What scouts are saying at quarter pole
An anonymous scout tells ESPN.com what he'd expect in a playoff series between the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers, starting with Shaquille O'Neal's effect on Dwight Howard [brackets his]:
"Is Shaq in Dwight's head? Yeah, somewhat. It kind of reminds me how Detroit used to give Dwight problems. But Shaq can only do it in spurts. Over the course of seven games, Dwight's youth and athleticism takes over. The biggest X-factor in a Cleveland-Orlando series is whether Vince Carter shows up. If he shows up, they're a team that can go all the way. But Vince needs pats on the back and Stan [Van Gundy] is not that kind of coach. He takes every possession so personally."
BDL's Award Tour, March Edition
Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie finally places Howard atop his list to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. And, for the first time, Howard appears on Dwyer's MVP ballot. Here's why:
Focus on what he doesn't do right all you want, if that's your bag. My bag is to understand that defense is half the game, and that this dominant defender's offensive gifts far outweigh the defensive contributions of some of the players that didn't make my top three.
A New Way to Look at Basket Protection
Tom Haberstroh of Hoopdata, writing again for Hardwood Paroxysm, examines a variety of statistics concerning defending the paint and concludes, "The Magic protect the basket better than any other team in the NBA and they own the third best defense in the land. He’s why." Haberstroh is, of course, referring to Howard.
More after the jump.
The State of APBRmetrics
UPDATE (from Eddy): Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus discusses the state of APBRmetrics, which is the analysis of basketball through objective evidence. APBR stands for the Association of Professional Basketball Research. A must-read.
The state of basketball analysis
UPDATE 2 (from Eddy): Henry Abbott of TrueHoop speaks with Dean Oliver, the author of Basketball on Paper and the director of quantitative analysis for the Denver Nuggets.
Does [the role of advanced statistics] feel a little bit cultural? Sometimes I feel like basketball is the realm of the jocks, some of who object to nerds elbowing their way into the conversation.
[...] It’s an interesting time. Just a couple of weeks ago, I looked at teams that have stats people integrated into the decision process. (Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland and I may have included Orlando -- I’m not certain what they do exactly.) It was seven or eight teams. They had won 60% of their games, and that’s counting Houston, which has only won half their games because they’re missing Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady wasn’t playing.
Orlando Magic look to big picture as they face the lowly Nets
UPDATE 3 (from Eddy): Tania Ganguli notes that the Magic are looking at the big picture as the regular season starts to wind down with 20 games left on the schedule.