As our summer mainstay, Aaron's writing a 370-part series discussing almost every notable player who was -- as of last season -- getting minutes in the NBA. Intent is to get you talking, thinking, and appreciating the myriad of wonderful folks who play in our favorite sports league. This morning's three: Josh Selby, Ray Allen, and Charles Jenkins.
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Follow Josh Selby on twitter at @JoshSelby2.
I'm not sure what to do about awards voting. Year after year, we get awful votes that make no sense to anyone. In the last three years, we've seen: a rookie starter for a 32 win team get a third place MVP vote, a 35-year-old Ben Wallace get a vote for "Most Improved Player", and David Lee get a vote for All-Defensive first team. I get the fact that there's no way to really "fix" stupid votes. Even if you made voting public, you'd still have a person or two who would vote for something silly just to make the papers. Or people who'd revel in arrogance and refuse to admit they don't watch the games. There could also be an overreaction, a trend towards eliminating reasonable discourse and browbeating every voter into picking the same player -- that would be awful. So, no. I don't really know what to do about awards voting. I do, however, know that it can be hilarious and incomprehensible sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean every year.
Enter Josh Selby. Look. Selby is a summer league star, no doubt about it -- he plays incredibly well when the Vegas and Orlando summer leagues come around, and clearly, whoever voted for him had to have seen him do that. But shouldn't a player's actual NBA resume trump a scrimmage in the preseason? Shouldn't his scant minutes have disqualified him from a top 3 vote for Rookie of the Year? After all -- Selby averaged 2.3 points in just 28 games, playing just 8.5 minutes a contest. He didn't sit out for serious injuries, either. He sat out with DNP-CDs. Selby shot 35% from the field, with a scorching 14% from three to boot. He averaged a single turnover a game to go with his single assist a game. His per-36 averages aren't even that great -- 10-2-4 with 4 turnovers and 3 fouls a night. Regardless. Selby is a rookie, so those averages aren't the end of the world for his future development. They probably SHOULD disqualify him from receiving a high vote for rookie of the year, though.
And that's the problem. I don't understand at all how a voter could look at the slate of rookies we had last year -- on the whole, an excellent slate -- and place a vote for arguably the worst rookie in the league. I realize he had a good summer league, I realize he had outsized expectations as a popular college player, I realize the voter could've been in Memphis. But every time I read a story like this I wonder how it could possibly change. I've yet to come up with a very good way to do it -- perhaps expert shortlisting of a 5-6 player list for each of the big awards, then offering a write-in? Maybe making a rotating list of who actually gets to vote for the awards, with voters culled out if their votes have been laugh-worthy? Or, perhaps, it isn't really that big of a deal. After all, these are a little amusing -- sometimes they almost feel like a chortle-worthy reminder that maybe I'm taking these awards a little too seriously. Really though. Josh Selby?
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Follow Ray Allen on twitter at @greenRAYn20.
Most people are aware of this, but in case you aren't -- Ray Allen suffers from a relatively mild case of obsessive compulsive disorder. This sort of a condition is rather rare in the NBA, and if you've ever known anyone who suffered with the disorder, you probably can gather why. Simply put, people with OCD aren't easy to be friends with. It's not their fault, and honestly, it's far more the job of their friends to try and understand them than it is the responsibility of the sufferer to try and stretch out of their comfort zone. But most people aren't really cool with putting the sort of effort into a friendship that people with OCD usually need to effectively interact, which isolates people with OCD and make them tend towards loneliness. But getting into the NBA requires at some level existing on a team concept, and people with OCD who require that tend to have trouble making the bonds and connections that build a successful team. In the case of Ray, his condition is relatively mild and his talent was overwhelming enough that he never really had to exist on a cohesive team level until the NBA, when he had enough money that he could really set his own tempo. Hence, he made it. One of the few.
This isn't to say that Ray Allen is necessarily an easy presence to have in the locker room, though. He's a man of routine and regularity, which leads to his daily ritual during the season. Allen wakes up at 8:00 AM and eats some regular amount of Aunt Jemima Blueberry Pancakes. He attends the morning shootaround at 10:00 AM to get his blood flowing. He eats lunch -- almost always preparing a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread. He takes a two hour nap from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM, following that by the immediate consumption of a pregame meal of chicken and white rice. He arrives at the arena at 4:00 PM, stretching, then shaving his head until exactly 4:30 PM, when he walks on the court for his shooting ritual. Allen shoots 200 shots -- simulating a shot at every area of the court, in a regularized order starting at the baselines and elbows and working to the top of the key -- and on a good day converts about 170. After retreating from the game, he spends exactly 15 minutes with his feet in a tub of ice, and goes to bed at 11:30 PM, every day he's able. Most players have rituals -- few players have rituals that involve pinpoint timing and eating precisely the right meal each and every day.
The condition itself -- and the impact it has on his relationships with his teammates -- has always struck me as interesting. Paul Pierce is on record saying that Allen is "crazy" and thus was responsible for any and all problems in the interactions of the Garnett Celtics. (Interesting tidbit from that article -- Rondo feels he might have OCD as well, and thinks Ray helped him realize it.) There are a myriad of stories of Allen clashing with teammates current and former about his needs -- while Larry Bird once did that whole "I'll score on you with this shot, in this spot" thing, Ray Allen once dropped 40 in a rage because someone parked in his parking space. Back when he was playing ball in elementary school, he had to do five righty layups and five lefty layups before he left any gymnasium. If he got forced out before he finished them, he'd sob in the locker room and his entire day would be irrevocably ruined. He doesn't drink, and asks that teammates abstain during the season -- or, at the very least, not tell him about it. That's Ray Allen for you. A tough guy to play with, even if he's an amazing talent. And don't forget that. While he's nowhere near what he used to be, he WAS a pretty amazing talent. Once Allen reached his prime, he was good for 20-25 points a night, with somewhere around 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
If that seems far better than you remember, you probably just don't realize quite how old he is. Allen is currently one day short of 37 years old (yes, if I'd put off this capsule set until tomorrow, it'd be posting on his birthday) and has played 42,373 NBA minutes -- with 4,964 playoff minutes besides. That's 20th all-time, and he hasn't retired yet. He's been a rather limited player ever since 2009, unfortunately -- age finally caught up with him. But in his prime, Allen was a superstar guard and was just about as good as any of the Wade/Kobe/Manu triad that's ruled the shooting guard position since 2006. The issue here -- and it's actually a serious issue, contrary to what most Heat fans and journalists seem to think -- is what Allen can actually give the Heat at his age. In last year's playoffs, he battled a gradually worsening chronic back injury and shot the worst percentage on threes he's ever shot in a playoff run in his life (30%). If his shot remains shaky and his back problems remain problematic, he may end up being about as useful as Mike Miller was. And yes, I realize Miller essentially won them a game of last year's Finals with a throwback performance. Ray Allen can certainly do that too. But can he help them on a sustained, season-wide basis?
I'm not convinced. I want to see him come back from the injury with his shooting form recuperated and his body able to handle the NBA schedule before I declare the Heat some drastically upgraded roster. My fear with Allen is that the Heat are giving up one of their few financial means to add a piece on a player with a big name whose game may be permanently gone. Because honestly -- the Heat are asking for two bounce-back, injury-free seasons from a 37-year-old player who's played over 47,000 stressful NBA minutes in his career. Who just had a terrible season defensively and who needs the entire team's schedule to work around his. Just saying. Was it a great signing in a vacuum? Sure. Will it translate to instant titles and an incredible upgrade for Miami? Not sure. Yet.
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Follow Charles Jenkins on twitter at @CTJenkins22.
Speaking of rookies who were better than Josh Selby, meet Charles Jenkins. Jenkins was the first Hofstra player drafted since 2001's Speedy Claxton, and only the fifth Hofstra player ever drafted. Jenkins isn't exactly a high upside player. With the exception of one or two excellent starts while the Warriors were tanking hard, his rookie year was rather subpar -- and his game isn't exactly brimming with potential. He's a bit of an anemic rebounder, not a particularly creative passer, and extremely bad at keeping his man in front of him. At least so far. Perhaps most importantly, though, for a small guard? He emphatically doesn't have a three point shot. That's kind of important in the modern league, you know. Worth noting, though, the absence of Jenkins' three is a pretty strange, wrinkle to his game because last season he was one of the most prolific (and effective) shooters from the 16-23 foot range.
Really. He shot 46% from that range on 3.1 range shots per game -- as a percentage of his offense, Jenkins took more of his shots from that range than anyone else in the league, and did that on one of the better percentages in the league. The only players with a better percentage on that distance on at least three shots per game? Stephen Curry (59% from 16-23, 3.8 per game), Dirk Nowitzki (50%, 5.8), Brandon Bass (48%, 5.1), Kevin Garnett (48%, 6.0), Jason Smith (48%, 4.7), and Tim Duncan (47%, 4.2). That's the full list. It's true that the 16-23 foot jumper is one of the least efficient shots in the league, but it's also true that even the most efficient of offenses is going to need to take them eventually. A scantly guarded 40% long two is often a better decision than a sure turnover if you go for an inside pass or a heavily guarded long three point shot.
Players like Jenkins, then, serve a decent purpose in the league -- most defenses default to forcing long twos. By having players like Garnett, Duncan, Bass, Jenkins, or Curry, you make the unguarded long two a deadly shot and one the opposing team has to guard. This in turn allows the offense to game the spacing of the defense to some degree, which opens up more options inside and out. Ergo, a player like Jenkins -- while perhaps not a high upside player -- could be a very useful one. His per-36 averages are rather pedestrian -- 12-4-7 -- but with his unique shot distribution profile and his at least partially decent NBA size (6'3", 230 lbs), he looks like a rookie that can stick in the league a while. And not only that, he looks to be a player with a valuable role on a good team. So that's pretty excellent for Jenkins. Even if he's a fairy friend, whatever the hell that means.
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At the end of each post, I'll be scribing riddles for the next batch. Whoever gets the most right will get a shout out at the end of the next post. Tweet me your answers at @docrostov, or post them in the comments. This time, we actually have two perfect scores! @Patrick_Hake and "w" from the comments. Very cool. Great job.
- Not a fantastic player, Player #37. But at least he's the first of a kind.
- I don't think Player #38 has played enough minutes in the league for anyone but Jazz fans to have a strong opinion of him, but they like him.
- Player #39 has the most interesting trivial fact of any player in the league, in my view.