PLAYING FAVORITES IN THE NBA (THE SEQUEL!)


(Time for part two of “playing favorites”. Part one can be found here.)

FAVORITE TEAM THAT KEEPS WINNING DESPITE LOSING THEIR BEST PLAYER: ATLANTA HAWKS


First off, the Hawks haven’t exactly been the kind of team that inspires people, even if they win more than they lose. Blame it on the lackluster playoff showings or the general malaise that surrounds the them. Whatever the case, they are generally regarded as the very definition of an above-average team.
Funny thing is they actually jumped out to a nice start, beating the likes of Miami and Chicago en route to a 7-4 record. Then, they lost Al Horford for 3-4 months with a torn pectoral muscle.
That’s a wrap for the Hawks, right?
Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Atlanta has won their first 4 since Horford went down, with Joe Johnson averaging 25 a game in that span.
Now, nobody is calling them championship contenders or anything, but the Hawks still have enough talent to compete, and their crusty veteran bench has kept them close every night.
This is still a playoff team for sure, and it could get interesting if Horford can make it back in time for the post-season.

FAVORITE JOYOUS RALPH LAWLER MOMENT: CHAUNCEY BILLUPS’ GAME WINNER AGAINST DALLAS

As I have covered in the past, Ralph Lawler has been waiting for a great Clipper team for over 30 years. Now that he has one, he’s not gonna waste his chances to shine, whenever they should arise. Yeah, he’s been saying “bingo!” after three pointers for as long as I can remember. Question is, has he ever said it quite like this?
Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, really.
FAVORITE END OF AN ERA: THE BIG THREE CELTICS


And really, it just breaks my heart. Who didn’t want to see everyone’s favorite arrogant dickheads continue to run roughshod over the league, taunting and playing tough guy all the way? Better yet, who is going to feel sorry for the demise of a dude like Kevin Garnett, who is gonna be just as remembered  for his maniacal, hyper-competitive nature as he is for his Hall-of-Fame skills.
i mean, this is the guy who pioneered the art of goaltending shots after the whistle has blown, for god only knows what reason.
 I’m sure in his mind he started doing it as a way to annoy or intimidate, but mostly he just comes off as a nutjob. Even worse, most of the league has followed suit.
Oh, and trust me when I say that sooner or later some idiot is gonna blow his knee out doing this. Probably gonna take something like that to put and end to this silliness.
Alas, I’ve gotten off track here.
As tough and valiant as these guys were as a unit, it’s likely all over now after stumbling to a 5-9 start, and there won’t be any tears shed outside of the Boston area. Only question now is whether or not they can rebuild on the fly, and that will depend on what Danny Ainge can get for Allen, Pierce and Garnett in the trade market. One way or the other, it will be interesting to see what happens.
FAVORITE TIDBIT I DUG UP WHILE DIGGING AROUND ON BASKETBALLREFERENCE.COM: THE TERM “POINT GUARD” CAN BE TAKEN LITERALLY THESE DAYS

What can I say, I’m a huge stat nerd. It’s not uncommon for me to spend hours on the internet looking up everything from World B. Free’s career scoring average (20.3 per game) to how many technical fouls Rasheed Wallace had in his career (304, the all-time record) or whatever other wacky thing I can think of.
So yeah, I got bored and decided to figure out which position featured the most players who were leading their teams in scoring and to my surprise, it turned out to be point guard. Here’s how it broke down:
Point guard 9, small forward 7, shooting guard 5, power forward 4, center 4.
Kind of surprising, even though the game is geared toward guard play now more than ever with the rules against contacting a player facing the basket and the virtual extinction of the old school post-up players. Still, that result surprised me.
Point guards, indeed.
FAVORITE FRONT OFFICE DISASTER/”I TOLD YOU SO!” MOMENT: THE KNICKS’ 6-10 START


Man. it’s just the gift that keeps on giving.
Left with an impossibly thin team after giving up everything but the kitchen sink for Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks look like a lottery-bound team after all the hype that surrounded last year’s blockbuster trade.
Compounding their problems, they spent the last 14 million they had left in cap space on Tyson Chandler, who is a nice role player to be sure but hardly a dude who should be commanding that kind of cash.
Now, they are stuck with guys who are in over their heads (Iman Shumpert, shooting 38%), guys who are being asked to do too much (Toney Douglas, shooting 32%) and guys who can’t do much, period. Even worse, the two stars are struggling mightily because they’re being asked to carry 10 imp bodies on their backs.
Last February this was a young, deep team that was winning more than it lost and actually had some cap space to improve their team dramatically in the off-season. Then, they panicked and gave it all away for a superstar they likely would have signed for nothing in a few months.
Now, they are 3 man team with no cap space, no momentum and a ghastly 20-28 record during the Carmelo Anthony era.
Next up: Mike D’Antoni gets scapegoated for not winning with this crappy roster. Bank on it.
-John Hathwell
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