Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The News About LeBron Isn't News At All

Note: This article will not detail thoughts on where LeBron James will end up signing this summer. For those thoughts, please check out the latest audio version of The Weatha Report here.

Around 8am CST on Tuesday June 24, 2014 I received an ESPN alert on my phone. I glanced down and read that LeBron James' agent had informed the Miami Heat of his client's intentions of opting out of his contract and becoming a free agent. This news set off alarms and whistles across all sorts of platforms. Channels such as ESPN and Fox Sports became all LeBron all the time. Setting up scenarios in which different "teams" were allowed to throw out their best pitch in order to get King James to sign with their teams. Social media was turned on it's head as everything from "Miami Heat" to "bandwagon Heat fans" began to trend. My reaction when I read the alert? 

:Kanye shrug and yawn: 

Not because I was tired, but instead because this wasn't news at all. This was an expected development. I fully expected to hear that LeBron James had opted out. Just like I fully expect to hear that Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have both opted out. Just like I wasn't surprised when Carmelo Anthony opted out. Its why you negotiate an opt out clause in your contract....so you can utilize it. Seems like a completely astute and shrewd move on the part of a player that is universally regarded as not just the best player on the planet, but also a smart business man.

Numerous text messages and conversations would follow throughout the day, all met with a nonchalant response. 

"What's wrong with you? Isn't this a big deal?"

Well, yes and no. Allow me to explain. 

Why LeBron opting out is not a big deal

Let's play a game. Your name for this game is Jim. And you, Jim, work at Joe's Computer Repair Shop. Your boss is the owner, appropriately named Joe. You two have a good working relationship. Over the last four years your partnership has resulted in the company being recognized as one of the top two computer repair shops in your city. Two of those years even resulted in the title of being the best repair shop in the city. The last year resulted in a devastating loss of the title to a rival repair company, but for the most part things are good. Sure, the surrounding cast of employees needs to be updated but there are two repairmen that are considered two of the best around. Hey, it could be worse right? 

When it is time for your employee evaluation you are approached by Joe, who gives you two options:

Option 1: Opt in and stay with the current contract you're working on for another year. It's guaranteed to pay throughout the 12 months. At the end of the year, you have to renegotiate for another contract either with Joe or another company. Not a bad option at all. 

Option 2: Opt out of the contract, sign a new five year contract with Joe's company with the option to opt out of that one after four years, getting a raise in salary each year, with all five years being guaranteed. 

I think the majority of us would select option 2. Lebron doesn't repair computers, that we know of, and his bosses go by the names Mickey Arison and Pat Riley. But I'm sure you get the comparison. Simply put, it is a smart business decision for LeBron or any high profile athlete to opt out of a deal and to take a new deal. Remember, basketball contracts are fully guaranteed for the most part. Once LeBron signs that deal, with whichever team he signs with, he will get all of that money whether he gets injured halfway through or plays the string out. The former MVP doesn't seem to be hurting for money, but you still take the security of a new deal with multiple years as opposed to playing on what essentially works out to be a one year deal. After all, you can't put a price tag on security. 

Why LeBron opting out is a big deal

Even though I was indifferent to the news, I'm not oblivious to it. I understand that there is a flip side to it all. It was thought that Wade, James, and Bosh would all get together and discuss the courses of action that they would take. On Tuesday, James acted solo with Wade saying that there was nothing to report on his end. Is LeBron doing things on his own terms? Have the Big 3 talked about this scenario and it is all apart of a calculated plan on their part? No one seems to know at this point. 

I also recognize that LeBron James is not just the biggest fish in the free agency pond, but that he is the biggest fish in the biggest lake in the world. James isn't called The Chosen One because the moniker is catchy. He's the best player in the world and the face of the NBA. When he makes a move, it creates ripples in the lake known as the NBA. Essentially by throwing his hat in the free agency ring, it prevents other high profile free agents (read: Carmelo) from making any moves at this point. Basically, everyone is frozen until LeBron decides to put pen to paper for a team. Once the biggest domino falls, the rest will follow. And, of course, the biggest reason why this could be a big deal...LeBron could shift the balance of power in the NBA. While we won't get a television special announcing his plans, it is clear that his decision will be anticipated.

The free agency period in the NBA doesn't start until July 1st, but the maneuvering has already started. It is always news when the face of the league is announcing his unemployment, and is waiting to be courted by billionaires waiting to make him even richer while showing him detailed plans on how his championship ring collection can improve under their watch. However, at the end of the day this isn't news. The news didn't start when LeBron's agent informed the Miami Heat brass that the star was opting out. On the contrary, the news starts when LeBron's agent tells a team that his client is bringing (or keeping) his considerable talents to their organization. The fun may have begun, but the news.....well, that will have to wait until after July begins.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Carmelo vs Durant: Who's The Purer Scorer

"Carmelo Anthony is the best pure scorer in the NBA and it isn't even close." 

The above statement was written by yours truly on a social media site the night that Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, setting a New York Knicks and Madison Square Garden record. As I expected, that single statement set off a firestorm of replies. I made that statement as Kevin Durant was in the midst of a streak that hasn't been seen since Tracy McGrady's heyday. At the time Durant was on his ninth straight game of at least 30 points, a streak that would eventually extend to 12 straight games. Predictably, most of the disagreeing posters felt that Durant takes the title of the best pure scorer in the game. I was then challenged to showcase why I believe Melo is as opposed to Durant. As all of you know, The WeathaMan loves a challenge. So let's dive in and find out, at least for now, who is indeed the best pure scorer in the NBA. But first, a couple of notes:

- Let's be real, this question comes down to only these two players. There isn't anyone else that belongs in this discussion. Remember, we are talking about best pure scorer and not the best player in the game. That's a discussion for another day.

- While I believe that Anthony is indeed the best pure scorer, I do not write blogs with any bias or subjectivity. I am willing to allow the argument to be made solely off of the evidence put forth. I also am aware that my opinion may change based on the evidence that will be presented.

- All of the stats and info used in this blog was gathered from basketball-reference.com which can be assessed here. If another source of information is used it will be noted.

- When I say "best pure scorer", let's be clear that it is not based on how many points each one scores. What will be discussed is how each player accomplishes getting the points they score and where on the court these baskets come from. 

- I was prepared to compare each player from the time Durant entered the league until this season. However, I decided to just compare them for this season and last season. Comparing a rookie 19 year old Kevin Durant to a 23 year old Carmelo Anthony who had been in the league for four seasons just didn't seem conducive to the article. It is beyond clear that Durant and Anthony have both been established in the league for a few seasons, and using their last 1 1/2 seasons is not only fair but also sensible.

- Make no mistake about it, I am on trying to say that Durant does not deserve all of the coverage, hype, and praise that he is getting for this season. He has basically carried the Thunder the entire season all while showing improvements in a skill set that had already placed him as arguably the second best player in the game. I am simply of the opinion that Anthony is a purer scorer.

Now that we have all of that out of the way.....

Currently Durant leads the league with a 31.2 ppg average while Anthony is second with a 27.2 average. Out of the last four seasons, Durant has won the league scoring title three times. The other person to win the title in those four seasons was Anthony who is the reigning NBA scoring title champion. It is clear that both players score in volumes, and can light up the stat sheet. However, as has been stated earlier, we cannot confuse quantity of points with quality of points.

Split Value FG FGA FG%


Shot Distance At Rim 246 458 .537


3 to <10 ft 49 132 .371


10 to <16 ft 148 325 .455


16 ft to <3-pt 178 413 .431


3-pt 174 471 .369


The chart above is the breakdown of Anthony's field goals from the 2012-2013 season. As can be seen, Melo did most of his damage at the rim (dunks and layups) and from beyond the arc. When it comes to post ups and mid range those shots combined are less than the 3 pointers that Anthony attempted.


Shot DistanceAt Rim259351.738


3 to <10 ft131282.465


10 to <16 ft159332.479


16 ft to <3-pt133310.429




This chart showcases the breakdown of Durant's field goals from the same season.As it shows, Durant's shot chart is more balanced than that of Carmelo Anthony. Not only that, but the "Slim Reaper's" field goal percentages from each distance is considerably better than that of Melo's with the lone exception being the long two pointers found in the 16 ft to the 3 point arc range. Admittedly this is more than enough evidence to show that as of the 2012-2013 season, Kevin Durant was not only a better shooter but also was a purer scorer. The chart shows that Durant was dangerous anywhere on the court and scored at a higher rate than that of Carmelo. On the other hand, it appears that Melo either drove to the rim or settled for shots beyond the arc. While Melo still scored at a prolific rate, it is easier for defenses to key in when they know you're either going all the way or not going at all.

Uh oh, it appears that my opinion may be a little off base. Let's see what this season has to show:

Shot DistanceAt Rim117195.600


3 to <10 ft3096.312


10 to <16 ft63160.394


16 ft to <3-pt118270.437




So far this season, as you can see, Carmelo has done a better job at being a more balanced scorer when it comes to using the entire court for his assault on the scoreboard. Granted the season is only halfway over, but the improvement is clearly evident. Anthony has improved on his percentage at the rim, and has also improved from 16ft to beyond the arc. Melo is also on pace to post up more frequently than he did last year, which has always been a strong aspect of his offensive repertoire. However, it would be nice if Anthony could improve on that 31% number that represents his post up game. Let's compare this to the chart that Kevin Durant has put together so far this season:

Split Value FG FGA FG%


Shot Distance At Rim 152 191 .796


3 to <10 ft 62 151 .411


10 to <16 ft 81 173 .468


16 ft to <3-pt 75 163 .460


3-pt 97 237 .409


At this point it does appear that Durant's case for being the best pure scorer is getting stronger. The number that immediately jumps out to me is the fact that Durant has increased the rate of shots that he is putting up from 3 to 10 ft which is the post up range. Another impressive point is that Durant has maintained a healthy shooting percentage while increasing his frequency. Durantula is once again showing the basketball world that he is an efficient scorer from all over the court. While Carmelo has the edge in shooting percentage from beyond the arc, it is a somewhat negligible advantage considering that Durant has taken considerably more shots from that range while making more of those shots than Anthony has. 

But, as is common knowledge, numbers can lie so it is important to actually take a look at the facts. Those facts tell us that Kevin Durant is on a tear that is not only taking the NBA by storm but his streak has also managed to take Durant straight to the top of just about every MVP list. While Durant may not be viewed by some as the best player on the planet, he sure is scoring like he is.

At the end of the day, Tha WeathaMan can admit when his argument is not backed up by the facts. Clearly in this situation, my original statement cannot be supported by the evidence and facts that are out there. If Melo is indeed the better purer scorer, it isn't a runaway case. At this point however, I am ready to bestow the title of best pure scorer in the NBA on one man and one man only. This is one title that Kevin Durant doesn't have to wait until June to achieve.



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Richard Sherman: The Man of the Moment

"A cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer."

"A young street ruffian, especially one belonging to a gang." 

That first sentence that you read was the dictionary.com definition for the word thug. The second sentence is the dictionary.com definition for the word hoodlum. Both of these words have been used to describe the man of the hour, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. By now, unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard the interview that sent shock-waves across the Twittersphere and social media mediums everywhere. If you haven't, go ahead and click here to catch up to the rest of the world. 

Now that we have covered the bases of the true definitions of those two words, let's take a few sentences to outline a few things: 

- Graduates high school with a 4.2 GPA and ranked second in his class
- SAT score of 1400 
- Graduates from Stanford with a 3.7 GPA and a Communication degree
- Frequent contributor of time and money to the Compton, CA school district 

Those four points describe Richard Sherman. As you can see, Mr. Sherman doesn't exactly fit the definition of a thug or a hoodlum. Sherman has never had run-ins with the law or been a suspect in any crime. For all purposes, he's been a model citizen in everyday society. If the talking heads really want to use the words thug or hoodlum to describe a NFL player at least use it correctly (eh Aaron Hernandez?). 

Also, during the infamous interview, Sherman made a few proclamations. But here's the thing that most people are missing....HE WAS RIGHT on just about every point. Hands down, Richard Sherman is the best cornerback in the league. In case you want to waste your time arguing that, just take the time to look. Since Sherman entered the league in 2011 he has more interceptions than any other player. Since 2011 he also has more passes defended than any other player. Oh, and just for good measure quarterbacks only have a 39.4 QB rating (the highest a QB can have is 158.3) when throwing passes at the receivers he's covering. In case you didn't guess, yes that is also the best mark in the league. Now while Tha Weatha Report tells you that numbers can lie, the facts don't. The fact that Richard Sherman is indeed the best in the league is easy to see. The one point of Sherman's interview that can be debated is whether or not Michael Crabtree is indeed a mediocre receiver. Crabtree's numbers have improved every season he's been in the league before this past season as he missed most of it with injury. Is Crabtree an average receiver? That's open to interpretation, but that really isn't the main point. 

The point is that Richard Sherman is getting raked over the coals by some all because he essentially spoke the truth. Now granted, maybe he could have chosen his words in a much wiser fashion but what did you expect? Football is an extremely intense and emotional game. After playing 60 minutes in the biggest game of his life and just having made the play of the season to send his team to a Super Bowl we expect an already emotionally charged man to find a way to contain his emotions? Tha WeathaMan isn't buying that and neither should you. We've all said things that we wanted to say, but we chose the wrong words. The only difference is that FOX cameras wasn't in our faces when we said it. Get off your high horse people, Richard Sherman is just the same as any of us after an emotional experience. We say or do things that we normally wouldn't do. Just the way things go. 

At the end of the day, Richard Sherman and his fellow teammates are gearing up for the Super Bowl and 30 other teams are at home. If you don't like what Sherman has to say, you might want to root for a team that can actually beat them. Until then, to the victors go the spoils as they say. You may not like what Sherman said or how he said it, but the FACTS are that he told the truth. And we all know, the truth never lies.