Links to the Present: Dec 31, 2012

December 31st, 2012 by Tom Pestak

Couple nuggets, mostly requiring insider.

I'm not working out with Thorpe, I swear!

Finally in David Thorpe’s top 10 rookies is…NOT Dion Waiters.  Rather, Tyler Zeller makes a cameo.  Thorpe does his usual breakdown of skills/weaknesses.  One thing he points out that I’ve also noticed is that Zeller really isn’t a great mid-range shooter and seems way too comfortable firing away.  From Thorpe: “Zeller would be better off receiving pick-and-pop passes (which is where he’s getting most of those shots) and immediately swinging the ball or throwing it back to Kyrie Irving, then running to set another screen. In time he can be a solid pick-and-pop player, but for that to happen he needs to shoot with more flexibility in his legs and keep his weight on the front of his feet and not the heels.” Thorpe’s got a good point here.  Zeller’s mid-range set shot is flat and seems flat-footed.  Zeller is best suited around the basket when the shot goes up anyway.  He’s an effective offensive rebounder and is very creative around the hoop with both hands from a variety of angles, especially from the right block.  Zeller has had some success from the baseline from 10-20 feet out, but has been extremely poor from the elbows, which is where a lot of those two-man pick n pops leave him.   You can see his shot chart here: http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/z/zellety01/shooting/2013/

FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3PT% eFG% BLKA FGM (%AST) FGM (%UAST)
Less Than 5 ft. 53 97 54.6% 0 0 54.6% 16 62.3% 37.7%
5-9 ft. 9 21 42.9% 0 0 42.9% 5 88.9% 11.1%
10-14 ft. 6 21 28.6% 0 0 28.6% 1 83.3% 16.7%
15-19 ft. 18 42 42.9% 0 0 42.9% 0 100.0% .0%
20-24 ft. 8 32 25.0% 0 0 25.0% 0 100.0% .0%
25-29 ft. 0 1 .0% 0 1 .0% .0% 0

Next up is an expose on Kyrie Irving from Amin Elhassan.  Elhassan predicts UncleDrew will be the league’s best PG by 2015.  This article really does a nice job highlighting the special combination of elite skills that separates Magnum KI from the rest of the pack.  Outside of Chris Paul, most of the league’s elite PGs have 1 or 2 identifiable elite talents that they leverage to the tune of perennial all-star status.  Offensively, Kyrie seems to have almost ALL of these skills.  The piece fluffs over his defense but offers this line of truth: “The longer Irving has to play savior on offense, the longer it will be acceptable for him to give subpar effort on the defensive end, which slows his overall development toward being the best PG in the league.” One contention I have with this piece is that Elhassan labels Irving a “pass first point guard” that is reluctantly firing away.  I wouldn’t label him that way.  The masked man GETS BUCKETS and he looks to GET BUCKETS.  Jeremy Pargo has a higher assist rate with the same “lack of other viable offensive options”.  Of course, Irving has the highest assist percentage on the team.  That basically means Irving is a more effective yet less willing passer than Jeremy Pargo.  Sounds about right.  As much as we’ve been blowing smoke at Byron Scott for the Cavs complete lack of offensive creativity, it might be time to demand more of Irving.  For one so adept at destroying his man off the dribble, there should be more openings for other players.  That being said, there are times when Iso-Irving is the best play the Cavs have to offer.

Finally for the non-insider folks, an unrestricted article by Kevin Arnovitz classifying each NBA team by their commitment to playing with “real” big men.  I was a little surprised the Cavs were firmly in the BIG circle, but then again it’s not really about being large in size as it is playing with prototypical “big” men.  Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, and Tyler Zeller certainly can’t be confused with stretch 4s, so I suppose the classification is correct.  For now…