During the summer, we get a buzz watching John Wall say he is back and slash through guys at the Goodman league. Or watching Brandon Jennings cut it up at the Drew League.
We relate to the normal sized guy who can find a way to get it done in the NBA. We love Derrick Rose and crown him MVP in part because we marvel at what he can do at 6’3” as opposed to a Dwight Howard, who is a freak of nature at an athletic 6’11”. We don’t really relate to the guys 6’11” because we are not near that tall and nobody we know is 6’11”. Or taller. We all want the next Jordan, the next Rose, not the next Kareem.
But if you want to win, you need the trees, not the point guards.
Jonathon Tjarks lays it out in a great post at SB Nation.
Since the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol in 2008, they have gone 12-2 in playoff series, either winning the title or losing to the eventual champions. The only two teams that beat them (Boston in 2008, Dallas in 2011) were the only two teams that had the size, length and skill to match the Lakers front-line of Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum….
After making it to the Western Conference Finals in 2007, the Utah Jazz ran into the Lakers three straight seasons — losing 4-2 in 2008, 4-1 in 2009 and 4-0 in 2010. With a front-line that prominently featured the 6’9 Carlos Boozer and the 6’7 Paul Millsap, the Jazz never really had a chance. In 15 playoff games between the two teams, Boozer shot 45% from the field while Gasol shot 58%….
LeBron James is the NBA’s best player because of his ability to dominate the paint at 6’9 and 270 pounds, and for all the talk of his mental fragility, the blueprint for beating him has been the same for five years now: a mobile and athletic seven-footer who can cut off his usually overpowering drives at the rim. It was Tim Duncan in 2007, Kevin Garnett in 2008, Dwight Howard in 2009, Garnett again in 2010 and Tyson Chandler in 2011.
Size matters. The old coaching adage is “tall and good beats small and good.” You just can’t throw a big stiff out there, but if you have a Gasol or Nowitzki or Kevin Garnett you have an advantage over a team with a great point guard and no size in the middle.
Which is something Lakers fans may want to keep in mind when they start talking about trading Gasol or Bynum.
Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum explained Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors with an analogy about getting jumped by a gang with your brothers then joining that gang and forgetting about your brothers. McCollum called stars passing through Golden State to win big before joining another team – a la DeMarcus Cousins – “disgusting.”
Those comments have predictably generated plenty of discussion. But McCollum dislikes how those discussions are being framed.
Not everything McCollum says is newsworthy. Nobody is ethically obligated to amplify every comment he makes in a lengthy interview. Everywhere I saw, McCollum’s quote was given clear context.
It’s not newsworthy McCollum called the Warriors great. We all know they’re great. That’s why their existence is controversial.
And McCollum didn’t say just that he would never join Golden State. He called it “disgusting” then elaborated many other players would have too much pride for that track. The rhetoric was sharp and wide-reaching.
I found McCollum’s comments interesting, and I’m happy he shared them. I didn’t necessarily agree, but I appreciate his perspective. The NBA is more fun when more players reveal their differing points of view.
So kudos to McCollum – and Andre Iguodala.
McCollum totally forgot about Iguodala – but not incorrectly. Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson look like future Hall of Famers. Maybe Cousins gets there, too. But Iguodala doesn’t deserve it. He made only one All-Star game and mostly topped out at good-starter level. His Finals MVP – which should have gone to LeBron James or, if you insist on awarding a winning player, Curry – shouldn’t push Iguodala over the top.
The best part of McCollum’s Twitter defense today:
McCollum has won seven playoff games – including a series against the Clippers and a single game over the Warriors in 2016. He could have easily brought those up.
But “Im trying Jennifer” is a far more enjoyable response.
Does this give us a hint about what Dwyane Wade is thinking?
Probably not. What it means is that the Heat want some depth along the front line and, more importantly, a quality presence in the locker room. They want to bring back one of the icons of the franchise.
Udonis Haslem is reportedly nearing a contract with the Miami Heat, reports Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.
Haslem played in just 14 games for the Heat last season, and 72 total minutes. He just turned 38 and the Heat could use that roster spot to develop a young player. But this is about loyalty, and it’s a move that will play well in the locker room and with the fan base.
Wade also will like it. Whether it is an omen of his decision remains to be seen.
The 2018-19 NBA MVP race feels more wide open than we have seen in years.
What kind of numbers will LeBron James put up with the Lakers and how far can he lift that team? Can James Harden repeat? Is Kawhi Leonard back in MVP form? Will a new coach in Mike Budenholzer lift Giannis Antetokounmpo up to a new level? Does Russell Westbrook put up MVP numbers again?
Online betting company Bovada released these odds for the 2019 MVP award.
LeBron James 10/3
Anthony Davis 4/1
Giannis Antetokounmpo 9/2
James Harden 11/2
Kevin Durant 9/1
Kawhi Leonard 11/1
Russell Westbrook 14/1
Stephen Curry 15/1
Joel Embiid 16/1
Kyrie Irving 16/1
Ben Simmons 35/1
Damian Lillard 45/1
Karl-Anthony Towns 50/1
DeMar DeRozan 80/1
John Wall 80/1
Donovan Mitchell 85/1
Jimmy Butler 100/1
Nikola Jokic 100/1
Victor Oladipo 100/1
Chris Paul 100/1
LaMarcus Aldridge 125/1
Paul George 125/1
DeMarcus Cousins 150/1
Gordon Hayward 150/1
Jayson Tatum 175/1
Blake Griffin 225/1
Devin Booker 275/1
Kristaps Porzingis 275/1
Kyle Lowry 325/1
Lonzo Ball 450/1
A few quick thoughts:
• If you’re betting on Porzingis to win the MVP this season, just donate that money to charity where it can do some good. He may not even play this season.
• If you believe Kawhi Leonard is healthy and back to form, 11-1 is a good betting value.
• Westbrook at 14-1 also seems a good value, if you think he and Paul George can lift the Thunder up to a new level.
• My preseason prediction for MVP is Anthony Davis. But that’s betting on him staying healthy.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had it right — the GOAT argument is a comparison of different players with different teammates and different rules, it’s cannot be definitive. To use his Highlander analogy, “there doesn’t need to be only one.”
But if you ask Rockets GM Daryl Morey who is The Greatest, he is going with LeBron James. Something he said on the Dan Patrick Show Wednesday.
LeBron is the best of his generation, maybe the greatest athlete the NBA has ever seen, and he entered the league with a basketball IQ off the chart (remember when short-sighted people used to rip him for passing to the open player with the game on the line rather than taking the contested shots?).
Is he the GOAT? Fun discussion while sitting on a barstool with a Steady Brewing Unrefined hazy IPA in front of you, go at it in the comments, but there is no answer.
Unless you’re Morey.