Two weeks into the season, and it’s time for us to start making judgments and bold statements about how things are going to play out.

Seriously, it’s a little early for all of that, but we just went over FOUR MONTHS WITHOUT BASKETBALL, so forgive us if we feel like talking (or arguing, in some cases) about it.

For the sake of professionalism, I’ve edited out the name-calling.


Wes Liliman: As of this writing, the Rockets have one win – and that was against Minnesota. However, they’ve been victims of a pretty brutal opening stretch, the result of a combination of mostly tough opponents and several close losses. Steve Blake and the Lakers narrowly beat them on opening night, and every other team they’ve faced is likely playoff bound (sans Golden State, but that was the score-all-you-can game where Monta Ellis went for 46 points). The point is, don’t look at the record and say, “Well, Houston sucks.” They don’t. They’re a strong group. Chalk it up to a slow start.

John Hathwell: I dunno. I mean, yeah they have plenty of talent on the roster, but they look all goofed up from a chemistry standpoint. What I’ve seen so far is a bunch of guys getting their
stats, a confused team (and coaching staff) trying to figure out the Yao experiment, and a back court with two “shoot first, shoot second” players in Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin. Kind of telling that they won their first game AFTER Brooks went down with an injury and Ishmael Smith came in looking to set everyone else up.

Maybe that’s why they declined Brooks’ option? Whatever is going on, I’m sure they’ll get it worked out, but this season might be a wash.

So yes and no, I guess. Team is good talent-wise, but I’m not sure their record will be.
WL: I have a feeling that the Yao thing will work itself out sooner than later. The Rockets should at least hope for that, because they need to commit to some sort of approach if they want to build cohesion. He’ll either get hurt soon or not. They have to move forward, regardless.

It’s true that the talent is their own worst enemy. Martin needs to be the primary scorer and Brooks can facilitate. Problem is, Brooks probably won’t be happy accepting that role. One can only hope that he’s matured since the days where he would respond to adverse situations like deliberately elbowing Ryan Appelby in the face during a Pac-10 Tournament game.

All I’m saying is that they got a tough draw early.

JH:  Awwww man, who would go dirty on a sweetheart like Appelby?

 Seriously though, even if we’re only 6 games in, 1-5 qualifies as a real deficit in the cutthroat Western Conference. I guess it’s worth reserving judgement for at least a few weeks, especially because I have a funny feeling they might be better off with Smith and Kyle Lowry as the point guards.


WL: I don’t particularly like the Jazz, but I’ve had a chance to watch them quite a bit so far. I have no idea what to think. I thought that they might be the #2 team out West (maybe I should have saved that proclamation for Portland) but, to me, they look like they have a long way to go in the chemistry department. It doesn’t have that “smooth Jazz” feel like it usually does. It looks like they’re trying to find the best combinations to go with, but a lot of disjointed play has come out of those efforts. All you had to do was watch Deron Williams yell at Gordon Hayward in the middle of a damn play to get the idea. Maybe it’s all just Gordon Hayward’s fault…

JH: I was watching that game live, and I felt bad for Hayward, and Williams for that matter. Thing is, this is more or less a whole new roster for the Jazz, and we know it takes a minute to learn the Jerry Sloan system. 

That said, this doesn’t look like his kind of roster, and so far Al Jefferson has been good game, bad game. Probably gonna boil down to how healthy they are, but I’m not totally sold on this team, especially as any kind of serious noise-maker in the playoffs. 

Oh, and Williams’ temperament seems to have changed noticeably in recent years, and not for the better. I mean, there’s a fine line between being a leader and doing the Phillip Rivers negative body language pee-pee dance every time something pisses you off.

WL: I saw it live too, and mostly just felt bad for Hayward (and glad for Hayward when he promptly scored on that play). If Williams is the leader everyone says he is, then he pulls Hayward aside during a timeout and explains things. The kid’s gotten thrown into the fire and he’s not exactly Wall/Griffin caliber.

This is why I prefer Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, and even Steve Nash to Williams right now as far as top PGs are concerned. Paul has poise. Nash is the ultimate team guy and knows how to handle personalities. Rondo does a lot of yapping and gesturing, but I’ll be damned if that isn’t necessary when you’re surrounded by the cluster of egos known as the Boston Celtics. Williams is a great player, but great leader? Not so sure.

JH: Well, I hate the ranking stuff, but I’ll definitely take Williams over Rondo and Nash, mainly because one is an offensive liability and the other is 48 years old and losing his hair.

And to be fair, Paul is known as one of the grumpier players in the league.


WL: Eh?! 4-2!


WL: John Wall has been impressive and is the ONLY reason to watch the Wizards, but the rookie of the year debate is already closed. Enter Blake Griffin:

The only threat to Griffin is, well, Blake Griffin. His play goes down like Rex Ryan at a buffet: 100 MPH and you probably should just get out of the way. He already looks like the most dominant player on the court on almost every night and has the demeanor of a guy who has been doing this for 10 years. This has caused me to utter the following phrase:

“The Clippers are on TV tonight. Awesome!”

Now, I’ve said that many times in the past, but it was always LOADED with sarcasm. Not anymore. Maybe next, I’ll be genuinely excited for the next Dave Matthews Band release…

JH: Here’s the thing with Griffin, and it’s sort of a good news/bad news deal.

yeah, he’s a superfreak, and sure, he plays his ass off, but he’s got a long way to go in his understanding of the game.

It’s in the little things, like when to do what, and when not to.

If you saw the Spurs game, you saw Tim Duncan (and the whole team defense) completely expose the flaws in his game, sagging off and allowing him to shoot jumpers and IMMEDIATELY doubling him when he came anywhere near the basket. The book on Griffin at this point is to make him beat you from the outside (duh), and time and again I’ve watched teams give him the open shot, only instead of taking it, he tries to use the space to make a wild foray to the basket that usually ends in an offensive foul. I mean, I haven’t seen a stat on it, but I’m pretty sure he’s leading the league in charges.

Yeah, I know he’s only played seven NBA games, but right now he reminds me of a young Running Back who knows everything about running full speed and nothing about following blocks and finding holes.

Bottom line is, he’s gonna need to learn how to slow down if he wants to speed up.

WL: Perfectly valid, but these are normal rookie flaws. Even the best of them have to adjust to the game at the pro level. I’ve already seen him use a little of that space given to just get within his range and then take a jumper (often using THE GLASS, by the way). I just think he knows his limits to an extent, so if he establishes a decent outside shot and lets the game come to him, he’ll be in his way. He’s inexperienced, but my goodness, the upside is massive.

JH: Yeah, so was Shawn Kemp’s. Next thing you know, Kemp was MASSIVE…

Now that I’ve got the bad jokes out of my system…

Yeah, so I just get nervous about Griffin. Why couldn’t the poor guy have been drafted by Toronto or Memphis or something. I mean, anywhere but the FUCKING CLIPPERS.


WL: Villanueva tweeted about Garnett calling him a “cancer patient,” and I had a few reactions. First, I didn’t understand the point of the tweet, because Villenueva’s main motivation had to have been to expose Garnett as a lunatic and a moron, and we all already know about that. Secondly, I wanted to know how Garnett would respond to the general outrage, and he came back with the “cancer to the team and the league” reasoning.

Sure. I’m sure that’s what he said. I’m sure that, when Mitch “Blood” Green called Mike Tyson a “homo,” it was homo sapiens reference (you know, a fellow human!). 

Garnett has since either been blasted by the media (as he should be) or heralded as one of the “great trash-talkers in NBA history.” Come on. You’ve got a perennial dud in Charlie Villenueva in front of you, and that’s the best you can come up with? That’s not great trash-talk – that’s Garnett running at the mouth, talking to himself and anybody who will listen like a high-profile homeless man with multiple personality disorder. I still like him more than Paul Pierce, though.

JH: This whole thing is beyond silly to me, even sillier than Ines Sainz and the Jenn Sterger/ Bret Favre weenis deal Just a totally waste of time when there are plenty of Basketball related things to talk about right now.

It’s pretty simple for me, being that I’ve played basketball my whole life-guys talk shit on the court. 


I mean, nob
ody can deny that Kevin Garnett is a maniac, and that he’s almost assuredly lying when he said that his actual statement was “Charlie Villanueva, you are a cancer, not only to your team but to Dr. James Naismith, his peach basket, and the entire history of Basketball. Kurtis Blow would be so ashamed of you right now” or whatever the fuck he claims to have said. Likewise, nobody can deny that joking about Cancer is fucked up, not to mention unnecessary.

But you know what bothers me most? KG’s utter lack of creativity.

I mean, I can think of AT LEAST 10 things off the top of my head that would be funnier (and more damning) then what he said, and none of them would be out of bounds morally.

It’s Charlie Villanueva we’re talking about. Did you watch the 2005 NCAA Tournament??? Have you SEEN his stats, or his contract?

Step your game up, big ticket.

WL: “Creative” and “Kevin Garnett” go together like “meaningful basketball playing” and “Charlie Villenueva.” See… it’s not that hard, Kev.

JH: Personally, I also go with something from this song when I’m in a tight spot. hasn’t let me down even once:


WL: Chicago has a lot of talent, but kinda like Utah, it’s a little bit of a mess right now. They look confused out there – a lot. Joakim Noah is playing GREAT basketball, Taj Gibson is looking very solid, and Derrick Rose is establishing himself as a preeminent scorer. Of course, he shoots the ball almost 30 times a game and tries to do too much a lot of the time, but the offensive production is there.

The problems, however, are widespread. Luol Deng is shooting well, but looks completely lost sometimes on defense (witness how he handled high-screens in the recent Bulls/Celtics games). Kyle Korver is, similarly, a bit of a liability on defense and looks tentative in the offensive end. And Ronnie Brewer has looked more out of place than Tom Cruise did that one time that he went on BET’s “106th and Park.”

Bulls apologists (including myself) are going with the rationalization that Boozer’s return will add a much-needed element on both ends of the floor, along with citing the fact that Chicago has hung tight with good teams on the road. Of course, they also got embarrassed by the Knicks at home. Regardless, if Chicago is going to be the sleeper team in the East that many predicted they would be, then things need to get rolling and Carlos is going to have be a consistent, productive force. Pardon me if I’m a little nervous…

JH: Too early to gloat just yet, but I’m even more convinced this team is overrated after watching them play five games.

So far, they can’t shoot from deep, nobody is a dependable scorer other than the point guard, and Tom Thibodeau’s defensive wizardry has yet to materialize. Building a championship defense is alot easier to do with Rondo, Perkins and Garnett than it is with Rose, Deng, and Korver. Oh, and just wait til they get Carlos Boozer back. If it took only a week for Thibs to bench Rose for the entire 4th quarter for not guarding anybody, i can only imagine what it will be likes with Booze.

Thing is, this team just isnt as good as people think it is. Rose is a great player, but significantly less so in the half-court offense. I’ve always loved Noah, but he’s limited in what he does. Boozer, well he’s fools gold, but when he’s healthy you have to game plan for him or he’ll kill you with pick & rolls and fade-aways.

Of course, it all comes back to John Paxson for me. If they had a GM with a clue, they would have nothing but shooters and defenders surrounding those guys. Instead. they have generic athletes likes Ronnie Brewer who can’t shoot a lick, and guys like CJ Watson who can’t do anything.

Give me a smart GM, and I’d like this team a whole lot more than I do now.


JH: I Confess I’ve only seen them play once this year, but I have to say I’m at loss to explain how this team is 6-0 to start the season.

Sure, a quick look at the stats tells me they’ve found a good mix defensively, and it looks like the offense features enough firepower to keep teaming from sending 3 guys at Chris Paul, but I still can’t imagine this team is talented enough to make any real noise come april.

Forgive me if I don’t have faith in Roberto Begnini and Taye Diggs (or Marco Belinelli and Emeka Okafor if you’re confused) when the chips are down.

That said, this start serves as a reminder to anyone who jumped off Paul’s bandwagon prematurely.

WL: Paul and David West have been awesome. New Orleans has a decent home crowd. They’ve played a kind of confused-looking Milwaukee team twice.

Those aren’t the best reasons, but it’s all I’ve got. I don’t understand what the hell is going on, either.


JH: And don’t gimme any of that “nobody wins the title in November” malarkey, either. 

I mean, HAVE YOU SEEN this team play yet? More to the point, did you see them dissect the Blazers on Sunday night without breaking a sweat?

Let’s get real here, this team is so good that they are likely to beat up on the good teams worse than the crappy ones, as evidenced by the way they played against Toronto, doing just enough to pull out a 5 point win over a team whose starters might struggle to beat the Lakers’ bench.

Hey, the season is long and alot can happen between now and April. That said, if nobody on this team suffers a major injury, it’s gonna be bad news for everyone else.


WL: They’re the best when motivated to be. They’ve also played two road games that haven’t exactly been a long trip away from home (against the terrible Kings and a Phoenix team who knows the Lakers have their number). Let ’em head out East and see if that record holds…

… but seriously, pretty much everyone has picked them to win it all and emphasize that the only way they won’t will be because of injuries. Kobe’s motivated to show his knee is fine (which it probably isn’t, but he’ll never let you know that), Gasol is playing like the postseason never stopped, and Odom is absolutely on fire right now. Add to that the usual solid play of Fisher and the like, and what look to be phenomenal offseason developments (Blake, Barnes, and Shannon Brown’s improvement), and look out.

The key to bringing this team down would be a Jim Jackson-Toni Braxton-Jason Kidd scenario. The type of dissention can break a team from within. How about Kobe cheats on the lady again, stealing Sharapova away from Vujacic? Nah, they’d just boot Sasha and get on with the season. Something more electric is needed… 

… Barnes and Artest fighting for the love of Rihanna while Chris Brown sits courtside on a nightly basis. Let that circus play out, and you might see a team suffer. 


JH: well, that’s easy. It’s the old “we’re the really young team snuck up on everyone last year and won more games than we should have by defending our asses off and now that everyone thinks we’re so great we do to, and thus we aren’t guarding people this season and as a result we don’t look as good and we got blown out by the FUCKING CLIPPERS” syndrome.

Happens all the time.

Seriously, I wouldn’t go getting all worked up about this. After all, this is still Kevin Durant’s team, and knowing what we know about him I’d say it’s only a matter of time before the get back to defending like grown men.

Well, either that or Scottie Brooks ends up on the endangered species list.

WL: I’ll go with a little “sophomore slump” reasoning, as well. There’s video of this team out there now from last year, and they did nothing to mix it up (sans the addition of Cole Aldrich, but seriously now). Point is, teams are ready for OKC this time around – a mini-Miami in terms of having a little bit of a target on their chest(s). I expect them to rebound once Durant starts to get into more of a groove and Westbrook settles down a little (he’s awesome but he’s a little erratic at times). They need to chill out and move it around a little more. They’ll be alright.

add the sons of son bowie on twitter @:


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