

This week, we're trying a new column proposal from Adam Koscielak, our Poland correspondent. The gist? Adam is an angry contrarian man who hates everything and everyone. Virtually everything in the known universe annoys him. Given this, every week, Adam has dozens and dozens of weekly grievances and complaints. Even about things like the NBA, which he actually enjoys! In this new feature, Adam shares with the world his top three NBA-centric complaints of the past week, as well as a single positive statement in a hopeless effort to retain what little humanity he has left. Enjoy.

Grievance #1 – Fans Ignoring Turnovers (AKA the Bryant conundrum)

I really dislike Kobe Bryant. I don't enjoy watching his game, despite the skill involved. See, even when he passes, I don't really feel any sort of team spirit within him. That team spirit drives my love towards basketball -- why do you think I like Steve Nash so much? And while I'll readily admit that I hate players like Kobe PARTLY because I'm never going to be a player capable of being like Kobe, I'll also note how even in a great game, Kobe Bryant still manages to get away with the deadliest basketball sin of them all: the turnover. Or, in the case of Bryant's Friday game against the Toronto Raptors, a whole nine of them.

As with every game, I ended this one on Twitter, discussing the results. Many swooned over Bryant's incredible 41 point 12 assist performance, but I did not -- I sat back and kept staring at his nine turnovers. Usually, the main reason a critic would harp on Bryant is his tendency to shoot too much and too inefficiently. This time? The turnovers just bugged me. I got into a few heated discussions about this, with others telling me I should just let go and enjoy his wonderful performance. That, though, would mean I  don't want perfection in basketball! And that would mean I'm not myself. So, I decided to look at it from a less Twitter-centric point of view. I decided to look at what exactly a turnover does to the score. And you know what? Not enough people realize this: Basketball is about points. Not about clutch, not about dunks, not about flash -- it's about points. Doesn't matter when you score them so long as you outscore the other team.

The Lakers succeeded in doing this, led by Kobe, in an epic 15 point comeback. But what people don't realize is that if Kobe didn't turn the ball this often, odds are the Lakers wouldn't have needed that comeback to tie the game. Want proof? Let's use some stats. Now look, I'm no statistician, and Aaron will probably kill me for all the simplifications that will come with these calculations (Ed. Note: Aaron is seen looming in the background, casually whistling as he sharpens a blade), but I want to show a basic logic I use in harping on turnovers, rather than the specific math behind it. Even if I wanted to, it'd probably be impossible, seeing as I barely passed math in high school. (Ed. Note: What.) With that said, let's get to it.

First, I will be only counting the 8 turnovers Kobe made in regulation, since the theory here is that had Kobe not turned the ball over this much, the Lakers would've had an easy win. Since I do believe that it's understandable to have 3 turnovers per game when you're handling the ball as much as Kobe, I will count this out only for 5 turnovers. So, I used nbawowy.com to see how Kobe and the Lakers faired against the Raptors generally that night. It's a bit of a flawed approach, given how the turnovers themselves affect the stats, but since the game had 88 possessions with Kobe on, I will let it slide. I could always use general Lakers data for this, because of larger sample sizes. But I wanted to see precisely this game.

Basically, the Lakers generated 1.114 points per possession during the game, meaning that the 5 turnovers I'm taking into account lead to the forfeiting of around 6 points based only on that trend (Ed. Note: ....................). This already means that if Kobe doesn't turn the ball over more than 3 times, the Lakers win handily in regulation. Add to that a 28% chance of getting an offensive rebound off the shot, the points may grow as high as 10 (Ed. Note: ............................................). Once again, I don't know enough math to draw it out to make sense, but you get my point. Turnovers are the worst play in basketball. If not for the turnovers, Kobe Bryant wouldn't have to make a giant comeback, or hit a clutch three. He'd handily win against the Raptors, who actually helped him by killing themselves with an overuse of Rudy Gay. (Ed. Note: Hey, don't criticize. You're about to be killed by an overuse of "stats.")

Now, I'd just like to ask fans and media alike to remember that NBA basketball is played for 48 minutes, not just for the last five. This is why the refs did not screw you by taking away two points in the last minute of that game a few weeks ago, and this is why a magical half-court shot isn't what won the game. The team won the game, by scoring more points.

Basketball is about points. Really. You can look it up. Continue reading

Josh Smithial Chaos Theory

josh smith tyson chandler chillin straight up

Have you ever watched Community? It's a good show. Today, I find myself inspired by an early episode, specifically "Remedial Chaos Theory" -- the 3rd episode of the show's 3rd season. As a refresher, for those who aren't familiar: due to a damaged apartment door, it's determined that somebody has to walk down to get the pizza delivery. To decide which of the seven characters present gets the pizza, a die is rolled, and six different timelines are created. SPOILER ALERT: There are only six faces on a die. There are seven people. In a seventh "bonus" reality, they realize that one of their number is conning the group. Alas. In honor of the episode, I decided to create seven different timelines for the NBA trade deadline. Rather than trading seven different players, I decided to use one alone. The events had to be mutually exclusive, after all. Who? That was the easiest part, after a well timed tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski concerning Josh Smith. It had involved six teams. Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, and (of course) the possibility of staying with Atlanta. One more team was needed, and in a ironic twist of fate, that last team was none other than the one I'd abandoned a week ago; my former Phoenix Suns. And thus, the table's set.

Here are the NBA's seven mutually exclusive Smith-based timelines. Continue reading

Marcin Gortat's Rebellion

Marcin Gortat recently had a fascinating talk with Przeglad Sportowy's Marcin Harasimowicz after his game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The interview is in Polish, but worry not, there's no Google Translate needed. Because you have me, a bilingual Pole on a mission to share the latest updates in the life of everyone's favorite Polish Gazelle-Hammering Machine. Additionally, the portal reports Gortat rejected an extension for the 2014-15 season, and might be traded, as the Magic, Mavs, Bulls and Celtics are interested in his services. Yikes. Gortat's comments are worth noting for anyone following the Suns franchise and its solid Polish center.

Here's the interview (full interview and my reaction after the jump). All credit to Przeglad Sportowy and Marcin Harasimowicz, of course.

• • •

A lot has changed in the Suns since last season.
Marcin Gortat: Unfortunately, in my case – for worse. I'm certainly not the player I was last season, I need to find my place in the new order. I'm still capable of helping this team, and regularly recording a double double, but  when the ball sticks to one person on offence, it's hard to find a good rhythm.

Last season you've scored a lot of points off of Steve Nash pick and rolls. The team doesn't play that way anymore.
MG: That's true, but I can score in various situations. Finishing pick and rolls, in transition, from midrange, around the rim. There are a lot of options. Unfortunately, my two strongest plays – the pick and roll and post-ups have been taken away from me. It's not easy, we have a lot of plays that don't include me. And my chemistry with Goran Dragic hasn't been quite equal to what I had with Steve. These are things that we need to work on.

Coach Alvin Gentry told me that the main post option was Luis Scola. You, on the other hand, are number one on defense.
MG:
 Unfortunately... I've been doing the dirty work all my life, and now I have to come back to that. I will fight for what's mine. I'll try to prove to the coach that I can play an important role in the offence. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm even an option for Gentry. He doesn't even take me into consideration. The situation is critical. We're playing the same thing we've been playing last year, but the truth is we have a completely different set of players. I don't think it really works.  I can't get frustrated now though, I have to stay positive. Continue reading

One Year's Gone: Catharsis and Promises

Gothic Ginobili turns one today. As part of our celebration of this somewhat unexpected milestone, our writers are producing a variety of content reflecting and appreciating the journey that got us here. Here, our first added member to our extended staff waxes about his history with the blog and succinctly explains what makes writing under the iron fists of jerks like McGuire and Dewey even remotely tolerable!

One year ago today, the world didn't know much about Gothic Ginobili. (This was not surprising, as it had existed for less than 24 hours.) I was the editor of Fansided's main Suns blog at the time, Sun-N-Gun. I was trying to finish my first month strong, with increasingly insane, strangely written posts about the lockout. I didn't think I'd be where I am today, at least at the time. In fact, a part of me believed that I wouldn't even get to watch basketball until right about this time, this year.

A month later, the lockout ended. Two months later, the Suns played their first game of a season that would end up being Steve Nash's last. It was right about the start of the regular season that I realized regular, recap-grinding writing was a far more pressing constraint than I anticipated. As it turned out, I was (and still am) a terrible recap writer. So, if you by any chance wanted to mail me about a beat writer job for a Polish team, don't do it. After a few failed stabs at coherency, I resorted to grading players and giving notes. Why? I didn't know at the time, and I'm still not sure. Maybe it's because I pay too much attention to Marcin Gortat and Steve Nash. Or maybe because I don't treat basketball as a series of events, but merely a framework for discovering the people playing it, a weird, competitive social experiment of sorts. Whatever the case, two months into the regular season, I felt I couldn't really express whatever I felt about basketball on Sun-N-Gun. And so, I posted a random question on twitter of the "Yo, I'm bored writing just about the Suns, any general NBA blog want me?" sort, and Aaron and Alex answered my call.

To be honest, I didn't really read much of Gothic Ginobili before this. Mostly just scattered pieces Aaron linked me directly when we discussed basketball in between long sessions of swooning over King Crimson's "Red." Once I started flipping through, though, I was elated. With Aaron's work ethic, Alex's (positive) craziness, and their combined transcendent writing skills, I felt I was in the right place to hone my skills. I may have not done much, but I've had the opportunity to tell the stories I wanted to tell. The story of my nocturnal, basketball watching life is one, the story of my private family daytime soap being the other big one. The personal stuff. For the first time, I was putting myself into the framework, ridding myself of the fake mask of an unbiased blogger, and taking my own experiences into a weird (albeit fitting) context. It has been cathartic, it has been wonderful, and I just wish I had more time during last season to do it.

(And yes, that is a promise that I will be writing more, as if you didn't have enough of me already.)

So... I guess I have to thank Aaron and Alex for tolerating my writing-related shortcomings, my incessant overuse of parentheses, and all that other stuff. You guys are amazing. I can honestly say that being able to vote on ESPN's NBARank and Summer Forecast was one of the greatest moments of my life, and I can't say that I would've done it without this site. Meanwhile, I'm caught in a cruel twist of fate -- nearly a year after the lockout, precisely on the 1st anniversary of the blog that gave me so much, due to various problems with my mom's business (most of which I can't disclose, I wish I could), I might end up in a really bad situation, once again, through no fault of my own or my mother's.

But, hey. Whatever happens in next year's extended installment of Gothic Ginobili's absurdist reign over the odd, the offbeat, the outright strange -- I know one thing. I'll be able to talk about my troubles and trials here, put it in an odd context, and (eventually) have a catharsis. And that's what makes this experience great, for better or for worse. And with this, I end my rant, once again promising to actually deliver some content on a regular basis.

Let's just hope I'll have some ideas this time.

EDIT: This post was written on Tuesday. The problems? They seem to be resolved positively. I couldn't really talk about them, but I'm sure y'all would've supported me if I could, so, hey, thanks. Cheers. – Adam.

The Outlet 3.02: Drums and Play-by-Plays

Our offseason edition of The Outlet is back, in full-on preseason mode! Don't call it a comeback, we've been here for, well... bit under one year. Still. Sit back, play David Bowie's "Changes," go to your shrine of David Bowie in the other room with all the candles, ask David Bowie's effigy to make haste with the start of the season, go back into your computer room, play "Changes" a few more times, and then read some fresh takes on the preseason. We're almost back in the swing of things. In fact, go ahead. Call it a comeback. The Outlet is back, and soon, in its tow, so will the season. Get ready, fansketball.

  • DET v TOR -- The Dunking Drummer (Adam Koscielak)
  • WAS v NYK -- Beal's Frustration and Burden (Jacob Harmon)
  • SAC v PHX -- The Play-by-Play of a Lost Friend (Adam Koscielak)

Continue reading

Steve Nash and a Crime of Must

My parents separated when I was 10 years old. To this day, I remember vividly the moment my dad shut the door behind him, a stuffed and angrily packed suitcase in tow. Nothing was really the same for young Adam since. Had this not happened, I might've never been the person I am today. Actually, scratch the might -- I'm pretty damn sure about that.

A few years later, my dad would get a lucrative offer from an American company. The problem? He'd have to live in the US, and would only be able to come to Poland once a month. Even though I cried and begged him to stay, (thinking he was the cool parent, the one I'd rather spend my time with) he still took the offer. After all, it would only be six months or so. Still -- these six months ended up being pretty bad. My mom was pretty depressed after the divorce, and my childlike self savoured the time spent with my dad. He'd play video games with me, take me to lunch to my favourite Tex-Mex place, everything. Every weekend was great, which only made me appreciate him more when he came back for good.

Of course, that was then. Ever since, my dad managed to completely ruin all those memories, and make them into a melancholic journey. You see, in Poland, child support -- due to the reluctance of people to hire college folk -- is held up until age 26. This is for divorced couples, and married ones alike. The only difference is that divorced couples know exactly how much they have to pay. My dad did. And he wanted to change that. So right around my 18th birthday, my dad sued me. I ended up having to deal with all the blowback from the divorce, contacting lawyers, appearing in court, calling executors. It wasn't fun. It wasn't enjoyable. It wasn't right. At least I won, though. We only met once after the trial, for almost exclusively business reasons. Oh, and so my dad could say some mean things about my mom, of course. Then, once again, my dad vanished. It turned out later that he'd left for Canada along with his wife, and my step-brother. I'd only found out because my friend chatted with my step-brother. I didn't even get a proper goodbye, and when I'd mustered up the courage to send him an angry e-mail, I received an answer that somehow blamed me for being angry. Continue reading

Dwight Howard: Villain, Victim, Human Being

"They didn't let me push them around." could be a summary of Dwight's plea to the NBPA. Twisted, turned and hyperbolized, Dwight came out accusing the Magic of blackmail, while another collective "LOL" and "WUT" descended upon the twitterverse. Had this been the pre-Web 2.0  Dark Ages, the editors would've  probably double-checked the story before printing it in tomorrow's news. But today, as information becomes moot with every minute, those with sources have no such restraint. They'll throw whatever their sources tell them out to the masses, which will be subsequently reposted, reinterpreted in a thousand of ways.

And as the story of Dwightmare 2: Electric Boogaloo unfolded, I wanted to write an instant reaction, just as many others. Because waiting? That means that the interest goes dry. Waiting means that people probably already said what you've wanted to say independently. Fast wins, and when a few days later something changes, you always have an excuse for your too-quick reaction post.

All things considered, I've narrowly avoided that. Continue reading

LeBron James and a Trip to the Humbling River

Nature, nurture, heaven and home
Sum of all and by them driven
To conquer every mountain shown
But have never crossed the river
Braved the forest braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I'm helpless by the river

Angel, angel what have I done?
I've faced the quakes the wind, the fire
I've conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can't I cross this river?

In terms of raw talent and ability, LeBron might be the best player to have graced our game. The questions always concerned his psyche, his drive, his motivation. He won trophies, accolades, but always lacked the one attribute everyone associates with the best – those damned rings. With expectations from his rookie season, being a star from age 16, it’s hard to say whether he ever found himself within the huge body he inhabited. I know that when I was 16, I was pretty confused, and I didn’t have a documentary about me anywhere. I’m not a student of psychology. I don’t know LeBron. But from my (albeit limited) experience, I can tell you: that much attention, that much hype, that much expectations? Never does good for a person’s personality, never. Especially one that never had much of a life aside of them. And yet, he played through those, and yet he dominated, with no regard for human life. And the new basketball great showed he was ready to become the new basketball legend.

Continue reading

The Outlet 2.05: Why Can't Everyone Be Like the Spurs?

To bring our playoff coverage up, we’re bringing our formerly retired series of daily vignettes — titled “The Outlet” — back for the playoffs. “Don’t call it a comeback.” Though, you can call it series 2, as we are in the title. Every day (or, rather, every day we aren’t doing a larger and grander piece), we’ll try to share two or three short vignettes from our collective of writers ruminating on the previous day’s events. Should be a fun time. Today’s Outlet covers Adam discussing his confusion at the peculiar success of the Spurs system and Alex discussing the peculiar everything of Pierre McGee.

  • “Why Can't Everyone Be Like the Spurs?” by Adam Koscielak.
  • "JaVale's Good Game and the End of Days." by Alex Dewey.

Click the jump for today’s two gems. Continue reading