Is Antoine Walker For Real?

Dateline: 11/21/97
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AFTER SEEING ANTOINE WALKER play so well against the New Jersey Nets on TV, I started to believe the hype surrounding him. When a big man can shoot, pass, and rebound like that, he's unstoppable.

  • Unfortunately for Boston, Walker doesn't normally shoot, pass, and rebound like that. His field goal percentage, free throw percentage, three-point percentage, assists, and rebounds in that game were all better than his season averages. Walker's offensive and defensive ratings in that game were 110.8 and 89.5; his season numbers prior to that game were 91.3 and 98.5.
  • At last count, 66 NBA players were shooting 50% or worse from the line. That is almost 20% of all the players in the league. Aside from the well-chronicled ones like Shaq, Rodman, Chris Dudley, and Nick Anderson, there is also Tim Duncan, Stacey Augmon, Chris Gatling, Greg Ostertag, Bob Sura, Cedric Henderson, Tyrone Hill, Calbert Cheaney, Tim Thomas, and Jermaine O'Neal.
  • The javascript calculator of last week's article can also be used to evaluate individuals. For example, if you really think that Antoine Walker should score on 50% of his possessions, what is the chance that he would score on only 70 of 152? Plug in to the calculator the values 0.5, 70, and 82 (=152-70). You find that if he truly does have a 50% floor percentage, he has only a 19% of scoring on 70 (or fewer) possessions out of 152.
  • The biggest disappointment thus far is Toronto. Damon Stoudamire has played well, but last year's surprises Walt Williams and Doug Christie have been reminding everyone why they were obtained so cheaply.
  • The second biggest disappointment is Detroit. The Pistons' offseason personnel moves were bad, losing Otis Thorpe and Terry Mills, while picking up Brian Williams, who has made just about every team he's joined worse than it had been. But it is Grant Hill's inability to hit the open jumpers that is accentuating the team's troubles.
  • Given how well Orlando has done without Penny Hardaway and how well Detroit did in one game without Grant Hill, it makes you wonder whether these do-it-all kind of players do-too-much.
  • After Atlanta's first loss, a 21 pointer to the Knicks, they had outscored their first 12 opponents by an average of 2.5 points per game. That scoring margin usually equates to a team that wins only 7 or 8 of those 12, not 11.
  • Despite having two great defensive players in David Robinson and Tim Duncan, history's trend showing that Twin Towers do not necessarily make a great defense is proving accurate. The Spurs are playing better than average defense, but can't match the Knicks, the Bulls, or the Cavs in their ability to stifle another offense.
  • The Lakers are looking like the best team in the league, but Rick Fox is struggling, Shaq is hurt again, and both Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel are playing over their heads. The team will come down to earth in January, but if the gains by Jones, Van Exel, and Robert Horry are real, the team will be the best in the west. If Kobe Bryant is hitting his J, then they're even tougher.
  • Woof-woof! Allen Iverson is continuing the improvement of his rookie year, putting up numbers reminiscent of a younger Jordan. Stephon Marbury had 15 turnovers in his last two games.
  • Just as Jordan inspired bald heads, Iverson is inspiring corn rows. Just as no one could live up to Jordan...
  • Anyone who tells you that Miami is surviving just fine without Alonzo Mourning is a fool. Miami allowed opponents more than 100 points only 11 times last year. They have allowed 100 points or more 6 times in their first 11 games this year.
  • Scoring is slightly down this season, but the NBA shouldn't worry. This is the first time in more than a decade that the pace of the game has actually picked up. The great offensive players may be getting old, but at least the younger guys are starting to force a faster pace. I don't know for sure, but I think the longer three-point line may also have something to do with it...