Tuesday, December 10, 2002

CLIPPERS REPORT: Clips spoil the Hornets' unbeaten streak at home and stay on pace with the Lakers at 9-12 to the Lakers' 9-13. The Clippers' secret plan, obviously, is to use the Lakers as a motivating factor, match them win for win and claw their way into the playoffs. Yep.

Hey, the Clips are on a three-game winning streak and what's tying them all together? No Olowakandi. That's gotta be it. If I was Alvin Gentry I'd keep his minutes extremely limited, because he's only playing for his free agent deal next season and--let's face it--he isn't very good. John Hollinger advocates playing Wang Zhi Zhi because he's just as good as Olowakandi, plus he wouldn't be playing for numbers like Kandiman. Here he is on Olowakandi, free agent:

All I've heard for the last two months is how the Knicks, or the Spurs, or the Nuggets, or some other team, can really help themselves in the middle by forking out big money for Olowokandi. I hate to break the bad news, but he's still an average center at best. While his superficial numbers look outstanding (14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks), he's a turnover machine (over three a game) and rarely gets to the line. After a strong start, his PER is hovering in the 13 range, which isn't something I'd want to spend $12 million a year for. Or even half that.

The guy teams should be targeting is [Brad] Miller. Despite superficially inferior numbers (13 points, eight rebounds), he is an abundantly better player than Olowokandi because he is far more adept at getting to the foul line, is a far better ballhandler, and shoots a higher percentage. In other words, he creates more points from fewer possessions, and ain't that what the game is all about? What's more, the Pacers may be hard-pressed to keep Miller given their need to sign Jermaine O'Neal and Reggie Miller (assuming Reggie finds his game, that is), creating an opportunity for some enterprising club to snatch him up.

Ironically, Olowokandi was the top pick in 1998 and Miller went undrafted. Yet there is no doubt about which one is the superior player.

"PER", by the way, is some kind of statistical analysis that John came up with and is my least favorite part of the otherwise excellent Hollinger repertoir. Basketball just isn't a geek sport, subject to Baseball Prospectus-style numerology; it's a psychological sport, full of posturing and mind games, the closest non-fixed sport to pro wrestling. I don't doubt that a PER is a meaningful value, just not the most important ones in the sport of NBA basketball. But I am officially off the Olowakandi bandwagon unless he starts talking smack about Shaq again.

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