As Eli Manning celebrates another Super Bowl championship, and a second MVP trophy to go with it, by parading down Broadway and the Canyon of Heroes, big brother Peyton continues to grab the headlines as a crucial decision from the Colts awaits.
Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, who has had the most access to Manning since the Colts season ended, told SportsCenter that he thinks the Colts will cut Peyton before the Feb. 22nd scouting combine. Ironically, the combine is held every year at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis; the House That Peyton Built and the house that just held a Manning championship in Indianapolis could ultimately cause Peyton’s release from the team with the start of the scouting combine.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter wrote in a recent ESPN.com mailbag that the Dolphins are currently the favorites to land Manning, just a day after Howard Eskin said that Washington had emerged as the frontrunners. Needless to say, the Peyton Manning watch is engulfing the NFL landscape and will stay that way for the foreseeable future.
After Jeremy Lin lit up Utah with his performance for the Knicks, who were without Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, some interesting questions surround New York’s pro basketball team. With Anthony now out one to two weeks with a groin injury, it’s going to be incumbent upon Lin to keep up the performance he’s put forth the past two games. SOS writer Aron Jacobowitz even posited that the Knicks are better without him.
People have been saying “a star is born” and that’s almost as premature and insane as Tim Tebow’s coronation just a short month ago. Stoudemire will come back soon after his brother tragically died in a car accident, but we’ll see how Lin and the Knicks fare without two ball dominant players in the starting lineup. Lin will be relied on a lot more considering how heavily the team leaned on its big two.
According to Basketball-Reference, usage percentage “is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor.” Anthony is third in the league and Stoudemire is 19th, combining to be used in 59.5 percent of the Knicks’ plays. If we look at more advanced stats from Basketball-Reference, the Knicks are under-using Tyson Chandler.
Chandler is statistically one of the most efficient players in the league this season. Chandler leads the NBA in true shooting percentage, field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage and offensive rating. He’s third in the league in Win Shares and is clearly a valuable asset after seeing Dallas’ championship run last season.
With Anthony out and Stoudemire dealing with an unspeakable personal loss, Lin and Chandler will have to factor into the team’s offense a whole lot more for New York to climb back into the playoff picture.
More from the NHL Respect series:
A little more than a month ago, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski was underachieving and was chalked up as trade bait. Today he is a superstar.
Grabovski plays on Toronto’s second line, flanked by players who can be relied on for decent offensive production each year. He is considered an average player who is capable of scoring anywhere from 30 to 60 points a year. To put it simply, Grabo is “good”. Not great, but hardly a fourth-liner.
It’s because of this label and the size of his contract that all in Leafs Nation wanted him to be shipped out before the trade deadline at the end of this month. Apparently, Grabbo thrives under such circumstances.
Through the first three months of the season, Grabovski had tallied a grand total of 19 points. In January and one week of February he has a combined 20 points. He has 12 points in his last six games. How can you trade a player that has elevated his game to such a level?
The real question is, why haven’t you heard anything about this guy? The simple answer is that you don’t live in Toronto or Montreal.
The broader answer is that the 28-year-old forward was born in Germany (meaning he doesn’t get any attention in international competition), was drafted 150th overall in 2004 – a draft that included such big name players as Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Johan Franzen, and he has never scored 30 goals in a season.
Grabovski plays in a league within the league. He is hardly considered superstar but he doesn’t ride the pine either. He is a second-liner, a key center that is used when the top guys are tired. A notable second level type of player.
Grabbo is now racking up more points right now than anyone could have imagined and is doing so in the most unselfish way. His scoring streak has not only put his name on the map but also bolstered the comeback of line-mate Clarke MacArthur and the offensive resurgence of Toronto’s defenders.
He is making a name for himself in this league by making others better. Is there a better definition of a superstar? Sure his 18 goals are far from the league lead, but Grabovski is the nucleus of this Maple Leafs team.
Without his impressive scoring of late, Toronto’s top line would be feeling the pressure to produce and could have cracked under the pressure. Similarly, the bottom lines would be asked to step up proving for even worse possible outcomes. Grabovski has embraced his role in the team and has flourished, helping the club to benefit overall.
On nights when he doesn’t score, he is there to provide key assists and tough forechecking. He set up Toronto’s first two goals last night helping to erase the rough start where Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle scored merely 21 seconds into the game. His speed and tenacity makes it possible for Toronto to come back from a deficit and his two assists were purely selfless and meant to help his team regain the lead. What more could you ask for in a player?
It’s one thing to put together a goal-scoring streak or an eight-point night, and very much another thing to scoring almost every night in more than a month and do it mostly by assisting on your teammate’s goals.
Who knows how much longer this streak will last and what will happen before it ends, but watching Grabovski play makes one believe that it never will end. He seems to be everywhere on the ice at all times. He skates hard and fast and has one gear in his system: attack.
Grabovski is the MVP of Toronto’s 2012 upswing and is continue to prove his role as its most valuable asset as well. He has put the team on his back and is helping the other stars on the team to vault the Leafs into the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
It’s time to show this man the respect he deserves and start following his tremendous play. You may not have heard of him until now, but I doubt you will forget the season he is having.
The headline sounds far-fetched, insane, even blasphemous. How could the New York Knicks be better off without one of the best individual talents in the NBA? He’s averaged 25 points per game for his career. He led his Nuggets team to the playoffs for what seems like every season he was there. Perhaps Nuggets coach George Karl demanded more of him as a player than Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni does.
The D’Antoni spread offense doesn’t seem to be a good fit for a stagnant, one-on-one isolation player like Carmelo Anthony. Nonetheless, Knicks owner James Dolan forced then-GM Donnie Walsh to pull the trigger on the trade that crippled the franchise. The trade for ‘Melo cost the Knicks dearly, especially during a stretch when the Knicks were playing great team basketball. But Dolan is greedy; in need of instant gratification.
The team will not recover from this trade for a few years, whereas the Nuggets are in terrific shape. The Knicks sent Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and a 2014 first round pick for Anthony, Chauncey Billups (who is currently on the Clippers, but still on the Knicks payroll for $12 million – another brilliant move, though Billups may miss the rest of this season with an Achilles injury), and three non-factors who are no longer on the team.
So: FOUR quality starters in this league for Anthony. Felton currently starts at PG for the Blazers, Gallinari is leading the Nuggets in scoring, though he may be out a little while with a chip fracture in his foot, Chandler will most likely re-sign with Denver upon his return from China, Mozgov will develop into a very nice piece for the Nuggets and they still have the Knicks’ first rounder in two years.
Amare Stoudemire is one of the best power forwards in the game. He’s still relatively young (29) and he was (and still should be) the leader (and No. 1 option) of the Knicks that captured the heart and soul of one of the greatest basketball cities in the world. This guy was averaging 25 points per game before the trade, dropping 30+ every other night, and producing wins with a balanced team around him, showing drastic improvement for a Knicks team that was just terrible the few years prior. But that wasn’t enough for Dolan.
Against Donnie Walsh’s advice, he pulled the trigger on the trade – which left players struggling after friends and teammates were now gone. To completely dismantle a team you had just assembled prior to the season is ludicrous. Ownership gets what they get, and they can’t be upset with anyone other than themselves. Dolan cripples franchises worse than Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Carmelo Anthony is an outstanding scorer. His rebounding has improved over the length of his career, but his defense and hustle is still atrocious. If you watch as the opposing team runs down the court, you can always see Melo jogging, dawgin’ it. And that ain’t right. Not to your teammates, your coach or the fans.
Real basketball fans appreciate hustle, defense and dedication to the team, not your stat line. Anthony causes the team to sit around and watch him go one on five, which would almost be fine if he were as good as Kobe Bryant, but there’s a reason Kobe is Kobe – and no one else is. As good as Anthony is, he will never touch Kobe. And it is for that reason alone- if he doesn’t buy into the team concept soon- the Knicks will be paying him to take them to four future first round exits in the postseason. Which would also be fine if they were a team like Golden State, but expectations are higher in New York.
After Monday’s win over Utah at The Garden, there are a few things that stand out. First and foremost, they won without Anthony (groin injury, left after six mins) and Stoudemire (death in family). More importantly, you saw the Knicks spread the floor, hit the three, and rebound. Steve Novak hit five threes, and finished with 19 points (in 17 minutes!!!!) off the bench. Iman Shumpert played well and Bill Walker but up 11 and five. Consistent bench production will always separate the great teams from the good ones. D’Antoni loves coaching games like this. Surrounded by shooters, he brilliantly draws up schemes to free up his players for practice shots. With Anthony on the floor, it slows everything down and allows the defense to play man-ball defense, allowing for fewer open shots.
Jeremy Lin is the benefactor of the coaching system, given the opportunity to shine without the likes of the Big Two on Monday. But take their previous game against New Jersey for example. Anthony shot 3-15 from the field, finishing with 11 points. Lin shot 10-17 for 25. Team ball wins, especially in the condensed season where the teams that run, spread the floor, play real pick-and-roll offense (where ‘Melo doesn’t just keep the ball and jack up a 21-footer with three on the shot clock) and defend, usually win the game.
Lin is the king of MSG, at least for now. And Knicks fans aren’t stupid, they’ll figure it out. Anthony’s style of play must change, or D’Antoni needs to sit him at crucial points until he decides to play team oriented ball. But we know that wont happen. So the Knicks will self destruct as their loyal fan base watches in disbelief. With talents like Stoudemire and Anthony on the same squad, drawing up a game plan should be easy. The issue lies within the egos on the floor. Unfortunately, when Anthony packed his bags in Denver, he left his humility in George Karl’s pocket. His first game at the Garden probably didn’t aid in the ego explosion, either.
There is no solution as long as they continue to run the team through isolation plays, poor defense, and a lack of interest (stemming from the boring offense, watching Anthony take on the opposing defense). Anyone else notice that his field goal percentage is below 40%?! The last team to succeed with a player shooting as much as he does at 39.8%? Allen Iverson’s Philadelphia Sixers. And that was because his teams (coached by Larry Brown) played hard-nosed defense.
Something’s gotta give. Either Anthony buys into playing team ball, or a coaching change will force him to buy into team ball. Because the Knicks will NEVER win if they continue to play isolation, one-on-five, watching-Carmelo-play-schoolyard-ball basketball. And play some defense, man. Have some pride.