No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett starts season 0-15 shooting through four games

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It’s way, way too early to freak out about this or to use the “B” word. (“Bust.” As your mom used to say get your mind out of the gutter.)

That said…

Cleveland’s No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett is off to a historically rough start of his rookie season. He is 0-of-15 from the field and that includes 0-of-8 from three. He’s missed five shots inside eight feet, a couple shots that were long twos and the eight threes. He has knocked down a couple free throws, so he has points.

It’s the slowest start for a No. 1 overall pick since 1966. Think about that. All the bust No. 1 picks you can name — Kwame Brown, Michael Olowokandi and on down the list — got off to faster starts than Bennett.

Which is probably why Bennett tweeted this (but has since removed it):

Going ghost for a bit, think it’s be best for me at this point .. If you don’t have my number DM me

I don’ think we can emphasize enough it is way, way, way too early to hit any panic buttons here. Remember he is a 20-year-old kid coming off shoulder surgery trying to find his way in a new and tougher league.

Talk to me around the All-Star break and we’ll see how he is developing, but remember that the Cavaliers picked him for the player they think he will be in three years, not 50 minutes into his NBA career. It’s a process.

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To me the spotlight would fall more on the Cavaliers here anyway — they made the gamble pick that surprised everybody. He was considered a guy with a big upside, someone long and athletic, but a bit of a project.

Four games into the season is way, way, way too early to make the call on Bennett. Let him find his groove and we’ll see what kind of player he is in 2016.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.