The Sports Report

A Statistical Take on Sports and Politics

The Boots (July 16, 2008)

Boot Up: Oklahoma Outlaws – The Seattle Supersonics are officially moving to Oklahoma City. The newest team in the NBA has a very complicated history, as special clauses in the arrangement between Seattle, and Oklahoma City allow this new team to share the history of the old Sonics. Either way you slice it there is no doubt in my mind that the team name should be the Oklahoma Outlaws. Including the term “City” is very old-fashioned, and if you look at all of the major sports, only Kansas City does such a thing. The team nickname Outlaws is catchy, somewhat modern, original, and is more related to the history of the state than many current team nicknames such as the Utah Jazz, and LA Lakers. The entire process was extremely complicated in moving the Sonics away from their home, and I do not expect this team to compete for a very long time, but it definitely should be interesting to see when the new logos comes out.

Boot Up: Marcus Camby to the LA Clippers – So let me get this straight… The Denver Nuggets traded away center Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers for the opportunity to swap second round picks in the 2010 draft. I understand that Marcus Camby, the 2007 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, is a 34-year-old owed $10 million this coming season. I will argue that he is worth every single penny, and his relatively overrated history of injuries has still allowed him to play 68.6 games per season over the last five years. Marcus Camby may very well be one of the most underrated players in the NBA, because of his ability to create opportunities for his team while not being that involved in the offense.

A statistic that many people, such as John Hollinger, in the NBA community use to measure involvement in the offense is Usage. It is found by adding together field goals attempted, turnovers, and a fraction of free throws attempted, and assists. The NBA average is just around 21, while superstars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, and his former Denver teammate Carmelo Anthony are consistently over 36. Camby’s usage rating was 16.12 this year, and was 19.27 last season. Despite that, he led the league the past two seasons in the non-point version of my rating (see Boot Down: Point-based NBA analysis). His per 48-minute rating per usage is a 2.60, well over the league average of about 1.6. Over the last two seasons, he has averaged 14.1 points. 4.5 assists, 17.3 rebounds, and 4.8 blocked shots per 48 minutes, while playing in 149 games. His value is much higher than Elton Brand’s, and I believe that a lineup of Camby, Kaman, Al Thornton, Tim Thomas, and Baron Davis should be enough to propel the Clippers into playoff contention.

Boot Up: C.C. Sabathia in the National League – In case you didn’t notice, C.C. Sabathia pitched a complete game, and helped his cause by hitting his second home run of the year in the Brewers 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon. In the big-time trade that sent the 2007 AL Cy Young winner to Milwaukee, the Cleveland Indians did a favor to the rest of the American League in general. This guy can flat-out hit, and for his entire career (47 plate appearances) he has been an above average run creator. He has a .289 batting average, a sub-par .298 on-base percentage, but a stellar .511 slugging percentage. The average pitcher this season in MLB is at .137/.160/.173 while the average player in MLB over this entire season is at .266/.331/.420. The Indians enabled Sabathia to become one of the most productive hitters in the National League with this trade, and he has the ability to establish Mike Hampton-esque numbers as an full-time starter for any team in the senior circuit.

Boot Down: MLB All-Star Game– I watched the vast majority of the 15-inning, nearly five-hour marathon of the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday night. In the latest of a series of epic mid-summer classics, the American League pulled away yet again for a 4-3 victory on Michael Young’s walk-off sacrifice fly. Hidden by the glory of a walk-off victory at Yankee Stadium, was the fact that Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona was just one more out away from being in a very difficult situation. His American League ball club had no pitchers remaining, and Scott Kazmir of the Tampa Bay Rays had pitched the top of the fifteenth. Kazmir was on the list of pitchers Francona was advised not to use, as he had pitched more than 100 pitches in the Rays’ loss to the Indians on Sunday, and is scheduled to pitch this coming Saturday. In the joyful bliss of clinching home-field advantage for his Red Sox (can we just declare them the AL Champions now?) he also saved what could have been the second All-Star game tie in this decade, and a possible conflict with Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon.

Along with a recent report on, I advise Major League Baseball to stretch out All-Star week, so as to avoid situations like this. The current baseball season is about six months long, and because of that, adding a day or two to the All-Star festivities should be much appreciated by the players, and coaches. Here is what I suggest:

Play the minor league Futures Game on Monday evening, along with the Celebrity Softball Game. I attended both of these events in San Francisco last year on a bright, and sunny Sunday afternoon, but I am shocked every year to see how they are not shown live on TV, and do not make the airwaves until after the Home Run Derby. MLB could do a lot more with this game.
Have the Home Run Derby on Tuesday night, and shorten it up a bit. I am a traditionalist, in that I grew up with re-runs of the old nine-inning home run derbies from the 50’s and 60’s. I think that they should do the first round with six contestants, and then have the two finalists duel it off in a nine-inning style. Have the batters switch back and forth with three outs, and keep it interesting to the fans. Hopefully this would disable the chance another player pulls a Josh Hamilton.
Have the All-Star Game on Wednesday night, with all players and pitchers available for duty. I am sick, and tired of this crazy nonsense of pitchers being too tired to participate in something that should be considered an honor. Yes it makes sense that team responsibilities come first, but I enjoyed yesterday’s battle because everyone played. That is how an All-Star Game should be.
Resume action on Friday night. It is quite odd how many teams start on Thursday after the All-Star break, yet some others start on Friday. Have Thursday as a travel day after the All-Star Game, and then reset your starting rotations with a game on Friday night. Seems pretty simple to me.

Boot Down: Point-based NBA analysis – I want to go over the story of Mikki Moore. Moore, a 32-year-old forward for the Sacramento Kings, was a journeyman NBA player from the start of his career in 1999 through 2006. He played on seven different teams in these eight seasons, averaging a total of 38 games per year, and 13.4 minutes per game played. He was truly nothing that special, putting up average numbers for a player 7 feet tall (16.15 points, and 11.2 rebounds per 48 minutes). Then in 2007, he ended up back with the New Jersey Nets, a team he had briefly played for in the 2004-2005 season. The Nets had serious frontcourt issues this season, as their center of the future Nenad Krstic played only 26 games. This enabled Mikki Moore to play 79 games, while averaging 26.4 minutes per game, a new career high. Per-48 minutes, his most important career statistics hardly changed a bit (+1.7 points, and -1.9 rebounds), but he did improve his shooting efficiency by quite a lot (1.013 career efficiency field goal percentage, then 1.217 in 2007). In the off-season, Moore then signed a three-year $18 million deal with the Sacramento Kings.

The reason why the Kings offered him so much money is because he averaged new career highs in 2007 with 9.82 points and 5.10 rebounds per game played. This poor evaluation is courtesy of the backwards thinking of many individuals within the NBA community. Just because a player averages solid numbers in terms of points per game, or even shooting percentage, it does not mean he is very good overall. Looking at Moore’s non-point contribution to the team according to his height, and his overall efficiency, you can clearly tell that he is an average center, at best. He does not rebound or block enough for a player his height, and for his career he has fouled way too much per minute. Overall, his story in the NBA is a lesson in how not to evaluate players.

Boot Down: The Brett Farve controversy – I am really sick, and tired of all of this talk of Brett Farve returning to the Green Bay Packers. As my dad, and I have been saying, there must be something wrong with his head if he thinks he can just walk right back into the NFL after that show he put on for his retirement back in March. Aaron Rodgers was a first round pick out of California in 2005, and has thrown a total of 59 passes in 7 games of his three-year NFL career. He was a solid quarterback in college, has a incredible system to work with in running back Ryan Grant, and wide receiver Greg Jennings (not to mention a great defense,) and should be fine as the starter for the Packers this coming season. As long as the Packers are a run-first team, like the Chargers were when Phillip Rivers first started out, they should be in a good enough position to make the playoffs again this year. I do not blame Green Bay for not allowing Farve to walk right back into town as the starter. If he is truly serious about returning to the game, then he will have to earn his stripes yet again as the backup to Rodgers, who has been patiently waiting for his turn for three years.


July 16, 2008 - Posted by | The Boots | , , , , , ,

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