Friday, October 10, 2008

Motivation for tonight's game

Do players have a hard time getting up for preseason games? I don't know the answer to that question, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Sure, there's pride and competitive nature, but lets be real; there are 82 games, at a minimum, that actually count, and this ain't one of them. I could see how it might be difficult to psych yourself up in the exhibition season, especially on a neutral court with half of the team already injured.

But here's some motivation, at least for Brandon Roy: In a head-to-head comparison in Hoop Magazine (the official mag of the NBA), B-Roy is topped by Joe Johnson, for reasons that I'll let Hoop explain.

On defense:
Johnson has never been asked to check the opponent’s perimeter stud (that duty usually fell into the hands of Josh Childress), but with J-Chill off to the Mediterranean, Johnson might be asked to step up his defensive role. He certainly has the size to even match up against LeBron James; however, JJ’s problem will be against the smaller guards who rely on speed and quickness (think Dwyane Wade), where his lack of lateral quickness will be exposed. Because Johnson has the luxury of having a shotblocker like Josh Smith behind him, he can gamble for steals (he gets about one per game).


This is the one area of Roy’s game that still needs plenty of work. He has pretty good size for a guard, but his foot speed isn’t good enough to keep up with the NBA’s more explosive slashers. He has, however, improved on his ability to at least channel his opponents into the paint for the bigs to contend with, something that will no doubt be an attribute with Greg Oden finally joining the frontline—a bunch already plenty big and versatile—this season.

Advantage: Johnson
Uh, excuse me? Joe Johnson is a better defender than Brandon Roy? Did the world just start rotating backwards? Is there another Joe Johnson who plays for the Hawks that I'm unaware of?

I find it strange that the writer starts the graph about Johnson's defense by stating "Johnson has never been asked to check the opponent’s perimeter stud." Who do you think Brandon Roy is checking? And on top of that, why do you think it is Johnson doesn't take the tough defensive assignment? Maybe because he can't hack it or is unwilling to put in the work. Either way, that's no argument for Johnson's defensive prowess.

Not only is the Brandon Roy that I know an above average defender, but he also managed to shut down Jo-Jo last season for a W. Sure, one stellar defensive performance isn't all encapsulating, but if you're going to compare the players head-to-head, should you at least consider how they played head-to-head in the clutch?

And speaking of clutch, the folks at Hoop Magazine also gave the edge in that category to ... Joe Johnson?
Atlanta is full of budding stars, but when the game is tight, the gameplan is usually simple: get the ball in Johnson’s hands and clear out. We saw it often during last season’s tightly contested seven-game playoff series against Boston, when JJ was unafraid of the big moments. In his Game 4 performance, he put up 35, including 20 in the deciding fourth quarter to put a legitimate scare into the eventual champs. That showing only raises his confidence level heading into this season.


Despite the aforementioned pedestrian percentages, Roy almost always seemingly hits shots when he needs to. He imposed his will on several opponents last season, especially during the Blazers’ early-season 13-game winning streak. And he possesses an astonishing ability to get to the rim for a high-percentage layup, even when the defense is geared up for him. He still has no playoff experience, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that bell is answered this season thanks to Portland’s seemingly loaded roster.

Advantage: Johnson
Johnson is undoubtedly a heck of a player, but with the game on the line, is there any coach who would rather have Johnson over Roy? I've trying to be as objective as I can, and there's no way I see anyone taking Johnson over Roy late in the game. The first 46 minutes of the game, especially if you need scoring? Yeah, I could see that. But the last two minutes in a tight one? No chance. You go with Roy.

So if you're reading this Brandon, go out tonight and show 'em the error of their ways.


Rick_Dawg said...

Yeah I agree Casey. Unless their is some guy that got flown in from somewhere named Joe Johnson that now plays for the Hawks, I don't see what they're seeing. Even in the article it sounds like they talk better about Brandon than Joe Johnson, but for some dumb reason give the edge to Joe? I dunno. Oh well, I hope everyone sleeps on us so that the next time they play us they remember, "Oh crap watch out next Tuesday, we gotta play Portland." OH YEAH!!!! And B-ROY, you're the man. Don't show just Joe Johnson, show the NBA what's up.

Dreamcloud said...

roy owned johnson yet again today

gudmund said...

I love me some Roy, but let's not put him an entire rung above Johnson just yet. Roy absolutely bested JJ in their head-to-head matchup last season, but JJ laid down some pretty sick games against the Celtics in the playoffs last season. Granted he did so against the defense of Ray Allen, but on the flip-side the Celtics are known for playing stellar team defense and most certainly were building their game plan around Johnson, and yet still couldn't figure a way to stop him. I'm a Blazer fan and I'll take Roy, but let's not pooh pooh Johnson here--he's a hell of a player.

minion of Oden said...

After thought: Someone at espn was smoking crack.

Casey Holdahl said...

Rick: I got the same feeling as well. I think this might have been written soon after the Hawks took the Celtics to 7 games in last year's playoffs.

dreamcloud: It's preseason, but yes he did.

gadmund: You're absolutely correct. Johnson had some great games against the Celtics, and Roy probably isn't a rung above JJ. What I'm saying is that two of the three skills the writer declares "advantage: Johnson" are debatable to say the least. Johnson is a better scorer. No argument there. But better defensively and in the clutch? I just can't see it.

minion of oden: the article was written by someone at the NBA, but I get your drift.