The 440-something players who make up the NBA’s current labor force are a carefully selected collection of some of the most athletic, physically gifted specimens the human race has to offer. They combine the wherewithal and vision of a flying predator with a physical ability to float, dart, and do mid-air gymnastics minute after minute. The only thing that appears to stop them is each other (or, in the case of LeBron James, themselves).
Nobody in the league is “bad” at basketball, and when we use words like “terrible” or “atrocious” to describe a player’s performance it’s understood that the adjectives are used on a relative scale to whatever Player A’s colleagues are doing. With that being said, these are the guys who haven’t been fulfilling the duties they’re currently being paid to carry out—some of them may not even deserve a roster spot in the league right now. It’s simply too tough to make an argument for anything positive they’re bringing on the court.
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…
Here’s Part V of Shaky Ankles’ analysis into the league’s worst contracts—team by team. Read more…
Here’s my ode to defense. A collection of scattered, partially contradicting thoughts that come in response to the recently announced NBA All-Defensive team. As these playoffs near an end, with each possession being valued like a rare jewel, watching defense is as equally stirring as offense. Kendrick Perkins banging on the block with Chandler and Haywood, maybe even stepping out to try his luck guarding Dirk and the Mavericks’ previously unsolvable pick and roll; wondering if after chasing Ray Allen for five games in the second round whether Dwyane Wade will have enough energy to not only counter Derrick Rose’s relentless scoring, but directly keep him from doing so; Dallas deciding who they’ll stick on Kevin Durant. All these subplots are fascinating and bring an added layer to the game’s narrative. Because of this and so much more, I decided to give this thankless duty a salute. It’s too important not to. Read more…
Of the 68 trades that went down yesterday, none reverberated more around the league than the one sending Boston Celtics defensive staple Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the midwest for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, and a top-10 protected 2012 first rounder. A first look at the deal had fans in Boston pulling their hair and gouging their eyes. Perkins personified the hard working, defensive oriented, overachieving image that Boston has summoned since winning a championship. While he isn’t in the top half of offensive threats at his position, Perkins is tough; one of the few true enforcers in a league where that’s become a rarity.
Here’s Kelly Dwyer from Ball Don’t Lie’s take:
On an open roster, we don’t know where Jeff Green plays. He’s a poor rebounder, an awful defender at the power-forward slot, and he doesn’t do enough offensively to warrant a look at small forward. And yet, this doesn’t stop him from shooting nearly four 3-pointers a game, despite making only 30 percent of his looks from out there. His shot selection has been an issue since his rookie year, and it’s still hard to tell, exactly, where he fits in this league. Other than a guy that seems to luck into getting big minutes and plenty of shot opportunities.
It’s truly hard to see what Danny Ainge sees in these moves. Perkins has missed most of the year after recovering from surgery on his right knee, and he was going to be out for a spell with a sprained knee, but all indications had him at full strength for the playoffs.
But first place teams steamrolling their way towards a third NBA Finals appearance in four years don’t make deadline deals for the hell of it. By losing Perkins, the number one problem in the eyes of many fans comes in answering the question “who guards Dwight Howard?”. To those asking that question, have you seen Orlando lately? The Magic are fading quicker than anyone thought possible. They’ll be lucky to get out of the first round and simply aren’t a serious threat anymore. What Boston needs to make a run through the Eastern Conference is athleticism at the three spot. Now they’ve found it. There’s a method to Danny Ainge’s madness, and Zach Lowe of SI’s Point Forward does his best to get to the bottom of it:
I’m not saying I love the trade for Boston, or even like it. But you can understand it. Ainge has done something risky here: He’s looking to the future while doing his best to maintain the present. He always said the Celtics of the late 1980s blew it by not addressing the future as aggressively as they should have when their key guys were in decline. He is doing his best to avoid that mistake while keeping the championship in play.
There is unease today in Boston. But don’t make declarations yet about this team torpedoing its title chances.
Ever since his days in D.C., I’ve liked Jeff Green. He’s an old school, no nonsense glue guy who can defend multiple positions. Various reports say he’s overrated, but I don’t quite agree. He’s versatile, tough, and should produce more value off the bench in Boston than as a starter in Oklahoma City. Most important, he’s 24; young. It’s a rare grab for the Celtics in recent years, and even with all the success, a sight for sore eyes. And don’t count out the draft picks. Today may end up being looked at as the day Danny Ainge set out on his path towards a sign and trade for Dwight Howard. A fan base can only dream.
While it’s sad for Boston to see Kendrick Perkins leave (bad shoulders/knees and all), optimism abounds with what Boston received in the deal.
Except for this: