With one-third of the 2009-2010 season now behind us, the true colours of the Doubting Thomas candidates are starting to shine through. It’s easy to look good and hide behind your numbers after 10-15 games of the season. But once you hit that 25-30 game mark, things start to reach a proper equilibrium. We all knew Channing Frye couldn’t keep shooting a ridiculous 45% from three-point land, and in December that number dropped to a more reasonable (but still impressive) 39%. Of course things can swing the opposite way too. Take Corey Brewer, who shot like turd during his first 17 games (38%) but started to get back on track after shooting nearly 50% through December. Quite simply, two months into the season the numbers start making a lot more sense.

So did the top of the Doubting Thomas leaderboard change? Not really. No one could strip Gallinari of his second-straight #1 ranking, despite the fact he plays for a Knicks franchise that specialises in dashed hopes and failed expectations. There really was no one that could touch The Cock this month. Not to say that Dragic didn’t try his darndest – if he continues at this rate of improvement the January race will be a tight one.

At the other end of the spectrum, Chris Quinn continues to set new records for futility and secured his second straight bottom ranking. In fact, from here on the #10 spot will be officially known as the ‘Chris Quinn Position’ (CQP). It is not intended to sound like a sexual manoeuvre, but if it was, it would undoubtedly be performed on a bench and exist for such a minute period of time that your partner might claim it didn’t actually happen at all. Also holding up the rear (it’s a pun if you want it to be) is the notorious POB who now has the extremely unfortunate (and rare) honour of sitting below Kwame Brown in the rankings. Imagine that.

All up, it’s been another fascinating month for this bunch of misfits, so read on for the stories and the highlights that matter, including the #1 target on Kwame Brown’s Hit List, a fascinating insight into Belinelli’s Italian heritage and how it affects his game, the literary masterpieces of Patrick O’Bryant, and of course, plenty of Cock references.

(Last month’s rankings are in brackets)

#1 (1)

Danilo Gallinari

Games played (through December): 12 Games started: 7
Minutes per game: 32.2 DNP’s: 1
Best game: 27 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks (vs PHO 1/12)
Averages: 16.5ppg, 5.6rpg, 1.8apg, 1.2spg, 1.3bpg, 39.2% FG, 43.8% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: Is it time to starting etching Gallo’s name on the trophy already? Every one that thought his first month was a fluke was wrong.

Highlight of the month: The day he gave Channing Frye and Dragic a bath.
Best sign he should not be doubted? Nearly averaging a block and a steal to go along with everything else he does on the offensive end, although he was touted as a one dimensional shooter.

In December Danilo has continued to prove the nay-sayers wrong. He has had four games of 20pts or more this month, as opposed to two for the rest of his short career. His shooting numbers have dipped slightly (ok, alot!) but that is only due to a much higher amount of shots going up, and a few poor shooting nights. The thing with Gallo is that the poor shooting nights don’t stand in his way. Against the Bobcats, Gallo was 0-4 from downtown, the Cats making a run, down just 3 with a few minutes left. Gallo brushes off the dust and knocks down two huge threes to keep the lead in tact. In Phoenix, he could have stopped playing at half time like the Chicago Bulls, but instead, demolished the ‘deadly duo’ of Frye/Dragic. Gallo’s statline? 27pts (6-12 3pt), 10rebs, 2asts, 2blks with zero turnovers. Frye/Dragic? A combined 5pts (1-7 from 3pt land), 6rebs, 4asts, 1blk and 3 turnovers. Hate to say it, but I doubt those guys will be in the league in 5 years!

The man who was smoked by Gallo
(couldn’t use his nickname in that sentence unfortunately)

Again, I must stress, Gallo is more than a three-point bomber, he’s more of a big man that Patrick O’Bryant will ever be, but then again, so is Nate Robinson. The difference between Gallo and those two is that at least he gets on the court. Nate is like a five-year old kid with ADD on red cordial, what is POB’s reason? With the Knicks hanging on to a one point lead against the Clippers and Al Thornton driving with seconds left, who jumped in to take a charge and save the game? Gallo did. With the Bobcats rushing the ball up court ready to tie the ball game with two seconds left, who defended the rim like Mutumbo in his prime? Gallo did.
Cock Block.

Gallinari took it to another DTA alumni, J.J Redick, in December. The Cock had 20pts off just 5 field goals. Heck, Redick was so bad that the two J’s in his name exceeded the number of J’s he made on that day (1). Redick is obviously a good player, but I doubt the NBA is a place for him to excel.

The Cock?

Just getting bigger.
Tizzle, NBAMate

#2 (4)

Goran Dragic

Games played: 15 Games started: 1
Minutes per game: 19.2 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 18 points, 3 rebounds, 4 threes, 1 assist vs SA (15/12)
Averages: 8.4ppg, 2.0rpg, 2.1apg, 0.8spg, 0.1bpg, 48.9% FG, 41% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: So much for that honeymoon period. Dragic stepped it up in December. I can’t believe I’m writing this.

If you’re given one shot… one opportunity… to seize everything you’ve ever wanted….One moment… Would you capture it? Or just let it slip? – A very wise white man

After recording several average performances in early December, Goran had a break out game against none other than the Suns’ arch rivals, the Spurs. In 25 minutes of action Goran had a career high 18 points on 7-9 shooting, including 4-5 from downtown, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and no turnovers! This caused bloggers from Bright Side of the Sun to give him the nickname “Frosty” to honour Goran’s stone-cold killer instinct. In fact, many bloggers and Suns fans alike attributed the win solely to Goran’s outstanding performance.

i8 Goran’s still unsure of how this whole “high five” thing works,
having never received one before

Sports writers from all over watched this performance and started to backpedal on their previous assessments of the Serbian sloth. Skeets from The Basketball Jones last season called Dragic “the worst player in the league“, and on a recent show he and Tas Milas loved his game so much Tas called him an “All Star“. Hollinger stated, I can’t emphasize enough how much better his stroke looked Tuesday than at any other time I’ve seen him. If he keeps it up, his prospects for the future improve considerably.” That’s a far cry from his previous assessment of Dragic as a no-hoper.

The dice kept rolling Goran’s way as, during the game, Jason Richardson went down with an ankle sprain, leaving Gentry to consider who to start in his place, Obviously he looked no further than the previous game’s box score, as Mr Frosty got the nod to start against the Blazers!

bwaaaa Yep, that was my reaction too

So here he was. He had his chance… his one shot… his one opportunity…

And he fucked it up.

With Dragic at the helm late in the game the Suns quickly squandered a 16 point lead against an undermanned Portland team to give the game away. The following game against the wizards, Frosty (he’s now being called Frosty because his game has gone cold) was so far out of favour with Gentry that he didn’t receive meaningful minutes until the Suns were 32 points in the clear.

So I know what you’re wondering… Is that it? Have we seen the last of Goran until he comes up for discussion at a Hall of Fame gathering? Stay tuned.
Chucko, Frustrated Suns Fan

#3 (2)

Channing Frye

Games played: 15 Games started: 15
Minutes per game: 32.3 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 4 threes, 2 blocks vs OKC (23/12)
Averages: 12.0ppg, 6.0rpg, 1.7apg, 0.6spg, 0.8bpg, 44.8% FG, 39% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: Didn’t think he’d come close to matching his November output, but he proved me wrong. Go on, do it again Frye.

Let’s take a look at some December facts about our trooper Channing Frye.

In his previous four seasons he has had one adequate, one sensational and two forgettable Decembers. That “adequate” December was way back in 2005 and saw Frye average 15 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1 bpg and 10 shots per game as a Knick rookie. His sophomore December saw his averages climb to a sensational 23.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg and 22 shots per game. This is probably the main reason that Mr Frye ended up in the Doubting Thomas conversation in the first place, considering his great start to his career. New York had a nice future player in December ’05 but by June ’07 he was shipped off to Portland along with Steve Francis for Dan Dickau, Fred Jones and Zach Randolph.

Basically, when you crunch the numbers, Frye’s December stats historically look like this:

Decembers ’05-’08 : 10 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 0.7 bpg, 0.9 apg, 8.6 shots per game and 0.2 3pt attempts per game.

December 2009: 11.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 1.7 apg, 9.1 shots per game and 5.1 3pt attempts per game.

It’s safe to say that Channing Frye’s numbers have increased, albeit marginally. The main difference has been Frye’s sudden ability to hit the three-ball. He’s getting open and draining shots at a consistent rate. Another sad reminder to New York and Portland fans is the fact that Frye was never used as a three-point shooter before he got to Phoenix. Sad mainly because he is shooting 76-170 from downtown, a healthy 44.7%.

December 2009 has not been kind to Phoenix after their hot start to the season. The Suns have compiled a pedestrian 5-9 record this month (Editor’s note: this was written before the Lakers game). January is always an interesting month in the NBA with teams right in the middle of the “grinding” part of the season. It will be interesting to see how not only the Suns respond but also how Frye is used.

My highlight of the month for Channing Frye would have to be his 24p, 6rb, 2blk game in a loss to Oklahoma City on December 23rd. Frye also hit 4 threes but was far more than a one-dimensional three-bomber in that game. Who knows, he may have showed off enough of his talents to secure him some further court time in January?

Soon you’ll be just as one-eyed about Frye as that freaky chick from Futurama. I can feel it.

Paul, Two Sides of the Hoop

#4 (3)

J.J Redick

Games played: 12 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 19.2 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 20 points (7-9 shooting), 1 rebound, 1 steal vs UTA (21/12)
Averages: 8.8ppg, 1.7apg, 1.3rpg, 0.4spg, 0.0bpg. 47.2% FG, 48.4% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: Would have dropped lower, but the Magic are still churning out Ws and Redick is still shooting the lights out

December has seen J.J’s minutes cut in the Magic Kingdom as a penalty for not watching enough Ron Jeremy pornos (not confirmed). The result of the five minutes less on the floor per game has been negligible for the man my spell checker wants to call “Re Dick” as he has been his usual efficient self with a smattering of big games such as the win against Utah (20pts). Re Dick did put up a stinker against the Cock in New York though which was a big game in the Doubting Thomas sweepstakes. A painful game to watch for “da’dick” fans amongst us (Editors note: but a great game for ‘Dick and Cock lovers all round).

Things should be on the improve for Redick though with games against Minnesota, Chicago and everyone’s favourite whipping boys, Toronto, coming up. J.J. has the Toronto game circled on his calendar after monster games earlier this season against the Barney’s (2 games, 23p average) so good things are on the way.

Still waiting for that rap album to drop though boiiiii! Word to yo mother.
Ryan, Two Sides of the Hoop

#5 (6)

Corey Brewer

Games played: 14 Games started: 14
Minutes per game: 30.1 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 27 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block vs WAS (26/12)
Averages: 12.5ppg, 3.3rpg, 2.0apg, 1.1spg, 0.1bpg, 47.3 FG%, 26.7 3PT%
Dare you Doubt?: Improved his FG% by almost 10% this month which is why he jumps Beli. Could be a late bloomer to watch in 09-10.

COMING SOON…

Editors note: Anton has been MIA lately. Just like Corey, he’s starting a little slow this season. Stay tuned.
Anton, The Sport Count

#6 (5)

Marco Belinelli

Games played: 14 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 18.3 DNP’s: 0
Best game: 15 points (6-8 shooting), 5 rebounds, 3 assists vs UTA (18/11)
Averages: 6.8ppg, 1.4rpg, 1.1apg, 0.9spg, 0.0bpg, 36.7%FG, 36.4% 3PT
Dare you Doubt?: So the one-month Summer League drop-off wasn’t as epic as I expected, but at this rate Beli looks headed for the cellar

I’m not going to lie to you. Our Spaghetti Western hero, the Bolognese rockstar Marco Belinelli, has regressed a little on his promising opening to the season. I’m not saying that it’s all doom and gloom though — he is by far surpassing his restricted and inconsistent performance in Golden State. It’s just that his offensive firepower has dropped off a little, statistically speaking.

The interesting thing is that this slight regression has come at the same time as a slight improvement of the fortunes of Beli’s team. The Raptors have managed to crack the .500 mark in December games, after a November that was less than satisfactory by the standards of the talented roster they have.

So, why the regression? Shooting. Beli’s shooting has been a little off during December, with his field goal percentage at 36.8%, down on his career average of 42.0% (which is about what he did in October/November). He’s had a corresponding drop in scoring too — down about 2 points on his November average.

“Who cares!?!?” you may be saying. And this is true, I don’t want to bore you with minor misgivings in statistics. After all, I can’t forget that we are talking about a bench player and a potential Doubting Thomas Award winner here — not Brandon Roy (yep, I’m a Blazers fan). So what I’m going to do is point out a couple of more interesting things about Beli.

I’ve known a few Italians in my time (indeed, I have that heritage in my blood) and there are two key Italian characteristics that shine through in Marco’s statistics. The first is the love of travel. Yes, since Roman times the Italians have been known as great travellers of the world. No doubt you know people of Italian heritage where you are and have seen countless Italian tourists in your city. They get around. Beli is a shining example of that love of the road, as he averages literally double his home average on the road — up from 4.9ppg to 9.8ppg. All of his shooting percentages are way up on the road as well. Has bag; will travel.

The other thing I know about Italians — they love the nightlife. They can be up til all hours (try living with them — trust me). Once again, Beli shines through in this regard. His average in day games this season: 3.4ppg. In night games: 8.5ppg. Throw those numbers in your calculator and tell me which one is higher.

Something else you might give a bit of credit to Beli for, is the fact that he has managed to put in this level of effort for the Raptors all whilst preparing for his upcoming movie. “What? A movie?” you say. And I reply, “yes.” In fact, 2010 will see the release of his movie The Expendables and 2011 will see his next movie in a long series, Rambo V: The Savage Hunt. You think I’m fibbing? Well check out this picture for proof.

belinelli rocky

January is a new year and a new decade for Beli. If he can continue his role as a solid scorer off the bench for the Raps, he’ll continue to get his chances. His breakout is imminent, in a Jerryd Bayless-type way. And just look out when the Raptors face a team with Apollo Creed at power forward.
Mookie, A Stern Warning

#7 (9)

Roko Ukic

Games played: 3 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 15.2 DNP’s: 10
Best game: 17 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal vs TOR (9/12)
Averages: 8.7ppg, 1.0rpg, 1.7apg, 0.3spg, 0.0bpg, 56.3%FG, 42.9 3PT%
Dare you Doubt? Outscored his entire November in just one game (17 points), but racked up more DNPs. Not really sure what this means.

Highlights: Roko Ukic, Raptor Killer. I was beginning to think that Scott Skiles forgot that Roko was even on his bench. But on December 9th, Skiles gave Roko some love as he took it to his former squad, lighting the Raps up with 17 points (11 in the 4th quarter) and 4 assists in what may have been one of his best games of his career.

Lowlights: Roko fans (all three of us) thought his performance would spark a run of games with actual playing minutes. But after that stellar performance, Roko has faded back in oblivion, racking up another five DNP’s…

In an interview with Eric Smith of the FAN590, Roko expressed the he hasn’t been too happy with his time in Milwaukee as he has been playing limited minutes behind the likes of Brandon Jennings and Luke Ridnour. He also described the the city of Milwaukee to be “not that great” as Toronto was more of international city and Milwaukee is more of an “American” city. Apparently, Roko had the opportunity to join Olympiakos in Europe during this offseason and play with the likes of Linas Kleiza, Von Wafer (who was recently waived) and Josh Childress but couldn’t accept the offer at that time. The opportunity would have given Roko a lot more playing time and a chance to play on a great European ball club. Now he’s stuck on the bench in Milwaukee.

Interesting fact about Roko (from the interview): When Brandon Jennings played in Europe, Jennings was the backup to Roko’s former backup in Europe….now Roko is Brandon Jennings’ backup. What a crazy world we live in.
Romy, Hip Hoop Junkies

#8 (8)

Kwame Brown

Games played: 10 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 14.2 DNP’s: 3
Best game: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 7-8 FTs vs PHI (9/12)
Averages: 4.5ppg, 4.1rpg, 0.7apg, 0.2spg, 0.1bpg, 61.5%FG
Dare you Doubt?: Kwame is getting the benefit of the doubt here – I still think there’s another gear he can go to. Second gear.

There are really only two impressive things about December when it comes to Kwame Brown.

1) He shot a very high 61.5% from the field (disregard the fact he took less shots than any other Detroit player through December)

2) Against LA, in the second quarter, he caught a sharp pass in the low post. Like, he actually held onto it. In his hands.

So yeah, it’s been a pretty bleak month, not only for Kwame but for the entire Pistons ball club who are now on a 7-game losing streak. The strange thing is, Kwame’s production was up during the first six games of the month (the Pistons went 5-1 with Kwame playing every game) but has plummeted during that subsequent losing streak (with Kwame getting 3 DNPs). I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t want to go there… Could it be possible, in some sick and bitterly twisted way, that the Detroit Pistons will only go as far as Kwame Brown will take them?

I will now light myself on fire.

But seriously. Kwame’s numbers are practically a mirror of what he put up in November, except he’s shooting a much higher click. Ben Wallace’s effectiveness is slowly diminishing and Jason Maxiell isn’t eating babies anymore. So why isn’t Kwame getting more shine? Two words.

Jonas Jerebko.

This 6-10 sun-bleached warrior from Sweeden is hogging all of Kwame’s potential game time thanks to his endless hustle, energy, and good looks. It’s a fact: he’s now Detroit’s second-leading rebounder. That’s right. A small-forward from Sweden picked at #9 in the second round of the draft is completely overshadowing the #1 prodigy that is Kwame Brown. So as far as Kwame’s chances in the Doubting Thomas sweepstakes go, there is only one option.

He must kill Jonas Jerebko.

Ok maybe that’s going too far, but it’s a tad more menacing and effective than my second suggestion which was to burn down every IKEA on the Eastern seaboard. The choice is up to you Kwame. Your Doubting Thomas fate rests in your hands. Those tiny useless concrete hands.
Rob D, NBAMate

#9 (7)

Patrick O’Bryant

Games played: 1 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 3.08 DNP’s: 13
Best game: Ummm… he only played one and it was shithouse
Averages: 3.0ppg, 1.0rpg, 0.0apg, 0.0spg, 0.00bpg, 50% FG
Dare you Doubt?:
So in other words, I spend more time on the toilet every day than POB does playing in the NBA every month. Still. Doubt.

3:08.
3:08.
3:08.
What does 3:08 mean?

Picture 1Since the last time we spoke, Patrick O’Bryant has played exactly 3:08 in the last month. Let me try this again: in the last 19 games for Toronto, POB has only played 3:08. There are no news and notes on him. There are no injuries. There are no highlights. I’m sorry, but 3 points, 1 foul, 1 rebound, and 1/2 from the line does not count as a highlight. There is nothing to report. Nothing for the holiday season, except for a stalking full of DNPs.

In comparison to how POB has stacked up against other DTA nominees, it looks pretty grim. Reddick lit him up for 7-4 when playing ORL. Dragic erupted for 6-2-1 when playing PHO. Brewer had a breakout game against the Raps with a 2-5-2 night. Ukic had an insane night (no sarcasm here: he played well) with a 17-4-2 night when playing against MIL. Chris Quinn brought things back to earth when the Raps played MIA and matched each other’s DNP. POB gets the edge though, because he looked far more badass on the bench. At least, I think. Didn’t… catch… that… game…

3:08.

What to do with this month’s posting for POB to be pushed up in the Doubting Thomas Rankings? My gosh. What not to say? In the last 19 games that POB has only chalked up 3:08 of playing time, The Raps have been a whopping 8-11. 8 wins. 11 losses. Hey Jay Triano (Raps coach): maybe what you’re doing isn’t working. Maybe, just maybe, you could throw POB a fricken’ bone and give him some additional playing time. I promise you my life that POB will explode for big guy numbers that Bargnani could never give you. Your bigs are soft? Put in POB!

Okay. I’m getting a little carried away here. I will never ever ever never ever place any wages on my life on POB. That’s just not cool.

But what is cool, you ask? How about trying to guess what POB could be doing while sitting on the bench waiting to get the call from coach.

Write a book! Here are some possible titles:
- Master Thievery: How to Steal $900,000 From a Failing Franchise
- Zench: The Art of Zen Philosophy From The Bench
- 7-POBGA: The Practice of Yoga For Seven Foot Players While Sitting
- Embracing The Recession: How To Get The Most Out of Free Warm Ups As A Professional Athlete
- NBA: Where POB Doesn’t Happen. Ever.

And the winner is…
Zench. If you’re patient enough to play 3:08 over an entire month without murdering someone, then you clearly have spiritual lessons worth listening to.
Loscy, Loscy Celtics Blog

#CQP

Chris Quinn

Games played: 0 Games started: 0
Minutes per game: 0.0 DNP’s: 12
Best game: 0 points, 0 assists, 4-6 high-fives vs MEM (13/12)
Averages: 0.0 for everything
Dare you Doubt? Twenty-four straight DNPs and counting. I’m not doubting Quinn’s ability, just whether he’s actually alive.

According to Yahoo.com Chris Quinn is ready to play but hasn’t yet made it off the inactive list. So whilst that may put him last in the rankings, it builds suspense. There is no doubt in my mind this is the calm before the storm.
Jobba, NBAMate


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