Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now


Archive for the ‘NBA’


Rise Of Analytics Help Trigger New Era In Sports 1

Posted on October 27, 2017 by Kent Tukeli

Advanced analytics have completely changed basketball and baseball strategy at the highest level. After decades of traditional wisdom ruling over the NBA and MLB, coaches and front offices were forced to adjust to new data sources which revealed valuable competitive insight.

Professional hockey went through a major change in the 1990s, with NHL betting odds favoring teams which made the switch to trap-based defensive systems. Since then scoring has almost returned to pre-trap levels as analysts attempt to utilize modern analytics to uncover the next big edge in hockey. And the best sports betting sites have had also had to adjust their betting lines accordingly.

NBA Analytics Created The Three-Point Revolution

Basketball might be the most extreme example of how analytics has influenced a sport’s strategy at the highest level. NBA champions of the 80s and 90s ruled the paint, including legends like Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal. The action has moved far away from the key, with the three-point shot dominating the newest offensive schemes and strategies.

The record for three-point attempts was broken once again in the 2016-17 season, this time by the Houston Rockets, who bombed their way to a second-round playoff exit. The previous record holders, the Golden State Warriors, earned their second NBA championship in three years. No team has won a ring without elite three-point shooting for nearly a decade.

Basketball analytics have progressed to personal electronics worn by players around the clock, with players being monitored almost incessantly. Before the modern age of the three-pointer, a three-point shooting center or power forward was a rare luxury. Now, players who previously focused on banging in the paint must develop a jumper if they expect to start on most NBA rosters.

Curry-KD

MLB Analytics Lead To Home Run And Strikeout Records

Perhaps the most stat-intense sport in the world, baseball has always recorded the history of their game meticulously. The advent of modern analytics and micro data has allowed statisticians to run through an abundance of data to determine the best hitting, pitching and batting strategies. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering the Boston Celtics Comeback of 2008 0

Posted on October 11, 2017 by Aleksandra Udovenko

2008_NBA_Finals_–_Game_2It was without a doubt one of the greatest comebacks of all time. And that includes the incredible Liverpool comeback in the 2005 Champions League Final. In fact, it was so thrilling that even the most casual of basketball fans will probably be able to tell you where they were when the Celtics put in one of the most heroic performances the NBA has ever seen.

But first a little background.

It was 2008, and the Boston Celtics, with fresh recruits Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, had made it to the Championship Finals. They faced their age-old rivals the LA Lakers in what many neutrals billed as the Finals matchup of the century. The Celtics went into the Finals series as the record holders for most NBA Championships, yet it had been 22 years since their last win. The Lakers were second to the Celtics in terms of Championships won, but that didn’t stop them from being the favorites.

At home, the Celtics won Games 1 and 2 before heading to the Staples Center where the Lakers managed to win Game 3 81-87. The series was set up for a barnstorming Game 4, and the significance of the result cannot be understated. With the Celtics leading the series 2-1, a Lakers win would have tied the series and put a serious dent in the Celtics confidence. And in the first quarter, that’s exactly what looked like was happening. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Playground Legend Connie Hawkins 0

Posted on October 07, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Connie Hawkins was a four-time All-Star with the Phoenix Suns.

Connie Hawkins was a four-time All-Star with the Phoenix Suns.

In the days before 24-hour sports networks and social media, basketball legends were created in places like the playgrounds of New York City. One of the original playground superstars was Brooklyn native Connie Hawkins, who has passed away at the age of 75.

Before he had ever played a college or professional game, Hawkins had already created a reputation as a player you had to see to believe. His thundering dunks and quick step was a forerunner to Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and LeBron James.

Though his professional career started late because he had the misfortune of being associated with a college point-shaving scandal during his freshman year at Iowa, for which he was not implicated, once he reached a greater audience he was as good as advertised.

Shunned by the NBA, Hawkins spent four years showing his dynamic skills as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Hawkins finally began his professional career with the Pittsburgh Pipers of the ABA as a 25 year old during the 1967-68 season. He was an immediate All-Star and league MVP averaging a league best 26.8 points while grabbing 13.5 rebounds per game. During the playoffs, Hawkins averaged 29.9 points to lead them to the ABA Championship. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting for the Weekend: Is the NBA Using Monopoly Money? 0

Posted on July 07, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Some of the NBA free agent signings makes me think of the guys chasing Butch and Sundance. "Who are those guys?"

Some of the NBA free agent signings makes me think of the guys chasing Butch and Sundance. “Who are those guys?”

As I have read over the last few days about all the NBA players receiving huge guaranteed, long-term contracts, I can’t help thinking about the classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Early in the movie when Butch and Sundance are being followed by a group of horsemen, they keep asking themselves “who are those guys?” as they are unable to shake them despite making many maneuvers that typically would have knocked trackers off their trail.

With several of the players who have signed mammoth contracts this week, I have that same question “who are those guys?”

Obviously, a few of the players receiving eye-popping contracts are household names, like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Kyle Lowry, but it seems that many of the large contracts have gone to players who even regular NBA fans barely know.

Tell me the truth, could you really pick Otto Porter Jr. (4 years, $106.5 million offer sheet by the Nets), Danilo Gallinari (3 years, $65 million by the Clippers) or Langston Galloway (3 years, $21 million by the Pistons) out of a lineup? Not to mention, Tim Hardaway Jr. signed a four year, $71.5 million offer sheet with the Knicks. Now, in his day I could see Tim Hardaway Sr. being worth that type of money, but the young Hardaway has a career scoring average of 11 points per game, including a career-high 14.5 ppg this past season. I barely even knew he was still in the NBA.

I remember in the early 1980s when new NBA Commissioner David Stern pledged that the NBA was on their way to an average salary of a million dollars (at a time when a million dollars was a lot of money). Granted that he made that claim early in the era of Bird and Magic, but still, it seemed a bit far-fetched given that the NBA was clearly number three in terms of the professional sports pecking order in the United States.

Now 35 years later, you can argue that in some ways the NBA is still third among a broad group of sports fans in the U.S., but it probably has the most loyal core of young fans (age 10-30) of any of the three professional major sports leagues and is definitely giving its rank-and-file players larger contracts than that level of player can find in the NFL or MLB. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting for the Weekend: Old Fuddy Duddy Watching the NBA Draft 9

Posted on June 23, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Markelle Fultz was selected with the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft after playing only 25 games at the college level.

Markelle Fultz was selected with the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft after playing only 25 games at the college level.

I have decided in this column to serve as the old “fuddy duddy”, which is defined as being old fashioned and fussy.

Last night was the NBA Draft and I must admit, my 11-year-old son had a much better grasp of the players being selected than I did. Not only because he is significantly closer in age to them, but also because in today’s electronic world, he is much more familiar with their exploits than I am. Though most of the top players played roughly 30 games at the college level, if you are interested and tech savvy, you can find all their highlights on YouTube.

Sorry to sound dated and bitter, but I fondly remember a day when players being drafted into the NBA were familiar to fans not because of a YouTube video, but because we had watched them play through usually three or four years of college. Even in a time when cable television was not yet prominent and not every game was available to watch, we still had ample chances to enjoy the top players for quite a while before they moved to the NBA.

When Michael Jordan entered the NBA in 1984 he had played 101 games as a college player, not to mention being on the 1984 Olympic team. While I don’t recall there necessarily being discussion then that he was going to be the greatest player of all-time (such labels weren’t really all that important in a time before sports talk shows), there was no question that he was a great player and would be a successful pro.

You can say similar things about all the other top draft picks from the 1970s and 1980s. In most cases, they were familiar to fans across the country because they had been showcased in college for multiple years.

Now not every great college player in the past panned out in the NBA. As is the case today, there were many players in past generations who were great college players, but just didn’t translate to the NBA. But even in those cases, you had four years to watch them play at college and the number of top picks who didn’t have at least some semblance of an NBA career was pretty minimal. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting for the Weekend: Back from the Abyss 2

Posted on June 09, 2017 by Dean Hybl
LeBron James and Kobe Bryant each have been in the conversation about the greatest player in NBA history.

LeBron James and Kobe Bryant each have been in the conversation about the greatest player in NBA history.

When I started Sports Then and Now in 2009, one of the regular features of the site was a weekly Friday column in which I took a more in-depth look at a couple hot button topics in the world of sports. You may remember that in 2009 the country was struggling with unemployment at a level unseen for many years and I, like many others, was facing a time of being under-employed and had a bit more time to share my perspective about the world of sports.

Fortunately, my battle with under-employment was short lived and now as a country our unemployment levels are at all-time lows. While I have managed to find the time to continue Sports Then and Now as a web site, I have not had the same level of time to focus on the site as I did in 2009. Though I have been fortunate to have some quality articles written either by myself or in many cases other talented writers to keep the site going, things like my weekly Friday column became a victim of my busy life that not only includes a full-time job, but two kids and right now multiple youth sports coaching gigs.

However, I recently decided that I miss having a weekly platform to share some of my musings about sports. While I admit I may have a greater affinity for my work than deserved, I hope that my nearly 50 years as a sports fan as well as my training as a journalist makes my efforts at least somewhat entertaining.

Regardless, I have decided that beginning with this week, it is time to bring “Waiting for the Weekend” back after a seven year “sabbatical.” I promise to weekly give some thoughts and ideas about the current happenings in the world of sports, tie them to sports history when I can, and make them as entertaining as my talents allow.

So, without further delay, here we go:

Is LeBron the Greatest Ever? Does it Matter?: Even though it appears that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to fall short of a second consecutive NBA Title, the fact that LeBron is appearing in the NBA Finals for the seventh straight season has necessitated the obligatory discussions about whether he is the greatest player in NBA history.

While I have my own opinions regarding LeBron’s historical status as well as the current talent level of the NBA, the question I have for anyone who fuels the discussion is why does it matter? When I was a kid we heard stories about the greatest from the early generations of NBA history including George Mikan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson. In the 1970s, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving ruled the day. In the 1980s it was Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The 1990s were dominated by Michael Jordan with Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson and Karl Malone among those earning honorable mention. In the 2000s it was Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal ruling the land before LeBron took over.

The point is that regardless of what generation you connect with, there were NBA players who stood out above the crowd and were the best of that era.

Just given the physical evolution of the game and the methods of physical fitness, there is no question that LeBron James has a level of physical ability and skill that is unmatched in basketball history. However, that doesn’t necessarily make him the greatest player ever or conversely ensure that he isn’t the greatest of all-time.

Though by the time I was old enough to follow the NBA Wilt Chamberlain was better known for making car commercials with jockey Willie Shoemaker than he was for his basketball dominance, during his peak, Chamberlain was as dominant in terms of physical ability and skills as Jordan in the 1990s or LeBron today.

However, some would argue that because Bill Russell and a Boston Celtics roster filled with stars routinely kept Chamberlain from winning a title, Russell was better and Chamberlain was flawed. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Bulldog Turner: Two-Way Star
      November 12, 2017 | 8:52 am
      Bulldog Turner

      Bulldog Turner

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a two-way star for the dominant Chicago Bears teams of the 1940s.

      Though Hardin-Simmons College in Abilene, Texas was not known as a football power, legendary head coach George Halas could find great players anywhere and chose Clyde “Bulldog” Turner with the seventh pick in the 1940 NFL Draft.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

    8mm film to digital
  • Current Poll

    Who was the best NFL Quarterback in the 1970s?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top