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Dec 24 2014

The Philadelphia 76ers’ 2014 Holiday Wish-List

Happy holidays! In the spirit of the season, I sent each member of the Philadelphia 76ers’ organization an e-mail asking what they want for Christmas. They didn’t respond, because I didn’t really, but here’s what I presume the gang is asking for this year.

K.J. McDaniels: A new house for his mom.

In case you haven’t heard, K.J. McDaniels has the best mom in basketball. K.J. (which, I assume, stands for “Killer Jams”) has gambled on himself this year, signing a one-year deal in the hopes that he’ll get a larger contract in restricted free agency over the summer. Presumably, K.J. would use a portion of that money to buy a new house for his mom, because that’s a thing that rich people do for their mothers. But if Santa simply gives the rookie a house for his mom, McDaniels would be able to pump the breaks just a bit on his electrifying debut season, thereby saving the Sixers some cash. This would also double as a Christmas gift for Sam Hinkie, who has unfortunately already traded his own Christmas gift to Denver for a second-round pick.

Henry Sims – A copy of SimCity 2000 for Windows.

This has nothing to do with his name: Henry Sims just really likes the process of building something beautiful, only to tear it down via a natural disaster and build it back up all over again. This is just one of the things that makes him the perfect current Sixer, along with being pretty okay at basketball sometimes.

Michael Carter-Williams: Lord Voldemort on the back of his head.

I know what you’re thinking: it seems risky to willingly ask for the dark lord to exist on the back of your head if you’re a second-year player in the NBA. Hear me out: everyone knows that Carter-Williams’ turnover problems are at least partially to blame on the general lack of experience around him. Even with the emergence of players like Noel and Covington, the inconsistent chemistry up and down the roster is going to lead to lapses in communication and reckless drives down the lane into dead-ends. But if the Syracuse alum is going to avoid setting an unflattering record for turnovers per game this year, a desperate gamble on Tom Riddle’s cooperation might be the only way to go. After all, if a 23-year-old kid is going to allow you to have some semblance of life on this plane of existence, the least you can do is shout out, “Heads up, Mike Conley’s behind you!”

Robert Covington – A consensus nickname.

Big Shot Rob is out. The 76ers are building something new here, something that shouldn’t be tainted by the clutch specter of Robert Horry, a.k.a. the ghost of Christmas buckets. I went with Swaggy Covs for a while, but Covington has already shown admirable signs that he wants to develop a more balanced, swag-free game. Bobby Buckets? We’re getting somewhere now, though that still sounds like a Hasbro toy you’d get your child for Christmas, only to open the box and realize it’s missing, like, eight key components. As my friend Mike suggested, I like something with a love/cov pun – “The Covboat,” or possibly “True Cov.” He drains three’s from the Tunnel of Cov. Cov, Cov me do. You know I Cov you. To be continued.

Sam Hinkie – Game of Thrones Season 3 on BluRay.

It’s well-known throughout NBA circles that Hinkie’s fictional hero is Tywin Lannister, and he’s re-watched the Red Wedding scene over one-hundred times, imagining Robb Stark as a different rival general manager each time. He’s also a fan of Jon’s plot in season three. Sadly, as previously mentioned, Hinkie has already traded this gift to Denver for a second-rounder. But because he’s always thinking ahead, Hinkie already has an HBOGo account anyway, plus the rights to swap Netflix passwords with The Knicks in 2019.

Nerlens Noel: All of the Spider-Man powers Nerlens Noel doesn’t already have.

Compared to most other human beings, Nerlens Noel already has most of Spider-Man’s powers. He has insane leaping ability, the power to sense when danger is approaching (near the rim) and quickly reject it, and, of course, he can shoot webs out of his wrists. Gifting Nerlens with the rest of Spider-Man’s powers would, at the very least, make him front-runner for rookie of the year. Specifically, Spider-Man’s ability to stick to any surface would ensure an improvement in his lob-catching percentage, which is currently at, and I’m estimating, 14%. I’m honestly getting upset that Nerlens’ iconic flattop isn’t already synonymous with the Spider-Man logo. Really the only downside to this gift is that giving Nerlens Noel the proportionate strength of a spider could cause him to accidentally kill his teammates on high-fives.

Brett Brown – Some calls, please?

An underrated hurdle that teams as young as the Sixers face night to night is that, quite simply, they don’t have enough NBA credibility accrued to consistently get calls. Philly averages only 24.7 free throws per game, which is – holy crap, 11th in the NBA? It only seems like way less because the 76ers rank dead last in free throw percentage? Is it too late to change Brett Brown’s gift? No? OK, good.

Brett Brown – A new suit.

A last-minute gift, but Brett truly seems like a guy who appreciates a good, new suit.

Tony Wroten – The talent-snatching basketball from Space Jam.

Rumors of a Space Jam sequel have been swirling around for years, thanks to the demand of dozens of fans. But rather than the inevitable tale of Bugs Bunny convincing LeBron to weed the Mon-Stars out of Cleveland or whatever, I propose that we just give the magical basketball from the original movie to Tony Wroten for Christmas. In the original film, the ball enables four scrawny aliens to transform into basketball powerhouses by stealing the talents of Charles Barkely, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, and Mugsy Bogues. (One additional alien becomes tall thanks to Shawn Bradley). With the same basketball, Wroten could become a perfect player by acquiring the following: Russell Westbrook’s finishing ability, Steph Curry’s jump shot, Chris Paul’s court vision, LeBron’s passing, and James Harden’s beard. Would the rest of the basketball world raise an eyebrow to Tony Wroten becoming a basketball god overnight? Possibly. But I think Tony’s worked hard enough to improve his game over the course of this year that Santa won’t hesitate to gift him this absurd competitive advantage.

  • robbybonfire23

    Good Grief Dept. –

    Carmelo Anthony, logging 43 minutes playing time on Christmas Day, had ZERO defensive rebounds. Knicks lost by 11. This is exactly why I put these cue-ball “superstars” under a microscope. Where, in any article wrapping up this game, will you read about this wretched, default performance by Anthony, who had a mediocre shooting game, unless you blindly buy into his points total and ignore that.

    • hk99

      robby,

      I have some philosophical questions about your regression analysis that places a higher value on a DR than it does on an OR. They are:

      1. How is it that, an OR is so much less valuable than a DR if the OR, at a minimum, keeps the opposition from a DR?

      2. I would assume that the teams that shoot better from the field get fewer OR’s due to fewer opportunities for them. Therefore, by extension, does it follow that there are more variables at play than just OR and its relation to Wins?

      3. Putting #2 slightly differently, it takes a missed shot by the team in possession to make an OR / a missed shot by the team on defense to create a DR. Therefore, on the basis that the OR starts with a missed shot and the DR starts with a forced missed shot, isn’t your regression analysis of OR’s and DR’s tainted by the variable that immediately preceded the rebound, namely that the team that secured the OR just missed a shot / the team that secured the DR just forced the opponent into a missed shot?

      I am not trying to be confrontational, I am just trying to figure out how a regression analysis can so heavily weigh DR’s over OR’s.

      • robbybonfire23

        Back in the old days, there was just a “rebound” category, it was not broken down by offensive and D rebounds. This is a bit frustrating today, because I cannot get a complete career read-out on Oscar Robertson, whom I would like to compare with Michael, Magic, West, Stockton, and some of the more recent outstanding guards like Kobe and Chris Paul.

        When I began doing regression analysis in 1987, I broke the rebounding category down by offensive and D, just because that specific information was available, not expecting any if much, difference between the two.

        I will never forget my shock when, that first season I did it, DR’s came in with a value of + 1.25, and OR’s came in with a value of +.10. Of course when I began sharing this fact with basketball fans, the reaction was always incredulous.

        There can be little doubt that the difference is related to the fact that OR’s strongly correlate with missed FG attempts, and the poorer shooting a team is, the worse its results where it comes to winning games.

        Recently, because of yours and the feedback of so many others, I have considered just reverting to compiling one “rebounds” category, as one was compelled to do before the rebounding category was split into its two parts. The question is, which approach more closely correlates with accuracy, and that’s all I want to know? I don’ think much if anything would be lost by having one, all-consuming rebounds category for the purpose of regression analysis, so that change, whether permanent or temporary, I think I will go with at the outset of next season.

        And you and others are right in suggesting that the variable situation is the “culprit,” here. After all, possession of the basketball for a team is possession of the basketball, wherever you happen to be on the court.