This is my third season covering the NBA on this site.
I’ve discussed a great many topics, and taken stances that you may not have agreed with. You may have laughed at me and hated my guts at the same time. Which I’m sure was uncomfortable, to say the least.
This, of course, is natural. I don’t claim to be faultless, I just aim to present views that you haven’t thought of. We all have bias, myself included. I do my best to provide you with an unspoiled cross-section of NBA life, devoid of team-favoring, stereotypes, or preference. I only hope that you come to TSC with an open mind, ready to be entertained and stimulated…intellectually, that is.
I want you to question your own reasoning. Make your brain work a bit. I want you to challenge such topics as dress codes, gambling, and rookie marijuana. But I want you to challenge other conceptions. The triangle offense. Hack-A-Shaq. The seven-second possession. Never dismiss an idea immediately, because the game will be better for it.
Remember, the three-point shot was once seen as a cancer on the game. And, before that, so was racial integration. We are never as smart as we think we are.
Read with reason, and laugh at the funny parts. Too often we rush to conclusions, based on too little information. Let’s just enjoy the game for what it is: the glorious epitome of sport, the one game system where athletics and intelligence meet. Watch any game, and you will see something you’ve never seen before. That’s basketball.
That is what’s important. That is why you came here. To discuss and enjoy.
So, as you go on to read my review of off-season moves, trades, and pickups (as well as the rest of my postings this year) please realize that it is not the final verdict. Many variables must be realized, including Baron Davis and his glass bones. It doesn’t make this version wrong or right…it is just my take, my crazy view of things. It was written to be entertaining, and I hope you enjoy it.
As for me, my goal for the upcoming season is to follow that mantra. Challenge, and enjoy. One part critical, two parts ethereal. Serves millions.
Thank you so much.
- Kyle, TSCblogs.com
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TRADES AND ADDITIONS:
Elton Brand to 76ers: We could all see that Philly was on the cusp of a breakout season, culminated by pushing the Detroit Piston Playoff Institute LLC to six games in the first round last year. They have an absurd amount of young talent in Louis Williams IV, Thaddeus Young, and Jason Smith (three names that could double as Early American blacksmiths) and they have leadership in the two maturing Andre’s, Igoudala and Miller.
As Brand is coming off of that season-ending Achilles sprain last year, it’s obviously a decision with some risk. But if he proves even 80% as effective as his 20-10 days, he will be a valuable and necessary low-post addition in an open Eastern Conference. He can’t stick with the Dwight Howards anymore, but honestly, there are about 5 real centers left in the league. Even at 80%, he’s an asset. Who knows, maybe he has some Moses Malone in him.
Corey Maggette to Warriors: The reason Golden State got Maggette and not Boston? Because hardly anyone in Boston knows who the hell he is. I am convinced of this. I was sitting in a friend’s living room a couple weeks ago, watching a Red Sox game with about 10 other guys, and the Sox poll question of the night was: “Would you rather have James Posey or Corey Maggette on the Celtics?”
(At this time, please reference the player comparison below. You may note the 15-someodd point advantage, FG%, three-point FG%, and all other areas where Maggette outperformed Posey last season. Truth be told, they are hardly comparable, unless you like comparing yachts to inner tubes.)
To continue the story, the room was quiet for a moment as folks considered the question. You could tell there was serious thought going on, wheels turning. Finally, from the far corner of the room, someone shouts “Who the f*** is Corey Maggette?” and he was instantly met with a chorus of agreement. I remained speechless in enemy territory, and attention went back to the Sox game. And…the announcer said “I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know who Corey Maggette is.”
Boston, where Napoleonic city-centrism…happens. Boston loves them some Boston.
That said, Maggette will flourish in that style of ball in Golden State. He is a gunner with a reasonable-to-good outside game, someone who doesn’t have to be told twice to shoot. (And on Golden State this year, they need the production. Badly.) Add the fact he’s only 27, with at least six quality years of ball left in him. Of course, James Posey is two years older, but there’s no need to rub that in. He’s got a couple rings to keep him upbeat.
(By the way, I am a Posey fan. He brings a great deal to the table, plays D, and hustles in a way that doesn’t show in a box score. But he’s no All-Star, nor will he ever be, unless he defects and becomes Chinese. Maggette has that All-Star capability. If there was a “five-tool” player in the NBA, it’d be Josh Smith with Atlanta…but Maggette would be close.)
Baron Davis, Marcus Camby to Clippers: There’s no denying these are two All-Star caliber players as well. But there are several aspects of this addition that worries me.
First, they traded younger for older. As Hubie Brown would say, “You can NEVER, EVER do that.” (Of course, he only speaks in ultimates, and he looks like death and caffeine.) But the point holds. Camby, though still a superior talent, has a max of four more years of top production in this league. Baron is injury prone, as his bones are hollow. Like a bird. (Credit 30 Rock – funny show.)
Also, before the trade, this Clipper team was snakebit for the last two seasons. Remember, they just came off of a playoff birth in ‘06, and could have gone far without running into the 7-second offense Suns that year (a Finals favorite by all accounts). But then the Brand injury and the Shawn Livingston Knee Massacre struck, and they were on the outside looking in again. But this year, they would have gotten both players back, with the addition of Baron Davis and a second-year stud in Al Thorton. Their young guys had a year of experience. Things were peaking.
Sadly, Brand bolted for greener pastures and cheesesteaks. But if he could have been talked into staying, that’s definitely a viable playoff contender in any conference.
In the end, I say this is a smoke and mirrors scenario, a lateral move. I don’t think they will get much better, but I do think it will be interesting watching Baron and Camby try to assimilate. Over-under bets are now being taken on the day Baron breaks both ankles and the Clippers are doomed to another decade of mediocrity…unless Thorton dons a cape and becomes something unearthly….which is possible.
Richard Jefferson (to Bucks) for Yi Jianlian (to Nets): A draft-day deal, this has LeBron written all over it. By now you’ve heard it several thousand times, the Nets cleared cap space for the LeBron Auction of 2010. The Knicks are gearing up too. It would be a pity - no, a continuation of pity - in New York if both teams tank and LeBron sticks in Cleveland. Of course, there’s still Chris Bosh and a bunch of other free agents from the ‘04 draft, all of which will be available. It’s worth the gamble.
Speaking of LeBron, this showdown of New York franchises is going to be incredible. Like Randy Savage v. The Hulk circa 1990 incredible. If that doesn’t get fans back to their seats, nothing will, and both teams should bolt New York like the NFL left me (sob) back in LA.
But I feel for Rich Jeff. (Imagine if he was nicknamed Dick Jefferson - he’d be a completely different player, possibly donning a mustache) Anyway, he’s now doomed to obscurity. He was in two NBA Finals, and was one of the top pure scorers in the league for at least 6 years. But he comes down awkwardly one game two years ago, becomes injury-plagued, and the guy gets shipped to Milwaukee (hardly New York) for a completely unproven Yi and a “good-for-one-LeBron“ ticket. If the cards dealt out differently, he could have had a career on par with James Worthy. Instead, he’s another Cedric Ceballos. This was just his blindfolded dunk.
The Olympics: Man, that was a close one. Imagine if they lost. I mean, just imagine the consequences!
Aside from one of the most invigorating gold-metal games in history, and aside from easily the most watched basketball game in history (China v. USA) these were a very entertaining games.
But, having taken it all in, these Olympics were most favorable for only two players: Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez.
No one on the USA roster really stood out above the others (minus Kobe’s 4-point shot). But internationally, we were given the first glances at many future NBA’ers. China’s Sun Yi, Spain’s Other Gasol, to name a couple. But no other potential stars shown brighter than Rubio and Fernandez.
Rudy was lights-out shooting. Normally this does not translate well to the NBA game. But his shots were on-the-move, with a defender’s knee in his thigh and a forearm on his hip. THAT, my friends, translates well. If he can take the beating of the NBA (which is, as we all discovered, MUCH more physical than the international game) and still get his points off, well, let’s just say a fantasy pick on him won’t be wasted.
And as for Ricky Rubio, I mean, here’s your next sensation. The kid has the on-court poise I’ve only seen in a handful of players. He seems perfectly at home out there, regardless of the players around him twice his age. His passes were ballsy and crisp, his shot is not only reliable, but improving (remember, everyone’s jumper gets better with age.) And, of course, once the American public-at-large gets a look at him and his undeniable success, he will get press-a-plenty.
I mean, I’m not happy to admit it, but he’s got teen heart-throb written all over him. Rich, foreign, long hair, tall…man, buy stock in this kid’s jersey as soon as it comes out.
And no, I’m not falling for him. I mean, I don’t think I am.
So that’s a status update. Focus pieces and predictions will begin right before the regular season.