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Archive for April, 2012

Commentary: Positional Ambiguity At The Small Forward Position

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Sometimes a simple positional designation isn’t practical. Recently, there’s been a slew of talented, successful players who’ve entered the league with an awkward size and skill set pairing. Big guys who don’t know how to rebound but can shoot like two guards, or players in the backcourt who aren’t the most adept at handling the ball but on the defensive end take on the persona of their team’s toughest player. When the game was created there were only five positions and each participant was crammed into one, making it their definition. Today, it’s different. Read more…

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Shook Ankles: Melo Takes A Spill


Carmelo Anthony with his best Ryan Anderson impression. I give it a solid 7.5 out of 10.

 

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Essay: The Maddening Race For MVP

April 4, 2012 2 comments

For a majority of this lockout shortened 2011-12 season, LeBron James was a solid five or six strides ahead of everyone else in the always entertaining race for MVP. The Miami Heat looked unbeatable when they wanted to be, and the biggest reason for that was James’ consistent magnificence.

Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul joined him in early season conversation, but eventually LeBron simply pulled away, looking like a man on a mission. Playing in a condensed season that posed a lose-lose situation for both him and his team (the Heat could have gone 66-0 this season and nobody would care unless they won the championship), James began to put up historical numbers. When Dwyane Wade went down for an extended stretch, the question was posed as to whether Miami was actually a better team with LeBron running the show by himself. Wade is one of the league’s 10 best players on an off night. This train of thought was insane and intriguing at the same time.

I don’t recall anybody ever saying the Bulls were better without Scottie Pippen, or the early 2000 Lakers were better without Kobe Bryant. This was hard evidence for just how other-worldly LeBron’s season was earlier this season. There was a Bryan Cranston at the Emmys type of feel about LeBron and the MVP award this year. It was his to lose. Nobody was close.

Then March 20th happened. In a game against the Phoenix Suns, with the outcome already decided, James and Grant Hill crashed into each other diving for a loose ball. The collision was so violent, there was talk James might have suffered a concussion. Three nights later, he had a surprisingly subpar effort against Detroit, going 6-15 from the field for a puny 17 points. Granted LeBron had 10 assists, four steals, and his team won, but with LeBron the expectations are always higher than everyone else’s.

Two days later, in a much anticipated Sunday night matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder—and more importantly, prime rival MVP candidate Kevin Durant—both LeBron and his team floundered. The result was a seismic shift in the race. LeBron went head to head with Durant and was badly outplayed. For the first time, LeBron’s five fingers appeared to be slipping off the trophy.

Exactly one week later, the Heat were handed their worst loss of the season, and James recorded 0 assists (passing is the largest advantage his game has over Durant’s) while the Thunder handed the league’s best team (record wise) their worst beating in recent memory.

Between the win against Phoenix on March 20th and last night’s 41 point demolition of Philadelphia, Miami was 3-3, playing like an average basketball team at best. And LeBron’s MVP candidacy is on the ropes like a popular politician enduring a sex scandal in early October.

The trophy is officially up for grabs.

As we go into the three main components that decide who should be named MVP, it should be noted that for the rest of the season, this is a two horse race; it would be “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has been nominated for an Osacr” type shocking if either LeBron James or Kevin Durant did not win. They’re the two best players in the league, and until further notice, their respective teams are headed on a probable collision course this June.

But this column isn’t about them so much as it is the award’s selection process. Each year, or so it seems, the requirement to win is altered. One year it could be awarded to the best player, another year it could be given to someone dragging his team by the scruff of its neck into playoff obliteration. Is it too much to ask for a little consistency?

(Quick Tangent: It’s absolutely INFURIATING to hear former players, analysts, and reporters speak about the MVP on television as if it’s a little child swaying back and forth on a swing. When there’s a month left in the regular season it makes absolutely no sense to say one guy has “passed” another just because he outplays him in a single game. This award is supposed to validate an ENTIRE season’s body of work. Right? It doesn’t matter who you think should win, please, for the love of God, just present your case with some logical evidence and move to the next topic of discussion. Thank you.)

There are so many different paths that can be taken to receiving the MVP award. Here, in my opinion, are the three most important: Narrative, Statistics, and Value. Read more…

Shook Ankles: Ty Lawson Injures Ryan Anderson

April 2, 2012 1 comment

I’ve watched this play approximately 25 times, and I’m still not sure what to make of Ty Lawson’s “move.” It was almost like his reputed speed made Ryan Anderson crumple just because they were on a switch. That, or he hurt himself on purpose. Either way it’s one of the season’s more embarrassing defensive plays, and the context of it being in a situation where Orlando absolutely had to have a stop makes it even worse.

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Shook Ankles: Dwyane Wade Crosses Over DeMar DeRozan

 

I think I’ve wrote this before. Crossing up an opposing defender when he expects you to use your ball screen is downright rude. And nobody abuses the power quite like Mr. Wade.

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