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Archive for January, 2011

Commentary: The Quandary That Is Miami’s Point Guard

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Why did Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra choose to replace his starting point guard, Carlos Arroyo, with the equally inept Mario Chalmers? More importantly, who cares? Normally, moves like this are met with indifference by everyone except those directly involved, and in this case, the move is so insignificant it’d be like being a homeless vagrant one day, and then the next, being a homeless vagrant with a pair of clean socks.  Does one player in the starting lineup really make all that much of a difference for Miami, moving forward?

Spoelstra cites his observance of “slippage…for really most of the month of January” as reasoning for the move, and believes “sometimes one alteration in the rotation can spark something that’s different.” What he means is, “If Chalmers and Arroyo are both cookies I dropped under the refrigerator, Chalmers, upon further observance, looks to be the less filthy option.”

To play the point in Miami is not a normal role. With Dwyane Wade and Lebron James on the team—players who work better with the ball in their hands—whoever the point guard is won’t inhabit a majority of the team’s ball handling duties.  Their responsibility is to space the floor, shoot a respectable percentage from the field, and prevent whoever the opposing point guard might be from surgically tearing the Heat’s interior defense apart.  There is no traditional “running of the team” on Miami, and more times than not, Chalmers, Arroyo, or whomever suits up at the one, won’t even bring the ball up the court. This change most likely means little, as throughout a regular season teams all over the league make adjustments to their lineup all the time. But because it’s Miami, the move will be scrutinized to a greater degree than, let’s say the Utah Jazz moving first round draft pick Gordon Hayward into their starting lineup over Andrei Kirilenko (and then immediately moving him back to the bench).

Working the Miami Heat beat, Sun-Sentinel.com reporter Ira Winderman believes some subtext lies beyond the surface, with the real reason being a need to create more minutes for Mike Miller.  This is logical, but offensively, I just don’t see the difference in fazing Arroyo or Chalmers out of the starting lineup.  Defensively there’s obviously an upgrade, but if that’s the primary reason for the switch, why was Arroyo starting in the first place? Looking at their shooting statistics so far this season, in almost the exact same amount of minutes per game (Mario Chalmers plays exactly one minute fewer at 21.2 minutes per game) Carlos Arroyo has shown he’s the more dependable shooter, which is the number one notch any point guard needs to have on their resume if they play with Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. He’s sporting a team leading 46 percent from beyond the arc and 48 percent on long two pointers. Chalmers is 38 percent on threes and 36 percent on the long twos.

 

Shook Ankles: Never Again

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

 

This might be the only instance in league history where a Boston Celtic gets crossed up.  It comes straight from a super secret NBA vault, overflowing with embarrassing Ricky Davis clips.

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Shook Ankles: Come Home, Allen

January 25, 2011 1 comment

If you’re a basketball fan, when you watch this clip a mix of different emotions should wash over you. The first is shock, which should instinctively bring a closed fist up to cover your newly wide open mouth.  After you’ve gotten over what you’ve witnessed, the next emotion might be pity.  The victim in this video, Antonio Daniels, is out of the NBA after bouncing around the league through his mildly disappointing career. No man should wish this level of embarrassment on another (He falls twice! What was he thinking!) And the final reaction, after you’ve splashed a cup of water in your face and let your brain descramble itself, is sadness. Instead of fading away as a well deserved first ballot Hall of Fame marvel, Allen Iverson is putting on his Brett Favre mask in Turkey. Those who watched him play remember a fearless competitor who will go down as the greatest pound for pound scorer in league history.  Let this clip be a tribute, and please enjoy it.

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Essay: The Mysteries Of Revivification (Wait, What?)

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday morning, I received the February Esquire in the mail (props to Mr. Postman for drudging through our ninth blizzard in the past 72 hours). As the magazine loves to do every so often, this month’s edition had a special, catchy, slightly cliche title to it: The Fresh Start Issue.  On page 22, an editor explains what, exactly, this title means, and why he’s chosen this theme as an acceptable one for readers to plunge through as they sit in waiting rooms, Boeing 757’s, or, in my case, on a comfortable chair in a quiet living room.

We tend to think of people and things as being fixed and permanent. As much as we laud reinvention, our instinct is to see things as they are and imagine that they have been and always will be that way. But internally, individually, that’s not the case.

-Esquire Editor in Chief David Granger

This passage, as some general assertions tend to do, brought my mind back to basketball.  Players who through the first half of the 2010-11 season have morphed from one thing into another, whether it be for better or for worse, are what make the NBA such an incredibly intriguing league.  In sports, expectation is almost always preeminent when discussing performance—if people figured the probability of Mike Vick leading his team to the playoffs, dazzling spectators like he was once again 25, and becoming a respected pocket passer was high, all of his MVP talk would be laughable.

Russell Westbrook’s emergence alongside Kevin Durant; Kevin Love’s transformation into a prodigious rebounding machine; Eric Gordon becoming as talented a scorer as he was at Indiana, Amare Stoudemire putting the city of New York on his back sans Steve Nash; Wesley Matthews making Portland GM Rich Cho look like a mastermind; or Michael Beasley, before his ankle troubles, becoming one of the league’s most effortless scorers. These players are too young for reinvention. What you’re seeing in them was unforeseen by most, but in the end remains a simple case of potential mixed with desire equalling development.

To modify yourself as a basketball player, the most important thing you need is a past. A history, a reputation.  Reinvention occur with old-timers who are adjusting to their inevitable fade into the sunset.  Tracy McGrady, a player who once did this, is playing a token point guard role for the Pistons in part so Joe Dumars can put Rodney Stuckey on display for the league’s other general managers to analyze. In Boston, there’s a rejuvenated, reanimated, refreshed, and reawakened Shaquille O’Neal—he looked washed up, hidden, and dejected last year in Cleveland—who is now once again popping up all over the public’s radar. However this time around he’s making the league minimum and for the first time in his career will cede his place as a starter to another center.  Shaq has taken things in stride this season, been a man about his business and a professional with his role, performing spectacularly in some instances. But not every story is written with as sure an ending as McGrady and Shaq’s seem to be.

The most fascinating individual case of reinvention this season, from Washington to Orlando, is owned by Gilbert Arenas. Over the past 30 days, he’s been relegated to just 20 minutes of play per game (although apparently that isn’t his fault) and it’s looking like a sad, relatively quick downfall could be in the cards.

So how did he get here? In 2008 he had major surgery on his left knee for the third time in two years. Arenas missed quite a chunk of his prime, and it possibly effected him psychologically. Actually, he’s a human being so let’s exchange “possibly” with “definitely”. What I suspect also to have somewhat of a psychosomatic effect on Gilbert was the six-year, $111 million dollar contract extension that Washington gave him that same year.

“It’s a relief. It was a burden at the same time. Your whole city is depending on you,” he told The Washington Times. (This season he’s making more money than LeBron James, Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, and new teammate, Dwight Howard.) It wasn’t wise at the time, and looking back it was clearly one of the more foolish decisions any owner has signed off on in the past 10 years—Arenas played in only 56 games for the Wizards after the extension was signed. To be fair, during the 2006-07 season an argument could be made that Gilbert was among the league’s most valuable players, so to say he was a bust wouldn’t be accurate. The money and the injuries indirectly weave themselves towards the locker room firearm drama and lengthy suspension; the stigmatic remnants of which still hang high above his head.

To watch Gilbert—more showman than franchise player—struggle so terribly to mesh within the frame of a contender is both tragic and predictable.  Few players needed a change of scenery more than Gilbert Arenas; a few weeks ago, a golden ticket out of town fluttered through his bedroom window and softly landed on his pillow.  But instead of capitalizing, Arenas has been unable to alter who he is on the basketball court. Who knows if he’ll be able to recapture the flair that made him one of the sports great entertainers. Right now, he’s backing up a player who will never see the personal success Gilbert witnessed. A player incapable of taking over a game the way Arenas once could just four years ago.

What if the Magic lose seven straight games and SVG decides to transform his starting lineup? What if Gilbert finds the ball in his hands with the clock winding down and his team down two?  What if he’s able to taste, if only for a night, the magic touch that’s quickly fleeting from his memory? What if Gilbert Arenas, at just 29 years of age, is able to reinvent himself by becoming what he once was?

 

Essay: A Young Relic

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Ed note: The following article is specially written by Aaron Kaplan

In a league where Amazing™ can happen any night, anything that isn’t tends to fly under the radar (by “Amazing”, the NBA means “dunks”). Blake Griffin, for example, is taking the league by storm, pounding slams and put-backs in opponents’ faces on a nightly basis.

However, there is another young talent in the same city who puts his stamp on the game in a much more subtle fashion. Andrew Bynum, who came to the NBA out of high school, is in his sixth season—he’s only played one in its entirety—with the LA Lakers. Yet, when healthy, he gives immersed viewers glimpses of greatness that make his chronic knee problems all the more tragic.

Bynum is an old-school center; he is part of a breed of players who are becoming extinct, overshadowed by the wave of the new generation of NBA marketing highlighted by highlights, inundated with the ornate. Bynum, a dominant post presence whose game blends grace and elegance with size and strength, calls to mind greats who captivated the league more than 30 years ago, like a young Alcindor or Walton.

What do these players have in common? They play fundamental, efficient basketball. Defense and rebounding are always a priority, coupled with the touch and finesse to finish around the hoop. Soft touch is something that can’t be taught. Just ask Dwight Howard. You either have it or you don’t. But it can be sharpened and perfected just like anything else with countless hours of practice. Luckily for Bynum, the Lakers hired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—one of the greatest to ever play the game—to work personally with him on honing his skills.

This season, Bynum is putting up relatively good numbers, averaging just over 10 points and seven rebounds, but his impact in a game while he is on the floor cannot be quantified by stats alone. On defense he changes shots in the paint, taking slashing guards out of their comfort zone, and one could argue his greatest contribution comes on the offensive end; not scoring, but rather rebounding. Offensive rebounds have the power to shift the game’s momentum and deflate the opponent, and when Bynum is on he is unstoppable.

Forget Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum is the X-Factor for the Lakers. He is the 5-Hour Energy to the Lakers’ 2:30 feeling. He is the key for them making a run in the playoffs and stopping Boston from getting that 18th banner.

That is…if he can stay healthy.

 

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Essay: Less Talk, More Action

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

“All teams go through tough times. We’re going to grow from this. At the end we’ll be the last team standing.”

This was Jason Terry, in an exuberant post-game interview, after downing the Lakers 109-100 last night. The game was played in Dallas, Andrew Bynum (more on him in a special guest post later) left early with a hyper-extended right elbow, and, for one night, Jason Kidd looked like an insulted and vengeful Larry Bird from behind the arc—he made five three-pointers. Basically, the statement made by Terry was a slight embellishment of reality. Given his team’s poor play as of late—they’d lost six straight heading into the game—and the Caron Butler injury/championship chances death blow which was announced a few weeks ago, the proclamation came off more like a threat than a prediction.

As I type this, the Mavericks are done. Flat-lining.  Toast. The Charlotte Bobcats. Deceased. Buried under ground. No longer with us. They’re a veteran team with an MVP candidate, a Hall of Fame point guard, height, and a deep bench, so obviously they should and will make the playoffs.  But are they elite? Can they win a championship? Not with these players; largely the same group that was easily eliminated by San Antonio in last season’s first round.

What Dallas needs, in no small order, is a resurrection.  They need help.  With Dirk an old 32, Butler done for the season, Kidd an ancient 37, and Shawn Marion having his least productive season in 10 years, the Mavericks are arguably more desperate to make a move than any team in the league.

I’m not talking about irrevocably altering human life as we know it with a Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, and Mickael Pietrus for Earl Clark, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu type deal, but I am talking big names and big consequences.  Should they roll the dice on the future with plans for today? I say yes. The Mavericks were built for the present ever since the Devin Harris deal was made, but while rumors of bringing the All-Star back into the fold are persistent, he isn’t the answer.  Neither is Kevin Martin, Andre Iguodala, Antawn Jamison (who, if dealt, would officially become the league’s least excitable former All-Star mercenary), or Peja Stojakovic.

The answer to all their problems—a hybrid mix of guardian angel and heart defibulator—is, dare I utter thou’s name less I shudder furthermore; the one, the only, Carmelo Anthony.  Dallas could throw together the incredibly juicy package of Rodrigue Beaubois (a 22-year-old Frenchman who’s drawn comparison to Rajon Rondo and is currently signed to a peanut butter and jelly cheap contract through 2014), the expiring contracts of Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson, and a 2011 first round draft pick. The deal makes too much sense for both sides. Despite already having Ty Lawson as a possible point guard of the future, Beaubois remains one of the league’s best kept secrets. His best case scenario: Tony Parker a la Rondo. The expiring deals of Chandler and Stevenson are a plus for obvious reasons, and so is the draft pick. Even if Anthony isn’t willing to sign an extension to stay in Dallas (which he could easily be talked into doing if he leads the Mavericks to a championship), the team would be a legitimate contender once again, if not a drastically improved, talk-of-the-league, offensively soul-crushing squad.  Sure they’d lose a little size and some defensive intangibles with Chandler’s departure, but I’m sure the Mavericks could swing another deal for a big man before the deadline passes. They can’t worry too much about that component in a blockbuster season saving trade like this one. Pairing Carmelo Anthony with Dirk Nowitzki would be an unspeakable horror for everyone in the league except Jason Kidd. Defensively they’ll leave much to desire, but if I’m Mark Cuban, I cross that bridge when I get there.

As Jason Terry clearly stated, don’t count his guys out. When it’s all said and done they’ll be the last team standing.  May I briefly interject with a few words of advice. Grab Anthony, then you’ll have the NBA by the throat

 

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Essay: Off The Bench (Like A Bosh)

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Last night in Miami, the Chris Bosh-less Heat lost their fourth straight game in an ugly overtime battle with the Atlanta Hawks.  Few bright spots can be taken from a game like last night’s, but it’s undeniable that Miami had one: Joel Anthony. Starting in place of Bosh, the 28-year-old Anthony embossed himself on the game with 16 rebounds (eight offensive, eight defensive), three blocks, and zero points—according to the Heat announcers he doesn’t even shoot the ball in warm-ups.

The Heat were going up against an Atlanta team that was playing with a chip on their shoulder (they tend to do this once or twice a season) after Larry Drew, their coach, reportedly called their play “soft” the previous night. Atlanta was clearly looking to out hustle and physically dominate Miami’s modest frontline, but Anthony’s presence altered all that. Granted the Hawks didn’t have their best rebounder, Al Horford, for part of the second half after he rolled his ankle, but regardless, Anthony was Moses Malone in spurts during his season high 43 minutes of action. On one sequence midway through the fourth quarter, he grabbed three offensive rebounds in 19 seconds, eventually leading to a Mario Chalmers three-ball.

The Heat are 17-5 when Anthony sees 20 minutes or more of action, but only 5-5 when he starts (two of the losses were against Boston and one of the wins came against Orlando). If it weren’t for a strange sequence in overtime where all five Miami players assumed Atlanta was going to call a time-out, turned towards their bench and allowed Joe Johnson to find a wide open Mario West for a go ahead three pointer (this would never happen to the Celtics, Spurs, or Lakers), the Heat likely would have won the game.

Anthony may only be 6’9”, but in half the minutes Bosh plays per game (35.6 to 18.6), he averages twice as many blocks and slightly more defensive plays (steals, blocks, and charges).  Is Joel Anthony better than Chris Bosh? No, I dare not go there, but sporting a starting lineup of Arroyo, Wade, James, Anthony, and Ilgauskas, with Bosh coming off the bench and continuing to play over 30 minutes a game, might give Miami their best scheme going into the playoffs.  As was seen when he received a harsh facial courtesy of Josh Smith, Anthony is fearless protecting the rim (or at least trying to), and his selfless shot selection— he takes one every 18 minutes he’s on the floor—makes him a better complement for James and Wade when both are active on the floor.

It may sound like it, but the point I’m trying to make here isn’t so much that Anthony deserves to start, but that Bosh might be better served coming off the bench. Much like Lamar Odom or Manu Ginobili, Bosh’s ability should be utilized dominating second lines and providing energy, yet still ending games on the floor in crunch time.  As a five time All-Star his skills are undeniable, but heading into this season I was a little skeptical on how all three of them would co-exist when it came to shot selection.  From day one it was clear that Bosh would struggle the most with the adjustment, and surrounding Wade and James with three serviceable role players to start the game might be the most logical move.  It probably won’t happen. The risk vs. reward ratio weighs too heavy on the side of “if this doesn’t work, I’m out of a job” for Spoelstra, but should the team ever hit a slump or fall behind two games in a playoff series, a Chris Bosh reinforcement off the bench might not be such a bad idea.

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Essay: The Anomaly

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Quick, name five active players who have spent more than 10 seasons with one team. If you like basketball/have spent the past decade of your life in the United States, mug shots of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan should immediately come to mind. Now dig a little deeper. In Boston there’s Paul Pierce, one of the greatest Celtics of all time and a consistent All-Star. Then in Dallas you have Dirk Nowitzki, the face of Mark Cuban’s franchise and arguably the most transcendental talent of his generation.

Okay, there are four first ballot Hall of Fame inductees right there, the fifth would have to be another top tier league representative; a household name whose sold millions of jerseys and has his poster hanging above tiny fan’s beds all over the country. He probably has a eight figure shoe deal with Nike and three dozen fan clubs that follow his every move. Whoever this mysterious fifth player is, he’s likely had a few dangerous stalkers here and there. In all probability he’s constantly surrounded by a five person, personal security detail armed to the teeth with kevlar body suits and discreetly hidden M-16’s.

Or, that fifth person could be Jeff Foster.

Yes, Jeff Foster, face of the Indiana Pacers franchise for the past 11 seasons.  This article is meant to be gracious so I mean no disrespect here, but forget about the 11 seasons on one team accomplishment, how in the hell has Jeff Foster stayed in the league, period? His career best averages for points and rebounds are seven and nine per game, respectively, and he’s only started 48 percent of the games he’s played in.

The last thing his scouting report on hoopshype.com says is he “lacks offensive talent” and one of his four achievements listed is his naming to the “All-Tournament Team at the Portsmouth Invitational in 1999.”  Like I said, top tier.  Foster is a 6’11”, 242 pound white guy who averaged a double double his junior and senior seasons at Southwest Texas State. He was drafted 21st overall in 1999, with Manu Ginobili and Andrei Kirilenko being the only two players taken later to still be in the league.

How is it that Mr. Foster has remained in a league which features the best 450 or so basketball players in the world for an entire decade? Like all veterans who have been lucky enough to whittle their own seat at the league’s table, there must be something Jeff Foster is very good at. There must be some aspect of his game that makes him valuable.

The surprisingly easy answer, to be blunt, is offensive rebounding. Foster leads all active players in offensive rebounding percentage. From 2006-2008, he was the best offensive rebounder in the league, with 16.5 and 15.0 percentages. His career average (also 15.0) is sixth best in the history of the league, with the likes of Dennis Rodman, Moses Malone, and Jayson Williams hovering above him. Grabbing an offensive rebound isn’t an easy thing to do, in fact it’s one of the more difficult acts in basketball.  On any shot by a teammate, Foster has the unenviable task of boxing out another 250 plus pound man who more times than not begins with the better position. While three, possibly four, of his teammates run back on defense, Foster dutifully fights beneath the rim against an opposing front line.  It’s tough. Especially when you’re 34 and recently had back surgery like Jeff.

So here’s to him. A grossly unnoticed professional basketball player who has spent the past 11 years banging his frame against some of the largest men in the world.  It would seem the art of the offensive rebound is fading out of style in today’s game and so I implore our nation’s youth, watch players like Jeff Foster while they’re still around. What he’s accomplished, staying with the same team for over 10 years, is extremely rare in a professional sports landscape clouded by big money and free agency. Just like Kobe, Duncan, Dirk, and Pierce, a Jeff Foster only comes around so often.

 

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Essay: The Griffin/Love Debate

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Along with exclusive soirees, memorable pre-game introductions, and no defense, each year the all-star weekend coincides with a serious snub (or two). It happens in every sport, but in the NBA, where only 12 players on each side can make it, a misplaced coaches vote is all the more glaring. Sometimes it seems like an individual player is having an anomaly of a statistical season yet he’s left off the squad due to poor team performance.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good of a first half you had, as the game’s participants usually shift in traditional cycles, like some sort of premier fraternity—if your name wasn’t Kevin or Tim right around the turn of the century and you were a forward playing in the West, chances are you had an annual three day vacation.

This year, in the Western Conference, a terrible snub is brewing at the forward position. Five forwards should make the team. Four are as good as in: Carmelo Anthony (unless he’s dealt to the East), Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, and Pau Gasol.  The fifth spot will come down to three double double machines and a supremely athletic swingman: Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love.  Randolph and Gay are two shiny spots on a stuck-in-mud Memphis franchise, but the two more intriguing players are Griffin and Love.

They’re both young (a combined age of 43 with just three seasons between the two), extremely gifted, clear cut franchise players, but their styles are contrasting to the point of philosophical difference.  And so the question is presented: If you were a general manager and had to pick either Blake Griffin or Kevin Love to be on your roster for the foreseeable future, who would it be? Who is the easier player to construct around, the rarer building block, the key to victory?

What these two players symbolize, on a larger scale, is a clash between the unanswerable, see-saw, which-would-you-rather basketball question: Do you prefer fundamentals or athleticism?  Do you enjoy having your jaw hit the floor after witnessing a thunderous throw down from the hand of one behemoth on the head of another, or are you simply content with doling out polite golf claps in response to a solid box out? Thank Dr. Naismith, for a left handed lay-up and a 360 degree, between the legs slam are both of the same value.

Here, we as basketball fans are lucky enough to have two living breathing vessels to serve each side of the debate. In the corner of brute athletic ability: Blake Griffin. For undeniable rudimentary dominance: Kevin Love.

First up is Blake Griffin. (21.9 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists per game.) The name alone rips through T-shirts like a bulging muscle. When his team has possession, he virtually owns the paint, which is something that hasn’t been said about a non-center rookie since Charles Barkley. Not even at his first all-star break, the current that is Blake Griffin is already sloshing waves onto the league’s shore and more than a few opponents aren’t happy about it. There have been several instances, most recently with Lamar Odom and Mario Chalmers, where opposing players simply have no answer for his brute style. And how can you blame them? He plays the game with the recklessness of a sky diving adonis and through 39 games already wears the crown of “Most Exciting Player” on his skull. The hype surrounding his participation in the Dunk Contest is so unprecedented, it currently stands as front runner for most-talked-about-event of the weekend—something that hasn’t been said since Vince Carter. If you were to pick the top 10 plays of the 2011 season, at least five of them would involve Blake Griffin.

The former Sooner averages 4.3 made baskets at the rim per game, which is more than Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, and the rest of the NBA, and is at the front of the line on his own team when it comes to shot attempts (despite shooting a poor 33 percent when he’s 10-23 feet from the basket). But he’s working on that, and once he crafts his jumper into something more accurate than a wearisome 15 foot bank shot, things will officially get horrific. He’s recorded something like 768 consecutive double doubles, is a dominant, respected, possibly feared presence, and happens to be 21-years-old.  Check and mate.

Now, moving onto Kevin Love. (21.2 points, 15.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game.) Meet the 22-year-old greatest rebounder of his generation. At a generous listing of 6’10”, Love leads the NBA in offensive and defensive rebounds, both overall and per game.  Much like Griffin, he plays the game with a ferocious, almost animalistic method, but what he excels in won’t be a consistent find on Sportscenter’s top 10; the half court chest pass to spark a fast break or the one handed offensive rebound.  Where he puts his body when a shot goes up is more often than not the right spot, which is an integral ability all great rebounders must possess.

Basically, Kevin Love is the new Mr. Fundamental.  There’s no flash to his game, but he plods through night after night with a double double to his credit and a sheepish looking opposing front line wondering what storm just flew through the gym. The word “dominance” is frequently used when talking about the league’s best players—Dwight Howard’s protection of his rim, Rajon Rondo’s wizardry on a fast break, Kevin Durant’s ability to make contested jump shots look easier than depositing quarters in a meter—but nobody is more dominant at their craft than Love when a basketball clunks off a rim.  With his rear end on an opposing big man and his mind adjusting to the shooter’s tendencies (through study, Love knows the different ball flights a certain player has on his shot), Kevin grabs balls like they’re falling to him in a phone booth. He also, as a power forward, shoots 44 percent from behind the arc, attempting three three-pointers per game. Add it all up and you’ve got the definition of “one of a kind”.

To debate who is the better player is extremely difficult.  So is debating who has the brighter future (both are limitless).  Both players currently compete for losing teams that are built for the future, evening the score in the all-star debate, but for my money I’d select Love for this year’s all-star game and Griffin if I were playing general manager.  At the end of the day, Love will likely never be a crunch time scorer.  In order for his teams to find success, he’ll have to be a second, or even third, scoring option.  Blake Griffin is that go-to player today.  Imagining how insanely commanding he’ll be in two or three years makes my head hurt.

 

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