I’m not a basketball lifer, I’m aware of this. I’m a white kid from Toronto. I didn’t see my first basketball game (in person or on TV) until 1995. I didn’t really get into basketball until I was 16. Yet here I am, confounded by the sheer idiocy that’s going on in and around the NBA. I can’t know more about basketball, interpersonal skills and basic math than people paid 6 or 7 figures to know these things right? Right? Well, can someone explain the following to me?
Memphis is paying Allen Iverson not to play. What is this, Groundhog Day? Didn’t they see what happened in Detroit? We all knew the deal, AI would not be a backup. Why were they surprised when he didn’t want to be one for the Grizz? And if AI was getting out of what he described as the worst situation in his career, where he claims he was stabbed in the back by former coach Curry, wouldn’t he have tried to get some assurances from the club that he wouldn’t be back in the same boat?
Byron Scott gets fired after a 3-6 start. He is replaced by his GM. Which would be fine, if the poor start wasn’t more related to the GM mismanaging that roster since the Hornets’ playoff run of 2 years ago than poor coaching. Or if they were replacing the coach with a better coach. Or if they weren’t hiring a lead assistant who they already have fired. Or if they tried to find a wing player who could actually play some ball. As Chris Paul read this, a single tear rolled down his cheek. He knows he doesn’t have the teammates. He knows.
The Knicks suspended Eddy Curry because he wasn’t in shape. Now he’s in shape. The problem: he may have lost 70 pounds but he’s still EDDY MOTHER FUCKING CURRY! How in gods name is he going to run with a D’Antoni system?! The dude might not be a walking balloon boy anymore, but he still won’t suddenly turn into Amar’e Staudemire or something. He isn’t a fast break type player. He’s not. Either you form a system around the players, or get players that fit the system. Eddy Curry doesn’t fit either template for the Knicks. Speaking of the Knicks’ template, the whole run and gun score a lot of points only works if you SCORE A LOT OF POINTS! Not when you give up 108 a freaking game and score about 100. Shockingly, these Knicks are actually WORSE on offense than they are on D! This is not how D’Antoni-ball is supposed to work. But it’s okay, the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden. Of course LeBron wants to play there next season. Duh.
The Nets are so far down right now that they LITERALLY threw away (1:50 here) their first chance to win a game this season. These people play professional basketball. Help! I don’t care that people are injured. If you can’t inbound a ball even CLOSE to a teammate, there are far bigger issues at play than injuries.
The Blazers have some of the best young offensive talent in the league. So it makes perfect sense that they’re playing at the 3rd slowest pace of any team in the NBA. Yet they’re still 19th in scoring. 28th in pace, 19th in scoring. The team has Brandon Roy and LaMarcus freaking Aldridge! DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHOOT THE FUCKING BALL! YOU HAVE ODEN UNDER THE BASKET FOR GOD’S SAKE! They have a hyper-efficient offense so why not actually use it more?! This team is the jackass who buys a Ferrari, only takes it on cruises around the neighbourhood and won’t change out of 2nd gear. I watch basketball to be entertained. I play fantasy basketball to heighten that entertainment. I love defense, rebounding, hustle, and the down and dirty guys (see my Nuggets piece where I wax poetic about the likes of Birdman and Joey Graham). But I also want to see some end to end action! I want to see the best athletes in the world making the most of their talent and abilities. Moreover, I don’t want to see one more fucking boxscore where Roy, Aldridge and Oden have to get their stats from a total of 90-something points and 40-something rebounds! Let them loose a LITTLE bit. Please! I’m begging you. Last year, they were 30th in pace and 1st in efficiency. This year, they’re 28th in pace and a bit lower in the efficiency (8th). Still good, yes, but is it really going to negatively impact the team too much to maybe bump the offense up to 20th in pace? Really? They’re getting 89.4 possessions in 48 minutes. 2 more possessions a game gets them to 19th. That’s it! Will an extra 2 possessions hurt their efficiency THAT much?! Okay, maybe I’m just angry as a fantasy owner of Roy and Aldridge. And Oden. In fact, I’m pretty sure I just sunk any trade value that Aldridge had. Let’s just move on.
Philadelphia has one really good low post player in Marreese Speights, but can’t play him big minutes because they fear the two vets ahead of him would become malcontents if moved to the bench. This team actually has a quality building block in their frontcourt, and Eddie Jordan must know that the kid is going to start eventually. The Sixers won’t be very good this year – common sense says that counting on Sam Dalembert in the first place destined this team for failure. They need to embrace the fuutre. Obviously, I am not a Dalembert fan. I am not a Brand fan, either. I do however enjoy Brand’s play if for nothing else than to laugh at James, who drafted big Elton right after I took Boozer. Sucker. (Ed.: Ugh, I want to make fun of you for not keeping Marc Gasol, but that Brand thing was too upsetting. You’re mean.)
Chicago brought in John Salmons at the deadline last year, presumably to groom a replacement since they’d already decided they weren’t keeping Gordon (I’d rather have the cap space too). The mistake: not recognizing that Salmons wasn’t a great basketball player and cashing out while he had serious value. Now they can’t do anything with him. Not that it really matters. Even if they had the pieces, they’d still find a way to fuck it up. James thinks I should give VDN credit for fixing the defense… but they replaced a defensive pylon at 2 guard with someone who plays, and Rose and Noah got a year better. VDN just happened to be along for the ride. And he’s supposed to get credit for that? Pfff. Last year, I thought Vinny Del Negro was an inexperienced moron in over his head. Now, I just think he’s dumb.
What’s my problem with Vinny? Well, he doesn’t know his personnel. He makes poor decisions. On the potential game-winning buzzer beating shot that Miller made against Denver the other day, Luol Deng actually said “I thought it was a fact you can’t shoot with 0.3. So that’s why I was kind of like, I mean, if it counted then they’ve got to change a lot of things because I thought it was 0.4.” Really. Wouldn’t you think this MIGHT come up during the timeout that preceded the play? What the hell was Vinny talking about in that timeout? It’s not like he was drawing up some top secret super-duper guaranteed-to-work play. The Outside The NBA team was watching that game from our hub of James’s basement (basking in post podcast glow), and while Julian and I disagreed with James’s assertion the basket should count (Ed.: I said it looked very close on the replay, not that it should definitely count), I think we could all agree that Denver’s curious decision to not bother to cover Brad Miller was far more of a factor in Miller getting that good a look than any genius that Del Negro came up with. Not to mention the fact that VDN STILL hasn’t figured out that for Rose to be effective he needs to be on the floor with someone who can great space for him by making shots. One person. Not 3 people standing 20 feet from the basket jacking contested shots while everyone stands still. When the fucking Toronto Raptors can shut you down in an entire half of basketball, you have problems. I don’t want to hear the “they were tired, they were on a back to back” excuse. That’s horseshit. I understand how the travel and lack of preparation can negatively impact a team, but 28 points in a half against what might be one of the worst defensive teams in NBA history? Just move the ball. Spread the floor. For god’s sake, it’s like a team of Jamario Moons over there.
My final rants and raves: Fans and GM’s. It’s between 7 and 9 games into the season. There are any number of key players on any number of teams missing for reasons varying from steroids to ‘personal reasons’. A bunch of teams are integrating new players. Everyone, myself included, needs to take a deep breath and relax a little bit. Just close your eyes and breathe deep. I’ll wait. Everyone ready? Ok, time to continue ranting with some assorted thoughts on this season thus far:
The Cellar Dwellers
Okay. The Toronto Raptors are playing without their supposed best rebounder. We don’t know if Reggie Evans will make a significant difference to the Raps’ lack of success on the offensive and defensive glass, so let’s at least wait till he gets on the floor before we start freaking out. If after a while the Raps still can’t play defense or at least grab the occasional rebound, then clearly there’s a problem.
The Bucks have lost to Philly, beat Detroit, the Bulls, the Wolves, the Knicks and the Nuggets. Not to take anything away from that Nuggets win, but Denver was on the second day of a back to back. Either way, that’s hardly a murderer’s row of teams the Bucks have beaten. Let’s wait a little longer before we start sucking Skiles off again. (Ed.: You bastard. The Bucks are awesome. If you had said something negative about Jennings here, I would have lost it.)
Sacramento is .500 for the first time in YEARS. Fact: James actually tried to convince me to trade him Casspi. Even offering players AND burgers to be named later. Alas, Sacramento can’t keep this pace up forever but at least we can all enjoy it while it lasts.
The Boston Celtics are off to a fantastic start. They are also the oldest team in the NBA. Thankfully, almost every stadium in North America comes equipped with a defibrillator. Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not on the hook for their insurance premium this season.
Orlando has missed one of their best players, Rashard Lewis, for the entire season thus far. And will for a few more games. Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, and Ryan Anderson have missed games, too. Tonight, Brandon Bass isn’t even playing. Dwight Howard has kinda learned to shoot free throws and is becoming good as passing out of double teams. I regret not picking them higher in the predictions piece. Just a scary, scary team.
Denver just got J.R “Don’t call me Earl” Smith back into the lineup. The Nuggets have beaten Utah at home and Portland on the road back-to-back. And since then, they have proceeded to beat Memphis, Indy, the Nets and the Bulls. But don’t forget that they have lost to Miami, Atlanta and Milwaukee. As much as it pains me to say: we can’t really read too much into Denver’s hot start. Should they beat the Lakers tonight though, it’s a whole new ballgame.
Phoenix has only played 2 home games so far. The first loss they had was to Orlando, when Steve Nash seemed tired on a back-to-back (the only game he had less than 8 assists). They got spanked by the Lakers, again in a game where Nash looked tired. So it seems like the Suns will go as far as Nash can take them. Here’s hoping that’s a long way, but I’m not going to get my hopes up just yet.
San Antonio just beat up Dallas while playing without Duncan and Parker. Well then. I don’t even have anything to add. That’s where amazing happens, ladies and gentlemen.
The Cavs have started to put it together, and they’ll get it eventually. Despite Mike Brown’s best efforts, the Cavs will be fine. The east is going to be interesting yet.
Call it a hunch, but somehow I doubt any of the big name free agents this year will even CONSIDER where to go next year without seeing how competitive their current teams are. It’s not like the more times reporters ask said big name soon to be free agents where they are going, the more likely the players are to answer in anything more than jock-speak and cliches. All these reporters are doing is torturing dozens of already tortured fan bases. Cleveland already has the Monday Night Debacle (you’ll see on the 16th) in its future. They also got to see their 2 former best pitchers face off against each other in a World Series game. Do they really need to be subjected to this crap every game day? It’s bad enough these poor people live in Cleveland. Just leave them alone. I’m begging you. LeBron has finally asked for this.
James is currently beating me in the fantasy league that I blogged about. But I’m beating him in the other fantasy league we’re in. When asked for comment, James couldn’t really garble out a reply. All I could make out was that James doesn’t like the head-to-head format. I guess he believes in keeping that kind of stuff for his personal life since I’m fairly sure his voice was being muffled by Ben Gordon’s dick. (Ed.: Ben Gordon?! WTF? I don’t even have him in the pool. If you’re going to make an absolutely tasteless joke, at least use Gilbert or Dwight or something. I’m disappointed in you. This blog post is over.)