Giving FJM A Try – Simmons Column Beatdown


Bill Simmons usually gets a bad rap, despite being one of the most widely followed sports writer-personalities in the country. He seems to put a lot of effort into his columns and was the driving force behind, the ESPN-affiliated sports site which is a must-read every day.

However, in his latest column on the Grantland site, Simmons seemingly pulled a Vince Carter* and mailed a column in. We’re all guilty of not wanting to do our jobs on some days, but the atrocity that was Simmons’ column has forced me to do something about it.

*A Simmons meme – he is influential.

This will be my version of an FJM breakdown, which is probably familiar to a lot of you. If not, google it. And Bill Baer does a great job with his own at Crashburn Alley, the SweetSpot Phillies blog.

Without further ado, the breakdown of a bad article:

"All in all, 12 to 15 teams need to shake things up before July, allowing me to break out my Trade Machine canvas one last time. I added one wrinkle this time around, inspired by a reader named Brian in Chino, who believed my constant pimping of the “always trade three quarters for a dollar” analogy could go further. Brian suggested an actual money scale that determined the value of every player.My first reaction was, “What a dumb idea, that’s a total waste of time.”My second reaction was, “What a brilliant idea, that’s a total waste of time!!!!”"

When an article’s premise “What a brilliant idea, that’s a total waste of time” there’s an issue. Usually, I like my articles to be informative or have a point, but I don’t know. All in all, I guess that brings readers in.

"For the 900th time, here’s my philosophy with NBA trades: You always want to turn coins into paper. The Knicks paid a steep price for Carmelo, but still, it wasn’t THAT steep because I’d always rather have a crisp dollar bill (Carmelo) than a bunch of coins jingling around in my pocket (everyone Denver got in that trade)."

Carmelo’s one of the preeminent offensive forces in the NBA today. But the Nuggets got better when Melo was traded for all that “change”. Meanwhile, the Knicks have two all-offense no-defense players under massive contracts, heading into a lockout which may prevent them from acquiring that third all-important piece to the puzzle. You know, the one that makes up for the defensive deficiencies of the other two mega-stars. They went 14-14 after the trade (finishing 42-40 on the season, virtually no improvement), while the Nuggets went 18-7 (finishing 50-32, substantially better than pre-trade). Basketball is a team sport with two ends after all.

Also, have you seen the rest of the Knicks roster? For the 900th time, it stinks.

"Quarter: Andrea Bargnani would be a 50-cent piece if he weren’t so freaking overpaid. Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Ray Felton all seem like 50-cent pieces, but really, they’re quarters. Jeff Green? Definitely a quarter. (Much to every Boston fan’s chagrin.) Jared Dudley? The ultimate quarter, with a puncher’s chance at becoming a 50-cent piece. You get the idea."

Again with your overrating of people that score a lot of points but don’t do anything else. Bargnani averaged 21 points per game last year. Great. But he’s 7-feet tall and does not know how to defend or rebound. He grabbed 5.3 rebounds in just under 36 minutes per game. He was the starting center. He’s not that good.

Gallinari more than doubles up Bargnani in win shares, but you know he’s a quarter. Wilson Chandler outranks him too. Ditto for Raymond Felton. But you know they’re all worse than Andrea Bargnani. And Monta Ellis is outranked in this one category by Felton and Gallinari this year and for their careers. But you know they’re quarters.

But really… you know. Don’t go back and change the ratings just because they’ll make your previous evaluation look bad. Not to mention the whole system is incredibly stupid anyway.

You get the idea.

"Without further ado, let’s make up 20 fake deals separated into various categories, and let’s make sure none of them include the bogus “Monta Ellis for Andre Iguodala” swap, which makes no sense for the simple reason that Monta Ellis is better at basketball than Andre Iguodala. Anyway …"

Now, this is just stupid. If he had been following the trade rumors, Golden State has offered this to the Sixers, who obviously would want Golden State to sweeten the deal because Iguodala is the better player. Shocking, right?

Well, here’s some objective proof that Andre Iguodala might in fact be better than Monta Ellis. By a long shot. From a previous post of my own, italicized to show the difference between my quotes and Bill’s, is what I wrote about an Iguodala-Ellis swap:

Third, I’m not all that sure that Ellis and Iguodala are similarly valued players. While Iguodala isn’t a great shooter by any measure, Ellis recently hasn’t been much better. Over the last 3 seasons, Ellis has shot 45% from the floor (following up a 53% campaign) and 34% from behind the three-point line. During this same time period, Iguodala shot a slightly better than 45% from the floor and under 32% from behind the line. Which goes to show that, despite scoring 20-plus PPG in 3 of the last 4 years, Ellis is not an efficient scorer. In fact, he’s really just a slightly better version of Lou Williams who takes a ton more shots and gets to the free-throw line less often. And the offense isn’t the only similarity between the two. Ellis avoids defense like the plague. Oh, and despite being a shooting guard, he’s 6-3 and cannot guard most other shooting guards because of his height. Iguodala, meanwhile, is an all-NBA caliber defender at either swing-man position. He rebounds well and finished 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio this past year. In other words, Andre is clearly a better player.

Adding onto that, Ellis’s teams have performed better with him on the bench the last two years. Yes. Seriously. And this isn’t a 50-win team. We’re talking about bad teams that improved when he didn’t play. While I believe I may have made the previous conclusion (that is, what I wrote before) without enough evidence on my side, I would say this clinches the argument in Iguodala’s favor. And in case you’re wondering, the Sixers played better with Iguodala than without: StatsCube.

But that trade makes no sense, because Monta Ellis is better at basketball than Andre Iguodala.


These trades apparently do make sense:

"TRADE NO. 16: MIAMI trades Chris Bosh (silver dollar) to HOUSTON for Luis Scola (50 cents), Kyle Lowry (quarter), Chase Budinger (quarter), and New York’s 2012 no. 1 pick (10 cents). Final tally: Houston ($1.00), Miami ($1.10).TRADE NO. 17: MIAMI trades LeBron James ($2 bill) and Joel Anthony (dime) to ORLANDO for Dwight Howard ($2 bill) and Ryan Anderson (quarter). Final tally: Miami ($2.25), Orlando ($2.10).TRADE NO. 18: MIAMI gets Dwight Howard ($2 bill) and Ryan Anderson (quarter); Orlando gets Pau Gasol (silver dollar), Lamar Odom (50-cent piece), and Ron Artest (dime); Los Angeles gets LeBron James ($2 bill) and Gilbert Arenas (minus-50 cents). Final tally: Miami ($2 out, $2.25 back), Orlando ($1.75 out, $1.60 back), Lakers ($1.60 out, $1.50 back).TRADE NO. 20: Minnesota gets Monta Ellis (50 cents); Memphis gets the no. 2 pick (50 cents), the no. 11 pick (25 cents), Jonny Flynn (dime), and Martell Webster (nickel); Golden State gets Rudy Gay (silver dollar). Final tally: Minnesota (65 cents out, 50 cents in); Memphis ($1.00 out, 90 cents in); Golden State (75 cents out, $1.00 in)."

Yup, this needed to be done.