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thebac
11-17-2003, 02:21 PM
NBA Insider...Nov 17: Arroyo, Redd, Doc Rivers


Can the Jazz, Bucks and Clips keep it up?

Three weeks into the NBA regular season and surprise, surprise, the West is the best and the East looks like it may put at least one team with a losing record in the playoffs this year. Can the Jazz, Bucks and Clippers continue their Cinderella stories into December?

Insider breaks down the most intriguing story lines from Week 3.


And Carlos Arroyo shall lead them: Remember those early season predictions that had the Jazz chasing the old Philadelphia 76ers for the worst record ever by an NBA club?
Carlos Arroyo
Point Guard
Utah Jazz
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
8 15.5 2.5 6.4 .521 .846



Ten games into the regular season and five wins later, the Jazz still don't look like a threat to make the playoffs, but they're much better than anyone thought they'd be. Forgive us for our preseason blindness. At the time, replacing John Stockton and Karl Malone with Carlos Arroyo and Keon Clark looked like one of the biggest downgrades since Enron.

Now? Arroyo looks like the second coming of Stockton, Andrei Kirilenko has taken another big step in his development, Matt Harpring is duplicating last year's fine season and center Greg Ostertag has awoken from a nine-year slumber.

Coach Jerry Sloan is, deservedly, getting most of the credit, but no one should short change GM Kevin O'Connor and his rag tag collection of players either.

O'Connor made offers to a number of high-profile free agents this summer, but was spurned by guys like Elton Brand and Andre Miller. The Jazz got restricted free agents like Corey Maggette and Jason Terry to sign on, but lost them both when their teams matched the Jazz's offer.

Instead of panicking and overpaying a lesser talent, O'Connor decided that he wouldn't blow his money now, and use the season to develop some of the young talent that hadn't matured in the shadow of Stockton and Malone. What have the Jazz learned?

Arroyo has been awesome. His 15.5 ppg and 6.4 apg on 52 percent shooting hold up pretty well next to Stockton's 10.8 ppg and 7.7 apg on 48 percent shooting last season. Most importantly, he's pushing the ball, which gets the young, athletic Jazz playing at an unfamiliar fast pace every night.

Andrei Kirilenko
Power Forward
Utah Jazz
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
10 15.9 7.1 2.6 .509 .933



Kirilenko has also been a revelation. His 15.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2 bpg and 1.6 spg on 51 percent shooting are all career highs. Sloan has learned that he can play the rail thin Kirilenko at power forward most nights without getting killed defensively.

Matt Harpring's 17 ppg and 6.9 rpg are almost identical to the career highs he posted last year, giving the team hope that Harpring's big numbers last season weren't just a byproduct of all the open shots Stockton and Malone got him.

It keeps going. DeShawn Stevenson's 11.9 ppg is a career high. So is Raja Bell's 10.2 ppg. Even Ostertag, the nine-year veteran, is posting a record 9.2 rebounds per game.

The Jazz rank fourth in the league in field goal percentage and, on most nights anyway, are outworking, outhustling and, most importantly, out-executing their opponents.

"They're going to make everyone's life very difficult," one Western Conference GM told Insider. "I don't think they'll make the playoffs, but winning 30 to 35 games isn't out of the question. Ultimately you need great players to win in the league, but great execution will get you pretty far."

Especially at the start of the season when many veteran teams, with new coaches and new systems, are still feeling each other out. Most people believe the Jazz are peaking right now. Sloan, who watched his team fall to the upstart Bucks this weekend, is starting to wonder aloud whether they're right. Sloan believes his team has started reading the papers and are beginning to get selfish.

"Everybody had to get their shots, because [newspapers] write more about you when you shoot and score," Sloan told the Salt Lake Tribune. "If I'm out there playing with that, what do I say? 'I don't know what we're doing out here. I don't know what play we're running.' We have to get everybody involved in what we're trying to do, instead of just taking shots"

Probably an over reaction, but Sloan has a point. The Jazz don't have the individual talent to go one-on-one with anyone. They, more than any other team in the league, have to play together to get the wins. It's worked so far this season; no reason to start trying something else now.


Is Michael Redd the next Ray Allen? Speaking of over achieving teams, the Bucks, who many people (including Insider) had pegged as the worst team in the East, look anything but that early on.
Michael Redd
Shooting Guard
Milwaukee Bucks
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
9 22.3 6.4 2.6 .469 .879



Unlike the Jazz ,who are getting unusually good performances from a number of players, the Bucks are cruising along on the force of Michael Redd's sizzling shooting from behind the arc.

Redd's 22.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg on 47 percent shooting, including a red hot 46 percent from behind the arc, actually exceed the numbers that Ray Allen was putting up in Milwaukee before being traded to the Sonics.

Considering that Redd is making just a fourth of what Allen is making, you've got to be pretty happy with that trade if you're the Bucks.


Q looking for his cash: Donald Sterling broke the bank this summer when he signed both Elton Brand and Corey Maggette to long-term deals. Will Quentin Richardson be the next guy to force Sterling to pay up?

Last week we nominated Vin Baker as a candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year while acknowledging that he really fits more comfortably into a Comeback of the Year-type category.

Quentin Richardson
Shooting Guard
Los Angeles Clippers
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
6 22.5 8.3 2.3 .445 .773


Q, on the other hand, is the perfect candidate for the award. In his fourth season Richardson is putting up career highs in everything after going through a serious down year last season.

For the season Richardson leads the team, averaging 22.5 ppg. He also leads the team in rebounding at 8.3 rpg if you don't count the one game Elton Brand played for the team. He's shooting a career-high 45 percent from the field, and is handing out a career-high 2.3 apg.

Most importantly, his play has the Clippers off to a surprising 4-1 record since losing Brand to a broken foot. While some believe that Richardson is finally living up to his promise because he becomes a restricted free agent this summer, new head coach Mike Dunleavy probably deserves some credit as well.

"He's about as good a post-up [shooting] guard as you're going to find," Dunleavy told the L.A. Times. "There aren't a whole lot of guys like him in the league. When I first came in [after being hired by the Clippers in July], I said right away to our people, 'Look, I can turn this guy, worst case, into Bonzi Wells. He can play inside and outside. He's a scorer.'

"I said, 'Depending on who we're playing, what the matchup is, I'm pretty confident we can get him the looks he needs to score, or make the defense have to help out so much that he creates other opportunities for guys. He's going to make other guys better because he has to be double-teamed.' "

Combine his play with career highs from Corey Maggette, a breakout performance from Chris Wilcox and the emergence of point guard Marko Jaric and the Clippers suddenly don't look like the doormats of the West anymore.


Is Doc Rivers as good as gone? On Friday Insider reported that Tracy McGrady and Doc Rivers were privately feuding and that it appeared to be only a matter of time before Magic COO John Weisbrod fired Rivers. Today the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that management is drawing up a short list of candidates to replace Rivers and he could be fired if the Magic lose on the road to the Jazz tonight.

The Sentinel reported that Rivers' assistants, Johnny Davis and Dave Wohl, are on the short list of candidates to replace Rivers. There is also some buzz in the league that the Magic could tap Isiah Thomas to take the job. Rivers sounded resigned to his fate on Sunday.

"I don't know if I can do a better job, actually, with a group of guys that we have right now," Rivers told the Sentinel after his team lost its ninth straight game. "But we're still losing games. It's tough for me. It's tough for the players. It's tough for management. We put them [management] in a tough position because they have to look to see if we're doing a good job. I think we are."

While players such as Drew Gooden are still publicly supporting Rivers, the tension continues to grow in the locker room. Rivers' decision to bench Juwan Howard didn't sit well with Howard on Sunday.

"It's an adjustment coming off the bench, but I've always been a guy to sacrifice for the team," said Howard, who had been in the starting lineup for 134 consecutive games. "I understood the reason why. What am I going to do? Tell Doc no? I don't have that right, especially now."

And McGrady, who sources insist is partly behind the movement to get Doc out, didn't offer a huge show of support to Rivers either on Sunday.

"I never thought we'd be where we are, not with the talent we have," McGrady said. "But hey, 1-9 . . . that's the reality."

As for Rivers, don't be surprised if he bounces right back in either New York or in Atlanta. Both teams have been after him awhile and both have expendable coaches right now.


The foreign revolution won't be televised: **** Vitale may still believe that the league's fascination with international players is a big mistake, but the numbers at least, don't support the xenophobia expressed by much of the mainstream media. As an experiment this year, Insider got together with ESPN's fantasy gurus Brandon Funston and Eric Karabell and put together a league based on where players played before they entered the NBA. There are eight teams in the league compromising the ACC, SEC, Big East/Atlantic 10, PAC-10/BIG-10, Big 12/Conference USA, all of the other non major conferences, the high school kids and international players.

The High School conference looked the best on paper with a team of Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, Rashard Lewis, Eddy Curry and LeBron James.

The ACC also looked stacked with Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Corey Maggette, Vince Carter, Stephon Marbury, Carlos Boozer, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jamison, Sam Cassell and Matt Harpring.

And the PAC-10/Big 10 combo also looked menacing with a point guard-heavy lineup that included Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, Gilbert Arenas, Gary Payton and Jason Terry along with big men like Zach Randolph, Brad Miller, Glenn Robinson and Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

However, through the first three weeks of the season, the international players, led by Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Peja Stojakovic, Yao Ming, Andrei Kirilenko and Emanuel Ginobili, lead the next closest American conference by seven points.

While fantasy statistics don't do a good job translating into real life wins, they do accurately measure a player's total statistical contribution on the court. And so far this season, with breakout years from Ginobili, Kirilenko, Carlos Arroyo and Vladimir Radmanovic, the international kids are starting to hold their own.


Brad Miller an assist machine? You think Brad Miller took it personally when the Pacers decided he wasn't worth the $60 plus million the Kings were ready to offer him. The Pacers' sign-and-trade netted them Scot Pollard and some cap room. The Pacers justified their pick by claiming they didn't need low-post scoring; what they needed was rebounding and Pollard did a better job of that than Miller. The truth was that the Pacers couldn't afford to pay Miller because his salary would have put them into luxury-tax land. Still, you wonder if there is a tinge of regret in Indianapolis at the moment.
Brad Miller
Forward-Center
Sacramento Kings
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
10 12.2 9.6 4.9 .467 .727



Ten games into the season, Miller is making the Pacers eat their words. His points are down to 12 ppg, but his rebounding numbers and, more surprisingly, his assist numbers are at career highs. Miller is averaging 9.6 rpg and a shocking 4.9 apg while shooting 47 percent from the field.

Meanwhile, Pollard lost his starting job to Jeff Foster two games into the season and is averaging 1.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg and .1 apg in just 11 mpg. Ouch. Even when you combine Foster's (6.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and Pollard's numbers together, Miller still comes out on top.


Jason Richardson crosses the line: Jason Richardson's inability to get to the free-throw line last season had coach Eric Musselman pulling his hair out. Richardson, one of the most athletic players in the league, often refused to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket and instead settled on his shaky outside jumper.

What a difference a year makes. This season Richardson is taking an average of seven free throws a game. Last season he shot just 3.3 free throws per game. The change has meant big things for Richardson everywhere else in his game. He's averaging career highs in points (21.8 ppg), rebounds (8.8 ppg) and shooting percentage (45 percent).


News of the Weird If you predicted the following before the start of the regular season, you must be a witch.
LeBron James would be averaging roughly the same amount of assists as Gary Payton, Mike Bibby and Stephon Marbury.

Last season's upstart Suns would fulfill analysts predictions a year late. They currently have the worst record (3-6) in the West.

The Clippers would lead the league in scoring at 103.8 ppg.

Sixers swingman Aaron McKie would be shooting 76 percent from the 3-point line this season.

You'd ever hear the phrase, "We're relying on Brian Cardinal to win us ball games." That's what coach Eric Musselman said after Cardinal, who played just 15 minutes last season and had just one field goal, averaged 16.3 ppg for the Warriors this week.

Erick Dampier would be out rebounding Ben Wallace and Kevin Garnett.

Chris Wilcox would lead the league in field goal percentage. Cardinal, Vin Baker, Gary Trent, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Carlos Arroyo would be in the top 10.

Jalen Rose would be shooting 51 percent from behind the arc (19-37) and 37 percent inside it (41-110).

Nuggets sub Chris Andersen would rank sixth in the league in blocked shot (2.75 bpg).


Peep Show
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Monday, November 17
Updated: November 17
9:36 AM ET


Orlando Magic: The Orlando Sentinel is already listing head coach Doc Rivers "doubtful" for Thursday's game should the Magic extend their losing streak to 10 tonight. The paper is reporting that the team is already compiling a list of coaches to replace Rivers. "I don't know if I can do a better job, actually, with a group of guys that we have right now," Rivers said. "But we're still losing games. It's tough for me. It's tough for the players. It's tough for management. We put them [management] in a tough position because they have to look to see if we're doing a good job. I think we are." And at least one player agrees with him. "It's not him," Drew Gooden said. "He's on the bench. He can only do so much. I hate it when teams are struggling. You don't look at what's going on, on the court; you look behind the scenes for an excuse. There's no way in this world this is all on Doc Rivers. We're all out there playing. He's doing the best job he possibly can. He can only tell us so much. Doc Rivers should be our coach this season, next season, the season after that and the season after that."

Denver Nuggets: Nene Hilario might be a no-no come Tuesday night when the Nuggets travel to play the Timberwolves after the power forward felt a "pop" in his left hip during the latest practice session. "We won't know much until (today), but I talked to (trainer) Jim (Gillen) and he was optimistic," general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said in the Denver Post. "(The injury) isn't real high (on the groin), which is usually a bad one than down lower. ... Hopefully it's not too serious." Hilario is listed as day to day.

Dallas Mavericks: As far as referring goes, Mark Cuban claims the NBA is still in the Dark Ages. "Without information, we are just as in the dark as we were in the past," he said in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram. "The league says we can ask them about any calls we have questions about, but they tend to dismiss the process when the questions start applying to 10, 15 or more calls in a game. More importantly, they know that most teams have given up on questioning calls." He recognizes that the league is compiling more information on referees' calls but says they are doing little with this information. "I don't expect anything different to happen this time than any other time," Cuban said. "For some reason, even though the league is tracking more information, they are afraid to proactively share it."



New Jersey Nets: Jason Kidd and the Nets are learning that sometimes, less is more. "The 40-minute club . . . you love to have those minutes, but sometimes it gets diluted in your performance," Kidd explained in the New York Post. "So you'd rather have shorter time and be at full strength rather than play 40 minutes and be diluted in the sense of not getting things done. I'll take the shorter minutes as long as we keep winning." In the Nets' first eight games, Kidd averaged more than 40 minutes a game. In the last two, he has played a total of 68.

Houston Rockets: Forget basketball. Eddie Griffin is having hard enough time with life. "He's bright and a great talent, but he's had trouble coping with life in the NBA," Rusty Hardin, Griffin's Houston-based attorney, said in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "His biggest priority now is to get his life in order. We're not even thinking of getting back on the court. If he does get back on the court, it means he's in good shape." Griffin is currently on the team's suspended list after missing team practices and flights while also being under investigation for striking and shooting at a female acquaintance. "He's a really nice kid," Hardon said. "But he's pretty confused right now. With kids that you pluck out of college as 19-year-olds and thrust into the NBA, some don't adjust very well. He's had some problems coping with this stuff."

thebac
11-17-2003, 02:26 PM
As I said before, the Magic should just move on and fire Rivers. He'll find another job, but it's not working out in ORL.

I still can't believe that the Mavs didn't offer Redd the full MLE last year. Maybe MIL was going to match, anyway, as they since have unloaded Ray Allen (was that their plan all along?).

I love the part about the fantasy team of college, international, and HS players. Not surprisingly, the ACC is the premier basketball conference in college ball.

kingrex
11-17-2003, 02:40 PM
Arroyo is a surprise. He almost looks like Stockton out there on some stretches.

Redd would have taken Finley's job.

Rivers is getting a bum rap. His players have quit on him, and maybe that is a sign that the coach must go, but it isn't because of Rivers that team is underacheiving. McGrady needs help, and he isn't stepping up either. At least not consistently.

arsenalth9
11-17-2003, 03:54 PM
I kinda feel sorry for Doc Rivers. I don't think anyone could coach that team and get them to prominence. It's a tought situation there, and i would say if this season ends like the rest, the best choice would be to get rid of a lot of people and start over.

Murphy3
11-17-2003, 06:05 PM
Originally posted by: thebac
As I said before, the Magic should just move on and fire Rivers. He'll find another job, but it's not working out in ORL.

I still can't believe that the Mavs didn't offer Redd the full MLE last year. Maybe MIL was going to match, anyway, as they since have unloaded Ray Allen (was that their plan all along?).

I love the part about the fantasy team of college, international, and HS players. Not surprisingly, the ACC is the premier basketball conference in college ball.

Rumors are that the Bucks weren't going to match..but, that's just the rumor.

It was a huge mistake not offering him more.

kingrex
11-17-2003, 06:09 PM
Originally posted by: Murphy3

Originally posted by: thebac
As I said before, the Magic should just move on and fire Rivers. He'll find another job, but it's not working out in ORL.

I still can't believe that the Mavs didn't offer Redd the full MLE last year. Maybe MIL was going to match, anyway, as they since have unloaded Ray Allen (was that their plan all along?).

I love the part about the fantasy team of college, international, and HS players. Not surprisingly, the ACC is the premier basketball conference in college ball.

Rumors are that the Bucks weren't going to match..but, that's just the rumor.

It was a huge mistake not offering him more.

I agree. I think he would have played well enoug to start over Finley. Now would Nellie have done so? That's another question.