By: Derrick Sholes
Way back in my old Tumblr days, in efforts to gloss over (or maybe ignore) a substantial topic, I’d turn to this thing I apathetically christened DJ’s Random Sh— like the true narcissist I am. It was self-explanatory: I’d share insight on the most random topics instead of sticking to one topic. This is considered the simplest standard blog template everyone has used one way or another—it’s essentially Twitter without the characteristic shackles. I personally like this way because I find it more comforting to able to branch out in different directions when the landscape is so huge. Also, there’s a sense of freedom knowing you’re not confined by one topic, especially when there are so many things happening, so many things that evoke opinions or thoughts.
So my plan is to bring that familiar format here to Cove Alpa and use it on the NBA. Every several weeks until Adam Silver hands over the gold trophy, I’ll come by and attempt to put words together from what I’ve noticed, liked, disliked, questioned, etc. from the NBA world—my irrelevant NBA insight. I watch more basketball than I should, so there might be a lot of output. The ramblings and randomness will attempt to offer an extended version of the micro-blogging service we all know and love hate. There won’t be too many takes, as we all know the Internet needs less of them, but I’ll attempt to give easily digestible, scattered thoughts around the league.
Now that the boring intro stuff is out the way:
I know we’re nearing the halfway mark, but it would be remiss of myself to not complain about NBA League Pass Broadband this season. There are parallels between complaining about League Pass and people casually complaining about their fantasy team, which the latter garners a great deal of deserved annoyance, but we’ve reached absurdity levels this season. Saying it has been an abomination would be a complement. LPBB via Apple TV and the official NBA app has been acceptable, but the desktop version has been an unmitigated disaster to the point I gave up weeks into the season. It’ll tend to not load the page where the game presides causing you to hit refresh over and over again; it freezes almost every time after a timeout is called; it’s always multiple plays behind (more than normal). This could very well be my last season with this substandard service. This is not worth $200 and a revolt is building. A microcosm is, when I’m out, I can sometimes watch Lakers games through the NBA app without blackout restrictions. It has been a joke, but among the awful, LPBB does offer a cool feature where there isn’t boring commercials or forced stat pages as opposed to previous seasons by offering live in-arena footage between action that I very much enjo—
….Or maybe not.
Russy’s Rampage: It’s my first Kobe Bryant-less season and it feels like the NBA version of Brave New World. While some are glad he’s gone, it’s been a strange transition on my end. Then Kevin Durant choose to play with the greatest shooter ever over the greatest destroyer of rims worlds and unleashed a force the NBA hasn’t seen before. DeMar DeRozan is probably the perfect child if Kobe and another Kobe had a love child, but Russell Westbrook is the proper spirit embodiment of Kobe Bryant that has made this first season without that sociopath easier. Seeing Russy storm through the league with rage in his mind and rejection in his heart echoing 2006 Kobe with 1962 Oscar Roberson numbers using the ferocity of 2012 Hulk every night has been a whirlwind. The amount of gasps I do when he plays should be added to his absurd stat line. There’s times he looks indestructible, then there are times it seems he’s the only person who’s going to derail himself. He is the perfect person to take over Kobe’s narrative. While some love him, others do not feel the same for his on-court stylistics, and both sides are understandable, but he’s what the NBA needs right now with super-teams still lingering around: the anti-hero who his no problem putting the team on his back and but also not caring about anyone’s feelings how he does it. He wasn’t my pre-season MVP pick, but I’ll continue to root for him for more than wanting to see this meme come to life. While we’re here…
3-Headed MVP Race: The three top candidates for MVP are James Harden, Westbrook and Durant. The three of them are at the forefront of the MVP race now that the three reside on separate teams draws some weird parallels to Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose, formally known as The Shield. Wrestling is fake, obviously, but the storylines are just as compelling if not more. Since, all three have generated individual accomplishments and blossomed since going their separate ways after being teammates—Durant and his team is the favorite to win the championship, Harden is the MVP front-runner with the magic him and Mike D’Antoni has concocted and Westbrook is looking to do something that hasn’t been done in fifty-five years. Hopefully their reunion next month in New Orleans is as fun as The Shield’s.
I remember seeing Haralabos Voulgaris say on Twitter Al Horford doesn’t rebound well. Ever since then, when I check Celtics box scores, I like to see how many rebounds he snatched down. It’s essentially a nighty box score game similar to the old Did Nick Young Get an Assist Tonight? game that eventually became the Did Hassan Whiteside Get an Assist Tonight? As for Horford, he’s averaging his lowest rebounding number of his career, but is still holding a respectable rebounding percentage as he’s sandwiched between other notable NBA centers who’ve recently ventured to the perimeter to shoot threes in Marc Gasol and Demarcus Cousins. It’s just a fun thing to look out for during nightly box score check.
The Giannis Coming out Party: The amount of joy I have for the Giannis Antetokounmpo’s exciting run these past few weeks is unprecedented for player who isn’t apart of the Lakers for me. Knowing how endless his potential was watching him in his first three seasons and seeing him making the leap (or in his case it’s a eurostep) into what’s he’s blossomed into this year has been oddly gratifying for some reason. And how everything has aligned as well as it has: Milwaukee getting TNT/ESPN airtime, the nightly eye-popping Vines and highlights, the Lee Jenkins feature, his first game-winner at MSG, the first All-Star vote returns, the duel with Kristaps Porzingis a few nights back. His stardom has emerged as the rest the world has finally caught on at the right time. It’s a pleasure watching Giannis bend basketball morphology. He just turned 22.
OK, so LPBB in-arena footage during timeouts won back my heart:
Glad ESPN and TNT, the same providers who shelled out almost $3 billion to continue to air games nationally, is consistent in torturing fans with borderline unlistenable commentators. Yes, the product is great, but the people we’re forced to hear make pouring acid into our ears seem like a better idea. I enjoy looking forward to the Lakers being on national television and getting away from their own horrible play-by-play guy to get a breath of fresh competent commentary air only to be slapped in the face with the likes of Mr. Unlistenable Reggie Miller or Jon Barry consistently. I mean, 83-year-old Hubie Brown, the best color commentator on either networks was assigned to the most unwatchable of the five Christmas Day games. I hope Amazon Prime has acid for sale.
“Hunker down. Probably a rainy night where you are. Snuggle with your favorite. Watch some Kings second half action.” – Jim Kozimor on CSN California during halftime of a winter Kings-Nuggets game recommending ‘Sacramento Kings Basketball and Chill.’ Sure, why not.
Every time I watch the Raptors, I think of two things: 1) how amazing an offense centered around Kyle Lowry, who’s arguably been the best point guard in the Eastern Conference the last couple years, but also his backcourt buddy DeRozan, who’s playing style represents the antithesis of this modern pace and space era. DeRozan is like an orange in the bowl full of apples out there—he doesn’t fit, yet this Raptors team still works well given they’re the second best offense per 100 possessions, slightly behind Golden State. 2) Even with how great their offense is statistically, no one, including myself, is giving them a shot in hell against the Cavs in a conference finals rematch and I feel bad. This is why I hope they go for it and somehow acquire someone like a Paul Millsap now that Atlanta is in a fire sale, especially with Lowry’s free agency looming. Adding Millsap doesn’t mean they beat Cleveland, but things would be a lot more interesting in the east, sort of kind of. This leads me to my next point…
We got a trade! (A few weeks later than expected since December 15th was the first day players who signed contracts over the summer were eligible to be traded.) BRING ON MORE TRADES, PLEASE!
It can’t be stated enough how the NBA is in such an incredible position right now. Even though a few all-time greats that helped shape the post-Jordan era retired recently, there is still a substantial amount of talent spread across the entire league it’s unreal. The NBA has so much going for it—usual suspects like Steph Curry, LeBron James and Kevin Durant at the forefront; the emergence of young evolutionary specimens like Antetokounmpo, Porzingis, Joel Embiid, and Karl-Anthony Tows; Westbrook and his triple-double narrative; the growth in international play; pace and space continuing its astronomical boom; the golden age of point guards; the continual increase in ratings; value in franchises skyrocketing; a Finals rivalry between two teams with marquee players that reminds people of 80s Lakers-Celtics; the new television money causing the salary cap to explode paying everyone and then avoiding any sort of work stoppage that could harm all of this momentum and more. The NBA has everything it needs to surpass the NFL, especially with the troubled waters the latter has hovered over the last few years. It’s only a matter of time until people finally realize the true superior league that has an actual good product at the moment.