Tuesday, November 07, 2006

we've found Him at last!

It is the Law of Conservation of David Eckstein-esque figures in American sports. In essence, the number of "David Eckstein's," so to speak, must be equivalent in the NBA, the NFL, and the MLB. In the MLB, the holder of the crown of David Eckstein is quite clear; that would be David Mark Eckstein of the St. Louis Winne- errr, excuse me, Cardinals. In the NFL on the other hand, we are currently witnessing a hotly contested race between Tom Brady, Adam Vinatieri, and Mike Vrabel. (Though Vinatieri scared some followers with his "anti-clutch" performance Sunday). To me, personally, it's got to be Brady. Guy's just money. 4 Interceptions... can't touch that.

Anyways, back to the article. As the title would imply, we've finally found the forerunner in the NBA David Eckstein Race we've all been looking for. Whom, you ask? His name's Armstrong. Darrell Armstrong.

Interesting article, from the AP of all places:

INDIANAPOLIS -- At 38, Darrell Armstrong is the oldest of the Indiana Pacers by far.

Let me guess, he may be the oldest, but he’s also the most spirited, most enthusiastic, and most gritty.

After three games with his new team, though, his energy and enthusiasm are making it awfully tough for coach Rick Carlisle to give him the reduced playing time that's more befitting a player of his age.

How did I know.

Obtained in an offseason trade with Dallas, the 13-year NBA veteran is also bringing a steadying influence to a young team that has had to deal with a flock of off-court distractions the past two years.

Oh, and don’t forget, he’s also bring his career 10.3 ppg scoring average. As well as his breathtaking 11.7 EFF.

"A lot of people were saying that maybe I don't have nothing in the tank, where I wasn't scoring like I used to," the 6-foot-1 guard said after Monday's practice.

A lot of people were not saying that you don’t maybe not have nothing not left not in the tank?


"To be honest with you, I wasn't even looking at the basket in Dallas. I was trying to get guys involved.

Yeah. You took one FGA approximately every 4.88 minutes. Let’s do a little arithmetic here. 4.88 minutes = 292.8 seconds. The average NBA possession lasts about 20 seconds, so 292.8/18 = 14 possessions. Divide 14/2 to get Dallas possessions = 7. Average team turns the ball over once every 7 possessions, so that would mean you took one out of every six shots for your team. “Wasn’t even looking at the basket?”

No, not really. It’s just that you had a hideous 30.5 % FG percentage, so you managed to rack up that enormous 2.1 ppg figure.

"We had so many weapons offensively, sometimes somebody's got to take a different role. I took the role of being a defensive player, of pushing the ball, changing the pace of the game, trying to get guys easy shots," he said. "Here, my job is a little different. It's still to get guys easy shots but also to look at my shot."

Yes, your 30.5 FG% shot.

Armstrong averaged a career-low 2.1 points in 10 minutes a game for the Mavericks last season.

Because he shot 30.5% from the floor.

He came to the Pacers with Rawle Marshall and Josh Powell in July as part of a trade for veteran guard Anthony Johnson.

Who incidentally did not shoot 30.5% from the floor. (Actually, 44%).

In three games with Indiana (2-1), he's averaging 11 points and 3.7 assists in 17 minutes a game.

3 game sample size. Enough said.

He's also shooting 65 percent from the field -- including a team-high 8-of-12 3-pointers.

3 game sample size. Blah blah blah I don’t care.

"When you can be productive on the floor, Rick's going to keep you out there," he said.

Apparently Rick will keep you out there even when you’re not productive.

"Every coach has a plan for an older guy or your role players, how long you want to keep them in, what they're going to do. I know Rick probably has a plan to play me 12 to 15 minutes. I guess he looks up sometimes and I'm past 15 minutes in the third quarter."

I am sure he sighs in relief.

Armstrong played 19 points in a 100-91 loss to New Orleans on Friday night.

He played 19 points. Brilliant.

He came back the following night with 13 points in 17 minutes in a 109-95 victory at New York.

Don’t you mean 17 minutes in 13 points?

So far, the strain hasn't bothered him.

“It’s a challenge for me every night.” Yes, Darrell Armstrong said that.

"As long as I get my rest and relax," he said. "I felt good Saturday night from the back-to-back. But it's a challenge for me every night, not only in games but in practice as well because I want to keep my mind set the right way."

Nice. He says the strain is a “challenge” and you, anonymous AP press writer, say it isn’t. I guess you win this round… I mean who better than an anonymous AP press writer to know Darrell Armstrong better than Darrell Armstrong?

Armstrong, who was not drafted out of Fayetteville State in 1991, played in the minor leagues and in Europe before he signed as a free agent with Orlando late in the 1995 season. He played only three games with the Magic that year and 13 the next season before his career took off in 1996, and his best seasons were in 2000, when he averaged 16.2 points, and 2001, at 15.9 points a game.

Wow, that scoring average really did just take off. 16.2 ppg? 15.9 ppg? Mind blowing.

The roster shake-up this season has made Armstrong and Sarunas Jasikevicius, so far, the top reserves at guard behind starters Stephen Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley.

And this relates to Darrell Armstrong’s immense heart and enthusiasm how?

And with the team still trying to overcome the chaos following the brawl with Detroit Pistons fans in 2004 and the recent nightclub shooting involving Jackson, Carlisle finally has something positive to build on.

Ah. Darrell Armstrong’s heart and energy. I get it.

"I like our team. I like the way they interact,"' he said of the new team chemistry, even with Jackson's legal troubles. "They seem to like each other and care about each other, and it shows when they're playing."

Yep. It really is manifested in their 2-1 record. Two wins in three games (???) I doubt any team’s ever accomplished that before.

Carlisle said Armstrong's leadership and ability -- despite his age -- don't surprise him a bit.

Yeah, he averaged 16.2 ppg in a season, for crying out loud. Give the guy his due.

"We knew Darrell was a guy that's been a very successful player in this league for a long time," Carlisle said.

We also know that Darrell was a guy that averaged a 3.5 Approximate Value over his 12 year career. (where a score of 10 would be equivalent to the average NBA starter).

"We know he's getting toward the end of his career, but he still has great energy, he still has great heart and enthusiasm, and those things can be contagious for a team, and that's what we need from him."

Whoops. Nearly forgot that outstanding 99.37 GHaEaTTTCBCFaT (Great Heart and Enthusiasm and Those Things That Can Be Contagious For A Team).

Jackson, who was charged with felony criminal recklessness and misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct after firing a gun outside a strip club last month, has a pretrial hearing scheduled Dec. 6. His lawyer has said Jackson acted in self-defense.

Not to worry. Darrell Armstrong will save you!

In the meantime, he's averaging 14 points a game in his three starts.

Read: Darrell Armstrong is averaging 14 points a game in his three starts, but he’s just giving the credit to Jackson. What a nice guy.

"It doesn't bother me," he said. "It's not in my mind. I just play basketball. I've just been going out and doing my job, haven't been worried about nothing but helping my team. We're 2-1 now, off to a decent start," Jackson said.

There’s that amazing 2-1 stat again.

"All we can do is get better."

What? Are you for real? You mean three wins in three games? Whoa.

The Pacers play Philadelphia (3-0), the only unbeaten team in the Eastern Conference, on Tuesday night.

And Darrell Armstrong and his amazing 3.5 AV will be there to steal the show.

Thank you, Associated Press.

And God Bless America. We've found him!

Nah. Maybe he's just the Neifi Perez of the NBA.