In all likelihood, the Cleveland Cavaliers will use their amnesty clause on Baron Davis (although, for what it’s worth, I say they give a long look at Anderson Varejao) sometime after December 9th. He’s approaching 33-years-old, and is probably most known for not caring as much about basketball as a professional basketball player should. He’s mercurial, yet oh so very talented. A complete point guard who deserves an asterisk next to those games where he seems to lack any fire in his belly, an indicator saying “sure, he only had 10 points and five assists tonight, but how many guys can get those numbers when they aren’t even trying?”
Obviously that’s not something to be proud of, and it’s certainly not being condoned here, but Baron Davis might have yet another opportunity to redeem himself in the eyes of those who see him as a lazy underachiever. Let’s look at the serious irony. Once upon a time, Davis was awarded big money to be a franchise leading point guard. Years removed from that contract’s signing, he’s now positioned himself with the opportunity to play for a contender because he failed to live up to his end of the bargain. That hardly qualifies as “justice”, but who cares, it’s basketball.
If Davis ends up as the facilitator in Los Angeles, New York, or Miami, he’d be as overqualified as one can imagine. Perhaps too overqualified. He’d be forced to defer to two, three, maybe four teammates on any given night, in a role he’s never seen before. If he someone avoids subverting his new team’s chemistry, Davis’ acquisition could be the one we look at in June as deciding our 2012 NBA champion. He’s that good—too bad he’s his own worst enemy.
If your enjoyment of basketball as a game runs deep into the whys and hows which explain the tendencies of every player, then you probably love advanced statistics. They exist to explain what’s unexplainable (at first) to the naked eye. They’re both fun to pour over when you’re bored and crucial instruments in deciding the limits of million dollar contract extensions.
The statistic being put under the microscope right now is one rarely—if ever—mentioned on television broadcasts or highlight reels. It’s awkward from the tongue and slightly confusing as to what it specifically constitutes, being that it’s so based on the subjective, but “percent of field goals assisted” (%ast) is underrated in its importance. Read more…
Eric Bledsoe is fast. An uber-athletic specimen who some thought coming out of Kentucky was the favorable sportsman to teammate John Wall. He flies up the court in a blur, sticks to assigned ball-handlers with discipline and out-of-this-world-reflexes, and rarely seems outmatched in the physicality department by anyone at his position. (Outwitted is another story.) This is one of those crossovers where the defender, in this case Bledsoe, is so badly undressed, he looks like a folding chair. Chris Paul makes Bledsoe’s athletic strength seem transient as he defiles the rookie with one of the more impressive blow by floaters you’ll ever see. Hopefully Bledsoe gets his chance at redemption in the next calendar year. That’d be nice.
Recommended Reading is a daily (occasional) rundown of truly superb NBA related literature, pictures, and videos. Some is brand new, others are timeless. Enjoy!
TrueHoop: This whole thing just feels so weird. How are guys who LOVE money ripping the price tags off their personal pride with such ease.
Warriors World: Shawn Kemp! Yay!
Grantland: David Thompson was SO good at basketball.
Queen City Hoops: Terrible rumor-0, Kemba Walker/Twitter-1.
SB Nation: Tom Ziller makes a great point comparing the modern day player to those of 1999. Today they’re a lot richer, posing an obvious irritation to the owners.
The Point Forward: How will Aaron Brooks’ move to China affect his former team? According to Zach Lowe, not well.
The talents of Dwyane Wade are so well rounded and wide that it’s difficult to pin down a specific signature move summing them all up. He does a mean Eurostep, but that’s too Ginobili. Some will say it’s a blind drive to the basket aided with the ref’s whistle, but that’s too cynical. To be honest, the first thing I think of when Wade’s name comes up is his incredible athleticism on the defensive end, (the open court rejection of Tyson Chandler’s weak dunk attempt in last year’s finals still lingers) but let’s be serious: People don’t have Dwyane Wade endorse their product because he defends. He’s a slasher, a type that uses handle as a means to getting to the basket and little else. But Wade isn’t like the others. He has a mean crossover, a filthy in and out, and chooses to use deception as a weapon when he probably doesn’t have to.
If I had to pick one “signature” move for him, it’d be the step back between the legs crossover. Already with a step on his hopeless defender, Wade opts to stop on a dime and pull up for a jumper instead of continuing on to the basket. Imagine standing on a steadily moving train then having it screech to a sudden stop. Yes, you’d fall over, too.
Rising: Greg Monroe
In college, he was the unselfish friendly big man, always hanging out at the high post making sure everyone’s comfortable, like a big brother who protects his little siblings by standing taller than everyone else in the neighborhood. His technical skills were vast, and the way he made the Princeton offense sing made every first time viewer aware of the team’s best player before a basket was even scored.
Either due to the depressing team he played for or the slow-but-steady-wins-the-race style he exudes, last year Greg Monroe went through one of the most delightful rookie seasons a center has had in years, and very few noticed. (Monroe was “awarded” sixth place in the running for Rookie of the Year.) Former coach John Kuester dialed up just a handful of plays for arguably his team’s best player—one of the many reasons he no longer works there (“I probably could count them on my hand, the plays that were called for me throughout the year,” Monroe said last May.) Read more…
If various reports regarding Michael Jordan’s cold refusal of accepting an even 50-50 BRI split are true, then he is the world’s most embarrassing spokesman for unnecessary self-preservation. Now, there’s a good chance this report is not an accurate one, but the details don’t sound ridiculous. For Jordan, they’re quite believable. By all accounts he has been an unreasonable, bitter man for much of his adult life. A refusal to give in, so admirable in him as a player, is ruthless and sickening as a middle-aged man in the real world, and it’s instigating rightful anger in the hearts of fans who used to scream his name until their throats hurt.
(While we’re here, I have a question: Why can’t Michael Jordan dress clean? He’s a multi-million dollar global enterprise who regularly associates with CEOs and business executives yet the man can’t tuck in a shirt or match his belt with a pair of $900 dollar Italian handmade shoes. The man’s style is downright shameful, and if he were to ever make a public apology for all the insensitive things he’s done and/or said in his life, this should be included. I feel bad for his family.)
Here’s Tim Hardaway doing what an uncountable number of people would love to accomplish: Embarrass a man who has it all but wants even more.
Rising: Taj Gibson
The Chicago Bulls have as blatantly obvious an identity as any team in the league. What they preach to their players—code for what everyone eats, sleeps, breaths, and makes love to—is defense. Their entire makeup of key players (ironically, except for two: their MVP and big free agent splash signing whose name rhymes with Shmarlos Shmoozer) are in Chicago for a singular reason: prevent the opposing team from putting the ball in their basket. They help defend as good as anyone; when an offensive player beats his man, a wave of false achievement crashes down as he realizes just one of the many walls he needs to overcome in order to achieve his goal has been climbed. Read more…
In due honor of “The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search For The Soul of LeBron James”, a book written by Scott Raab that I’m dying to plummet into as soon as it’s released, this post is half “Shook Ankles” half “Recommended Reading”.
If you saw its excerpt in last month’s Esquire, or just think the title sounds funny and want to know more, TrueHoop scribe John Krolik wrote an elaborate review that’s totally worth checking out. Forget about LeBron, the Miami Heat, or even basketball for a moment. If you enjoy reading good writing then this book is probably worth your attention. In the meantime, here’s my favorite LeBron crossover of all time. Enjoy.