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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lindy's Pro Basketball 2010-11 Includes Pau Gasol Feature Story, Kevin Durant Interview

Lindy's Pro Basketball 2010-11--available in stores now--includes a Pau Gasol feature story by editor/renowned Lakers authority Roland Lazenby and Jorge Ribeiro's interview with Kevin Durant. Lazenby asserts that Gasol's strong performances during the Lakers' back to back championship runs have done a lot to destroy the stereotype of European players as "soft." Durant discusses a wide range of issues, including his experiences playing for Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

I contributed five team previews this year: Charlotte Bobcats, Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz. As usual, each team preview is followed by a 300 word sidebar story. Here are the sidebar subjects that I examined:

Charlotte: Michael Jordan is the first NBA player to become the majority owner of an NBA franchise.

Denver: The importance of coaching in general and the specific impact that George Karl's absence had on the Nuggets last season.

Oklahoma City: Switching from shooting guard to small forward sparked Kevin Durant's emergence as an elite NBA player.

Sacramento: Tyreke Evans posted LeBron-like rookie numbers but to truly become an elite player he will have to make the same kind of second year jump that LeBron James did.

Utah: A good case can be made that Deron Williams has emerged as the NBA's best point guard.

Most of what I submitted was published exactly the way I wrote it, though the first sentence of my Nuggets' sidebar was deleted ("Statistics can be valuable when used properly but some people insist that anything that cannot be quantified on a spreadsheet is not important") and this sentence was tacked on to the end: "Karl's health appears to be on the mend--and the entire NBA wishes him well and has nothing but admiration for the Nugget's (sic) coach--but his comeback remains yet another unanswered question for this franchise." One of the core tenets asserted by "stat gurus" is that coaching ultimately does not make that much difference. I disagree with that sentiment, noting, "Unlike baseball, basketball is a dynamic game, so it is difficult to accurately quantify each player's impact on a given play, let alone decipher the overall effect that a coach has." Naturally, "stat gurus" realize that it is not in their self interest to acknowledge the importance of anything that they cannot quantify (or at least pretend to be able to quantify)--but it is not coincidental that five coaches (Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, John Kundla, Pat Riley and Gregg Popovich) have won 34 of the NBA's 64 championships.

The Bobcats officially added Sherron Collins to their roster after the article submission deadline, so I did not write the brief comments about him. Also, I think that if Larry Hughes is healthy he could play his way into Charlotte's rotation but my analysis of Hughes was deleted. Here is what I originally said about Hughes:

"Larry Hughes was once a top notch defender; injuries have taken away a lot of his athletic ability and he is now a player who does several things adequately but nothing exceptionally well. Hughes has always been an erratic outside shooter. If he can stay healthy then he can be a solid backup for (Stephen) Jackson."

Writing the team previews is always fun; I hope that readers are informed and entertained by my contributions and by the magazine as a whole.

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posted by David Friedman @ 2:21 AM

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