Were approximately half way through the season. Let's evaluate our team. To get us started, here are some grades based on observing nearly every home game so far ...
Tinsley. Has shown a renewed interest in playing, even going on the floor after food poisoning. Performance is inconsistent. Has too many forced turnovers. Shooting is a weakness. Quickness has disappeared so his defense against dribble penetration is terrible. Calm demeanor makes his will-to-win hard to measure. Suspect, he's very competitive but keeps it inside so, who knows? Grade: C
Foster. Remains an excellent rebounder for a guy who can't jump. Does this with savvy and experience. Plays defense the 'right way' -- with positioning and his feet. Help defense is first-rate. Offense, even free throw shooting, is at a 4-year low. This really hurts as it enables opponent to double team JO and kills any chance of a give-and-go or backdoor play. On this team, Steve Nash would not be an MVP when pass-after-pass bounces off your starting center's hands. Appears to handle starting or coming off the bench with emotional maturity. Probably a good team mate off the court. Grade: C-
Armstrong. Great energy. Truely wants to win. Can't tell if he improves team chemistry. Would think his butt slapping and declaration that 'I'm the second coach' would not wear well with other veteran players. Good ball handler. Shouldn't ever shoot a 3 -- especially after he's played 10 minutes as his legs are toast. Pressures the ball which takes a couple of seconds off the opponent's clock on every possession. Grade: B+
Daniels. Best penetrator on the team. Can take the ball to the basket when nothing else is working. Of course, this cuts O'Neal's 'touches' so maybe that explains why he's in Rick's doghouse. Rebounds well for a two. Defense is solid. PT should be doubled in 2nd half of season. Grade: B+
O'Neal. JO's game has shown no real improvement over the past three seasons (has he peaked?). Is he 'old' after so many games and seasons? Can't tell if the "give-me-the-ball so I can back into double coverage and throw up a low-percentage turnaround jumper" offense is coming from Rick's 'controlling personality' or if it's just the way he plays. He's Mr. Windex on the defensive board but he's rarely in position to get a put-back when we shoot the ball. Defense is hard to evaluate. He plays with his hands but gets away with it because he is a consumate shot-blocker. Get's faked off his feet a lot because he dosn't know how to play defense -- and, Rick hasn't bothered to teach him. Generally, we don't ask him to play the other team's top front line player. Seems like a franchise player making $17M/year should be able to do so (example: Garnett). Leadership ability is marginal. Suspect teammates (present and past) don't care for his need to do all the shooting. If he's traded this summer, suspect we'll hear a great sigh of relief from the locker room. Grade: B- (relative to what's expected and what he's paid).
Granger. Nice offensive game. Handle's the ball well for a three. Stopped rebounding this season -- not sure why. Not impressed with his defense. Last night, Chicago's Deng burned him for at least 10 points in the first quarter. Don't understand why Rick consistently asks him to guard people that outweigh him and are considerably taller. Perhaps so JO can save his energy for a triple team turnaround jumper. Handles on-court pressure well. Mouth is alway under control. Suspect he's well liked by team mates. Grade: B
Greene. Can't handle the ball. Mr. Turnover. Too much energy spent trying to change referee decisions (can you say, "Jackson"?). No offensive game. Defense is limited because he's prone to foul. Boston was right. He's not NBA material. Grade: F
Dunleavy (based on just 2 games). Interesting. Lots of energy. Can shoot and should have license to let-fly from anywhere on the court. Better rebounder than I expected. Can't dribble. Ball-handling skills suspect as he had unnecessay turnovers last night, anyway. He's got long arms and height which are great for defense. Footspeed is suspect. Emotional IQ seem OK on court. Is probably not a popular team mate in the locker room (Dukey! vs. High School) but is smart enough to keep his mouth shut. Grade -- again, after just 2 games: B
Evaluations for Bastion, Murphy, Harrison, etc. I leave to the board regulars. But now, let's discuss our Coach.
Rick. Controlling. Inability to adjust coaching style to player personnel. Has yet to design a play that gets us a good shot in the final seconds of a quarter. Players in his system don't 'get better'. Guess h can't teach. Runs a lax training camp (just ask the boys at the strip club why they had enough energy left over to party all-night). Handles press well. Rarely criticises his players in public. Classy face of the franchise. However, he plays favorites which is tough on team morale. If you're in his dog pen, you'll soon have splinters. Rotation is by the clock rather than who's hot and what's working. In terms of the locker room, suspect players respect him but don't like him. Grade: C-
These are the grades from Professor Madison. Anyone care to add their two cents?