Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2011 NBA All Star Weekend Recap + Melo thoughts (sport, gambling)

A quick recap and some thoughts, including thoughts on the Melo trade.

Even though Team Texas couldn't hit the half court shot within the 40+ second cushion, they were still a terrific value bet in my opinion.

Once Curry posted a 34 second time (faster than Derrick Rose's previous winning time) after missing two jump shots, it was pretty clear to me that he rated to be the favorite if he made the finals. There were some pretty good odds to be found on him at some online sportsbooks as people didn't convert the fact that the obstacle course was not about point guard skill but rather about putting the ball through a hole.

I was right to throw out the favorite and the scorers in the 3pt contest, but I guess I should have taken all of the underdogs instead of just two.

The slam dunk contest was a disgrace in my opinion. I understand that the judges' scores are subjective, and that there are many times when they just don't know what's going on. A previous example includes the Dwight Howard sticker dunk, and this year I think the Ibaka free throw dunk was also underrated. That being said, I thought it was quite a "coincidence" that Griffin's not-as-impressive second dunk scored him exactly the number of points to guarantee him into the finals, where he had the most elaborate setup of all the dunks, including a car that had a huge logo of the main sponsor. Oh, and let's not forget that voting for the winner began before the finals even started. Yes, let the fanbases, not the dunks, decide the contest.

I understand that it's a novelty event, but it just seems like there could be so much more that can be done with it, and the more serious the players take the contest, the higher the quality of dunks we'll get. My suggestion would be to have a technical score along with an artistic/"bringing it" score like figure skating. That way dunkers will get rewarded for pushing athletic boundaries like longer hang time or bigger spins, and if they miss a dunk, you deduct accordingly. Whereas right now, it's all hype. The Griffin car dunk was not that impressive in my mind technically, with my favorite being McGee ducking underneath the backboard for a backhanded dunk. The last three winners have all gone first in the final, where the third dunk gets the crowd so ramped up that the last dunker has no chance to catch up.

The All-Star game over came in pretty handily, along with the first half over, although there was a little sweating before that cashed. Actually, by the time the game started, the line had moved 5 whole points to 273. It was a pretty boring All-Star game for the most part. I think this was because even though the teams were completely stacked, they were stacked with winning, competitive players. Just like for the dunk contest, there are impressive in-game dunkers who don't translate well to a showcase for dunking. I think that guys like Vince Carter and Allen Iverson, who weren't consistently winners in the league, brought more excitement to the All-Star game.

So the Knicks finally gave in and gutted practically their entire team for Melo. Aside from the obvious pros and cons that everyone has already talked about, I do think having Melo should help get Amare more rest. That's something he desperately needs given the pace he was playing at earlier in the season combined with the fact that he's not exactly the healthiest player around. I do wonder how Melo will fit in with D'Antoni's offense. Billups will love it as he can continue to jack up whatever shot he wants. I think the key to how well the Knicks play the rest of the season will be whether they can find another shooter, either by rejuvenating Roger Mason or by getting Azubuike healthy and playing.

The main takeaway from all this for me was how much of a player/agent league the NBA continues to be. Melo painted himself into a corner, lost all negotiating leverage, and yet still managed to get the Knicks to give up half their starting roster for him.

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