Michael Crabtree’s surgery on his Achilles tendon has provided fodder for commentators with regard to the degree of damage that injury does to the San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl aspirations. The Niners are too good a team to think that this one injury will reduce them to a middling team; Crabtree’s contributions last season were sufficiently significant that he will indeed be missed. Last year, Crabtree demonstrated the kind of play that folks expected from him when the Niners drafted him early in the first round in 2009. Last year, Crabtree caught 85 passes for 1105 yards and 9 TDs.
I think that the Niners will need to find someone on their roster – or available in some way – who can be a deep threat and keep defenses honest. They run the ball effectively – but that efficiency will be impacted if defensive coordinators do not have to protect the entire field. The Niners have Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham on the roster as WRs; both are experienced and accomplished; neither is a consistent deep threat. The other WRs on the depth chart for now (Chad Hall, AJ Jenkins, Ricardo Lockette, Quinton Patton and Kyle Williams) combined to catch 14 passes for 212 yards and 1 TD last year – - and all of that production came from Kyle Williams. I am guessing that the Niners might be shopping for a speedy WR…
The NBA playoffs are proceeding at a glacial pace. The teams left in the playoffs have had enough time between games for the players to have read War and Peace and Moby Dick by now. Notwithstanding the schedule-stalling, there are NBA items to consider this morning.
The LA Clippers fired their coach, Vinny Del Negro, despite making the playoffs this year. This is Del Negro’s second stop on the coaching circuit; his time in Chicago was about as plain vanilla as one could script. In two seasons with the Bulls, the team record was 41-41 in both seasons. In his first year with the Clippers, the team went 32-50. In the strike-shortened season, the Clippers then went 40-26 and this year the team finished 56-26. In franchise history, the Clippers had never won 50 games in a single season.
The Clippers have been around since the 1970-71 season when they were the Buffalo Braves; they have had 24 head coaches in those 43 years; only two coaches have had winning records during their tenure with the Clippers:
Larry Brown was 64-53 in 1992-93 for a .547 winning percentage
Vinny Del Negro was 128-102 from 2010-13 for a .557 winning percentage.
The Clippers’ franchise record is 1303 – 2175 for a team winning percentage of .375. I am not trying to make the case that Vinny Del Negro is a great coach; he has a long way to go to demonstrate that. Nevertheless, using Wall Street terminology, his winning percentage is 182 basis points higher than the franchise norm. Normally, that does not get a guy fired.
Meanwhile, the Charlotte Bobcats are going to reclaim their nickname “Hornets”. The Charlotte franchise started out at the Hornets but the franchise moved to New Orleans after the then-owner and the city had a major falling-out. This year, the New Orleans Hornets decided to become the New Orleans Pelicans for reasons that are surely unclear to mere mortals. That left the “Hornets” nickname/mascot up for grabs and Michael Jordan grabbed the name for his Charlotte team beginning in the 2014-15 season. The Bobcats – soon to be the Hornets – are a franchise in need of something to generate fan interest.
Here are chilling data:
The Bobcats came into the NBA as an expansion franchise in 2004. Only once – in the 2009-10 season – has the team finished over .500.
In the strike-shortened season of 2011-12, the Bobcats finished 7-59, which is the lowest winning percentage for a season in the history of the NBA.
The franchise definitely needs to generate more fan interest/enthusiasm. If you live in the Charlotte area and happen to be interested in buying season tix for next year, you can get yourself deal. The Bobcats will sell you a season ticket for each of the next two seasons guaranteeing no price increase over that time and giving you first dibs on your seating preference for the time when the name change happens. Oh, and you also get a warm-up jacket with the Michael Jordan logo on it that says “Buzz City” – foreshadowing the return of the Hornets. The Bobcats only played to 80.3% of capacity this season so there are probably plenty of good seats available…
It should not surprise anyone to learn that the NBA markets its individual players as stars and that is the way it keeps itself front-and-center on outlets like ESPN. This year has not been kind to the stars that the NBA tries to market.
Rajon Rondo had to have knee surgery about 4 months ago.
Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon as the Lakers lost in the playoffs.
Russell Westbrook hurt his knee in the playoffs and the Thunder lost out.
Derrick Rose never played a minute all season long for the Bulls.
I read a piece somewhere about the upcoming NBA Draft and the thread of the piece was that the “draft stock” for UCLA guard, Shabazz Muhammad, was cratering. When he agreed to play at UCLA last year, many regarded him as THE high school prospect in the country and everyone was sure he was a “one-and-done” player. Now, there are questions about his defense, his value as a teammate and the like. I saw UCLA play about 3 times last season and I have to say that Muhammad never jumped out at me as a player that NBA teams would tank a season to acquire.
The knock on Muhammad as a less than outstanding defensive player is justified; just looking at the body language – and ignoring the results – it appears as if he is much more engaged in the game when he has the ball in his hands as opposed to when the guy in front of him has the ball. The other thing that impressed me was that he scores a lot because he shoots a lot – the Carmelo Anthony playing model. I found these numbers that indicate I was not that far off base:
In 32 games last year, he took 456 shots (14.3 per game) in order to score 17.9 points per game. Those numbers are not horrible – until you juxtapose them with…
In 32 games last year, he handed out 27 assists (0.8 per game) and he is a guard.
Finally, here is a comment from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:
“Did you see where ‘Iron Man 3’ made $175 million on its opening weekend and has already netted $700 million worldwide? This is believed to be the most money made by a stiff, robotic, heavy-legged humanoid since the Magic acquired Kelvin Cato.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………