Look, it’s hard to stand out on the 2014-15 Los Angeles Bitchers
Please add “Oladipo over Bennett and Noel” to my all-time NBA draft win tally, along with “Durant over Oden,” “CP3 over Bogut and Williams,” “Derrick Williams over Kyrie,” “Okafor over Dwight” and “Jabari over Wiggins.” (Fine, I’m batting .500. Whatever.)
If you gave me a do-over, I’d stick Matthews on the Trade Value DL, move Oladipo into this group and give Oladipo’s old spot to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Why? Because MKG is destroying people on defense, to the point that he boasted, “I want to be the best defender ever” last week — and nobody laughed.
I didn’t have the balls to throw Gobert in the low 20s with Giannis and Wiggins.
“I will bet you $100 that Whiteside will either make the 2016 All-Star Game OR be out of the league before the 2016 All-Star Game, and you can pick only one of the two sides of that bet,” which side would you pick? I can’t decide, either.
We need to find the right teammates for Drummond soon.
I blew it with Wiggins. He’s a top-12 trade asset. (Stop looking at me like that.) I don’t know what else to say. (Seriously, stop shaking your head.) We’re moving on. We’re moving forward.
I’m not rattled by having Lowry too high after his January-February offensive swoon. He’s too good.
Kawhi’s electrifying two-way showdown with LeBron on Thursday made me wonder if I ranked him too low, but man, when are those 3s coming back for him? How bad is that mysterious hand injury? This isn’t a normal trend for 3-point shooters: 37.6 percent (2012-14 regular season), 41.6 percent (2012-14 playoffs) … 32.2 percent (2014-15 season).
San Antonio can’t win four straight playoff rounds and realize their ’69 Celts destiny if Kawhi’s 3s don’t come around and defenses start leaving him wide open. It’s true.
No regrets. Although it’s bizarre that Aldridge (23.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 22.3 PER, playing hurt for two-plus months, carrying a possible no. 2 seed) has been left out of the MVP race. It’s almost like the national media ignores Portland or something.
9. Boogie Cousins
In Part 2, I mentioned the smartest non-trades in recent NBA history — including the time Houston dangled Hakeem Olajuwon for a Godfather offer (Steve Smith, Glen Rice AND Rony Seikaly), got turned down
For the previous five seasons, an increasingly unhappy Hakeem had been stuck playing with so many past-their-primers, never-made-its and never-got-theres that everyone inadvertently forgot that the Dream was unfreakingtradable.16 Had the Heat countered with Rice (a top-15 trade asset that summer), Seikaly (averaged 16 and 12 in ’92) and either Miner or multiple no. 1 picks, then the deal would have gotten done and we would’ve had a different champ in 1994 and 1995. Instead, Houston won the ’94 and ’95 titles
Boogie, last two seasons (123 games): 33.0 mpg, 23.1 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 48% FG, 25.5 PER
Duncan, ’01-’02 and ’02-’03 (163 games): 39.9 mpg, 24.4 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 51% FG, 27.0 PER
Maybe he isn’t Apex Duncan, especially in the defense/teammate/leadership/intangibles/getting-thrown-out-of-games-for-wonky-behavior categories
but Boogie HAS improved.
And with the spacing that Boogie creates and the numbers he’s putting up, you could absolutely run a world-class offense around him. Only you can’t … because he’s wasting his pre-prime playing for Jackass Central
You better keep showering Boogie with love. Because the moment he checks out and says to himself, “I cannot play for these jackasses anymore,” there’s no going back.
We wasted five years of Boogie’s career.
Things that concern me in no particular order …
A. Why didn’t Blake’s elbow injury submarine the Clippers’ season?
B. He’s headed for his third straight Antoine Walker Award, given annually to the NBA star who provokes the highest ongoing level of disdain from opponents and referees.
A 6-foot-10 power forward who’s built like a Greek god, plays waaaaay above the rim and once averaged 12 boards a game as a rookie can’t grab eight rebounds a night in his fifth NBA season?
Excuse No. 2: There aren’t enough available rebounds now that Contract Year DeAndre has become possessed by Wilt Chamberlain’s ghost.
Super-Blake was and is untradable. But Not-As-Reckless-Above-Average-Elbow-Shooter-Who-Can’t-Get-Two-Rebounds-A-Quarter Blake? You tell me.
“Teammates lived in perpetual fear of letting him down. Coaches struggled to reach him and ultimately left him alone. Referees dreaded calling his games, knowing they couldn’t toss the league’s best player even as he was serenading them with F-bombs. Fans struggled to connect with a prodigy who had little interest in connecting with them.”
(I went to a Grizzlies game a few weeks ago in which he absolutely destroyed Mike Conley, who’s only one of the league’s best 25 players.)
Can you point to another example of a ball-dominating little guy who also won four straight playoff rounds?
But Isiah trusted his teammates way more than CP3 does.
You would have loved playing with Isiah.
It’s crazy that he hasn’t played in a conference finals game yet … but it’s also not that crazy.
If KD weren’t an incumbent MVP coming off of one of the best offensive seasons in 40 years, I would have panic-dropped him to sixth. Oh wait, I just did.
For the first time in the history of my Sports Guy column, we’re dusting off the old Dr. Jack Breakdown gimmick and turning it into a threesome.
Meanwhile, Golden State has Curry locked down for $10.63 million (this season), $11.37 million (2015-16), and $12.1 million (2016-17). He won’t make as much money over those three years as Marcin Gortat. Anytime someone can make $11 million per year and you feel bad for them, you know they’re a bargain.
BEST GIMMICK: Sorry, fellas, you’re not topping Harden’s beard.
Steph knocking on the door of the 50-40-90 Club while jacking up a staggering EIGHT 3s per game (good luck ever seeing that again)
Harden trying to become the first lefty to average 27, 7 and 6
did I mention that Westbrook is a guard and he’s averaging eight freaking rebounds per 36 minutes?
SHEER AWESOMENESS OF THEIR ADVANCED 2014-15 NUMBERS:
and Westbrook’s usage rate is threatening to break 2006 Kobe’s all-time NBA record (not necessarily a positive).
Golden State hides Curry on D as much as possible, but he’s a better and smarter defender than people realize. (Maybe he’s not Chris Paul on that end, but he’s not Damian Lillard either.)
Westbrook plays with so much confidence/swagger/ferocity that he can’t stop going into 2006 Kobe mode, especially late in games, which is the best and the worst thing about him.
Curry and Harden can eviscerate opposing defenses — and have — but only Westbrook makes you feel like you’re watching Lia— whoops, like you’re watching a WWE star sprint into a crowded Royal Rumble ring and immediately start clearing it out. He doesn’t need a nickname, but he might need his own entrance music. ADVANTAGE: WESTBROOK.
But Curry is turning into this generation’s Tim Duncan
an unselfish superstar who doesn’t want to be an alpha dog
I loved that he loved Klay Thompson’s 37-point Über–Heat Check quarter more than anyone
NIGHT-TO-NIGHT YOUTUBE/GIF/MEME/VINE POTENTIAL
Then again, the right pop-culture comparison for Westbrook (at least lately) is Scarlett Johansson in Lucy.
Remember when her brain usage started expanding and she started making crazy stuff happen?
Hasn’t that been Westbrook these past few weeks? He’s using 7 percent of his brain and the number is climbing.
DEFENSE/REBOUNDING/STEALS: Good place to save some words. ADVANTAGE: WESTBROOK.
If your child is under 10 and searching for a hoops team that not-so-coincidentally might have a chance to win multiple titles, or you’re one of those secretly shady NBA fans-for-hire who drifts around from contender to contender because “I just root for players I like,”
They’re irresistable. They’re bandwagon catnip.
MEDIA SAVVY: You’d think Curry would win this in a landslide.
But what about Westbrook’s tough-love strategy? I kind of dig it. Total dick for a week, goes generic for a week, becomes nice and thoughtful the next week. He’s like the arrogant, hard-to-get ladies’ man in a rom-com who keeps playing the frazzled-but-successful woman in his office who’s way too cute not to have a boyfriend (only she’s all about her work and her home life is a mess). Russell thanked us today! What does this mean? Does he like me? I love Russell Westbrook
MOST ANNOYING QUALITY: Westbrook’s shot selection trumps Curry’s ankles (not his fault, but still) and Harden’s occasional matador routine. But I’m going one step deeper —
Harden’s uncanny ability to succeed with the same move over and over again
turns those Rockets games into a CBS procedural drama. You barely need to watch.
BEST “WHAT IF?” BACKSTORY:
UNIQUENESS FACTOR: Brutal category. Westbrook is basically Jim Brown 50 years later with basketball shorts on. And I just compared him to Teen Wolf and a poisoned movie character who uses so much of her brain that she becomes a robot, then turns invisible.
The Harden Experience wouldn’t have made sense even 25 years ago. We would have been saying stuff like “He needs to post up more” and “He’s killing them with all those dumb 3s.”
There is nothing — repeat, nothing — more exciting as an NBA fan right now than being in the house when Steph Curry is feeling it. Bird had the same quality, by the way.
If you have the money and the Warriors are passing through your city, go see Steph Curry. You want to be there if he starts feeling it. Trust me.
GUY YOU’D MOST WANT FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS:
Westbrook’s aforementioned overcompetitiveness worries me long-term; I don’t love the track record of NBA stars who play that recklessly all the time. For instance, Larry Bird left seven to eight years on the table because
MOST VALUABLE RIGHT NOW: My take on MVP with four crucial weeks to go: LeBron is the best player, Anthony Davis is the best two-way player,
Westbrook is the best one-man wrecking crew, Curry is the best player on the best team, and Harden was the most valuable through the first 75 percent of the season. Showed up every night, carried the shakiest supporting cast, did the most, played at an exceptionally high level. (Hold on, big “but” coming.) BUT, if the Warriors reach 67 or 68 wins and go down as a historically great regular-season team, NBA history says Curry will cruise to the MVP. (Their current record: 53-13.) Harden gets my vote for now.
Theny wrote:I think we're all getting really carried away with Anthony Davis. Simmons doesn't even mention how he's hurt evry 3 weeks.
Apr 22, 2015 3:49 pm Clayton Bigsby i enjoy sports
TheWolf - Fri Apr 15, 2016 3:26 pm: i'm ctz. i'm sober at 3:30 pm. dork
Frank the Tank wrote:If I die I leave my red font to Kite.
1. Anthony Davis
In 2007’s Trade Value column, I wrote that “2007 LeBron and 2007 [Dwight] Howard are more untradeable than anyone in the seven-year history of this ‘Trade Value’ column, even surpassing (gulp) 2001 Shaq and 2003 Duncan.”
Look what happened to the 2007 guys. LeBron has become a four-time MVP, a two-time champ and one of the best 10 players ever. Dwight has made only one Finals and never won an MVP, and started breaking down four years later.
You never know. It’s 50-50 once a young star reaches anything-is-possible status.
You need injury luck, you need the right situation, and you need the player to want it. For every Shaq, there’s a Dwight.
For every Duncan, there’s a C-Webb.
He just turned 22 years old and hasn’t even played 6,500 career minutes yet. He’s the best screen-and-roller since Young Robinson. Longer arms than McHale. Freakocious athlete like Hakeem. Light on his feet like Young Duncan. Drains 20-footers like Bosh. Protects the paint like KG.
And look, I don’t know how this will play out. But I have been attending NBA games since the 1973-74 season, back when my father carried me as a tiny 4-year-old into Boston Garden and hoped that I would fall in love with the sport. I did. Over the next 41 years (and counting), I watched maybe 25 up-and-coming stars who just seemed different from everyone else.
Young Durant was all arms and legs, and he weighed about 20 pounds, but he had that crazy release and you just knew something unforgettable would happen with him. Young Hakeem and Young Robinson were Greek gods; they moved at a different speed, and with a different level of coordination, than anyone I had ever seen. Young Duncan had those beautiful feet; he just glided effortlessly wherever he wanted to go.
Young MJ was indescribable; I’m not even going to betray the experience by cramming it into one sentence. Young Kobe and Young Penny looked like MJ and Magic had cloned themselves just for kicks.
Young Shaq was unfair around the basket; you couldn’t keep him away from the rim unless you had a two-by-four. Young Barkley was a bowling ball crossed with a runaway train. Young C-Webb looked like a combination of everything you’d ever liked about every power forward you’d ever liked. Young LeBron looked and played like he was 28 already; he’s the surest thing I have ever seen, a true prodigy in every sense.
So that’s the first stage: the old Gladwell Blink test
Tonight, we know that about 16,000 people will pack the Smoothie King Center to watch the Pelicans play the Bucks.
We know the Pelicans will probably win. And we have absolutely no idea what the Brow will do.
A quadruple-double? Can’t rule it out. 40 and 20? Not impossible. 35, 10 and 15? It’s in play. A game-winning off-balance 3 with two guys draped over him? Sure.
Anthony Davis might play 50,000 minutes over the next 15 to 20 years. He might climb one or two levels higher than this current one. He might win multiple MVPs and multiple titles; I would be shocked if that didn’t happen.
But he’s going to be young and great only once.
This doesn’t happen often.
MisterTambourineMan wrote:Didn't see this yet, but again Dthe
And, uh...well....it's me saying this so no one will give five fucks, but uh......getting realllllll irked about his KG stupidity. KG was and has never been a great rim protector, I know that but that's what Simmons went with? Ok. While blowing Webber? And Dirk? Ok. Cool. Sweet. *wank*
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