Monday, February 21, 2011

The Week of 1000 Trades: Carmelo Anthony Edition

With the NBA just days away, I figured I commemorate the occasion with 1000 (give or take) trade ideas venturing from entertainingly absurd to soberly realistic.  Today, Carmelo Anthony scenarios.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ranking The Careers of The Dunk Contest Winners

Today, I continue All-Star week at Diminishing Skills by ranking the careers--in actual games, not just dunk contests--of the past dunk contest winners.  Because aren't you just dying to know once-and-for-all who was better:  Harold Miner, or Fred Jones?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why Cavs fans should cheer for an NBA lockout

On Monday's BS Report, NBA commissioner David Stern discussed the very real possiblity of the owners deciding to contract the New Orleans Hornets in the event of a lockout.  While I am almost positive this is just posturing by Stern to gain a little negotiating leverage on the owners' behalf, and while I most certainly don't wish any city to lose a sports franchise after what Cleveland went through with the Browns, if contraction is something that could happen, I definitely want it to happen this year.

 Why?  Dispersal draft, baby.  And, if things hold as they have, the Cavs would almost definitely be holding the first pick, which means hello Chris Paul (although that could then mean goodbye Chris Paul in 2012, but let's dream a little for now).  Going by the standings as of February 15, here's how I see a dispersal draft shaking out.

50 Most Wanted Jerseys Part 2: All-Star Edition

With the NBA All-Star Weekend coming up, Diminishing Skills will be dedicating an entire week to the festivities.  Today, we start things off with part 2 of our riveting 50 Most Wanted NBA Jerseys series.  Appropriately, this installment's focus is on desirable All-Star Game jerseys.  Enjoy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

One and Counting: That was fun while it lasted

Yikes.  If there has been a play that serves as a microcosm of the nightmare that is the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers' season, it has to be John Wall's coast-to-coast layup with 4 seconds left at the end of the first half of the Cavs' 115-100 loss to the Washington Wizards Sunday night.  Wall's score came after a monstrous Christian Eyenga jam (whom some pals and I watched a minor league hockey game "with" one luxury suite over at the Q on Saturday night, and who by all indications does not understand the sport of hockey) that seemed to build some momentum for the hometown Cavs heading into the locker room.  And then Wall waltzed down the court to the opposite hoop, and the game was over, Eyenga's slam all but forgotten.  It was like Friday's exhilarating win over the Clippers (Eyenga's dunk) followed by Sunday's pathetic showing against the Wizards (Wall's layup) compressed into a 5-second sequence.  What a turd sandwich.

Bracket-OGRAPHOLOGY! 2/14/2011

Happy Valentine's Day!  As a very special valentine from me to you, dear reader, I present the 2nd installment of Diminishing Skills Bracket-OGRAPHOLOGY!  All projections are based on an average of ESPN's RPI, Ken Pomeroy's Ratings, and Jeff Sagarin's Ratings, and automatic qualifiers are in italics.  Enjoy.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

One and counting: Let's celebrate!

By now, you should know how we like to celebrate here at Diminishing Skills.  That's right, trade ideas!  In honor of the Cavs' first win in over 50 days, I've decided to forgo the usual boring old salary dumps and instead present a couple of fantasy trades.  The first is my fantasy (well, one of my fantasies), while the other is based on Dan Gilbert's wet dream that this crazy win over the Clippers will propel his beloved Cavaliers back into playoff contention (they're only 15 games back!).  Enjoy.

UPDATE: The Cavs Win...because of witchcraft?

Via Ball Don't Lie:

19 Action News Meteorologist Jason Handman will be attempting to lift whatever curse has befallen Cleveland's beloved home town hoops team with the assistance of Kathy Curran, a local Witch and High Priestess. Curran is a self proclaimed expert in all aspects of the metaphysical realms, including Wiccan culture, astrology, fairies, magic, and an extensive knowledge of herbs and spell casting.
Jason and Witch Kathy will attempt to break the losing spell of the Cavaliers live today in today's 19 Action News at Four, Five, and Six. Fans from around the country can watch these newscasts as they are streamed live, online, at 19 Action
"Kathy has assured me that she has the perfect spell to lift this curse already prepared. If she proves to be successful, she will be forecasting the weather for us as well." Jason Handman says.
Oh, snood, is that Fred McLeod in the corner? (video)

At least that explains him speaking in tongues.

Cavs Win!

What the hell is Fred McLeod saying? (video)

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Case Against Rajon Rondo

Last week, on his podcast the BS Report, Bill Simmons was discussing his upcoming NBA trade value column (here is last year's; it's an absolute must-read) with his buddy Joe House.  As they made their way through the list, I was not at all surprised that Rajon Rondo made his top 13.  While I allowed for the fact that he was probably 5-10 spots too high thanks to Simmons's Boston leanings, I accepted such a lofty ranking for Rondo thanks to his standing among Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook as the premier young point guards in the league and his relatively team-friendly contract.  The more I thought about it, though, the more I wondered if Boston would really turn down a Chris Paul-for-Rondo deal (as Simmons ascertains*), or even a John Wall-for-Rondo deal.

INTERNET Road Trip: 2/11/11

Here's some interesting items to get you through the rest of your work week:

    Josh Cribbs Is Your Greater Cleveland Sports Professional Athlete of The Year

    I was alerted of this news mere moments ago by Diminishing Skills buddy and sometime-contributor MattyWill.  His reaction is the same as I'm sure yours is right now:  what?  Cribbs had a career-low in just about everything, averaging 20.4 yards per kick return and failing to reach the end zone on special teams for the first time in his career.  Since I'm working on a couple of big projects that are taking a little longer than anticipated, here is a lift of more deserving successful Cleveland pro athletes from 2010 to hold you over until I get that ish didz.

    1. Um....
    2. Didn't Hafner, oh, nope...
    3. Carlos Santan--shit, that's right, his knee...
    4. Christian Enyega?  No, too foreign...
    5. Joe Thomas?  No, too Wisconsin...
    6. Does (do?) the Force still exist?  How about the Crunch?
    7. Rick Vaughn?  Roger Dorn?  Jake Taylor?
    8. WWE World Champion the Miz?  He doesn't play here, but he is from Parma.  Wait a minute!  Home-grown boy, finding success elsewhere, I've got it!
    8.You're 2010 Greater Cleveland Sports Professional Athlete of The Year is...


    Congratulations, douche bag.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    26 And Counting: Shuffling Furniture On The Deck of the Titantic

    Well, the Cavs lost again, this time in humiliating fashion to the Detroit Pistons.  So why not celebrate with a trade with those very Pistons?

    Trade #1

    Cavs get:
    Richard Hamilton
    Charlie Villanueva
    Ben Gordon
    Jason Maxiell
    Detroit's 2011 2nd Round Pick

    Pistons get:
    Antawn Jamison
    Mo Williams
    Anthony Parker

    Who is the Cavs best player, or, Who will the Cavs dump within the next 18 months?

    Hoops Analyst has yet another great post up (seriously, you should check them out) about the Cavaliers' futility.  The first section deals with essentially the same stuff you've probably already read or seen elsewhere, but it's the second part that really caught my eye.  "Bill James once observed that one of the problems with bad teams is that they tend to blame their best players for futility when, in fact, the ire should be focused on the bad players," the section begins, and then the author goes through the worst teams of the past 22 seasons and relays the fate of each of those teams' best player.  It is interesting that really the only "best player" to stick it out is Big Z after the Ricky Davis/Darius Miles year, but what really got me thinking is if the Cavs have the worst best player of that time period (Ramon Sessions, with an 18.1 PER)?

    Probably not, considering the 2004-05 Atlanta Hawks were led by Tyronn Lue's 16.2 PER (which I guess is why they passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 draft).  The only competition Lue has is Johnny Newman's 14.9 PER for the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets, who at 11-71 are one of the most criminally forgotten terrible teams ever.  I was always convinced Newman would become a head coach since I figured he must have some kind of insane intangibles or basketball acumen to consistently get work in the NBA for 16 seasons despite never posting a PER above 15.5, but instead, Johnny got himself a sweet website.


    Wednesday, February 09, 2011

    Duke V. North Carolina, in the Battle of Who Could Care Less

    It's Duke-North Carolina night, and while I'm sure ESPN is promoting the hell out of it (I don't really know, since I don't get the channel), but all the match-up does for me is produce an audible "Meh."  (Apparently agrees, since there is nary a mention of this famed and storied rivalry on their front page as of 12:45 PM Wednesday.) 

    When's the last time this game actually mattered?  Going by rankings in the main polls, 2009, when Duke lost twice to North Carolina but both teams were firmly in the top 10.  I'd argue, however, that it didn't really matter that year because the Tar Heels were a juggernaut, as they soon proved in the NCAA tournament.  In 2008, #2 Duke beat #3 UNC in Chapel Hill, but I wonder how much that result really meant considering #1 UNC beat #5 Duke in Durham a little over a month later.

    More importantly, I don't think any ACC game matters this season.  The ACC is garbage, with Duke and the late-charging Tar Heels looking like the only teams capable of doing anything in March.  While it is nice to have two very good teams in a conference, the same thing can be said about BYU and San Diego State in the Mountain West, and those teams are hounded by UNLV and New Mexico while Duke and UNC feast on the likes of mediocre squads such as Maryland and Florida State.

    Is this sour grapes from a bitter cynic absolutely exhausted by Duke-UNC coverage, who's first college basketball experience was heartbreak watching that douche Christian Laettner knock Kentucky out of the tourney with a lucky shot, who's roommate at Kent State constantly sang Petey Pablo whenever the Tyler Hansborough was on the TV screen, and who hates Roy Williams and Coach K with equal vitriol?  Perhaps.        

    Playing The Lotto #1

    As the Cavs continue their march towards infamy, it is increasingly likely (if not assured) that the Wine & Gold will have the worst record in the NBA.* 

    *At 8-44, Cleveland has a 4.5 game "lead" on Minnesota, who are next worst at 12-39.  The Cavs are also the only team with a double-digit point differential; unfortunately, it's a negative double-digit point differential (-11.9 points per game; the next worst is Washington, at -6.5).  The NBA record is -15.2 points per game, held by the 1992 Dallas Mavericks, so at least the Cavs should avoid that infamy.  This terrible deficit in points has of course led the Cavaliers to not only be at the bottom of the major statistic-based ranking systems (30th in John Hollinger's Power Rankings; 30th in Basketball Reference's BBR Rankings), but be at the bottom of those rankings by a healthy margin (3.489 points behind #29 Toronto in Hollinger's, with the next biggest gap between consecutive teams being #25 Sacramento's 2.072 lead on #26 Minnesota, with their -11.06 rating at BBR coming in a whopping 4.85 behind #29 New Jersey, which is overwhelmingly the largest gap between consecutive teams).  So, yeah, the Cavs are bad.

    Tuesday, February 08, 2011

    25 And Counting

    I wouldn't mind seeing Bill Walker do this in the Q.

    As the Cavs firmly plant themselves in the record book for all of the wrong reasons, let's celebrate with another trade idea to save them from themselves.

    Trade #1

    Cavs get:
    Eddy Curry
    Bill Walker
    Anthony Randolph
    Jamal Crawford

    Knicks get:
    Carmelo Anthony
    Al Harrington
    Mo Williams

    Nuggets get:
    Wilson Chandler
    Toney Douglas
    Kelenna Azubuike
    Jeff Teague
    Danilo Gallinari
    Miami's 2013 #1 pick ( via Cleveland)
    Atlanta's 2012 #1 pick

    Hawks get:
    Chauncey Billups
    Timofey Mozgov

    Diminishing Skills Bracket-OGRAPHOLOGY!!!

    Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Diminishing Skills Bracket-OGRAPHOLOGY.  Really, I just wanted to see how the NCAA tournament field would look if it started today (actually, late Sunday night), and since it took me about 3 hours to work my bracket out, I figured I might as well make a post of it.  I'm going to try to do this every Monday until the actual tourney field is announced, but I'm not going to promise anything.  The field was filled by putting in the 32 automatic qualifiers (the leaders of each conference as of Sunday, February 6), and then determining the remaining 36 teams by taking an average of Ken Pomeroy's ratings, ESPN's RPI, and Jeff Sagarin's ratings.  The results are as follows (AQs in CAPS):

    Thursday, February 03, 2011

    Three Trades To Change The Cavs

    (Who the hell is Alonzo Gee?)

    When my girlfriend and I decided to forgo getting cable, I was concerned I would miss watching the Cavs.  As the losses pile up in ever-more humiliating fashion, however, I feel more and more like not getting cable was the the best decision I've made in years.  It has become exceedingly apparent that even though there may be some talent on the roster, the Cavs need to turn that roster over, and soon.  There is just too much of a funk hanging over these guys, and it would probably be best if they all tried to reclaim their careers elsewhere.  Hence, my three trade ideas to change the Cavs.  Notice I'm not promising to make the Cavs any better; in order for them to win at the the level Clevelanders have become accustomed to the past 5 or so years, the Cavs are going to need some serious lottery luck (in very likely more than one lottery).  No, these trades will only clear out the bad vibes of the post-LeBron era, while hopefully leaving the roster flexible for future building.  There is no building happening this year; instead, the goal for the remainder of the season should be exorcising every last vestige of this horrible, horrible team.  (Please note: I don't really understand how the trade exception works, so it is entirely possible all three of these trades cannot happen congruently.  Please forgive me if this is the case.)

    Super Bowl Facts: Receiving

    • In the past 10 Super Bowls, seven different players have gained over 100 yards receiving, led by Deion Branch's 143 in Super Bowl XXXVIII.  The others include: Mushin Muhammed (140, also in XXXVIII); Branch again (133, XXXIX); Terrell Owens (122, also in XXXIX); Hines Ward (123, XL); Wes Welker (103, XLII); Larry Fitzgerald (127, XLIII); and Santonio Holmes (131, also in XLIII).
    • Of those seven players, three were named Super Bowl MVP (Holmes, Ward, and Branch in XXXIX).  
    • Three different players have caught at least 10 passes, led by Branch (XXXIX, although he also caught 10 in XXXVIII) and Welker's 11.  The other player is actually running back Joseph Addai, who caught 10 balls in XLI.
    • Fitzgerald and Keenan McCardell (XXXVII) are the only two players to catch 2 touchdown passes in a single Super Bowl.  They share the lead for total touchdowns in the decade with Muhsin Muhammed (XLI & XXXVIII); Mike Vrabel (XXXVIII & XXXIX); Ricky Proehl (XXXVI & XXXVIII); and David Givens (XXXVIII & XXXIX).  Vrabel, of course, is the only defensive player to score an offensive touchdown.
    • The lowest yardage total to lead a team is Ike Hilliard's 30 yards for the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.  The lowest reception total to lead a team is Ben Coates and Brandon Stokely's 3 for the Ravens in that same Super Bowl.
    • The best performance by a tight end is probably Dallas Clark's 7 catches for 87 yards in last year's Super Bowl.  Other than that, there haven't really been any tight end performances of note in the past 10 years.
    • The longest pass reception is Muhammed's 85-yard touchdown in XXXVIII, the longest play from scrimmage in Super Bowl history.  The next longest is Fitzgerald's 64-yard TD catch in XLIII.
    • Kevin Faulk is the only player to finish in the red in receiving yards, tallying 1 catch for -1 yards in Super Bowl XXXVI.
    • Priest Holmes had one catch for 4 yards for Baltimore in Super Bowl XXXV.  I forgot that he had played for them.
    • Muhammed (Carolina and Chicago), Proehl (Carolina and St. Louis), Jermaine Wiggins (Carolina and New England), and Joe Jurevicius (Tampa Bay and Seattle) are the only players to catch a pass for two different teams.  Muhammed and Proehl both caught TD passes for each of their respective teams, as well.
    • Antwaan Randall-El is the only non-QB to throw a touchdown (to Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL).

    Wednesday, February 02, 2011

    A Joke

    A joke my dad told me:

    "So, the Browns find themselves at the end of their rope by the end of next season.  McCoy isn't the answer, and Holmgren and the front office brass aren't sure who is, so they gather up the scouting department and issue an edict to scour the Earth for a quarterback.  They send scouts all over the country, to every college and nearly every high school, up into Canada, down into Mexico, across Europe, and even into China and India.  While in India, a frazzled scout nearly at the end of his rope gets word of an Afghani teenager who is single-handedly keeping the Taliban at bay in his village.  The story goes that Taliban warriors seized control of a six-story security tower in the middle of the village and began sniping people from above, so this kid lobbed a grenade six stories straight up, right into their laps, killing them all.  Then, even more amazingly, the kid took it upon himself to eliminate a hijacked personnel carrier the Taliban were using to mow villagers down with machine-gun fire by throwing a grenade 200 yards on a line straight into the passenger-side window.  After seeing tape of the kid's heroics, the scout knew he had his man.  After finally tracking the Afghani hero down, the scout loaded him on a plane and returned to Cleveland.

    Fast-forward two years.  The kid turns out to be a natural leader, and an even more natural quarterback, and he ends up leading the Browns to a Super Bowl victory.  After being named Super Bowl MVP, he calls his mother.  'Mama! Mama! I did it! I'm Super Bowl champion!'

    'Enough with this!' the boy's mother exclaims, nearly in tears. 'I don't want to hear another word about football or the Super Bowl!'

    'But mama,' the boy stammers, amazed at his mother's scorn. 'Football and the Super Bowl have made us wealthy, and have risen me to the pinnacle of Western culture!'

    'Well, they can keep it!' his mother cries.  'Ever since you signed with these Browns, your brother's been kidnapped, your sister's been raped, and I can't even go to the market without fearing that I will return and my home will be ransacked again.  Why, oh why, did you make us move to Cleveland?!!'" 

    Super Bowl Facts: Passing

     Before I dive in to today's Passing Facts, I just wanted to mention a couple of things I forgot to mention in the Rushing Facts post.

    • In the past 10 Super Bowls, no running back has been named MVP.  The last time a running back won was 1997, when Terrell Davis led the Denver Broncos to victory in Super Bowl XXXII.  In fact, dating back to 1990, only 3 running backs have been awarded the Pete Rozelle Trophy: Davis, Emmitt Smith (XXVIII), and Ottis Anderson (XXV).
    • Both the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers have had rushers tote the ball at least 20 times in every game they've played this postseason.  The Packers' James Stark has carried the ball 23, 27, and 22 times in each of his games, while Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendehall has games of 20 and 27 carries.  
    • The Saints and the Colts had no back carry the ball more than 20 times in last season's road to the Super Bowl, while the Steelers again had two (Willie Parker, 27, 24) and the Cardinals had one (Edgerrin James, 20) in the 2009 playoffs.  
    With that out of the way, on to today's Facts.  Oh, I also forgot to mention in the previous post that I'm only going over the previous 10 Super Bowls.  As much as I'd love to comb through all 44 of the previous games, I simply don't have the time.  Maybe next year.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2011

    Super Bowl Facts: Rushing

    • In the past 10 Super Bowls, there have been only 5 players who have rushed the ball more than 20 times.  The leader is Michael Pittman with 29 attempts in Tampa Bay's 48-21 shellacking of Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII, followed by Jamal Lewis's 27 (XXV), Antowain Smith's 26 (XXXVIII), Dominic Rhodes's 21 (XLI), and Shaun Alexander's 20 (XL).  Every player but Alexander was part of a winning effort.
    • The lowest number of rushing attempts to lead a team during that same stretch is Charlie Garner's 7 in Super Bowl XXXVII.  The Raiders as a team attempted only 11 rushes on the day.  The only other teams that failed to have an individual carry the ball at least 10 times include the 2009 Arizona Cardinals (Edge James, 9), and last year's Saints (Pierre Thomas, 9).  The Saints, of course, are the only team of the three to win.
    • No player has rushed for more than one touchdown in a single Super Bowl during the past 10 games.  In fact, only 10 rushing touchdowns have been scored total, by all teams, in the past 10 Super Bowls, two of which were scored by quarterbacks (Kurt Warner, XXXVI; Ben Roethlisberger, XL [although Big Ben's TD should probably be credited to the refs]). 
    • The highest single-game rushing total belongs to Pittman, with 124 yards.  Only 3 other players eclipsed the century-mark: Jamal Lewis (101, XXXV); and Dominic Rhodes (113) and Thomas Jones (112, on an impressive 15 carries), both in Super Bowl XLI.
    • The lowest single-game rushing total (by a running back) belongs to Gary Russell, who ran for -3 yards on 2 carries in Super Bowl XLIII (but did manage to fall into the end zone).  The lowest total by a back with at least 10 carries is Mike Alstott's 15 yards on 10 carries in the oft-mentioned Super Bowl XXXVII.  Like Russell, Alstott also found his way into the end zone. 
    • Only 3 backs carried the ball more than 10 times in two seperate Super Bowls: Antowain Smith, Willie Parker, and Joseph Addai.  Smith leads all rushers in the past decade with 175 total yards, followed by Addai's 154, and Parker's 146.  Strangely, Addai has rushed for exactly 77 yards in both of his Super Bowl appearances. 
    • In the past 3 Super Bowls, no back has carried the ball more than 14 times, which both Brandon Jacobs and Laurence Maroney did against each other in Super Bowl XLII.  In the past 2 Super Bowls, only one back in each game carried the ball at least 10 times (Parker, 10, XLIII; Addai, 13, XLIV).
    • The only team with more than one rushing touchdown in a single game was the 2005 Steelers, who got touchdowns from Willie Parker and Ben Roethlisberger.