It’s always a wonderful time to be a sports fan but there are certain times of the year when it just seems like bliss. Today is one of them. The NBA and college kids are now in full swing on the hardwood, football is heading to crunch time and if racing’s your thing, NASCAR is staging their own Final 4 Shootout on Sunday.
For this sports installment, it’s time to talk NBA in November. I know you may be spitting out your coffee and wailing, “NBA in November?? The NBA doesn’t start until the playoffs in April. How downright stupid can you be to discuss anything other the National Football League? That’s borderline unpatriotic Bulseyeview! I think I hate you!”
But the beauty of the first month of the NBA season is to see which teams got it right on draft day and free agency and who got it all wrong. It’s the ideal time for a geek with a blog (hey that’s me) to applaud or criticize the men and women who get paid to sit in the hot seat and make the big decisions.
So who got it right? (Disclaimer- These claims are strictly the opinion of the writer based on a comprehensive analysis of box scores and internet articles, viewing NBA Gametime, Warrior telecasts, TNT and ESPN, and listening to KNBR sports talk radio)
Karl Anthony Towns (aka KAT): It’s always a bit risky to pick a 1 and done college frosh, especially one who didn’t dominate the collegiate game, but KAT was the consensus #1 pick on all of the mock drafts and he has lived up to the hype. Through 11 games KAT is averaging 15-10 and has proved to be a very capable defender. At just 20 years of age this week, he’s 7’0”, 245 lbs, with quick feet and a fire to improve. As a bonus, he’ll have Kevin Garnett is his ear all season teaching him all of the tricks of the trade. Now sit back, take a deep breath, and try to visualize the young man when he’s 23, 255 lbs and has range to the 3 point arc and can guard 3 positions. I think he’s in the rarefied air of Anthony Davis and I’m drooling over the thought of KAT, Wiggins, LaVine, Rubio and Bjelica running the floor together over the next 3-5 years.
Kristaps Porzingis: I loved it when Commissioner Silver announced, “With the 4th pick in the 2015 NBA draft, the New York Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis,” and the live audience almost started a riot. The pressure on Phil Jackson was instantly ratched up to 10, but the Zen Master appeared pretty content, and yes, he was correct as usual. Porzingas is 7’3” with a feathery touch from anywhere inside of 25’ and possesses enough athleticism to survive in the NBA now as a raw 20 year old. He’s not a scared Euro who shies away from contact. He seems determined to prove the detractors wrong. I’m seeing Dirk 2.0. I’m seeing a young man who’s going to bring glory back to the win starved Madison Square Garden audience and take NYC by storm. Like KAT, just try to picture what KP will look like with three years of strength training and experience under his belt? The NBA is in good hands.
Rookie Silver: Jahil Oakfor and Emanual Mudiay have the look of 10 year starters in the NBA.
Rookie Busts: It’s way too early to write a kid off already but I have a feeling Laker fans are going to rue the day Mitch Kupchak selected D’Angelo Russell over Porzingis (and Okafor). And what has happened to Frank The Tank? Another MJ lottery pick blunder?
Wildcat Pipeline to the NBA
Everybody knows the well documented story of Coach Cal’s much-ballyhooed draft classes, with a record 4 lottery picks and 6 overall selections in the 2015 class alone, but did you know it’s the rookies from another Wildcats who seem to be getting the big minutes so far? Yes I’m talking about the Arizona Wildcats here. To date, only KAT and Willie Cauely-Stein are seeing real minutes on the floor from UK, while Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and undrafted point guard TJ McConnell are all playing major roles for their respective (and crappy) clubs. #TheRealBasketballWildcats.
Free Agent Yes/No/Maybe:
Rockets Signing Ty Lawson – NO. Nobody can share the ball in the backcourt with The Beard and after 11 games, the panic button was pushed. GM Daryl Morey rolled the dice to try and find a way to get past the Warriors and after a lackadaisical 4-7 start, McHale is gone. It seems a little premature to go to those measures but there must have been some serious internal issues between players and coach or philosophical issues between coach and GM. Just for the heck of it I’ll blame Dwight Howard. That guy is the Elizabeth Taylor of the NBA.
Spurs Signing LaMarcus Aldridge and David West- Yes (eventually). The Spurs are always a methodical team who slowly ramp up for the playoffs. Can you imagine the match up contrast if the Spurs decide to go big with some crazy lineup of Duncan, Aldridge, West, Leonard and Diaw? Pop has a lot of pieces to play with this year and my dream is to see him match wits against Steve Kerr in the Western Conference Finals.
Clips signing Paul Pierce- Maybe. Pierce is basically on his last legs but we all know those legs have a game winning buzzer beater coming in the playoffs this year.
Cleveland Signing Mo Williams – Yes. LeBron needs offensive help. Mo isn’t a splashy signing but he can shoot and score and The King needs guys around him who can score. This could go a long ways come spring.
Emerging Talent from Obscurity:
- Alec Burks – Utah 16/gm – With Gobert, Hayward, Hood, Burke, and Burks, the Jazz are a team of young no namers on the verge of busting out.
- CJ McCollum – Portland 20/gm – With the defections of Aldridge and Wes Matthews, McCollum has stepped up to form a lethal backcourt with Lillard. Too bad the rest of the team are D-Leaguers.
- Evan Fournier – Orlando 19/gm – The young French bomber has found a home in Orlando as he’s become the go to guy for coach Scott Skiles.
Us vs Them:
Shut the borders down, these daggone foreigners keep taking jobs from us Americans. I know that former Commissioner Stern had a vision to make the NBA a global game, but I wonder if even he had the foresight to see his plan working so quickly? Looking around the league at all of the young upcoming players, many of them were born on foreign soil.
Example- Non USA: Wiggins, Gobert, Greek Freak, Porzingis, Dennis Schroder, Mudiay, Ezeli, Mirotic.
And the next really big thing in the NBA, the first pick in the 2016 draft, will be Ben Simmons from Australia.
The defending champion GS Warriors are better than last year. After an MVP season and a title, Curry went back into his lab and came back a virtuoso. His handle and shooting stroke are similar to Steve Nash in his prime, but his range is in another dimension. It almost feels like I’m watching a guy play a video game who spends too much time on the couch working the controller. He can jab step in any 360 degree direction with either hand to create space and if you can stay with his first move, he’s already crossed and is by you. Oh and if you are quick enough to recover from his counter move, he’s stopping on a dime and shooting as your momentum takes you right on by. Beautiful to watch. If he can sustain this freakishness and lead the Warriors to a second title over the revamped Spurs, Clips and LeBron’s crew, he’s instantly thrust into the all time great category.
And his cast looks better than ever. How many teams have the luxury of bringing the Finals MVP off the bench to anchor the best second unit in the game? This allows the coaching staff to keep the minutes down and keep everybody healthy for the stretch run. Draymond Green is playing at an all star level and Festus Ezeli is now a solid NBA big. I honestly feel sorry for all of the hoop junkies on the East Coast who don’t get to view this performance on the nightly basis.
Other Observations…..Boogie Cousins, when of sound mind, may be the best player in the world. He now strokes the 3 with the touch of a shooting guard, dribbles the rock like a point and has the post moves of a classic 5 man. The sky’s the limit for this guy if he can keep his head on straight. In his 7 games this season, he’s averaging 28-11 in 31 mins per game …..It’s nice to see Paul George back to full speed. Pre leg injury he was a top 5 offensive player in the league and at 24/gm, he looks to be back…….With KD down with another injury, Russell Westbrook continues to bring it on a nightly basis with the ferociousness of a hungry junk yard dog. Has there ever been a man with more stamina in any sport? His body should be studied. Two stats to make you chuckle – Andre Drummond is averaging 18.9 rebounds per game and Hassan Whiteside is averaging 4.6 blocks per game. Combined they are like having Bill Russell on the floor…….
Early Season Dunk of the Year
Demar DeRozan posterizing Rudy Gobert just last night. Yikes!
Now for the Silliness
The other day I was looking at box scores and came to the conclusion that most teams in the league could use a new name. Jazz in Utah? Lakers in LA? It’s time for a rethink here.
Here are my picks for New Names
San Francisco Disrupters
San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Directors (Clips)
Denver Skunky Nuggets
Utah Latter-day Saints
Minnesota Lottery Pickers
Portland Craft Brewers
Los Angeles Producers (Lakers)
New Orleans Funk
Atlanta Dirty Dirties
Miami Bling Blings
New York Knickerbockers
Charlotte Southern Gentlemen
I’m getting a laugh over the thought of Mike Tirico saying the following on air:
“Tune in tomorrow for the The Funk taking on the Dirty Dirties in the early game followed by The Directors vs The Producers in the nightcap.”
Enjoy the season and check back here before the playoffs for more exciting basketball discussion!.