Show of Hands is a feature involving you (the loyal reader) and your valuable opinion. From time to time, questions will be raised in an effort to explore the many various topics our beloved NBA has to offer. Don’t be shy; have a look and place a vote.
Despite seeing several serious bruises on both its front line and backcourt in recent months, the United States Basketball Team will once again be heavy favorites heading into London this summer. (Basketball betting at the Olympics remains a relatively easy task.) One of the major strengths making this so is their wing play. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony could at times find themselves all on one unit, on one perimeter, relentlessly gutting an opposing team until the ever merciless Coach K takes pity and subs in Tyson Chandler.
With these playoffs serving as a quintessential coming out party for James Harden, leaving him off the team will be difficult. Not only has he shown an ability to enter the lane whenever he wants, but he has the rare ability to make others around him better; their professional life easier. At only 22-years-old, Harden was invited to tryout with the big boys this summer, while most others his age were designated to the Select Team. He’s a superstar in the making, soon to sign a max contract.
Making the next “Dream Team” isn’t about paying dues or “deserving” inclusion. It’s taking 12 players who aren’t just the best players in the world, but selfless men willing to sacrifice personal glory for the benefit of their country’s success. With a power house line up like this, it’ll raise the chances of the United States winning bets in online casinos, thus bagging another sure
gold medal. James Harden should be on the team, and it poses this hypothetical question that probably won’t be asked anytime soon: Who would you rather take: Harden or Wade? And while we’re here: right now, who’s the better player?
It’s a question that might seem crazy on the surface, but choosing the youngster might not be so impractical.
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.
Last week, a latest chapter in basketball’s least colorful narrative (that is LeBron James’ steamy relationship with the fourth quarter) was written. It was written because Udonis Haslem missed a wide open jump shot. Because Udonis Haslem missed a jump shot, millions of theories and mystical explanations were concocted, then explained all across the internet. Because millions of theories and mystical explanations were concocted, then explained all across the internet, LeBron James will react by tweaking his relationship with the fourth quarter. When LeBron James tweaks his relationship with the fourth quarter, the next chapter will be written. And on and on the cycle goes.
Questions are being asked each and every day but there’s no real furthering of worthwhile development; no answers will be made available until June. What LeBron does nine times out of 10 on a basketball court can either be described as correct, smart, or amazing. Sometimes all three words apply. It’s fine to judge him for his disappearing act in last year’s NBA Finals, but to critique each and every end-game decision with a magnifying glass reserved for the postseason is annoying and pointless.
It’s strange to say, but the move seen above, in it’s late game context, poured a thimble’s worth of gasoline on the flames. Every time Dwyane Wade sees success, the national reaction instantly becomes “Where was LeBron while Wade saved the day?” If James produces his normal brilliance for 47 minutes and then misses a shot to tie or win the game with less than a minute remaining, the game’s story revolves around that minor detail as opposed to the bigger picture. We all know James will never shake the criticism until he wins a championship, but—with so many other/better story lines playing themselves out during the league’s current era of intrigue and athletically led grandeur—in many ways, both the league and the people who enjoy covering it, will feel immense relief once he does.
Introducing Shaky Ankles’ very first Power Ranking feature—a weekly breakdown of interesting, list worthy NBA related news. This section will undoubtedly be toyed with as the season progresses, but for the most part it should read as a typical Power Ranking, which is something that’s always so much fun to scroll through!
In our inaugural post, we end this week with our Top 8 cases of pessimism vs. top 8 cases of optimism. Pretty self-explanatory: These are issues that inspire hope or reek of failure. Enjoy! Read more…
It’s superstar swap time! Here, a hypothetical straight up player for player deal is offered involving two of the league’s best and brightest. Both viewpoints are then processed, and the fake trade’s winner is decided by way of which fan base would ultimately be happier. In this fictional situation, the players are only swapped for a single season of action, with everything else—rosters, coaches, owners—staying exactly the same.
Kobe Bryant vs. Dwyane Wade
2010-11 relevant stats:
Bryant – 82 starts, 10.3 WS, 23.9 PER, 54.8 TS%, 32.3 3P%, 82.8 FT%, 7.1 FTA, 5.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 25.3 PPG.
Wade – 76 starts, 12.8 WS, 25.6 PER, 58.1 TS%, 30.6 3P%, 75.8 FT%, 8.6 FTA, 6.4 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 25.5 PPG.
They’re the two best shooting guards in today’s NBA, and when judged by history’s hindsight, could end their careers as two of the five best shooting guards who ever lived. Both players are the closest in style, attitude, athleticism, desire, leadership, and skill that we’ve had since Michael Jordan’s second retirement, and it’s very difficult to find anyone in the league who you’d rather have take the last shot with your house’s mortgage on the line. (Helpful Disclaimer: Gambling the height of your life’s financial achievement on the shot of a basketball is not smart business).
As the years go by, Kobe Bryant—he of the five rings, tireless work ethic, and science fiction related Germanic knee surgery—will be comparatively discussed with Wade as those talk about Larry and Magic. Not with the same rivalry driven narrative, but the same reverence. Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant can’t be guarded one on one, they don’t tire, and when discussing complete basketball specimens—mind included—they’re both at the top of what they do.
Because this season’s rosters are so confusing, we’ll roll with what we have right now, on paper. Neither team has any of their unsigned free agents, but we will add those who have been reported to sign for the 2011-12 season (Kapono in L.A.; Battier in Miami). So, who comes out on top in a swap for two of professional basketball’s current Mount Rushmore figures.
Los Angeles’ Viewpoint:
In terms of his ability as a go-to scorer, emotional leader, and dependent ship steerer, the Lakers receive the one player in the league it’d make sense for them to replace Kobe Bryant with. Strictly looking at it from a basketball perspective, there’d be no drop off offensively and a slight upgrade in defensive play, as Wade has surpassed Kobe as the league’s best perimeter two guard stopper, especially as an absolute freak on help. Pairing him with Pau and Bynum would create no ego related problem, and, still relishing in his prime, Wade would likely have no problem giving up personal touches for the good of the team. Already used to playing alongside a dead person at point guard, he’d also be able to bring the ball up the court and initiate offensive sets quickly. With no Kobe, the Lakers would be fine here.
This is what everybody wants to see, right? Kobe with LeBron? Despite Wade overtaking Kobe in the eyes of many as an overall better player, the sheer mysticism of placing a media fueled rivalry, and two of the game’s biggest names, together on the same team would either make everyone involved’s head explode, or put the team in direct cruise control on their way to a championship. Implosion or explosion. In this situation, I think each player fits into their role a bit easier. LeBron is officially stamped as the game’s greatest playmaker, averaging 15-20 points, 10+ rebounds, 10+ assists a game, existing as the single greatest secondary scoring option in the history of the world. On the other hand, Kobe Bryant continues on his usual path of finisher, relieving James of any pressures that come with attacking late in the game. Those who know basketball don’t question LeBron for sidestepping Bryant as the final shot taker and Kobe gladly puts everything on his shoulders. This clear separation of roles, and declaration of team parameters, makes Miami an even likelier championship winning candidate. Also, Bryant doesn’t care if everybody hates him, which could work wonders in motivating the dry-heaving, bubble wrapped Chris Bosh.
L.A. might get better, they might not. With the loss of their very own Moses, Lakers fans cry either way. Down in Miami, nobody realizes anything has happened until the All-Star break, when Wade is playing for the West. A few people double check to make sure Miami hasn’t magically transported to southern California.
Winner? Whoever wins the championship.
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.
In the grand scheme of what’s altruistically important in life, I believe it’s fair to suggest all teachers, doctors, surgeons, and members of the armed forces should be given financial compensation of equal or greater value to that of which is awarded professional athletes. Their actual impact on human life is indisputably greater, more important, and further reaching. Of course, they don’t (and never will) because the businesses they’re in don’t create the billions upon billions of dollars in gross revenue that the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL produce on an annual basis. They also have an uncountable number of members in their labor force, making each worker’s slice of pie much smaller than that of the athlete. Call it sad. Call it unfair. Call it horribly disproportionate. Call it the real world. Read more…
Yesterday I wrote that what makes a superstar a superstar is an ability to do one thing really well that nobody else can. In the clip above, Deron Williams crosses the best defensive guard in basketball over, and then throws down a merciless one-handed jam on Joel Anthony, a player whose sole responsibility on the basketball court is preventing dunks from the opposition. Just watch it; Wade is left upright and flat footed. Can you think of anyone else in the league who can reenact this sequence? I’m not sure there is.
Another warm Thursday evening in June, another gem from the NBA Finals. Between Barea’s reemergance, Wade’s overdo physical ailment, Dirk’s consistent kerplunking of long range jumpers, LeBron’s least appreciatd triple double in basketaball history, and Terry’s entrance into a whole new stratospheric level of clutch, a REALLY great basketball game existed.
Before we dive deep into one of Game 5′s most important plays, let’s first observe it analytically. As Sebastian Pruiti over at NBA Playbook points out—the clip above is from his site—the offensive foul on LeBron James was in fact the correct call, so what does this mean exactly if you’re Wade? (Not to overstate the play’s importance, even though it did come at a crucial juncture, but doesn’t this five second sequence kind of encapsulate the entire Finals up to this point?) Leading the way, Wade makes an unbelievable move, draws two defenders up on him and dishes to LeBron who uncharacteristically turns it over. Both in this play and throughout the entire series, LeBron’s failure has overshadowed Wade’s greatness.
Nobody will remember that Wade lifted Shawn Marion from his socks because drawn charges aren’t replayed 10 years later when they occur with over two minutes left in a game that remains in the balance. LeBron proved incapable of converting on the play so it will eventually get lost in the shuffle, and that’s a tragic thing. The move’s so instantaneous—just like the charge—but what does it mean? When you’re comparing talent so great, a single play can not prove one player to be better than another. However, what it can do is give us evidence as to one’s mental makeup. No, LeBron isn’t mentally weaker than Wade because he bowled into Tyson Chandler at the wrong moment, but aren’t their roles supposed to be reversed in that instance? Isn’t LeBron the playmaker and Dwyane the one who scores at the rim? Maybe Wade didn’t feel comfortable absorbing contact from the baseline because of his hip. Maybe he didn’t trust LeBron enough to make the crucial play? I’m not buying that last reason as a possibility, but regardless of the result, if presented with the same situation on Sunday night do they both make the same decision? In the words of Mr. Wade, “Time will tell”.