The NBA regular season is already halfway through and I’m feeling the need to type my way into your life. I think it may have something to do with the sad truth that my go to hoop conversationalist, Joe Kavanaugh, has gone AWOL since The Great Alaskan Shootout! I mean, we were basically The Starters before the current Starters came to be. (note: you have to watch a lot of NBA TV to get that reference). Now I’m reduced to internal debates over things like will Andrew Wiggins be better than Ben McLemore in his rookie season?
You laugh but let’s look at the numbers at KU:
McLemore: 6’5”, 195lbs – 15.9pts, 5.2rb, 2ast and 49.5% from the floor
Wiggy: 6’8”, 200lbs – 16.5pts. 6.1rb, 1.5ast and 46.2% from the floor
Advantage Wiggy, but Joe would have an answer and it would usually be backed by quotes from Rivals.com and detailed stats from play in a Maxpreps holiday tourney during Wiggins junior year when his team went up against a team led by McLemore. Of course for the sake of argument, I would have to disagree.
So, to get into the official opinionated, know-it-all blog mode, I’m stripping down to my tighty whities and grabbing a bowl of Honey-Nut O’s. For future posts I need to get my hands on an old school sports writers visor and start smoking while I write this mumbo jumbo. The more I can distance myself from any semblance of athleticism, the better the blog.
Okay let’s tip this shit off:
Warriors – Grade B-. They are just about where they were last year in terms of record, but with the heightened expectations coming into the season, the team is dragging a bit. The Western conference is brutal and the W’s are currently in the 7 spot with teams like Memphis 2.5 games behind and quickly rounding into shape. Bottom line, the playoffs are not a lock.
Curry’s wizardry on the offensive end is approaching Steve Nash in his prime, but he leads the league in turnovers. Thompson is an amazing streak shooter and is second only to Curry in 3pt FG’s made this season, but he still hasn’t really developed much of a game off the dribble and is very limited in his ability to create for others.. The Black Falcon started the year hurt and hasn’t really progressed in his soph year. A.I. is the glue man but his offense has vanished the past few weeks. The bench is weak. They rely too much on jacking the ball rather than working inside out. How about Bogut and Lee getting the ball on the block to initiate the offense? What would Hubie Brown do?
The landscape throughout the rest of the league is basically what you would expect with two major exceptions. In Rip City, the Blazers are on fire. How did this team just materialize out of nowhere? Aldridge was a disgruntled big looking for a way out of town last year but this core of Lillard, Matthews, Lopez and Batum have made him into an MVP candidate. GM Neil Olshey deserves a medal for assembling this crew. This is Sam Presti like. I love it and firmly believe that Lillard’s supreme confidence will carry over into the playoffs and make these guys a contender. Grade A+
The other ball boggler is the play of Phoenix! They should be down there with Utah and the Lakers (Love to say that!!) but instead find themselves currently in the 6 spot in the West. Huh?. Jeff Hornacek is the Bulseyeview coach of the year. And keep in mind, the Suns lost their best player in Eric Bledsoe and have continued their winning ways. Really? The Morris twins and Miles Plumlee down low?? Channing Frye jacking? Goran Dragic and Gerald “reject” Green handling the guard duties? It makes the old saying “This is why they play the games” seem that much more relevant. Grade A+
The Indy Pacers get an A+. You now have to say “Well there is Lebron and KD and hmmm…Paul George!” He’s that good. Amazing to think that a guy who was lightly recruited out of HS and slipped to #10 in the draft could blossom into an elite ball player. (Great Wiki stat: Paul George originally committed to play at Santa Clara!). The rest of the Pacers are built to win ugly in the playoffs. Lance Stephenson is becoming a star and if Granger gets his rhythm, it will be curtains for LeBron.
The OKC’s get an A+. Kevin Durant, the solo artist, has raised his game to a new realm bordering on the absurd while Westbrook is down with knee troubles. He’s a 25 year old cold blooded assassin on the hardwood. And Sam Presti has unearthed more gems in Reggie Jackson and Steven Adams to go along with the steady grinders Ibaka, Snafalufagus, Perk and Collison. If Lamb keeps improving and Westbrook gets back into the flow, I think we are looking at Indy/OKC.
Other Random Thoughts:
Reading a page full of box scores over coffee in the morning is the perfect way to greet the new day and my new immediate go to box score is that of the T-Wolves and Kevin Love. Love is a stat sheet stuffer supreme! 25 pts and 12.9 rbs per game is just nuts. Plus I’m always intrigued with Nikola Pekovic (18 and 9) and Rubio (8.2 assists and 2.6 steals to lead the league). Of course, my favorite active box score filler is Rondo. I’ve always had a soft spot for the triple double guys like Magic, J. Kidd and Rondo. Seeing 11 pts, 13 rebounds and 17 assists can somehow make a day seem bright! Michael Carter-Williams….I’m counting on you to continue this style of play.
Speaking of shocking box scores, How did Quinton Ross go for 51 against the Clippers last week?? This is a promising young man averaging just 6 something per game. Stat geeks could write papers on a deviation like that. In fact, he was the first player in the history of the NBA to score 50+ while averaging under 10pts/gm.
Are the Heat and Spurs just sandbagging and conserving all of their energy to make another run in June? Will Tony, Timmy and Manu snuff the life out of poor KD come May? Will the Heat make that one extra play again to put them over the top in game 7? It should be a classic.
If you had to draft between Lillard, Irving and John Wall, who would you pick? I’m going Lillard. He has that Oakland swagger that Kidd and Payton had and he seems to be all business. Just win baby. I wonder if he prefers Too Short to E40 or if he’s more of a Toni Toni Tone guy?
Is Anthony “Brow” Davis three years away from being the best player in the league? KD may have something to say about that but his ascension to the top of the heap will not be denied. His blend of height, quicks, timing and soft hands are genetic wonders and when he grows into those Michael Cage like shoulders of his and develops the physicality to own his space anywhere on the floor, it will be curtains for the rest of the PF’s in the league.
David Stern is officially retired as commissioner but his final draft call of, “With the number 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft, The Cleveland Cavaliers select Anthony Bennett from UNLV” may live in infamy as the biggest bust of his entire 30 year tenure of greeting young superstars at the podium. Nobody in this draft was a sure fire star but Bennett seems like a lost cause already. When I heard that he suffers from Asthma and Sleep Apnea and arrived to camp 30lbs overweight, my bust meter went to 10.
Under the Radar: After a tumultuous rookie year that involved limited playing time, a stint in the D-League and some off court run-ins with the law, Terrence Jones is developing into a nice player in Houston. The former Kentucky Wildcat has season averages of 11 and 7, but his numbers have spiked in January (17 and 8) while Chandler Parsons was out with injury. Keep an eye on the #18 pick in the 2012 draft as the Rockets make a move to lock up a home playoff seed.
IR Report: Sad to see Rose, Kobe and Westbrook go down in just a few games after lengthy rehab stints. Their shoes are irreplaceable. And a shout out to Gallinari and Tiny Nate, both missing in action to the Nuggets for the rest of the season due to ACL’s.
Pick the winning team: All players in their prime. They get three weeks of practice and then play a best of 7.
Team 1: Magic, Kareem, Larry, McHale and Jordan. Bench: Dr J, Andrew Tony, Barkley, Isaiah, Parish Coach: Chuck Daly
Team 2: Tony Parker, Duncan, LeBron, Durant and Kobe Bench: Wade, Westbrook, Howard, Dirk, Curry Coach: Pop
College Update to come soon!