PLAYING FAVORITES, FOUR WEEKS INTO THE NBA SEASON

Look, it’s too early in the year to make any grand proclamations or whatever, but it’s certainly not too soon to point out what has caught our attention.  There’s never a shortage of things to talk about when it comes to basketball, even if some of them are rather peculiar.
On that note, let’s play a little “favorites”…

FAVORITE PLAYER NAME: CARLDELL “SQUEAKY” JOHNSON

True story: I was prepared to hand this award to Johnson even when I had mis-read his name as “Caldwell” Johnson, just because it brought back found memories of Caldwell Jones, that rebounding machine from way back. That’s what the NBA is missing these days, guys named Caldwell and Otis and Haywoode and stuff.

Then I took a second look and realized it was my main man Carldell Johnson, one of the heroes of UAB’s 2004 sweet 16 NCAA run, and I got all happy and shit. Seriously, what’s not to love about a 5’9 point guard who goes by the name Squeaky, finally made the NBA as a 28 year old rookie and is an absolute dead ringer for Lil’ Wayne?

FAVORITE GHASTLY EARLY SEASON SHOOTING PERCENTAGE: COREY MAGGETTE
Hey, it’s common knowledge in NBA circles that when players whose dominant skill is their athleticism lose it, they lose it in a hurry. Well Maggette is a 46% career shooter, but he’s also 32 years old now, which is right around the time most wing players are shot.

That would go a long way toward explaining why a career 16 point scorer is down to 12 a game this year. Trying to find a reasonable explanation for his thirty percent accuracy, well, that’s a different story.

I’ll tell you one thing for sure: Don’t think for a second that he’ll stop shooting anytime soon.

FAVORITE INFLATED EARLY SEASON RECORD THAT WILL COME CRASHING BACK TO EARTH ANYTIME NOW: UTAH


I mean it has to, right? Certainly, we know all about Utah’s inherent home court advantage (off to a 7-1 start), and we’re pretty certain the bulk of these wins have come against teams that failed to take them seriously. Also, I believe the list of teams that Al Jefferson has led to winning records in his seven year career currently stands at, um, zero. Nice little start and all, but I’d still be shocked to see this team win more games than it loses when all is said and done.

Runner up goes to Philadelphia and their 10-4 start that includes 9 wins against teams with a combined record of 41-99 (that’s 29%, folks) and a #1 ranking in John Hollinger’s goofy computer. Once the Sixers start playing good basketball teams, I’d expect them to level off just a bit.

Hey, the Sixers a good little team, but they shouldn’t be ranked #1 in anything. Not just yet, anyway.

FAVORITE OVERWEIGHT POINT GUARD WHO IS SOMEHOW SUCCEEDING AT RUNNING AN UP-TEMPO TEAM: RAYMOND FELTON

Great picture. I found it by googling “Raymond Felton” is fat. Also found a website called raymondfeltonisafatbastard.com. In a season where a surprising amount of heavy dudes dropped a ton of weight during the lockout, from Kendrick Perkins to Kevin Love to Eddy Curry and beyond, brother Ray decided to go the other way and finish what he appeared to start last year in New York. I don’t know where ESPN got 6’1, 198 LBS from, but I’m guessing it dates back to his days at North Carolina.

Thing is, Portland was thriving at the start of the season with this roly-poly directing their breakneck offense. Of course they’ve trailed off a bit in the last week, thanks is part to Felton’s 34% shooting, but something tells me he’s gotta drop the wait sooner or later if they keep playing at such a sped-up tempo.

I mean he just has to, right?

FAVORITE THING TO GET IRRATIONALLY MAD ABOUT: KEVIN LOVE


Sometimes these things just have a way of coming full circle. Four years ago I remember telling everyone that Love would be a great pro. Fat as he was, unathletic though he might be, he was a ballplayer, period. Great shooter, great rebounder, phenomenal outlet passer. And not that it is a practical skill or anything, but how many guys do you know that can fire a chest pass into the basket from 94 feet?



Sure, he struggled a bit in the first year or two, but it was mostly weight-related. Statistically though, his per-minute numbers were off the charts.

Now in his 4th season, Love appears to have gotten serious, or at least serious enough to drop a ton of weight and you know, actually get in great shape. Of course, he’ll be a Free-Agent in a year and half, so if ever there was a time to take this Basketball thing seriously, now is it.

You know that phenomenon by which a perennially underrated guy suddenly becomes overrated? Well, that’s what we’ve got with Love, a decent little player putting up gaudy numbers for a team going nowhere yet somehow getting a mountain of love from everyone.

Hell, Charles Barkley had the nerve to call him the best Power Forward in the game. I mean, that’s crazy talk.

What it Love, really? Well, he’s a solid NBA starting Power Forward, the kind of guy who would make the ideal third banana on a championship contender. Listen, 25 points and 15 rebounds a game is a nice trick, but a power forward shooting 43% and turning the ball over is not a good thing any way you slice it. and definitely not “best player on a good team”
 material.

Still, someone is gonna overpay this guy and torpedo their future as a result. Hell, teams are already lining up for the honor.

Don’t say you weren’t warned, people. 


Back with more in a bit…

-John Hathwell



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