One eye open like

I know some readers fondly believe that I spent too long harping on the Amare cataclysm, but I'm beginning to worry that my obsession carried the sting of prophecy. The season hasn't even started yet, and already T-Mac, and New Vince, arguably two of the most important reasons to watch the NBA, are ailing (see yesterday's roll call of "things we're not excited about"). Both Arenas and Marbury have been assaulted in the eyepiece, neither seriously but nonetheless a warning of how easily sizzle can turn to must. And, perhaps auguring the Spur-ification of the Association (in contrast with the Suns-ization that '04-05 bravely suggested), the Bucks are the buzz team of the moment.

With a "big trade," a "hyped rookie," "edgy off-season acquisition," and some "internal drama," they are the closest the media can find to a roiling circus of basketball conquest; not surprisingly, they are also about as vanilla, and lackluster, a franchise as you can find north of the Alamo. I find it more than a little shocking that even the "personality" aspect of the Association has somehow been subjected to a whitewashing, such that Middle America's forgotten NBA hole can, as if through some sort of banally ruthless engineering, end up as ground zero for the kind of unscripted mayhem that, hate it or love it, even Stern admits is part of this league. This has always been a league of self-commodification, but formerly you sensed that players were in on the scheme, perhaps even earnestly styling themselves as be-sneakered emissaries to the outside world. Here, though, they're pawns in a game, as if the soap opera fits fine with that fan's view of the Association as long as it's only so much toothless kvetching. Certain fans actually want their NBA players to embody a lot of what they loathe, just not in such threateningly empowered terms.

Let me repeat that in brail so you blind fools can hear me: the Bucks are a government experiment to bring the FreeDarko worldview to the undeserving sports fans who spend most of their time reveling in the NFL. Revolt accordingly.

While I'm going full gripe, let me speak my encumbered peace about a new, disturbing trend I like to call "free agency is the new draft." I'm getting sick of cutting and pasting HTML, but I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone desperate enough to look at this site regularly that 2002's befuddling draft crop is coming up for extensions. Among others, Dunleavy II and Nene are looking at contracts in the fifty to sixty mill? GM PLEEEEZE!!!!!! This isn't even the strange, strange case of blessed 2001 Draft alums Curry, Chandler, and Kwame, all of whom toiled in the shadow of the MONJO (Myth of Next Jermaine O'Neal, for those not rocking their own mental FreeDarko glossary); Junior and the artist formerly known as Hilario (did anyone but me, at this moment, grasp what an amusing last name that is? if I make a reference to "the Great Hilario," will I be the only person reading this who cares for the Richard Thompson reference?) have both had ample PT and appear to have more or less fully-formed NBA games. Yet still we hear of front offices drooling over potential, athleticism, skill sets, wing span. . . It would be one thing if we were talking about Larry Hughes, who at least had one masterful season of putting it all together before garnering big money, or Dalembert, whose eventual brilliance is just a matter of a favorable system and consistently supportive coach. With Nene and Dunleavy II, though, we're basically seeing them splash into the market as if they've still got an island's worth of growing to go, like they're projects being assessed for Draft Night.

(Best believe there is a difference between killing it in limited opprtunities, like Michael Redd once did, and gambling that a player can go from incomplete to monstrous solely on the strength of being given the opportunity to start.)

If anyone thinks I am basing this discussion solely on the current Duns and 'Ne situations, you're right. I am not sure if this applies in any other case, yet, and I have not the time nor the energy to find out such blushful answers. But look, these two represent what I think of as a "ready-to-play" draft archetypes: a talented but seasoned underclassman, and an athletic, gutsy low post Euro. Apart from elderly overseasmen and four-year starters, there are no draft entrants more expected to make things happen, soon, than the two categories of reason represented by Dunleavy and Nene. Thusly, pretending they're still speculative properties goes against the last five years or so of Drafterly logic.

Besides, even the 2001 high school class had to show something before they could make some noise as free agents. And yes, I count the early going of Jordan, Year 2, as Kwame's showing you something. The only time this attitude toward a still-raw, as-of-yet-unproven former first-rounder made some sense was when the Bobcats jumped on

but in the context of the Kings, he might as well have been a high schooler being brought along purposefully slow, and most people knew that "Gerald Wallace" and "polished offensive game" are an oxymoronic pair if ever there was one.

As compared with "polished offensive game" and

which are merely paradoxical and thus endlessly exciting.

(Just in case no one's picked up on this, what little actual fact I do make use of comes to us via Inside Hoops or YAYbasketball!. Thanks for keeping a blogger all fuelled up, all the time.)

P.S. That T-Mac cameo in the new Mike Jones video never happened.


At 10/28/2005 3:22 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

if we put in word verification for blocking spam-comments, can the "words" be names of euros?

At 10/28/2005 8:10 PM, Anonymous styler said...

haha even charley rosen drools over nenes potential while dogging everyone else (another notable exception: stephen hunter!?)

At 10/30/2005 12:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I feel you on your comments about Nene. I still feel that, unlike Dunleavy, there's still some chance for upside there.

Dude is only 23; he's been through at least three coaching/system changes in his three years and has yet to get consistent PT.

Yeah, he's got no hops but he runs the floor better than any big man in the NBA. In short, he's a unique talent who could conceivable continue to develop with steady minutes and a clearly defined role.

At 10/30/2005 12:53 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

he doesn't block shots or assert himself as a rebounder, and there's no particularly impressive streak of his offense. while he could refine his post play some, you know what the ceiling is on him; i just don't see him ever being more than a complementary player on a stacked team, an especially dynamic placeholder.

and i kind of like the guy.

At 11/13/2005 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're not the only one to spot the Richard Thompson reference - what about "Roll Over Buck Williams"?


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