My thoughts on Avery being fired

On the Nets Firing Avery Johnson

Anytime I talk about coaching, I’m talking solely about “in-game” management. Practices, game review, and other aspects of player development happen behind the scenes. I have theories about which coaches do these things better than others, but for me to speculate on that would be little more than guesswork.

When I’m watching a game, I don’t have to guess  I can see a coach’s substitution patterns, his clock management, and the matchups he’s looking to exploit. When I talk about coaching, I’m talking about what I can see.

This makes the Brooklyn Nets’ decision to fire Avery Johnson a bittersweet one. Of all the current head coaches, I think Avery has been the most lucrative for me, not necessarily because I was betting against his teams. But rather I had a good handle on how he approached the game.

Most people know about my all-in Lakers title bet in 2000, but my biggest “one-time” score was in 2007. That’s the year Avery Johnson coached the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks all the way to the playoffs, only to have them lose in six games to the No. 8 seed Golden State Warriors.

Dallas went into the series an 11-1 favorite, with the league’s best record at 67-15. 

They had the second-most efficient offense (1.11 ppp) but were 28th out of 30 in pace. They played slow but it worked because they had the league’s best offensive half-court player in Dirk Nowitzki. 

Without going into too much detail, one reason I really liked GSW to win that series was because I felt that Avery would try to play slow against them, and I didn’t think this was a good strategy. There were other factors that influenced the bet, but that was the predominant one.

You aren’t going to win a lot of game against a transition team like GSW if you aren’t scoring in transition as well — especially when your half-court offense consists of jumpshots. Dirk was (and is) an amazing offensive player, but he’s a jump-shooting big man.

It’s okay to want to slow the game down and pound the ball inside the immediate basket area. But it’s extremely difficult to have proper floor spacing when your power forward is 15 to 17 feet from the basket, and your point guards and wings are below the free throw line extended. This type of offense leads to easy fast breaks the other way, even off of makes.

During that playoff series, Dallas averaged 13.28 seconds per offensive possession compared to GSW’s 10.92 seconds. That explains the average fast break points per game:

Dallas: 13.83

GSW:  25.50

Good luck winning 4 out of 7 when you’re gifting the other team 11+ fast break points per game.

Avery Johnson loves having his team play at a slow pace because it allows him to control the flow of the game. You might be able to get away with that when you’ve got Dirk on your team, but NBA basketball generally doesn’t lend itself to that kind of coaching.

Consider that the shot clock is only 24 seconds. By the time the ball is inbounded to the point guard, if he has to look to the coach to get the play, and then communicate it to the players, you’re reduced to a 10-13 second clock. If the defense takes away the first option, you are now looking at trying to get something off with 3-5 seconds left on the clock. 

Brooklyn may not have the personnel to be a fast-breaking team, but Deron Williams is a decent point guard who knows how to get a team into good sets. It’s extremely inefficient to have Deron looking to Avery on every possession to get the play call.

Plenty has been written about Brooklyn’s inability to score in the 2h. Here are the numbers:

1st half: 1.10 ppp

2nd half:  .99 ppp

I put the blame on Avery, who is almost certainly calling more plays in 2h than 1h.

Avery Johnson is the same micromanaging coach in 2012 that he was in 2007, without a Dirk Nowitzki to protect him from his Control Freak ways.

The Fans in Brooklyn may not miss Avery Johnson the head coach, but me and my bottom line sure will.

Hiring a Programmer

We are currently looking to add another programmer(s) to do a project for our team. Experience in python, django and mysql, as well as parsing html and xml is a must. 

Knowledge of sports is a plus but not necessary.

*Job Description**:

Offering contract work for an experienced programmer to develop specialized software to automate interactions with various websites.  Telecommuting only.


* Proficiency with Python/Django a must.

* Experience with MySQL, HTML/XML parsing.

* Javascript and its related technologies, (AJAX, jQuery)

* Knowledge of internet security a plus.

* Committed, hard worker and self-motivated.

*E-mail contact;

*Contract Work

*Telecommuting Only

Heroes and Villains in Poker

People have asked how I was impacted by  Black Friday and the FTP fiasco and while I heavily sympathize with the people who have had their money tied up and held hostage since Black Friday, I didn’t have any money on deposit with Full Tilt so it didn’t really impact me in the normal sense. I did however almost buy a piece of FTP around 2004 and am owed money by an owner of FTP so it has impacted me.

Around 2004 I came extremely close to buying a 2 or 3% share of Fulltilt Poker my main concern wasn’t really IF I was going to buy a percentage of FTP, but how rather how much I was going to buy (I was offered up to 3 percent).  

Read More

NBA catch up post

For a guy who actually thought about being a writer in university, I must say that I find it painfully difficult to actual write anything longer than 140 characters. You can blame it on texting or twitter, but I think spending the better part of my adulthood watching 5-6 different basketball games simultaneously on 6 tv’s probably deserves some blame.

That being said,  Its been quite some time since my last entry so consider this an NBA recap of sorts. 

They were who we thought they were

I predicted the Miami Heat to run roughshod over the rest of the NBA when they assembled their “big three” of LBJ, Dwade and Bosh in 2010. I was wrong. Sort of.

back then I wrote;

OKC provides a glimmer of hope - if they can add one more great player then they have a shot in a few years time. They have Westbrook who has the ability to be a decent defender, as does Harden. And they have a relative defensive ace in Thabo Sefalosha, but nobody with enough size to handle LeBron. The players in the league who are best suited to handle LeBron,  Artest, Pierce, and Battier are all on the wrong side of 30.

Get back to me when Lebron is 31 because for the next 5 years it’s over.

Read More

Best and Worst on Offense

The stat I like to use most to determine how effective a players offensive production has been (individually) is points per possession or ppp.

ppp basically tells us how many points per possession your team scored when you were the offensive player who ended the possession. Baskets are positive, misses, and turnovers are negative. 

The one thing you’ll notice with ppp numbers is that by and large they are dominated by guys that shoot (and make) a lot of 3 pointers. In general catch and shoot 3 point shooters are usually near the top of the list. PPP is highly contextual, its really useful to compare players who perform similar tasks, but not that useful in comparing players with disparate skill types.

Read More

High Stakes Poker

I got an email a little while back from Mori of PokerProductions asking if I’d like to take part in the upcoming season of High Stakes Poker. For those unfamiliar with High Stakes Poker here is the wiki link. I used to play quite a bit of poker from 2005-2007 some would even say I actually played it quite well.

In the last few years I have been preoccupied with other things, so I haven’t much interest in playing poker. Truthfully the high stakes live poker scene kind of peaked in 2007, in 2007 you’d have all kinds of drop ins playing high stakes, guys like Pete the Plumber would show up one weekend gamble pretty high - win some / lose some. Then vanish.

In the summer of 2007 there was a regular 100-200 NL game, along with a few 200-400 blind NL games, these games were regularly filled with people who were willing to (and quite often destined to) lose large sums of money as if it was their job.

Read More