Archive for January, 2012

Why Brown and D’Antoni got to go

January 30, 2012

I’ve been watching two teams this year.  The Lakers and the Knicks.  The Lakers because they’re my team.  The Knicks because Jia wants to know if Jeremy Lin is gonna have a breakout season or fade into obscurity.

Yep

Yep

How they’re similar:

1. Their point guard situations suck.

The Lakers have Fisher and Blake as their starting and backup.  Morris is their 3rd string with no experience.  Blake is a good backup but is injured. For most of his career, Fisher has run the triangle.   Which means last year, Fisher’s basic MO was bring the ball down, pass to Artest in the wing and run to the corner.   He never had to attack or be a playmaker.  This year he’s no longer running the triangle, is too slow to penetrate, and isn’t in the habit of reading the offense to make plays.

Typical Lakers offense:

– Fisher brings ball down, stops at the 3 line.

– Backcourt starts playing hot potato

– A 3 gets lobbed up, or ball goes to one of the big men in the post.  Big man goes iso or forces the shot

– Eventually Kobe gets tired of watching and decides to take over.

The Knicks have Davis, Douglas, Bibby, Shumpert, and Lin.  Baron Davis is an awesome point guard but he’s injured and everytime Knicks fans think he’s finally gonna play, well he’s not.  Douglas is a shooting guard being asked to play the point but he doesn’t know the first thing about finding the open man.  Shumpert is a rookie who can get in the paint and shows flashes of pg ability, but his strength is playing the 2.  Bibby is a once decent point guard at the tail end of his career  And Lin has true pg and playmaker skills but can’t finish at the rim and isn’t a scoring threat.

Typical Knicks Offense:

– Douglas brings the ball down, stops at the 3 line.

– Then he either lobs a brick, or tosses it to someone else at the 3 line who lobs a brick

– Or the backcourt plays hot potato until the ball gets to STAT or Carmelo, who already has a defender on them and goes for the jumper.

– This goes on for the whole game because unfortunately, the Knicks don’t have someone like Kobe to say fuck this and take over.

2. Their coaches suck at offense and are blind to how much they suck at it.

Though in the case of the Knicks, I think D’Antoni sucks at everything – his switching switching switching defense looks like some broken high school zone D.

We only scored 40 points last game so we need to work on our defense

Mike Brown has improved the Lakers defense.  Unfortunately, the Lakers can no longer score under him and Kobe scoring 40+ a night is a throwback to the Tomjanovich days.  When the Lakers have had 3 games in a row scoring in the 70’s and 80’s and Mike Brown is saying during the post game the reason they’re losing is because they didn’t pay good enough D, there’s a problem.  When it takes 15 seconds for the offense to get set up, after which 3 Lakers are occupying the same 5 foot radius and have zero spacing, I don’t know what the fuck kind of offense is being run.  When Pau somehow ends up in the corner in successive games and starts tossing up 3’s, one has to wonder how he got there.

“Shoot more 3’s muthafuckas!!!”

D’Antoni is the SSOL guy – the Suns were the Oakland A’s of the NBA, using a sabretmetric-esque run and gun to rack up wins before all the other teams figured them out.  And now they have so D’Antoni’s 15 minutes are up and the guy has no clue what to do.  He also doesn’t have a PG as good as Nash so his current system seems to rely on jacking up 3’s.  No penetration, open looks, etc.  Personally I don’t consider that a system.

3. They both have big men that can dominate, but only if they’re given the ball and play inside.  But they’re not/don’t.

Lakers have Pau and Bynum.  Bynum plays his ass off.  Knicks have STAT and Chandler.  Chandler plays his ass off.  STAT is the biggest guy on the court and settles for jumpers.  Pau is a 7 footer camping the 3 line.

The minute the Lakers big men get hot, their backcourt stops passing to them.  And the Knicks would rather lob 3’s than figure out a way to get STAT and Chandler open looks.

Watching both these teams is a travesty… the Lakers because they’re nowhere as good as they were last year.  The Knicks because they’re shitty as always.

What do they need to do?

1. Lakers:  bring back the triangle.  You don’t have anyone that can slash reliably or has excellent court vision.  Yet you have one of the only teams that knows an offensive system that hides your weaknesses and has worked year after year to get you a championship.   Also, fire Mike Brown.

2. Knicks:  play Lin at pg.  Put him alongside STAT, Carmelo, and your other scoring threats that can finish at the rim.  Expect Lin to play the pick and roll, find the open man and be a poor man’s Rondo.  Until Baron comes back, Lin is the only guy who’s game hedges on passing first and Douglas/Bibby aren’t doing shit except making sure you guys die by the 3.  Also, fire D’Antoni.

Go Knicks!

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Why Zynga Sucks

January 27, 2012

Hi, my name is Zynga.  I’m the first pure social gaming company to go public.  I want you to believe I can make you money.

I’m a slave to two platforms.  Facebook and Mobile.  I serve the social gaming market in both platforms.  This market has a huge bottleneck – it has a shitload of games but only a select few can dominate and pull the huge profit.  To compensate, I as well as all the other  social gaming companies flood the market with a nonstop barrage of games, hoping that one of them somehow becomes a hit.  Ironically, flooding the market makes it even more difficult all around for someone to succeed, creating a wonderful race to the bottom with a ton of cheap interchangeable shit.  This differs from traditional gaming, where you can have multiple hits across different genres.  But for you investors I’ll pretend all games behave the same no matter the market.

The social gaming market I serve has little product differentiation,  making brand loyalty practically non-existent.  So when gamers get tired of what they’re playing, they migrate to whatever they happen to click on next or whatever their friends are playing.  They don’t wait for the next Zynga game to drop or stick entirely to Zynga games.  Bottomline is social gaming customers don’t care who makes the game they’re glued to for the next 5 months.  Whether it’s Zynga, Playfish, or Kabam is irrelevant.  So expecting me to generate a long term profit on the basis of having a couple hits doesn’t work. But for you investors I’ll act like social gaming is all about brand loyalty.

The crux of what’s made me different is my streamlined analytics – the numbers I’ve crunched to make the perfect skinner box.  With the exception of my Poker and puzzle game ripoffs, all my social games are reward/punishment skinner boxes that might as well be nothing more than a game where you click on cows every 6 hours.  The analytics I use for the skinner box’s definitive features such as how long I gotta fuckin wait to harvest my crops, how much $$$ I get for serving virtual casserole, and other shit like this are what keeps the user coming back more reliably than my competitors.  Besides being the first company to take advantage of Facebook, a milestone that can no longer be duplicated, these analytics have been the key to my success.  Unfortunately, having the foundation of your success be a bunch of spreadsheets means it’s easily duplicated.  Which is why other companies like EA and Booyah are intruding on my turf now.  But for you investors I’ll pretend I’ve got something my competitors don’t have.

I suck at making games.  So I steal.  I steal code.  I steal gaming concepts.  I steal whatever game mechanic is hot at the moment and reskin it.  My biggest hits were ripoffs.  Farmville was a ripoff of Farm Town.  Cafe World was a ripoff of Restaurant City.  Mafia Wars was a ripoff of Mob Wars.  Words with Friends ripped off Scrabble.  Scramble with Friends ripped off Boggle.  Is my compulsive stealing to turn a profit sustainable?  I don’t know.  But it does make for some great PR, like my lawsuits with Psycho Monkey, Vostu and Agincourt.  Or when Nimblebit put me on blast in the media for ripping off Tiny Towers.  Which makes me a second rate gaming company posing as a first rate investment. But for you investors, I’ll pretend I’m a creative trailblazer in the industry.

Farmtown vs Farmville - Zynga doing what it does best

Choices are good for the consumer!

The creative bankruptcy that is the social gaming bubble

Is my CEO smart?   Behind closed doors, he hates innovation and urges his employees to jack ideas by all means necessary.

Fellow Fool Patrick Martin compiled a non-inclusive list last year of some of the social-game maker’s more apparent reproductions, including FishVilleMafia Wars, and Word Twist, among others. Patrick also quoted CEO Mark Pincus as once saying, “I don’t [expletive] want innovation. You’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers,” according to an ex-employee who spoke with SF Weekly. – Motley Fool

Pincus is anti-innovation which seems to make sense because my market of bored housewives doesn’t really care about innovation too much.  They just want something to pass their time while they’re taking a shit or the baby is asleep, and that something needs to cost a buck or be free. That’s why they’re all okay being lame ass farmers. So one might say innovation is a waste of money when the stuff you’re selling and the stuff you’re competing against is bottom of the barrel cheap crap.  Too bad this strategy of perennial copying is shortsighted because it’s given me lawsuits, a crap reputation, and saturated my market with the same skinner box clone bullshit that makes it hard for me to get a hit in the first place.  But for you investors, we’ll pretend Pincus’ roadmap of nonstop IP ripoffs is a brilliant long term strategy and won’t generate any backlash.

Meanwhile, all the other heavyweights in my market like Playfish, and EA are also creatively bankrupt so we’ve all jacked each other into a theft orgy so ridiculous, no one remembers who originally created what anymore.  This should have been a roadblock for a company like me that can’t create a game on my own.  It’s okay though because I’ve found a solution – I’m now jacking indie developers.  This should sustain short-term profitability and keep you investors fooled.  After the indie backlash though, hopefully I can come up with some other shit to jack, or get acquired by EA, otherwise I’m doomed. Well, at least I’ll still have your $$$, right Pincus?

Dear Zynga, thank you for jacking our shit - Indie developer #1

So all you investors, don’t worry, I’m still the market leader in a market so dysfunctional, short-term profitability and dynamic market growth hides the fact my market will eventually implode.  My name is Zynga, and this has been a public service announcement.

Translation: Short me in a couple years.  Unless EA buys me out. Peace

Why Jeremy Lin’s Stock is Going Down

January 4, 2012

Please go in, please go in

Jeremy Lin, AKA the only Asian American in the NBA, has very little time left to prove himself.  After being the 15th man on the Warriors and Rockets, Lin is now sitting on the Knicks bench where he gets between 1-3 minutes of garbage time in the 4th.  Lin’s reputation is still unproven.

What he should’ve done during garbage time is showed off his strengths.  His strengths are his ability to penetrate, find the open man, play the pick and roll, and play above average defense.  Lin is on a team where the two active point guards, TD and Bibby, can’t penetrate or make plays.  Typical Knicks offense has TD or Bibby bringing the ball down to the 3 line, where it gets passed 2-3 times around the wing until it lands in the hands of Carmelo or STAT, who then tries to score, typically with a jumper.  Either that, or TD tries to play shooting guard at the 3 line.  No plays, no penetration, no pick and roll, the things Lin is actually good at and a pure PG should be able to do.

What Lin should’ve done is penetrated on his garbage time possessions, collapsing defenders, and then dishing the ball out to an open man.  Eventually that lightbulb in D’Antoni’s head would have turned on and he would’ve realized Lin would be perfect for finding an open Carmelo or STAT, as opposed to what’s going on now, where they shoot in isolation or force the shot in traffic.  Lin could be effective on the Knicks as a poor man’s Rondo – not a scoring threat but able to consistently make plays.

Instead Lin’s been showing off his weaknesses instead – his bad jumper and inability to finish in traffic.  And in the case of the Kings game, his willingness to drive on the busy side of his defender and forced scoring led to turnovers and a -4 plus/minus rating in a game where almost everyone else on his team was positive.  So to the average NBA fan, it looks like he sucks.

His stock is going down and it’s a shame.  He’s got only a few more games until Shumpert re-enters the lineup and makes him irrelevant.  Once Baron Davis comes back, Lin becomes another Scalabrine or Adam Morrison, hired to help out during practice scrimmages only.  And if the Knicks try to acquire Kenyon Martin in February, Lin will get cut.  And if he gets cut, his career for this year is pretty much done.

Good luck man.  I’m hoping he’ll have a breakout game but chances are looking slim right now.

Toast to the only Asian American baller with name recognition, and the  dreams that live and die with him.