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Luke Ridnour

White American NBA Player Power Rankings, v2.0

(Check out our updated version 3.0 right here!)

The response to MAMBINO’s White American NBA Player Power Rankings post was stronger than we ever could have expected. Moreso than any other trivia question in the league (best foreign players, best player ever to come out of Duke University, best second round pick, etc.), finding the highest quality white American players is tougher than you can imagine.

As we got more and more feedback, we realized that the rankings not only had to be revised, but made over almost completely. Here we go:

1. Kevin Love

Still, with a bullet. Now with a new 4-year deal in hand (with an opt-out after the third), the Wolves will be even more aggressive in trying to improve their team in order to convince what will then be a 27 year-old Kevin Love to try and stay. As Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio become more comfortable with their shots, I expect Love’s 25 ppg scoring average to go down, but for his assists to go up. Get used to the altitude Kev – you’re not leaving this power rankings perch any time soon.

2. Ryan “The Assassin” Anderson

OH YES. Just a week after I posted the inaugural rankings, I attended a Magic/Knicks game at MSG. Now, ignoring the fact that the 2012 Knicks couldn’t guard the Liberty, Ryan Anderson went absolutely bonkers in that game at the Garden – draining 7 for 12 three pointers and ending up with 30 points and 7 rebounds. He’s averaging 16.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, all while shooting 42% from beyond the arc. Anderson has become the second best player on this Magic roster, and one of the prime reasons why GM Otis Smith thinks his team is much better than they actually are. Besides Kevin Love and Joey Crawford, there’s no deadlier threat from a white American than Ryan Anderson right now.

3. David Lee

Not for lack of trying or a dip in numbers (still with 18.3 points and 10.7 rebounds a game – both higher than his career averages), but David Lee has to take a back seat to The Assassin. If you ever watch a Warriors game, a lot of Lee’s points come from spot-up jumpers, put-backs and easy baskets. He’s a fantastic rebounder, which helps him clean up on the frequent misses from the unconscionable chuckers on his squad. However, when was the last time you saw D Lee play against your team and you left the game thinking “damn, Lee really destroyed us tonight”? In his 8-year career, I don’t think I’ve ever said that. I’ve already had 3 moments like that regarding Ryan Anderson this season.

4. JJ Redick

At that very same Knicks/Magic game, I had this conversation with a friend: “Did you ever think that JJ Redick would amount to anything in the NBA?”. He laughed, and as Redick torched the Bockers for 21 points, he responded “No. Never”.

In his first two seasons, Redick got more DNP-CDs than Renaldo Balkman, playing in only 72 games. He looked so stiff on the court, as if he was parodying his nonathletic white American brethren. He largely played in garbage time of blow-outs, thus making his numbers from those seasons somewhat unreliable. Redick looked scared every single night. It seemed like he felt what we were all thinking: “You’ll be wearing a Maccabi Tel Aviv jersey in a month”.

But something happened the last 3 seasons. Redick started playing over 22 minutes a night, in ever game. He began to shoot the ball with more confidence, playing within Stan Van Gundy’s system of inside-out ball movement instead of doing nothing but hinder it. Every year, hi… Read more...

State of Laker Nation: We Need Agent Zero

Showtime has turned into Slowtime.

What was once a cute joke after the first few games of the regular season has rapidly turned into a very stark reality for the Lakers. After seeing this team play 15 games, and including a miserable 7 point quarter against the Dallas Mavericks the other night, I realize that the Show has three very glaring flaws:

1. They are one of the slowest teams in the league

It’s not just my eyes as an observer that are telling the story; the statistics back it up as well. The Lakers average one of the lowest amounts of possessions per game, even though they are the best rebounding team in the league. What this means is that despite the fact that the Lakers are getting back the ball more than anyone else, the pace that they execute their offense at eats so much clock that no amount of rebounding can increase their possessions. Meanwhile, on the fast break, they’re 26th in points scored. This team gets most of its points in a half-court set, with designed plays rather than just making it up after a quick steal or rebound.

The reasoning behind all of this is relatively simple: they are really old and they do not have a traditional point guard running the offense. Without the legs and the personnel to begin breaks and direct traffic, it’s difficult for a team to get up and down the floor at the type of fast pace that the Los Angeles crowd is used to seeing.

Luckily for the Lakers, they have one of the top defenses in the league, and that slow, plodding offense I was just talking about is one of the most steady and efficient ones running.

2. Bench Scoring

Steve Blakers, Metta World Peace, Josh McRoberts, Troy Murphy and Devin Ebanks all bring great rebounding, tons of toughness and gritty defense to the floor whenever they’re called on, but unfortunately for this motley crew of white Americans, Metta and Devin, they just can’t put the ball in the hoop. The Lakers are dead last in bench scoring, with Steve Blakers leading the pack at 7.3 points per game. Unlike previous years when Shannon brown and Lamar Odom could fill it up at a moment’s notice, LA consistently has moments where when one or two of the Bryant-Gasol-Bynum trio is off the floor, and the offense just stops. No other guy on this team can get his own shot, and more importantly, there isn’t a facilitator good enough to make the other 11 Lakers look competent.

3. 3-Point Shooting

What I see as the most glaring flaw is that the Lakers can’t hit a shot from downtown. They are the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA.

Luckily for the Lakers, there might be a singular fix to their problems that would be relatively easy to pull off.

Agent Zero.

Gilbert Arenas is a free agent, and by all accounts is very ready and willing to go back to work. Though no words has arisen from the Arenas camp since before Christmas, the last unofficial statement read that his hometown Los Angeles Lakers were one of the teams he most desired to play for.

Even with knee injuries that have limited him to 117 games in the last 4 seasons, Arenas showed last year that he still can play at a quick pace, and lead an offense. His shooting percentage was down to 37%, though as a career 42% guy, Gil has never been the type of guy you were looking at to convert high efficiency shots every time. Still, he played over 25 minutes in 70 games, scoring 11 points, dishing 4 assists and though somewhat detached, did not look washed up at age 29.

No matter what his situation, Gilbert Arenas has always been synonymous with the term instant offense. Coming off the bench for the Lakers, Gil would shore up second … Read more...