Dancing With Noah

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3SSB in Council Bluffs where the skies were gray and the winds angry

In a gym largely devoid of natural light, it’s easy to lose track of time. It slips by between games, whistles, politicking parents, bathroom breaks, and niche basketball celebrity sightings. In this basketball vacuum, the 2023 3SSB (Three Stripe Select Basketball) kicked off at a not-too-early 10:50am local time on a Friday morning in late April with New World out of Maryland facing Southern Assault out of Texas on the main court at the Iowa West Fieldhouse in Council Bluffs, a skip across the Missouri River away from Omaha where former five-star Hunter Sallis starred for Millard North and where college baseball stars converge every year for their World Series.

It wasn’t a strange trip, but there were bad omens everywhere: dark skies and ill-tempered wind, a black squirrel side-eying me from a telephone pole, an empty mini-bottle of Fireball discarded in the men’s bathroom around 4pm (stress relief anytime, anywhere) and even a detour for pepto, all thick and bubblegum pink, but despite all this, nothing bad happened except for maybe a big on either Game Elite or Austin Rivers getting nearly dropped by a mechanically slow inside out in transition, his lost balance and attempts to regain it possibly more unnatural appearing than if he had just fallen. No, not bad omens, but intros and re-intros; a reunion where competing coaches come together to exchange information and jokes, currency wrapped up in three-quarter zips.

I was in town for a single day, nowhere near long enough to draw the types of conclusions needed to make long-term decisions, but long enough to sketch outlines, which is what I’ll try to do here. I had a list of players and teams to see, I was solo, lightweight, but ran into my friend Greg Danielson, a friend dating back to middle school and the Camp of Champs basketball camp who led the MVC in rebounding 20 years ago as a heavy footed 6-9 center and whose son, Dane Danielson has completed some type of generational circle by picking up a mythological basketball mantle handed off culturally as much as genetically. Dane was in town with the 15U J Sizzle team out of Minnesota. Seeing Greg and watching his son play reminded me what I had picked up on some time back, that beneath the shoe companies and hyper-competitive capitalistic world of the-youth-to-college-to-pro basketball pipeline are family and relationships – which come with all the entanglements our species can muster (like me overhearing an adult man, “Coach, coach! How come every time my nephew in the game, you call a play and he doesn’t get the ball?” We all want what’s best for our own.). The primary break in youth basketball from any mainstream sub-culture is that walking into a fieldhouse, it’s 90-95% males with female family and staff making up the 5-10%. These estimates have not been scientifically vetted, but AAU boy’s basketball is a male-dominated sub-culture.

In this testosterone-filled pit of courts and teenage basketball humans, I took notes on 53 players across the 2024, 2025, and 2026 high school basketball classes. Below is a tip of the iceberg impression of many of these players. If you want to go below the surface, this industry has myriad scouts, analysts and writers who do this full time and have gone in-depth where I cannot. Try 247, On3, PD Web, Pro Insights, Mike Gribanov for deeper analysis.

The below is not a ranking, but it’s also not a complete coincidence that some of the top-ranked players by consensus are at the top of the list. They’re good, they stood out.

Big names, Big games:

  1. Koa Peat: 6-9, 2025, 16.3 years old, Compton Magic by way of Perry High School (AZ)

Son of NFL player, brother of NFL player, played up with 17U Compton Magic team; inauspicious start getting dunked on and having his pocket picked clean, but but but. 6-9 gotta be over 220 pounds and was either primary or secondary handler for Compton. Handle is sound, but could probably use improvement (he’s 16, that’s ok). Operating in Melo-spaces (mid-post, mid-range) was too much for the Austin Rivers club. Abusive in a good basketball way, seeks out contact, and doles out punishment like a tight end battering through secondaries – kids at this level, even a year or more older, just aren’t typically physically developed in this way. Not just strong, but balanced with good body control; not reckless, not bull in China shop, just bull. Made a living at the free throw line, hit C&S3s, hyper aggressive. Curious to see how his athleticism and skill develop over next 2-3 years. Immediately after his first game, Calipari extended an offer.

2. Zoom Diallo: 6-3 or 6-4, 2024, 17.5 years old, Beauchamp Elite 17U by way of Curtis High (WA) – same school as Isaiah Thomas

Diallo was maybe my favorite player of the day. Strong, exceptional body control, great positional size and has figured out how to utilize his physical size and athleticism in concert with skill (ball handling, court vision/awareness, shooting/finishing). This marriage of skill and talent is at the root of basketball effectiveness which is a bit less important at the 17U level where, from a scouting lens, the focus is on the here, the now, the what could be, etc. There’s a decisiveness and confidence in his attack and decision making that, whenever I see it in teenagers, I’m always struck by. Dedan Thomas of Dream Vision was the only player whose court generalship exceeded Diallo’s. Diallo excelled at changing speeds, stuttering, stopping and going, mixing in backdowns, shoulder turns, just a bevy of dribble moves to keep the defense off balance to the point that parents/supporters of K-Low Elite were apoplectic on the sidelines, but honestly, they would’ve gotten that work too. Saw floor extremely well and repeatedly found cutters for dimes. Diallo is a total package at PG with a frame that reminds me of Cason Wallace. Calipari and Tommy Lloyd were both on hand.

3. Caleb Holt: 6-5, 2026, 15.4 years old, Game Elite 17U by way of Buckhorn High (AL)

I hadn’t seen Holt before, but as an incoming sophomore playing with the 17U team, I was intrigued and the 6-5 Holt didn’t disappoint. For starters, his frame (listed 185) is already filled out in a way that resembles a HS senior or college frosh. He’s not jacked or anything, just a strong-ass kid which immediately forces the same question that I mentioned about Peat: how do his skills and athleticism evolve as his opponents start to close that physical gap? In his case, he’s playing up and doing all he can to compete at highest levels available. A good example was Holt trying to yam on #32 for Team Loaded VA. He was denied at the summit, winding up on his ass. Shit happens and instead of backing off of attack, Holt dialed up the aggressiveness repeatedly driving hard into the paint in both the half court and transition. He took hits and kept coming back and like Peat, has the frame to absorb fouls and knock defenders off-balance. Even mixed it up with a drive-and-dish at one point. His team is loaded up with guys who can make plays so his role is somewhat limited at present, but jeez, the foundational tools are there for a hell of a two-way player.

4. Darryn Peterson: 6-5, 2025, 16.3 years old, Phenom United by way of Cuyahoga Valley Christian (OH)

All the polish with requisite off-guard size and athleticism. On-ball menace creating for himself or others, made numerous +reads in half court and transition. Super soft touch. Vertically athleticism popped on a shot contest around the rim where his hand was up near the square off a one step vert; dunks off one foot or two, in-traffic dunker. Only saw one of his games, but ability to overwhelm 16U comp with both skill and physicality was a bit too easy. Former NBA player and coach Sam Mitchell coached this team.

5. Dedan Thomas: 6-2, 2024, 17.6 years old, Dream Vision by way of Liberty (NV)

If the aforementioned players all pop physically, Thomas’s appearance is pedestrian by comparison. Is he 6-2? Maybe more like 6-1? He’s not obviously long, not ripped, not jumping out the gym (from what I’ve ever seen). Some on-ball heavy roles/players convey one thing on film and another in person and Thomas running point for Dream Vision evinces a master at work. While not physically overwhelming, Thomas is solidly built with an already preternatural sense of timing – when to stop, when to go, when to push, when to pass, when to keep. He ran and read P&R possessions like he’s been working out with Luka in his downtime. How are these kids learning and developing feel to the point of mastery?

6. Khani Rooths: 6-8, 2024, 17.5 years old, New World by way of IMG (FL)

Not knowing a player on sight makes for a fun scouting wrinkle: is the guy popping the guy I came to see or a friend of his playing his ass off? In the case of Rooths, a 6-8 wing/combo forward, it was indeed the guy I came to see. Broad shouldered and a bit thicker than wiry, Rooths has some wiggle while appearing to not be blessed with great flexibility. He’s certainly not stiff, but on dribble drives, doesn’t get too low. In this game, his jumper was the showcase: he hit off the catch and dribble, with his ability to get consistently create and his own off pull ups. The icing on the cake was a game-winning pull-up off a spin move from 15 feet to seal the win.

7. Isiah Harwell: 6-4 or 6-5, Utah Prospects by way of Wasatch Academy (UT)

A child of the Kobe generation, loaded with skill and polish as a right-sized off guard with a hell of a pull-up game and excellent footwork. Pulled out a little mini-shoulder shimmy on a baseline turnaround; difficult shot that he missed, but technically sound. Great lift on the jumper creates clean looks. Displayed good timing and feel operating as P&R ball handler. Lot of tough shot making/taking with hints of the right kind of audacity and courage to his game. At one point, one videographer covering the event ran up to one of their colleagues and urgently pressed them, “We gotta get a camera on number one!” (Harwell was number one and camera person number two quickly re-adjusted.)

8. Micah Robinson: 6-7, 17.6 years old, Southern Assault by way of Oak Hill Academy (VA)

Not as big a name or rank as the guys above him, but great size as 6-7 combo forward with on-ball skills. Saw more on-ball reps than his Oak Hill role typically allows for; is unrushed in attack and showed ability to regularly break down D and get to rim with or without a screen. More comfortable/effective on C&S rather than pull-up. Plays with effort and motor, competes – had shot blocked at rim and hustled back for a stop going the other way. If Ian Jackson might be a more natural facilitator, Robinson is probably a bit more natural playing off ball or attacking off catch rather than as a primary initiator.

Big names, insufficient samples:

9. Ian Jackson: 6-5, 2024, 18.2 years old, New York Wiz Kids by way of Cardinal Hayes (NY), UNC commit

Super narrow in the hips as a combo guard/do-everything wing at this level. Like Flory Bidunga who I discuss below, I was a victim to bad timing with future Tar Heel, Jackson. His team was playing from behind the entire time I saw him against Thomas’s Dream Vision squad so it had this weird desperation energy in which Jackson adopted a sort of prime facilitator role. He plugged into the role smoothly spraying passes and finding open guys all over the court; all initiated by an ability to beat his man force the defense to shift. At times felt almost conservative in not looking for his shot though he showed a nice stroke, good footwork and lift on a stepback three. In my notes, I asked: “More natural facilitator than scorer?” to which Jackson replied with a 35-point performance in a follow-up game. Jackson can clearly hoop with a versatile set of skills, plus-feel, an ability to break down a defense and make good reads alongside an engaged, competitive approach. This sample and the context chasing a game left me wishing for more time, which, after all, is a pursuit as old as (hu)man.

10. Flory Bidunga: 6-10, 2024, 17.9 years old, Indiana Elite by way of Kokomo (IN)

Alongside his teenage peers, the 6-10 Bidunga is statuesquely broad across the shoulders with a v-shaped frame narrowing from the shoulders down. He was lauded by attendees for his dominance and development; particularly on the face up game, but in my limited viewing I saw more project and less development. This could be because my Bidunga baseline is somewhat minimal or it could be that he took off as the games went on. Whatever the case, he gave off Dwight Howard vibes purely in terms of frame and athleticism. I saw no less than three catches out of rolls/dives and despite a strange habit of briefly hesitating on the catch, his ability detonate off catch and step was unmatched all day with one particular explosion that saw his elbow at rim level singeing deeply into my brain. The rawness revealed itself on a little escape dribble that looked more like my six-year-old with eyes focused on the ball and a paddle dribble of sorts. This awkwardness was followed up with a mostly-fluid right-to-left cross that gained him a step and while I can see snippets of skill creeping through, I’ll have to defer to the experts and abstain from passing much judgment on this micro-sample although it’s easy to see why people are excited. Also had stretches where I didn’t even notice him on the defensive end. Separately, Bidunga is a super intriguing case study in player development timelines. How and where he develops over the next two-to-three years and how much of that is attributable to his environment, coaches, trainers. It’s not something you can ever really answer definitively, but if you’re a coach or expert in player development, he seems like the type of nutrient rich prospect you’d be clamoring to work with.

11. VJ Edgecombe: 6-5, 2024, 17.8 years old, Austin Rivers SE Elite by way of Long Island Lutheran (same school produced Andre Curbelo, Zed Key)

Ideal off-guard size at 6-5, a bit on the leaner side, but strong with good hip/knee flexibility and explosiveness. When I’d seen his tape, there was a visible level of intensity radiating off the screen and in-person it’s present as well even if it’s a small thing like intensely coaching up a teammate to inbound the ball. High level of focus, plugged into details. Unfortunately rolled ankle and left early.

12. Annor Boateng: 6-5 or 6-6, 2024, 17.5 years old, Arkansas Hawks by way of Little Rock Central (AR)

Built like a damn tank, variation on Lu Dort physique but couple inches taller. Willing as a passer, didn’t shoot well in game I saw and there was even an offhand goofy footed floater that failed to connect with any solid object. Form looked fine, but just couldn’t get it to fall and unfortunately trying to find 3SSB stats requires advanced training in forensic sciences.  

New guys (for me):

13. Eli DeLaurier: 6-10, 2024, Team Loaded VA by way of Miller School (VA)

Aggressive and confident letting that thing fly with legit size and some big ass feet. Has touch off catch or bounce inside/outside three. Able to create own shot against bigger defenders, but need a bigger sample size to see him putting it on the deck.

14. Andre Mills Jr: 6-4, 2024, Mass Rivals by way of Brimmer & May School (MA); committed to Texas A&M

I was talking to my buddy while watching Mass Rivals and my notes for Mills are simple: “Scoring.” Fairly certain he’s a lefty and was hyper aggressive against Indiana Elite from tip-off, attacking and scoring both off the catch and bounce, inside and outside the three. Listed at 6-4 just like Harwell, but appears shorter. Played with intensity and energy that countered somewhat milder teammate Kur Teng.

15. Kur Teng: 6-4, 2024, 17.8 years old, Mass Rivals by way of Bradford Christian Academy (MA); committed to Michigan State

If Mills was the more fiery protagonist for Mass (other than their combustible coach), Teng was a steady Eddie who shot the cover off the ball. Playing primarily off-ball, somehow found himself open for C&S3s and hit no less than three with a balanced form and clean release. Didn’t get a great feel for his tools one way or the other.

16. Cooper Koch: 6-8, 2024, Indiana Elite by way of Peoria Notre Dame (IL); committed to Iowa

Sturdily built stretch four who spent most of his time with this team planted in the corner, stretching the D, and attacking off the catch. Shot wasn’t falling, but still flashed gravity as floor spacer. Willing banger with defensive awareness. Can see glimpses of his dad, JR Koch who played for Iowa in the late 90s and was drafted by the Knicks; a player I once accosted outside of the Burge dorms in Iowa City shrieking about him being drafted.

17. Travis Perry: 6-2, 2024, Indiana Elite by way of Lyon County (KY)

Similar to Rooths, I didn’t know Perry on sight and was immediately struck by the pedal-to-metal pace pushed by the 6-2 point. He pushed at every opportunity, in both transition and the half court, constantly keeping defenders on their heels and off balance while still playing under control. Perry is solidly build and plays with balance. He was confident, aggressive, decisive, able to diagnose and make decisions on the fly. Shot a pretty ball with nice rotation; big part of Bidunga getting open looks.

18. Ketraleus Aldridge (Bo Aldridge): 6-5, 2024, Trae Young by way of Highland Park (KS)

Reclass from 2023 and played like a grown man against Arkansas Hawks. Strong frame at 6-4 or 6-5. Showed up with unmatched energy, baseline drives, and wild range of outcomes. Airballed a baseline floater, but cooked a defender with a right-to-left cross to get the floater. Got sped up on times with handle, but consistently beat man off catch. Was a magnet of activity and when a guy always seems to be in the mix, it’s usually for a reason. Icing on the cake was a 28-foot buzzer beater to end the first half. Getting lot of well-deserved attention following this Omaha session.

19. Isaac Davis: 6-7, 2024, Utah Prospects, by way of Hillcrest

Massive lower-bodied PF with thighs like tree trunks. Like many thick-bodied players before him, light on feet with deft footwork. Showed some range/touch on C&S3. If 6-7 fullbacks were a thing, Isaac Davis would be them.

20. KJ Cochran: 6-3, 2025, K-Low Elite by way of West Chester East (PA)

2025 kid playing up with the 17U team. Young in the face, on-ball guard who carried a massive usage against Zoom Diallo’s Beauchamp squad. Showed ability with the stop-and-pop, pull-up and C&S from distance. Has touch and craft; didn’t come off as great athlete and still developing physically. Will be a player I keep an eye on.

21. Moustapha Thiam: 7-0, 2025, Austin Rivers SE Elite by way of DME Academy (MD) (home of the Murray twins in their prep year)

Super small sample, but hella long big (maybe not legit seven-footer?) with mobility. Really caught my attention with an on-the-money hit ahead pass in transition that most bigs at this stage (he’s just an incoming junior) can’t see let alone make. Saw a bit of switchability, didn’t see lot on offense which was more an issue of opportunity rather than opportunity squandered.

22. Cam Miles: 6-2, 2024, Austin Rivers SE Elite by way of Olympia High School (FL)

Rangy combo guard with good timing and instincts. Strong/quick hands on defensive side of ball. Showed burst off catch, speed in open court; uses ball fake well to set up attack. Able to hit jumper off the catch.

23. Khaman Maker: 7-0, 2024, Dream Vision by way of Sierra Vista (NV) – not a sibling of Thon Maker

Of course I lazily assumed he was related to Thon or Makur, but per On3 at least, he’s not a sibling of Thon’s despite displaying the slender, long frame of the guy with whom he shares a surname. Surnames aside, Maker played with Dedan’s Dream Vision squad and appeared to play within himself – showing effort, utilizing his size and length on the glass and protecting the rim.

24. CJ Brown (Cornelius Brown): 6-2, 2024, Game Elite by way of Kell High (GA) (Scoot Henderson went here)

Brown’s a twitchy combo guard who can explode off one foot (maybe even two). He commits to drives, doesn’t shy away from contact despite having a leaner frame. Didn’t get good look at jumper.

25. Max Green: 6-6, 2024 Team Loaded VA by way of Oldham County (KY)

Slim incoming senior with room to develop physically. Shoots a good ball, can attack closeout, showed ability as a decisive connector.

Atlanta Celtics Edition (need to see more, but my favorite team of the day)

26. Gicarri Harris: 6-4, 2024, Atlanta Celtics by way of Grayson (GA)

Combo guard, primarily off-guard, instinctually aggressive in attack with variety of ways to beat his man; great footwork with counters to escape D. Does well shooting off catch with an easy ball or attacking the closeout.

27. Jayden Williams: 6-9, 2024, 17.5 years old, Atlanta Celtics by way of Overtime Elite

High-waisted face-up big with infinitely long legs. In bit I saw, took a backseat to dominant guard play, but flashed skill when given the opportunity: attacked off the bounce with strong jump stop gather to jump hook. Combined size and skill well to get to spots and finish. Need more viewing to draw any conclusions.

28. Amaricko (Ricky) McKenzie: 6-4, 2024, Atlanta Celtics by way of Wheeler (GA) (Isaiah Collier running mate)

Good sized and broad-shouldered; gorgeous on PU3-in-transition with ++touch finishing floater in traffic. All their players look like they’ve been spending time in the weightroom and McKenzie no exception. Scored/beat man in a variety of ways. Per VerbalCommits, holds offers from Jacksonville and Western Carolina

NBA Draft Big Board | Players 16-20

The fifth and final installment of our 2017 draft coverage. Man, the deeper you go, the more difficult it is to see consistency in these players. It becomes an exercise in possibility and potential which is kind of funny given that most of the top-players in this year’s draft are fresh 19-year-olds with a single season of college basketball under their belts. Attempting to go even semi-deep on scouting some of these mid-range first founders is an eternal balance between flaws (John Collins’s defense), health (Harry Giles’s knees), and upside (Jarrett Allen’s physical gifts). It’s difficult to project with any confidence who will develop and who will stagnate, but that’s what we’ve attempted to do here, just know that we’re fully aware our success rates will likely dwindle into nothingness and that we’ll look back at our player comparisons three seasons from now like “WTF were we thinking?”

Special thanks to my fellow writers, Bug and Hamilton and our awesome designer, Maahs. Additional thanks to Draft Express, The Ringer, Dunc’d On podcast (Nate Duncan and Danny Leroux) and Basketball Reference. Tons of great resources out there that were critical to us being able to put these scouting reports into existence.

With all that said, let’s get into player’s 16-20 on the 2017 Dancing with Noah Big Board.

Hamilton: By some measures, John Collins looks like he belongs near the top of this draft class. He averaged nearly 29 points and 15 rebounds per-40 minutes and had the top PER in college basketball. He gets a lot of those buckets in the paint using an array of quick half hooks and little push shots that remind me of Antawn Jamison. He really uses lower body well to seal for position on post catches, rolls hard and is a good leaper off two feet when he has time to load up his jump. If Collins has any NBA skills that get him on the floor soon it will be his effort on offense, along with his rebounding. Collins’ catch-and-shoot game from 19-feet is solid for a college big. The form on his shot looks smooth enough to develop into a reliable jumper. His willingness to roll hard and fight for rebounds coupled with that shooting give him a chance to become a serviceable offensive player. He hits the glass hard on both ends, as evident in per-40-mpg rebound number. He seems to have a good second jump when battling in traffic for rebounds and tips a lot of balls to keep them alive. Tristan Thompson has made a ton of money with this as a key skill … That’s some of the good stuff.

The not-so-good is mostly on the defensive end. Collins has just OK size for a five-man even in today’s NBA. He doesn’t have enough awareness to guard many fours, frequently getting caught helping uphill against dribblers. He gets lost too often even against basic movement. These things suggest a steep learning curve against pick-and-roll in the NBA. For how physical he is on the glass he doesn’t seem nearly as comfortable with contact while guarding. Oddly (to me at least) is how much better his footwork is offensively compared to his defensive footwork. And therein lies my concern for his career (at least early). He’s likely to be drafted late lottery or by a so-so playoff team. Those teams are more likely to have shorter leashes with guys who get killed on defense (looking at you James Young) than teams picking in the top-5-10. There’s definitely a path to a long productive career for Collins, but we may see very little of him over the next two-to-three years.

Bug: This isn’t Justin Jackson’s first rodeo with the draft process. After his sophomore season, Jackson threw his name in the hat for the 2016 draft without hiring an agent. However, he was not met with the love from the scouts that he was hoping for last year. Jackson saw the writing on the wall, and pulled his name out to head back to school to put in some more work on his game.

Fast forward to 2017: coming off a national title run with North Carolina, Jackson is now getting the positive feedback he was looking for last year. It’s a great success story for him, but there both positives and negatives to his initial failed draft experience. The obvious pros for the UNC product returning to school are that he played his way into a potential lottery slot, won a national championship, and fixed some of the weaknesses in his game (outside shooting jumped from 29% to 37%). That improvement also shows scouts that he is willing to put in the work necessary to succeed at the highest level of basketball in the world. The downside to coming back for another year is that he is now one of the oldest prospects in the draft and loses a lot of his upside appeal. How much more room does he have before he hits his ceiling?

Based on his size and skill set (6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan), I think he projects as a solid “3 and D” guy in the NBA. Guys like Matt Barnes and Jared Dudley come to mind as comparisons, and they have never had a problem finding a team or a spot in the rotation. As long as he keeps improving his jumper and shot selection, while also keeping the same intensity on defense that he brought his junior season at UNC, he should have no problem sticking in the NBA. Jackson may never become an all-star player, but he should have a long, productive career as a solid contributor and possible starter down the road.

Fenrich: Harry Giles of Winston-Salem, North Carolina just turned 19 a couple months ago and yet his basketball career has already been beset by multiple semi-catastrophic knee injuries. In 2013, Giles tore the ACL, MCL, and meniscus in his left knee. In 2015, he tore his right ACL. Oy!

Recovery for the second ACL bled over to his freshman season at Duke where he averaged under four-points-per-game and nearly eight-fouls-per-40 minutes. Reading and writing that made my head hurt.

But what didn’t make my head hurt was watching Giles’s highlight tape. He has decent height (6’11”) and length (7’3” wingspan) that are bolstered by fluid athleticism. He runs the floor well without any obvious hitches from his knee injuries. The length and athleticism are further bolstered by what appears to be a solid motor. He understands team defense and doesn’t mind mixing it up on the boards or the defensive end. And where we often opt for the cool, unbiased certainty of stats and measures, seeing a guy give a crap and play hard still counts for something.

He doesn’t seem quite ready to be a contributor on the offensive side. Like a lot of players his position and age, he seems like he’d be wise to watch tape of Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan and learn the timing of how and when to roll on the pick-and-roll.

Given that he appeared in just 300 minutes at Duke and has these two knee injuries, it’s challenging to see what he’s truly capable of. In those minutes, he took no threes and shot just 50% from the line on less than an attempt each game. It’s not that his offense is raw, but rather it might just longing for some TLC. I know that’s weird, but there’s a skillset here that’s better than the four-points-per game he showed at Duke.

Maybe it’s just that he plays hard and doesn’t mind doing the dirty work, but I’m a fan of Giles. I have no idea if he can pass or handle the ball or stay out of foul trouble, but agile big men who can switch on the perimeter and don’t mind banging still have a place in the NBA and that means Giles has a home waiting for him in the best basketball league in the world.

Fenrich: The mustache, the little fro, the headband. Jarrett Allen looks like someone straight out of the ABA and for a 19-year-old, he has a mustache that can make grown men envious – at least those longing for mustachioed excellence. Allen is also longer and a better leaper than Giles (his age and positional peer).

And yet, where I find myself excited and hopeful for Giles, I’m unenthused about Allen.

With his length and hops, he can dunk without fear of reprisal. He’s capable of being a plus-rebounder and shot blocker because he’s just so damn long. There’s even a little mid-range set shot that makes me think of Marcus Camby and in his lone season at Texas, he flashed the ability to read double teams.

But there’s a general aversion to mixing it up. In the tape I watched on Allen, he played with finesse (except when he was dunking in someone’s face) and seemed unwilling to bang with opponents. He doesn’t have to be compared to Giles, but where the Duke product went balls to the wall, Allen’s motor is a question mark to me. He’s listed at 235-pounds, but looks just as lean as Giles and without that wiry-type functional strength. It may be there, but he just hasn’t figured out how to leverage it with consistency.

What I worry about with some prospects is that they’re able to get by on talent alone and when faced with equal or better competition, they don’t have the motor or desire to dial up their intensity to match the opponent. Is this the case with Allen or were my expectations just unfair due to his throwback look? Who knows? Is he Trey Lyles or PJ Brown?

Fenrich: If we redid the big board, I think Rabb would likely fall further than anyone else. This kind of bums me out because I followed him over his two seasons at Cal liked what I saw of him around the basket. He’s a plus-rebounder with a good nose for the ball. Like seemingly every other big man in this draft, he’s got NBA height and length, but he’s somewhat limited in how he uses it.

What jumped out to me as a red flag was the decline in his shooting from his freshman to sophomore season where his true shooting dropped from 63% to 54% despite shooting a decent 40% on 8-20 from deep.

As his current skill set is constituted, he doesn’t project as having NBA-level scoring ability. Per The Ringer, he was a below average shooter from nearly every spot on the floor. He likes to play in the post, but at a not-too-strong 220-pounds, he doesn’t have the strength to bang and besides, he’s just not that efficient. Per Draft Express, he shot “a mediocre … 0.75 points per possession” in the post.

He’s a kid who’s willing to work which is best exemplified by his effort on the glass. But the weaknesses are too many and the skill too low to project out as an NBA starter. In a best-case scenario, he’d develop some type of mid-range game-to-three point game, guard fours and fives and mix in some small ball lineups. Absent that, he’s a less athletic Ed Davis or Thomas Robinson.


Three Year Anniversary: the State of Dancing with Noah

It was three years ago on this date that Dancing with Noah (DWN) snuck in through the backdoor of the basketball blogging world while everyone else was asleep — or just doing their own thing. Three years ago I wrote this about the Spurs vs. Grizzlies opening round series – sounding a death knoll for the Spurs that was never heard, and probably only somewhat read.

Now in 2014, the Spurs are still winning 60+ games, still struggling in the first round, and I’m still writing about basketball without any end game in mind. The circularity of it is a coincidence and probably not some sort of narrative completion. If there was any narrative arc to this blog it’d be punctuated by typical human highs and human lows, but there aren’t any discernible mile markers that stand out. My life has changed since 2011, the game has slightly changed, but as it pertains to this blog, the posts keep spinning in slow motion like Curly Neal spinning a ball on his finger at the bottom of the ocean.

In case you didn’t know, in addition to DWN, I write regularly at The Diss, occasionally at Hickory-High, and a couple times at Hoop76. Over the past three years, my engagement with the basketball blog world has created both feelings of great accomplishment and powerful self-doubt and frustration. One hopes and assumes they’re not alone in these feelings, but at times, it certainly seems that we are alone – or perhaps that’s just the mind playing its little assumptive tricks. It was around this time last year when I was ready to throw in the blogging towel and leave an untethered DWN out there as one more dusty archive in an infinite internet library of stories. My frustrations at my own motivations (retweets, page views, appearances on the 10-Man Rotation or Court Vision – really) rose to self-defeating levels and I took a blogging sabbatical (yeah right) this past summer before the inevitability of a desire to write and communicate resurfaced.

So I made the decision to return without any real clues about my purpose or goals. The fall and winter, DWN struggled to find a place in my routine or any consistency. Halfway pieces and ideas made their way into the ether … biographical sketches acted as an exploratory outlet while The Diss’s weekly Diss Guy Miss Guy feature offered a structured routine and format I didn’t realize I’d been missing.

Curiously, in the three years I’ve been writing DWN, there had never been any cadence to posting. I posted what I wanted when I wanted. Probably partially out of laziness, partially out of intent, but whatever the purpose, it led to a floating of sorts. Floating ideas, floating motivations, passing work. Writing DGMG for The Diss has only helped DWN in the sense that I’m better able to structure a weekly feature, Sunday to Monday Thoughts on Basketball, while also tapping into a format friendly to my strengths and which I enjoy writing. At this point, I can’t help but shrug my shoulders at the stubborn resistance to routine, but I know enough to know we learn what we learn when we learn it and not before.

As I thought about the direction of this one-man parade, this somewhat solitary endeavor that is DWN, I was compelled to explore the state of this blog – as much for myself as for my occasional and sporadic readers. While more people have read and commented in the past, I’m at a more sustainable place with DWN today, and as a writer, than I was 12-18 months ago. I absolutely still get frustrated as a writer. It’s a demoralizing feeling to push through a piece in which you take pride and then get no response meanwhile a flippant tweet you offhandedly posted gets a round of applause. But where this frustration acted as a law officer applying a paralyzing taser to my ego a year ago, today it’s merely a detour.

For DWN, concepts of goals and purpose are asides that may make it into the footnotes, but only at the subservience to the exploratory nature of basketball history and prose, goofy stats and personal essays. It’s fitting I suppose because while we likely do play to win the game, it’s never been a premise of this blog. The path of the game, of a writer is constantly moving – oftentimes in unknown directions (but meet me there, by all means). So three years in, we’re still here, still writing, still grinding, still (occasionally) hating (Dwight, Hibbert, etc), still learning, and uncovering half-truths, but definitely here.

NBA Biographical Sketch #5: Dan Majerle

Dan Majerle was a 6’6” shooting guard with model good looks, a square jaw, a full head of brown hair, and a tan of Hasselhoffian proportions. “Thunder Dan” as he was known bombed threes before it became en vogue. In that sense, one could say he was ahead of his time. Sandwiched between a career spent in sunny Phoenix and on the sandy beaches of Miami was an out of context year in Cleveland which signaled the onset of his deterioration in which he possibly could’ve been referred to as “Cloudy Dan” by someone with a poor sense of humor. Majerle will forever be remembered for his role on the Barkley-led Suns teams and for being an object of the great Michael Jordan’s disdain in the 1993 Finals.

A three-time all-star, Majerle could oddly be considered a beiger, more pleasant version of Arron Afflalo or even a darker, more muscularly violent (in play only) version of Brent Barry.

In the commercial below, “Thunder Dan” can be heard asking for a stat that quantifies hustle (again, ahead of his time). While this may have been one of his calling cards, it’s not one with which I’m deeply familiar. If someone was bored, they could easily sub in Shane Battier footage with Majerle’s commentary.

Late Nights with Steph

Don’t get it twisted, this isn’t my foray into a new genre of basketball erotica and I am wearing (sweat) pants while I write this. It’s about me accepting the aesthetic of Stephen Curry’s game: a sweet, sensual convergence of college fundamentals with the boldness of Marvin Gaye on his classic I Want You.

I live on the west coast, so I get the great pleasure of watching west coast teams play at a reasonable time—at least reasonable based on my 32-year-old/married standards. The straight up west coast options we have: Lakers, Clippers, Kings, Blazers, Suns and Warriors. The Lakers are a comedy of errors, a team without a collective identity even though they have players with well-defined identities. The Kings have really disappointed; particularly because of their decision not to re-sign Terrence Williams. I don’t care for the Blazers, but I do like some Nicolas Batum and Young Mr. Damian Lillard is pure joy—regardless of how you feel about point guards. The Suns are another laughable comedy routine on a nightly basis. Shannon Brown as your get buckets guy? It takes a rare NBA roster architect to devise that scenario. Then there are the Clippers and the Warriors, a couple of teams that are entertaining for entirely different reasons. The Clippers are potential-in-the-process-of-being-realized and this kind of maturation is so magnetic because we’re eagerly anticipating their ongoing improvement. Once the ceiling is reached, we can get bored because we’re simple people with short spans of attention living in a world full of attention grabbing experts. As a group, the Clippers are more fun than Golden State and yes, Chris Paul is the PG archetype, but there’s nothing human about Paul single-handedly demoralizing and discouraging defenses or Jamal Crawford heat checks or Blake Griffin or even Los Angeles for that matter. But up in Oakland? Oh, up north it doesn’t get much more human than Bogutian tragedy, the erosion of Andris Biedrins’ confidence, Brandon Rush’s torn ACL, David Lee’s around-the-basket intuitiveness (it’s still underrated) or Steph Curry’s nightly flirtations with basketball death, a dreaded Grant Hill career arc.

The crowd in Oakland pleads a great case for watching the Warriors, but Lee’s interior aptitude and the development of Harrison Barnes are entertaining too. The primary reason to watch, the main event … that’s Curry.  There’s a reason he’s still the (baby) face of the Warriors despite missing nearly 25% of his team’s games through his first three seasons (of course, part of that reason is that they were never able to find a trade partner willing to take on those papier-mâché ankles). They’re still going to war every night with Curry as their lead guard because the kid (he’s still just 24) is disruptively good and can get better.

I’m not positive if the NCAA’s and ESPN’s and Dick Vitale’s infatuations with Curry during his Davidson days soured me on him or if I was too distracted following the explosions of Monta Ellis (fiery spectacle one night, snap pops the next), but I only studied Curry from afar for his first few years. His ankle(s—was it both?) turned last season into one long, depressing sputter. And if it was frustrating for fans, imagine how Curry felt riding that physical and emotional roller coaster: special shoes, protective boots, ice bags on ice bags in ice baths, multiple doctors, fear that something’s wrong, that maybe it’s somehow his fault … failure; letting down your teammates, fans, the people who pay you huge checks to be on the court performing. So when he rolled his ankle (again!) in the pre-season, I think there was a part of me that lightly erased Curry from the NBA panorama. He wasn’t a ghost yet, but he was fading.

This is a terribly unfair thing to do, particularly given the steadily impressive performances of Curry’s first two seasons in the league which compare better than favorably with Derrick Rose’s and Russell Westbrook’s:

Advanced stats on top, per game on bottom

Advanced stats on top, per game on bottom

Not too many people put Curry in the same echelon as Rose and Westbrook and there are a couple of obvious reasons why:

  • The Third Season: While Curry spent his third season on crutches, in walking boots and enduring a bombardment of tests on his ankle(s), Westbrook and Rose made a motherfucking leap in theirs. Remember how similar these three guys were through their first two seasons? The third seasons created a massive chasm:

Per game stats

Per game stats

  • Playoff Appearances: Rose was a black NBA version of Rocky Balboa as a rookie when he led the 8th seed Bulls to a memorable seven-game series against the defending champion Boston Celtics in the opening round. Westbrook made a name more violently for his volatility—eruptions of athleticism versus decision making follies and the unique ability to forget Kevin Durant was on his team (and in the damn game!). Where Russell made the playoffs three of four years and has Rose has advanced to the postseason every year, the ill-fated Curry is still awaiting his first appearance.

I didn’t set out to write a story about how Steph Curry does or doesn’t compare favorably to two of the best young point guards in the game, it just organically occurred this way and I’m happy with that. Beyond the inconclusive stats we have above, the Curry I’ve seen this year is a smooth ball handler with great court awareness, passing ability and a hyper fast shot release. His handle is so much better than I realized, but it looks like he’s still figuring out how to fully utilize this skill. You see Rose and Westbrook combine their ball handling with raw speed and quickness: Rose more lateral quickness with the ball in-hand and Westbrook more straight ahead speed. Steph’s handle is so often used on the perimeter to keep defenders at bay instead of attacking with it. If and when he improves that part of his game, he’ll be able to create more space and get to the rim more frequently than he already does which would make him close to indefensible. Of course, the more he penetrates, I feel like the odds of rolling an ankle increase (is that true?).

So while the rest of you east coast and Midwest fans are sleeping away the nights or blowing rails just to stay up for the west coast games, your brothers and sisters on the left are settling in on couches and recliners from San Diego to Blaine with beers and green teas while our spouses and partners and roommates flit in and out, oblivious to our fascinations with a guy named Steph…and even more oblivious the fingers we have discretely crossed under a pillow or blanket, vainly hoping those tender ankles hold up.

Leave the Mess, they should see this

If my head and all the gooey contents inside it happen to spontaneously explode and splatter across the white walls of my apartment or the dual monitors of my cubicle, I ask my friends, family and colleagues to please leave the remnants as a reminder/tribute/warning sign to an accelerated NBA free agency period.

As a Junky, it’s in my genes to shoot up free agent gossip with a great big syringe. The machine’s already been kicked into gear by people who move in the shadows and go by names like “unnamed sources” and apparently Chris Broussard knows a lot of these people. It’s impossible to tell if this will be a good or bad experience for NBA teams. I see two possibilities (although other outcomes are likely):

  1. Good for the teams! Hooray! Instead of signing players in July, general managers get five full months to plan on white boards and balance sheets! How could this be bad? NBA teams typically start negotiating with players on July 1st and following a week-long moratorium, are able to sign players on or around July 8th. From there, the market shakes out LeBron James signing first and the rest of the league following suit. Of course, players and teams have likely been flirting behind the scenes (moving in shadows and shit) so it’s not like July is speed dating for players and teams. That being said, the first ten days of July are when the action goes down. One could infer that teams having an extra few months to consider the vast combinations of players and contracts would be more than a good thing; it’d be a great thing. A big part of the new CBA was helping the owners and management help themselves. The amnesty clause is the poster child of the league, owners and players acknowledging the need for the occasional do over. Of course, not all (likely) amnesty casualties are the result of owners and management making bad decisions, but it provides teams a one-time out and is GMs admitting, “Hey man, sometimes we fuck up too.” While the negotiations haven’t been allowed until now, front offices and coaching staffs had to have been discussing potential free agents …. right?
  2. The second possibility? Well, if front offices have consistently made shitty decisions when they haven’t been under the gun or navigating through a brand new set of contracts and rules, then how well do you expect them to perform under duress? Sure, they may have had a few more months to try and put the puzzle together, but without contact with agents or players, how well could it possibly have gone; especially when you consider no one knew what kind of salary cap structure to expect. I don’t believe that NBA GMs have an easy job. It’s not easy to assess how human beings are going to perform in new surroundings in a new system with new co-workers and a new boss. Shit can and does go wrong; that’s life in my office, your office and theirs. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge, stinking bagful of excruciatingly shitty decisions to be made over the next three weeks.

Where does that leave us? It leaves us with question marks. We’ve got to rely on guys like Broussard and Danny Ainge to provide us with information we can trust, but we can’t trust them so we’ve got to speculate and that leads to rumors and bad information. We’re already struggling beneath the weight of Dwight Howard and Chris Paul rumors—and they’re not even free agents; but I guess that’s what happens when the top free agents are Nene, David West and Tyson Chandler.

No, my head probably won’t explode, but with a new CBA set to change the way teams do business (supposedly), an amped up free agency period and a shortened season, we’re slap dab in the middle of an NBA transformation and only God (if he’s watching) and Henry Abbott really know what’s going to happen.

Lost between Truth & Madness

Oh, happy day

“In the final analysis, the truth always evolves from the state of total madness.” – C.R. Stecyk III

The quote above wasn’t written with the NBA labor negotiations in mind and I don’t even know if it’s applicable, but I read it the other day and started thinking about any truths that have emerged from the madness of the NBA lockout. We’ve got a lot of facts, but I’m not sure we’ll ever be privy to the truth. The truth I’m most interested in is the non-factual variety like what Stern the man/attorney honestly thought was a fair deal.

We (tentatively) have an NBA season awaiting us and I can’t lie; I was excited when I woke up at 6:30am on Saturday to text messages informing me of the good news. I was excited, despite my ongoing disgust with David Stern’s smugness and the hardline owners’ insistence on publically giving players the shaft.

In 2011 we’re blessed with insights that 1999’s lockout couldn’t deliver: Real-time updates via Twitter or NBA TV. I was able to watch post-negotiation press conferences with sleepy eyed Sterns and Billy Hunters spinning responses to questions from drowsy reporters who I’d been following on Twitter for the previous two hours. So the truth and madness I mention above fall somewhere in these marathon negotiations and the updates and interpretations that accompanied them. With unprecedented access, we heard from unidentified “veteran players” and “owner sources” in real time and because we’re a refresh culture, we consumed it and waited for the next update. Truth was somewhere in there, but with all the unnamed sources and agendas on the table, it was impossible to determine truth from maybe-kinda-true.

I have to concede defeat on finding truth in some things—like if a 36-year-old Michael Jordan would’ve called out the 2011 version of himself the same way he called out Abe Pollin—but now we can get back to rediscovering and reconstructing new truths out of the product the NBA players produce on the court. Before that though, there’s an element of resolution to the process. I’ve never been one to hold a grudge, but during the negotiations, when the owners threatened the “reset offer” of a 53-47 BRI split in their own favor, I was disgusted. I don’t have a background in negotiating for pro sports franchises, I’m not an attorney and I was just starting college when the last lockout was going down. I also don’t have the aforementioned access to the owners’ real motivations so I don’t how real the threat was, but I do know it was public and there were a band of rogue owners who potentially preferred to lose the entire season instead of stopping at gaining a 50-50 BRI (BRI was previously 57-43, players) split which results in three billion dollars in basketball-related income to shift from the player side to the owner side over the 10-year duration of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The whole operation left more than a shitty taste in my mouth and I had to question whether or not I wanted to support a league with owners hell-bent on driving a bus full of other owners, players, coaches and fans off a cliff into a one-year chasm of basketball purgatory instead of accepting what was already a winning deal. For me, that would primarily mean no NBA League Pass since Clay Bennett and Stern already drove the Sonics out of town and left the city NBA-less until further notice.

But is my bitterness enough to keep me away? Are my pro-labor (I don’t care about the amount of money or perks the players get, they’re still the labor in this case) values strong enough to turn me away from the disgustingness of the past five months? I knew the answer was no all along.

Since the lockout kicked in, I’ve followed the digital circus from the comforts of my laptop: the optimistic press conferences, the crushing letdowns, the gossip, which NBA players are taking their talents overseas, the Jordan (de)evolution, and all the other tidbits that basketball writers and fans have had to search out to fill in for the hole left by the NBA. Because I never blamed Rashard Lewis for taking Orlando’s money, I never held a grudge against the players. Why would I? Because they had a nice deal in 1999? Because they make millions and want to protect some of it? Because owners and the front offices they hire continue to dole big contracts on small-time players? I don’t hold any of that against the players. Could they have negotiated more effectively? I’m guessing, yes. Could they have done more to resolve this earlier? Probably. The players gave and gave and gave and the owners still demanded more.

This isn’t to say the owners are all bad or even that they’re bad at all. It’s to say that fans tune in and turn on to watch the league’s roughly 450 players do what only a handful (relatively speaking) of people on the entire planet can do. I was bitter watching the owners do what they do because negotiations (particularly billion-dollar negotiations played out in the media) can and do get ugly. As a culture, we’re perfectly happy to watch petty spats and infighting, but not when there’s a cost attached to it and in this case the cost was nearly two months without the NBA. All things must pass (tentatively) and if everything goes accordingly, we won’t have to see or hear much from these owners for the next ten years.

Without digressing too much here, I want to acknowledge some of these my way or the no way owners embody traits I do respect. The willingness to stand up for what you believe is right in the face of all criticism is admirable. There are always going to be fine lines, but I believe some of these owners believe the only way they could be successful or break even was to have a 53-47 split in their favor. And if that’s what Stern was willing to voice to the public, then a handful of this bunch probably wanted to go even further. Fortunately, cooler heads must’ve owned the day.

As I mentioned above, like the great George Harrison album of the same name: All things must pass. We missed out on two months of NBA basketball and what will end up being 16 games. The season will be odd ballish and it’s likely we’ll see a higher rate of injuries; particularly among older players. Different isn’t always good, but with an 82-game season, monotony can and does creep in. Cramming 66 games will create an environment no one’s used to. It’ll be like basketball vagabonds barnstorming their regions for inter-conference battles on little sleep or rest. At times, it’ll be sloppy, but out of chaos flourishes creativity—from the coaching architects and the players on the floor. That might be happily blind or naïve, but we already know the abbreviated free agency period is going to pace like a speed addict. Just think if LeBron would’ve been a free agent this year instead of last…

There’s nothing to be sad about anymore. Now is the time for handshakes, hugs (or “black bro hugs” if you speak Shaq’s language) and toasts (to who? Billy Hunter and Stern? C’mon, we can do better than that, right? Right? Moving on … ). Let’s toast to rediscovering truth through our own eyes rather than second and third hand accounts and speculations about what went on behind the doors and across the tables of esteemed New York City meeting rooms where we’ll never cross the threshold and hear the likes of Jeffrey Kessler battle with Stern and Adam Silver (are these our great debates?). Let’s toast to JR Smith, the Mahoney of the NBA. He’s stuck in China and no matter how much of a brat he tries to be, it sounds like he’s stuck there until March. How about a raised glass to the rookies who (no matter what words their agents have forced into their mouths) had to be wondering, “What the fuck did I leave college for?” And a nod to what could be the last hurrah for this version of the Celtics and Spurs; a pair of veteran teams who wore the crown well.

With any luck, we’ll pick up where we left off with last year’s unpredictable playoffs. Yep, Dirk and Mark Cuban are defending champions. Kobe’s still motivated by something otherworldly (underworldly?). LeBron and Dwyane have probably fine-tuned their on-the-court symbiosis in all these all-star and charity games they played in this summer. And while we’re hoping; maybe Russell Westbrook’s had a summer of epiphanies after re-watching the game tape from May.

Finally, if sadness has to exist just to provide balance in the greater cosmos, then let’s hang our heads in silence for the honorary three-second count reserved for the NBA big men who said goodbye to us this past summer: Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming. We haven’t been this devoid of quality back-to-the-basket bigs (not sure we can even put Yao in that group) since I’ve been alive and probably not before that either.

It’s been a long two months, but we made it. We’re (almost) here:

Ghosts on Video

We’re well past the point of finding out about basketball feats of greatness or folly via word of mouth. If it happened on a court, no matter how grainy or shaky, someone’s recording it and posting it on Youtube.

Unless it’s a Powerade commercial, video’s indisputable and sheds sunlight on performances where eye-witness accounts either fall short or overexaggerate. And fortunately, there’s great video evidence of Kevin Durant‘s 66-point performance at the Rucker League last night–a mid-summer reminder of why we keep watching this game.

From the New York Post’s Joseph Staszewski

Kevin Durant’s performance created an evening for the ages at Rucker Park. The Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star shook off a slow start and poured in an astounding 66 points to lead DC Power to a 99-93 win over the Sean Bell All-Stars in front of a standing-room only crowd at the Entertainers Basketball Classic on Monday night at streetball’s most famous park. Durant, who led the NBA in scoring last season, connected on 9-of-11 3-pointers, including five straight from well beyond NBA range, early in the fourth quarter. The 6-foot-9 forward was mobbed on the court by fans standing along the sidelines after a fifth straight trey.“I always wanted to play in Rucker Park all my life,” Durant said in a postgame interview with park emcee Hannibal.

 True to the culture, there are reams of video clips from this performance; including a variety of angles, points of view, various video lengths, etc. The video below captures the temperature from the ground floor:

It’s one thing to read Staszewski’s account, but the video goes a step further and communicates the raw emotion and energy on the court and in the crowd; as well as communicating Durant’s frightening height advantage over his opponents.

I think we all prefer to at least have the option to see what’s really happening instead of reading or hearing about it second-hand from a friend who’s prone to embellishment. In the process of using video to document every notable event, we lose some of the mystique and fairytale elements that draw us to sports. A perfect example is the often-discussed, but (conveniently) never-seen scrimmage among the members of the 1992 USA Dream Team. Magic vs. Michael, accompanied by the greatest supporting casts in the history of the basketball playing world. Anyone who saw this scrimmage or even heard about it believes it was one of the greatest basketball games ever played, but only a handful of eyeballs were privileged to witness it. There’s a divine and mythical quality to it that verifiable performances like Durant’s 66 at Rucker or LeBron’s 4th quarter evisceration of the Pistons in the 2007 playoffs are lacking.

This isn’t the death of storytelling or personal experience and I’m not an advocate of personal interpretation over truth. It’s sad that we’re running out of these unseen moments, but our need to see and share every event is overwhelming and I’m far from one to impede obvious progress in favor of nostalgia. The dark flipside to this is the infamous, uncatchable Twitter hacker and the trend of athlete junk floating around the internets, but that’s another sad story for another slow day.

JC of the Day

Aside from the petty, but intriguing Marcin Gortat/Robin Lopez flap, it’s a slow day in the world of hoop. Fortunately, Youtube is a repository for Jamal Crawford clips that will dazzle all summer long, beginning with this gem (stay tuned for a feature-length post on the big JC):

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