ESPN Loves to Stir Things Up

Posted by: Alex Gorge
04/18/14 11:04 am EST

mcwsixersuniDo you ever watch ESPN or read and catch yourself thinking one or more of the following:

“This is not f@*%$*^ sports news.”   or “This has absolutely nothing to do with sports.”  

“This is a ridiculous argument.” or “No one would have reported this twenty years ago.”

Maybe it is just me but I constantly find myself yelling at segments I see on First Take and other speculative sports shows.  The thing about it is that once I yell, ESPN wins.  ESPN wins because even though the segment may have had no relevant sports importance or may be a completely ridiculous sports argument, it made me react.  Twenty years ago sports reporting was all real news and extremely professional.  Through social media arising and attention spans declining, the sports news world has completely changed.  Any average fan can now find the critical news they want in about two seconds on their phone.

So at a certain point what does ESPN have left to talk about that we haven’t already read or seen?  Controversy, that’s what.

Controversy gets the ratings and the clicks because it is what inspires real emotions out of people the quickest.  Don’t believe me?  Go into your local YMCA on a day when it’s packed with pick up basketball and yell at the top of your lungs “Lebron is the greatest player EVER! It’s not even an argument!”  Also, if you do that please record it and send it to me or put it on Youtube.

A week ago I wrote an article on this site explaining why Michael Carter-Williams is the clear cut rookie of the year.  Since then an article came out on which gave out the NBA awards for this year.  I was shocked to see that Grantland’s Zach Lowe had given the Rookie of the Year award to Victor Oladipo over Carter-Williams.  I was dumbfounded at how a respected basketball writer could incorrectly analyze the award so badly.  Even Lowe’s colleagues over at ESPN voted Carter-Williams as the clear cut favorite to win the ROY award .

After reading Lowe’s article I eventually calmed down and realized, its just controversy rearing its ugly head again.  Lowe wrote this article because it is somewhat of a bold opinion that you can argue and support somewhat.  It is not a winning argument but it is an argument none the less.   So let’s take a look at some of the points Bill Simmons disciple made and talk about whether they have merit or not.

I wrote last week that Carter-Williams has Oladipo beat in almost every major statistical category, but that there are a couple of arguments for Oladipo.  I previously stated what these arguments were and that they were opinion “he said, she said” based.  These were the exact arguments used by Lowe for controversial purposes.  The first argument up for discussion is that Carter-Williams plays more minutes than Oladipo and that is the reason for his better stats.  More over from that, Lowe stated that Oladipo is much more efficient than Carter-Williams.  He used this as a basis to say that if Oladipo played for the 76ers his stats would not only be better but they would come at a more efficient rate.

Alright, I get it; Lowe is going the Skip Bayless route to invoke reactions and heated responses.  Two can play at this game.  Oladipo does indeed get fewer opportunities than Carter-Williams.  However, that is because there are better options on the Magic roster.  Orlando actually has players on its roster that people have heard of before.  Players are Jameer Nelson, Aaron Afflalo and former Sixer “Big Nik” Vucevic all have key roles in Orlando’s offense.  This means that Oladipo is the third or fourth option, so that when he actually gets a shot, it is usually a high percentage look because of the Magic’s offense.

On the other hand, outside of Thad Young, Carter-Williams is the only option for the 76ers.  Because of this, Carter-Williams is forced to take more shots than he would like to and a lot of them are low percentage opportunities.  So you can argue “the fewer opportunities” angle all you want for Oladipo, but it can just as easily counter that point in favor of Carter-Williams.

Now that we are past the shooting efficiency and minutes played argument, let’s talk facilitating efficiency.  As I mentioned before, because Oladipo is the third option he is set up in higher percentage opportunities than Carter-Williams.  You would think that Oladipo would have a high assist to turnover ratio because of that fact.  Nope.  Oladipo is surprisingly very inefficient in this category.  Carter-Williams sports a 6.3-3.5 assist to turnover ratio as compared to Oladipo’s 4.1-3.2 rate.  The odd thing about these stats is that while Carter-Williams incrementally improved his rate over the season, Oladipo’s actually got worse.

From February through March Oladipo went down 1.5 assists per game while increasing his turnover output from 2.8 to 3.7.  Over that same timeframe Carter-Williams went from 4.7 APG-4.6 TO too 6.5 APG-4 TO.  Let us not forget that Carter-Williams was being forced to create plays that aren’t there due to just how disgustingly bad Philadelphia’s roster is.  This is common sense, if Oladipo has a bad assist to turnover ratio on an Orlando team with some NBA talent, what makes you think it wouldn’t be significantly worse if he played for the Sixers?.

What’s next?  Oh yeah, Lowe claimed that Oladipo is a much better defensive player because of a couple stats.  This argument is based on the fact that when Oladipo plays, the Magic allow six less points per game.  That stat is compared to the fact that when Carter-Williams plays the Sixers are actually worse defensively.  Shortsighted is the term for that argument.  While I can agree that Oladipo is a better on-ball defender than MCW, Brett Brown’s “pick your poison” defense didn’t do anyone any favors here in Philadelphia and that’s especially true for those with lateral quickness issues like MCW.  The concept of protecting the paint first and foremost and than chasing down shots at the three point line set this roster up for failure at the defensive end.

The 76ers defense this year consisted of players sprinting out to the three point line to in theory contest a shot.  In reality the Sixers roster was filled with poor defenders who rarely ever able to recover to the 3-point line and gave up a historic number of 3PAs.  On the rare ocassion where a 76er was able to get out and contest 3-point shooter, a simple ball fake allowed the opponent to blow by the Sixer defender who’s momentum left him of balance.  Defense will obviously be the biggest point of emphasis for Brown going into next year but that is another article for another day.  I’m not saying Carter-Williams is a better defensive player than Oladipo, I am merely going to use Lowe’s same argument tactic against him.  If Oladipo was on the Sixers than his defensive rating would be significantly worse as the personnel and scheme for the Sixers in 2013-14 produced the worst defense in the league.

The last argument is that Oladipo is playing so well of late that he has eclipsed Carter-Williams at the front runner.  Let’s check the stats.  In April (8 games) Carter-Williams averaged 17.6 PPG, 6.4 APG, 7.5 RPG while shooting at a 52.5% clip.  In April MCW also boasted a 59.4 TS%; a 54.1 eFG% and 4 to 1 assist to turnover ration.  During the last calendar month of the season (8 games) Oladipo averaged 13.1 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.9 RPG while shooting a 49% clip with a 59.8 TS% and a 57 eFG%.

So, uh, about April, that is a big fat check in the Carter-Williams category.  But, by all means let’s go back to March.  Carter-Williams was slightly less superhuman averaging 14.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 6.5 APG, 1.8 SPG and four turnovers per contest.  Oladipo’s March averages were 14 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.5 SPG and 3.7 turnovers.  Although this month is closer you have to give the edge to Carter-Williams because of a significant edge in rebounding coupled with a much better assist to turnover ratio.

Again I get trying to stir the pot to get clicks and comments, but it’s simply a no contest in the Rookie of the Year race this time.  It was a commendable try by Lowe but this is just an attempt to be bold and get more readers and responses.  Guess what, it worked again and now I have written an article to address the nonsense notion that Oladipo should win ROY.  If Oladipo wins this award then it is highway robbery and Carter-Williams should file charges.  On top of that if Carter-Williams loses the award then the definition of rookie of the year should change.  In fact if it isn’t the most valuable rookie and just an opinion based debate then the winner should be Mason Plumlee.

Hey, maybe that’s not a bad idea.  Ill send it over to ESPN and have Stephen A. Smith and Skip start working on it now.


Alex Gorge is a scribe for Philadunkia.  You can follow him on Twitter @apg3000.

You can follow us on Twitter @philadunkia.


14 Responses to “ESPN Loves to Stir Things Up”

  1. Mike
    18. April 2014 at 12:37

    While I would lean towards MCW over Oladipo, your arguments are over-the-top, and are more indicative of the kind of complaints you’re launching towards others. I agree that first take is a joke, but comparing Zach Lowe to Skip Bayless? C’mon. He is probably one of the most objective basketball writers around, and does not strike me as someone who wants or needs constant attention. If anything calling out Lowe gets hits for your website, which you likely need a lot more than him.

    In terms of basketball analysis, let’s not pretend that Orlando is somehow leaps and bounds better than the Sixers. While the Magic are clearly better and more talented, they were 29th in offensive efficiency and finished with just 4 more wins. Afflalo had a solid year, but Vucevic and Nelson are not the kind of players that demand attention from a defense. The Sixers also played at the fastest pace in the NBA, so that inflates MCW’s numbers a little. Finally, Oladipo played in 10 more games. Add in the better defense and the argument for Oladipo is not as absurd as you make it to be. Again, I don’t necessarily agree with Lowe; however, to paint his argument as outlandish as you do is more of a stretch than the accusations you’re throwing at him.

  2. Steve Toll
    18. April 2014 at 12:53

    You’re pretty thirsty for MCW

  3. NBA Fan
    18. April 2014 at 12:53

    1. You accuse Lowe of stirring ur controversy with his articles, while you’re so obviously doing the same by attacking his reputation.

    2. All these Bayless and Stephen A. Smith jokes are lame. Sorry.

    3. MCW played for a tanking 76ers team that didn’t care about wins and losses; stats were easier to come by — especially when you compare it to an Orlando squad that tried to win some games.

    4. I understand the emotion, but try not to act like such a homer in your defense of MCW.

  4. J L
    18. April 2014 at 13:36

    Holy guacamole, this article is garbage.

    First, let’s look at whether Lowe’s right about Oladipo. Here’s some advanced stats: MCW vs Oladipo

    PER: 15.5 vs 13.6
    MCW has the edge, but since PER infamously rewards chucking (it gives a +ev if you shoot better than 31%), MCW’s 2FGA more per 36mins can explain this.

    TS% (usg%): 48% (25.7%) vs 51.4% (24.4%)
    Oladipo is more efficient despite having nearly identical usage. MCW is 2nd on his team in usage, Oladipo is 1st. So much for Oladipo getting “fewer opportunities” and being the “4th option”.

    WS/48: 0.026 vs 0.026
    Not a fan of this stat, but here it is ICYMI.

    RPM: -2.96 (343rd rank) vs -0.92 (198th rank)
    Unlike regular +/-, real +/- adjusts for teammate quality. The corresponding difference between the two is massive.

    Team Performance on/off floor: -9.1/-10.7 vs -4.9/-5.5
    Both teams fare better when they’re on the floor. If you argue that 1.6>0.6, then you better argue that going from 65wins->70wins is as easy as 20wins->25wins.

    Team Pace: 1st vs 16th
    FYI: using counting stats repeatedly as you do when one player is playing at the fastest pace in the league is utter idiocy.

    Secondly, and more importantly, let’s say you disagree with me or Lowe. That’s fine. But to accuse someone of being dishonest and deliberately controversial- especially when the writer has shown no such inclination in the past- makes you look like a giant tool.

    Do you ever read random blogs and catch yourself thinking: “This is a ridiculous argument” or ” This is not f@*%$*^ news” ?

    Yes, yes I do.

  5. Alex
    18. April 2014 at 13:49


    I was not putting Lowe on the same level as Bayless by any means. I actually really enjoy Zach’s work on a consistent basis. As far as the ROY race is concerned I just dont think its close. You can make the argument that Oladipo played more games but MCW’s injury problems that kept him out were a joke used to aid tanking.

    Again, on this lone basis I thought Zach was reaching in his argument. It is not just me that is giving MCW a clear ROY nod, check other sources. I still very much enjoy Grantland’s work and they are at the forefront of sportswriting. This lone analysis which only makes up a third of his article was a stretch.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Alex Gorge

  6. Chris
    18. April 2014 at 14:32

    I really didn’t care for Lowe’s pick for ROY because the logic behind Oladipo being better than MCW falls flat. An increase in possessions used at a higher pace is going to lower his efficiency. It’s not just about using his percentages and adding more possessions. There’s a direct correlation between higher pace and usage and lower efficiency (outside of superstars, of course).

    Now if he wanted to say Plumlee, then sure. He’s the most efficient and made the most use out of his minutes that contributed to the most success. But Oladipo over MCW is an inconsistent idea that I wouldn’t expect someone like Lowe to trip over.

  7. Alex
    18. April 2014 at 16:01

    NBA Fan and J L

    Your right Orlando did try and win some games because their roster is miles better than Philly’s. A trickle down effect from that better roster is better shots for Oladipo as opposed to MCW. If you are going to argue agaisnt Oladipo getting higher percentage shots then your saying MCW and Thad Young are better than the entire Orlando starting five. In no way was Oladipo ever asked to carry a giant scoring load as evidenced by his low shooting rate of about 12 shots per game to MCW’s 15. Oladipo also isn’t getting double teamed every time he drives the lane like MCW. The higher percentage shots Oladipo gets are what is causing the slightly better TS%. This correlates just as much to PER. MCW was asked to take an inordinate amount of shots this year because there were no other options besides Thad Young. This was never a part of MCW’s game and if you watched him in college at all, you would know that. Obviously he was going to struggle this year handling an upsurd scoring burden.

    JL, you are completely ignoring Oladipos facilitating efficiency. Oladipo has a TOV% of 19.2 coupled with a 21.9 AST% as opposed to MCW’s 16.9 TOV% and 30.2 AST%. MCW played ten less games than Oladipo and still managed to have 114 more assists and 9 less turnovers. Those stats are even more impressive when you consider the high usage rate of MCW on a terrible team. Oladipo having a low usage rate on a better team makes those stats even worse for him in comparison to MCW’s.

    Then you get to rebounding where MCW has a 9.8 TRB% and Oladipo has a 7.5 TRB%. Oladipo plays shooting guard and is getting significantly outrebounded MCW.

    MCW was used at an outrageous rate this year which was almost unfair from an efficiency standpoint both shooting and creating. Despite that rate on that terrible team he still maintained a much better assist to turnover ratio. Factor that in with the huge rebounding edge and there is no way you can say Oladipo was a more valuable player to his team than MCW was to his.

    Thanks for reading and commenting,


  8. J L
    18. April 2014 at 16:06


    Playing faster allows players to attack defenses that aren’t set. MCW’s counting stats AND efficiency have been inflated because of this. The POSITIVE correlation between pace and efficiency has been shown repeatedly:

    So, the argument falls flat on both the pace-efficiency front and the usage front (they have nearly identical usage rates of 25.7% and 24.4%).

  9. Alex
    18. April 2014 at 20:23

    Well Well, We all love controversy. It is entertaining and has nothing to do with facts. I really enjoyed reading this article and comments and it really made me mad at Zach just for a few minutes. But facts remain.

    Sixers lost 64 games
    MCW being a ROY will not add anything to this miserable season
    MCW is not an efficient scorer and needs to improve his shooting to be effective in this league
    Sixers have tones of opportunities and need to use them wisely
    Hinkie has a great analytical mind (But is that enough to build a championship caliber team?)

  10. Steve Toll
    19. April 2014 at 00:34

    MCW isnt even a lottery pick in a 2013 redraft

  11. johnny W
    19. April 2014 at 03:00

    The one thing working against MCW in getting the ROY award is people honestly didn’t liked the way we tanked this year…when will others learn there is more than one way to skin a cat. The MAGIC tanked in a more conventional way but seemed to escape the rath of the media in doing so…that being said with all due respect to Victor it’s not even close. MCW hands down!

  12. Chris
    21. April 2014 at 09:48

    J L

    Those are interesting articles. Definitely re-frames my previous opinion of the two.

    I think there are some nuances between the teams, but besides that, Lowe may be correct that they are fairly similar players with Oladipo being the better defender.

  13. steve toll
    21. April 2014 at 18:43


    The Magic are in a FAR better soit than the 76ers going forward. They actually have utility with their roster where the 76ers have a bunch of skidmarks, and an overrated GM who did a miserable job this year all things considered

    So much hangs on Noel being a stud and his next 2 drafts.

    He’d of been better off trading ET during the draft, trading for ROLO and T-Rob while signing Millsap, Carroll, Collison and fielding team with a bunch of assets to make a run at big time free agents this offseason.

    But maybe MCW takes s HUGE STEP, Noel is a stud, our pick this year is an All-Star , the new Orleans pick is a solid rotation player. Thad gets traded for a lotto pick etc etc etc

  14. johnny
    21. April 2014 at 19:40

    In reference to ESPN shows First Take and the dialogue between Skip Bayless and Stephen A Smith or Mike and Mike etc. they sometimes take a page from Howard Stern in being like SHOCK JOCKS…or if I dare date myself Howard Cosell…they can be very opinionated but get your attention nevertheless. They are SPORTS shows for men, no different than TALK show for ladies like Oprah, The “Talk” and the Today Show. lol

    24 hour sports media has come a long way in the past few decades…

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