We are 11 days away from the beginning of the second season. I’m not sure if you watched any ball last night, but Boston vs. Golden State was undoubtedly the Good Ass Game of the Week. Golden State finally got beat at home; losing for the first time in 55 games. Their last loss was January 27th, 2015, against the Bulls, in what happened to be the Good Ass Game of that particular Week. Both games were filled with careless turnovers for the team, and both ended with the team in disbelief as the buzzer ended. The real difference is that the Warriors were a question mark going into the playoffs. This year they are the exclamation point.
The Dubs are upstaging the rest of the league in a year where most contending teams are having banner years. Cleveland has a .711 winning percentage, and are the odds on favorite (except to Alex Knapp) to come out of the East, but no one is really taking them seriously to win the Finals.
The Spurs just won a franchise record 64 games, 38-0 at home, and have a .842 winning percentage, but are a full 4 games back of first place in the West. Toronto has a .671 winning percentage, and no one is confident they will beat the Cavs. While Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers are respectively winning 69 and 62 percent of their games, but both teams will need tons of help to have any remote chance of competing for a Western Conference title.
This is the last full week of games, so let’s hand out a few end of the year awards while we have a chance. I polled a few NBA outsiders, Fullsassers, and avid hoop heads for their opinions and insight. Here are the results.
The Drake Award is for the most sensitive light skinned player in the league. Also known as the Jerryd Bayless award, also known as the fake tough guy award.
Gerald Henderson for “always yelling at Meyers Leonard for being out of position”
Blake Griffin for breaking his hand over the equipment manager’s face over some jokes that cut too deep.
Austin Rivers for trying to always look hard when you know he is soft as “baby lotion”
Matt Barnes for driving to his ex wife’s crib and whupping Derek Fisher’s ass and giving inspiration to an ad lib in one of Kanye’s best songs in years.
Derek Fisher for getting his ass whupped for being a snake, then snitching on Matt Barnes to the cops. Ironically, this only led to further the perception that Derek Fisher was a snake, and a buster.
Biege Blake Griffin.
He took an L for going upside the Clippers equipment manager’s head, but the reason he did so, was because of some friendly ribbing. Matias Testi apparently kidded Griffin about the Clippers playing better without Blake, and this got Blake so heated that he punched his 5’9 homie in the restaurant, and then follwed him outside to give him a”two piece and a biscuit” for dessert. Whenever P.J Tucker and Zack Randolph got up on that ass, Blake somehow lost his nerve, but he got real froggy and leaped onto his buddy who apparently took things too far. Que lastima.
The Gin Baker All NBA Honors go to the players most likely to show up to a Sunday game hungover.
G J.R. Smith –You know hit the big time when Miley Cyrus is asking what the post game plan is.
PF Jahlil Okafor-Homie aint even old enough to drink, and he is trying to start real life fight clubs out in Philly and Boston. He must have grown up watching his pops play Urban Champion on the original NES game system. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if he should have been nominated for the “Drake Award”
G Ty Lawson for obvious reasons.
C BOOGIE Cousins- This would explain why he’s so surly all the time.
SF Nick Young- Oh man. If you thought he was getting it in while he was engaged to Iggy Azalea………well more on that later.
Aside Note: Don’t confuse any of these with the “Vin Baker’s Dozen” which was awarded to Jared Sullinger for gaining the most weight during the offseason. When I was watching the my first Celtics game of the season, I had to do a double take, because I thought that Glen “Big Baby” Davis had resigned on the team without me knowing it.
The “Seven Sloppy Seconds or Less” Award goes to the Los Angeles Clippers for acquiring Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson AND Josh Smith in the same off season. THEN getting rid of both of them during the trade deadline. Everyone on Earth thought this was a bad idea but Steve Ballmer and Glen Rivers.
How in the hell does that happen? Do they not have any friends in the league who they could have texted or called, just to throw the idea at them? I know when I’m considering doing something stupid, I at least have 3 or 4 friends who I can message and say “I’m thinking about hooking up with my ex-girlfriend this weekend–you know the one who was in the cult.” I know I’ll get some honest feedback within the next 20 minutes–something along the lines of “Are you that hard up, or are you just a masochist?” Baffling.
The Houston Rockets who took back Josh Smith during the trade deadline, after a weird and awkward goodbye last summer. Oh yeah. They also signed post-rehab Ty Lawson who they eventually let go during the trade deadline. I don’t know what the hell is going in Houston (But if you want to hear more about their miserable season, tune into Fullsass.com sometime this week to hear our Rockets roundtable, featuring Phillip Martin and Heath Hamilton).
The “Adrian Dantley Award” for worst mid season trade/acquisition goes to the Orlando Magic. They traded Tobias Harris for Ersan Illasova and Brandon Jennings. As per Full Sass NBA analayst, Alex Knapp: “Jennings numbers are slightly up compared to the 20 horrendous games he played for the Pistons earlier this season, and yet his numbers are still by far the worst of any season of his career. Illyasova’s numbers are down across the board except for rebounds. The Magic are 8-14 since the trade and dropped themselves out of playoff contention. Horrible trade both short term and long term. They made a mistake, akin to most sloppy seconds choices.”
Conversely, the Mark Aguirre Award for best midseason acquisition goes to the Miami Heat. Dwyane Wade is going to make one hell of a front office member when his career is over. He already had convinced Lebron and Chris Bosh to take less money to come to his team and win. Now he talked Joe Johnson into coming down and joining forces with him in Miami.
They have the perfect pieces to beat Cleveland in the playoffs–even without Chris Bosh. Joe Johnson is a guy who may not be able to light it up like he used to, but he can still get you buckets in crunch time. They have the best chance out of any East team to knock off the Lebrons, which would essentially make the Western Conference Finals into the NBA Finals.
Honorable mention goes to the aformentioned Houston Rockets, who strangley enough, signed former (?) blunt rolling specialist Michael Beasley. He has been surprisingly great for them. He is scoring double figures and getting rebounds. Most importantly, he is taking nothing but good shots. Whatever happened to him in China, may have been for the best.
Perhaps Stephon Marbury took him took an opium den, and offered some kindly, sage advice. Even stranger, is the fact that Lance Stephenson is suddenly the best thing to happen to Memphis since the movie “Hustle and Flow” was in the movie theaters. I personally prefer Mystery Train by Jim Jarmusch, but hey, whatever is clever. I just something disconcerting about seeing mid 50’s white women chanting “Whup that trick” in the midst of a Grizzlies’ commercial timeout.
The “Vinny the Microwave” Award goes to co-winners Steph Curry and Klay Thompson who heat up faster than Nina Hartley, girl on girl scene on Pornhub (fittingly this duo’s nickname is the Splash Brothers). I’ve never seen so many games where a team can take a 10 point deficit, and create a 30 point swing in a mere 4 minutes of game time. Klay in particular, has been on a tear the last couple of weeks, scoring at least 30 points in 5 games last March (2 of them back to back 40 point games). This race wasn’t even close. The best anyone else could come up with besides Dame Lillard, was Will Barton from the Denver Nuggets.
The Drazen Petrovic goes to Nicolas Batum for best unheralded European player. He has started 66 games for the #mesoHornets this year, while averaging 15 points a game, and providing veteran leadership and perimeter defense. It is no accident that he replaces Lance Stephenson and suddenly Charlotte is back in the playoffs.
Honorable Mentions go out to Rudy Gobert (a French DeAndre Jordan), Evan Fornier, Boris Diaw, ZaZa Pachulia, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Jokic, internet sensation and 9th wonder of the world, Boban Marjanovic,and especially Bucks point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks have been a disappointment this year, but the “Greek Freak” has been toiling away in near obscurity up in Milwaukee. I thought for sure this would be the year they took a step forward, but much like New Orleans, injuries and personnel changes hampered their growth. I like Jason Kidd taking a chance on this experiment of having Giannis play the point. We’re almost to the point where NBA basketball is positionless anyway.
The Charles Oakley Award for best enforcer goes to OKC’s Steven Adams. He is a dirty player, but he adds a toughness to a team that is a little soft. Outside of Adams, and Ibaka (who has gradually become a finesse player), the Thunder have no one on the roster to keep a team honest. No one is scared of Kyle Singler or Andre Roberson. He has a way of getting under a player’s skin, that I haven’t seen since Dennis Rodman was in his prime.
Having Adams on the team allows fake tough guys like Russell Westbrook to act an “ass” on the court without threat of retribution. Russ is amazing, but he can’t lose his shit every time he makes a basket, then get mad at Reggie Jackson because he wants to celebrate the moment.
Shit, I’d probably be the same way if I beat Westbrook in anything. When dudes wanna bring all that extra into anything, I’m gonna amp it up too. I don’t give a damn if its ping pong, Madden, or pickup basketball. I bet it feels damn good giving Westbrook an L.
Honorable mention goes to Andrew Bogut. Bogut doesn’t need to score to feel involved. He is a great high post passer, and sets effective screens. He isn’t afraid to mix it up down low either. It is a different game when he is not in the game. Festus Ezeli is an athletic guy who can explode to the basket and catch a lob or block a shot, and Marreesse Speights is a fantastic change up off the bench. Bogut brings a different dimension altogether, and part of the reason the Warriors lost Friday night, was because Bogut never came back from the rib injury he incurred.
The Juwann Howard “Damn you still be going to the Club at Your Age? ” Award goes to Nazr Mohammed, who talked someone into to paying him to sit on the bench and mentor some young folks. This award is for players you almost forgot were in the league. Sometimes this is because they are buried so far on the bench. Sometimes it is just because they play in places like Philadelphia or Brooklyn.
This could have also easily been named the Joel Anthony, the Prigioni, the Sciola, the Tayshuan, or the Kris Humphries, or the “Perk” award.
The “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe Award” for worst locker room presence in the NBA. Which D’Angelo Russell wins by a landslide. We could have easily said “J-Smoove”, or Lance Stephenson, but it is hard for me to recall an event so disruptive and destructive that did not involve Donald J. Sterling. Even Terrell Owens had at least a couple people who rode with him at his worst.
Twenty years ago, this would be called the Toni Braxton Award for the irreparable damage that her love triangle with Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson caused. The locker room tension forced a rebuilding period that put the 90’s Mavericks into a deeper hole that took half a decade to recover from. Russell is only 20, and this is the kind of stupid mistakes 20 year olds make when they are “playing around”,but this has huge ramifications on that locker room.
Even if the Lakers wanted to trade Russell, there is too much heat on the dude for another franchise to bring him into their locker room. The only way he’ll be able to get through this is to play hard, play well, and keep his nose clean for (at least) the rest of his rookie contract. This is the kind of mistake that can jeaopardize a player’s career.
The other day on SportsNation, Spurs superfan Michelle Beadle was visibly upset because no one was taking Nick Young to task for “cheating” on Iggy Azalea. First of all, it isn’t like Nick Young was openly bragging about fooling around on his fiance (for all we know they may have some strange arrangement that no one is privy to). Russell can be heard asking Young probing questions to get him to admit to his actions.
Taping Young without his approval is the first offense. Secondly, you have to address why Russell would think it would be fly to share Nick Young’s private sex life with other people in the worst possibleway–on social media. If you don’t get that, then there is no understanding why this is such an egregious breach of trust.
Nick Young was secretly taped without his consent, and then that sensitive information was shared with the general public–information that could put his current relationship at risk. Now if you rode with Erin Andrews on her stalker case (which I’m sure Beadle did), then why can’t she understand why this is such a terrible thing to do to someone?
My last point, and this is still uncomfortable, is that Tony Parker had to endure a public divorce because his famous wife found inapropriate texts to his teammates’ wife. I didn’t even know who Michelle Beadle was back then, but I do wonder how she felt about that situation, and what she said publicly about our boy Tony. I’m not saying anything to disparage Tony, because that sounds like a terrible situation for everyone involved. Though I imagine that it raised some eyebrows in that locker room, and among the Spurs management.
People who argue that “Nick Young shouldn’t be cheating are missing the point altogether.
With the top standings pretty much set, the only games that matter outside of Golden State’s record (they must go 4-1 for the remainder of the season) pursuit are the ones involving middle tier teams.
The Warriors play the Spurs twice this week, and I seriously doubt the Spurs will even dress any of their starters. It hurts to see the Spurs concede that final home game against the Dubs on Sunday, because they could have the only undefeated home record in NBA history. But I get it.
Management planned ahead with the signings of Kevin Martin and Andre Miller for this 20 game stretch where players would need rest, but the team would still need wins. The Spurs understand something that Kerr said the other night; which is “records are made to be broken, while championships are forever.” The Spurs need a healthy backcourt if they are going to wear down the Warriors in the Conference Finals.
This week’s games are posted below in bold.
North Carolina vs. Villanova
“Tap that Vein Tuesday”
Detroit vs. Miami
San Antonio-Golden State
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah
Golden State-San Antonio (Good Ass Game of the Week?)