Take Your Sunday

Now I am really fucking snowed in, and Lady Shoals has gone mute from illness. So here are some notes/thoughts of a basketball nature that came to me this morning. Consider them the survivalist version of yesterday's post.

-Have I ever said, somewhere, that the Suns did win in the end, at least in spirit? Every team in the world plays small and fast sometimes now. Does that mean that, had the 2004-05 team remained intact, they would've gotten a title, or were they the extremists who sparked mainstream change? Logic says no. Besides, the 2006-07 team was more moderate, better on paper, and could easily have ended up in the Finals had it not been for some serious bullshit. Yet for some reason, I feel like it's the 2004-05 squad that would've been the most dangerous in the climate they've now brought about.

-I'm really taking seriously the possibility that LeBron does sign this summer. Cavs look great, Williams and West are low-key Positional Revolution, a poor man's Arenas/Hughes (oh, the irony), and with Wally and Wallace expiriing, the team will have cap space to sign Bosh or Amare, both of whom will be looking to change teams for sure in 2010. Doesn't that spell multiple rings to you? Where exactly would Bron have a better shot at championships?

-Haven't quite figured this one out yet, but Josh Smith needs to stay in motion constantly. Which is sort of the same thing as saying he needs to just study Amare's game intensely. He's not a PF, can't post up conventionally, and especially with Horford so important, is just getting in the way/wasting his talents when he meanders around the paint trying to get position. Smith needs to always be on his way toward the hoop to be effective. That can involve taking a few dribbles himself, or being hit with a less-than-perfect pass. But what doesn't work is his starting from a stand-still up top or trying to get his bearings down low, with the ball.

-For better or worse, he's not the new Sheed.

-Still thinking about the scoring leaders. I guess I'm just surprised to see Harris, Granger, and Roy near the top, because I never considered them dominant scorers. Don't Paul or Howard seem a tier higher than them? I mean based on presence alone. It's not only a change, it's one we didn't see coming, and I think that FD favors prophecies that come true, not change trumping the narrative.

-Though maybe I need to look further down, spot Ben Gordon on there, and once and for all view this list worth a grain of salt.

-I can't decide if this Pistons thing—combined with the end in Denver—is badly fucking with Iverson's legacy, or has just made him irrelevant. And then, the walking dead or an OG everyone opens the door for? Yes, I'm writing this as they cut to him on the bench in the fourth.

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At 12/21/2008 4:49 PM, Blogger Brian said...

"I think that FD favors prophecies that come true, not change trumping the narrative."

1. Why, exactly?
B. Change was never part of the prophecy?
3. How does this make you different from Marc Stein stubbornly insisting that we can't judge the Kidd/Harris trade yet? Or is that part of the Jewish style of basketball reporting? =)

wv: quension - to be quenched only by tense questioning.

At 12/21/2008 4:56 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

No, we like changes that we prophesize. Like the Hawks coming to power. Not Danny Granger suddenly have a shot at a scoring title.

Again, this is all about scale. I am excited that Granger and Harris are becoming stars, they're just exceeding all expectations and hierarchies. It's disorienting, whereas it wouldn't be if it were J.R. Smith. Does that make better sense?

At 12/21/2008 5:37 PM, Blogger Joe Friday said...

-Unfortunately, Hawks offense isn't run in a way that allows Smith to be constantly in motion to the basket. Blame Woodson, tho as a Hawks fan I have a hard time doing that as they head to their best season since the Mook-Smitty-L8-Deke days.

-Nothing LeBron does in 2010 would surprise me. I still see signing a succession of 1-2 yr contracts for the rest of his career as a viable option.

-Seeing AI's career play out like this...just sad. Webber on a larger scale.

At 12/21/2008 5:38 PM, Blogger jawaan oldham said...

This is just a weird fuckin year all around. Exhibit A: Al Harrington dropping 24 a night. Exhibit B: all those crazy-ass trades, with Iverson to the gulag foremost among them.

The strangest thing about this season is that it kind of feels like that year whenever the hell it was back in the days when all of a sudden skinny sullen dudes with fuzzy guitars were all over pop radio and people I despised were like, "hey, you like alternative rock, don't you? You must be happy now that it's popular." With small ball and 125-120 games having similarly mainstreamed, it's almost like some of the fun has gone out of them. Then again, I could just be getting my depression going in advance of the Knicks getting fucked in the ass by the Celtics tonight, so I'll stop yammering.

At 12/21/2008 5:53 PM, Blogger ethan said...

I've finally realized that the thing that throws me off about Harris is that he has very strange form on his jumpshot. I think he kicks his legs out in a weird way, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Anyway, the slight awkwardness of it made it seem a bit unlikely that he'd ever be able to develop a decent mid to long range game. He has always been awesome at taking it to the rim and now that guys actually have to play his jumper, he is deadly.

Since entering the league, he's been one of the quickest guys out there but was rarely mentioned in the conversation with Parker and Barbosa. Throw in that he is supposedly a little bit oddball (see his living situation in Wisconsin) and he is a welcome addition into the top tier of NBA players. Oh and don't forget, he was the #5 pick in the 2004 draft and he did start on teams that went to the finals and won 67 games.

At 12/21/2008 7:52 PM, Blogger David Arnott said...

jawaan oldham:

I like the rock music analogy. I'd extend it to point out that there are also outposts where they play small ball, but a bastardized, ugly, version of it that has superficial resemblance, but is really just putting three guards out there and still running the same walk up the court offense (I'm looking at you, Larry Brown).

At 12/21/2008 9:07 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I'm beginning to admit to myself that AI may in fact, be losing 'it', or already has lost 'it'. 'It' being his game, his legs, whatever. I think it was simmons who had an analogy about big men and porn stars, how when they lose it they lose it, but I feel it applies more with smallish guards. Big men tend to putter on for another year or two based on their sheer size alone. AI this year is showing shades of Payton in his stint with the lakers, where conventional wisdom and the public still thought of him as an all-star caliber player but in fact he was stinking up the joint every night. People just dont notice because guys like AI and the glove don't look any slower, or different, while they're on the court and yet you glance at the box score and see AI has been torched by an (also) aging Bibby while barely scoring 11 himself, and you have to wonder...

At 12/22/2008 12:22 AM, OpenID tredecimal said...

Small ball is to League coaching vogue what the West Coast Offense is to every NFL coach now for at least the last 2 minutes of every half and in the case of the college, the spread. The only difference is I still like small ball.
Hmm, that's interesting- spacing/spreading as the focus of an offense is a concept that goes across sport.
Re: the Pistons and AI's descent into irrelevance, it could be worse, Larry Brown could be coaching him again...although I have to say, that trade seems to woke Boris Diaw the fuck up.

wv: magnest- magneto's scandinavian manservant

At 12/22/2008 11:31 AM, Blogger dizzle said...

i haven't seen any bobcats post trade...is diaw actually playing well, or just putting up numbers?

wv: stiessa- what belinelli feels before games

At 12/22/2008 11:46 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

Here is Josh Howard's line from yesterday's game against the Wiz:

In 27 minutes, he went 7-14 from the floor, including 0-4 from 3-pt range, along with 3-4 FTAs for 17 points. He added 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks and 2 turnovers to round out his performance. What a lazy piece of shit he's become.

Josh lost his grandma and spent the rest of last season moping, smoking pot, and talking about it on the radio, and otherwise becoming completely fucking useless. Gerald Wallace, on the other hand, lost his father and dropped 22 points in his first game back, 26 in his second, while playing defense like a madman, rebounding and shooting an ungodly FG%.

Far be it from me to tell someone how to handle their grief, but I think it's pretty obvious which of these two players has more mental toughness.

I loved Josh Howard when he was a 15/7 guy that was all hustle and heart - scoring his points without plays being called for him, d'ing up his man and wrecking all-around havoc. As a #2 option that just chucks up jumpers all day long, he fucking sucks.

At 12/22/2008 11:57 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

What I need to know is this: Is Devin Harris' junk so cock-gobblingly delicious that Josh Howard can't play well without his buddy? Trade him to Jersey for Vince already. Everybody wins.

At 12/22/2008 12:02 PM, Blogger Raoul Duke said...

Is Isiah Thomas actually posting in the FD comments section?

At 12/22/2008 12:59 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

Speaking of prophecies, remember when some suggested J-Ho was Dallas' best player?

At 12/22/2008 2:26 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

Wait, did you actually say that J.R. Smith suddenly moving into the top tier of scorers, would be more prophesied than Granger or Harris? I guess maybe for scorers, but what about elite players?

I think Granger and Harris have been on the radar for at least 2 years, and were both ready for the breakout season.

At 12/22/2008 2:31 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Right, this was all about the scoring rankings. I said during the Heat Finals that Harris could be something great, and I always expected big things of Granger. That's different than dropping 24 ppg, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with giants. . I don't know, I guess I'm projecting too much significance onto scoring.

At 12/22/2008 6:59 PM, Blogger W2 said...

cock gobbling delicious...yikes.

I predict a J Howard return to something like form eventually. Maybe in time for Dallas to become a very dangerous playoff team.

wv: traswayze...roadhouse meets grease-on the court.

He's got that traswayze flair to his game...think Mike Miller, Louis Amundsun.

At 12/23/2008 10:43 AM, Blogger StreakShooter McFloorburn said...

Wait, you never thought Brandon Roy would be a dominant scorer, even though he came into the league with a killer mid-range J that has only gotten better, is one of the best at finishing with either hand around the rim, has improved his 3PT and FT shooting, as any player likely would after a few years in the league, and is finally starting to get some calls from the refs? Is is just his lack of freaktasticness, his reluctance to use his "sneaky" athleticism to throw down with abandon, or some perceived lack of mental aggressiveness? Perhaps I answered my own question by using "sneaky" to describe him, but it's hard to name a guard who has more offensive tools than Roy.

At 12/23/2008 10:54 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

At times last season, I thought Roy might eclipse Wade (of course, that's when Wade was injured, and hadn't completely revived and added to his game to become the superhuman creature we see today). No, he's not flashy, but his efficiency (qualitative, not quantitative—I don't know about all that) is amazing. And varied. He really is the Duncan of young guards, and I mean that as a compliment. When I used to say it about Wade, back in those posts I hope no one reads anymore, it was an emotion-blind insult.

I guess it's that, while I've long expected him to pile up numbers, I never saw him in the same super-nova league as Durant. Maybe I'm romanticizing the scorer. Maybe his dominance is a little too smart, quiet, ineluctable, or when you see it, so darn obvious, that you don't see him as a player who goes for his relentlessly. But the numbers are there, so who I am to complain.

I think it might come down to how much a player is truly feared on the offensive end, how much the other team expects them to make an unlikely or unspeakable play. Roy talks a lot, especially after his 50 points game, about how he doesn't get that kind of respect, or regard, and seems kind of disoriented when he does have a game that throws down the gauntlet like that—and one where the refs have to take heed.


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