Monday, March 20, 2006

Smelly Fish is Annoying

John 'Smelly Fish' Salmons is an annoying player. He takes too many shots for how well he can shoot, he makes iffy decisions with the ball late in games, and he wears a headband. A headband in and of itself is not annoying, but he wears a headband while also sporting a mini-fro. It just doesn't work for him. Let's break it all down.

Johnny has much better stats as a starter as compared to when he comes off the pine (there are no pine benches in the NBA, which makes me sad). He shoots 47% as a starter, compared to 40% as a sub, averaging 9 more minutes and 2.5 more points a game. However, he is not one of the best guards on this team, nor is he tall enough to play as a small forward. According to 82games.com, the two players with the worst +/- ratings per 48 minutes are Kevin Ollie(-8.6) and John Salmons(-4.4). Now let's look at the minutes in the last game against the Golden State Warriors. Johnny had 41 minutes and Kevin had 26. The team can't be giving Kevin Ollie, career backup PG with a bad moustache, 29 minutes a game.

Back to Johnny, because he handles the ball far more than Ollie when in the game. Salmons has two good moves that he consistently uses. The first is driving from the top of the key after being isolated and cradling the ball while entering the paint and laying it off the glass for a bucket. The second move is catching the ball around the free throw line, doing a quick post-up, turning around and shooting the ball through the net. He's also an OK free throw shooter. So, let's give him that. However, he doesn't do much else right on the offensive end. He doesn't pass all that well, dribbling the ball entirely too much for someone not named Allen Iverson. He also consistently dribbles himself into the corner, forcing himself to either restart the 'play' (Mo Cheeks doesn't 'do' plays) or throw up a bad shot. He also turns it over in too many key spots. This is hard to quantify, and is prone to some 'I watch the games' mentality, but in the month of March there have been several instances where he's either turned it over(Boston, Golden State) or thrown up ill-advised shots(Boston). To be fair, he played well in the Seattle game down the stretch.

He also plays poor defense at the end of games. He smothers his opponent early on in the shot clock, but backs off as the clock winds down, enabling them to wriggle free for a shot, or forcing Salmons to try to recover and foul them. Several fouls have been committed late in games which have simply been unnecessary. He also doesn't rotate on defense when a teammate is being screened, which he's done several times. This led to probably the worst of the season, when, on March 5th, Indiana Pacers won by 1 point over the Sixers. The Pacers had the ball, down 1 with 5 seconds to go, and Stephen Jackson had been missing all day long. The Sixers called a timeout to even make sure they had their defense down. Then Stephen Jackson went by a screen and left his defender Kyle Korver in the dust, easily driving to the hoop for the winning bucket. People wondered why Mo Cheeks left Korver in the game, and yet didn't seem to recognize that John Salmons was standing aimlessly, not bothering to rotate on this play to pick up Jackson. Kevin Ollie made a last ditch effort to stop him, but John Salmons was the problem on that play.

Finally, John Salmons has completely lost his shot since the all-star break, and yet has been throwing up two more shots a game. His field goal percentage is 34.5% in the last 14 games, and 38.5% in the last 4 games since Iverson's been out. His passing efficiency has actually gone up, giving 2.5 assists for every turnover, and netting double-digit assists for 2 of those 4 games. So why does he continue to shoot? Why does Mo Cheeks not tell him to pass-first, shoot later? Why is Andre Iguodala not taking more of these shots away from Salmons? This guy would no doubt be a starter on a team like the Charlotte Bobcats, but the Sixers should not be starting John Salmons. He's a lesser version of Willie Green, and we already have one of those.


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