Regular Season Wrap Up Part One: A to the K

The end of the regular season is near, and most of the playoff positions are set. Here’s an opportunity to publicly perform self-fellatio for all the things I correctly predicted, and shake off the few things I got wrong. Illustrations by Louis Eastman

 

fullsizerender-4 Amin Elhassan has put in some solid work this NBA season, appearing on a variety of shows for ESPN (often daily), and always providing a unique perspective with the occasional quip that cut to the bone. He especially shines as moderator on the TRUE HOOP, Black “Opinions Matter Monday” Pod with “Big Wos” and a rotating cast of guests.

They are like the John Wall and Bradley Beal of podcast backcourts, controlling the tempo with content you won’t get on any other basketball pod. Check out ESPN’s programming if you wanna catch him on television or peep the website. They don’t pay me so I’m not going waste my time listing all the shows he’s on, but he’s definitely one of the few reasons to upload any content from the WWL. Keep your eye out for the “Pitino Game” during the elimination games next month.

 fullsizerender-2    Been an interesting rookie season for ole Buddy Buckets. He started the year buried on the bench in New Orleans, as he struggled to find a role in Alvin Gentry’s offense, but his scoring has picked up since he was traded to the Kings for Boogie Cousins. During a 5 game stretch (2 weeks ago) he averaged 17.4 points and had a career high in scoring this (22 points)  in a loss to the Warriors. He just might be able to carve himself out an NBA career (in the right situation).

Despite not making any major off season moves outside of the Al Horford signing, and not making any moves at the trade deadline (much to my chagrin), the Celtics are in a virtual tie with the Cleveland Cavs for first place. Go figure. Outside of Isiah Thomas, they don’t have any reliable scorers. This may come back to bite them in the ass in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Draymond Green’s season has been nothing short of controversial. His ever expanding legion of haters means he must be doing something right. I can’t ever vouch for anything he says or does off the court, but this season has only highlighted how valuable he is to the Warriors’ success on the court. If you make a list of top 20 players in the NBA, and Dray isn’t on there then you are playing yourself.

Everybody is Eating  The owners had to come out of their pockets this season. Memphis and Dallas got the best value for the Mike Conley and Harrison Barnes deals. Both players lived up to their inflated values. While everyone else………well, just ask Portland fans if they think Neil Oshey spent money correctly. The market value of each player got skewed because of the cap, but owners had to pay. I’m sure some GM’s wish they could have a mulligan on some of these contracts

Finals ReThreematch Kevin Durant got hurt, and the Spurs were hot on the trail of the Warriors. I thought San Antonio had a better lineup top to bottom, but as Wednesday’s game showed, the Warriors still are the Click to Pick coming out of the west.

image1 Giannis has been nothing short of spectacular, averaging 23.1 points a game and making the “Sportscenter Top 10” pretty much every night he touches the court. Milwaukee looks primed for a post season bid sitting on a 40-36 record and homie was a legitimate All-Star selection to boot. I Bucks wit Giannis pretty heavily. Dude is going to be a fantastic player.

 

Harrison Barnes has averaged 19 points this year and has hit big shots when the Mavs needed him. Is he worth 94 million? Maybe not, but someone was going to give him that money, it may as well have been the Mavs. Lastly (slurp, slurp), wasn’t I right about Harry B. being better than Eric Montross and Raef LaFrentz? Huh Craig?

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Iguodala looks really good. He hasn’t been hurt and has played well as the floor leader on the second unit. He, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all chipped in on defense to hold Kawhi Leonard in check last Wednesday down in San Antonio. They will need him down the stretch for these next 2 months of playoff basketball. His back is the difference between beating Cleveland in 5 games, or losing to them again in 7.

(The J’s Reboot) Phil Jackson, Joakim Noah and Jeff  Hornacek

What a fucking mess.

 fullsizerender-3 Klay Thompson is going to do what Klay Thompson does. He has caught fire more than a little bit during various points of his all star regular season. He also happens to still be an elite defender. Even though he started off the season with a shooting slump, you knew he’d break out of it with one of those Klay Thompson games. Expect at least 3 of those kinds of games in April and May. 

BM

To be continued…….

 

Clicks to Picks for the Week:

 

Monday

North Carolina vs. Gonzaga (NCAA Championship Game)

I really want to see how this plays out. I’m impressed that Carolina rebounded from last year’s most heartbreaking buzzer beater of all time to make it back to the Championship.

Tuesday

Memphis at San Antonio

Milwaukee at Oklahoma City (Good Ass Game of the Week)

Wednesday

Cleveland at Boston

Thursday

No Good Ass Games on the Schedule

Friday

Miami at Toronto (Good Ass Game of the Weak)

Saturday

Utah at Portland

Sunday

No Good Ass Games Scheduled

 

 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

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2016-2017 Season Preview: Top 26 Storylines Part One

[This preview also appears as a post on fullsass.com. What does Fullsass mean? Well check it out for yourself.] 

All Illustrations by Louis Eastman

We are only a few days away from the beginning of training camp, time to dust off the cobwebs and fire it back up. Although the biggest story of the off-season was the Kevin Durant free agency, there are plenty of other story lines to follow this year. I’ve listed (from A-Z ) the ones that I find the most compelling for the 2016-2017 season.

Amin Elhassan fullsizerender-4

ESPN’s most merciless twitter troll is a must follow this season.

Amin is great not only for his tendency to roast any unlucky soul stupid enough to tweet some dumb shit, but also for his great insight into how things operate behind the NBA scenes. Having worked in both the Knicks and Suns front office before his stop at ESPN, Elhassan is a wealth of insider knowledge.

What I love most about him is that he does not hold back in any of his funny–but often wickedly straight forward analysis. His creation of the #Pitino game is one the more underappreciated social media phenomenons you’ll experience during playoff elimination games. #Pitino game is just as a part of the playoff pageantry as TNT’s Gone Fishing segments, but more interactive and way more clever. 

Buddy Hield

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Back in 2015 he simply slid into place. Buddy Buddy Buddy All up in my face.

Is Buddy Hield the Real Deal Holyfield? Inquiring minds want to know. It is a little too early to anoint him as the sidekick to Anthony Davis, but if Hield shoots as well as his reputation suggests, then this could be a good working relationship for the two. Hield wasn’t exactly a defensive stopper in college, but that hasn’t kept James Harden from receiving tons of (mostly deserved) accolades. He could be a nice small ball option for Pelican’s coach, Alvin Gentry, who is looking at a very thin back court-especially with Jrue Holiday absent from the team for personal reasons. 

Celtics Are Legit Contenders

Had the C’s managed to get Horford and Durant this off-season, you could have  penciled them in for the NBA Finals (and I doubt anyone one would have argued with you). As it stands, they only have two reliable scorers, Isiah Thomas and Horford (who has never averaged a 20 and 10 at any point in his career). Isiah Thomas is great at getting his own shot, but he isn’t much of a distributor.

Avery Bradley is an all NBA defender, but anything he gives you on offense is considered icing on the cake (Bruce Bowen 2.0?), and their outside shooting is too reliant upon Kelly Olynk shooting a high percentage. I think they are still two really good players away, or one superstar and a role player (probably a backup pg) away from being in the conversation to knock off the Lebrons for the Eastern Conference crown.

Draymond Green

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Steph Curry may be the league MVP, but I think the team MVP for the Golden State Warriors is Draymond Green. Klay Thompson, Curry, and Green are all irreplaceable, but the intangibles that Dray provide for that team are immeasurable. The league’s decision to suspend him changed the course of that series, as the Warriors were dead in the water after game 5. Regardless, had Dray kept his head, the hometown of Jive Ass Don King would still be without a title today. 

Had we laid money on “Finals player most likely to send pictures of their ding-dong to all their Snapchat followers”, most people would have place their bets on J.R. Smith. I think the public opinion of Draymond Green will be cemented for the rest of his career, according to how he performs both on and off the court this season. The Warriors need his fire, but he has to learn to harness it if they are going to get back to the Finals.

Everybody Eats This Season 

The NBA has never been a better league to play in. Owners are making money hand over fist. The league just signed a lucrative television deal that allows even scrubs *ahem* players like Matthew Dellavedova to cash in a meal ticket. Allen Crabbe made 70 million to stay in Portland.

The Grizzlies’ Mike Conley leveraged his way into a 153 million dollar contract and for a couple of months, was the highest paid player in league history. This year’s 90 million dollar salary cap is only going to get larger (reportedly $118 million next season), so dudes are about to get paid. Now that everybody is eating, let’s start taking bets on who will eat themselves out of the league.

Finals Rematch (Again)

We can just stop this right now huh? No need to even play the season out. Forget preseason. Let’s put it on simulation mode like NBA Live 95? Barring any major injuries, I don’t see how anyone out west beats Golden State, or anyone out east beating Lebron.

I’m looking forward to the rubber match between these two teams. Kevin Durant is going to be the deadliest 4th option you’ve ever seen in the NBA Finals. The running thread all season will be “If Lebron beats the GSW super team will he be the greatest?” or “Will this championship validate KD’s career even though he joined a super team?” I personally don’t blame Durant or the Warriors for signing him. I bet it sucks losing to Lebron, but I bet it sucks even more losing to him after getting spotted a 3-1 series lead. This is the best reoccurring story line since Lakers vs.Celtics last decade. Stay tuned.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Playing The Point 

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I’m not saying the Bucks will be in the Eastern Conference Finals. I’m not saying that I think they will get back in the playoffs. I’m not even saying they will be fun to watch, but there will be at least 20 nights this season where Giannis does something to make Sportscenter top 10 highlights. 

Harrison Barnes: The 94 Million Dollar Man

I personally think Barnes will do well in Dallas. The city has a way of being a decent stop for exorbitantly rich black athletes (if they perform decently ). Of course, you have to wonder what is considered reasonable expectations for a contract like the one Barnes signed. For what it is worth Mavs fans, he will be a better investment than Roy Tarpley, Cherokee Parks, Erick Dampier and Shawn Bradley all put together. He can’t be any worse………right?

Iggy’s back  

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No I am not talking about the Nick Young’s ex fiancee’s booty (although it makes for an interesting google search #therabbithole). If Andre Iguodala is unhealthy, forget about the Warriors getting a chip for Kevin Durant. Iggy is one of their best defenders, and he was the guy who guarded both Durant and Lebron down the stretch of last year’s playoffs. By the time games 6 and 7 of the Finals came around, he was gassed (who is to say that a healthy Iggy doesn’t try and dunk the ball on that infamous Lebron chase down block?). 

Now that Durant is a teammate, there is no one in the west (outside of Kawhi Leonard) to push him defensively. Theoretically, he should be fresh for his Finals dance with Lebron. Then again, 30-year-old backs are more fickle than 23-year-old girlfriends. You never know how things will flare up from night to night. 

 

The 3 J’s (reboot)

My dude Joakim Noah is back in his hometown playing for the Knicks. No matter how he does on the floor, homie is going to be slaying it off the court. It is good to see Jeff Hornacek get another head coaching shot. He got a raw deal in Phoenix. Robert Sarver pulled the old bait and switch with Hornacek. The Suns front office didn’t bring back key players, but kept expecting the same results . It was unfair to everyone involved; Hornacek, the players, the fans, and League Pass subscribers who were unexpectedly treated to a near playoff run in 2014.

As for Phil, no one could figure out why the hell he hired Derek Fisher; but he corrected that mistake by firing D-Fish midway through the season. This is his third and most pivotal season as Knicks GM, because if they suck again this year, it will be tough to lure free agents to sign with the club next season. 

Are they going to make the playoffs? Maybe, if 40 wins is enough to get in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Courtney Lee was a good pickup, and Derrick Rose may be able to add some punch if he can find the basketball court, and stay out of the criminal court. Rose thinks they have a super team in New York, but kind of like the word consent,there may be some confusion as to what the definition of a super team is.

40 wins for this roster would be the equivalent of making the Finals. I’d play with them on NBA2K, because you don’t really need subs on a video game, but in real life, their bench is thin. Pencil them in for 30 wins.

Klay “ I’m Not Sacrificing Shit” Thompson

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I’ll fight anyone who says he isn’t the best 2 guard in the league. He may not be able to attack the rim like Demar Derozan (apparently the 46th best player in the NBA), but the man is the best defensive 2 guard; and his shot is wet. He is Ron Harper with a knock down J. Klay Thompson only benefits from the arrival of Kevin Durant.

TO BE CONTINUED:

 

BM

 

 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Finish Line

Here we are at the finish line. If the season ended today, the first round would look like this:

Eastern Conference

Cleveland vs Indiana

Toronto vs. Detroit

Atlanta vs. Charlotte

Boston vs. Miami

Western Conference

Golden State vs. Utah (please Hoops Gods, for the love of everything sacred about basketball, don’t let the Rockets get in)

San Antonio vs. Dallas

Oklahoma City vs. Memphis

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland

Wednesday is the last day of the regular season. By Thursday the playoff matchups will be set, and by then it will be fairly easy to predict what the Finals matchup will look like. At this point, Golden State vs. Cleveland seems to be a forgone conclusion, but anything can happen in 2 months of playoff ball.

Spurs fans should pray that someone beats up, or knocks off the Warriors before a potential playoff meeting, because that is a really bad matchup for them. The length and athleticism on Golden State is just too much for San Antonio. Watching them play reminds me of the Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight. Lewis was too fast, too strong, for the past his prime Tyson.

The Warriors have a far superior backcourt, and the slim advantages that the Spurs have in depth and coaching aren’t enough to overcome that mismatch (Not to mention that Harrison Barnes is a huge x factor to plan against, Barnes is about to get PAID).

Despite the postseason outcome becoming fairly apparent way early in the season, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what this year brought. The Timberwolves were a nice little story despite the Flip Saunders tragedy. Karl Anthony Towns is going to be a force to reckon with, and Andrew Wiggins can be the Kobe to his Shaquille (but without the fight for Alpha dog status). The Spurs had a very fun and memorable season and despite what happens going forward, it will be remembered as a success.

There was a lot of goofy shit that happened off the court that isn’t worth getting into, but it did affect the on the court product for the Lakers, Clippers, Sixers, the Cavaliers, and the Kings. People who expected the Pelicans and Bucks to improve upon last year’s success were disappointed.  Hopefully next year will be just as exciting on the court, but with less off the court b.s. My wish list? Alright, twist my arm.

  1. Shabazz  Muhammad to the Mavericks. I think he and  Rick Carlisle would be good for each other.
  2. Tom Thibodeau to Sacramento. All I want in this life is to see Ben Mclemore and “Boogie Down” Cousins to play for a real coach.That Kings team was too talented to not make the playoffs this year. #dysfunctionjunction
  3. Kevin Durant to Golden State and Harrison Barnes to Portland. Aren’t you just a little curious? Despite what people think, I’m not sure KD is obsessed with getting his touches. I bet he’d be satisfied with an 11 for 15 line and a legitimate chance at a chip. For some reason I think Barnes with Damien Lillard and C.J. McCollum would be a great trio to build around. All you would need to do was add a rim protector and suddenly they are a contender.
  4. Thomas Robinson to the Spurs. T-Rob has not gotten a fair shake in this league yet. I think Gregg Popovich could use a guy like that. Imagine Dejuan Blair, but with knees.
  5. Shelvin Mack and Gordon Heyward to Boston. I know it is unrealistic, but I can’t be the only one fantasizing about them reuniting with Brad Stevens. The “Salt Lake City Punks” would be crazy to give up Heyward. It is in Utah’s contract to always have a white superstar for their franchise, and Heyward is that face. gordon-hayward-nba-utah-jazz-golden-state-warriors5

If at least one of these things occurs, I will consider the 2017 season a success.

I’m not sure how many of you have subscribed to Shea Serrano‘s Basketball and (Other Things) Newsletter, but I would recommend you peep game. Last week’s “Assault on Precinct 1” issue was easily one of the funniest things I have come across this year. It was so good that it inspired me to do an ESPN REMIX using the exact same premise. You can’t be the “World Wide Leader” without having snitches, police, double agents, and confessions. So according to the format provided by Serrano, just who on ESPN is police?

Are Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith police?  Typically in comic books, graphic novels, Edgar Allen Poe short stories, movies and television shows, the police are depicted as inept, bumbling and comical—“so dumb that they have to be told to come out of the rain” as an English professor once told me. Bayless and Smith, if they are cops, would be likened to the Smitty and Hoppy characters from Sanford and Son. Bayless and Smith are mostly on some harmless buffonery in ESPN’s attempt to get ratings. I guess it works. People watch them and let themselves worked up. Do they mislead people to get ratings? Do they take quotes out of context and run with them? Oh you betcha. Do they say things they really don’t believe just to stir up controversy? Absolutely. They are definitely the “Po-Po.”

Is Bill Simmons the police? You ever see those cop shows, where there is a detective who always thinks he is the smartest guy in the room? You know– the cop who does things according to his rules, they call them “rogue cops.” That is Simmons. Simmons thought he was Dirty Harry, but went out more like Officer McNulty from the Wire.  Simmons got wind of the corruption in City Hall and threatened to expose it. Tired of the office politics at his particular station, Simmons goes rogue once too many times, and gets shown his walking papers. The police chief, John Skipper said “Gimme your badge Simmons. You’re done here. Consider yourself retired, you can cash in your pension at the district offices.” Then Simmons was like ” Fuck this department. You know where you would be without me? You’d still be showing Roy Firestone interviews on ESPN2, on the 4pm time slot, if it weren’t for my brilliant police work.” Then on his way out, he slams the office door so hard that the glass shatters everywhere. Skipper’s personal assistant immediately tries using his stack of paperwork for a dustpan as Simmons walked past him, but Skipper tells him to just leave it. Simmons then waits outside the station for his Uber before the scene cuts to a commercial. So yes. Bill Simmons was once police. Now he is not. He’s more like a private detective now.

Is Dan Lebatard the police? Yes, but in the way that David Simon was police. Simply putting reporting crime in hopes of weaving together a tale that will someday get him a tv deal.

Is Zach Lowe the police? No. Even in a fictional world, Zach Lowe is a reporter who just wants to do good work and go home to his family. He is thorough, and methodical and enjoys his job. He is a man above the corruption and politics. He usually asks the right questions that hint at plot twists, and reveals. In a police movie, he would be the reporter who got himself kidnapped because he got a little too close to the truth.

Is Jason Whitlock police? HA! Have you seen Jason Whitlock? He wouldn’t be able to pass the physical exam. If he were police, he’d be an extra on a Police Academy remake. That being said, Jason Whitlock has a reputation of being a hater, and a suspected snitch.

Is Adam Schefter police? Man. What do you think? Is there anybody on that staff with more eyes and ears on the streets than Adam Schefter? Schefter is the kind of cop whose motto is you are only as good of police as your informants.” Hell yeah he police.

Other notable ESPN police:

Amin Elhassan- Yes. A dirty one. Officer Friendly from Master P’s “I’m Bout it” movie. He is every black cop you’ve ever seen (on tv or in real life) who is an asshole for no reason at all. That being said, a great twitter follow. The man is such a fantastic shit to everyone (to be fair he’s bombarded with tons of idiotic tweets) that it is impossible to take your eyes off his timeline, but it may be better just to avoid this guy altogether if you to. 

David Jacoby –Maybe he is, or maybe he isn’t. But anybody who claims to love hip hop and says they don’t know about Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video, is in my mind suspect. “Pleasssssse. Check him for a wire or an ear piece.”

Notable Non-Police:

Jalen Rose– Just that dude from the neighborhood who knows everything that is going down before it even happens. Homie is like Huggy Bear from the Starsky and Hutch series. He may work with police, but he ain’t police. Also check out his autobiography, “Got to Give the People What They Want.” It is a pretty entertaining read. I’ll be doing a book review on it later this week on the site.

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Bomani Jones– HELLLLLLLLLLL NO!

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Big ups to Shea Serrano, one of my favorite writers right now, who I hope isn’t offended that I borrowed his format and ran with it. As a hip hop fan (whose book I will be purchasing this week sometime), I hope he thinks of this as someone freestyling over a beat he made hot, as opposed to straight biting his style (Call me crazy, but I think we may be able to get him on the Full Sass Podcast someday).

Good Ass Games of the Week are posted below, and remember folks, “Be careful out there.”

 

Peace,

BM

#fullsass #thisagoodassgame

thisagoodassgame@gmail.com

 

Good Ass Games of The Week:

 

Monday

Dallas-Utah 

Somebody has to play the Spurs, and somebody has to play the Warriors.  This game is basically flipping a coin to determine their team’s playoff fate.

Charlotte-Boston

Both teams are just jockeying for seedings, but no matter the result, it looks like those first round matchups out east are pretty much set.

 

“Tap That Vein” Tuesday

Memphis- Los Angeles Clippers 

This may be a preview. We may see these teams face off in the playoffs. This is like getting a first round bye for whoever gets to play Memphis. They got decimated with injuries this year and still made the playoffs. #respect

Oklahoma City- San Antonio

I doubt either team will play their starters, but it is always fun to watch the Spurs bench whup on the other teams’ reserve players.

 

Wednesday

Spurs-Dallas

Dallas will try to win this game and still may get blown out.

Memphis-Golden State (Good Ass Game of The Week)

This could be win number 73 or this could be win number 72. We’ll see how San Antonio plays things tonight against the Dubs.

 

END OF SEASON. NEXT WEEK: FULLSASS PLAYOFF PREVIEW