For over a decade, the San Antonio Spurs have been one of the NBA’s strongest dynasties, claiming championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007. As Rob Mahoney pointed out in this column over at Hardwood Paroxysm, the Spurs’ identity has changed dramatically over that period, though; they went from a team built around Tim Duncan and David Robinson to one featuring Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to the current version that’s seen expanded roles for Ginobili and other players. One of those players is George Hill, who exploded for 30 points while going 11 for 15 from the field, six for six from the line and two for two from deep in San Antonio’s 119-102 win over Houston last night. He also added seven assists, five steals, two rebounds and a block and was prominently featured in today‘s The Basketball Jones for his efforts.
This wasn’t just a one-off performance from Hill, though. He’s really improved this year, going from 5.7 points, 1.8 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game in his rookie season last year to 12.7, 2.9 and 2.7 respectively this season. A large part of that’s thanks to his increased minutes (29.48 this year versus 16.30 last year) and the way he’s had to step up thanks to Parker’s injury, but he’s become a more efficient player as well. He’s shooting 47.7 per cent from the field this season (a 7.4 per cent improvement over last year) and 40.2 per cent from deep (a 7.3 boost). When Parker started missing games on Jan. 29, Hill got even better thanks to his larger role, scoring at least 10 points in all but four of the 30 games he’s played since that date. However, you probably wouldn’t pick him out as an NBA player if you saw him on the street; Hill stands 6’2” and is only 190 pounds, a frame not that different from some of us reasonably unathletic bloggers. Continue reading →
There are more similarities between Charlotte Bobcats’ forward Boris Diaw and the above Monty Python sketch than just the mere fact that both involve France. The Python sketch, part of this longer piece about flying sheep, involves two Frenchmen trying to demonstrate their plan for international air travel. All the components we’d traditionally recognize on a modern airliner (such as seats and a baggage compartment) are there, but the absurdity is that they’re tucked inside an unaerodynamic package (a sheep) that ruins the entire thing.
In much the same fashion, many of the components of Diaw’s game look to be a perfect fit for the NBA. He’s always done a lot of things well, which was particularly illustrated last season when he averaged 13 points per game (on 51 per cent shooting) and added 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and just under a steal and a block per game. Despite that success in individual aspects of his game, though, the whole package has just never quite seemed to click, and progress in certain areas has been accompanied by declines in others. For example, when Diaw moved from Phoenix to Charlotte midseason, he picked up considerably more playing time and increased his points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steal averages, but his shooting efficiency declined dramatically in the process (from 56.7 per cent to 49.5 per cent). Continue reading →
[I'm bringing back the And Now For Something Completely Different column idea, hopefully to run every Thursday afternoon. The focus each week will be on a different unconventional player, coach, team or strategy. Want to suggest a subject, or give me other feedback? Talk to me on Twitter or by e-mail.]
This week’s subject? Nene, of the Denver Nuggets. Interestingly enough, Nene wasn’t originally his name; that was Maybyner Rodney Hilário. He picked up the nickname “Nene” (baby in Portuguese) when he was a child, supposedly because he was the youngest in his family and in his group of friends. He started playing soccer growing up in Brazil, and apparently didn’t take up basketball until he was 14. Since then, he’s rose through the ranks, playing for the Brazilian national team in the 2001 Goodwill Games and playing club ball with CR Vasco da Gama. He was drafted seventh overall by the Knicks in 2002, but was immediately traded to Denver with Marcus Camby and Mark Jackson for Antonio McDyess, Frank Williams and a second-round pick.* Continue reading →