Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mahinmi Swag

This video (and post accompanying it) was brought to my attention several days ago by Twitter follower @KirkSeriousFace. Due to work and general laziness I did not have the time to check it out as soon as I had wanted to. However, I have now and it is some true Ian Mahinmi swag.

If you follow the Beef on Twitter you are probably aware of my many failed attempts to get #MahinmiSwag trending. I cannot help but love the young French center for his general style (President Obama called him the most GQ player on the team) and casual take on life. Oh, and that yell he does before games is pretty alright in a goofy way. He is also a pretty good player in my opinion splitting time at center as the Dallas Mavericks roll out a platoon rotation at that position. But obviously this video is more important than most things in life right now…because there are five Mahinmi’s in it at one point. How awesome is that? This is Mahinmi. This is #MahinmiSwag!

Join me in the Mahinmi revolution.

Hat tip to Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie for the orignal post.

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Is Ramon Sessions breakout bound?

Stealing that extra bow

I have always been a fan of Ramon Sessions since his days in Milwaukee and his one odd and humdrum year in Minnesota. I remained a fan as career stagnated in Cleveland post LeBron, though his numbers were quite good during his first season with the Cavaliers. Better than those of Brandon Jennings in 2010-11, for comparison. Now, Sessions finds himself on one of the most storied franchises in NBA history and he is primed for a breakout moment. The moment I have long been waiting for. The moment to leap into the spotlight and get the attention he deserves. Or at the very least the 15 minutes Andy Warhol guaranteed him.

Though his game is at times methodical and probing, knowing when to and where to get the ball to his teammates, he has flashes of quickness and swagger, pulling up for an open, timely, three or driving the lane in order to collapse a defense and find the open man. In his short time with the Lakers, just four games totaling 100 minutes played, Sessions has shot a whopping 56.7 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from behind the 3-point arc, both of which, if they maintain present form, would blow away his previous highs in these categories (though that is unlikely based on the rule of averages). He has done all this to the tune of 17.3 points per 36 minutes. Yes, it is an incredibly small sample size and he is only playing an average of 25 minutes off the bench, so take everything with a grain of salt, but something has certainly clicked with Sessions and his new team.

The Honeymoon period is always is always a forgiving time, though. Look at the Knicks since Mike D’Antoni left: they haven’t lost. But Sessions has shown these flashes of brilliance in the past. He showed the same prowess once he became a starter to finish the 2008-09 season in Milwaukee and last season in Cleveland. This is more than just a grace period. This is Sessions melding into an offense, and team, he is comfortable with.

His average of six assists per contest further illustrate that point. This was most apparent in the Lakers’ win against a depleted Mavericks team on Wednesday night. Sessions totaled nine assists during that contest, 36 percent of the team’s assists for the evening. Since joining the team, he has tallied 27 percent of the team’s dimes and 41.8 percent of them while he is on the court. His effort is paying dividends for the Lakers’ offense as a whole. Zack Lowe of SI.com expands on just that:

…in the 100 minutes Sessions has played, the Lakers have scored 114 points per 100 possessions, a mark that would lead the league by a mile, according to NBA.com’s stats tool. The Lakers have been more efficient in just about every way possible during those 100 minutes…

With Sessions at the helm, Mike Brown‘s offense is finally making some headway. Lowe continues stating that the Lakers are also shooting more three-pointers with Sessions on the court, but this is largely do to his expended play with the second unit that does not consist of the Laker bigs looming in the post, where the ball is likely headed on many offensive sets.

Again, despite my wishful thinking, this is only the smallest of sample sizes. If they were to predicate a trend it would be a phenomenal one. Nonetheless, it has put Sessions on the map, being in L.A. has helped but his performance is what has made him note worthy and far more viable than any of the other point guards that Los Angeles has employed this season. No one is talking about Andrew Goudelock, after all.

Maybe it is too early to declare a breakout for Sessions. Maybe my dreams will have to wait. Whatever the case, he has certainly made the Lakers a scarier team. I have no doubt that he will secure the starting point guard role before season’s end as Steve Blake has been a shell of whatever he once was. There is obviously still a learning curve for Sessions with his new team and Mike Brown will likely keep him in a reserve role until he feels that Sessions has a solid grasp of the offense. That is understandable.

This is Sessions moment. Now is the time my oddly self-serving desire to see him explode onto the national scene can be realized. The interesting thing is, with Sessions, he does not even need to be stellar. All he needs to do is perform well in a major market with consistency. At least then the casual fan will understand the impact he can have on the game, they will understand that he is a solid player capable of running the offense on a playoff team. No, he isn’t Derrick Rose or Chris Paul but he doesn’t need to be. A breakout for Sessions is the notoriety that he deserves. Through four games he just may have gained it.

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Show some Love for Ersan Ilyasova

Number cruncher

One of the most striking omissions of this contracted season is the amount of coverage concerning Ersan Ilyasova‘s outstanding season. Why is this? Is this because he plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, a team notorious as an island of misfit toys that sits four games under .500? They just acquired Monta Ellis and even then there was barely a peep about Ilyasova. No, his game is not as flashy as the Jeremy Lin breakout, but it is steady and methodical which bodes well when it comes to a player’s duration in the NBA.

As best as I can remember the last time a player was having a great season but was getting little, if any, attention it was Troy Murphy. Through the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons with the Indiana Pacers, Murphy was a double-double machine. During the 08-09 season he averaged 15.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per 36 minutes. The next season he averaged 16.1 points and 11.3 boards. Yet, his play went virtually unnoticed. I seem to recall Marc Stein pointing it out in one of his weekly power rankings (searching for it has produced nothing as yet) but that was about all the attention he garnered.

This season it appears to be Ilyasova’s turn outside of the spotlight which is a same because he is putting together a remarkable season especially in lieu of the injury to Andrew Bogut, before he was dealt to Golden State. Ilyasova is averaging 16.5 points and 11.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. Since being reinserted into the starting lineup on February 17, he has averaged 18.8 points per game and 10.4 rebounds. During this current stretch, Ilyasova has accounted for 17 percent of the team’s total scoring while shooting a staggering 52.8 percent. Twice he has topped the 30-point plateau, scoring 31 and 32 points, with 32 being his career high.

On February 19, he scored 29 points and pulled in 25 rebounds, 13 of which were offensive boards. This game was at least briefly covered on SportsCenter that night but it was an afterthought due to their coverage of Linsanity. (Lin had 28 points and 14 rebounds that day in a comeback win against the Mavericks in case you were wondering.)

Ilyasova leads all Bucks in total rebounding percentage on the season. He collects 17.9 percent of all available rebounds while he is on the floor. With Bogut gone, he also grabs the highest percentage of defensive boards, 23.2, and of all players on the team who see discernible minutes, he has the offensive rebounding percentage at 13.1. Ilyasova is the Bucks’ best player. (Ellis is too new and streaky to qualify.)

The numbers are right there for anyone to see but they are simply being overlooked. Ilyasova’s name should be in every conversation when it comes to the NBA’s Most Improved Player especially now that Lin has been somewhat grounded. Yes, there are other that need to be mentioned, Ryan Anderson for example, but leading a team without an All Star is a far more impressive feat. It will be interesting to see how Ellis is integrated into the system, especially having only played one game with Milwaukee so far against his former team in which Ilyasova sat out with a bronchial condition. Another concern is the addition of Ekpe Udoh, Ilyasova will likely lose some minutes with his arrival. However, that should not decrease his efficiency.

Take note and get on board with Ilyasova. He is having a phenomenal season and we should all enjoy it. The best part is that he is still young and could potentially grow into on of the better players in the league, if he isn’t already. Judging by his numbers, he is.

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Warriors trade Ellis to Bucks for Bogut

Trading places

With the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, teams are weighing their options as rumors, per usual, swirl endlessly. Almost every rumor out there is centered on whether Dwight Howard will remain in Orlando beyond the deadline, which he has stated is his wish, or if he will be traded now so that the Magic can get something in return for their franchise player before he bolts in free agency this summer. Of course, Howard is not the only player that is on the trade block, Atlanta’s Josh Smith has requested to be traded, Carmelo Anthony‘s future in New York is blurred since his return to health and the recent skid the Knicks have been on. The likelihood of the Knicks moving Anthony is highly unlikely after what they gave up to acquire him, though. Paul Gasol is also a name that is currently in everyone’s mouth. Those are just some of the more well known players that have rampant speculation surrounding their every move. At this point, the only official trade that has occurred is between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Golden State Warriors.

Golden State has been looking to make a trade since last summer when Joe Lacob and his associates took over and had been in the thick of the speculation surrounding Howard. Now, however, they have traded Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh, and Kwame Brown to the Bucks in exchange for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. This move effectively removes Golden State from the race for Howard while also giving the team the a quality player in a position it has coveted.

Bogut, though, has been out for much of the season with a fractured left ankle and could potentially miss the remainder of the season as the initial timetable for his return was eight to ten weeks. He sustained the injury on January 25.

His career has been marred with injuries so his acquisition is therefore a risky one. However, Bogut’s presence in the middle, even if it is limited should be a great help to a team that has lacked interior scoring and defense for quite some time.

Any deal that Milwaukee was involved in was going to include Jackson. He fell out of favor with head coach Scott Skiles and was relegated to a bench role which the team reported was to let him recover from a hamstring injury. Statistically, this has been Jackson’s worst season since his sophomore effort. Combine that with his temperament and it is easy to understand why the Bucks were adamant about moving him.

Ellis playing in Milwaukee presents an interesting, if not all too unfamiliar, situation to the one in which played in with the Warriors. With Golden State, Ellis was paired in the backcourt with Stephen Curry. In Milwaukee he will be paired with Brandon Jennings. Ellis and Jennings are actually very similar players. Both have good ball handling skills which allows them to break down defenses but are more prone to take low percentage shots and shoot the ball inefficiently. At present, it is uncertain how they with mesh together on the floor. Ellis is the better pure scorer of the two and should help the sometimes anemic offense that befalls the Bucks but his average could dip.

Acquiring Ellis also begets the question: Are the Bucks planning to trade Jennings? What is the point of starting two similar players in the backcourt? There have been no rumors as yet to Jennings’ future with the team but a trade has to be an option that is now on the table.

As for the other two pieces, Udoh and Brown, it is Udoh with the most upside, and conversely, the most room to fail. Where Udoh fits into Milwaukee’s system will be important to his development. He will likely alternate between the center and power forward slots (those terms seem dated at this point) spelling Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova, and sitting just above Jon Leuer in the rotation. This should effectively give him the minutes he needs but be most be productive. In his six starts with Golden State this season, Udoh has been just that averaging 12 points, 5.5 rebounds, and two blocks. He will not be getting starting minutes in Milwaukee but the sings of promise are there.

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