“Shit, you’re good.”
A statement like this is the utmost form of flattery; an honest admittance of true respect. Three simple words that mean everything.
During Sacramento’s loss to San Antonio on Wednesday night—their 33rd of the season, and a game that felt like a big brother toying with his younger sibling—these were the carefully chosen words DeMarcus Cousins had for Tim Duncan.
It was a young prodigy with a limitless future giving proper due to one of the best ever, and it got me thinking. What if Cousins somehow ended up in San Antonio next season, playing the role to Duncan that Duncan once played to David Robinson. How awesome/strange/watchable would that be? Read more…
There is no simple way to describe this season’s installment of the Denver Nuggets. Their roster is symmetrical tie-dye, a blend of cultures and complimentary skill-sets splashed together with an insane level of athleticism, smarts, chemistry, and camaraderie.
Are they a title contender? In this season, with all the injuries, crazy lineup implementations, and uber-balanced playoff races, why not? A healthy Denver Nuggets squad matches up well with just about every team in the Western Conference. They have scorers, rebounders, facilitators, shot-blockers, and a bench full of guys who believe they should be starting. That’s a scary group.
If you believe crazier things have happened, that Denver could in fact survive what’s shaping up to be the most unpredictable postseason in recent memory, then by definition you agree that they’re contenders. Using this logic, Ty Lawson, in his first season as a full-time starter, is now the most important player on a championship contender. Let that thought sink in for a moment. Read more…
Normally, when a big man switches onto Chris Paul, he lures the giant out, waits for his large teammates to position themselves under the basket in the unlikely event he misses, then launches one of the deadliest mid-range jump shots basketball’s ever seen. This past weekend, when he chose to put one of the most devastating in and out dribbles I’ve ever seen on Marc Gasol, Paul instead chose to show off and have some fun. Needless to say, it was awesome.
In case you weren’t already aware, Mad Men’s 5th season premiered last night. What most consider to be in the conversation for greatest program in television’s storied history, this show’s long awaited return has created a transcendent buzz among pretty much everyone who enjoys engaging in popular culture related discussion. And for all the right reasons. Aside from the dapper wardrobes, nostalgic atmosphere, and, of course, the drinking of multiple Sidecars before lunch, this show is most beloved for the unpredictability and richness inhabited by each and every character (even the young Bobby Draper, who I’m positive will have his own spin-off series green lit by Fox in at least three years’ time). Watching them co-exist within the confines of an office atmosphere—something almost everyone can relate to—places us both back in time and inside the television.
The game of basketball is really cool, but the NBA’s characters are what make the league so undeniably singular. Just as there is one Don Draper, there is one LeBron James. There will never be another of either. We watch the NBA for the same reasons as Mad Men. Both are unpredictable entertainment at its peak. Both have us re-watching broadcasts in an attempt to pick up subtle nuances we may have missed. We strive to know as much about both sets of characters as humanly possible, and the only difference (albeit, kind of a huge one) is that one reality is based in fiction while the other is all too real.
I’ve decided to take eight NBA players and compare them to seven characters from Mad Men primarily because it was fun, but also because in doing so I was able to learn a little bit about each side. While I don’t view anything involving either form of recreational entertainment as “a waste of time”, hopefully reading this article will present you, the reader, with some semblance of the useful insight I personally gained while writing it.
With Derek Fisher, you can’t have it both ways. You either think he’s a coattail clinging caddie who hit a few big shots (the most famous of them being illegal if it were to happen today), played with some of the greatest players to ever live, and made existing in the NBA look much easier than it actually is, or you respect the shit out of his work ethic, the steady stream of ice that’s run through his veins for well over a decade, and the way he’ll do absolutely anything to win a basketball game. Read more…
Keeping this short and sweet, I started this blog 14 months ago. If you asked me on Day 1 to place an over/under on the number of appearances Jamaal Tinsley would make on these pages from that moment moving forward I would’ve said 0, with a slight chance that the very mention of his name could somehow hit a never-before-seen negative realm of obscurity. After a quick deliberation, I would’ve taken the under. Fast forward to today and what we have is our second (!) post devoted entirely to Tinsley’s incredible handle. I love the NBA. Please enjoy.
Gerald Wallace vs. Cleveland. New Jersey lost 105-100. Wallace’s statistics: 40 minutes, 27 points (on 8-14 shooting from the field, 10-11 from the free-throw line), 12 rebounds, 1 block.
It’s so difficult to place an accurate value on Gerald Wallace. Some nights he’s a furious ball of energy whose borderline dangerous hustle produces really great numbers. Other times, his borderline dangerous hustle doesn’t get it done. From a night to night basis, the defense is there along with the aggressive passion, but in the long term, the very way he plays the game will probably chew away at his enjoying of a long, productive career. Wallace turns 30 this July. Since 2009, his scoring and rebounding numbers have gone down on a per-36 minute rate. He’s never developed a three-point shot, and once his quickness melts to a puddle of methodic movement, there won’t be all that many ways a team can use him on the offensive end for 30-plus minutes on a consistent basis.
When New Jersey included a top-three protected first round draft pick in their deal to acquire Wallace from the Blazers, most analysts weren’t quite sure what they were thinking. Why would a team that should be focused on its rebuilding process grab an aging small forward whose best days are clearly behind him? Then there was talk that the deal was a smoke signal directed at Dwight Howard, letting him know they were serious about surrounding him with a more-than-capable third wheel should he choose to join the team next year in Brooklyn. (And hey, if Deron indeed decides to sign with Dallas, the Nets can always flip Wallace and his expiring contract for a first round draft pick and another young player should they so please.) Things looked really, really bad. But here’s the biggest reason New Jersey may be laughing last: The underlying toughness and determination that are associated with his game infects those around him; his energy is contagious, especially around the young and easily influenced who might be on a team in the middle of a renovation.
How do you put a price on that? The Nets did, and most, including myself, thought it was too much. But even if they did overpay, players who neither tire nor take plays off—and indirectly affect others by their own shear will—are unquantifiable at the end of the day. Read more…
Close your eyes and imagine an NBA where no current starters exist. Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Kobe Bryant? Never born. It’s an alternate universe, where the most adept bench players are thrust into the starting lineup. James Harden is the league’s best player and Jamal Crawford is headed straight for the Hall of Fame.
As I rank these hypothetical teams and how they’d fare if their bench players were to become full-time starters, the purpose of this exercise is to shed some light on the depth of a few playoff contenders that are expected to make some noise this spring. I realize that in a normal postseason teams use seven, eight-man rotations; for 48 minutes at least one starter will always be on the court. But right now, despite there being a thankful and guaranteed day of rest between each game, this year’s playoffs could still see a few teams benefit from the rotations that bore them their high seeds in the first place.
(Editor’s Note: I tried really hard to include the Lakers in this fictional exercise, but after 15 minutes of looking over their lineups, all I could do was cry. I don’t want to live in a world where Josh McRoberts is a starting center. I can’t. I WON’T. If all their starters never existed, this team would be set aflame and left for dead on the side of a highway. Then they’d move to Kansas City.)
Some of these lineups I’ve thought up on my own—as they’re the most traditional five-man units the team could have without deploying a starter—and others have in fact been of regular to semi-regular use by their respective coaches. With the latter, I’ll squeeze out some basic numbers with help from the two invaluable websites, BasketballValue.com and 82games.com. (Keep in mind, some of the points per possession numbers are based on very small sample sizes.) Read more…
No player best represents the flawed personality of an egotistical nut job quite like Kobe Bryant. For all the aesthetically pleasing movements that leave us breathless, there are three post game quotes that have us shaking our collective heads. Everyone believes at some point or another that the world revolves around them—that the obvious explanation for why the sky is gray is their own temporary sadness—but nobody comes close to relentlessly proving it as truth like Kobe. His quotes after this game were typical in that they assaulted common sense, and the astounding usage rate number here shows that.
”The shots he took, I’d give it to him again. I don’t know how many shots he missed near the rim – I mean, point-blank shots.” —Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown
Here are some indisputable numbers that contradict Brown’s public attempt at appeasement: 13 of Kobe’s shots were taken at least 10 feet from the basket, and two went in. Kobe went 1-7 from nine feet and in. He only attempted three shots at the rim and missed them all. Meanwhile Andrew Bynum, aka the Lakers most dominant player, missed just two shots, scored 33 points, and had a lower usage rate than Bryant. Something doesn’t fit with Brown’s assessment.
Kobe Bryant vs. Utah. Lakers lost 103-99. Kobe’s statistics: 37 minutes, 15 points (on 3-20 shooting), 38.2% usage rate, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 7 turnovers.
To me, all trade deadlines that contain at least some movement are interesting, which is to say they’re all awesome. Superstars are cool and everything, but as we saw most recently with Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony, no single player is more important than good chemistry or a working system already in place. Just because a high-profile All-Star gets dealt, nothing is guaranteed in terms of wins and losses.
On Thursday we saw a little bit of everything. Fringe contenders who wisely chose not to gamble on their future were tentative to shake too much up, power house favorites stood pat, draft picks were bought and sold at a premium charge, and one organization basically chose to hold a fire sale. Despite names like Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, and the aforementioned Deron Williams staying put, the fortunes of several teams will be forever altered with the moves that did and did not go down yesterday. Watching the contrasting variance of panache in general managers like Daryl Morey, Sam Presti, Danny Ainge, and Mitch Kupchak was fun, with some choosing to be aggressive while others decided patience really is the best virtue. Contrary to popular belief, the NBA is about so much more than the superstar; it’s in the deeper layers of a team where championships are built and won.
An interesting deadline this was indeed, now let’s break it down. Read more…