Not like this is a new sentiment or anything, but fuck this season has flown by in a blur of Blake Griffin dunks and Tony Parker reckless-foul-drawing forays to the bucket. This is the kind of stuff that haunts me when it’s mid-August and I’ve got nothing to watch but the Little League World Series and shitty Pre-season NFL. Oh, the misery.
So yeah, here’s some stuff about the first half-season of basketball contests and whatnot:
(Wes Lilliman) The Spurs.
That was painful to write. I hate that team with such vitriol. I want it to finally END. I want Duncan and crew to get old or disgruntled and for the team to spiral into a 25-year period of Clipper-esque disarray. I want Hedo Turkoglu to get traded there for the final years of his career so he can experience all of that, as well. Sadly, that won’t happen because the organization is too strong and the system is too solid.
This year’s team is just another finely crafted mix of the aforementioned veterans, excellent role players, and more spot-on coaching. The numbers don’t lie. It will be interesting to watch them in the second half of the season, as they have a lot of stretches on the road. I should also note that this doesn’t change how I predicted their season would end (no trip to the Finals). Still, credit where credit is due, even if I really don’t want to.
(John Hathwell) Yeah, hard to argue with San Antonio. Pretty sure everyone outside of that city is more or less sick of that team being tin the mix every year, but you gotta give all the credit in the world to an organization that is more or less the envy of all Pro sports franchises, not just the NBA ones.
Of course, this is still a firm wait-and-see type deal. As great as they’ve played so far, this team still isn’t going anywhere without solid playoff performances from all three of the stars, and honestly when was the last time that happened?
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
(WL) Derrick Rose. In all honesty, there are a handful of guys that I wanted to pick, but I went with D-Rose. I’ll admit that I’m a big fan of his, but the reason I give him the nod is because that young, developing team has been hit with big injuries left and right, and he’s kept them together and succeeded. I don’t even think he’s the best PG in the league and he’s crazy inefficient sometimes, but they really fall apart when he’s not on the floor. I watched the worst quarter of basketball the other night between the Bulls and Mavericks where, with Rose on the bench, Chicago tried to run offense utilizing the likes of OMER ASIK. It was terrible. Rose makes things happen out there and is difficult for any team to contain. They lack any sort of significant push without him.
(JH)-I have a general disdain for individual awards in a sport as team oriented as Basketball. I mean, ideally this award goes to the guy who truly is the Most valuable to his team, as in this team would suck or be substantially worse th
By this criteria it still has to be LeBron or Kobe for me. Take Kobe off the Lakers and they are a nice little team with no leader, lucky to win 45 games and sneak into the playoffs.With him they’ve won the last two NBA Titles. I mean, what is more “valuable” than that?
By the same token, take LeBron off Miami and the Heat might be worse than that. Wade, Bosh and a bunch of jayvee dudes would be lucky to go .500 in the East this year. Sure, Amar’e and Rose have been phenomenal , but I’ve always felt too many people have a tendency to look for the splashy choice rather than the solid one when it comes to MVP.
Fucksake, Karl Malone actually won it during Jordan’s reign of terror. I mean, were the writers bored or some shit?
Need I say more?
FAVORITE PLAYER TO WATCH
(WL) Blake Griffin.
Unreal. The Clippers are a must-see event every night they play. Say that out-loud prior to this year, and you’d either get laughed at or hit. Not now. This fucking guy makes me absolutely giddy. I feel like a little kid again when I get the chance to watch him. His MISSES make highlight reels. I haven’t gotten such pleasure out of watching a big man (or anybody, for that matter) since Shawn Kemp was really on his maniacal dunking spree in the mid-90s. Griffin is a physical presence who you can’t take your eyes off of. He’s a spectacle. I swear to God, I’m going to watch Griffin throwdown on a break and cause the entire backboard to literally burst into flames one day soon. Or he’ll jump over the top of an entire starting five. Anything is possible. Oh, and he’s putting up some decent numbers, if you haven’t checked.
(JH) Blake is the logical choice, no doubt.
Would you hold against me if I said Monta Ellis?
I mean, Blake is great because he’s capable of god only knows what, and much like a big -time prizefight, all of the moments he’s on the floor are spent in anticipation of what might happen. Several times a night he usually delivers, and for that reason you never watch a whole Blake Griffin game and feel cheated.
For me personally though, I like to watch Ellis from bell to bell, often dominating the ball (and thus having more opportunity to dazzle), occasionally out of control, but more often than not flying around like a bigger Allen Iverson, making impossible shots and crashing to the floor with great abandon. The guy is far from a finished product, but he just might be the most dynamic scoring guard (please take time to understand precisely what I’m saying here) since Jordan hung ’em up.
Throw in the awesome atmosphere the Warriors play in, and I gotta go with Ellis.
(WL) Cleveland Cavaliers. As Jerry Stackhouse said the other night (regarding the Cavs), “Come on, man.”
What a way to step up and respond to all of the shit you got after the talents were taken to South Beach. This team has some good basketball players. No, seriously. Apparently, it doesn’t matter. As of this writing, they have 8 wins and one of the worst losses in NBA history. They’ve left such a poor impression that I actually look at teams like Minnesota and Sacramento and think, “Well, it could be worse.” Minnesota has Kevin Love. Sacramento has Tyreke Evans. Cleveland’s main selling point is probably Antawn Jamison. Actually, their main selling point is probably, “… come watch this so you can feel better about your own lives.” Where’s that raging idiot, Dan Gilbert, been? I want some more championship proclamations.
(JH) Sacramento Kings. Like I said not too long ago, this franchise is more or less fucked. Horrible roster, rundown old barn, dwindling fanbase living in constant fear of the team moving elsewhere. Unlike places like Toronto, Minnesota or Cleveland where the teams are merely shitty, Sacramento is horrible, saddled with a head case for a star player and facing NBA extinction, after which they will officially go back to being nothing but a Cowtown.
THIS INTERMISSION IS SPONSORED BY THE BIRDMAN
Because really, the league needs more guys just like him.
Anyway, on with the show…
BETTER THAN WE THOUGHT YOU’D BE
(WL) Philadelphia 76ers. Alright, so this is a bit of a stretch, but I have to give credit to this team. They’ve hung just below .500 and lost some close games against big opponents. I know they’re in the East and they’re certainly not what I would call a top team, but still. They’re doing a lot with what they’ve got and doing it in the first year of a new coach. A definite shot at the playoffs for Philly – and I commend them.
(JH) Gotta be the Hornets. Easy to forget since they’ve cooled off a bit, but I don’t think anyone imagined they’d get off to an 11-1 start with a roster that’s hardly impressive.
I guess anything is possible when you have a reasonably (but not totally) Chris Paul and a new coaching staff hellbent on playing defense.
Of course the better teams are now exposing their last of inside bulk and scoring prowess, but they are still likely to finish the season with a better record than anyone could have expected.
WE’RE NOT MAD AT YOU…JUST DISAPPOINTED
-(WL) Hoston Rockets. What can I tell you, I expected more.
It’s not that they’re terrible, but I expected more. They have a good group, but they wasted a bunch of time (yet again) with Yao and it just hasn’t gotten going like I thought it would. I fully expect them to make a move before it’s all said and done, and they need to if they really want to
contend in the Western Conference. Hell, they’re on the cusp of not making the postseason right now. It’s too bad they don’t play on the other side because they’d be a sure in, but that’s the way it goes. Regardless, they’ll need to step it up in the 2nd half.
(JH) I’d say Milwaukee, but it kind of seemed inevitable given all the hype they were getting after winning 48 games last year. Turns out signing Corey Maggette, John Salmons and Drew Gooden to long-term deals was a bad move after all. Who’da thunk?
My real answer? Honestly, I’ll go with the entire Pacific Division, since it can be argued that every single team has under-achieved thus far. The four teams not named the Lakers are a combined 66-106. That’s some shameful business, for sure.
HERE’S YOUR CHANCE TO CHANGE YOUR FINALS PICK WITHOUT BEING JUDGED!
(WES)- I wouldn’t change the matchup. I still have faith in both Boston and L.A. I won’t count out Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant until I’m forced to. Both of these teams have proven that they know exactly when to hit the gas. To me, the Spurs are the only team out West that can challenge the Lakers when it matters, and even then, my money’s on L.A. As far as Boston goes, I actually feel more strongly about them taking the East than I did before. As long as they go into the playoffs injury-free, they’re the best team.
Might I now pick Boston to beat the Lakers in the Finals? Maybe. But I’m banking on Kobe having a little something for the many that have sort of downgraded him to “aging icon’ status. He is aging, of course, but not enough. Still the best player in the game. Lakers in 7.
(JH) yeah, I ain’t changing nothin’. Bottom line, I still don’t see the Lakers losing 4 games to the same team in the West. Perhaps I lack vision or something. More likely, there isn’t a team man enough to do it. It’s impossible to change my opinion regarding San Antonio because let’s face it, May is a looooong ways off.
As for the East, i do love the new look Magic, but I don’t see anyone beating an even remotely-healthy Boston. Not Orlando, not Miami, and definitely Chicago.
Those old coots are just too cagey.
We’ll be back tomorrow with part 2 of our mid-season awards, featuring categories of our own (wacky) creation. In the meantime, check out 2001 Cee-lo and his wacky outfits. The Black Elvis get-up is BALLER.