Dancing With Noah

Just messing around, getting triple doubles

Tag Archives: basketball

Sunday to Monday Thoughts on Basketball #5

Holiest of holies, we’ve somehow made it through another NBA regular season. What started way way way back in 2013 with Derrick Rose’s return and tank talk galore is here, two days away from the regular season’s ending. The NCAA Tournament is behind us (Congrats UCONN), the Masters is done (won by a man named Bubba), and baseball is in the earliest stages of its own annual marathon. The sports stage is set for the two-month long drama of the NBA Playoffs to commence uninterrupted … unless of course you consider the NFL draft or ESPN’s obsession with all things NFL (we see you and your bomb threats, Aldon Smith – because it was a headline on ESPN.com). But that’s another gripe for another day, today is for reflection:

  • Rest in Peace, Lou Hudson. The 6’5” shooting guard from North Carolina joined the never ending pickup game in the sky on April 11th. There’s no way this space or this weekly format is enough to cover the career of one of the great two guards the NBA has seen. Over a peak that lasted seven seasons, Hudson, a long-time Atlanta Hawk, averaged 25ppg in 465 games and was named to six straight All-Star games. Were he a player in today’s game, he’d likely be a better shooting, less handle-savvy version of Brandon Roy with a shoe contract and legions of fans. Learning the history of this great game allows us to better understand, through context, the ability of our players today. More history, less mock drafts, please.
Hudson wearing #23 on the right with unknown associates

Hudson wearing #23 on the right with unknown associates

  • On the same day we lost “Sweet” Lou, Joakim Noah put up an oddball stat line that had me seeking out the wise data repository of Basketball-Reference’s Player Index. The line in question: 6 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists. I asked the simple, yet sophisticated tool who else had the well-rounded game to touch the ball enough to pick up 10+ assists, but fail to score more than six points. Not surprisingly were Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Darrell Walker. The name that stood out was Charles Oakley. On December 27th, 1986, while playing for the Bulls, Oakley grabbed 13 rebounds and dished 15 assists while scoring three points in a 105-93 victory over the visiting Pacers. Oakley’s better-known and better looking teammate, Michael Jordan, scored 44 on 20-29 shooting so it’s no wonder Oakley the Enforcer only took two FGAs. A very brief perusal through across the interwebs reveals a Chicago Tribune write up of the game by one Bob Sakamoto where we learn that Jordan was fighting off the flu and still hung 44 on Indiana (the Original Flu Game). Sakamoto describes MJ as “drawn-looking” and refers to him as “The Franchise.” With Jordan hogging all the ink, all we learn of Oakley’s contribution is that he threw a “perfect feed” to Jordan on a backdoor dunk and had “several rebounds and outlet passes.” Thus we learn that even on historical nights where power forwards set career highs, that MJ stories are still the best.

 

  • Splits: How about that Russell Westbrook? After a Russell-Interrupted season of niggling injuries, Westbrook has been reborn in April where he’s sporting a 38.8% usage rate and putting up 27ppg in just 31 minutes/night. Of course it’s a teeny tiny five-game sample size, but if you’re OKC, this is the trending you want to see, that you need to see. OKC is 3-2 in April, but let’s be real road losses to Indiana and Phoenix aren’t cause for concern.

 

  • While Chaos reigns in Brian Shaw’s Denver (wherefore art thou George Karl, Masai Ujiri, JaVale McGee? [um, never mind that last one]), Randy Foye, aka the other Villanova guard, has found in April friendly rims and abundant opportunity. After spending October thru March hovering around 40% from three, Foye’s caught April fire shooting nearly 49% from deep with scoring season-highs 19.5ppg, 4.8rpg, and 6.8apg. I don’t know much about Denver except that they have too many guards and too many injuries and that apparently Randy Foye at $3mill/year is a steal.

 

  • I wrote about Brandon Jennings over at The Diss, but once you’ve got a man down, it’s best to keep on kicking. Out of players who have qualified for FG% leaders, here’s how Jennings ranks over the past few seasons:
    • 2013-14: 125th out of 125
    • 2012-13: 122nd out of 123
    • 2011-12: 94th out of 113
    • 2010-11: 118th out of 119
    • 2009-10: 119th out of 119

 

  • In news that may or may not be related, Pistons GM Joe Dumars is out. Dumars acquired Jennings before the season started and the move, along with his Josh Smith signing, has not yielded success…any success.

Would they be so happy if the knew they what they know now? Or better yet, what do they know now?

  • I’m a grown man, but still I like to play imaginary games like “What if UCONN would’ve had Andre Drummond and Kentucky Anthony Davis?” Fantasies aside, Davis is on the shelf for the remainder of the year and after two pro seasons he’s missed 33 games and appeared in less than 80% of possible contests. I love you, Anthony, but I want you to get well. Drummond can’t shoot free throws to save his life (career 40% from the line – this is a liability!), but can rebound well enough to save us all. He leads the league in offensive and total rebound percentage and is just the 30th player since 1971 to grab at least 22% of all possible rebounds. Of course he’s also the youngest player to accomplish this feat. For Dumars’s ability to hit homeruns with draft picks like Greg Monroe and Drummond, his bad signings (the aforementioned Jennings and Smith, and Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva) were the stuff of desperation or stupidity or a toxic combination of the two.

 

  • The Race for 8th in the East was supposed to be all about the Knicks. Phil Jackson, Melo, JR Smith, Mike Woodson’s goatee, the Mecca. But the Knicks failed miserably to hold up their end of the bargain and meanwhile, the Hawks of Atlanta, a team I’ve unfairly ignored and neglected, clinched the final playoff spot and have done so with a 5-2 April and an unexpected commitment to defense. Their five April victories have included wins in Indiana and Brooklyn and a home win over Miami. Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap are playing their best ball of the season and while everyone knows how hard I hate on these Pacers, it’s worth noting that Atlanta split the season series with Indiana and center Pero Antic has owned Roy Hibbert in two games:

 

Small sample size for large men

Small sample size for large men

  • Memphis is a full game ahead of the Suns in the playoff race and guess who’s visiting Phoenix tonight? If you can pick up on blatant clues, then you guessed the Grizzlies who are 3-0 against the Suns this year. But none of those previous games have had the pressure of tonight’s game. Tell your friends and family you’re busy, clothes the curtains, get a bowl of something you like to consume and a beverage to wash it down and cross your fingers that we get the competitive game we’re all hoping for.

 

  • Not much happened yesterday except the Pacers grinding out a home win against OKC, Lance Stephenson triple doubling and Steph Curry going for 47 in an OT loss to Portland.

Remember when this guy vetoed that Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade? Never Forget.

 

 

 

Sunday to Monday Thoughts on Basketball #4

The playoff race is all the way heated up and ready for our frying pans to be filled with trivial thoughts and genius suggestions about How to Fix the Playoffs! – egad. The NCAA Championship will be decided tonight and no doubt, one half of Kentucky’s dynastic/dynamic/dy-Nasty duo of Harrison twins will once again reign three-point fire from deep behind the kiddie pool depth of the NCAA’s three point line and save the day for the legionnaires from Lexington … unless Shabazz Napier and his mysterious NBA prospects have something to do or say about it. Viva la amateurism! … particularly when they’re generating gaggles of money for head coaches and University ADs, Presidents, and stretch Cadillacs full of other greedy capitalists making money of the one-percenter talent of college football and basketball.

  • How could I start anywhere other than the Pacers of Indiana? As Wu-Tang likes to remind us, “The saga continues.” The latest debacle took place in the Indianapolis arena formerly known as Conseco Fieldhouse. It was a night when the playoff-indifferent Atlanta Hawks came to town to face this floundering Pacers group that had won two of their previous eight games. And? And? Frank Vogel’s team scored 23 points in the first half. Twenty-three! This wasn’t some odd homage to the great Michael Jordan, it was offensive putridity as the team made a whopping seven of 35 shots and overpaid center and Lord of the Rule of Verticality, aka Roy Hibbert, was benched for fatigue: “He looks to me to be worn down” said Coach Frank Vogel. With four games remaining, the Pacers still have ample opportunity to rediscover whatever was lost over these past six weeks: at Milwaukee, at Miami, OKC at home, before wrapping the season in Orlando. The Pacers need not worry though, as Tony Parker reassures us all: “It’s hard to explain. Everybody goes through this. I’m not worried about them. They’ll still make it to the Eastern Conference finals and they’ll still play Miami.” 

    Tony Parker, soothsayer

  • Andris Biedrins was waived by the Utah Jazz on Saturday which marks an ending of sorts for the big man from Latvia. In case you don’t recall, Biedrins averaged close a double double for Golden State as a 21-year-old way back in 2008. The Warriors rewarded their future cornerstone with five-year/$54-million deal. Andris and his well-styled hair paid immediate dividends the following season as he went for 12pts and 11rebs/game, but then it all fell apart like a paper bag stuffed with heavy groceries stuck in a torrential downpour and you’re having to walk home with this soaking wet bag that’s barely holding together – yes, Golden State was the poor bastard carrying that bag, but no one ever considers the feeling of the bag, in this case represented by Biedrins. What happened? Well, he spent much of 2009-10 dealing with injuries and never regained whatever propelled him to double double heights. Biedrins and his huge contract are now a thing of the past. It shuts the door on one of the sadder, stranger descents in recent NBA history – possibly stranger than this year’s Pacers team. What happened to you, Andris? 
  • To play off that sadly catchy “hide your kids, hide your wife” meme, when prospective NBA owner Chris Hansen starts talking, it’s best for NBA cities to hide your franchise (and maybe your wife too). If you recall, Hansen is the Seattle native who offered $625-million for the Kings last year and clearly operates off of Ted DiBiase’s motto: “Everybody’s got a price.” Unlike DiBiase, who was merely a character drawn up for pro wrestling, Hansen is a real person with real money. He made it into the Seattle Times last week for donating some of the space earmarked for a new Seattle arena to a nonprofit youth program. However, Hansen also used the opportunity remind us of the inevitability of Seattle getting an NBA franchise:

Does anybody really think that Seattle is not going to have an NBA team at some point in the future?” Hansen said. “I think everybody can get really impatient when things don’t happen on their own agenda. It’s inevitable Seattle will have a basketball team. It’s just a question of when.

Just a guy casually leaning on a light pole

  • Larry Sanders joined Arnett Moultrie in being suspended for a third positive test for reefer usage. There is a lot to discuss with Sanders’s statement, the league’s and NBPA’s stance on marijuana, and how their joint policies are both independent of and dependent on public perception, progressive policies, and the needs of league sponsors. This is not the forum for that discussion so I’ll leave it to Sanders who chose to defend his usage:

I know what it is if I’m going to use it. I study it and I know the benefits it has. In a lot of ways we’ve been deprived. You can’t really label it with so many other drugs that people can be addicted to and have so many negative effects on your body and your family and your relationships and impairment. This is not the same thing.

File:PeterTosh-LegalizeIt.jpg

  • From the random ass Did You Know file cabinet (which is conveniently stored in my head and accessed at random intervals), Al Horford has appeared in 114 of a possible 230 games since the 2011-12 season – that’s less than 50%! The source of these missed games has been tears to both the left and right pectoral muscles. Are these freak injuries or is there a little mutation in Horford’s DNA that leaves him prone to pectoral muscle tears? And does Danny Ferry plan to do anything about this? Horford’s under contract for $12-mill/year for the next two seasons and given Ferry’s present dismissive attitude about the playoffs, the Hawks are likely better off choosing to ride or die with the big man a couple more seasons. 
  • How about that JR Smith? Over his last seven games, Smith has taken a whopping 12.7 3PAs/game and is hitting at a 46% clip. Bananas you say? Well, to put it in perspective, the league record for 3PA/game is 8.7 by the ever-chucking Baron Davis back in 2004. Of course, of course, of course Smith’s little seven-game flourish is less than a tenth of season, but damn, when we talk about prolific, JR’s unconscious ability to gun from deep is in a special class of its own. Yesterday against the Heat he set the league record for 3PAs in a single game with 22 and before you roll your eyes and decry Smith’s outlandish chucking, know that it was the only way the overmatched Knicks were able to keep the game somewhat competitive. Ahhh, we can all roll our collective eyes and sigh and shake our heads at Smith’s selfish antics, but let’s at least all agree that JR Smith is that unknown variable equally capable of lifting us out of our Sunday slumbers and making us doubt our own hopes in this great game called basketball. JR Smith, comedian indeed. 

    Choices, by JR Smith

    Choices, by JR Smith

  • Finally, the Spurs lost to Oklahoma City, thus ending their streak at 19 games. I’ve heard Popovich promptly celebrated with Manu over a couple bottles of Argentina’s finest Malbec. 
  • The Bulls have won five games in a row and Joakim Noah’s dream season continues. His 12ppg, 11rpg, 5apg, 1spg and 1bpg put him in the rare company of Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley and Kareem. What a polarizing group! 
  • If a little blood and crushed hopes isn’t your thing, then stay away from the Western Conference playoff race where (realistically) three teams are battling for two spots: Dallas, Phoenix, and Memphis. The Mavs has to play both Phoenix and Memphis and the Suns/Grizzlies will also get a chance to face off next Monday. Supposedly TNT is where drama happens so let’s hope some of these games get national TV attention … after all, I think we can agree that there have been more than enough Laker games on ABC, ESPN and TNT.

Sunday to Monday Thoughts on Basketball #3

Week #3 and the NCAA Tournament is still going wacky and wild. We know for sure now that Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, Zach LaVine (UCLA), and Kyle Anderson (UCLA) will all be joining the greatest pro basketball league in the known universe and we know they need to bulk up like most 18 and 19-year-olds who wish to duke it out with grown ass men like Blake Griffin and LeBron James. But the pros are still pro-ing it up, so enough with the talkin and let’s get on with the fightin!

  • On Saturday night, the league worst 26-game Philadelphia losing streak went by the wayside as they handed the hapless Pistons a Philadelphia thrashing. Elton John must’ve been proud because as we all know so well, Saturday night’s alright for fighting and something something Philadelphia freedom. Well, the Sixers have unshackled themselves of something though I’m uncertain of what or how long. As coach Brett Brown reminded us after the game: “Our judgment day isn’t today, and it won’t be tomorrow. We are on a three-to-five year plan.” There was something of a comical spectacle to this losing streak, but now that it’s over, it’s just a pathetic blight.
  • Despite Philadelphia’s handcrafted sculpture constructed of the finest feces and the shiniest garbage, the Bucks of Milwaukee still languish behind in the standings winning just 19% of their games. The Bucks are a franchise lost at sea on planet made of water with GM John Hammond peering through the wrong end of a telescope desperately hoping for sight of land. Zaza’s cooking in the galley and Larry Sanders is trying to organize a mutiny, but in the end no one really cares so they eat and sail. There’s no message, no bottle and besides, no one but the sharks to read it. Anyways, while that clump of 26 losses caught all of our attentions with its concentration, the Bucks are still the most destitute with no semblance of a future plan. This is what suckitude looks like and the only positive I can take away is the fans voting with their wallets and shunning these terrifically crusty franchises:
Rank out of 30 Py-wins Win% Margin Victory Simple Rating ORtg DRtg Off. eFG% Def. eFG% Attendance
Milwaukee rank 29 30 29 29 26 30 26 29 29
Philadelphia rank 30 29 30 30 30 25 29 30 27

 

    • Enough with pointing judgmental fingers. The writers and poets have poured enough digital ink in the name of Kevin Durant like he’s an advanced analytics good guy god-guy accepted by most. Royce Young shows us just how great this young scorer is:

Does it matter that his opponents were the lowly Jazz and lowlier Kings (or does it matter that perhaps the Jazz are the lowlier?)? If we want to qualify and contextualize it sure, but 60 points in 58 minutes while shooting 75% from the field is admirable regardless of the opposition. So unless you’re a bitter Sonics fan or prone to spiteful hating of anyone better than you, join me in a shared appreciation of Durant. After all, he may be the only thing keeping us all together.

 

  • The buddy flick is its own sub-genre, but a sub-genre of the buddy flick is the interracial buddy flick where we’ve got a black guy and a white teaming up to win our affections, going on a rollicking rip-roarious adventure that leaves awkward white guy high-fiving and smooth black guy handshaking which of course encapsulates racial differences. Yes, there’s a lot of stereotypes and generalizations to the interracial buddy flick and because we’re nothing if not the obviousness of our skin colors, I’m clamoring for the evolution of the Goran Dragic/Eric Bledsoe relationship. Based on large sample size and statistical lift above the average, both Dragic and Bledsoe appear in the Suns’ best five-man combination. But it’s likely that’s not enough to sate the appetite because the cultural (Dragic the Slovenian-born 27-year-old and Bledsoe the 24-year-old Birmingham native) and racial dissimilarities are too powerful for a mind like mine that’s been saturated by Hollywood tales of buddies overcoming racial and cultural differences to achieve mutually beneficial goals. I’m talking Crockett & Tubbs (Miami Vice), Sidney Dean and Billy Hoyle (White Men Can’t Jump), and Murtaugh & Riggs (Lethal Weapon). For a further, more serious reading on the topic of the interracial buddy flick, check out Melvin Donaldson’s book Masculinity in the Interracial Buddy Film and a corresponding list that someone has created on Amazon.

  • A few more blurbs:
    • Arnett Moultrie (Philly second-year player who’s been unable to crack this miserable rotation) was suspended five games for violating the league’s drug policy. Five games is the penalty for a third positive test for the herbs. Still waiting to see if and how the league updates its drug policies to reflect the progressive decriminalization and legalization in Washington and Colorado.
    • Chris Kaman’s on a playing time roller coaster in Los Angeles and Mike D’Antoni’s the mad hatter who won’t let Kaman off … no matter how much the giant expresses his nausea at the twisted never ending ride. Kaman played six minutes on Friday followed by a 28 and 17 performance on Sunday which was followed by strange comments from Mustachioed Mike about “It’s tough because Robert Sacre plays.” Ok, sure. I’ll be over here with my PCP trying to make sense of it all.
    • As prognosticated here last week, the Kings did not re-sign Royce White.
    • Don’t look now, but Amare Stoudemire’s scored in double digits in 14 straight games with three double doubles. In that time, the Knicks are 9-5 and in 9th place, just a game behind the free-falling Tom Petty and the Atlanta Hawks. Not to get all weird and headline grabby, but what if we ended up with a Knicks-Pacers first round?
    • Speaking of the Pacers, their post All-Star break swoon continues as a victory over the Heat was sandwiched on one side by a pair of double digit losses to Memphis and Chicago and on the other side with double digit defeats to the Wizards and Cavs. Their post All-Star splits are real shitty. I wouldn’t start using that $120 Paul George jersey to clean up baby slobber, but maybe take a breath, build a little shrine dedicated to Chuck Person, Vern Fleming, and LaSalle Thompson and dabble in some of those medibles your buddy gave you.
    • Patrick Beverly was out with a meniscus tear, but now it sounds like he won’t require surgery and will return this season. Can’t say I’m surprised given his guttery griminess. I could see him having an ear hanging off the side of his head from a freak run-in with David West and Beverly going all Ronnie Lott, demanding that the trainer cut it off. Digressions aside, I hope this doesn’t have a lasting impact. I’m not a Beverly fan, but I’d encourage all players sacrifice one today for a thousand tomorrows.
  • Finally, the Spurs are on that, “And we won’t stop, cause we can’t stop” like Diddy. This past week saw wins over Philly (22pts), Denver (5pts), Denver again (31pts), and New Orleans (16pts). As if a 17-game win streak wasn’t enough to make a statement, San Antonio’s leading scorers ran the gamut from the recently acquired and still malnourished Austin Daye to all-timer Tim Duncan to Italian Stallion Marco Belinelli (2x). The Spurs genuinely don’t seem to care what happens in that 48 minutes as long as they walk out with the victory. This week the schedule makers are throwing some major obstacles in their way: at Indiana tonight, Golden State on Wednesday, at OKC on Thursday and at home Sunday against the Grizzlies. If I’m still writing about this streak next Monday, then we should all be very afraid … well, that’s probably excessive, but let’s just agree they’ve got their work cut out for themselves this week. (Side idea, Popovich seems like he’d throw a game just to keep his group grounded. After all, I’m guessing he has little use for frivolous distractions that come along with a 17-game win streak.)

Sunday to Monday Thoughts on Basketball #2

Week number two of the Sunday to Monday notes and the NCAA marches through its first week of mediocre, but riveting basketball. The NBA knows no breaks, unless you’re suffering through the spring swoons of Indiana (7-6 in March) and Miami (6-7). So while the “amateur” darlings (Jabari, Wiggins, Smart, McDermott) take March Madness dives, the NBA’s not ready to go fishing just yet.

  • The triple double was immortalized by Magic or Oscar or maybe Ice Cube. LeBron’s the youngest to triple double, Karl Malone’s the oldest. Wilt had triple doubles in nine straight games once and is the only player to ever get a triple double with at least 20 of each category – 22 points, 25 rebounds, 21 assists. The Big O averaged a triple double for an entire season and had 41 triple doubles in the same year. Grant Hill finished his career with 29 triple doubles, 10th most all time. For all the triple doubles the league has seen (a little over 34/season for the past 20+ years), Isaiah Thomas, the 5’9” Tacoma-born dynamo and starting PG for the Kings, became the shortest man in league history to record one on March 18th when he went for 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists against the Wizards. Just another example that this young man, the last pick of the 2011 draft, is here to stay.
  • Following up on Pearl Washington after last week’s Requiem for a League on the Big East is a story about the former Syracuse great written in-time (1990) when Pearl was an overweight point guard in the CBA. Hat tip to my buddy Bug for the link there which tells us that basically Pearl was prone to weight-gain and couldn’t find a good fit in his three-year NBA career.
  • Jason Collins has now appeared in 11 games for the Nets so he’s not qualifying for any rate stats this season and that’s probably a good thing, because his area of excellence is committing fouls. Over this short sample size, he’s prolifically fouling people: 8.0 fouls/36-min. That’s a foul about every 4:30 and would have him fouling out in about 27-minutes, but we don’t have to worry about that going down since no one in their right or wrong mind would consider keeping him on the court that long. That 8 fouls/36 is impressive, but it pales in comparison to 6’7”, weight unknown, Danny Fortson of Sonics and Warriors infamy/fame (depending on who you ask). It’s entirely likely that Fortson’s tracking Collins’s fouling frequency and laughing while double fisting club sandwiches and sliders. In his heyday, Fortson had a four-year stretch where he committed 8.5, 9.1, 9.9, and 8.7 fouls/36-min. Step up your game, Collins.
  • Al Jefferson’s been a viceroy of the post recently. His ppg is up nearly 20% since the All-Star break and it’s shown up in the win column as the Bobcats have won 65% of their post-AS break games compared to 43% before the break. To dig deeper into Charlotte’s dependency on the big man from Mississippi, he averages 25.3ppg with a 32.8% usage rate and a 95 DRtg in wins against 17.8ppg with 27% usage rate and 107 DRtg in losses. In short, as Al goes, the Bobcats go. SI’s Lee Jenkins profiled Big Al in the latest Sports Illustrated and as has become commonplace, Jenkins did a masterful job. But amid all this rich Jefferson content, one anecdote stood out:

Jefferson was the Celtics teenager who asked Gary Payton why Lakers banners hung in the Clippers’ arena — “You really don’t know they play in the same place!” Payton howled.

  • Anthony Davis’s torrid play continues to amaze much more than his non-conformist unibrow. Elias Sports Bureau tells us that he’s just the third player to average over 32 and 13 in an eight-game span since 1994-95. The other two are Kevin Love and Shaq. But that’s not enough. He’s the youngest player in league history to average at least 21, 10 and 2.5 blocks and in the spirit of the NCAA Tournament, Davis would be a junior this year:

Anthony Davis

Davis’s true shooting is ~59% which places him just outside of the league’s top-20. I wanted to compare his shooting range to other players on that 21-10-2.5 list, but the only comparable player whose shooting stats were available on BBR was Tim Duncan. I looked at Duncan’s career distance shooting and where Duncan, with all his touch, has shot ~83% of his FGAs since 2000-01 between 0-16 feet, just 15% have come beyond that range – with a significant uptick in his later years. Davis, in his 2nd year in the league, is shooting ~20% of his shots from 16-ft or deeper, but is shooting ~38% this season compared to Duncan’s career mark of ~41%. In addition to his around the rim savvy, Davis has a range that even in this era of stretch fours is enviable. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson … we greet you at the beginning of a great career …..

  • I’m highly partial to geographic loyalties. I’m from Iowa and live in Seattle and sometimes fail to keep my biases out of my fandom and writing. Sometimes though, the truth is impossible to ignore and I’m wondering if that’s what is happening with Harrison Barnes. The 6’8” swingman has a body that was sculpted to play basketball. He’s a graduate of Ames High School in Ames, Iowa and was teammates with Creighton’s Doug McDermott. His post-high school hype was unfair and he fell below pre-season All-American expectations as a freshman. It’s fair to say Barnes has been falling below expectations ever since and whether or not that’s his fault or just poor scouting is another topic. But we’re not 148 games into Barnes’s pro career and my I can’t figure out if I’m looking at a plateau or a slight decline. I’m uncertain what’s happening to be honest. We expect to see improvement from our second-year players, but Barnes is backsliding. His March splits have descended into an East Bay abyss and it’s gotten to the point the passionate Warriors fans on Twitter would swap him for another dance with Anthony Randolph …. Ok, it’s not that bad, but what’s up, Barnes? (Before tossing him limb by limb into a pack of snarling wolves, let’s remember Barnes is just 21 and would be a senior at UNC this year.)

Blame Harrison, blame the scouts, blame yourself … just exercise your right to blame.

  • While we’re talking about Ames, former Iowa State Cyclone, Royce White, made his first and second appearances for the Kings this week. They were rather uneventful from a statistical point of view, but the act of appearing is more than a lot of folks thought we’d see. On 3/18, Sacramento signed him to a second 10-day contract. The league allows teams to sign the same player to a pair of 10-day contracts and after that, they have to sign him for the rest of the season if they want to keep him. White’s deal wraps up on Friday, March 28th and the Kings play at home on Wednesday, then in Oklahoma City on Friday. If I was a gambling man, I’d guess they don’t extend him the remainder of the season based on the novelty minutes he’s been afforded so far. Hopefully, I’m wrong.

  • The Spurs have now won 13 straight and while cultural debates still rage around asinine statements like, “If you don’t like the Spurs, you don’t basketball,” the most discussed Spurs topic is Pop’s behavior during in-game interviews. (Worth noting that by keeping the focus on himself, Pop keeps the emphasis off his players which is probably part of some grand strategy that he devised over bottles from his own winery.) However you feel about this group from San Antonio, just know that in some form, it’s likely that their far-reaching tentacles have tickled or touched your own squad as evidenced by the Illuminati-like reaches of Spurs personnel throughout the league. If Malcolm Gladwell really wants to blow my mind, tell me how the fuck the Spurs have become the most successful franchise in American sports and give me more than Tim Duncan + Popovich = greatness. This week’s games include Philly (see more below), Denver, @ Denver, and New Orleans. Circle that game in Denver on Friday night. Home and aways often end in splits – I have no data to back up that statement.
  • Speaking of the Spurs reach, Philly’s coach Brett Brown is a Popovich acolyte, but apparently he didn’t pack up success when he left the Lone Star state. Philly’s now lost 24 games in a row. They won’t end up with the worst record in league history and while there have been lesser teams, something stinks about GM Sam Hinkie’s master planning. I’m excited about their future, but it feels like they’re making a deal with the devil to get there – perhaps this is just me moralizing on ugliness of scraping rock bottom to reach the top. Or maybe it’s just me directing my dislike of Daryl Morey on Hinkie. Whatever the case, losing 24 games in a row sucks and instead of pointing fingers at Brown and Philly’s semi-pro team, any criticisms need to be send to the Philly front office, C/O: Sam Hinkie.
    • More random tidbits from intelligent people:

DeAndre Kane is the 24-year-old Mr. Do it All for the Iowa State Cyclones. He also happens to be older than 5-year pro James Harden:

Sunday to Monday Thoughts on Basketball

I’ve never had any regular segments on DWN and 2/3 of the way through the NBA season during a week when the crown jewel of NCAA basketball season kicks off is probably the worst time to try something new, but here we are with a weekly look at comings and goings, statistical achievements, half thoughts, observations, and an indication in written form that basketball is likely taking up a wee bit too much of my life.

  • Sunday night against the Celtics of Boston, 21-year-old wunderkind Anthony Davis put on a performance the likes of which hasn’t been seen since before he was born:
    • 40 points, 21 rebounds, 12-12 from the free throw line with three blocks
    • Individual career highs in points and rebounds
    • Youngest player since Shaq in 1993 to go for 40/20
    • Joined Larry Bird and Moses Malone as only players to go for 40/20 while shooting perfect from the free throw line
    • Cautionary note for all the teams striving to rebuild through a lottery pick: New Orleans had the fourth best odds to win the 2012 lottery and Anthony Davis.

anthony davis gamebook

  • Royce White was signed to a 10-day contract with the Kings on March 6th. The contract ended Sunday night which coincided with the end of Sacramento’s seven-game road trip. Over four games with the Kings’ D-League team, the Reno Bighorns, White played 25minutes/game, shot 37% from the field, and went for roughly 9pts, 4rebs and 3asts/game. With the Kings set to be home from March 17th thru March 27th, it’s fair to assume any audition with the big club is going to take place in the next week and a half. At this point, I get the feeling there’s general fatigue with White’s story/saga, but there’s still relevance to his story. ESPN’s Amin Alhassan had some insightful comments on the Kings plans with White.
    • Watching ESPN’s 30 for 30, Requiem for the Big East, I had no idea how good of a player Pearl Washington (Syracuse) was. He was before my time and since he didn’t have an impact as a pro, I never read up on his game. By all accounts here, he was a legend in New York before Syracuse and the game film shows a herky jerky, occasionally unstoppable guard that calls to mind another Pearl, that of Monroe – hence the nickname? Dude looks like he could dribble through a minefield, come out unscathed, then flip a little lay-in between the outstretched, broom wielding arms of Ewing, Mutombo, and Mourning. That he struggled as a pro doesn’t seem to impact how he’s remembered. Maybe it’s because I primarily follow the pro game, but it’d be cool if more players were remembered for their successes at any level than ripped apart for their failures or struggles.

  • Drew Gooden and Chris Andersen: Saturday night I was watching the Brooklyn/Washington game and saw Drew Gooden in a Wizards jersey with his head cleanly shaved, a headband on, no wild facial hair or ducktail. Just Drew, wearing #90, getting shit done. Before Washington signed him in late February, he hadn’t played an NBA game since April of last season with the Bucks and now, on Saturday night, he’s in the nation’s capital pumping mid-range jumpers, getting fourth quarter minutes, and generally contributing positivity to the Wiz. On Sunday, it was Chris Andersen giving Miami the same type of effort and energy that he’s been giving since they signed him to his first 10-day contract last January. The question I keep coming back to: How were these guys available? I get that players need to be able to blend in with existing philosophies and personalities and maybe other teams didn’t see the same opportunity, but it’s difficult to watch Birdman and Gooden thriving in supporting roles and wonder why it took so long for them to find employment. Then I wonder how many other potentially impactful players are out there waiting for a phone call.

 

By Month

GP

MIN

OR

DR

REB

Per36

October

1

37

2

11

13

12.6

November

15

35.8

2

4.3

5.8

5.8

December

16

36.3

1

5.1

6.4

6.3

January

14

35.1

1

5.9

7.3

7.5

February

12

35.8

1

4.9

5.7

5.7

March

8

38.3

3

11

13

12.5

 

But how? His career average is 4.8. His season average is 7.2, yet eight games into March and he’s rebounding like a French Dennis Rodman (sure, that’s excessive and a frightening amalgamation to boot, but you get me). Last he grabbed 14 more against Golden State.

  • The Spurs are on a 10-game win streak which has included wins against Dallas, Miami and Portland at home, and the Bulls on the road. Their next three games are on the road for a California swing against the Lakers, Kings, and Warriors. They were an impressive 38-15 before the break, but with a healthy post-All Star group, they’ve gone 13-1.

 

 

  • Writer Derek Bodner put things into perspective when he tweeted:  “The Seattle Seahawks have won more recently than the Philadelphia 76ers. We’re in mid-March. 20 in a row.” That was after Saturday night’s 26-point loss to Memphis which, as Derek points out, was Philly’s 20th straight loss. The margin of defeat over this terrible streak of failure has stretched from 5 points (Jazz) all the way on up to 45 points (Clips). The games aren’t even close and the schedule is not kind. Upcoming games: @ Indiana, Chicago, New York, @ Chicago, @ San Antonio, @ Houston, Detroit. Oh, it can get worse this deconstructed bunch. But save your pity for someone who’s trying.

 

  • Margin of victory is typically a good indicator of where a team falls in the league’s good-to-bad hierarchy. Unless you’re the Minnesota Timberwolves. Record-wise, the Wolves are the 16th best team in the league with a 33-32 record. Based on margin of victory, they’re 9th overall with a +3.6 which places them ahead of Dallas, Memphis, and Phoenix – three teams that enjoy a significant lead over Minnesota in the standings. You can look back through each year dating back to the 2001-02 season and you won’t find a team with a differential as high as Minnesota’s that missed the playoffs. There were only a handful of teams with a positive differential that managed to miss and none were near +3.6. Their 32 losses are by an average of ~8 points while 33 wins are by ~15 points. And in games decided by 5 points or less, they’re unbearably bad at 3-13.

 

  • Finally … Kyrie Irving may be out for the season with a biceps injury. If that’s the case, he’ll wrap up his 3rd season in the league having played in 174 of a possible 230 games – or roughly 75% of all possible games.

NBA Biographical Sketch #7: Michael Cage

I remember a couple things about Michael Cage:

  1. He was a rebounding king
  2. He wore a jheri curl

While the former should be the focus of this sketch, I can’t help but consider my memory of Cage’s dark skin glistening with sweat, strong stretching hands corralling yet another rebound, exhaling, sweat flying and that jheri curl resting intact, maybe bouncing ever so slightly as Cage throws an outlet pass and runs the floor. Cage’s best years were with the Clippers and Sonics and he wore the jheri until at least his Sonics days. It was sometime in the 90s that he retired that dying do, exchanging it for a more contemporary, more assimilated low fade. Cage adopted the fade sometime after the jheri was infamously mocked (and likely ruined for many) by Eriq LaSalle’s character in Coming to America.

But Cage was clearly more than a hairstyle. He was a rebounding champion (13rpg in 1988), a 6’9” power forward/center with a classically v-shaped frame prone to casual lefty dunks and an unflashy, functional style of play. The highlight video below is mostly uninspiring by today’s standards—with the exception of the last five seconds. From a purely statistical output perspective, Cage brings to mind Troy Murphy. The comparisons end there though as Murphy was an auburn-haired, pasty-colored distance shooting big while Cage was nicknamed “John Shaft.”

 

michael cage

Strange Satisfactions

steve-nash-dwight-howard-si-cover

Less than Fun

I’m a Lakers fan. Make no mistake about it. Beneath all my demands for fairness and bridging the rich-poor gap acrimony, I still cheer for the Lakers and their “see money, throw a problem at it” philosophy. So you can imagine my curiosity last year when I’m watching the Lakers slowly implode like a basketball version of an ugly, slow, painful deterioration of something or someone you know. Maybe it’s like when Brittney Spears fell off the rails in public and her fans just sat there and watched and they probably wanted to help her … “If I just had a chance, I could help Britt.” I can see some Lakers fans convinced they had solutions to the incurable problems the team had last season. But not me. I wasn’t one of those fans. I sat back and watched in enraptured entertainment. Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol. So many of us presumed that the star power alone would blind opponents, leaving them defenseless to an onslaught of well-aged skill and Howardian beastliness down low. And when the reality of age and fragility set in and the team underachieved for so many games, those shining stars dimmed to a cynical glow and Lakers fans frowned and grunted through an extended shit show where nothing made sense and everything went wrong.

All the while I sat bewildered, but unexpectedly entertained. In the NBA more so than the NFL or MLB, you can pick a handful of contenders at the beginning of the season and be fairly confident in your assessments. For all of us to whiff so badly last year; including the Kupchaks and Busses of the world … well, it was like watching a Hollywood blockbuster with one of our favorite action heroes as the star, but only the script goes off somewhere. The hero doesn’t fit the prototype we’re trained to recognize. Superman can’t change into his blue spandex in the phone booth let alone fly through the air. The Batmobile catches a flat and Bruce Wayne has to wait for Alfred to show up and change the tire. Meanwhile, Lex Luther and the Joker are taking a big ol’ dump on Metropolis and Gotham. That was the Lakers we saw last season.

Now in the fall of 2013, on the cusp of another NBA season, I’m all settled in, prepared for a crummy Lakers campaign that rivals the miserable outcomes of the post-Shaq Lakers like 2005 when Kobe “led” the team to 34 wins. But the difference is obviously that we’re prepared for it now. That preparation or expectation is the critical piece. When we know what to expect, we can maintain an even keel while still experiencing fluctuations in emotions. It’s the unexpected that challenges our conditioned responses.

You might be wondering why I’m just now drifting back to these Lakers memories. After all, we’re several months removed from the realization that the Lakers were not who we thought they were. A couple of my other favorite teams are presently walking through their own purgatories of expectation and I’m reflexively flashing back:

The current Manchester United team, another team I support (go ahead, make your front-runner jokes, but know I’m a long-suffering Cubs fan as well and experience both sides of the winning/losing of fandom), is enduring a challenging season with their new skipper, David Moyes. Moyes is replacing the living legend, Sir Alex Ferguson, who managed the world’s most recognizable sports franchise for over 26 years. In that span, he etched out a profile for himself that, on a global scale, exceeds that of Pat Riley, Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson and all the rest. Ferguson was an anomaly in the English Premier League where clubs cycle through managers more frequently than most of us go through a pair of jeans. United has mostly the same roster they had last year when the dominated the league and secured the title with multiple weeks still to play. It was fantastically anti-climactic and Ferguson left the new manager with a sturdy foundation on which to build a new legacy for himself and his new club. Instead, nine matches into the new season and United has struggled with a miserable defense that is regularly outplayed and compounds their shortcomings with knuckleheaded decision making and lapses in discipline. Yet … as I watch the team, I’m taking a strange satisfaction in the struggle. It’s not a sporting masochism. In the case of United, there’s this part of me that’s enjoying the uphill climb of this underachieving group. Maybe it’s because it’s still early in the season and I have faith that they’ll figure it out, that patience will win the day. Or maybe it’s just the feeling of stepping into a different, less comfortable role. Maybe I feel better being on more relatable terms with my friend who’s a Tottenham supporter? Or maybe I’m just a confused elitist who’s confusing the struggle with a footballing equivalent of slumming. Either way, it’s a more engrossing feeling than the anticlimactic sprint away from a pedestrian pack.

David Moyes

David Moyes

At home, my Seattle Sounders are flailing through the final few weeks of a grueling MLS regular season. Where the team was riding the natural high of an eight-match unbeaten streak that saw them climb to the top of league standings, they’ve now lost four straight matches by a 2-12 deficit. The Sounders haven’t won a match since mid-September. Players are hurt, the defense is in shambles, luck favors their opponents and yet, I find their matches more magnetizing than ever. I tune in or go to matches wondering if this is the game they turn it around. I anticipate the euphoria that must come with a break from these autumnal doldrums. With the MLS playoffs a week away, the Sounders somehow backed into the playoffs, and instead of drinking myself to sleep or crying tears of blue and rave green discontent, I’m cautiously hopeful that things will turn and we’ll look back on this rough stretch as nothing more than a funky smelling aberration. Something to share a beer over and thank the soccer gods it’s passed.

Familiar site. Not fun to see.

Familiar site. Not fun to see.

Let’s be real here … maybe I just don’t know how to be a fan. Maybe there’s some twisted gene hiding in my DNA that’s afraid of the pressure that accompanies a winner. Maybe I just don’t get what it means to be a fan, because I’d expect a different reaction. I’d expect to be pissed off or pouty about these things, but I just accept it with curious observation. The 2013 Lakers, Sounders and Man United teams have stumbled into strange playoff positions with dust-covered aging rosters and defenses that can be exploited by younger, less-skilled opponents. And I sit back and take it all in with a chuckle at the unexpected deviation from the narrative and the strange satisfaction I feel from not knowing what’s coming next. The Lakers, Sounders and United … my teams, my disappointments, my entertainments through winning, losing, and all points beyond and between.

Spirit Weapons (NBA Playoff Edition)

Free Darko gave us the concept of “Spirit Animals” in their first book and five years late I’m still inspired enough to imagine “Spirit Weapons” for the 2013 Playoffs where NBA players are partnered up with ideal weapons that suit their style and personality. Since my own experience with weapons doesn’t extend much beyond handling a machete, using a rake as a staff, and familiarizing myself with the basics of nunchakus in my teenage years; I may not be qualified to make these connections, but we’re wasting time dwelling on it, so let’s get down to the bloody business of weaponry:

Mike Conley: A well-crafted, handmade, pearl-handled switchblade:The switch-blade Mike  Conley

When I think about switch-blades, my first thought is greasers with slicked back hair, white t-shirts, leather jackets, cigarettes. I don’t think about Mike Conley. But when I think about a switch-blade, its conveniently compact style able to be tucked discretely in the pocket of your jeans; the easy access and ability to operate with a single hand; I think about economy. Mike Conley is a point guard of economy and efficiency. He’s a law-abiding player, quick to stick to Lionel Hollins’ plays and plans, but like the greaser, he’s a lethal opportunist, happy to heartlessly carve up opponents who discount or disrespect him.

Zach Randolph: Brass knuckles

Brass knuckles - zach randolphThe man known as Z-Bo is the physical embodiment of brass knuckles. He’s like a human knuckle: Curved, but solid, blunt, powerful, made of raw American brutishness. Z-Bo’s fists do plenty of damage on their own (just ask Ruben Patterson’s orbital bone), but his spirit animal is the loaded fist; a lethal weapon residing in the painted area of basketball courts from Memphis to Los Angeles. When Z-Bo’s around, learn to duck.

Steph Curry: Flame thrower

One thing you’ll notice about all the weapons here is that they’re handheld and no guns or machinery are included. But for Curry, the flamethrower is remarkably appropriate. Opponents feel the intense threatening pressure of his jumpers which come from anywhere at any time. He creates his own shots and dazzles and intimidates with his constant heat checking. For further evidence of this flame throwing point guard, refer to the deep burns left on the 2013 Nuggets.

Steph curry flame thrower

Nuggets Engulfed (figuratively)

Russell Westbrook: Wolverine’s adamantium claws and skeleton

I read some comics back in the day, but was never sucked into the sub-culture and have never been to Comic-Con. I know enough to know that Wolverine’s claws and skeleton were made of some imaginary substance called adamantium which is apparently an indestructible metal alloy. Wolverine has super-human healing powers and up until last week, we all thought Westbrook did too. The man hadn’t missed a single basketball game in his entire career: That’s high school, college and five full seasons of NBA brutality. Add in the dichotomies between the on-court/off-court Russell Westbrooks which are akin to the Wolverine/Logan personas and the circle is complete.

Russ Westbrook - Wolverine

New York Knicks: Vega claw

New York Knicks - VegaFor those of you familiar with Street Fighter II, you’ll remember Vega as the masked matador from Spain who’s equipped with a long metal claw on his left hand. Vega’s claw and speed allow him to excel at long-range attacks, but he’s also one of the weaker characters on the game. Vega is the video game version of the Knicks: A diverse amalgamation of talents (Vega combines Ninjutsu with his bull-fighting skills), finely tuned and highly skilled, but more than susceptible to being popped in the mouth and defeated by opponents of a greater mental fortitude.

Chicago Bulls: Broken beer bottle

This isn’t to say the Bulls are like a gang of marauding drunkards going from bar to bar and smashing beer bottles over the

Likely Kirk Hinrich grasping a broken beer bottle - intent unknown

Likely Kirk Hinrich grasping a broken beer bottle – intent unknown

heads of any man, woman or child crazy enough to incite them. The broken beer bottle in this case symbolizes toughness. I don’t know if the Bulls are being struck with beer bottles or they’re doing the striking, but I feel like you could put this group in any situation and they’d find a way (whether through broken beer bottles or some other non-traditional method) to make their

opponents rue the day they confronted the Bulls.

Paul George: Rattan sticks

Not Paul George, but another person posing with rattan sticks

Not Paul George, but another person posing with rattan sticks

Rattan is described on Wikipedia as “hard and durable, yet lightweight.” George’s lean muscle, length and versatility are the basketball-version of a pair of rattan sticks thwacking away at foes too dumb or naïve to challenge George. Imagine his harassing defense as a painful rap across the knuckles; his dunks as a vicious head-body combination. His understated expressiveness wound tightly in the simplicity of these dangerous weapons. Don’t be stupid, avoid the George.

Blake Griffin: War hammer

The most famous and well-known war hammer is probably that of Thor, the comic-book character based on the thunder god of Norse mythology. Thor’s hammer had a name (Mjolnir) and could be picked up only by those who were worthy. This is Blake’s spirit weapon. Others can dunk with violence and aggression, but none approach the dunk shot with the fury of the NBA’s god of dunk, Blake Griffin. And like the war hammer which is used in close combat, the dunk typically occurs in close quarters where giants battle and more often than not, it’s Blake and his war hammer slaying inferiorly talented or poorly-positioned supersized humans. Blake  Griffin - war hammer

Jarret Jack: Head

I’m convinced Jarrett Jack’s skull is thick, hard like steel and impervious to pain (this isn’t a euphemism for Jack’s questionable decision-making). Is it possible for your spirit weapon to be part of you? It’s never happened before, but Jack’s the perfect guy to test it out on. Like his game, Jack’s dome is cleanly shaven, suggesting honesty and openness—you know what you’re getting with Jack. He’s strong for a guard, casually shrugging off defenders with his strength and intimidating them with his battering ram-like head. I’ve often wished the Warriors would celebrate wins with Jack ceremoniously crushing a brick with his skull, aka his spirit weapon.

Kevin Durant: Trident & Cast net

I struggled to find the appropriate spirit weapon for Durant and in the end the trident coupled with the cast net seemed to jive best his spiritual basketball self. The trident is described as being “prized for its long reach and ability trap other long-weapons between prongs to disarm their wielder.” The cast net is used in tandem with the trident as a way to trap or ensnare enemies; almost like a massive human web paralyzing prey, leaving them vulnerable to the trident attack. How appropriate is that for Durant? His nickname Durantula is due in part to his spidery-like limbs. Not known for physical strength; his length, skill and deliberateness are complemented by the trident’s long reach and deadly attacks. It’s completely possible Durant carries a net in his post-game backpacks.

Kevin  Durant's Spirit Weapon - enacted by someone radically different than Durant

Kevin Durant‘s Spirit Weapon – enacted by someone radically different than Durant

Chris Bosh: Bull whip

Many of us were likely introduced to the bull whip through the adventures of Indiana Jones, but unless Bosh is scared of snakes Chris  Bosh - bullwhipand has a fetish for brown fedoras, the similarities between the two begin and end with the whip. It’s a weapon that requires a high level of skill to best utilize and for all the Bosh-hating that goes on, he’s one of the better-skilled big men in the league. His range brings to mind one of the whip’s most valuable attributes: its length, which allows its user to maintain a safe distance from any assailant. Additionally, Bosh has never had a reputation for bruising and banging.

Tony Parker: Meteor Hammer

Before you shriek out, “Tony Parker? Meteor hammer?” in complete disgust, let me explain. Tony  Parker - meteor hammerThe meteor hammer is a chain with two weights (think steel objects, like steel globes) at either end (see image). The main strength is described as “its sheer speed” and it was named as such because it strikes “as fast as a meteor.” Additional descriptions: “When used by a skilled fighter, its speed, accuracy and unpredictability make it a difficult weapon to defend against.” That’s the perfect description of Tony Parker; a lighting quick guard with abnormal accuracy from the field who uses his head-to-head speed to keep defenders on their heels.

James Harden: Chakram

I had never heard of the chakram prior to writing this story. The chakram is a disk without a center that has razors around its James  Harden - chakramouter edge. It’s used as a throwing tool, but can also be used in up-close combat. The razors on the outside were sharp enough to chop off limbs. Sooooo … we’re talking about a deadly metal Frisbee that can be thrown with accuracy from anywhere between 40 and 100 meters. And if you get close to the chakram master, watch out because he’s likely to use it defensively or to hack off an arm with it. Harden’s not chopping any limbs that we know of, but the combination of his outside shot (finished 6th in the league in threes made) and inside attack (led the league in free throws attempted) are frighteningly chakram-esque.

Dwyane Wade: Macuahuitl

Dwyane  Wade - macuahuitlWade’s always been a physically imposing player. He’s 6’4” and built more like an NFL player than one of the best two guards in the league. In that regard, he’s always been unconventional. The macuahuitl (don’t ask how to pronounce) is similarly unconventional. Consider it as an earlier, more aesthetic version of a baseball bat with barbed wire wrapped around the barrel. The macuahuitl was a wooden club with sharp chunks of obsidian embedded in its sides. The obsidian was sharp enough to decapitate enemies. The blunt force of the club and the shredding capacity of the obsidian cut to the core of Wade’s on-court skills. His strength and speed have delivered two championships, a scoring title and numerous individual accolades. The macuahuitl is a weapon that knows no mercy, just like Wade.

LeBron James: Katana

The Samurai sword, known and revered for its “sharpness and strength” is the perfectly crafted weapon for the perfect warrior our league has. You can make a case that this blade is more suited for Kobe who’s come to define the basketball-playing warrior archetype with his commitment to winning and playing through injury if at all human possible, but for now, LeBron is the katana. The gods gifted him with the perfect physique for the game today. He’s too strong, too fast, too skilled and just too damn good for any of his contemporaries to slow down let alone defeat. Whether or not he follows the Samurai codes of honor is debatable, but it doesn’t change that he’s masterfully suited to be paired with the most resplendent of weapons.

Lebron James - katana blade

Other players who just missed the cut (no pun): Tim Duncan (hook swords), Ray Allen (cross bow), Rajon Rondo (claws of some sort), Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan (battle axes), Milwaukee Bucks (scissors), Reggie Evans (baseball bat). Weapons that missed out cat o’ nine tails, flash grenade, nunchakus, mace (the spray, not the mallet), chain whip.

Good luck to all the remaining playoff participants and please stay safe. Dancing with Noah doesn’t condone the use of any of the weapons listed above. For more information about local laws, please check your government websites.

Caution, Contents may be Fragile

What oh what, have the playoffs become?

No Rose, no Rondo and now no Russ

Kobe’s Achilles, we lost Dr. Buss

 

D. Lee’s hip and the eggshell pacing Spurs

Tyson Chandler’s neck and Noah’s fascist fascia

Pain, disappointment and injurious-expecting paranoia

 

We’re lost and wandering in D. Wade’s aching knees,

And the strange Baker’s Cyst of MWP’s

Supporting characters’ ankles so brittle and Meek(s)

 

Under x-ray machines Steph Curry’s ankle still weak

The Linsane have crumbled under bird-chested contusions

While the unhealthy continue to foster successful allusions

 

Steve and Steve are baked in sunny LA, we put out a missing person’s report on Stoudemire, Amare

The most shocking of all is the tearing meniscus of a bionic man

Russell Westbrook has fallen; it’s more than we can stand

 

Reminds me of the woe I felt back in nineteen-and-ninety

When I watched another unbeatable, unbreakable, mythological man

Get pummeled to a pulp, his wobbly legs not allowing him to stand

 

Mike Tyson, meet Russell, Russ, this is Mike

So different, so same, made of futuristic metals and the like

Yet falling so sadly, the mortal myths settle

 

The excitement is waning, the birds are chirping

Turn off the TV because the hope has splintered

Let’s go outside because spring is here and it’s been a long winter

OR

Guess Pau’s Strange: Induction into the 20/10 Club (and revisiting Charles Barkley)

We used to get 20s & 10s more frequently than we do these days. In the 2000s, we’ve seen at least two players average twenty points and ten rebounds in every season until now. We have scorers who are just OK rebounders and rebounders who aren’t so offensively evolved. But I’m not here to deceive you. This isn’t about that 20/10 club, it’s about the 20-rebound/10-assist club that Pau Gasol, (the greatest Spanish-born NBA player in league history) joined on Wednesday night in a critical victory for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Pau  Gasol 20-10                             

Gasol has re-focused himself since his return from injury and is averaging a dynamic 17.5ppg, 12.1rpg and 6.6apg on 51% shooting in eight April games. His performance against the shallow Rockets front court on Wednesday night was just a further reminder of why all of us thought this Lakers team would be so much better than they have been this season.

As is and has so often been the case, a unique performance this season has opened up my eyes to another great performance from days gone by. This time, it was Charles Barkley on April 4th, 1986. Barkley, a 6’4”-ish power forward, went for 27 points, 22 rebounds and 10 assists on 12-18 shooting. I’m not calling this out just because Charles Barkley is a member of the 20/10 club. Certainly Tim Duncan’s 21-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist, 8-block game—in the NBA Finals—is a more dynamic and historical event. What’s more impressive is that it seems like Barkley shows up on every other “Guess I’m Strange” post I do:

  •         John Henson’s filter: 17pts/20rebs/7blks. Barkley achieved the same feat on November 28th, 1986
  •         Spencer Hawse’s filter: 18pts/16rebs/8assts/7blks. Yep, Barkley’s same game on 11/28/86: 31pts, 21rebs, 9asts, 7blks
  •         Reggie Evans’s filter: 16 FTAs/24rebs. On December 9th, 1987, Chuck had 38pts, 24rebs and attempted 21 FTs.
  •         Pau Gasol’s aforementioned line: 20/10

This post seemed appropriate after Henry Abbott’s interview on TrueHoop TV with Tim Grover where Grover (Michael Jordan’s long-time personal trainer and the current trainer for Kobe and D. Wade) singled out Barkley as the greatest athlete he’s ever worked with. When you think about the size and speed of Barkley (his 76ers fast breaks were frightening) and what he was able to accomplish as a player who measured between 6’4” and 6’6”, it’s hard to fathom. In 1987, he led the league with 14.6rpg. That same season he averaged 23ppg, 4.9apg and 1.8 steals with a TS of 66%. The only other players in league history put up the 23/14/4 are Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Unbelievable, Barkley and unbelievable trails we find ourselves on when we stray just a little bit off the paths that are paved for us.  

Now let’s all kick back and soak in the animal style of the one and only, Charles Barkley:

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