December 14, 2009

GSW @ PHI 12/14/09: PreThoughts

1) Let's kick off the week with some good news: after tonight, one of our longest road trips of the season mercifully comes to an end. Our early schedule has not been ideal for a young team, as only the Suns have been more road-heavy thus far. And while we can't quite shelve our travelin' shoes just yet -- six of our next ten games are also on the road -- a lovely stretch of Oracle-centric basketball is close on the horizon. From January 8th to February 27th, we play 18 of 24 games at home. If there are any green shoots to be seen this season, expect them then.

2) Another snippet of good news: the Sixers friggin' stink. Their offense stinks, their defense stinks, and surprisingly, their rebounding even stinks. (Far better than ours, of course, but it stinks.) And in Jrue Holliday, the Sixers even have the one rookie point guard who rates as less effective than Curry so far. This team is basically designed to make us feel better about ourselves.

3) My personal verdict on Keith Smart's interim tenure will be decided by this game. On the one hand, we have shown more energy and teamwork under his leadership than under Nellie's, despite a more difficult schedule; on the other hand, Smart has not lifted his foot off of the suicidal smallball gas pedal, and has some annoying tendencies of his own (favoring Mikki over Randolph to a greater degree than Nellie, riding Monta even harder for no apparent reason). It's impossible to know what Smart has done on his own and what he's done under orders, and I endorse his taking over for Nellie regardless. But our performance tonight determines whether he gets a "yay" or "boo" for his ten games of understudying.
4) Keep suckin', Samuel Dalembert... you're making a Maggette/you swap more possible by the week.

5) Most of the previews of this game hype the Iverson/Monta showdown, for good reason -- as Monta's tats and minutes grow, so do the parallels. In fact, Monta is having a downright Iversonian season. The top line represents Iverson's career average per 36 minutes; the bottom line represents Monta's '09-'10 average per 36 minutes. (Forgive the awkward formatting. Forgive it.)

The more you look, the more you realize: this is a comparison that we Dubs fans should find deeply troubling. Iverson was never quite as good as his reputation; by BBR's Win Shares, he was never better than the tenth-best player in the league, and only one of the league's twenty best players four times... very good, but thanks to his misses and turnovers, rarely great. And yet he rates much better than the current SuperMonta, passing much better, scoring more often and just as efficiently (a career .518 TS% to Monta's current .521), and sporting better defensive peripherals (not shown here). And remember, we're comparing Monta to Iverson's average season... his best years are obviously better than this. In every year of his career, including last year -- at his brickiest, most turnovery worst -- Iverson rated as more effective than Monta does this year. Iverson did enough good things to make up for all his mistakes. Monta currently doesn't, and that's one of the biggest reasons we're so bad so far.

Simply put, Monta Ellis is not very good at being Allen Iverson. Let's hope he reverts to being Monta Ellis.

Warrior and Sixer Players To Watch: The two little fellas, natch... the spotlight is all theirs.

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