Playoff Ramblings

Dave FinocchioSenior Writer IMay 15, 2006
Ramble #1 

I mean, come on.  Is there any organization on the planet that so consistently compromises the integrity of its own product in a warped attempt to attract customers?

The bottom line: Monday night's Spurs-Mavericks game disrupted my chi.  In fact, I went to bed right after the game and I've been in a bad mood ever since.  For anyone who's been paying any kind of attention, it ought to be obvious that the postseason officials have been told to keep the games as close as possible.  And after what happened in Game Four, it might end up costing the Spurs their season.  Infuriating.  Just infuriating. 

Speaking of which: can we all agree that Dick Bavetta is an absolute joke?  How can a seventy-year-old man with bad eyes even pretend to know what's going on in the free-for-all of an up-tempo game?  Solution: David Stern needs to hire ex-collegiate basketball players in their twenties.  Done and done.

 Ramble #2

I ask you to recall the recurring fetish that seemed to pervade NCAA tournament coverage - the oft quoted truism that scouts love long-armed players.  I'm refering to statements  that were along the lines of "Corey Brewer is the next Tayshaun Prince, just look at his beautiful long arms" or "Rudy Gay's body is so perfect that he can't help but be an NBA superstar."

Personally, I'm of the school of thought that says body types are absurdly over-analyzed.  Let's be honest: one guy is usually better than the other guy because he's a more talented, not because he looks more like Lebron James. 

And this is by no means an issue exclusive to basketball.  I'm reading a book about the Cape Cod summer leagues which claims that MLB scouts are loathe to look at any player under six feet.  Under 5'6" I understand, but Willie Mays himself wasn't six feet tall.  Conclusion: an increasing number of scouts are idealists in a business that requires a keen sense of cold, hard reality.         

But you know what?  The success of Shawn Marion- and Tayshaun Prince-types has changed my opinion on this whole "long-arms" fad.  Not because I think it's necessarily a sure thing to draft players because they have long arms, but because I'm tired of hearing that Elton Brand is undersized.  

Think about it like this: are basketball players using their heads to play the ball?  Not in any game I've ever watched.  Hence, is a player's height really that indicative of his rebounding and shot blocking ability?  Instead, shouldn't we look at total vertical reach as the most statistically significant determinate of how big men will stack up against each other? 

Now, I'm not trying to deny the impact of weight or girth, or discount the advantage that height gives a point-guard when it comes to seeing the floor.  I'm just saying that a 6'8" power forward with a 7'3" wingspan is hardly "undersized."  By the same token, a 7'2" center with Tyrannosaurus Rex arms isn't exactly a behemoth.  This isn't a Moneyball, OBS vs. batting average quality gripe, but still: I think it would make a heck of a lot of sense to start listing vertical reach next to height on a player's profile.