Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Foot Locker Elite Classic - Overseas Player Draft

Just announced at the Adelaide Dome:

‘Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops’ Set To Attract Overseas Stars

Revolutionary ‘Overseas Player Draft’ Unveiled

Elite Classic Basketball (ECB) today unveiled a revolutionary ‘Overseas Player Draft’ which will see up to twenty-four high-calibre international players join the ranks of the ‘Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops’.

‘The Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops’, airing on ONE and running from April 6th to 11th at the Adelaide Dome, has already secured a star-studded cast of Team Rights Owners, Coaches, and committed players.

The Overseas Player Draft (OPD), though, is ECB’s most unique announcement yet.

The three-round OPD will see each of the 8 ECB Teams eligible to choose three players – one selection per round. Players will be flown in from international destinations, with most expected to come from the game’s spiritual home, the United States.

The first eight picks in the OPD will be determined by random chance, while the two following rounds will be determined based on the first round, giving each ECB team roughly the same quality of choice over the three rounds. Team Rights Owners will watch a simulated ‘ball drop’ program on March 3rd and make their selections once the order is decided.

Players will nominate by contacting ECB officials at Any interested professional international player is eligible to nominate, and the nominated players will be listed on the website as their nominations are approved. Players must be at least 18 years of age, must have a valid passport, and have no pre-existing injuries or immigration complications in order to nominate. Players can nominate from today until midnight March 2nd.

Nominating players must be able to travel from the United States on April 2nd arriving in Adelaide on April 4th. They will return on April 12th. Players from non-US destinations will be consulted regarding alternative plans if drafted.

“This Overseas Player Draft announcement is amazingly unique. Over the last month we have been approached by a large number of overseas players looking to be involved in the Foot Locker Elite Classic event. The OPD will ensure that the spread of this international playing talent is systematic” ECB Managing Director Jeff Van Groningen said today. “With each team able to claim up to three players in the Draft, rosters will start to take on a very international, exciting feel”, Van Groningen added.

NBL Hall-of-Famer Cal Bruton, involved in the ‘Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops’, has spent recent weeks ascertaining potential interest from international players. “There are players who have played here in Australia before who would love to be a part of this. Then there are players who have heard so much about Australia who will nominate. There are recently graduated college players at that time of year, some of whom will be very, very good. And of course there will be seasoned professionals that just want to be a part of this event. Players know that this is a great concept – it’s only a week of their lives, its great television exposure on ONE, and they come and join one of the eight teams, stay at the Stamford Plaza, and have a chance to help their team win the money. What’s not to like?” Bruton stated.

‘The Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops’ continues to innovate, and has gained the support of major names in the sport.

Australian coaching legend Brian Goorjian, currently coaching in China, is one who has offered his support of the event and is impressed by today’s announcement. “The depth of talent is out there, there are just so many good players looking for an involvement at that time of the year, particularly out of the U.S. This event has captured players’ imaginations, both here and overseas, and the crowds are going to benefit. They’ll see stars they‘re familiar with, players they’ve never seen, big names, new names. I’ve said before, I really like this format”, Goorjian said today. “I’m sure Australian players want to be a part of this. International guys do too, and the Draft is a nice way to ensure a good spread of those overseas guys across the teams”, Goorjian added.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ECB - $10,000 Game Breaker Challenge

ECB Announcement - For Immediate Release:

‘The $10,000 Game Breaker Challenge’

ECB officials are proud to announce the first annual ‘$10,000 Game Breaker Challenge’ that will be held during the Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops event broadcast live on ONE from 6-11 April, 2010.

The ‘$10,000 Game Breaker Challenge’ is a three-point-shooting competition that will be conducted throughout the Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops, resulting in the winner taking home a cheque for $10,000. Heats will be held during the first three days of pool play to determine the finalists, who will compete at halftime of the Grand Final on Sunday 11 April.

The preliminary rounds will consist of each player shooting four Spalding basketballs from three racks located outside the three point line on the Brett Maher Court in the Adelaide Dome. The final round will consist of each qualifying player shooting four Spalding basketballs from five racks. Three of the four Spalding basketballs on each rack will count for three points when successfully scored. The fourth Spalding basketball on each rack will be designated as the ‘Game Breaker’ ball and will be worth four points, in line with the ‘Game Breaker’ rules in the Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops.

All players who are part of a Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops roster are automatically eligible to compete in the ‘$10,000 Game Breaker Challenge’.

The Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops event continues to build momentum with today’s news, the first of several key announcements that will be rolled out regarding this creative basketball entertainment event. “We want each player at the Foot Locker Elite Classic – High Stakes Hoops event to have a great, entertaining week. For many, it will also be a lucrative time. We have the $250,000 prize pool of course, but there are other ‘games within the game’ that will be part of the event” ECB Managing Director Jeff Van Groningen said today. “The $10,000 Game Breaker Challenge is a great example of this. The ‘Game Breaker’ rule is creating a lot of interest and discussion, and this $10,000 contest based around that rule is going to be great for the fans at the event, as well as those viewing it on ONE.”

A further announcement, which Van Groningen will only describe as “major” will be made in the course of the next week.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The League’s Best Shooters

My boy Tux shot me an e-mail today with the below article and it was so good I just had to share it. Its all about the top shooters in the NBA and includes my boys Ray Allen and Steve Nash, so how could I not post it?

Its from the site Basketball Free For All which is a blog Tux reads and I will need to make sure I do too from now on.

The League’s Best Shooters « General « Basketball Free For All
Phil Londen

When discussing the best shooters in the game today, two names are commonly mentioned more often than others: Steve Nash and Ray Allen. Both are proficient from virtually anywhere on the court, including from the free throw line and from downtown. They are often in the games during clutch situations and both players have an impressive portfolio of clutch shots on their resume. Even more telling, both players are often heralded for their jump shots by coaches and analysts alike.

Discussions of great shooters ultimately lead to a few questions. Who is the better shooter now? Who has been the better shooter over the course of their career? And how does the better of the two shooters stack up against some of the other historically great shooters of the three point era? And what can we learn about the players from looking at the numbers?

Ray Allen versus Steve Nash

They are often referred to as natural shooters ostensibly because they have some innate abilities that allow them to shoot the ball at an exceptional clip. But that is only part of the story. Both Ray and Steve are renowned for their work ethic and their practice routines. Allen routinely knocks down 247 out of 250 shots before every game and credits a lot of his practice work ethic to his college coach at UConn, Jim Calhoun. Nash credits his work ethic during practices and the offseason as one of the primary reasons he was even able to be successful in the League, as he wasn’t blessed with extraordinary athleticism or size that is normally a prerequisite for NBA hopefuls.

Currently, both players are still extremely effective shooters from all over the court, although Allen has been slumping a bit recently perhaps as a result of the rampant trade rumors swirling around the struggling Celtics. It’s hard to gauge the full effect of the epidemic trade rumors at this part of the season but there has to be some sort of fallout, whether positive or negative. As non-professional athletes, we’ll never experience it ourselves and can only guess what it must be like. Allen is posting a pretty average season (for him, that is) in terms of shooting percentages, shooting .450 from the field, .338 from three and .892 at the stripe giving him a true shooting percentage of .568. His peak season was actually last season with the Celtics, where he put up .480/.409/.952 on his way to a true shooting percentage of .624 during an all-around excellent shooting campaign.

Nash, on the other hand, is still putting up incredible percentages across the board, shooting .522 percent from the field, .438 from downtown and .939 from the line. He is also averaging the second highest true shooting percentage of his entire career at .635. During his peak shooting season of 2006-07, he shot .532/.455/.899 for a true shooting percentage of .654.

In terms of career numbers, Nash has percentages of .489 from the floor, .432 percent from downtown and .903 percent from the line. These are nearly career averages of 50/40/90 in fourteen seasons and over 30,000 minutes played. His career true shooting percentage is .606. All of Nash’s career numbers are pretty mind-blowing and definitely put him amongst the elite shooters in the three point era. In nearly 37,000 minutes over a fifteen year career, Ray Allen has posted percentages of .448/.396/.893 and a true shooting percentage of .574. Again, Ray’s numbers are extremely impressive in their own right, but he falls just short of Nash’s ridiculous percentages.

In terms of current production, Nash has the edge. In terms of peak production, Nash again has the edge. And finally, in terms of career percentages, Nash once again has the edge. Nash is the clear-cut winner, making a strong case to be considered the best active shooter in the NBA.

But there is more.

Breaking it down even further by range using shot data location for both Steve Nash and Ray Allen, we can chop the floor into zones and compare their shooting percentages in each midrange area to see where each player excelled during their peak seasons (2006-07 for Nash, 2008-09 for Allen). At the rim, Nash shot a scorching 67 percent with Ray shooting 60 percent. From less than ten feet, Allen shot 60 percent, trumping Nash’s 59 percent. From ten-to-fifteen, Nash shot 53 percent and Ray shot 47 percent. Finally, from 16-to-23 feet (a.k.a the long two a.k.a the worst shot in basketball), Steve shot 50 percent with Allen barely trailing at 49 percent; pretty much a push with the Canadian having the slight edge. Again, Steve is the overall better shooter in most areas of the floor with the area from the rim to ten feet belonging to Allen.

With Nash seemingly the better shooter based upon the statistics alone, is there any possible explanation as to why Nash’s percentages may be inflated relative to Allen’s?

Perhaps it is related to the positions each player plays on the court? Steve plays the point, meaning opposing players expect him to distribute, possibly giving him easier looks when he does decide to shoot (initiates the offense). He may also only choose to shoot when he has high percentage looks at the rim (shot selection). Ray plays the two guard, meaning opposing players expect him to shoot possibly giving him more difficult looks as players are hesitant to give him any space whatsoever (defined role). He is also subject to the point guard’s whims which can result in being forced into taking lower percentage shots (designated gunner). While these counter-points are valid, they are not enough to explain away the statistical dominance of Steve Nash’s shooting numbers over Ray Allen’s shooting numbers.

Now, with that debate more or less settled, the question becomes how does Nash stack up against some of the all time great shooters of the three point era?

The 50-40-90 Club

The mark of an elite shooter is their ability to shoot well from the field, the free throw line and from behind the three point line. The gold standard of elite shooters in each of these three areas is 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the free three and 90 percent from the line. Hitting all of these milestones and sustaining those averages over an 82 game season presents the challenge that separates the historically great shooters from the merely the above-average shooters.

Before proceeding, a disclaimer. The 50-40-90 Club is definitely not the ultimate measure of elite shooters in the League. It is simply one means of comparing players objectively in the three major areas of shooting, from the field, from the three point line and from the free throw line. Plus, the results pass the laugh test, as the Club members includes names everybody mentions when discussing the great shooters of the three point era.

Take a look at the current list of members of the 50-40-90 Club. Since the inception of the three point line in 1979, only seven players have obtained membership to the Club (total of eleven separate seasons). Only two players have ever joined the list more than once with Steve Nash appearing four separate times (2005-06; 2007-08; 2008-09; 2009-10) and Larry Bird appearing twice (1986-87; 1987-88). The other single season members are Dirk Nowitzki (2006-07), Steve Kerr (1995-96), Jose Calderon (2007-08), Mark Price (1988-89) and Reggie Miller (1993-94). Notice that Ray Allen has never made the 50-40-90 Club in his career, which further reinforces the notion that Nash is probably the better shooter of the two.

Not bad company at all, especially considering Nash’s four appearances in the Club double the nearest competitor (Larry Legend). Without taking too much away from Nash, changes to hand checking rules among other rules have probably greatly benefited Nash (not to mention Calderon and Dirk as well) making it a bit easier to join the 50-40-90 Club. The point of mentioning this isn’t to detract from Nash or the others that joined the Club since the hand-checking rules but instead to highlight what an achievement it is for Larry Legend, Mark, Steve and Reggie. Just imagine Miller’s or Bird’s numbers if opposing defenders weren’t allowed to touch him when he was facing the basket?

This season, Nash is the only current member of the 50-40-90 Club. However, if you loosen the terms a bit to 47/37/87 percent, you see that there are a few other players on the cusp of joining the 50-40-90 Club including Anthony Morrow, Kevin Durant, Luke Ridnour and Beno Udrih. Also, Dirk is on the cusp of joining Nash and Bird in the elite group of players making multiple appearances in the 50-40-90 Club under those same loosened terms. Mike Miller receives the honorable mention for joining the on-the-cusp group with Miller being deficient in only free throw percentage (.828 this season). At the same time, if he qualified (minimum 700 points scored in season), he would be posting a League-best true shooting percentage of .714, based largely upon his absurd three point percentage of .538.


After reviewing the data, a few things are fairly clear. In the debate of Ray Allen versus Steve Nash, Nash is most likely the superior shooter, with Nash topping Ray during the current season, during their respective peak seasons and during their entire careers. As mentioned before, there are perhaps positional explanations for why Nash may have gotten easier looks than Ray throughout his career. It is also clear that Nash is one of the elite shooters of the three point era. However, being unable to compare the careers of the pre- and post-hand-checking rule eras, it is almost impossible to definitively so one way or the other so Nash is relegated to only being one of the best shooters of the three point era as a four-time member of the 50-40-90 Club.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

NBA All-Star Saturday night

I haven't seen my parents for a little while so after the Reds snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the rugby, I went round to their place and stayed the night. Other than catching up with them and doing the good son thing, they have Foxtel so I got to watch the NBA All-Star Saturday night.

Saturday's events start with the shooting stars, the skills challenge, the 3-point contest and then the dunk comp. With my focus on basketball shooting, the shooting stars was a warm-up for my favourite event of All-Star weekend, the 3-point contest.

This year's contest was very competitive. Usually someone stinks it up in the opening round but just three points separated first (Stephen Curry) and last place (Channing Frye & defending champ Daequan Cook). Paul Pierce stepped up in the final round to take the title, highlights are below.

The 3-point contest is just over too quickly for my liking. I'd like to see the contestants get 2 attempts in each round and their best score counts. This would mean that if someone stank up one go they could redeem themselves and would take out a little of the luck involved in the contest.

In other events from the night, it was good to see my boy Steve Nash take out the skills challenge and it was no surprise that the Texas team took out the shooting stars challenge. As you'll no doubt read everywhere, the dunk comp was very disappointing. G-Wallace is my boy, but he really phoned this one and just didn't seem interested. Shannon Brown didn't do much better and all the dunks throughout the contest were basically uninspired.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stephen Curry - coming out party

I mentioned it at the start of the season that I really liked the look of rookie Stephen Curry. Sure, he has the NBA pedigree from his dad Del but he proved he could flat out shoot leading the NCAA in scoring last year.

Drafted by the Golden State Warriors, he got off to a slow start in his rookie season and there was tension with Monta Ellis before game 1 even began. Over the last month or two Curry has really come in to his own but with no Ellis today, Stephen held a coming out party of sorts.

In the first quarter alone, Curry had 17 points against the LA Clippers and finished the game with a career high 36 points. It wasn't just a scoring performance from Stephen as he also recorded his first triple-double with 10 boards and 13 assists.

Here's his line:

Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts

S. Curry G 45:47 11-22 7-11 7-8 +35 0 10 13 6 3 0 1 4 36

An impressive showing from the rookie and even more surprising was that he led his team to a rare win. On the back of his 7 triples, look out for Stephen in the NBA All-Star three-point contest.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Three-Point Contest finalised

The announcement for who would be competing in the NBA All-Star three-point contest came on the weekend. The big names are Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce, but the contest is so different from game action that it will be interesting to see how the lesser names go and whether or not Daequan Cook can defend his title.

Click on the title below to read the full story and check out last year's contest in the video below. Talented field aiming for Cook in Three-Point Contest

The call came as a shock to Stephen Curry. Not so much for Channing Frye. Danilo Gallinari expects to win ... even if he doesn't know who exactly he's competing against.

Those three, along with All-Stars veterans Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce, have defending champion Daequan Cook in their sights as the Three-Point Contest returns to its NBA birthplace. The long-distance showcase, a staple of All-Star Saturday Night, debuted 24 years ago in Dallas with Larry Bird claiming the inaugural event at Reunion Arena.

Larry Legend would go on to win the next two years, entrenching the Three-Point Contest as a must-see during All-Star weekend. Cook doesn't come close to Bird's megawatt star power, but the Heat reserve guard is shooting to become the seventh repeat winner in the contest's history. Cook outlasted Rashard Lewis in an overtime round last year in Phoenix.

'It made people look at me different,' Cook said, 'as one of the best 3-point shooters in the game. It made me respected.'

The competitors are ready.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chauncey Billups - Mr Big Shot

Watching Chauncey Billups in action last night its not hard to see why they call him Mr Big Shot. Billups exploded for a career high 39 points including 9 from downtown.

Here's his stat line:

Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
C. Billups G 40:26 12-20 9-13 6-8 +13 0 4 8 2 1 0 1 1 39

Here are some of the highlights from the game:

Despite playing against the top team in the west, when Billups is rolling like that ... no Melo, no worries.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tweeting with the Premier

I mentioned in a post a few month's back that one of my good friends had organised Premier Anna Bligh to be the number 1 ticket holder for the Gold Coast Blaze. I speculated at the time that the over/under on how many games she would attend was 4 ... my friendly quickly e-mailed me and said that was way too high. Anna got her #1 singlet at the end of last year but until last night was yet to attend an actual game.

Yesterday I re-tweeted a message from the Premier that she was off to her first game:

I'm looking forward to seeing Gold Coast Blaze play Perth Wildcats in last home game tonight - Go Blaze!!

I then woke up to a surprise direct message from the Premier herself (or maybe it was one of her staff):

hey Dodge - Blaze won by 13 points after trailling every quarter - great game!

Turns out it was a great game for the Premier to see. Top of the table clash between the Blaze and the Wildcats with another strong crowd. Gold Coast trailed from the start but did a great job in shutting down Redhage and Schenscher storming home in the final quarter to get the win, 86 - 73.

The Blaze are now back on top of the table and put the top spot on the line tonight in Woolongong against the Hawks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Blaze win and Gibbo gets POTW

Going in to this round the Gold Coast Blaze were looking a little shaky having dropped two games in a row, had been without Adam Gibson for a couple of games and then lost playmaker Ayinde Ubaka to injury.

Saturday saw the Melbourne Tigers come to the coast with momentum on their side and their season on the line. With the Breakers also finally stringing some wins together the Blaze needed a win to solidify their top 4 spot.

The Tigers came out strong and led after the first quarter but Gold Coast stepped up narrowly winning the next three quarters and after a big 3 on the buzzer from Mark Worthington the game moved in to overtime. In the final term tho Erron Maxey stepped up and the Blaze dominated 12 - 4 to get the important win.

News came out today that Adam Gibson was named Player of the Week for his contribution to the Blaze's victor. Gibbo had 15 points, 12 assists & 7 boards against the Tigers. Great numbers from Adam and the 12 assists is the stand-out stat for me, especially in the shortened 40 minutes of action.

Looking ahead, this week the Gold Coast Blaze play Perth at home on Friday and then head to the 'Gong to take on the Hawks. Hopefully the Blaze can take some revenge on the Hawks after the stinker they put up last time they played. In the final round of the regular season Gold Coast are away to the Breakers and the Tigers.

As teams jockey position to make the top four coach Joey Wright believes they need two more wins to ensure their spot in the playoffs.