The Outlet #5: the Ballad of Ricky Rubio

Programming Note: Check out the STEVE NASH projection system that we're dropping today.

I had a redeye flight that prevented me from seeing all but half of a single game on Thursday, on account of my packing, so we didn't have an outlet yesterday. Still, another day, another outlet, as they say. Let's share some of our patented aimless thoughts regarding last night's games. Continue reading

Introducing STEVE NASH, our 2012 Projection Model.

Hello, all. Today is going to mark, for us, the official rollout of the Gothic Ginobili preseason projection model. I made the model, Alex came up with the name -- "SRS-Tempered Evaluation of Variable Elucidation; Not A Simple Hyper-Segmented Linear Regression." Which... is an acronym for STEVE NASH, if you hadn't noticed already. Yep. It's either the best model acronym ever, or the worst. Try saying the model name out loud. It's hilarious, and I can't stop laughing. But it's memorable, reasonably descriptive, and honors one of the Gothic's favorite players. So... I guess it'll suffice, for now? Regardless. What is STEVE NASH? It's a model that attempts to use prior data project out what we should expect to happen in the 2012 season. I would never call it a prediction model, for reasons I'll explain in the introduction, but it offers decent projections of what to expect based on prior data. Come with me on a journey through the seedy world of model fitting, setting your priors, and managing expectations. Let's meet STEVE NASH, together.

Continue reading

The Outlet #4: Lob City Is Blue

If you're a gambler, and you get caught between the Spurs and New Lob City... you probably should've picked the Spurs, at least last night. My lord, was that a game. Lots of good games, really -- Kyrie broke out (14-5-7-2 in 19 minutes? That's sizzling.), Brandon Knight looked great, the Nuggets have stealthily become the ACTUAL incarnation of Lob City and the Thunder look poised. Thing is? We aren't going to talk about most of those games, because we don't really have much to add to the table. I mean, the Cavs looked great, Kyrie and Tristan have me excited, but what could I add to Krolik's excellent take and Conrad's wide view of the matter, really? Well, I suppose I could add that the Cavs notched their first double digit win two games into this season after it took a full 73 games to reach that threshold last season. Perhaps I could point out that the Cavs hadn't won a road game by double digits since May 7th, 2010... in Boston. In Kyrie's second game. I could point out all those things in an outlet blurb... but why do that when I can shamelessly use those observations to substantiate an introduction when I can't think of a suitable one?  Continue reading

Stretching the Game Out: The Pantheon of NBA Writing on the Internet

We've got a short collective memory in the blogosphere. This is probably a good thing: The rotation and D-league players on a team change drastically in the course of a calendar year, and "standing pat" in an offseason usually means making only one major roster change, as opposed to making several. Even the very best players have 15 short years to work in, and usually only 10 of these years are especially relevant. The MVP window is open for a vanishingly short 5 years, if a player is lucky. The average age of an NBA player is very young and the average span of a career is very short, able to change drastically on an awkward fall or a fortuitous random contract. You're better off forgetting most of what you could remember.

But I think if we're going to skim and forget, if we're going to drift over mounds of information like an incorporeal dune buggy, we ought to have a few rest stops out there. I'm talking about the stuff that makes you stop in your tracks, the best and most significant pieces that the NBA blogosphere has collectively produced over the years. The pantheon, if you will. These aren't the end-of-week links roundups, nor even the end-of-year bests, nor (in many cases) even the best an individual blog has to produce. No, these are the all-time greats, the shortlist. The articles that go far beyond what you could expect from them, the articles that change you as a reader, the articles whose first readings mark the timeline of your fan experience, the articles you bookmark and continually return to when you reminisce over the subject of the article. Articles that mark themselves as surely as a great sports event marks itself to its observers. Articles that truly stretch the game out for fans and writers, whether by their sentiment, their style, or their intelligence.

This page is intended as an ongoing index of our Pantheon, and we want everyone that sees something missing to post their favorites (and how such favorites influenced them) in the comments where we'll add your favorites/explanations (and the favorites we find as they're being written) as we see fit. And feel free to comment on the existing work here. Without further ado, here is The Pantheon as we've aggregated it so far. Continue reading

The Outlet #3: Tuesdays with Norris

Another interesting slate of games tonight: When we were divvying up games, Aaron chose Minnesota at Milwaukee and I chose Boston at Miami. Little did we know that we'd both picked the right games. Both of the early games were strange and filled with near-impossible comebacks rebuffed. The wonder of the early games quickly gave way to the dismal blowouts of utter mismatches in the later games, but it did nothing to damper a fantastic night. Let's talk about it, after the jump.
Continue reading

The Outlet #2: The King is Dead, Long Live the Kings

What a great day for basketball. We both had a lot of trouble with League Pass (enough so that we might make a post about it, because it was absolutely unbelievable and worthy of the public record), but once everything got situated, yesterday was an absolute treat. Overall, there isn't much to say: If you're a poor soul like me that forgot just how good the spacing, motion, and tenacity of a modern NBA game is, well, prepare to remember. We ordered coffee - so to speak - and they gave us expressos. We were up all night.  Continue reading

The Outlet #1: Ham Down, Man Down

So, we haven't 100% planned out how we're going to deal with game-by-game coverage this season. We've got a tentative goal to do an in-depth, hardcore recap of at least one game out of the week. We also will have the usual oddities you've come to expect from us -- strange aesthetics essays, outlandish fiction, and statistical curiosities abound. But for now, we're going to test out doing semi-daily pieces reacting to the games we watch, or portions thereof. Won't usually cover all the games. Most days, though, between the two of us we'll cover quite a few. Today, however, Alex was engaged in family matters for much of the day and Aaron spent (quite literally) six hours of the day in a plane with no access to the games. So we can only really cover certain portions of each game. But here are our reads and reactions from the day's game-time jams in our new work-a-day feature, tentatively titled "The Outlet." Enjoy. Merry Season, everybody. Continue reading

Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant Hash it Out

Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant Hash it Out

Mike Brown and Kobe are walking towards each other in a large gym. Brown speaks.

Mike Brown: So uh... Kobe, I know there's been talk about us having troubles in the paper. Idle speculation, of course, but considering we're more or less both on long-term contracts, I thought we'd hash it out right now.

Kobe Bryant (shaking hands): You know, you're right. You guys really had our number in those last few years with the Cavs, and a lot of the credit goes to you. You honestly outcoached Phil Jax, and you brought the Cavs at least as far as Phil Jackson brought the Lakers for a few years, arguably with less talent. I think most of the problem with you was LeBron, not vice versa. I want to work with you, not against you.

MB: The same for you. Kobe, your moves are as sophisticated as any offensive player. I know you aren't as physically capable as in your peak, but you're still a top 10 offensive player. And I may be a stodgy defensive coach from way down south --

KB: Wait, Coach, didn't you grow up in Germany?

MB: ... -- but that still means something where I'm from. Offense matters. You matter. We all know that.

KB: ... okay. Uh. Well, this conversation is going pretty well, I think. It's clear that we respect one another's abilities and the winning mentality each of us brings to the table.

MB (brings two swords from behind back): Good. I think we're ready to hash things out, then. Continue reading

The 2012 Heat: A Lion in Autumn

The Miami Heat have two more seasons as odds-on title favorites. Then it gets a bit murky, and if everything doesn't go right, they may very well end up worse off than the last 3 Cavs teams LeBron played on -- except instead of LeBron in his prime, they'll have him on his way down. With even less roster flexibility. Sort of weird. Strange. Ridiculous. And -- as I outlined in my new piece for 48 Minutes of Hell outlining the Spurs' ongoing difficulties compensating for Duncan's decline on the offensive end -- it's essentially rooted in a single concept. The respect defenders have for him. And something that, in a few years, may be nothing but a fond memory for any talent tasked towards defending the Miami Heat. Let's explain. Continue reading

Oklahoma City: the Burden of Expectation

A bit of a content update that I probably should have specified from day one. You may have realized it already, but there won't be a full complement of full-post freeform Gothic Ginboili team previews this season. After all, we're T-Minus three days from the season. The only teams with the coveted full-post previews so far are the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, the OKC Thunder (below) and the Miami Heat. The Heat preview (good eye) isn't there yet, but it'll be dropping tomorrow. Instead of reviewing every team in full, I'm building a win prediction model that will form the underlying prior distribution on our full season team ranking algorithm. If it sounds complicated, just trust me: it isn't. Promise. We'll be dropping this prediction model later this weekend / early next week, and some blurbs talking about what we expect from each of the non-full-coverage teams.

Without further ado, please join me in welcoming the new prohibitive favorite for the 2012 Western Conference title, both playoffs and regular season. Your 2012 Seattle Supersonics!

Continue reading