Connor Huchton andÂ Scott LeedyÂ like to argue. Instead of shouting at each other on Twitter, theyâ€™ve decided to try something more constructive: An actual, semi-coherent email conversation. What you see below are the results. (The first segment in this series can be found here.)
Scott: Ok, let’s just pretend for one second that there is no lockout. What are you most excited for in the upcoming “season”? What teams stories or players most interest you? For me, the Thunder hold a particular interest. Especially James Harden. I think he has the potential to be the second best player on that team. I also believe he could be their go to playmaker down the stretch (you know, if Scott Brooks can get it together) Another important question: With JR Smith and Kenyon Martin gone, can Andray Blatche alone carry the “guys who do stupid stuff off the court that make us laugh, cry, and break things, all at the same time” load by himself?
Connor: So many questions at once. I’ll answer the first one, because it’s the easiest. In the upcoming season, I’m probably most interested in Bismack Biyombo. And not just how he plays. What is he “all about”? Can he play point guard?
Scott:Â Ah, Biyombo. Also known as Tyrus Thomas with a cool name. Seems like there’s really two camps when it comes to Bismack: There are those who marvel at his athleticism and defensive potential, and then there are those who laugh at and mock those people. I tend to fall in to the second category, though I do see why Charlotte fans are excited about him as a player. If nothing else, he provides some semblance of hope for what has been a downtrodden franchise. Unfortunately, hope can be a dangerous thing.
Connor:Â No, hope is a good thing. This is basketball. Without hope, we’d all be Brad Miller and have sworn off the NBA by now. As for Biyombo, I have hope. There’s plenty of reason to be hopeful about a teenager who led the second best basketball league in the world in blocks and has a great work ethic and disposition. He can naturally rebound and block, but he doesn’t seem willing to settle and play simply to the extent of his natural capabilities.
Scott:Â It’s difficult to categorize hope as either good or bad. At this point it feels as though all the hope has been beaten out of us by snarky David Stern quotes, awful player PR campaigns, and an astounding lack of perspective from both sides during the current NBA conflict. As for Biyombo, I think your last statement will ultimately determine what Biyombo becomes. Being willing to play beyond your natural capabilities can either undermine you as a player or vault you towards greatness. If Biyombo works hard and exerts himself in the the right ways he has a chance to be very good. If he tries to force things and plays beyond what he’s capable in such a way that he damages his team, he is doomed to be another cautionary tale.
Connor:Â There really aren’t any comparisons for him. I don’t think the dreaded Thabeet comparison really works (nor do I think the more positive ones really apply). Anyway, teams like the Bobcats have to take chances in the draft. Drafting a player like Marcus Morris might turn out ok, but he’s never going to change the scope of a franchise.
Scott:Â Right, but if you always swing for the fences on potential, you can get burned. I think the best approach is to take who you believe to be the best player available, with all factors taken into account. However, I do agree that small market teams like the Bobcats and Rockets (to a lesser degree) generally need to land a star through the draft to have a chance at a championship.
Connor:Â Should we talk about the lockout? Because things got bad today. Like Taylor Hicks’s post-American Idol career bad.
Scott: I’m so tired of this whole thing. It’s far too frustrating. I should be looking the schedule to see what games I can make it back to Portland for, and instead I’m just hoping we have some kind of season. I know this is an incredibly complex negotiation and I know the players haven’t exactly handled themselves in the best possible ways, but I’m tired of just about everything that comes from Stern, Silver or The Owners’ mouth. If they want to play hardball, that’s fine. But don’t pretend like you care about the integrity of the game or the fans. That’s disingenuous.
Connor:Â I like how you capitalized “The Owners”, as if they’re some foreboding medieval club (not that I think it’s the worst comparison). Also, I think there’s danger in lumping every owner together into a unified, hivemind-controlled group Â (likewise with the players). I doubt Michael Jordan wants what Jerry Buss does, and I doubt Mario West wants exactly what LeBron James does.
Scott:Â Â That’s true, but it’s sort of difficult to talk about them in anything other than the aggregate, because we don’t have good information on exactly who wants what. I thought you made a great point on Twitter today: Are the owners really trying to borrow a model from the NHL? It just makes no sense. The NBA has so many good things going for it, and while I understand The Owners make that possible, the league’s success and popularity has everything to do with the quality of play and the marketability of its stars. At this point, The Owners and even the players (to a certain degree) are more interested in being justified than what’s actually best for themselves and the league. It’s upsetting because what we all love about basketball, (the elegance combined with the raw power and athleticism, etc.) is being marred and distorted by “dollars and cents”. I understand that’s “the way it is”, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be upset by it. I think it’s more than within our right to want more.
Connor: Pride is a prominent factor in many negotiations, and it’s role in these negotiations has become increasingly apparent as the lockout has continued. As for the NHL comparison, it is kind of funny in its lack of applicability. Adam Silver might as well of stood at the podium and declared firmly,Â “We really like the hard-nosed stance those guys over at the UFL are taking.”