Monthly Archives: October 2012

Great Exercises in Internet NBA-Related Postings 10-31-12

What a whirlwind of an opening night. We saw Anderson Varejao gobble up the boards, Kyrie Irving mesmerized us once more with his dribbling, Ray Allen looked spectacular in his debut against his former team (oh, and the rest of the Heat didn’t look too bad either), and the Howard/Nash Lakers era got off to an inauspicious start. Also, EDDY CURRY. Anyways, here’s what’s what in today’s blogosphere.

  • BREAKING: Jason Terry is not an airplane, but he was arguably the 5th best shooting guard last season, so says Aaron McGuire.
  • Another season, another Eric Gordon injury. His knee is once again causing problems, and will keep him out indefinitely. However, as Eric Freeman suggests, should we read between the lines of what New Orleans is telling us? And what does this mean for the relationship between Gordon and the Hornets going forward?
  • I’m a diehard KU fan, and Kirk Hinrich is one of my all-time favorite Jayhawks. However, he never inspired me to talk to cats. 
  • How good was Klay Thompson after the Monta Ellis trade? Uh, really freaking good.
  • The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. In the NBA, at least.



The Stakes For Kevin Martin

Photo from yewenyi via Flickr

Once the initial shock of the James Harden trade subsided, I expected people to start talking about Kevin Martin.

Well, they didn’t. The easy argument is be that Harden’s beardy presence and the virtually unprecedented on-the-fly retooling of what promises to be a perennial title contender were too big to move on, and yet, it’s still jarring. Martin may not be of Harden’s caliber, but this is still a player who is only 2 years removed from ranking 2nd in the entire league at points per minute. The defense is bad and he hasn’t been in the playoffs since this beauty (RIP, Arco Arena) and caveats always come in threes, but still, for crying out loud – this guy moves to a title contender and we’d rather discuss Jeremy Lamb? How did this happen?

Somehow, Kevin Martin has managed to become a controversial player. There’s no part of his game where there is a dissonance regarding his abilities. Everybody everywhere knows he is an elite scorer and horrible defensively. There’s no statheads vs. WATCH TEH GAMEZ. Just erosion. We’re tired of telling people how good he can be just to watch his team slightly underachieve, jaded from our belief being rewarded by a wide array of injuries and annoyed glances from coaches.

Basically, Kevin Martin needs to make us trust him again.

I’m not sure exactly when we stopped trusting him. I just know that it happened. It used to be easy – nobody can dislike a player drafted 26th who rises to the top of the shooting guard ranks through hard work and meticulously mapping out a successful offensive repertoire. Coinciding with his ascension, Martin served as a single parachute trying to stop the freefall of the entire Kings franchise, and then, upon failure, as the only redeeming quality of a team that was a truly atrocious viewing experience 82 times a year.

Perhaps the turning point was that Tyreke Evans/wrist injury combo. We forget this because Paul Westphal ruined everything – EVERYTHING – but things were finally looking up for the woebegone Kings to start the 09-10 season. Martin dropped a sick 48 in an OT win against Memphis in the fourth game of the season, and they supposedly had a backcourt of the future to go with Tyreke (AND OMRI CASS.. eh, forget it. He didn’t even play against the Wizards last night. It’s done). But then Martin fractured his wrist, the team became Reke-property, and when Martin came back he couldn’t deal with that. It was at this point – not after 3 consecutive losing seasons, mind you – that Martin was exposed as the guy who pouts when things don’t go his way, and he was eventually shown the door.

As for the Houston tenure, that was… disappointing. The team finished 9th in the West with a record that would be playoff eligible in the East for each season Martin was there, and while one can probably make the case that those were all over-achievements (even accounting for the fact that Houston seemed like a playoff lock last year before finishing 2-7 and dropping out), that case would be a depressing one unless it came with a liquor of your choice.

Individually, Martin was great at times and mediocre at others, but the ending was familiar – him and Lowry didn’t get along, him and McHale didn’t get along, him and Clutch didn’t get along – some of these are true and some of these are lies, but the stigma is out there. Kevin Martin is the guy that doesn’t get along, and it’s a reality that you would have swiftly rejected if you were back in 2008, enjoying his brilliance on a stained Reggie Theus canvas.

And now we arrive in Oklahoma City, the reigning Western Champion, where anything but a championship will be proof that Sam Presti made a mistake, and we’re desperately looking elsewhere for relief. At Russell Westbrook making “The Leap”, which feels impossible because he’s made Leaps in consecutive seasons already. At Serge Ibaka learning the subtle nuances of elite NBA defense that has yet to be discovered between blocked shots. At Jeremy Lamb doing anything, really, because we don’t have any idea what to expect.

Kevin Martin? He’s an expiring contract. OKC needed one to make the trade work, you know, he was on Houston’s books and McHale’s black list, and that was that. He scores over 20 points a night on true shooting percentages in the 60s and his best quality is he leaves after the season.

For all we know, this could be perfectly fair. Martin was a boon individually in 2010-11, but his drop off last year was both real and worrying. He stopped getting to the line, and before you blame the death of the rip through move, note that his attempts at the rim were halved as well. There is a very real possibility that at 29 he just isn’t the same player he once was.

Furthermore, we have Harden manning that third violin role imprinted so deep into our brain that we don’t know if Martin can be a good fit. Kelly Dwyer wisely noted on Monday that though Harden and (pre 2011-12) Martin are similar in their high efficiency scoring, Martin is nowhere near Harden’s level as a playmaker, and the sort of shots Martin thrives on won’t necessarily be the ones that are immediately available. Martin was miserable in McHale’s pick-and-roll heavy system, and Harden does the majority of his damage on these plays (which is why the prospect of him in Houston is so tantalizing). And we can’t forget the defense, where Martin joins an improving but still questionable Westbrook-Durant tandem. That trio could very well be the league’s best offensive unit while playing Hasheem Thabeet and a well-intentioned bowl of porridge as big men, but against elite wings – and lord knows Miami and Los Angeles have those – they could just as easily give up 120 as they could score it. Martin is no sure thing, and watching this unit develop will be fascinating precisely because it’s so new and different from what we’ve grown accustomed to.

But there’s an alternate scenario. Kevin Martin may be the guy who hates it when things don’t go his way, but maybe, just maybe, he really did have to suffer an inordinate amount of things not going his way. That’s done, now – the organization is in a great place, and there are around 30 minutes a night in a comfortable bench role and multiple wide open three pointers that are just waiting for him to take them and Kevin Perkins and Nick Collison setting off ball screens and Westbrook and Durant drive and kicks and oh boy, it’s tantalizing. History tells us that he’s perfectly capable of doing these, and doing them extremely well. History also wonders why we’re so comfortable proclaiming he’ll come off the bench without complaining, or why we don’t project him to miss 30 games. History is confusing like that, sometimes.

The Oklahoma City dynasty will live on barring a Russell Westbrook trade demand, because him and Durant are too good. Harden is gone, but Lamb is intriguing, the Raptor pick could turn into gold if Presti doesn’t Cole Aldrich it, and Ibaka’s ceiling is still sky high.

But we don’t have to look that far into the future to regain our confidence. This has the potential to be very, very special, and Kevin Martin can be a huge part of that. Can. Had the Thunder traded for 2009 Kevin Martin, that sentence would have read “will be a huge part of that”, but for 2012 Kevin Martin, it’s still a conditional. It’s on Martin to prove to us that he’s still that guy, that even though he is in no way James Harden’s equal – repeat after me, HE IS IN NO WAY JAMES HARDEN’S EQUAL – he’s been a damn good player in his own right. At least, we think so. We used to be sure. We’re not, anymore.

Kevin Martin needs to make us trust him again.


15 Footer, 10/31/12: The Return of #LeaguePassAlert

Photo by beancounter via flickr

The 2012-13 NBA season tipped off last night with three games, two of which were on TNT. Tonight, however, things get going for real, with the return of one of the most beloved traditions for basketball fans: the #LeaguePassAlert. There are nine games on tonight, most of which hold zero interest to national audiences. But it’s an NBA nerd’s dream—every game holds some level of intrigue, be it a playoff rematch, the debut of a hyped rookie or offseason acquisition, or just a game that promises to be fun. Here’s what’s on:

The Jonas Era: Pacers at Raptors (7:00pm EST)

Jonas Valanciunas has reached an almost mythical status among NBA fans. So few people have ever seen the Lithuanian big man play, yet he’s been hyped as a possible dark-horse Rookie of the Year candidate since he was drafted in 2011. Tonight, he makes his NBA debut with a newly retooled Raptors team. Toronto features two other new acquisitions: Landry Fields, the favorite player of Connor Huchton and basically nobody else, and Kyle Lowry, the favorite point guard of everyone who knows what #KLOE means. Indiana lost Darren Collison, but otherwise made no major offseason moves, and should be just as solid this year as they were last year. If you needed another reason to watch, Gerald Green and DeMar DeRozan are both playing in this game, so there’s a high probability of some sweet dunks.

The “Other” Teams From the Dwight Howard Trade: Nuggets at 76ers (7:00pm EST)

Nobody really knows what these two teams are yet. Everyone loves the Nuggets as a League Pass team, and some people are even picking them to make a deep playoff run in the west. But they’re not without question marks: shooting is a concern, as is the consistency of their frontline. The jury is out on the Sixers until Andrew Bynum plays, which nobody has any idea when that will happen. But this game should be entertaining—the media narrative will be focused on Andre Iguodala’s return to Philadelphia after his not-as-controversial-as-made-out-to-be comments about Doug Collins. But there are other, far more interesting subplots here. Will the Sixers’ Evan Turner and the Nuggets’ Danilo Gallinari have breakout years? Just how much better does Iguodala make Denver’s defense? In their first meeting since being traded from the Wizards, former teammates and generally weird dudes JaVale McGee and Nick Young will be expected to do something crazy or stupid. Speaking of which, JaVale McGee is playing in this game. #TEAMPIERRE

One of These Teams Might Have Made a Trade Over the Weekend: Rockets at Pistons (7:30pm EST)

The weekend’s James Harden was so monumental in its impact on the Western Conference that it makes the return of Linsanity a secondary storyline. Daryl Morey traded for Harden expecting to make him a franchise player, and he’ll get a max contract extension before tonight. All eyes will be on him, even more so than on Jeremy Lin, and the pressure on both of them is palpable. The world will also get to see just how good Omer Asik is (and he’s really, really, really good). If that’s not enough to convince you to watch, four of the most potentially interesting rookies will make their pro debuts in Detroit: the Rockets’ trio of blogosphere favorite Royce White, Jared Dubin favorite Terrence Jones, and Noam Schiller favorite Donatas Motiejunas; and the Pistons’ Andre Drummond. Drummond has had a fantastic preseason, silencing a lot of the doubters he had coming into the draft. Now he gets to prove people wrong when it counts.

Two Teams, Lots of Guards, No Direction: Kings at Bulls (8:00pm EST)

This Bulls team is just depressing. This game would be so good if Derrick Rose was healthy, but instead, they’re trotting out a patchwork of Nate Robinson, Kirk Hinrich, and Marco Belinelli. The Kings have the opposite problem, with too much backcourt talent that doesn’t fit together at all. Aaron Brooks is trying to prove he’s still a viable NBA player. Tyreke Evans is playing for a contract. Jimmer Fredette, if he gets in, is trying to prove he isn’t terrible. At least Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Tomas are awesome, even though their minutes and play will be hindered by this fustercluck of a guard rotation. But hey, we get to watch DeMarcus Cousins and Taj Gibson.

The Brow Has Landed: Spurs at Hornets (8:00pm EST, NBA TV)

As good and reliable as the Spurs are, all eyes will be on Anthony Davis tonight. He’s the top overall pick, the presumptive Rookie of the Year, and in his first regular-season game, he’s matched up with an aging all-time great in Tim Duncan. Manu Ginobili is out, but so is Eric Gordon (whose desire to go to Phoenix is pretty understandable now). These teams are pretty fascinating, but tonight is all about Davis.

The Two Weirdest Frontlines in the West: Mavericks at Jazz (9:00pm EST)

Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are playing for contracts, but Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter seem poised for breakout years. How Ty Corbin will juggle this rotation remains to be seen, but tonight we’ll start to find out. The Mavs, with Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman out, are running out a frontcourt of Elton Brand, Brandan Wright, and Eddy Curry. Dallas shocked the league last night by beating the Lakers in the opening of the Steve Nash/Dwight Howard era. The Mavs’ mix-and-match free-agent additions, such as OJ Mayo and Darren Collison, all looked great. And then there’s Jae Crowder, who already has potential to be this draft class’ cult figure, someone whose jersey everyone on Twitter will start shopping for soon, while those who saw him at Marquette and in Summer League will jealously contend that they were there first.

The Post-Nash Era Begins: Warriors at Suns (10:00pm EST)

Stephen Curry just signed a four-year, $44 million extension, a figure that would definitely be higher if his ankles weren’t made of graham crackers. He should play tonight, although Andrew Bogut still isn’t ready. There are still plenty of intriguing pieces on this Warriors team, including No. 7 pick Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson, already one of the best shooters in the league going into his second year. The Suns begin figuring out how they’ll cope with life after Steve Nash, with his former backup Goran Dragic returning from Houston on a big contract. Their roster is kind of a mishmash, having picked up the inexplicably amnestied Luis Scola, who’s looked great in the preseason, as well as two former Timberwolves (Wes Johnson and Michael Beasley) out to prove they’re actually valuable players. Plus, there’s always the chance Kendall Marshall will drop a “btb” in a post-game interview.

Lob City, Year 2: Grizzlies at Clippers (10:30pm EST)

This is probably the best game of the nigh, a rematch of the most entertaining first-round series of the 2012 playoffs. The Grizzlies mostly stood pat, although they did upgrade from O.J. Mayo to Jerryd Bayless. Most notably, Memphis now has a healthy Zach Randolph, something they didn’t have for most of last season. On the Clippers’ side, besides the second year of the Lob City Express, they’ve added Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill. DeAndre Jordan had a great preseason. Will Lamar Odom play? And if so, which version will he show up as? Both of these teams will be prominently in the mix for the playoffs, and this is our first chance to see what they look like.

Let’s Try This Again: Lakers at Trail Blazers (10:30pm EST, NBA TV)

That wasn’t the start the Lakers had in mind, huh? The first game of the Steve Nash/Dwight Howard era was a disappointment—the offense was disjointed, and the defense was just awful. Elton Brand gave Howard fits all night, and eventually forced him to foul out. There were flashes, though, of just how lethal this team will be once they figure out their offense. The ball movement was gorgeous, and the night served as a necessary reminder of just how skilled Pau Gasol is. The talent disparity tonight is pretty huge, but the Lakers always have trouble at the Rose Garden. Having just endured one of their worst seasons in recent memory, Blazers fans will be out for blood. The good news for the Lakers is that Portland’s starting center is J.J. Hickson, who is not the defender Brand is, to put it kindly. He should be exactly what Howard needs to bounce back from last night. Damian Lillard makes his debut, and he’s the Rookie of the Year pick of everyone who doesn’t think it will be Davis. So far, he’s had difficulty at the beginnings of games and been terrific down the stretch. If he comes out aggressive from the get-go, Portland has a chance here. Otherwise, it’ll be pretty ugly.

Lion Face/Lemon Face 10/30/12: Sweet, Sweet Basketball

You know who’s excited about the NBA being back? You guessed it: Matt and Ben. Gentlemen?


Lion Face: Dion Waiters eats the chip on his shoulder for breakfast

Nicely done, rookie.

Lemon Face: Rajon Rondo makes a statement that is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

Lion Face: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade remind you what you were missing since June

Lemon Face: KG being KG

Lion Face: A Dirk-less Mavs squad tells the Lakers they need to work on their chemistry

I’ll let Zach Harper take it from here:
“Steve Nash looked like a rookie point guard playing under Larry Brown. Kobe Bryant was a lot more Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton most of the night than he was himself. And the big man combo of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol weren’t running up and down the court against Eddy Curry.”

Lemon Face: The Wizards really missed John Wall. And Nene. And Kevin Seraphin. And scoring.

The highest scoring player on Washington last night was Jordan Crawford. He had 11. On 13 shots. Get it together, guys.

Anthony Davis’s and Andre Drummond’s Visions for the Future

Photo via SBA73 on Flickr.

The two most intriguing players in the top 10 of this year’s draft class are similar in many ways, but couldn’t be more different in perception. Both are athletic, shot-blocking freaks with physical tools that have endless promise. The one with the most question marks about his ability to harness his talents has a massive physical presence in the mold of a classic center; the one whose game is much more polished is undersized for a five, with a body and skillset more typical of the ambiguous approach to positionality that is becoming commonplace in the NBA. Anthony Davis is the consensus number one pick, with an NCAA championship and an Olympic gold medal already under his belt at 19. He’s the most buzzed-about defensive prospect since Greg Oden, has already drawn comparisons to Kevin Garnett and Marcus Camby, and could potentially win multiple Defensive Player of the Year awards before his career is over. Andre Drummond has top-five talent but comes with questions galore about his basketball instincts and work ethic, which in part caused him to fall all the way to ninth. The names that have been thrown around next to his are more along the lines of Andrew Bynum and Kwame Brown—similarly talented physical specimens, one of whom put his skills together into a dominant package, while the other didn’t. Drummond is a feast-or-famine proposition.

Both make their professional debuts tonight, Davis’ Hornets against the Spurs and Drummond’s Pistons against the Rockets. They both hold a huge stake in their teams’ futures after toiling in obscurity. They got there in different ways: New Orleans fell from grace quickly after they lost one superstar and hope they have another one in Davis. Detroit, a powerhouse in the middle of the decade, slid slowly and painfully from relevance through years of ill-advised trades and signings, and draft picks that haven’t quite managed to change their course (Greg Monroe notwithstanding). They’re rolling the dice that Drummond is that guy.

Davis and Drummond both had fantastic preseasons, each of which served a different purpose. With Davis, the immediate excellence only reinforces what we already thought about him. He’s been anointed the new face of the Hornets since he was drafted, and his rebounding and shot-blocking acumen in their exhibition games served only to strengthen that position. Drummond needed to make an impact to reverse the widespread doubts about his readiness. He had no guaranteed minutes or starting spot like Davis did, and if he disappointed here, he ran the risk of setting his career back several years by taking himself out of the rotation. As it stands, he’s forced Lawrence Frank to give him serious consideration to start in the frontcourt alongside Monroe. That probably won’t happen right away, but “Free Drummond” seems poised to become a movement sooner rather than later.

Davis played center at Kentucky, but it appears that he’s going to start at power forward for the Hornets. But with Ryan Anderson capable of playing either forward position and Robin Lopez being generally terrible, he will almost certainly see some minutes at the five. The league is trending towards these smaller lineups, with lifetime power forwards like Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett pretty firmly established in the middle this season. If the Pistons choose to play Drummond and Monroe together, the model they will emulate will be closer to the Lakers’ combo of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard (or Andrew Bynum until this summer). Drummond is the low-post defensive threat, while Monroe can play both positions but could slide over to the four with his more diverse offensive game. Whether or not they can thrive together in the evolving NBA game will determine how far the Pistons go—both are too good to come off the bench.

The “athletic big man with upside” is the most perennially tantalizing entity in every year’s draft class. It’s backfired on Portland (with Greg Oden) and Golden State (with Anthony Randolph). But GMs will never pass on these types of talents. If they end up with a Tyson Chandler on their hands, they look like geniuses. Nobody really expects Anthony Davis not to be great. He’s about as much of a sure thing as this kind of player gets. But if Drummond joins him, it will vindicate the continuing fixation around the NBA.

Amar’e Stoudemire’s Absence Grows More As Apathy Settles

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My first reaction was to make jokes. My second reaction was “yay, Melo at the four!”. My third reaction was to make jokes about how Melo still won’t play at the four. These involved even more unnecessary Kurt Thomas than the 2011-12. My fourth reaction was “dammit, Amar’e used to be so, so good. I can’t believe it’s over.”

It was at this point that I stopped counting my reactions because they were becoming too unbearably dark for me to handle.

It may just be the inherent nature of knees. The human body is a fickle thing, and this as true in a setting that unites the 450 best entries of the athletic universe as in your 7th grade gym class. We keep reading about guys who won the genetic lottery, but unlike money, you can’t stash parts of your body in a bank and play with the rest of it. You just use your entire winnings to buy more and more tickets, and the more you play, the likelier it is that you just run out of ligaments at some point.

Maybe it’s just because the Knicks are the Knicks. Even after a season that re-defined the word Linsane. Especially after that season. Nothing can become quieter in New York, and after whatever the hell it was that happened last year, the drama quotient was just too high. Anonymous slander of Jeremy Lin through the press, pretending that Raymond Felton is good, bringing Rasheed Freaking Wallace out of a 2 year retirement – it just isn’t enough to fill up what New York needs. Why it needs this and not a quiet, solidly built roster is another question entirely, and all I know is that it rhymes with Dames Jolan and is not what we’re talking about right now.

Regardless, Amar’e is out for a while. The Knicks may just inadvertently benefit from it. We’ve spent an entire summer discussing how much better suited Melo is as a power forward, his unique combination of strength and speed much better suited closer to the basket against heavy-footed defenders. That third frontcourt spot will go either to desperately needed shooting (Steve Novak) or to a desperately needed backcourt defender (Ronnie Brewer). Tyson Chandler will have one less defensive liability he needs to cover for. There will be one less ego to juggle when shots are being doled out from the bench.

As for when (if?) Amar’e returns? Who knows, at this point? The press releases regarding his injury have dripped out slowly but surely, to the point where I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if an entire season is wiped out in 2 week intervals. He could return in late December, humbled, willing to take a bench role that almost makes too much sense; he could return with a vengeance, desperate to prove he still has it, to the point where he ruins what’s left of the team’s fragile chemistry; heck, he could still be good. It’s not looking likely, but I hate to dismiss the rest of a career, especially that of a player who was so dominant for such a long stretch between Starbury and Melo. I’ll save the retrospectives for later, hoping that it isn’t sooner.

In the meantime, this is another step in the Knicks’ long, stomach-turning , full on sprint into the realms of fiction. The amnesty clause is gone, cap flexibility is gone, this is the team and it’s falling apart exactly where it was to be expected – James Dolan’s feelings, Carmelo Anthony’s handlers, and Amar’e Stoudemire’s knees. Somehow, it still feels shocking.

Got Skillz: Stak5 feat. Kevin Durant – “Lonely at the Top”

Photo via Miroslav Petrasko on Flickr.

Kevin Durant’s rap debut is a pretty big deal. Not just because of his status as the second-most important player in the NBA, but also because it had the potential to serve as a step outside of the clean-cut, down-to-earth, family-friendly image he has obsessively cultivated for himself over the past five years. His position is a fascinating one—he doesn’t have an outsized personality that one usually associates with a side career as an entertainer (like, say, Dwight Howard), but anything he does in the fields of music and film will be interesting by default, because of who he is and what he means to the league. Until Rasheed Wallace and Iman Shumpert inevitably hop in the booth together, Durant’s first foray into hip-hop is the most anticipated and talked-about musical event of the NBA season.

Durant’s decision to have his musical coming-out party as a guest star on a track by the venerable Stak5, aka Stephen Jackson, was intriguing. Jackson’s personality is considerably more colorful than Durant’s, and his previous releases (such as this year’s surprisingly solidTrill Mixes mixtape) have been decidedly PG-13. Would he pull Durant away from the squeaky-clean persona we’ve become used to?

The answer is a decisive no. Unless, that is, you count NBA players rapping about their money as “controversial.” The Stak5/Durant track “Lonely at the top” is as inoffensive as it could possibly be. Production-wise, it’s a huge, glossy slab of bargain-basement “We Takin’ Over” pop-rap sludge that’s more grating than joyous. Stak is definitely in the upper echelon of NBA player/rappers (a group that also includes Shumpert, Lou Williams, and Julian Wright), but his bars here are pretty banal: “They say it’s lonely at the top, well I’m antisocial/Got Big and ‘Pac money, I’m so bicostal.” But Jackson’s not the main attraction here. It’s his track, so he gets the first verse, but even he knows that everyone really wants to hear what Durant’s got.

Jackson addressed his collaboration with Durant in an interview with XXL this summer, and he seemed to think highly of Durant’s abilities:

KD can go, man. I respect him for even getting on the track with me, because a lot of athletes are scared to even get on the same song with me ’cause they feel I’m gonna embarrass them. I’m just happy he took the time to do it, and he really killed the verse so a lot of people are gonna be surprised by it.

And here’s his verse:

Yo, Stak5, I got you…

Uh, I’m staring down while these other boys climbing up

Looking at my watch, I can tell that they time is up

Young boy in the game and I’m 23

Money like a vet while I fret over 100 G’s

I ain’t never gotta lie ’bout my raps, though

The hood in my heart, the state is on my back though

Keep pushing for everybody who never made it

And keep going for everybody who ever hated

Trey-5 with my back for my OG

Never overlook a single word that he told me

Keep workin’, never ever will it stop

Telling other people’s dreams…

That’s his whole verse. Like, that’s literally the entire verse. Kevin Durant’s highly anticipated rap debut, which one of the most respected rappers in the NBA said he “killed,” is that. The only really notable thing about it is the timing of the release, coming just days after James Harden was traded to the Rockets primarily for financial reasons. Harden may hear the “Money like a vet” line and resent the fact that Durant’s contract was part of why Sam Presti decided not to keep him. But seeing as how he’s about to get similarly maxed out by Houston, he’ll probably just not his head and say, “btb.”

Otherwise, meh.

15-Footer 10/30/12: NBA BACK

The NBA is back and tipoff is just hours away. Our long four month wait for the NBA to return is finally over as of 7:00 PM tonight. If tonight was a concert, the Wizards and Cavs would be the opening act that only fans of the band, or in this case teams, really care to see. Millions more eyeballs will be devoted to our featured act of the evening, a rematch of last year’s thrilling Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. For those willing to hang around for the encore, the new look Los Angeles Lakers play host to the Dirk-less Dallas Mavericks to cap off the first night of the 2012-2013 NBA campaign. A quick look at the games tonight (All times are Eastern because EAST COAST BIAS):

Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers. 7:00 PM. Comcast SportsNet (WAS), Fox Sports Ohio (CLE)

From the moment the schedule was released, this was an attractive matchup for the residents of C-town and DC. The possibility of renewing a rivalry, albeit a one sided one, that that manifested itself through the Cavs eliminating the Wizards from the postseason in 2006, 2007, and 2008 was a fun thought. Then John Wall suffered a stress injury in his right knee in late September and was ruled out for eight weeks. What once was a tasty matchup featuring Kyrie Irving and #4 pick Dion Waiters going head-to-head with John Wall and #3 pick Bradley Beal now features AJ Price in place of Wall which is…less appealing. Add in the fact that Hurricane Sandy is making getting to the game in downtown Cleveland a chore, and this game could be unwatchable in various ways. But still! Basketball! It’s officially back!

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat. 8:00 PM. TNT

If nothing else, those that complain that basketball has gotten too “buddy-buddy” in the AAU era of basketball where seemingly everyone gets along with everyone can take solace in knowing that these two teams absolutely loathe one another. LeBron James has either been ousted or been the ouster of Boston in four of the past five postseasons, and both teams seem to know that the road to the Finals most likely goes through each other yet again this season. As an added bonus, Ray Allen joining the Heat in the off-season conjured up memories of Macho Man Randy Savage turning heel and joining the New World Order. We’re talking about two guys that past their prime who joined a group featuring guys that were younger looking to make an impact. Will Allen get his wish and be used as more than just a decoy, even with the likes of LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh on the team? Will Rajon Rondo just throw the ball directly at Allen after receiving the opening tip? Will Kevin Garnett snap and eat Ray Allen’s soul? Who knows! As always, any game featuring potentially seven future Hall of Famers is an absolute must watch.

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers. 10:30 PM. TNT

After getting taken out in five games at the hands of the Thunder during last year’s playoffs, the Lakers went out and made a huge acquisition which they thought would help them get back to the top. A player that can provide a scoring punch to pair alongside Kobe Bryant.  A player that has previously been seen as the missing piece to a team’s run at a title. Yes, Antawn Jamison gets his first real action tonight in a Lakers uniform. Oh, and they got Steve Nash and Dwight Howard too while giving up Andrew Bynum and I think a $5 coupon to the Staples Center concession stand. Speaking of concession stands, after not re-signing Tyson Chandler last off-season with the intent that they would try and land Dwight Howard, Dallas starts Eddy Curry at center tonight.

The NBA is back and tipoff is just hours away.


The Hardwood Paroxysm 2012-13 Season Preview: The San Antonio Spurs

Image via abmatic on Flickr

Welcome to the Hardwood Paroxysm Season Previews. The 2012-2013 season is upon us. Rejoice! Oh, and if you want to see the most amazing document ever assembled by the most amazing team of writers ever assembled, click here for HARDWOOD PAROXYSM’S 2012-2013 COMPLETE SEASON PREVIEW MAGAZINE. Maybe even print a copy out and give it to your best friend for his/her birthday. Whatever you choose, that’s your journey. -Ed.

Great Theories Regarding Professional Basketball

by Clint Peterson 

Tim Duncan will continue to beat out deserving young talent at the “F” spot in the annual All-Star gala due to some insane inner-circle insistence on his not being listed as a center even though he has been since the Stone Age. Okay, maybe not the Stone Age, but damn close. Since Rasho Nesterovic was a Spur. I’m not kidding. How many of you even remember Rasho let alone the fact that he got a ring in 2005 with San Antonio?

If there’s a certainty in the Spurs’ circles, it’s that they will continue to reload around their aging superstars as long as they can, and likely finish the regular season with a home-court series or three in the Western Conference playoffs. They raid Europe like a Viking, better than any other ball club in the NBA.

But seriously, I’ll just leave this here.

Perhaps I Can Help You With That Hump. What Hump?

by Steve McPherson 

We talk a lot about inevitabilities when we talk about sports, even if we don’t exactly couch them that way. When someone says LeBron James can be better than Michael Jordan, people hear “will be better” and get purple in the face. And sometimes we do put it that way; when the Heat acquired James and Bosh, it wasn’t a question of whether they would win the championship, but when.

But you know what’s really inevitable? Getting old and then dying. Sure, we now have German cyberknees and Tommy John surgery, but they’re only a stay of execution. For at least a couple years now, death’s icy hand has been threatening the Spurs, but somehow they always slip the noose. Last postseason, their ascension to a Finals match-up with the Eastern Conference winner seemed all but, yes, inevitable until the Thunder took them apart. But the question now is, and seems to always be, can they do it again?

Ginobili, Duncan and Parker are all still top flight basketball players, and they’ve managed to bring in solid talent to shore up those players with DeJuan Blair, Kawhi Leonard, and Tiago Splitter all there to take the weight and ensure the Spurs’ own personal GDP stays in the black. But without their core, are you confident the Spurs would be anything more than a well-coached Phoenix Suns? I’m not saying this is necessarily the season we discover the hideously twisted and decrepit portraits Manu, Tony, and Timmy keep in their attics. I’m just saying it’s inevitable that one day we will.

Doomsday Vs. Manna From Heaven

by Jared Dubin 

The Spurs exist in a kind of limbo. Everyone knows they’re an incredibly talented team, talented enough to win the championship this year. Everyone knows they will operate like a well-oiled machine on the offensive side of the court; they’ll run their high pick-and-rolls with Parker and Duncan and beat you to death with their corner 3’s and their lay-ups and that sneaky Manu Ginobili. Everyone knows Gregg Popovich will have them ready to play every single night… except for those nights when he decides to sit his big guns down to maximize their rest for the postseason tournament he knows they’ll reach.

But everyone also knows that they’re another year older, which means they’re another year closer to that eventual, inevitable season when Timmy D finally breaks down, when Manu doesn’t have anything left in the tank, when Parker loses that half a step. Or are they? The Spurs are pegged by the media and the bloggers and the pundits to regress due to age nearly every year, and yet they just keep humming along, same as they ever was.

In the worst case scenario for San Antonio, this really is the season where Duncan is no longer Duncan, where Ginobili’s myriad of injuries finally catch up to him, where Parker’s quick first step begins to deteriorate, and where the young guns just don’t have it in them yet to make up the difference. They slump to a bottom-half of the West playoff seed and are bounced in the first round.

In the best case, San Antonio is essentially what they were last season – a brutally efficient offensive powerhouse that can score at will on any team in the league, only better. With improvements from Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair, and the presence of Patty Mills and Nando De Colo to back up Parker, the Spurs take yet another leap when we expect them to fall. They get revenge on OKC for last year’s Conference Finals defeat, and take out the Heat in the Finals. And then next year, when we count them out again, they come back for one more run.

Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8

by Clint Peterson 

46,784: The number of NBA minutes Tim Duncan has played in the regular season and playoffs combined.

830: The number of wins since Gregg Popovich’s first full season as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. For his career, since taking over early in the 1996-97 season from Bob Hill as head coach, Pop boasts an incredible .680 winning percentage.

15: Adjusted for two lockout-shortened seasons, the number of times the Spurs have reached the 50 win plateau. Also the number of times the Spurs have made the playoffs, never once missing the postseason in a full season under Popovich. Tim Duncan has never once “gone fishing” after the regular season in his entire career, and probably finishes it having never missed the postseason.

1: The number of times the San Antonio Spurs will have failed to reach the [weighted] 50 win plateau by season’s end in the last 16 seasons. Good night now.