Posted by: Kingsguru21 | September 6, 2009

Female Sportswriters should be embarrassed Ailene Voisin is among them

Just like I’m embarrassed Jay Mariotti is human, as we all should be, and I’m embarrassed in this era that he qualifies as a “writer”, it’s equally embarrasing Ailene Voisin is the only columnist left at the Bee. I’m not arguing women shouldn’t write about sports; quite honestly many do it so well that it’s not even worth poo-pawing about that.

And, while I’m at it, Voisin’s basketball knowledge isn’t exactly terrible. It’s just when she writes shit like this that it gets people like TZ in a huff (for him anyway), and gets everyone else to curse females. (One reader of TZ’s post even mentioned the column as a case against women sportswriters. In fairness, though, the commenter is not American.)

I’m not arguing against Ailene Voisin. I think Janny Hu and Ramona Shelburne do just fine. And that’s just 2 women who happen to write for the 2 biggest dailies in the state, the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. (You’ve heard of the papers, right?)

Does every columnsit generate positive public opinion? Marcos Breton didn’t. RE Graswich didn’t. (I think Ray Ratto of the SF Chron sucks worse than Voisin does, myself.) I’m not saying Voisin doesn’t say or argue dumb opinions. She does. All I know is that she doesn’t encounter much dissenting opinion because of her gender. Her opinions do all the work for her.

That’s my sexism speech.

******

The reality is that Voisin’s article was a bit dumb for a variety of reason’s. As TZ pointed out (very well I might add), there is no conclusive evidence, other than ninny’s like Grant Napear saying it, that assists and wins correlate to each other. There is some argument that whether the Kings won because they passed well. (I think that argument would be that they won big in those years when the ideal circumstances transpired.)

TZ brought up LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Brandon Roy. I can do one better: What about the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs? Who is the dynamite team first passer on either team? Are you going to argue that the Spurs haven’t been successful once you dismiss the Rockets as a mostly one & done team since Yao Ming arrived there. (Which I might point out the Rockets hadn’t made the playoffs since 1999 at that point.) The point here is simple: Unless that player is dynamic, assists isn’t that big of a deal.

I do think Voisin’s column proves one thing, however: That passing needs to be better utilized in a stat than assists. If you have idea’s, please pass them on to the APBR board. (I imagine that is one thing that is being talked about in the sabermetric community anyway.)

Okay, now, onto Ricky Rubio himself. I love this part of the column:

Spanish sensation and one-time Kings draft prospect Ricky Rubio recently spurned the Minnesota Timberwolves for reasons that are thought to include any or all of the following:

He hates cold weather.

He hates competition.

He hated the thought of relinquishing millions in a contractual buyout, although the New York Knicks would have been tempting and, from the beginning, Sacramento was his desired location.

You don’t have to be a genius to see the duplicity of an argument like this. The first is that he hates cold weather. I don’t particularly love it either, and I suffered through the worst snow storms Seattle had in nearly 2 decades last winter. Yet, I endured. (I really don’t care for ice. Snow isn’t bad as long as it’s flaky. I’ve yet to meet people who truly love ice unless they’re hockey players though.)

But, if the New York Knicks was a desired spot, what makes anyone truly believe that weather played a factor in Rubio’s final decision? Rubio will see snow at least a dozen to 2 dozen times this season if he had made the leap. (And that’s just assuming he was picked by the Kings.) This isn’t my prediction: It’s a fact. And, frankly, because the Kings would have gone to the East Coast in late March, he probably would have missed some snow there. Mebbe.

The point? Avoiding snow is impossible. Avoiding cold weather? In Sacramento? The kid will experience colder weather in Sacramento than he will ever face where he is from (outside Barcelona).

This is my favorite part of the whole article:

With Francisco García and the chronically injured Beno Udrih already ailing – a knee this month, a torn toenail the next? – the Kings could open training camp with a frightening collection of poor or uninterested passers. Projected starters Kevin Martin, Jason Thompson, Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes contributed more turnovers than assists a year ago, with Udrih’s 4.7 assists for every 2.16 turnovers almost John Stockton-esque by comparison.

I won’t even bother with Nocioni. His career suggests he’s not a terrific passer, but, did the Kings acquire him to be a pass first PG? I don’t think they did. Thompson was a rookie last year. I think he can improve his passing, but killing his ceiling on such ability is a tad too early. Hawes HAS proven he can pass, and I think of the 4 Voisin mentions he will be the most improved.

That leaves Kevin Martin. Last season, he was asked to create. Last season he was asked to do things he had never done before. Last season he was asked to be the “man.” If there is one thing SpeedRacer has shown he is willing to do, it’s work on his game. Yes, he’s not a picture perfect passer or what not. But, it’s not like he doesn’t pass the ball AT ALL.

Martin is neither a black hole, nor a lead guard. He does, already, what he does best: Shoot efficiently. He’s very very good at that, and I suspect Ailene Voisin should take a look at the B-Ref page and look at the numbers. The only 2 area’s about Kevin I wonder about now is health and his defense. Everything else is what it is. If his ball handling and passing improves, I will consider that an incredible bonus. Given that the Kings selected Kevin 26th overall, he is a pretty incredible value as a player.

Having said that, Kevin wants to improve every aspect of his game. That includes his ball handling, and passing. Paul Westphal will be very good for Kevin in every respect. Because Westphal was been a very good G (and by very good I mean very nearly good enough to be in the Hall of Fame) in his own right, and has coached Hall of Fame G’s (Gary Payton), or very very good G’s (Kevin Johnson–who in fairness would have gone to the Hall if not for bad knee’s). He knows what’s up, yanno?

Here’s the deal: I won’t complain anymore about Rubio. I won’t complain much about Voisin. (I truthfully try to ignore her. If I didn’t have space to fill, I wouldn’t write it.) But, I also think she wrote this precisely for the same reasons I’m responding: What else did she have to write Kings related right now? We still don’t know whether Brockman has been tendered a contract, tentatively or not, and whether that happens is anybody’s guess. The deadline to signing Brockman was September 6th, though. (That is the day I’m writing this for those without calenders.)

The point is that Rubio doesn’t matter. Whether the Kings need better passing, or not, they needed so many things as a team they felt they had to take the B(est)P(layer)A(valiable). And, whether Easy Reke is a 2 or a 1, the Kings clearly believe in Tyreke Evans. What was interesting was this note by Voisin:

They should get to know the youngster so well that two years from now, if they haven’t already acquired someone to deliver the ball to Evans, Martin and Hawes, they should invite Rubio for another visit, another look.

If Reke is a 2, and Martin is a 2, where is each going to play? (I think Voisin is implying that Martin can play the 3. Which, I believe, is a very bad thing for Martin on 2 ends.)

******

Let’s get back to something that Voisin said about Rubio:

Spanish sensation and one-time Kings draft prospect Ricky Rubio recently spurned the Minnesota Timberwolves for reasons that are thought to include any or all of the following:

He hates cold weather.

He hates competition.

He hated the thought of relinquishing millions in a contractual buyout, although the New York Knicks would have been tempting and, from the beginning, Sacramento was his desired location.

Couldn’t that argument be said about Beno Udrih? He had a problem with competition in San Antonio. Gregg Popovich soured on him, and Minnesota cut him immediately after acquiring him.

What exactly does hating competition mean? I think Rubio wanted to come to the NBA, but he didn’t want to play with Jonny Flynn or fight with him for minutes. Especially when paying such a hefty buyout.

But, wouldn’t the Kings have made Rubio fight for minutes? I mean, they’re going to likely start Beno Udrih, or Sergio Rodriguez if Udrih can’t go, at the start of the season. Even Derrick Rose, the same feller that won Rookie of the Year, didn’t start 82 games last season. Since when does starting happen for every rookie in the NBA? There is a learning curve when playing in the NBA. Something tells me that lesson will hit Rubio very hard, and unless he thinks he can completely overcome it (and only the stupid believe that), he was likely to be taken a bit aback about the way things played out.

Frankly, Rubio played his hand badly. But, that’s his choice. He can use his team, and time, in Barcelona to improve his game. The competition may bring things out of Rubio he didn’t know he had. Whatever NBA team gets him, and a NBA team will, may be very happy about Rubio anyway.

If Rubio wasn’t going to come over unless the “ideal” circumstances happened for him (which should be absolutely obvious now), what makes anybody believe that the Kings were ideal for him? All Rubio has proven is that he is a diva. That he needs his ego soothed to be happy. (Or, maybe the buyout was too much to overcome. I doubt it though.)

What I do know is that whatever Ricky Rubio does bring to the table, he had his chance to prove it in June. He didn’t. And, because he didn’t show his stuff in June (even though he had an opportunity to do so) that hurt him in the Kings eyes.

First and foremost, at the 4th overall pick, the Kings needed an impact player. Whether that’s a SG, or a tall PG who shoots a lot, or whatever, I do not care. Impact players are impact players, and you need players who provide unique and translatable skills to be an effective NBA team. What pass first PG player suits up for the World Champion Lakers? The Runner Up Orlando Magic? The LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers? I’ll grant that Chauncey Billups is considered pass first, but many of his abilities do come somewhat from his size and ability to post up PG’s at times. (Shooting the 3 is not something he does awfully either.)

I might add Billups bounced around from Boston, to Toronto, Denver, Minnesota, to Detroit and then back to Denver (this is currently his 2nd stint). Billups is considered a leader, and possibly a pass first PG. The most assists he’s ever gotten in a season? The 8.6 dimes he recorded 3 seasons ago during Flip Saunders first season as Pistons coach.

When Billups was 20 (his sophomore season at Colorado), he averaged 4.7 assists for a good team in the Big 8 (as it was then–it is the Big 12 now if you’re wondering). His freshman season, at 19, he averaged 5.5 assists.

Here’s the difference. In his sophomore season, he averaged 19.1 points. In his freshman season: 17.6 points.

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that Billups is probably not the best, or worst, passer of his generation. But, if a player scores more, and doesn’t drastically decrease his assist total? Probably nothing. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

Strangely enough, his rebounds also drastically went down too.

******

So, what do I know? I know that I don’t know what Tyreke Evans will do in the upcoming season, or seasons. I do know that Evans turned over the ball quite a bit during his freshman season. Oh, you were wondering about Chauncey Billups? He turned over the ball 4.5 times his freshman season. Funny thing about college players: They turn the ball over a lot.

Gee, what a shock that is. I think I’ve made my point. I don’t know whether Evans will be a lead guard, an off guard, or a workable pairing guard with Kevin Martin. Those are all answers I’m not Nostrodamus. What I do know that is Ricky Rubio is not necessarily the answer, nor do I believe the Kings made a mistake passing him up.

What I do know is that if Tyreke Evans is a franchise player, they made the right pick. What I do know is that only time will reveal that answer. How hard is to write a column with that conclusion?

(The answer: It’s not. Voisin isn’t necessarily writing things to be right. She’s writing to be provocative. That’s the difference between someone like, say, me, and her. She writes stuff to piss people off. I write my opinion and they can’t handle it. That’s real power if I ever saw it. That, and the power to make gummy bears. But that’s for a different day.)

Have a good Labor Day people.

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