We pretend like basketball is something we can predict. That we know how games are going to go, how players are going to perform, and who will be victorious in the end. This isn’t like football, where the season is so short and the game so physical that having a “bad day” could mean a ticket to the playoffs or not. It’s also not like baseball, where there’s so many games, a team could have dozens of hot or cold streaks in just a couple of months. Basketball can’t even be compared to hockey, because it’s so low-scoring, it could very well come down to a guy being in the right place at the right time, no matter how good or bad the team is. With basketball, the ball don’t lie. You can watch every play, see every movement from every player, and know how things are going to go. You know how the teams are going to match up. That’s not to say an inferior team can’t win, it happens all the time. Except you know that when it counts, they won’t win. The other team is better, because they play better, and usually, because they want it more. Read more…
Before we saw Indiana’s gigantic center bully toss him twice to the ground late in the fourth quarter, Steph Curry dazzled the Pacers with some serious handle. First he shook George Hill to the ground, then engaged Tyler Hansbrough in a friendly game of Hungry Hungry Hippos (Hansbrough lost). His shot is soaking wet, but Curry does much, much more. And that much, much more is typically brilliant.
Kyrie Irving can’t legally purchase an alcoholic beverage in the United States until March 23rd of this year. Check.
He won the ROY award last season in near-unanimous fashion. Check.
Irving’s ball-handling puts And 1 Mix Tape wunderkind, The Professor, to shame. Check.
Kyrie Irving has one of the prettiest jumpers in the league and just won the NBA’s 3-point shooting contest (the only Saturday competition that people still seem to care about) during this past All-Star weekend. Check.
He was also in the actual All-Star game in just his second year. Check.
He dazzled in the Rookie-Sophomore game, abusing Brendan Knight enough, particularly on one cross-over you’ve already seen, that Brendon Knight might be forever scarred from participating in anything over an All-Star weekend ever again. Check.
Add all those check marks up and you’ve got the most fantastic, stupefying, physically gifted young basketball player in the world; someone who leaves professional basketball writers groveling to assign him the most favorable adjectives they can find as they tweet in a perpetual state of delirium at what they’re witnessing. You know, like Derrick Rose used to be, and hopefully will be again.
The NBA trade deadline is usually much more livelier, but this season has seen a less exciting process. With the large amount of activity in the offseason, and most teams waiting for Josh Smith to be moved, Rudy Gay heading to Toronto was the largest move we have seen thus far. But Sacramento decided to make things a bit more interesting by trading former top-5 pick Thomas Robinson to Houston for Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas, Cole Aldrich, and $1 million in cash. Houston also received Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt, along with a second-round pick from Phoenix. In return for the pick they sent Marcus Morris to Phoenix. This trade was mostly a platter of prospects and mediocre role players being moved, but it is not entirely devoid of intrigue. Read more…
For players lucky enough to participate, All-Star weekend is a balanced mixture of relaxation, fun, self-promotion, and a valuable opportunity to collect lifelong memories. For Brandon Knight, that last part is most depressing. For Kyrie Iring, well, by the time his career’s all said and done it’ll be the most insignificant footnote.
When we watch basketball we watch the ball. It’s naturally where the eye is drawn, so it makes sense that defensive-oriented teams are generally among the lowest rated games on television and the least talked about in the media. There’s one team that’s been a defensive juggernaut for more than a decade, and they’ve managed to win four titles in that span, despite a dearth of attention from casual fans and most media outlets. This season is no different, and while the San Antonio Spurs continue to win at historic levels, their automaton-like dominance is swept under the rug as mere commonplace, rather than shouted from the top of Mount Helicon as Popovich bottles Hippocrene water for his vineyard.
Why don’t more people care, or get excited about the San Antonio Spurs? It’s a tough question to answer without getting into hairy attempts at gleaning information based off what you think, rather than what you know. The basketball watching populace is a fickle bunch; they want points and star players, but dunks and a barrage of 3-pointers will do. Defense, in its still inchoate days of analytics, just isn’t that sexy, and it’s hard to write about without actually watching basketball. Nor is attempting to describe what the Spurs do on defense that’s allowed them to finish in the top 10 in defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions) every year except one–the 2010-11 season–since they drafted Tim Duncan in the summer of 1997. And that lone year they failed to crack the top third in defensive efficiency, they finished 11th (per basketball-reference).
As long as he plays for the Sacramento Kings, Tyreke Evans will be an overlooked waste of basketball talent. His repute as a lane-slashing positive impact has fallen so drastically in the last three seasons that the one-time formality of Sacramento inking him to a second contract has dwindled from “obvious,” to the strong possibility that whoever owns the team six months from now won’t be signing his pay checks.
Evans is a talented, supremely athletic guard who tricked us all into thinking he was Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose before Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose launched themselves into the sport’s stratosphere. While he routinely gets to the rim with similar ease, Evans’ ability to elevate his teammate’s level of play (ie passing the basketball) has managed to get worse instead of better. Read more…
A 24 point, 14 rebound, 14 assist triple double? Check. Connecting on a three-point dart with the game on the line to force a third overtime? Check. Dropping Danilo Gallinari square on his tush with the filthiest step back between the legs crossover of 2013? Yes sir, check and mate.
This will go down as the In-N-Out Burger of ankle shattering moves. (Ray Felton supporters: I promise that’s not a fat joke! Well, actually, it kinda is. Sorry!)
Even as a Bulls fan, I often forget that Derrick Rose was ever named MVP. It just feels like we’ve been living in this era where LeBron dominates everything, and anything he doesn’t, Kevin Durant does. R0se won the award based on his numbers and his talent, as all MVPs do, but it took a lot to get those numbers and to reach that talent. He was only 22, and in his first season with coach Tom Thibodeau.
A lot of the improvement from Thibs’ coaching would come the next season, in his defense and outside game. That MVP season and that run in the playoffs was based on will. Desire. Passion. That’s also what’s keeping this Rose-less team not just afloat, but succeeding beyond wildest expectations. Chicago is in third place in the Eastern Conference, and with Rose returning to contact practices, it seems a matter of time before they retake first place. So how does the fight in these Bulls translate to actual wins? Read more…