NBA, Change the Jump Ball Rule

I’m not talking about the opening tip – just in-game jumps.

A few months ago I argued shots beyond half court should not count as field goals attempted as a way to straighten curbed statistics. My only other qualm with NBA rules is the situation asked of players in mid-game jump ball situations.

As current rules dictate, if Player A gets tied up with Player B (both have “possession”), the whistle is blown and both players tip off at the circle nearest where the whistle blew. The ref throws the ball up and both try to tip it to their team.

But if I’m 5’10 and induce a jump ball with 7’1″ Dikembe Mutombo, I get to try and out jump this guy:

Might as well not have even played defense. Mutombo wouldn’t have to even jump against most players under ~6’3″~.

Us vertically challenged people want fair rights! This is an outrage!

If you’re not going to use college basketball’s possession arrow, let teams choose their tallest player on the court for mid-game jump balls. If I get tied up with Shaquille O’Neal, let my buddy Yao Ming try to win the tip – this way most accurately rewards a good defensive play.

One more issue: When a jump ball is called with less than five seconds on the shot clock, the clock resets to five seconds. If I’m playing great defense and induce a jump ball with one second on the shot clock – when if I didn’t play defense it would most likely result in a bad shot or shot clock violation – the offensive team has now a 50:50 chance (on the jump ball) to get off a clean shot, as I feel five seconds is enough time to do so.

This rare, but possible situation puts defenders in the awkward position of “Should I play my best defense right now,” a thought that, morally, should never to enter a player’s head in any sport.

Instead of resetting the shot clock to five seconds, add two seconds to whatever the shot clock read at the whistle. Give the ball those seconds to find its possesser and go from there.

In summary:
Let teams choose which player jumps for possession
Abandon the five-second rule and replace it with a +2 second rule

A month ago I voiced my displeasure on how many players refuse to throw up prayers in the final seconds of quarters as a way to strengthen statistics. Commissioner Stern, don’t be so stern. Adjust for changes that positively affect the game. Tweak the jump ball rule and don’t count shots beyond half court as field goals attempted.

Fresh Rushing Game Just One Reason New York Giants Are ’13 Super Bowl Contenders

Once Dez Bryant’s knuckles were ruled out of bounds on this play October 28th, the New York Giants sat comfortably atop the NFC East at 6-2, 2.5 games ahead of the Eagles and Cowboys, primed for another playoff appearance. Coming off a Super Bowl championship, it was logical to feel confident the experienced Eli Manning could lead his team through a serious championship push for the second straight year.

Ultimately, it seemed the Giants grew complacent with their game and let their guard down to ultimately miss the playoffs entirely, an utter disappointment for a franchise and fan base expecting more.

But 2013 will be different for Eli & Co. The brightest light at the end of 2012’s depressive tunnel was a renaissance of New York’s running game, one with energy we haven’t seen since Tiki Barber’s pre-Eli days. Journeyman-turned puzzle piece Andre Brown showed fans his brute force capabilities and rookie David Wilson showed us the explosive step Ahmad Bradshaw never offered. Couple this with New York’s weaker schedule and the fresh pressure to avoid a second straight “losing” season, the New York Giants will contend for the Super Bowl in 2013.

An athletic neophyte, Wilson’s agility and 4.40 40-yard dash (video) offer a glimmer of hope Big Blue can represent a game-changing back comparable to a Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, or even Robert Griffin III (According to the New York Times, Wilson has run the 40 in 4.29 seconds). While a long shot, there’s finally enough quickness to evoke a glimmer of hope.

In the last five games of the regular season, Brown recorded five touchdowns on only 35 carries, many in Brandon Jacobs-like short yardage situations. While I couldn’t find the numbers, I don’t remember Brown rushing for a loss many times in those games.

If there’s chemistry, this duo has the potential to propel the Giants to the other end of the rushing spectrum. Both of their ’12 performances qualify for guaranteed rushes in ’13, but this “friendly” competition will add fuel to their respective fires. That extra drive should ultimately bring out the best in one, if not both of the Giants’ running backs.

In its best-case scenario, the Giants’ new-found rushing game will force defenses to allocate more attention on the ground, therefore leading to more open receivers and an even more successful passing game.

*How the Giants won last year’s Super Bowl with the league’s worst rushing numbers is a mystery I will never solve. And while given his fair share of kudos, I feel Eli’s 2011-12 accomplishment is still underrated given that statistic.*

The only other silver-lining of New York’s underachieving season is the motivation it offers for the upcoming campaign. Before this year’s Baltimore Ravens, no team since the 2006 Steelers won a Super Bowl the year after winning a playoff game. While winning is always the ultimate goal, I theorize an underachieving season finale is heavier motivation to win than the fire to repeat. Look at the 2012 Miami Heat.

But while arguments supporting New York’s new rushing game and theories of losing seasons are nice, they’re subjective. Plus, coming into 2012 Wilson and Brown combined for four career rushes. How will they tweak their game to counter defenses’ adjustments? Brown will enter 2013 off a broken fibula and Casper the Friendly Ghost could have blocked better than Wilson. But New York’s 2013 strength of schedule is the most tangible reason the Giants will at least make the playoffs. The scheduling committee gave the Super Bowl champion Giants games against all winners  of the ’11 NFC conferences – Packers, Saints, and 49ers. This year, New York will face a much weaker schedule, one that includes the dreadful AFC West. Take out the 13-3 Broncos and that conference boasted a 13-35 overall record this year (2012 standings).

With fresh assets at hand in 2013, a favorable schedule and a new-found motivation to elude the taste of failure, it will be a season Giants fans should look forward to. I correctly predicted the Giants would not make the playoffs in 2012, but am predicting a serious playoff representation in 2013.

Plus, the Giants have home-field advantage in this year’s Super Bowl whether they play or not. That cherry-on-top motivation may put them over the hump should they hit their stride come December.

Sporcle of the Week: Top 5 NBA Scorers by Draft

I’m a sucker for 90s basketball, and this Sporcle delivers. Since 1992 and until 2011, name the top five NBA scorers from their respective draft class.

Make sure you have 15 minutes to kill. I got 55 of 105 but know I could’ve gotten more. One of those “Oh c’mon I knew that” quizzes.

Happy Sporcling!

SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: TOP 5 SCORERS BY DRAFT CLASS

If healthy, RGIII will be the best quarterback in the league by 2015

It started with Michael Vick. A revolutionary quarterback who forced defenses to sacrifice a defender for a spy. A quarterback who can turn a broken play into a 20 yard run.

Sounds enticing, but Vick never was a great quarterback, just one that makes magic with his feet. Vick didn’t throw to a 60% completion percentage until his eighth year in the league and probably won’t win a Super Bowl. And we all know about his turnover rate.

But imagine Peyton Manning with Vick’s legs. Picture Aaron Rodgers en route to a game-winning 78-yard touchdown run after his third and fourth options were covered.

In his rookie season, the Washington Redskins’ Robert Griffin III averaged fewer interceptions per pass than every other starting quarterback (five int. in 258 attempts; 1.3%) and threw to a 65.6% completion rate. For their careers, Manning sits at 65.2% and Rodgers at 65.7%.

Griffin’s numbers
Vick’s numbers
Peyton’s numbers
Rodgers’ numbers

In his seven full seasons as a starter, Vick eclipsed RGIII’s 2012 total of 3200 passing yards only once (2011) and only twice rushed for more yards than Griffin’s 2012 tally of 815.

But it was Griffin’s 4.41 dash in the ’12 combine that foreshadowed his dazzling ground work during the regular season. Like Vick, Griffin can break out for 13 fantasy points on one play (below). Unlike Vick, it seems Griffin can protect the football and throw accurately.

If Griffin can somehow extract enough passing potential to work up to Manning or Rodgers’ level, then his edge in the footrace department would put him at a separate level of any quarterback in NFL history.

Before we get gung-ho, we must acknowledge health when evaluating RGIII’s style of play. If he wants to remain in the league, he needs to become a pass-first quarterback who can dive into the arsenal if needed, not the other way around.

Picture this scenario – it happened week 13 against the New York Giants.

Redskins up a point with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The Redskins have the ball and the Giants have two timeouts.

In this situation most offenses run the ball to eat up clock. The defense knows, so late-game situations such as these usually result in a three-and-out and a punt with two minutes or so left.

But with RGIII you don’t hand the ball off, you run the option. The defense now has to worry about a separate threat with a proportion of attention on each. What is usually a gimme three-and-out is now a mind game between Griffin and the defense.

In that game, the Giants couldn’t stop the combination of Griffin and rookie running back Alfred Morris, the Redskins ran out the clock, and took a must-win away from the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Griffin’s unique late-game threat will lead to more wins such as these.

Take this likeable fella and evaluate his numbers. In four years compare his passing numbers the elite ones and his running numbers to Vick’s. If he keeps pace with those guys like he did this season, you could be watching the greatest quarterback of all time.

But let’s get that knee back in order first.

Half-Court Shots Should Not Count as Field Goals

David Stern, NBA Commissioner

During yesterday’s Knicks game, Jason Kidd threw up a wild shot from 3/4 court to end the third quarter. The shot landed nowhere near the hoop, but it was a nice effort.

Kidd is shooting a career-high 45% from three-point range this year, but the aforementioned miss counts against that percentage despite the 2% chance the shot connects.

In today’s stat-driven age, a few percentage points could be the difference between thousands of contract dollars. Logically, a vast majority of players hold the ball in the final seconds of a quarter despite zero risk to your team by chucking one up from 70 feet.

If players are collectively more worried about hurting their stats than helping their team (in this instance), then Commissioner David Stern and the NBA should cater to it.

Treat shots behind half court like shots after a foul – if it goes in, it counts as a three pointer made. If not, then it doesn’t count as a shot attempt.

“Dude Perfect” hits a shot from the top of Texas A&M’s football field. VIDEO

The most exciting part of a basketball game is the buzzer beater. The cherry on top is a buzzer beater from far, far away. (Here’s a compilation of them). By giving players the freedom to hoist one up without personal risk, you’ll see more end of the quarter excitement. In turn, more fans will tune in to end a quarter and potentially add more advertising demand on the commercials following.

From the time I was little and until today, I’ll watch any basketball game if there’s under a minute to go in the quarter/half, just in case I see a fun buzzer beater connect.

Without proof, I know I am not the only basketball fan who does this.

In its current state, basketball is not in its truest form. Imagine this scenario: the Houston Rockets are up by 15 to the Cleveland Cavaliers with 10 seconds to go in the third quarter. As the clock winds down, the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving drives to the basket and misses a layup. With three seconds left, James Harden grabs the rebound and holds it – Rockets up 15 to end the third quarter. However, the Cavaliers make a great fourth-quarter push and eventually win by a point.

Now this: without worrying a half-court shot could potentially hurt him down the road financially, Harden takes one dribble, spins around a defender, and throws up a wild, off-balance 60-footer. Swish.

Down by 18, the Cavaliers walk back to the bench with new-found dejection, possibly with the added emotion “maybe this just isn’t our night.” Maybe Harden’s three is the difference in the game. Maybe it’s not, but maybe it is. Maybe the Rockets make the playoffs by a game.

In this instance, basketball punishes the team player.

Take Player A, a great shooter in his contract year. He won’t risk taking a wild shot at the buzzer because every miss means less money in his next deal. It’s not that he’s a bad person, just a human being. He doesn’t take any shots behind half court and ends the year 80-200 (40%) from three-point range.

Now Player B, an equally great shooter, but a team player. He doesn’t care about stats. If he has the ball in the backcourt with a second to go in the first quarter, he’ll throw up a prayer because maybe it’ll help his team. He took five half-court shots this year and missed all to make him 80-205 (39%) from three-point range.

At season’s end, the Clippers need a three-point specialist. According to stats, Player A is the better choice, even though their only difference was Player B’s stronger will to help his team.

Mr. Stern, don’t count shots beyond half-court as field goals. Add excitement to the game. Bring back its purity. If I’m tuning in to watch the end of the quarter, so are others, and that means more money in your pocket.

Because who doesn’t want to see more of this:

Three Reasons the NFL Should Forego Ties

1) The NFL is missing out on an untapped level of excitement
2) With the new overtime rules, ties will start to occur at a higher rate
3) No longer could a team sit on the ball in overtime to back into the playoffs

Remember this game?

In probably my favorite basketball game of all time, the Connecticut Huskies and Syracuse Orange men’s basketball teams went to an unrealistic six overtimes in a 2009 thriller at Madison Square Garden. One of those games that, according to the laws of sports, is illegal to turn off.

Now obviously, football will never see a six overtime game. It would require a shutout by both teams for almost three halves. I like the rule changes (click here for all changes) the NFL has instilled, but I say take it a step further. If the score is tied at the end of overtime, play until the tie is broken.

1) The NFL is missing out on an untapped level of excitement

Overtime or extra innings are one of the few ways to scratch deep enough to see the true heart of every player and team. When you’ve played so long that the unanimous thought is, “Well, if I’m gonna play for this long, I’d better win.”

It’s the purest form of sports. When every player is focused solely on winning, not money, not girls, not any outside force.

At the human brink of exhaustion, “I’ll bet I can last longer and play harder than you,” is fun to watch from the outside. Regardless of the outcome, a double overtime football game would headline all sports talk the following day.

It’s why I hold true that sports are the ultimate reality television. The NBA didn’t give scripts to Reggie Miller and Spike Lee or Magic and Larry.

You want to see the human body in its truest and purest form of determination? Show me Ray Lewis and the Ravens against Roethlisberger and the Steelers to start the third overtime.

2) With the new overtime rules, ties occur at a higher rate

You may not like ties. I don’t, and neither did the NHL. Hockey cut ties with ties (intended) after the 2005 lockout to a world of success. The excitement was higher and the conclusions became more fun to watch.

Think of any book or TV show you ever enjoyed. Imagine the book ending before the climax.

Yes, hockey gets ties at higher rates, but I think it’s wrong to cut any sports game off before it has been decided.

The new NFL rules will generate more ties because the game no longer ends simply when one team has scored. How many ties will it take before the fans get mad?  The NHL fans hit their limit about eight years ago. I believe NFL fans will hit theirs once they realize there are now multiple ties a year, not one every four.

3) No longer can a team sit on the ball in overtime to back into the playoffs

Imagine this scenario:

The Giants and Eagles are both 9-6, playing for the final NFC playoff spot in the final game of the regular season. It’s Monday Night Football. The Giants beat the Eagles earlier in the year, but the Eagles would own the tiebreaker with a win.

Giants get to the playoffs with a win or tie.
Eagles get to the playoffs with a win only.

After a big interception at the two minute warning in overtime, the Giants find themselves backed up at their own five-yard line. The Eagles have no timeouts, and New York kneels the ball three times to secure their playoff spot.

I don’t think that’s the “right” way to settle a game so important. Herm Edwards is right: You play to win the game. I don’t think sports should ever put a team in a situation where that’s not necessarily the case.

Yes, injuries are the downside of multiple overtimes. And with the concussion mess the NFL finds themselves in, I don’t believe the timing is right to instill additional risk.

But in the worst case scenario where doctors discover a heavy link between almost all NFL players and concussions, the sport will not stop anywhere in the near future. You can’t tell a kid he can’t play football.

On the professional level, players will not take themselves out of a double overtime game because they risk a concussion. The players want to play. The fans want more football. Advertisers want more air time and the NFL wants more money.

All variables considered, the NFL should flirt with a rules change. Make regular season games like playoff ones. No winner has been decided after 75 minutes? Keep going. You play to win the game.

Jason Kidd is the most important player on the Knicks

He’s going to play 20 minutes a game. He’s slow. He’s old.

Entering his 19th season, Jason Kidd has never averaged more than 20 points per game. The Knicks backup point guard has averaged 10 assists per game in only three seasons, and never more than 11.

His lifetime three-point percentage sits under 35%.

And he’s the most important player on the New York Knicks.

Lost in translation three paragraphs up is Kidd’s longevity – 19 seasons in any job conveys you’re doing something right. The NBA’s #3 all-time leader in triple doubles, Kidd’s wisdom, pass first mentality, leadership, and desire to teach will turn the mediocre Knicks into eastern conference champion contenders.

Before Jeremy Lin signed with the Rockets but after Kidd joined the Knicks, Kidd said this:

“To have a chance to mentor a very good player in Jeremy — be able to share my secrets or what I’ve learned in my 18 years — for him hopefully to take it to another level, it’s something I look forward to doing,” Kidd said. Here’s the article.

I can be the best professor east of the Mississippi, but if I don’t want to teach students, then I’m just as valuable as your sixth grade substitute English teacher.

Even though Lin is no longer in New York, Kidd showed his itch to teach. In his twilight years, Kidd wants to leave his mark on the game.

What better team to fix?

Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, while both seething with talent, don’t work well together. Based on conjecture and watching Knicks basketball, their games do not mesh, they lack chemistry, and both want to be “the guy.”

A veteran like Kidd won’t hesitate to tell Stoudemire or Anthony what they’re doing wrong, and they’ll listen due to Kidd’s résumé.

Last year, Baron Davis and Jared Jeffries were the only Knicks with more NBA experience than Melo. Jeffries is a careeer-long defensive specialist and Davis failed to convince me he played for more than the money.

On the court, who was there to tell Melo to shut up?

On paper, last year’s Knicks translated into a team better than a 36-30 record and first-round exit. I felt their #1 problem was a lack of fluidity and chemistry.

But this year, and even as you read this as the Knicks prepare for Philly tonight, Kidd is revamping mindsets and relationships. As point guard and player/coach, Anthony and Stoudemire will have no choice but to play Kidd’s game, one that is 19 years wise and emphasizes passing and locating the open man.

Starting with Allen Iverson around 1999, we fell in love with the score-first point guard. The theory is now in its 14th (or so) straight year of failure. Here are the point guards (including career ppg) that have won championships the last decade:

Dwyane Wade ……………………………………………………………………………….. 25.2 ppg Jason Kidd …………………………………………………………………………………….. 13.0 ppg
Derek Fisher …………………………………………………………………………………… 8.6 ppg
Rajon Rondo ………………………………………………………………………………….. 10.8 ppg
Tony Parker ………………………………………………………………………………….. 16.8 ppg Chauncey Billups ………………………………………………………………….,……….. 15.5 ppg

Here are ones that haven’t:
Carmelo Anthony (They experimented with him at PG last year) ……….. 24.7 ppg
Allen Iverson…………………………………………………………………………………. 26.7 ppg
Chris Paul …………………………………………………………………………………….. 18.8 ppg
Stephon Marbury ………………………………………………………………………….. 19.3 ppg
Tracy McGrady ……………………………………………………………………………… 19.6 ppg

With Kidd’s decision making not diluted with the hotts for 40-point games, he understands a winning team requires an unselfish, pass-first mentality.

That’s why the Knicks won with Jeremy Lin. Ironically, Lin was putting up 25-30 point games, but his passing glued the Knicks into a cohesive unit, not five stations at one carnival.

With veterans Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace here to side with “Jason Kidd basketball,” maybe Anthony and Stoudemire will get the hefty serving of humble pie they desperately needed last year.

Assuming half the team doesn’t retire to Florida before the end of the season, the Knicks’ leadership, talent, deep bench, and confidence will engineer the most wins of any Knicks team since their 57-25 season in 1996-97.