Loosely Connected Observations From The First Week of the Season

A few thoughts from the first week of NBA ball:

  • Looks like palming and traveling has gone the way of defensive 3 seconds.Maybe this is a way to amp up scoring–kind of like how NFL started making rules that only benefit offensive players.
  • Lakers-Rockets on opening night was fun. It reminded me of watching a Drew league game, or an All Star Game where everyone but James Harden had missed the bus, and they had  to suit up all the players who were in town just for the weekend festivities. I actually like this post Kobe era for the Lakers. Its pretty refreshing to see watch a Lakers game and not feel hate.
  • Watched the Kings-Spurs game from the other night. Ben Mclemore may have found his calling in the league as a scorer off the bench. It’s easy to forget that he is just a baby, but he has a lot of time to still hit his peak as a basketball player. I hope he finds a good team someday. Until then, Ben has to learn how to protect his cookies.
  • Speaking of the Spurs. I wasn’t very hype on them coming into the season, but they look really good. They have a nice balance of veteran leadership (a combined 14 championship rings on this roster) and some good young cats. I like what little I’ve seen of Latvian forward, Davis Bertrans, who has impressed me with his 3 point range. I’ve often talked shit about David Lee’s one on one defense, but he is actually a decent help defender. Also, I think he has a chip on his shoulder. After sitting the past 2 seasons, dude looks hungry. Kudos on the pickup Mr. Buford. Last but not least….Kawhi “frigging” Leonard!!!!!!! I cannot believe this is the same kid who found himself in a moment too big during the 2013 NBA Finals. He is ridiculously good right now.
  • Lakers-Pacers definitely was the Good Ass Game of the Week last week with their overtime affair (Those Pacers cheerleaders tho!!!! MPPPPHHHHHH), but one of my favorite moments last week was watching Damien Lillard and old Joe Jhnson go basket for basket in the 4th quarter of the Blazers vs. Jazz. Maybe we will get lucky and they face off in the first round of the playoffs. Although I gotta say, I’m not sold on Quinn Snyder as an NBA coach. He just seems too uptight. Maybe the Salt Lake City cuisine has him constipated.
  • Speaking of Lillard, Dame says he wants to win the MVP. I have mixed feelings on him publicly making this statement. On one hand, him winning MVP would obviously correlate with the Blazers having a great regular season. On the other hand, it sounds like Lillard worrying about something he cannot control. MVP is a subjective award. Saying at the beginning of the season that you want to win MVP is like a musician publicly saying that he wants the album he is working on to win a Grammy. Perhaps it is better to just do the best you can and let the product speak for itself.

 

We have some good ass games this week. If you have a way to watch them without accessing League Pass then you are already ahead of the game. I can’t believe that a mulit-billion dollar industry can’t find a way to hire people to fix their digital media site. It is befuddling and infuriating.

Demand for NBA is at an all time high. With so much interest in this year’s season, Adam Silver couldn’t have picked a worse time to drop the ball on that front. I hope they work this out soon, otherwise it will be a perpetually sour season for this hoops fan. I may abandon sportswatching altogether and just focus on being a normal human being. Or maybe I’ll just become a full fledged soccer guy. Chew on that reality for a minute.

 

Peace,

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 FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

Skeptical Optimism

Though there were a lot of positives to take from last night’s blowout win over the Warriors, Spurs fans are well advised to temper their expectations and curb their enthusiasm. Before the season began, I predicted the Spurs would win around 53 games, and despite last night’s performance, I am sticking to that prediction.

Don’t get me wrong, San Antonio looked fantastic (at times) last night in Oakland, but there were a few concerns raised throughout the game. For half the game they looked sloppy on offense giving up 13 turnovers (luckily the Warriors didn’t capitalize on them). The Spurs were in the minus column anytime Pau Gasol (-13) or Tony Parker (-12) were on the court. Gasol looked lost defensively, and I’ve written Ad Nauseam about Parker’s decreased mobility, as he approaches his mid-thirties.

San Antonio’s lack of rim protection may not hurt them against most of the league, but against strong physical teams like Cleveland and Oklahoma City, they may encounter some challenges (one could argue that a team like the Clippers could provide some headaches with their frontcourt as well).

There was plenty to be happy about, but to paraphrase what Reggie Miller said during last night’s telecast, “It is just one game.” The score is not indicative of how good either team is.

Though Warriors fans should be concerned, there is no reason for them to panic. Other than Durant’s offensive performance, people should consider this game an aberration. If Golden State gets outrebounded by 20 boards on a consistent basis, it will be a long season, but I don’t realistically see that happening. As a team they shot 46 percent, but only fared 21 % from the 3 pt. line (You won’t see them shoot that poorly from 3 too often), while the Spurs shot 50 % from the arc and 48 % from the field

Other notes:

  • Kawhi Leonard has shown himself to be worthy of being in this year’s  MVP discussion with 35 pts (a career high) on 10-21 shooting, and 5 steals–including one cookie theft from Steph Curry that ended spectacularly.
  • I’m still not sure how the Spurs are going to keep David Lee on the court, but he played decently last night. In 11 minutes of play, he managed to get a +13 rating with 6 points and 6 rebounds.
  • Although they will miss Danny Green’s defense, these next two weeks present an opportunity for wing players like Kyle Anderson and Jonathan Simmons to get more minutes. Anderson was one of the few players to nab a minus rating with a -3, but Simmons played brilliant minutes (+33), with 20 pts on 8-14 shooting, one filthy block on Steph Curry, 3 steals, and 4 rebounds.

Once again, Spurs fans have a lot to look forward to this season. They look younger, faster, and more athletic than last year’s team, but younger teams see both bigger spikes and dips in play. No rational basketball fan really thinks this is how San Antonio plays for the rest of the season, and Golden State has no choice but to get better. With 7 new players on the Warriors roster, moments of confusion and miscommunication are expected as players work on their chemistry.

The Warriors looked like they were still in preseason mode. I would be very surprised if they don’t pick up some players off later in the season (either through waivers, or trade) to supplement their Big 4. Their lack of depth showed, as their bench got outscored 56-16. That doesn’t happen to championship teams.

No matter if you are a Spurs or a Warriors fan, the thing to keep in mind is that it is one game–the first game, and that it is a long season. Making a prediction either way for either team would be akin to marrying someone immediately after your first date. It’s the NBA, and a lot of things will change between now and April.

 

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 FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

Easin’ into the Grind

I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to watch NBA this season. The number of games I want to catch up on are piling up. The bandwidth at my local Starbucks is weak, and I’m afraid that if I get internet at my house that I’ll become a hermit. By December, I’ll be a bit more adjusted, and will have caught my breath by winter break. I plan to devote at least 5-6 hours a day during this period to watching basketball. Only 4 more weeks until this is a reality. The marquee “Good Ass Game of the Week” matchups have been as good as advertised, but the biggest surprise to me is how much better ball is in the Eastern Conference. The quality of play is improved, and instead of 89-76 games, teams are actually scoring into the 100’s.

All that being said, I still fux with the Western Conference teams more heavily than the East–no doubt. Right now my favorite squads to watch are the Warriors (unreal the kind of ball they are playing. I don’t think an offense has generated this kind of round-the-league since the Showtime era Lakers), the Bulls (can actually stretch the floor with shooters), the Teen Wolves (could conceivably have two of the best 2 way players in the league someday with Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins–I’ve watched more games by them this year than I have in the entire KG “Big Ticket” era), Kings (those throwback powder blue jerseys are sick), and of course the Spurs.

This week Kawhi supplanted Kevin Durant as my favorite player in the NBA. Curry stays on at #2, while KD slips to three. Steph and KD are both electrifying to watch, but Leonard is slowly building up his case for being the best 2 way player in the game (after Lebron of course). But Lebron won’t be around forever, and we’re only 3-4 seasons away from Lebron’s body betraying him, making him merely great rather than otherworldly. Who’ll supplant Lebron? Well it could be any of these guys in no particular order:

Andrew Wiggins

Victor Oladipo

Jimmy Butler

Kawhi Leonard

Anthony Davis

Paul George

Anthony Towns

The NBA product is in good hands for the next 8-10 years. Let’s get to these games:

Monday

Portland-San Antonio 

This will be close for about 3 and a half quarters if we are lucky. Seriously though, if you like to watch good defenders, and you haven’t been watching Kawhi, do yourself a favor and peep. First hit is free, after that…….

OKC-Memphis

Always a good battle with these two teams. No Durant adds more pressure on the supporting cast to step it up, because you know Hustle Westbrook is going to fill the stat sheet.

“Tap That Vein” Tuesday

Minnesota-Miami 

Young guns. This will be a fun watch. I’m especially looking forward to the Towns-Whiteside face-off.

Toronto-Golden State

Warriors  gonna rock the “Throwbacks” that night. MMMMMPPPPPPPHHHHHHHH!!!!

[If College hoops gives you that buzz, then get on those Duke-Kentucky, Kansas-Michigan State games]

Wednesday

Sacramento-Atlanta

Even when the Kings get blown out, it lends for entertainment.

Dallas-Boston

This strikes me as the type of game one would live-tweet while watching.

Chicago-Phoenix

Suns just aren’t a hoops sexy team this year. It’ll still be a fun game though. Its good toe See Doug McDermott out on the court this year. Homie can ball.

Thursday

Sacramento-Miami

Cousins vs. Whiteside??? Insert “banging in the post” joke here. GO!!!

Milwaukee-Cleveland pt. Duex

The Bucks match up well with the Cavs. Imagine the length of Golden State without the outside shooting threats. That’s the Bucks.

Golden State vs. Lol Clippers “Good Ass Game of the Week”

Good night to make some chili on the crock pot, and stare at the computer (or tv) screen. Warriors have Bogut back for this one. I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d put money on Blake Griffin getting a tech this game.

Friday

Detroit-Minnesota 

Some young talent in this one. Andre Drummond vs. Karl Anthony Towns. Remember when they said big men in the post were a dying breed?

Spurs-New Orleans

To quote the great Jordan Paladino, “New Orleans is trash.” The only way I’ll be watching the Pelicans again this year is if they play a marquee  game. I know its early in the season, but not only do they not look like they’ve gotten better, but it seems like they regressed. Its pretty disappointing.

Clippers-Portland

Lillard against Chris Paul sounds slightly amusing. Its hard to watch the Trailblazers even with their sick back court. When Lillard and McCollum are off the floor, it feels like I’m watching a pickup game at the Lewis and Clark Recreation Center–especially with Plumlee, Leonard, and Connaughton on the team.

Chicago-Golden State “Good Ass Game of the Week PART 2”

Last February’s affair was one of the “Good Ass Games of the Year” in my book. I have three words for you: HIGH LEVEL BASKETBALL. Plus two of my favorite college players from back in the day are now coaching against each other. That is correct, I am old enough to have seen the “The Mayor” play in college. #DON”THATECUZYOULATE

Saturday

Sacramento-Orlando

This week definitely has some bite to it. Good ass games every single night. Orlando is pesky. Scott Skiles knows how to get the young bucks fired up to play. Its the veterans who get tired of his overbearing style though. This is the perfect situation for him. In 4 years, maybe not. He is like the Buck Showalter of NBA coaches.

Memphis-San Antonio

Memphis looks a step behind this year. I’d be shocked if this were a double overtime affair like last season. Then again, so was this shot.

Sunday

Definitely the kind of setting that would precipitate a live-tweet session.

Big Ups of the Week to the person who designed this year’s Mavs’ jerseys. Those are the best looking ones I’ve seen in al the years they been rocking them shits.

I wish I could say the same for the Thunder jerseys. HELL NAW!!!

They would get the Buster of the Week Award in a regular week, but last week’s events (the bombings in Lebanon, and the shootings in Paris), have me thinking more sobering thoughts. In order for a tragedy of last week’s magnitude to occur, it takes multiple parties have to be complicit.

I’m not naive enough to think that international conflict can be avoided. Its unavoidable. But the fact that people can’t go to a movie, or see their favorite band without fear of being shot in a public place is discomforting. We have to figure out a way to be better people towards each other. There’s no way around it.

One minute you are ordering a dish in French for the first time, and in the next breath, there can be bullets whizzing by your head.Life really is that fragile.

#shoothoopsnotpeople

Peace.

BM

#thisagoodassgame # fullsass

@clickpicka79

Fullsass.com

bobbymickey@gmail.com

Not a Fluke

Man I tried to told ya’ll.

The Heat have the best player, but the Spurs have the best team from top to bottom.
If the Heat didn’t have Lebron, they would be the Raptors, a good but not great team with mediocre subs. Ray allen has played well considering his age, and Wade got off to a good start in the series. But really, besides Lebron (who is still getting his numbers and deserves none of the blame for the way this is going) there is no one to be afraid of on this team. This might as well be 2007 when Lebron played with Cleveland.

IF you want to know why the last two games have been such a shift in dynamics, then look no further than Kawhi Leonard’s stats in games 3 and 4. Leonard had 20 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocks last night. In game 3 he shot 10-13 with 29 points (3-6 from downtown).

I also like to point out my man Boris “Le Grand Croissant” Diaw, who racked up 9 assists in game 4. He is a tough match up, because he can handle the rock, can back you down, and he is an exquisite passer. The Spurs are in another gear with him in the game.

The Heat did manage to get more bench production from their group, but its almost too little too late. Game 5 in San Antonio will be closer than you think, but that arena is going to be rocking. After what happened to the Spurs last year, you know they are out for blood. You could tell the players were mad that they even lost game 2. This should have been a sweep.

OFF Season Noise

How about that Derik Fisher signing? 25 million for 5 years to a first year coach. Wow. I think if there were any situation that could be more perfect to fall into for a first year coaching gig this is it. Forget the fact that this is better than any contract the “Fish” got as a player. He gets to have Phil as a coaching mentor, and boss. The on the job training he will get will be tremendous. It will be a tough couple of years. The Knicks have a few bad contracts on the books still and no draft picks for a while. But who knows who will sign with them after 2016. I’ll be keeping tabs on that situation.

Someone told me that an old Mizzou coach just moved to Salt Lake City.

As much as I bag on Cleveland, Mark Jackson would be a great hire for a franchise that has shown that it has no plan whatsoever. Then again, why would a coach want to work for a franchise like that?

Carmelo the “ballstopper” to the Heat? Yeah good luck with that. Call me when they sign some decent bench players on the cheap. So much for the Greg Oden and Michael Beasley contributions. Honestly I’m tired of watching basketball this year. I want to spend the next months playing it instead of streaming it on my computer. Put them away Spurs. I don’t need any distractions. It’ll be tough enough to find a way to watch the World Cup.

Kawhi Before Our Very Eyes

When its all said and done, Greg Popovich’s face should be on a postage stamp, “Spurs Forever”
Besides trading away Luis Scola and signing Richard Jefferson, can you think of any other glaring mistakes that the front office in San Antonio has made (I bet their front office is about as tight lipped as the KGB on draft nights. Even the slightest rumor that the Spurs are high on a player will raise their stock)?

Drafting the Admiral and Timmy “Time Machine” were both no brainers, but how did they know Manu Ginoboli and Tony Parker would be so damn good? Now they have Kawhi emerging as a legitimate two way threat. I don’t think he’ll ever be more than an 18 and 10 guy (He doesn’t strike me as the kind of player who’ll carry a team by himself–nor should he be asked to), but the impact that he has on a game can’t be ignored. The guy made three pivotal, mouth gaping, “HOLY FUCK” plays last night.
Kawhi’s presence cannot be ignored. There is going to come a point where Tony Parker won’t have the wheels and will have to say “You have the juice now Kawhi.” And Spurs fans will solemnly nod and cheer their team on to another 50 win season. Kawhi fell to # 15 in a weak 2011 draft and I would argue that he is clearly the best player to come out that year. I see why Mavs fans hate the Spurs so much. Imagine how mad they would be if the Spurs somehow landed Rick Carlisle as the successor to Popovich. They’d be swollllllllll.