Tag Archives: Caron Butler

Did Vinny Del Negro Deserve To Be Fired? – Omavi Darden

Wizards v/s Clippers 03/12/11
Wizards v/s Clippers 03/12/11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This season Del Negro led this electrifying Clippers team to a franchise high 56 wins. The Clippers won their first ever division title and while doing so ended up with the 4th seed heading into the Playoffs.

This Los Angeles team was obviously better than its counter part (The Los Angeles Lakers ) for the year. Many people believed the Clippers would make some noise in the postseason.

They were scheduled to play Memphis, a team they had beaten in an exhausting 7 game series the previous postseason. A lot of NBA viewers gave the Clippers a slight edge in this match up.

Let’s point out the fact that Los Angeles had the best player and point guard heading into the series. Chris Paul was that guy, and along with the fact that the Clippers had such a good bench was also a reason for the slight edge. Heading into the playoffs Vinny was constantly put on the hot seat. His player rotations, coaching schemes, and late game deficiencies were always questionable.

Del Negro at times, seemed to put players on the court who didn’t seem to jell on the offensive side of the ball. His starting rotations were scrutinized.  Several times in the year a player coming of the bench would be outplaying the starter at that same position. Matt Barnes for much of the year outplayed Caron Butler, yet he still played in limited minutes behind the depreciating Butler. Also having Chauncey start at the shooting guard position didn’t make sense to many people as well.

Billups was injured most of this season, slower due to his age, and an inconsistent shooter for the most part. Willie Green was overall a better athlete, defender, and shot more consistently than the aging Billups. This Clippers team looked very stagnant on offense as well. Los Angeles abused the pick and roll to death, and became very predictable. Once teams started figuring out how to stop it, Chris was forced to go iso at the top of the key. Isolation basketball isn’t winning basketball, it takes a team to win, not one player.

Those were the Clippers two main ways of scoring, and a few down screens for shooters every now and then which didn’t work out to0 well in the long run. Del Negro seemed to want Paul to do everything on offense. He allowed Chris to dictate almost everything that was run on the court. As good as Chris Paul is, he isn’t a head coach in this league. He is a player, Del Negro is the coach.

Vinny should be the one in charge, he needs to put his players in positions to score. You can’t expect your star point guard to play his heart out on the court, and be a coach at the same time. It doesn’t work like that.  Everyone on the team has a task. The defense was just as bad.  Multiple teams lit up the Clippers from behind the arc during the season. It was as if they were running shooting drills on this disoriented Clippers squad. The Clips were constantly late on rotations, and close outs on shooters.

There was a report earlier in the season, that Vinny changed the defense up game by game. This tells me Del Negro doesn’t have a consistent reliable scheme at his disposal. If you are changing up the defense all the time, how do you expect players to be able to adjust in game situations. The players need to get a feel for the defense being run, and grow a custom to running it to perfection. The Clippers had  slow perimeter defenders, and frequently allowed penetration from opposing wing players. This defense appeared very discombobulated, too many times for a championship contender.

The Clippers late in games weren’t all that impressive either.  Vinny would allow Paul to handle the rock at the top of the key, let the shot clock wind down, and go one on five hoping to score. That doesnt even sound like offense in any way, shape, or form. He didn’t run many set plays late in games, this is probably the main reason the Clippers were so anticipatable in tight games. Del Negro seemed to only have faith in Paul on offense.  He hardly ever attempted to get any other players involved on offense in the fourth quarter of games.

Vinny had previously coached the Chicago Bulls from 2008-2010. He was very average at best, going a measly .500 both seasons with a record of 41-41 each year. He was shortly fired after his disappointing outing.  Once Del Negro left, the Bulls went an incredible 62 -20. Maybe Del Negro was the problem after all, who knows? So from there he became the Clippers coach in 2010. He wasn’t brought in to win a championship, but to be an average coach on a below average team.

Vinny was doing fine for the time being, until Chris Paul arrived in a blockbuster deal. Once Paul landed on the Clippers, expectations went up. Los Angeles was expected to compete for a title, year in and year out. Failure would not be tolerated. Once the losing started occurring, the spotlight was then shined on Del Negro.

He was an average coach, his weaknesses were being ridiculed. It wasn’t his fault and this wasn’t what he signed up for. In his first year over Paul, Del Negro’s team would go on to be swept in the second round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs. Vinny was on the spot heading into this season. People wanted a championship, nothing less would be acceptable.

I believe Vinny was overwhelmed, the pressure really got to him. Del Negro was only an average coach at best to begin with, remember that. So the Clippers would go on to lose in 6, against the hungry for revenge Grizzlies team. Del Negro would later lose his job once this season ended. So do I think he deserved to be fired. I would say yes, only due to the circumstances he was put in. He wasn’t ready for all of this to begin with, and isn’t a championship caliber coach. So with all of that said, I believe the Clippers made the right decision to let him go

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The Collapse Of The Mighty Los Angeles Clippers – Omavi Darden

I’m a Clippers fan, well really just Chris Paul fan, but recently I have been forced to come to terms with the true nature of the Clippers. They just aren’t that good. They lost in the First Round to Memphis in horrible fashion. As constructed, the Clippers are not a contending team and I will list the reasons why.

1. Half Court Offense- The Clippers rely too much on CP3 to either facilitate or score the basketball. He has to work too hard just to make the right play. The Clippers love to run the pick and roll, but this can be ineffective and counterproductive when teams decide to trap Chris on the roll, forcing the ball out of his hands to a shooter for a contested 3 pointer. The Clippers lack a go to scorer. Blake is limited and doesn’t impose his will on offense. The starting center, Deandre Jordan has been playing like trash and has huge weaknesses in his game. He lacks post moves, an offensive basketball IQ, loses the ball attempting to post, can’t shoot outside of the paint and doesn’t rebound as well as he should for a big man. After that, we get to the starting sg Chauncey Billups. He was once very good, but is now a shell of himself. He is less agile, can’t get to the rim or create his own shot. Most of the time he has to resort to 3 point shots, which he doesn’t shoot as well as he did back in his Detroit days. When he does shoot, they are mostly contested with a hand in his face and the % drops dramatically from there. Next we get to Caron Butler.  He has trouble creating his own shot, can’t get to the rim, is slow for his position, and at times tends to live and die by the jumper. After that we get to Vinny Del Negro. He doesn’t really run good set plays to put his team in position to score, his system is basic and easy to stop, he puts all the pressure on Chris Paul’s shoulders to go isolation and create a offense for everyone else. Even though Chris Paul is a great player, he can’t do everything on his own. Other people need to contribute to be a successful team in this league.

2 Lack Of A Go To Scorer- The Clippers, as of right now rely on the 6’0 pg Chris Paul to be that person. The Only problem is, that isn’t his role as a basketball player. His role is to create scoring opportunities for other players and to hit a clutch shot every now and then when the game is on the line. Usually a go to scorer has height and length to where he can create his own shot relatively easy and can give you 20 + on a night in night out basis. Chris is smaller, so that means he has to work that much harder just to get his shots up. He can do it but he is really a Floor General and Facilitator at heart.

If the Clippers shore these problems up they can truly be championship contenders.

Is Dirk a top 5 Power Forward All Time? (Pt.2)

In my last post I left off comparing Dirk to KG and said Dirk would KG’s Boston teams better.(link to my last post http://wp.me/p33YLP-2a) With Dirk’s shooting touch and post play, ( which is a bit underrated,) Boston would be alot better than they are now and better than they were yesterday.
But anyway, on to the next player on the list, Charles Barkley.
Chuck was an undersized four that played big and could handle the rock decent enough to be a guard; or in his case a Small Forward. At 6’6, 252lbs Chuck averaged 22.1ppg, 12rebs and 4ast for his career. During the duration of his career he won an MVP award, was named an All-Star 11 times, got selected to the All-NBA First and Second Team 5x each and was on the All-Rookie First Team (1985). He also went to the Finals, where he lost to MJ, and played for the Original Dream Team. That’s all fine and dandy, but at the end of the day he’s not better than Dirk. As a 7ft pure shooter, Dirk boasts an advantage. Throw in the fact that he didn’t play with Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Johnson, Julius Irving, Moses Malone, etc and you have an uneven argument. By pairing Dirk and Hakeem together you’ll have a dynamic duo that’ll be unguardable. ( Dirk had Tyson Chandler, TYSON CHANDLER as center and won the chip, c’mon now.) Pair Dirk with Doc J, Mo Cheeks and M.Malone and you’ll have a dynasty, their ages wouldn’t matter as long as Dirk was there. Last but not least, Dirk’s game isn’t based on athleticism like Charles’ was, therefore that’ll enable him play longer and still be effective like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was. Longevity is one of the major reasons why Dirk will surpass Charles Barkley.

In front of Chuck lies Karl Malone, who is the 2nd leading scorer in NBA history. Malone has two MVP Awards, 14 All-star selections, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, two 2nd Team selections and 3 All-Defensive First Team selections and was apart of the original Dream Team. Like Chuck, Malone accomplished some things as well as lose to MJ in the Finals, but twice. For his career he averages 25ppg on 18 shots, 10rebs and 4ast.
Dirk on the other hand averages 23ppg on 17 shots, 8rebs and 3asts, while shooting a better Freethrow and 3pt % than Malone. Realistically the numbers are close, but the impact on the game isn’t.
Downlow Malone would score at will and ran the Pick and Roll to perfection with John Stockton. By doing those two things well he helped open the floor a bit for Jeff Hornacek and Bryon Russell. Having J.Sloan as the coach helped alot as well, especially when it comes to running the pick and roll. Substitute Malone for Dirk and the Jazz become better. Defensively they add a bigger and longer body, which pays dividends when defending. Offensively it’ll help help open up more things. With him stretching the floor he’ll open up lanes for Stockton to drive in as well as Hornacek. At 6’9 Malone wasn’t a joke but he also wasn’t a 7ft pure shooter that couldn’t be stopped.

Coincidentally Dirk won his first Playoff series against Karl Malone. During that series Malone averaged: 28ppg 4to 1blk 1stl 3ast 9reb and 24shots, while shooting 80% FT, 50% 3pt ( 0.2 -0.4 that doesn’t count!) and 40% from the field.
Dirk averaged: 24pts 2to 1blk 0stl 2ast 8reb and 16 shots, while shooting 90% FT 34% 3pt and 40% from the field.
Is there a clear winner? I mean give Dirk the same amount of shots and he would’ve averaged more points. But honestly this debate can go either way. Would you prefer a nice, average sized post man who is devastating on the low block, or a 7ft big who can shoot from anywhere and is just as good downlow as anyone else? The choice is yours.

Now it’s time to see how Dirk measures up the greatest PF, Tim Duncan. Duncan is a 4x Champion, 3x Finals MVP, 2x MVP, 14x All-Star, , 9x All-NBA First Team and 3x Second Team Player, 8x All-Defensive First Team and 5x All-Defensive Second Team player and a former Rookie of the Year. With him boasting all of these credentials it’s hard to put anyone over him! But when you look at the numbers you see a different story.
Career Averages: Duncan- 20ppg 11reb 3ast and 2blks
Dirk- 23ppg 8reb 3ast 1blk
As was the case in other battles no one really gains the edge.
In 26 Playoff games against each other the averages look like this:
Duncan- 26pts 3to 2blks 1stl 4ast 12reb 18 shots 53% FGP 0% 3pt 65% FT
Dirk- 25pts 2to 1blk 1stl 2ast 10reb 16 shots 50% FGP 23% 3pt 92% FT
And once again we don’t have anyone gaining an edge. But when you look at the teams you have to give it to Dirk. Dirk didn’t get coached by Gregg Pop. or play with Tony Parker, David Robinson and Manu Ginobli. Give Dirk the supporting cast Duncan has/had and Dirk’s resume would look different.
He’s Great Admit It
Throughout all of the comparisons one thing remained constant, he didn’t have as much help as them. Despite not having as much help as the others he managed to get a ring with good role players. When he had Nash and Finley on his side Nash wasn’t Phoenix Nash and Finley aged quickly therefore making them good, but not great 2nd and 3rd options. Some say he’s not a defender because he doesn’t have any awards. What they fail to realize is that he plays solid but not great defense. When you’re 7ft with long arms you’re already a decent defender.
Other things people should take note of is how Dirk changed the postions. He completely revolutionized the Forward positions. After watching him terrorize the league as a 7ft pure shooter, GMs and others started drafting players of his caliber. Dirk paved the way for guys like Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, Ersan llyasova, Hedo Turkoglu, Peja Stojakovic, Ryan Anderson, Andrea Bargnani, Kevin Love and others who are all essentially shooting bigmen. Barkley, Duncan and Malone didn’t do that.
Dirk also led his Maverick teams to 50+ wins in 11 straight seasons. Only Duncan surpassed that. Dirk also led his team to a 67 win season, which happens to be tied for the 6th most wins ever in the Regular Season. And if that isn’t enough Dirk is only one of five players, Elgin Baylor, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bob Petit and Shaq, to average 25pts and 10rebs in the Playoffs and last but not least the only 7ft player to be in the 50’s, 40’s, 90’s club.
At the end of the day he’s the greatest European player and the 2nd best, if not the best, Power Forward to ever play the game.
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Is Dirk Nowitzki a top 5 PF All-time? (Part 1)

         When people, fans, analysts, commentators etc, discuss the Power Forward position the conversation begins and ends with Tim Duncan, a player universally known as the Greatest PF to ever play the game. After Tim Duncan the likes of Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley and Kevin McHale get mentioned; when people try to compare Dirk Nowitzki to them most people say he’s soft and isn’t top 10. If you asked them to name 10 PFs better than him they wouldn’t be able to do it without repeating some of the names listed. Before I compare Dirk to the Elite 5, I’m going to start off from the bottom.
          Most of the young people in the world that pay attention to basketball, I’m talking kids, would say Blake Griffin, L. Aldridge and Kevin Love are better than Dirk. If we’re speaking about today then that claim may be valid, but since we’re talking about career wise they have to take a backseat to Dirk since their careers just started. But to kill this arguement even more, Dirk has led two teams to the Finals while K.Love hasn’t made it to the playoffs and L.Aldridge hasn’t been past the first round.
              Before Dirk got his ring, people speculated that Chris Bosh, David West, Pau Gasol, Rasheed Wallace, Amare’ Stoudamire, Carlos Boozer and Zach Randolph were better players. Dirk was taking a hit at the time for choking in crunch time and not being able to lead his team past the first round in most cases. What those people people failed to realize was how Dirk’s best teammate was Terry while Boozer had Deron Williams, Amare’ had Steve Nash, Gasol had Kobe, David West had CP3, Rasheed had Billups/Iverson, and Bosh, like Randolph failed to make the Playoffs in most cases.
             During that time span, 06-11, Dirk had seasons where he averaged 25pts 9reb, 24pts 9reb, 26pts 8reb, 25pts 8reb, and 23pts 7reb while none of the other players had years that were better than Dirk’s.
David West best season :  21pts 9reb
Carlos Boozer best season: 21pts 12reb
Rasheed Wallace best season: 12pts 7reb
Zach Randolph best season 21pts 13reb or 24pts 10reb
Chris Bosh best season: 24pts 11reb
Amare’ Stoudamire best season: 25pts 9reb
Pau Gasol best season: 21pts 10reb
   How many of those seasons are better than Dirk’s number wise without including FG %?
  Moving on now, if Dirk was on Rasheed Wallace’s Pistons teams they would’ve been a lot more dangerous. If Dirk would’ve been to that Hornets team instead of David West they would’ve been a lot better. If you put Dirk on that Lakers team that featured Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum ( sad case), Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson they would’ve 4peated. Put Dirk on Chris Bosh’s Raptors team that featured Jose Calderon they would’ve made the playoffs. Dirk and D-Will running the pick and roll would’ve equated into one of the most deadliest duos ever.( Same thing can be said for Dirk and Stockton but thats for later.) Put Dirk in Phoenix with Nash, Shawn Marion (Prime) and D’Antoni and they would’ve wrecked shop on league. Now lets flip the deal. How many of those guys could you sub in for Dirk that would led his Maverick teams that featured Jason Terry, Josh Howard and some jags ( Just A Guy,) to consecutive 50+ win seasons?
    I’ll answer that for you, none!!! Amare’ thrived doing the pick and roll with Nash; David West thrived doing the pick and roll with Chris Paul; Chris Bosh ran the pick and roll with Calderon, heck even Pau Gasol used the pick and roll to get going. In Dallas the Pick and Roll game wouldn’t have worked. In late game situations how many of those guys would’ve been able to shake loose for their shots like Dirk could? The answer is not many, if any. Throw in the fact that Dirk is the only one who’s 7ft with a stroke and an MVP award the debate gets ugly.
      Before he we can argue the Tim Duncans and KGs of the game we have to pay homage to some decent PFs that made names for themselves. Derrick Coleman, Dennis Rodman, Shawn Kemp and Chris Webber deserve some recognition. Defensively Rodman is 2nd to none, offensively he’s last to all. His offensive game was non existent and he was 6’8 which makes him a little PF. If he guarded Dirk he would get lit up for 40+.
       Now Derrick Coleman was nice, former #1 overall pick, but he only had 4 years of averaging 20+ and one allstar appearance so he’s pretty much cooked in this argument. Chris Webber doesn’t really make it an arguement either. He only had 2 years where he averaged 25pts or more. Furthermore his career was derailed by injury so we didn’t see the full extent of C-Webb. But his awards don’t really compare to Dirks either so he’s done.
        Shawn Kemp was yesterday’s Blake Griffin. His dunks were monstrous and breath taking, but every thing was OK at best. For his career he averages 14.6pts 8.4reb 1st. He tallied a total of two season in which he averaged 20 or more; his best season was when he averaged 19pts and 11reb, which really isn’t all that when compared to Dirk.
            THE TIME HAS COME

    When compared to the guys from earlier it wasn’t that fair, in the sense that he was head and shoulders above everyone else. At this stage things aren’t going be as easy, but you already knew that.
      Earlier when naming the top 5 PFs I put them in order. For those who don’t recall the sequence goes Tim Duncan-Karl Malone-Charles Barkley-Kevin Garnett-Kevin McHale. Instead of jumping the gun and going at Karl Malone or Barkley first i’ll start from the bottom.
                Dirk vs McHale
    During his time McHale was one of the best low post scorers in the game. He could defend and was an efficient player. Not to take away from his but he played with Larry Bird, arguably the best SF ever, and one the best centers ever in Robert Parish; not mention guys like Bill Walton and D.Johnson. Playing alongside them helped and hurt his career in a way. It helped because he won and accomplished some things, but it hurt because we never saw him as the main guy like we’ve seen KG, Dirk, Duncan, Barkley and Malone be. When looking at awards he has 3 rings, two 6th-man awards, 7 allstar appearances and 6 all defensive team honors. Dirk on the other hand has an MVP award, 9 allstar selections and a Finals MVP award. Throw in the fact that Dirk never played with an Allstar,( I’m not talking about an allstar that made the team as an injury replacement JOSH HOWARD,) and beat the two best players in the league, which had a top 15 player alongside them at the time, by his self shows how good Dirk really is. Give Dirk Larry Legend and the Chief and I’m sure he would have multiple championships. Dirk was also apart of the 50’s 40’s 90’s club at one point of time. Having Dirk with Parish would make that Celtics team bigger and a lot better offensively because of his floor spacing. Sorry McHale but Dirk brought another element to the table.
                 Dirk vs KG

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This debate can go either way. Defensively Garnett has it but offensively Dirk has it. They both aren’t bangers and play in a finesse style. KG does post fades and so does Dirk. Enough of that though, it’s time for the stats.
    For his career Garnett averages 19.1pts 1.5blks 1.3stl 2.3to 4ast 10.5reb 49.8% FGP 77.6 FTP

Dirk on the other hand averages 22.7ppg 0.9blk 0.9stl 1.9to. 2.6ast 8.2reb 47.4% FGP 87%FTP
   When looking at both they’re identical so that doesn’t help as much. If you look at their best season, no one gains the advantage.
KG Best Season: 24.2ppg 1.5stl 2.2blks 5.0ast 14reb 50% FGP

Dirk Best Season: 25ppg 0.7stl 0.8blk 3.4ast 9reb 50% FGP 41% 3pt 90% FT
Maybe Post Season play will help out.
Dirk’s postseason average: 26ppg 10reb 3ast 1blk 1stl

KG’s postseason average:  20ppg 11reb 4ast 1blk 1stl.

    After viewing that Dirk gains the edge and KG doesn’t recover. Before KG went to Boston he got out of the first round once. During one of his many first exits, KG got dogged by Dirk Nowitzki.  Dirk’s team sweep KG’s with some lopsided stats.
    In the the three games they played against each other the stats looked like this:
Points Per Game:
KG- 24.0
Dirk- 33.3
Turnovers:
KG-4
Dirk-2
Blocks:
KG- 1.7
Dirk- 1.3
Steals:
KG- 1.7
Dirk- 3
Assists:
KG- 5
Dirk- 1
Rebounds:
KG- 19
Dirk- 16
Field Goal %, ( FG, 3pt, FT,) :
KG- 43% 50% 71%
Dirk- 52% 72%
Dirk pretty much wins this one because of that and because he didn’t play with Pierce, Rondo and Allen, or be coached by Doc Rivers. If KG and Rondo are a great pick and roll, pick and pop tandem picture what Dirk would do. At the end of the day Dirk has done more with less. Put Dirk on the Celtics and they’ll be a lot better because of his offensive skill set.
TBC.