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The Roar

Jay Croucher

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Joined March 2014

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@croucherJD

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Selwood was the most shocking omission for me too. I had him in my top seven. Interesting that probably the two most divisive players on our lists were Selwood and Priddis, two superstar hard nuts without elite disposal by foot. Maybe in the Hawthorn era that we’re in people are growing to value elite ball use more than ever before.

The Roar's Top 50 AFL players: 1-10

Good stuff Cam. Interesting that you’ve got Josh Elliott in the forward pocket, no doubt he’s turned on a sure to be disappointing North Melbourne outfit and transitioned right out of sportswriting into the Magpie forward line. A wise move, I say.

Hurts me a little to see Tom Langdon listed in the All-Australian potential list. I think he’s the most overrated young player in the AFL. It’s great that he backs himself to take the game on, less great that he often backs himself into aimless runs into traffic and misguided kicks to opponents in the corridor. His biggest competitor for ‘most overrated young player in the AFL’ might be Taylor Adams. Adams treats good ball use like Donald Trump treats ethnic minorities – with absolute disdain.

Very much the words of a frustrated Collingwood fan here, having endured the growing pains of these two players. They both have a heap of potential – Langdon reads the play well beyond his years and has a hardness well beyond his frame, and Adams is a monster in close, a vicious contested ball winner and great tackler whose desire and application can never be questioned. But their disposal and decision making touches upon Collingwood’s biggest issue – a lack of quality ball users. It’s Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Varcoe and then a steep fall off a cliff into a void of darkness and turnovers and turnovers. I think you’re spot on saying that Sidebottom and Varcoe need to play off a back flank more, would love to see one of them convert into a Bob Murphy role, with Varcoe the more obvious choice, but SIdebottom perhaps the more inspired one.

AFL preview series: Collingwood Magpies

Interesting one. Depends on the roster construction but you’d probably have to say Harden, if only for the dearth of quality two-guards in the league. Lillard is a star but he’s behind Curry, Paul, Westbrook and Lowry in the point guard ranks, and probably just in front of John Wall. Meanwhile, Harden is, to my mind, unquestionably the best shooting guard in the NBA. Klay is a better fit for team USA given that he’s so good off the ball, but Harden has to be second in the pecking order at that position for the team. Whereas Lillard is 4th, 5th or 6th at his.

Chemistry class: Damian Lillard vs James Harden

Thanks for reading + the comment, Alan. Baynes is fine in principle. SVG articulated on a great Zach Lowe podcast exactly why they wanted Baynes, for all the reasons you listed. The problem is purely the contract, and the opportunity cost of allocating 3 years 20 million to a guy who on a good team should only be playing 10-14 minutes a game. Bismack Biyombo at 2 years 5 million, Brandan Wright at 3 years 17 million or Kyle O’Quinn at 4 years 16 million were all much better values for mine last summer.

The Baynes contract isn’t a debacle, or even especially onerous in the scheme of things, I just think they paid him 50% more than he’s worth. His box score stats aren’t calamitous but his on/off numbers are. The Pistons plummet on both offence and defence with Baynes on the floor. When he’s on the court they’re a negative 6.1 per 100 possessions, which means they’re somewhere in between Minnesota and Phoenix when he plays. He is what he is – a good team player and hustle guy who is severely limited in his athleticism and skillset. A nice piece, but not a 3 years 20 million night piece.

The Notorious S.V.G: Detroit’s rebuild motors up a gear

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/ol

The empirical DVOA data combined with Benoit’s qualitative analysis (which is pretty solid) suggests that the Panthers have a middle of the road offensive line and will be at a serious disadvantage against Denver’s D-Line.

The Bronco brief: Denver’s case for the upset

I’m not entirely sure where this narrative has sprung from that the Panthers O-Line is elite and significantly better than New England’s, at least in pass protection. They’re certainly not top five in all categories. Per DVOA they rank 21st in the league in pass protection with a below average adjusted sack rate. The reason the bare stats look good is because Carolina barely passes the ball (27th in the league for pass attempts per game), but on a per play basis the offensive line is mediocre in pass protection (21st) and slightly above average in the run game (12th).

As Andy Benoit details, a lot of Carolina’s success with their offensive line has been a form of conceptual smoke and mirrors. He describes the battle between Carolina’s O-Line and Denver’s D-Line as the ‘ultimate mismatch’. A good read for anyone who wants to get heavy nerdy into line play: http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2016/01/25/nfl-denver-broncos-carolina-panthers-super-bowl-50-ultimate-mismatch

The Bronco brief: Denver’s case for the upset

Hopefully the great man himself didn’t read it. Which, somehow I fathom, he probably did not.

I’ll be watching it in Buenos Aires mate, made sure I’d be in a city for the big game. The Patagonian mountains might be majestic but the WiFi connection in the region is not.

Should be a ripper.

The Bronco brief: Denver’s case for the upset

Therein lies the rub. I wonder if without the space that Steph affords him whether Green would just be a slightly more aggressive, less nuanced version of Boris Diaw on offence, and not one of the game’s most dynamic players.

Their net ratings are very close – Curry is +30.3 and Draymond is +29.3 (by the way those net ratings are ABSURD given the amount of minutes these guys play). For those who still insist that Klay Thompson is Golden State’s second best/second most important player, his net rating is ‘only’ +15.9.

Dancing Bear: The Draymond Green experience

Cheers Will. I think Rodgers still has a while left. He’s a bit more dependent on his athleticism than most great quarterbacks but he’s still only 32. In a league where Brady is an MVP candidate at 38, Drew Brees is leading the league in passing at 37 and Eli Manning and Carson Palmer are coming off career years at 35 and 36, I think Rodgers has 4-5 elite years left in him. And then the Packers are screwed.

You and whose army? The failure of Green Bay's one-man team

Correct, Swampy, in Australia we spell offence and defence with a ‘c’, which as Jake says, is kind of a big deal. Let’s help Jake out:

http://grammarist.com/spelling/defence-defense/

As far as the Bulls ‘probably’ beating Golden State with Rose, there’s nothing in reality to suggest that would have been the case. Chicago has been 8.9 points worse per 100 possessions with Rose on the court, with both their offenCe and defenCe falling off a cliff, so no, having him play against Golden State wouldn’t ‘probably’ have toppled the best team in the NBA. Given how he’s played this season, they ‘probably’ only got so close because he was in street clothes.

I love Derrick Rose. I saw him in person in 2012 and he was electric, one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen in person. But his team is mired in mediocrity now (net ratings are proven to be far more indicative of quality than win-loss records, just look at Houston from last year to this year) and he’s aspiring to be mediocre.

Doubting the Bulls: Chicago’s mirage of a hot start

The point is Pete not that there are independent conclusions to be drawn from the four games themselves, rather that the games are serving as early affirmation for what has troubled Houston for the past two years. There was hope that those problems would be allayed with personnel changes and a deep playoff run, but early indications are that philosophically this team remains the same. Plenty of time for that to change, but as the article says, given the principals involved (Harden, Howard, Lawson), there’s little to suggest it will.

Failure to Launch: The Rockets’ early season woes

“Four games into an 82-game season those stats are meaningless in one sense, but they’re illuminating in another. What they show is that Houston’s basement is still maddeningly low, much lower for a team with this talent level than it should be.”

Failure to Launch: The Rockets’ early season woes

Thanks Riordan. The Bucks are a fun one. I actually have more confidence in my opinion about Milwaukee not being very good than my opinion about any other team, so it’s going to be great when they win 54 games. The Bucks were 11-18 with MCW last year, they weren’t a good team post-Knight trade. They give up more corner 3s than anyone in the league and had the highest turnover rate in the league after the All-Star break. I’m not sure how they got better. They’ll miss Dudley, Pachulia and Ilyasova (a bit, at least), and MCW for a full season is a significant drop-off from Knight. Monroe will help the offence but he can’t protect the rim and his presence means that it’ll be almost impossible for the Bucks to be the 2nd best defence in the league again. Jabari coming back is nice but he’s played 25 games for his career.

Agree 100% that the Bucks have a tonne of talent and are heading in the right direction. I think this might be a year of growing pains for them though, before they really emerge next season with more development for Giannis, MCW and Jabari, and Monroe having spent a year in the system.

2015-16 NBA preview: Eastern Conference Part 3, the contenders

That’s a good point, Pete. I was pretty shocked that the Pacers had a positive point differential last season. The return of George, a legitimate superstar if healthy, is huge, and Ellis for his many faults is still better than anything they had in the backcourt last season. But these are the reasons I think they’re going to drop a couple of wins:

1. The rest of the East is better. The Pacers beat up on the dregs last season, going 17-3 against the Knicks, Magic, 76ers, Hornets and Heat. I think all those teams are going to be better this year. They also went 10-20 against the West last year, showing that they were pretty bad against better opposition.

2. The frontcourt might be the worst in the league. Hibbert and West aren’t great but they’re competent big men with clearly defined skills. Jordan Hill is a terrible basketball player, Turner is a rookie, and Mahinmi and Allen are journeymen who should be playing 12 minutes a game. I have no idea who is setting screens or rolling to the hoop in pick and roll on this team.

3. There’s no depth. PER isn’t perfect but it’s useful and the Pacers lost 4 of their top 6 PER guys from last season (Scola, West, Hibbert and Watson). I’m not sure who the fourth best player on this team is. Is it Rodney Stuckey? If so that’s frightening. If one of George Hill, Ellis or George goes down, this team is in real trouble.

The plus-minus points on West and Hibbert are solid and really important. The Pacers were somehow better defensively last year with Hibbert on the bench. Because of that, George’s return and Ellis’s arrival (and hopefully a good run of health for George Hill), the Pacers could definitely scrape past .500 and be a playoff team. I don’t quite see it though.

2015-16 NBA preview: Eastern Conference Part 2, the middle class

Thanks astro. The Bucks and Pistons were the two toughest teams I had pegging out of the 30. I think I’m biased by a great podcast that Stan van Gundy did with Zach Lowe, the way he talked about the set-up of the Pistons seduced me a little. In theory I think Detroit makes sense in the modern NBA – a dynamic pick and roll duo surrounded by shooters with an elite defensive mobile big man holding up the paint on the other end. So much depends on Jackson though, which is worrying, although I think he can develop.

I think the Bucks are going to be great in the future but this might be a year of growing pains for them. I worry about their spacing and frontcourt defence. Assuming Jabari and Monroe log the bulk of minutes in the frontcourt, it feels like teams with elite penetrating guards and wings – Cleveland, Washington, Miami – are just going to be living in the paint. We’ll see though, their upside is significant. Maybe in the modern NBA the length of MCW, Middleton, Giannis and Parker is more important defensively than having a traditional rim protector. They’re going to be a lot of fun either way, no doubt.

2015-16 NBA preview: Eastern Conference Part 2, the middle class

Point guard is definitely a huge problem for the Jazz but I think that the teams around them have question marks just as big. Who plays centre for Dallas? Who plays small forward for Phoenix? Hayward does most of the ballhandling for the Jazz anyway so a hole at point guard isn’t as glaring as it might be for others. Interestingly Vegas has Utah favoured to win 42 games, Phoenix to win 36, the Kings to win 32 and Dallas to win 39, so people are fairly high on the Jazz.

2015-16 NBA preview: Western Conference Part 2, the middle class

No doubt the NFL would have faced a legal challenge if they stopped Hardy from playing. But they were willing to go to court to fight Brady, someone who allegedly let the air out of footballs. The fact that they weren’t willing to go to similar lengths to prevent Hardy from playing is an absolute disgrace.

I think you can be a badass without strangling your girlfriend. How you’re asked to behave on the field should not correlate to how you choose to behave off it. Anquan Boldin might be the biggest badass in the entire league and he’s one of the league’s most outstanding individuals off the field.

Greg Hardy's "guns blazing" quip has turned NFL into a farce

I 100% agree Tigranes. We need a lower moral threshold so that we can better populate the NFL with talented athletes. Maybe they can let Aaron Hernandez out of prison on Sundays to add to the league’s talent pool. God he was talented that guy, I miss watching him play. What’s a couple of homicides, anyway? Water under the bridge.

Greg Hardy's "guns blazing" quip has turned NFL into a farce

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, said a similarly outraged man in the basement. Dr. King would rightfully suggest that Hardy’s gun is in fact pointed at all our heads. Even yours, Joe.

Greg Hardy's "guns blazing" quip has turned NFL into a farce

I’ll have some in depth Dallas analysis in Friday’s column (spoiler alert: I’ve got them somewhere 6 through 10 in the West). Suffice to say they have a lot of questions, especially regarding the health of Matthews and Parsons. But I think they’re a clear step above the dregs of the West. Dirk’s gravity is still a recipe almost by itself for an above average offence and D-Will for all his shortcomings is still probably the best point guard the Mavericks have had since… Devin Harris in 2007?? The main thing though is Carlisle. He might be a top three coach in the league. After he took that garbage 2012-13 Mavs team to 41-41 with Dirk missing 30 games and starting the likes of OJ Mayo, Mike James, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and Elton Brand a lot of the season, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. No way that guy loses 50 games in a season with a competent roster, which the Mavericks have.

Solid points about the lottery protections. It’s tough to imagine the Mavs tanking with Dirk still on the roster though, not sure they can do that to him. For better or worse, I think they’d rather gut their way to .500 and give up the #12 pick or whatever than bottom out and have Dirk retiring on a 25 win team.

2015-16 NBA preview: Western Conference Part 1, the cellar-dwellers

Thanks astro. I think there’s a good chance the Knicks can be better than Brooklyn, or rather, there’s a good chance Brooklyn will be even worse than the Knicks. I don’t trust Melo’s knees though and I think Afflalo is a little overrated. The main tiebreaker between the Nets and Knicks for me though is the coaching. I don’t think Hollins is great but he’s decent – he took Memphis to the WCF and I thought he was smart last year immediately making Thad Young a stretch four.

Across the bridge I think Derek Fisher might be the worst coach in the league. He didn’t have much talent to work with last year but he did have Anthony and Calderon for half the season and guys like Smith and Shumpert at the beginning, and he started the season 5-36. I watched him screw up far too many games where he had no idea what he was doing down the stretch.

2015-16 NBA preview: Eastern Conference Part 1, the cellar-dwellers

Cheers Swampy. Agree that the T’Wolves are going to be a League Pass delight. Their problem is that Rubio gets injured for fun and if he goes down they’re looking at Zach Lavine (not a point guard) or Andre Miller (not an NBA quality player at this point). Still though, there’s so much potential for funky lineups. Rubio-Lavine-Wiggins-Towns-Dieng would be an athletic monster.

2015-16 NBA preview: Western Conference Part 1, the cellar-dwellers

The answer Tony… is no. The whole organisation is a farce. You’re dead right in saying that Cousins needs to be surrounded by shooters, which is why the Kings went out and signed… Rajon Rondo, the worst shooting point guard in basketball.

2015-16 NBA preview: Western Conference Part 1, the cellar-dwellers

Great to have you on board Ryan, we’ve been expecting you. I think ESPN is probably sufficient, especially because they ramp up the coverage during the playoffs. League Pass is best for the NBA tragics like myself who get a perverse kick out of watching meaningless games between Minnesota and Charlotte.

2015-16 NBA preview: Western Conference Part 1, the cellar-dwellers

Having L.A. over Portland is fair. But Lillard is obviously better than any Laker and I think that the supporting pieces – Henderson, Leonard, McCollum, Aminu – might be a bit better than people expect.

What kind of stat-line are you hoping to get out of Kobe this year, Ryan?

Interesting that you group Denver in there with those two – I was actually thinking about bumping them ahead of Minnesota. I think the Nuggets have a fair bit more talent than L.A. or Portland. Faried, Gallinari and Chandler are all decent, Mudiay and Nurkic are super talented, and they’ve got guys like Foye, Nelson and Arthur who are pros that won’t embarrass themselves. They won 30 games last year and I’m not sure they got any worse. I think the loss of Lawson is offset by the loss of Lawson in the locker room, a healthy, rejuvenated Gallo, a new coach who Faried doesn’t hate, improvements from Nurkic and Harris, and the arrival of Mudiay.

2015-16 NBA preview: Western Conference Part 1, the cellar-dwellers