I mean, not us, the sports-following public. We all win in the sense that we get to laugh and one stupid asshole with "credentials" picking on another, more popular, stupid asshole without credentials. But Bill and Jay most definitely both lose.
The Internet has perpetrated too much disarray in the world,
Could have ended the article right here and actually made a decent point. Also, get off his lawn and pull your pants up.
giving semi-lives to people with no lives
Hopefully this is (besides being an obvious critique of YouTube celebrities, etc.) a veiled shot at the people who have exposed Jay as a violent, woman-hitting asshole.
and adding too many reckless, unqualified voices to the daily churn.
First use of "qualified" or a synonym or related term: 23 words in. Pay out the winner of your office pool accordingly.
The sports media business is no different.
Different from what? The internet? The sports media business takes place almost entirely on the internet. Jay of all people should know this, given that his own personal website was the only "outlet" that would hire him for about a six year period there.
A new century gave rise to sports websites that had to compete against legitimate journalists
Buckle up! Here we go! This sentence is like getting pummeled in the face by a boxer whose gloves say OLD and MEDIA on them.
who actually broke news responsibly,
I'm so tired of these unprofessional bloggers always breaking news irresponsibly! Why, established media members like Chris Mortensen and Chad Ford and Ken Rosenthal and on and on and on never participate in the race to the bottom that is the effort to get a scoop. Just because the "instant update" nature of the internet has dragged established media like those guys into its game doesn't mean you can go blaming blogs for it. And better yet, this whole article is actually a complaint about Simmons, who hasn't broken a fart's worth of news in his whole career.
covered games and press conferences on site,
Nothing like a HARD-HITTING Mike Wilbon interview/ball washing session to really get yourself inside the mind of a professional athlete.
understood libel/slander law
Subtext: Jay feels as though he has been the victim of libel and slander. Reality: Jay has deserved each and every bad thing anyone has ever written or said about him, even the ones that weren't true.
and carried the profession with savvy.
Yes. Savvy. So much savvy.
So, to have any chance, many of these new sites went low-brow and hired fans with no training in anything but how to wear a personally customized jersey to an arena, drink three beers and cheer maniacally for one’s team.
Well now you sound like you're just complaining about Simmons and Bleacher Report (They were made for each other, weren't they?), when I really feel like we were building some momentum towards an anti-blogger rant. Disappointing.
Bill Simmons, for instance.
At least Bill has never (to our knowledge) stalked or assaulted a woman. Good for him. Wait, is that libel? Probably not, since Jay pleaded no contest to charges of both of those in 2011.
ESPN.com, then a digital embryo in a growing corporate empire, lured the eyeballs of sports fans by hiring one. Simmons had some talent,
Mariotti admitting that Simmons has talent is kind of like a 6 year old admitting that his 8 year old brother is smarter than him.
spoke the fan language and understood the fan perspective, so the hire was a good one … as a blogging niche. But then ESPN did the inconceivable, unleashing him as a sportswriting monster who decided 6,000-word pieces without a quote — 6,000 words of literary masturbation — were good reads.
Whoa, I have to admit it--all of a sudden Jay is bringing some FIRE. GO JAY GO.
They were not good reads,
HOW WILL WE LOOK BACK ON THE MOMENT WHERE WE REALIZED THEY WERE NOT GOOD READS 15 YEARS FROM NOW? Also, Jay, you're a horrific writer yourself. Your masturbatory articles just happen to be shorter than Bill's.
but at that point, anything with the ESPN stamp of approval seemed to succeed as the network claimed domination of the industry,
I will mock Simmons for a lot of things, but one claim I will never make is that he "only obtained his success because he was piggybacking on ESPN's success" or something like that. He earned all those fans on his own. Most of them are dipshit morons who know nothing about sports and should never be conversed with, but still: he earned them.
whether it was a revolving all-night cycle of SportsCenter or the quieting of four sportswriters with a mute button on a debate show (I was on that show).
WERE YOU? REMIND US. What a monument to the professionalism and savviness of REAL SPORTSWRITERS that show is.
Sports fanboys began to read the fanboy sportswriter. Traffic grew. Advertisers bought in. Simmons wrote two masturbatory books, both best-sellers. Suddenly, it didn’t matter if he never broke news and never quoted anyone but himself and his cousin.
All true. Maybe your ire should be directed towards the people who made Bill popular, then, no? The idiocracy of sports fans creates phenomena like Bill. Additionally, it's more than worth pointing out that the only person to blame for Jay's lack of success is Jay.
ESPN created the original fanboy sportswriter, spawning a generation of fanboy sportswriters who also don’t know how to break news responsibly, interview subjects and cover sports properly.
I know I've used "hahahahahahaha" already a couple of times in this post, but seriously, how else do you respond to this? Jay Mariotti just wrote that sentence. THE Jay Mariotti. July 2, 2006 Jay Mariotti. He thinks today's new media sportswriters are irresponsible, shouldn't matter because they don't have ACCESS, and cover sports improperly. What else do you say to that?
Friday, ESPN uncreated Simmons, choosing not to renew his contract.
VINDICATION! Maybe they'll hire Jay to fill his shoes!
At long last, an embarrassing business might have a chance again.
Oh my God. I can't keep going on this tonight. Someone who simultaneously thinks that Bill only got popular because ESPN got popular first, yet is also to blame for all the shittiness that makes ESPN what it is today, should be placed in a spaceship and immediately shot into the sun. Seriously, fuck both of these people.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
At least I think it is. Guess what's on the front page of ESPN.com right now?
Something related to the New England Patriots Official NFL Football Depressurization Scandal (my snappy nickname for it), which, while incredibly fucking stupid, is at least real, hard, sports news? Surprisingly, nope.
Something related to the NBA, which uses ESPN as one of its broadcast partners, and is in the midst of a relatively exciting playoffs? Again, surprisingly, nope.
Something related to MLB, which uses ESPN as one of its broadcast partners? Nope.
Something related to the UEFA Champions League, which uses ESPN as one of its broadcast partners (outside the United States, anyways) and has a crucial semifinal match today? Nope?
Something related to the NHL? Well of course not.
No, here's the front cover story on America's most popular sports website during this exciting time to be a sports fan:
Yeah, the more I consider it, the more I'm sure that this constitutes a new low. Die in a fire, ESPN.
Friday, May 8, 2015
...this is a good or bad thing. In fact, I'm not even sure this will end up being a thing at all--wouldn't surprise me if they came to an 11th hour compromise, since Bill generates clicks and ESPN could give a flying cunt about anything other than clicks (and TV eyeballs). But for now, I'm going to enjoy it.
Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, you fucking jackass.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Alright folks, apologies for the delay(s)(s)(s). We're here. We made it. Everyone huddle together and let's get this over with.
2. LeBron James
Let’s have one last round of applause for LeBron’s incredible eight-year run atop the Trade Value list.
[gif of the stadium groundskeeper from Rudy applauding after Rudy gets into the game]
That's what applause looks like! Simmons is so corny and stupid he can't even properly emulate Buzzfeed. Gifs added to writing like this are supposed to be reaction gifs, not just gifs that say the same thing the words do. THAT AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN LEBRON FALLS OUT OF THE TOP SPOT IN THE TRADE VALUE RANKINGS!
What happens next? The 30-year-old budding mogul has already logged more than 42,000 career minutes and played more than 1,050 games (including playoffs).
I get that basketball will eventually wear down the human knees (and ankles, hips, wrists, etc.) but let's not obsess over minute or game counts. LeBron has played 35,000 regular season minutes. Plenty of guards have cleared 45,000 for their careers.
You know what that really means?
IN TEN YEARS WHEN WE LOOK BACK ON LEBRON PASSING THE 42,000 MINUTE MARKER, HOW WILL WE REMEMBER IT?
Apex LeBron is gone. Here, look.
Seasons 1 through 4 (316 games)
41.3 mpg, 26.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 6.4 apg, 46-33-73%, 8.3 FTA, 3.3 TO, 24.2 PER, .181 WS/48
Seasons 5 through 11 (526 games)
38.4 mpg, 28.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 7.1 apg, 52-35-76%, 8.7 FTA, 3.3 TO, 30.1 PER, .283 WS/48
Ah, the always crucial (and very telling) "first four seasons as compared to next seven seasons" splits.
Playoff Career (158 games)
42.5 mpg, 28.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 6.4 apg, 48-33-76%, 9.7 FTA, 3.4 TO, 27.7 PER, .242 WS/48
Season 12 (57 games)
36.2 mpg, 26.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 7.4 apg, 49-35-72%, 8.0 FTA, 4.2 TO, 26.2 PER, .196 WS/48.
So, cool: he's on a new team, with new teammates, and his PER and win shares are down a bit. He's mostly shooting the same as he did during his "apex years" (SEASONS 5 THROUGH 11 WHO SAYS NO) and scoring and dishing at basically the same rates. He's turning the ball over a little more, and rebounding less. That can probably be written off as a result of moving from a team with Wade and Bosh to a team with Kyrie, suddenly mediocre Kevin Love, and Mozgov (to soak up boards).
The good news: He’s still 85-90 percent as good as that seven-year apex,
NO, EXACTLY 87.5%
keeping LeBron’s “best player in the league” ceiling the highest of anyone. I just don’t know where this goes. How long can LeBron stay great or even close to great?
He's 30. Let's use our brain noodles and say "Well, on average, most great players stay great at least until they're 35 or so. Therefore, LeBron can probably stay great until he's 35 or so."
In NBA history, only 35 guys have played more than 875 games and logged more than 34,000 minutes while averaging 35 minutes per game in their first 13 seasons. (Even though LeBron did it in 12, I added an extra year for everyone else because, you know, LeBron is superhuman.) Only 22 guys played more than 120 playoff games in their first 13 seasons while logging more than 5,000 playoff minutes and averaging 35 minutes per game. And only 12 guys cracked both lists: LeBron, Jordan, Wilt, Duncan, Russell, West, Bird, Pippen, Kobe, Hakeem, Malone and Havlicek.
And this goes to show (fart noise).
Wait a second … that’s a great list!
Oh my gosh he's becoming self-aware! He also still refuses to be edited!
We just ripped off 12 of the 25 best players ever. Just so I can sleep tonight, let’s include Dirk, Magic, Shaq, and Kareem as well, giving us 16 guys who passed 40,000 minutes (regular season and playoffs combined) in 13 years or less. That’s an insane day-to-day burden for anyone’s body, no matter how great you are.
And now we're going in circles, chasing our tails (classic Klosterman writing technique, by the way) and we're probably going to end up concluding that LeBron is an all-time great, so he'll probably age like other all-time greats.
You’re talking about three-plus presidential terms of grinding out 80-100 games in eight to nine months (and carrying a huge burden, no less).
Thank you for expressing that length of time in a way that the political nerds who don't follow sports can grasp.
After passing that benchmark, Kobe (four more first-team All-NBAs and a Finals MVP), Havlicek (second-team All-NBA and a ’76 Finals win), Duncan (two more Finals), Malone (1999’s MVP and two top-15 years after that), Shaq (first-team All-NBA and one more title in his 14th season), Dirk (third-team All-NBA in 2012, relevant even now) and Kareem (who doesn’t count because he was an alien) thrived for at least a little while. Nobody else did.
OK, so 7 of your arbitrarily chosen 16 players continued to be effective. Cool. I'm not even going to look up the post-40,000 minute stats of the other 9 guys, because I'm sure some of them achieved something significant past that point and Bill is just omitting them to prove his thesis of (fart nose).
But 50,000 combined minutes? That’s the danger number. Kareem passed 50,000 during the 1983-84 season, won the 1985 Finals MVP and remained relevant through ’88 (back-to-back titles), but again, he wasn’t human. Duncan passed that mark last season, then helped San Antonio win 2014’s title. (Of course, he’s also an alien.)
So, Duncan and Kareem don't count for this exercise because they don't count for this exercise. But LeBron won't be like them because he's not like them, or presumably not like them, even though you only really know if you're like those guys until you get to where they were in terms of minutes. This is the level of analysis usually provided by a drunk guy watching TV alone at a sports bar at 2 PM on a weekday. We are learning nothing, other than "playing pro sports tends to get harder as you get older, although certain players decline more suddenly than other players." Which is pretty much (fart noise).
No non-center remained a star after 50,000 minutes except for Kobe; he passed that mark during the 2012 playoffs, then thrived offensively the following season right until his Achilles snapped in half. These things don’t end well. I think Kobe knew it too. That last season, he could feel his body breaking down and turned into Quint from Jaws:
He grew a mustache and started hunting sharks. Totally agreed. Flawless analogy.
He started revving his boat’s engine until smoke began pouring out.
Ah yes, so "turning into Quint from Jaws" means "doing this one thing that that character did for like 30 seconds in a 3 hour movie." Even when he's making pop culture references, i.e. doing the one thing he should be best at doing, he's fucking atrocious.
He knew. He had to know.
Awesome writing. Since you have so much access these days, Mr. Big Shot, why don't you just go ask Kobe to his face? Better yet, ask him if he knew it after the 6 for 24 game in 2010.
Here’s the point: History says LeBron has two elite seasons left after this one, maybe three. That’s it. And you wondered why he didn’t want to wait around for Andrew Wiggins.
No one wondered that. Literally no one. A lot of people questioned that trade a couple months into the season, when Wiggins showed himself to be NBA-capable already and Love wasn't playing well, but when the Cavs made that trade, literally no one on earth who knows what a basketball looks like said "WHOA! WHY DID THE CAVS JUST DO THAT? IS LEBRON OUT OF HIS MIND?"
On the other hand … LeBron is only 30 years old. That’s the same age as Scarlett Johansson, Matt Cain, Mandy Moore, Adam Morrison, Katy Perry, Rick Nash and Purple Rain.
So glad you consulted the Wikipedia page for 1984 before writing this. Really brings it home to the reader.
When Bird turned 30, he was the reigning back-to-back-to-back MVP. When Jordan turned 30, he was four months away from finishing off his first three-peat. When Magic turned 30, he was getting ready for his third MVP season in four years. Doesn’t it seem insane to think that LeBron is passing his prime at THIRTY? Then again, only Kobe crossed 40,000 minutes before turning 31, but it happened over 13 years (not 12 like LeBron), and he didn’t take nearly the same physical night-to-night pounding. So who the heck knows?
Jesus fucking Christ on a fucking tightrope. What did I tell you Bill was going to do here? What did I JUST say was going to be the outcome of all of this? I hate writing this blog.
Either LeBron will make history, or history will catch up to him. It’s one or the other.
FASCINATING. Go fuck yourself with a ice pick, Simmons. You suck.
Just know that he’s no longer our most untradable player. For the first time, you can see a finish line for LeBron James. Unlike …
1. Anthony Davis
So, LeBron is almost certainly going to opt out of his current deal this summer and grab a new one (regardless of the Cavs playoff outcome). But Davis can enter free agency in the summer of 2016. I hate to indulge Bill's stupid rules for this stupid exercise, but since we've made it all the way to #1, I will just this once. If back in January, the Cavs called the Pelicans and offered LeBron, with confirmation that LeBron wanted that trade to happen for whatever reason (i.e., he was just as excited about playing in New Orleans as he presumably is playing in Cleveland now, and would be just as likely to sign long term either this summer or next summer), you don't think the Pelicans would take that trade? I don't know, they're a young-ish team, but they're not THAT young. Other than Davis their best players (Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson) are all in their mid 20s. To an extent, they're built to win now. I dunno. Food for thought. I hate myself for spending 90 seconds typing this. As Bill would say, let's just move on.
In 2007’s Trade Value column, I wrote that “2007 LeBron and 2007 [Dwight] Howard are more untradeable than anyone in the seven-year history of this ‘Trade Value’ column,
WHO SAID NO?
even surpassing (gulp) 2001 Shaq and 2003 Duncan.”
This whole goddamn thing is so dumb. He's like a little kid playing with Legos and making a Lego town and then arguing with no one about who in Legotown has the best house. It's simpleminded mental masturbation. The fact that this guy's book sold a jillion copies is a fantastic indication of how goddamn pathetic America is.
Eight years later, you’d have to belatedly cram 2015 Davis into that sentence while crossing your fingers nice and hard.
OH GOD BE SURE TO CROSS YOUR FINGERS! WHAT IF YOU'RE WRONG?
No reason at all, fuckface.
Look what happened to the 2007 guys. LeBron has become a four-time MVP, a two-time champ and one of the best 10 players ever. Dwight has made only one Finals and never won an MVP, and started breaking down four years later.
It's like we just learned: sometimes, players age well and sometimes, they don't. Awesome.
You never know.
It's one or the other. You never know. What do you want, real analysis? Skilled writing? A writer who isn't a self-obsessed prick? Don't be greedy.
It’s 50-50 once a young star reaches anything-is-possible status.
You need injury luck, you need the right situation, and you need the player to want it. For every Shaq, there’s a Dwight. For every Magic, there’s a Penny. For every Kareem, there’s a Walton. For every Duncan, there’s a C-Webb. For every Kobe, there’s a Derrick Rose.
I'm probably not going to make it to the end of this, just FYI. I'm actually getting upset while writing a blog post that like 50 people will read and for which I won't be paid a cent. This is not fun.
So cross your fingers for the Brow. Nice and hard.
I'm not a Pelicans fan. I'm not a Kentucky fan. I like Davis just fine. But if he did end up like Dwight (or Penny or Walton or whoever), it would matter about as much to me as whether my shit tomorrow morning was pleasant or uncomfortable. Life in the NBA will move on. It always does. I hate it when people (especially sportswriters, the worst people on earth) try to make everyone think they should feel bad because an athlete didn't achieve his maximum potential. (See: Rose's injury struggles, Westbrook's team being too shitty to play in the postseason this year, etc.) GO FUCK YOURSELVES.
He just turned 22 years old and hasn’t even played 6,500 career minutes yet.
WHY, HE COULD BE AN ALIEN AT SOME POINT IF HE KEEPS THIS UP!
He’s the best screen-and-roller since Young Robinson. Longer arms than McHale. Freakocious athlete like Hakeem. Light on his feet like Young Duncan. Drains 20-footers like Bosh. Protects the paint like KG. I don’t know what else you’d want. Jordan (24 years old at the time), LeBron (24), T-Mac (23) and Davis (right now) are the only under-25 players to post PERs over 30. He’s also one of three under-25 guys (along with ’90 Robinson and ’74 Bob McAdoo) to average 24 and 10 with 2.5 blocks and 1.0 steals. And if he came along 35 years ago, he’d probably be a senior at Kentucky right now.
Haha, now, that last point is actually pretty awesome to think about. Jesus. I mean, the level of play all across NCAAB would increase, especially at its upper ranks, if nearly all players stayed for four years. But still: imagine 2014-15 Anthony Davis playing in the SEC. That would be hilarious.
And look, I don’t know how this will play out.
YOU NEVER KNOW. IT'S ONE OR THE OTHER. 50-50. BUY THE BOOK OF BASKETBALL TODAY ON AMAZON.
But I have been attending NBA games since the 1973-74 season, back when my father carried me as a tiny 4-year-old into Boston Garden and hoped that I would fall in love with the sport. I did.
Boy, I guess you're just as qualified to speculate about unpredictable bullshit as the rest of us then! Please continue!
Over the next 41 years (and counting), I watched maybe 25 up-and-coming stars who just seemed different from everyone else. Young Durant was all arms and legs, and he weighed about 20 pounds, but he had that crazy release and you just knew something unforgettable would happen with him. Young Hakeem and Young Robinson were Greek gods; they moved at a different speed, and with a different level of coordination, than anyone I had ever seen. Young Duncan had those beautiful feet; he just glided effortlessly wherever he wanted to go.
So, your point is that you have watched great players that everyone knows were great and almost everyone agreed were great at the time be great.
Young MJ was indescribable; I’m not even going to betray the experience by cramming it into one sentence.
I'm pretty tempted to end the experience of reading any more of these sentences by running in front of a moving tow truck.
Young Kobe and Young Penny looked like MJ and Magic had cloned themselves just for kicks. Young Shaq was unfair around the basket; you couldn’t keep him away from the rim unless you had a two-by-four. Young Barkley was a bowling ball crossed with a runaway train. Young C-Webb looked like a combination of everything you’d ever liked about every power forward you’d ever liked. Young LeBron looked and played like he was 28 already; he’s the surest thing I have ever seen, a true prodigy in every sense.
So, your point is STILL that you have watched great players that everyone knows were great and almost everyone agreed were great at the time be great.
So that’s the first stage: the old Gladwell Blink test,
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA there are like 200 more words in this article but I'm going to end it right here. I think that's a great stopping point for us on this brutally painful journey. How can you tell if Anthony Davis is good? Well, first read 250 pages of nothingness by some asshole pop scientist whose ideas are about as original as Bill's. That's stage one.
I hate Bill Simmons.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
GROUP A: “Completely and Utterly Untouchable”
5. Russell Westbrook
4. James Harden
3. Stephen Curry
For the first time in the history of my Sports Guy column,
You're going to provide analysis that isn't self-important, isn't full of idiotic pop culture references, and most of all isn't terrible?
we’re dusting off the old Dr. Jack Breakdown gimmick and turning it into a threesome.
I’m gonna throw my Eyes Wide Shut mask on, take a half-Viagra, throw down two glasses of wine and really get into this.
Hey, that's kind of a funny "pop" (term used loosely here) culture reference with the Eyes Wide Shut thing. It's also very self-important and I'm sure it will be terrible, but one out of three isn't bad.
Please, I implore you, for your own safety, don’t try this at home. I’m a professional.
Go fuck an elephant.
SALARIES: Harden (signed through 2017-18) and Westbrook (signed through 2016-17) are max guys earning $16 million to $17 million per season … a paltry number in two summers when the NBA salary cap starts taking steroids and HGH,
LIKE KOBE AMIRITE????????????????
but still. Meanwhile, Golden State has Curry locked down for $10.63 million (this season), $11.37 million (2015-16), and $12.1 million (2016-17). He won’t make as much money over those three years as Marcin Gortat. Anytime someone can make $11 million per year and you feel bad for them, you know they’re a bargain. ADVANTAGE: CURRY.
Curry signed that deal just before the start of the 2012-2013 season. He had been injured for much of the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season, playing in just 26 games and averaging a paltry 14 and 5. Looks like one of those "it makes sense for both sides" contracts, really, since Curry would have been wise to take some guaranteed money, and the Warriors were paying him, at the very worst, to be a three point specialist. Whelp, guess it worked out for the Warriors. As a Nuggets fan I hate them, but I do love parity and fresh blood in the winner's circle so I wouldn't mind seeing them win a title this year. JUST this year. After that, fuck them. Every important player on that team besides Curry and Bogut is a flaming cuntrag. Also, if they pull it off, it'll be just the fifth title since 1991 (exceptions: that goofy 2004 Pistons team, the 2006 Heat team that had Shaq and Wade and every call in the Finals, THE FAWKIN' 2008 UBUNTUS, and the magical LeBron-defeating 2011 Mavericks) won by a team that didn't have Jordan, Olajuwon, Kobe, LeBron or Duncan. And if Jordan hadn't gone to play baseball (IT WAS A SECRET GAMBLING SUSPENSION WHO SAYS NO????) we might be able to take Olajuwon off that list. The more you know.
Oh yeah, this is crucial. So glad we made it here after hitting all the important categories like "Salaries" and "nothing else." BUT WHICH ONE OF THEM WOULD YOU WANT TO WATCH CASTAWAY WITH?
Sorry, fellas, you’re not topping Harden’s beard. Greatest NBA facial hair of all time in no particular order:
Oh no you don't, buddy. No cutting corners here. I expect these lists to have a set order upon which any basketball worth a damn would definitely agree.
Wilt’s goatee; Bird’s wispy almost-mustache; [rest of list deleted]
I'm just going to stop you right there. Thanks so much for your time.
SHEER AWESOMENESS OF THEIR CONVENTIONAL 2014-15 NUMBERS:Spectacular all the way around. Through Sunday’s games …
Westbrook 27.5 ppg 8.3 apg 7.2 rpg 2.1 spg 43-30-84% 9.4 FTA 3.7 3FGA
Harden 26.9 ppg 7.1 apg 5.8 rpg 1.9 spg 44-38-87% 9.8 FTA 6.7 3FGA
Curry 23.6 ppg 7.8 apg 4.4 rpg 2.2 spg 48-42-90% 4.3 FTA 8.0 3FGA
And Westbrook finished even hotter than that. I hate him, he's a dick, I've definitely written here before that he is overrated, but damn. Not sure I am going to ever write that again.
Some highlights: Westbrook working on the third 27-8-7 with a 30-plus PER in NBA history (the other two: 1989 MJ and 2013 LeBron) …
He ended up just missing, with a 29.1 PER.
Steph knocking on the door of the 50-40-90 Club while jacking up a staggering EIGHT 3s per game (good luck ever seeing that again) …
Just missed, shooting 48.7% from the floor. But Steve Nash pulled off 50-40-90 twice while shooting between 4 and 5 threes per game. I don't think it's some kind of Cy Young's win total unbreakable record.
Harden trying to become the first lefty
OK, for fuck's sake, I appreciate that this breakdown category isn't dedicated to something as inane as facial hair, but this isn't baseball. Who gives a flying sloppy fuck about basketball player handedness when it comes to statistical achievements?
to average 27, 7 and 6
Just missed--only 5.7 boards.
while also trying to become the third player (after Kobe Bryant and Gilbert Arenas) to attempt 500 3s AND 750 free throws (the 500/750 Club!) …
He got there easily. Man, that guy gets to the line. I thought there was a chance Curry was close to this as well, but not even. He only attempted 337 FTs.
did I mention that Westbrook is a guard and he’s averaging eight freaking rebounds per 36 minutes? … my God, look at that Westbrook season!!!!!! Are those numbers real? Can we check the math again? ADVANTAGE: WESTBROOK.
I'm going with Curry, given that he did what he did on a team that had plenty of other good players, while Westbrook, minus Durant and Ibaka for chunks of time, was really the only guy on the Thunder capable of scoring or assisting. But there's probably no wrong answer here. WHAT IF WESTBROOK WAS LEFT HANDED THOUGH, CAN YOU EVEN IMAGE?!?!?!?!!
SHEER AWESOMENESS OF THEIR ADVANCED 2014-15 NUMBERS: Some of this stuff is bat-shit crazy. Through Sunday’s games
Westbrook 29.7 PER 38.4 usage 53.9% TS 6.6 RPM 8.4 WS; .234 WS/48
Harden 26.6 PER 30.9 usage 60.8% TS 8.51 RPM 13.2 WS .265 WS/48
Curry 27.8 PER 28.7 usage 62.9% TS 8.55 RPM 12.4 WS .286 WS/48
Some highlights: Steph’s WS/48 will be top 20 all time …
He ended at .2881, 19th all time.
we’ve had only 17 30-plus PER seasons and 86 27-plus PER seasons (and Westbrook is knocking on the door), as well as just three guards who have cracked 30 PER (MJ, Wade and T-Mac) …
Westbrook didn't make it, but Anthony Davis (who finishes at #1 in these rankings, deservedly so) did. Make that eighteen 30+ PER seasons.
only Kevin Johnson (in 1997) ever averaged 20 points and eight assists with a 63 percent true shooting percentage …
OK, you're starting to really reach now. Also, as the three ball becomes more and more popular and players shoot it better and better, TS% league wide among guards should continue to increase.
West, Magic, Jordan, Oscar and CP3 are the only guards to ever finish a season with 16 win shares …
Ah, the coveted 16 win share cutoff point. Both Harden and Chris Paul made it this year.
and if we want to get super-fancy, Harden leads the NBA in points per game on drives and has assisted on more made 3s than anyone …
I think I also wrote on this blog several times back in 2012 that contrary to what Simmons said, the Thunder didn't commit some kind of sin against humanity when they traded Harden. I'm not going to take that back, because in-the-moment analysis is in-the-moment analysis and I stand by the idea that the trade was justifiable at the time, but wow. Harden is really, really good, and the Thunder traded him for really, really nothing.
and Westbrook’s usage rate is threatening to break 2006 Kobe’s all-time NBA record (not necessarily a positive).
He came up juuuuuuuuuust short, 38.7 to 38.4. That Kobe team made the playoffs, though, which proves something, but I'm really not sure what. So I'll just go ahead and remind you that Simmons is a fucktard.
I give Curry’s season a slight edge for its unselfish efficiency and efficient unselfishness. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE: CURRY.
Really awesome wordplay there, Kerouac. Knocked that one out of the park.
MOST MANAGEABLE GLARING WEAKNESS: Golden State hides Curry on D as much as possible, but he’s a better and smarter defender than people realize. (Maybe he’s not Chris Paul on that end, but he’s not Damian Lillard either.)
Ooooooooh. Cold blooded. Lillard had basically the same defensive advanced metrics (defensive rating per 100 possessions and defensive win shares) as Westbrook this year, and was only slightly worse than Curry and Harden.
Westbrook plays with so much confidence/swagger/ferocity that he can’t stop going into 2006 Kobe mode, especially late in games, which is the best and the worst thing about him.
More top-notch writing from this guy who gets paid to use words to express ideas. Klosterman probably thinks that sentence is nectar from the Gods.
(I mean, are YOU gonna tell Westbrook not to shoot every time? I didn’t think so.)
Aw snap! In your face, readers!
And Harden’s night-to-night defense used to be somewhere between “reprehensible” and “he’s trolling us,” but he took enough guff that he actually started trying on both ends this season. Great for the Rockets; terrible for everyone who loved reading 1,200-post NBA Reddit threads centered on GIFs of Harden standing in cement as his man darted by him for a layup. He’s the most well rounded of the three. ADVANTAGE: HARDEN.
Indeed, the metrics bear it out. Harden had more defensive win shares than the other two guys.
BEST NICKNAME: I enjoy “The Beard” and like “The Splash Brothers” a tiny bit more.
Both of those are terrible, especially since one is a reference to a video game that was most popular ten years ago.
But you know how you’d never call Liam Neeson “Liam” or “Neeson,” or nickname him, like, “Li” or “The Angry Irishman”? He’s just “Liam Neeson,” right? Same for Russell Westbrook. He’s too cool for a nickname. He’s transcended nicknames.
That's simply untrue. I have heard many commentators and dozens of NBA fans call him "Russ" this season. You're making stuff up again, Bill.
Damn, I’m at capacity for Liam Neeson references in this column already. ADVANTAGE: WESTBROOK.
You've been at capacity for references to anything other than sports since 2002.
Pretty dumb category (not that most of the rest of these aren't).
Um, Westbrook threw up 40-13-11, 39-14-11, 49-15-10, 30-11-17, 36-11-6 and 48-9-11 just in the past five weeks. Curry and Harden can eviscerate opposing defenses — and have — but only Westbrook makes you feel like you’re watching Lia— whoops,
like you’re watching a WWE star sprint into a crowded Royal Rumble ring
Yes, basketball is wrestling is basketball is Taken. Couldn't agree more.
and immediately start clearing it out. He doesn’t need a nickname, but he might need his own entrance music. ADVANTAGE: WESTBROOK.
Topping off the wrestling motif there, with another wrestling reference. Great stuff.
BEST QUALITY AS A TEAMMATE: Harden is a famously fun off-the-court guy — the kind of star who seems like he’d stay out with a new teammate until 6 a.m. and, um, show him around.
He's not going to be your friend, Bill. Let it go.
Westbrook would fight for any teammate or coach on and off the court; he even holds grudges on the level of, Even though Grantland has thrown more love my way than toward Kanye and Drake combined, I’m not appearing on the All-Star Break B.S. Report because Simmons is the asshole who keeps bringing up the Harden trade and saying that Scott Brooks isn’t good enough. (By the way — guilty!)
YOU'RE NOT THE CENTER OF THE FUCKING UNIVERSE YOU NAVEL-GAZING DIPSHIT! JESUS CHRIST ON A FUCKING TRICYCLE
But Curry is turning into this generation’s Tim Duncan — an unselfish superstar who doesn’t want to be an alpha dog,
I like Curry just fine, and I don't think this is a bad thing to say about him, but he most definitely wants to be an alpha dog.
pulls for everyone else at all times,
That's what 99% of all pro athletes do.
has an infectious personality
Duncan has an infectious personality?
and lacks any semblance of an ego.
Yeah, those walk-away-before-the-ball-reaches-the-rim threes really scream "quiet guy who just wants to get the job done." Again, not that that's a bad thing. If I shot 48% from three, I'd do it too. But what in the holy hell is Bill talking about?
I loved that he loved Klay Thompson’s 37-point Über–Heat Check quarter more than anyone.
Who, among every player in the NBA, wouldn't have loved that if Thompson was their teammate? What is this garbage?
He’s the best player on a team with phenomenal chemistry. That matters. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE: CURRY.
Excellent paragraph. Full of sound, fury, and nothingness.
NIGHT-TO-NIGHT YOUTUBE/GIF/MEME/VINE POTENTIAL:
All of them. Who gives a flying fuck? It's 2015. We all can watch all of their highlights every night. It's not like there's limited space on the internet for them.
DEFENSE/REBOUNDING/STEALS: Good place to save some words. ADVANTAGE: WESTBROOK.
"Good place to admit that I actually don't know that much about basketball."
DURABILITY: Here, too. ADVANTAGE: HARDEN.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THEIR GIRLFRIENDS? WHOSE IS HOTTEST? WHY AM I READING THIS IF I DON'T GET TO SEE THEIR PICTURES?
Big year for Curry — not only did he fetch the most All-Star votes, but LeBron’s departure from Miami allowed Golden State to become the NBA’s biggest bandwagon team. If your child is under 10 and searching for a hoops team that not-so-coincidentally might have a chance to win multiple titles, or you’re one of those secretly shady NBA fans-for-hire who drifts around from contender to contender because “I just root for players I like,” or you’re a casual fan who just likes watching dunks and 3s and that’s it, or you grew up in the Bay Area and wore a Warriors hat for 10 minutes when you were 8 years old back in the 1990s, then we have the bandwagon contender just for you!
And there's your one place in the whole column where Bill actually says something funny. Drink it up, people.
And yes, my daughter jumped on the Warriors bandwagon a few months ago. They’re irresistable. They’re bandwagon catnip. ADVANTAGE: CURRY.
Fuck those GSW fans. They're horrible. Even the long-suffering mainstays. Fuck 'em all.
MEDIA SAVVY: You’d think Curry would win this in a landslide.
You'd think, wouldn't you? Finally, something fans really need to read more about.
But what about Westbrook’s tough-love strategy?
YES, WHAT OF IT? THIS IS FASCINATING.
I kind of dig it. Total dick for a week, goes generic for a week, becomes nice and thoughtful the next week. He’s like the arrogant, hard-to-get ladies’ man in a rom-com who keeps playing the frazzled-but-successful woman in his office who’s way too cute not to have a boyfriend (only she’s all about her work and her home life is a mess).
That's how you think of yourself, isn't it?
Russell thanked us today! What does this mean? Does he like me? I love Russell Westbrook.
If he punched me in the face the next time I saw him, I’d probably justify it by saying, “I probably deserved that.” Wait … don’t actually do that, Russell. SLIGHT ADVANTAGE: WESTBROOK.
No one cares.
MOST ANNOYING QUALITY:
Tie among all three of them, for being discussed extensively in this article. Done and done.
BEST “WHAT IF?” BACKSTORY:
WHAT WILL WE THINK ABOUT THESE POTENTIAL BACKSTORIES IN TEN YEARS WHEN THEY HAVE BECOME NON-STORIES?
Curry almost got traded to the Suns during the 2010 draft; nearly got dealt to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut; and could have ended up in Minnesota had David Kahn not taken Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn over him. Westbrook trumps Curry with the whole “What if OKC never traded James Harden?” question lingering over his entire OKC tenure like a pungent fart on an airplane.
I agree with the very mild intrigue of the Curry stuff. The Westbrook stuff: sorry Bill, but the Harden trade isn't about Westbrook. It's about Harden. Let's see if he can get there...
And James Harden IS the James Harden from the previous sentence. ADVANTAGE: HARDEN.
He made it! Go Bill go!
SWAGGER WHILE WALKING DOWN A RUNWAY BEFORE AN ESPN GAME DURING THOSE LUDICROUSLY LONG CAMERA SHOTS THAT
Don't care, we're skipping this category, you're not funny.
UNIQUENESS FACTOR: Brutal category.
Totally brutal. Oh wait, who gives a fucking runny shit?
Westbrook is basically Jim Brown 50 years later with basketball shorts on.
Basically like literally OMG that's so what he is I can't even
And I just compared him to Teen Wolf
Check that spot on your bingo cards, people.
and a poisoned movie character who uses so much of her brain that she becomes a robot, then turns invisible.
I lost whatever reference he was making in copying and pasting this over to Blogger and removing the formatting--I can't guess it, and don't even want to know.
Somehow, I have him ranked third.
He's a great athlete, who plays like another great athlete from a while ago, and a fictional great athlete from a bad movie. So unique.
Curry is the greatest shooter I have ever seen in my life; he’s like Maravich reincarnated crossed with Steve Nash crossed with some sports movie character that hasn’t been invented yet. Somehow, I have him ranked second.
He's a basketball player who is good at shooting basketballs into basketball hoops. So unique.
And Harden is a true original – I’m half-convinced that Dork Elvis, Goldsberry and Hollinger wanted to see if there could be a superior and much more durable American version of Manu Ginobili, so they created Harden in an MIT lab in 2007 during the first-ever Sloan Conference. A left-handed scorer/creator who cares only about getting to the rim, getting fouled or shooting 3s?
He's just like this other guy who is about ten years older and also plays in the NBA. So unique.
No. Moving on.
“SEEING THEM IN PERSON” FACTOR: Christ. This one isn’t fair, especially with Westbrook in Jim Brown/Bo Jackson/Young LeBron/Lucymode right now. But I saw Curry in Brooklyn earlier this month, and lemme tell you something:
Hey, let us tell you something: most of us don't just travel around watching basketball as part of our jobs. If we can make it to the arena nearest where we live when the Rockets, Thunder or Warriors are in town: great. If not: we'll watch them on TV like everyone else. You out of touch stereotype of an asshole journalist.
There is nothing — repeat, nothing — more exciting as an NBA fan right now than being in the house when Steph Curry is feeling it. Bird had the same quality, by the way.
IT AWWWWWWL COMES BACK TO THE FACKIN' C'S! I BET YOU THOUGHT IT WOULDN'T! FACK YOU!
And these Curry shots are SWISHING. That’s the other thing.
Not as SWISHINGLY as LEGEND'S, but they're still SWISHING.
When it starts happening, the energy in the building actually shifts and becomes something else.
More exemplary use of the English language. This guy knows how to paint a beautiful piece of shit with words.
It’s tangible. His teammates rise from their bench.
Something unseen anywhere else in pro sports!
The fans start buzzing like they’re waiting for a band to make a Coachella entrance or something.
MAYBE YOU HAVEN'T HEARD BUT BILL LIVES IN SOCAL NOW
Everyone stands because you simply have to stand.
No, everyone stands because it's exciting, which happens all the time in every sport.
And all the limits of the sport we thought we understood get briefly removed.
It’s amazing. Utterly, completely amazing.
If you have the money and the Warriors are passing through your city, go see Steph Curry.
Oh, you can't see them in person whenever you want? Pity. Perhaps you need a more connected family to get your media career off the ground.
You want to be there if he starts feeling it. Trust me.
"You wouldn't know from watching on TV, peasant."
I'm not even finishing this fucking segment of this shitstain of an article. Here are the categories you missed, and the correct picks each:
All of them, regardless of the fact that Westbrook looks meaner than the other two.
GUY YOU’D MOST WANT FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS:
All of them.
MOST VALUABLE RIGHT NOW:
Curry, I'd guess, but you can't pick wrong.
MEANING TO THEIR CITY:
NONE OF THEM, BECAUSE NONE OF THEM PLAY IN BEANTOWN AND THEY-AHFO-AH, NONE OF THEM AHHHH PROPAHLY APPRECIATED!
I'll wrap it up with LeBron and Anthony Davis in the next post. Seriously, fuck Bill Simmons and fuck anyone who reads him for any reason other than to complain about him.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Are you finished feeling guilty for what YOU'VE done to DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins, America? Have you thought about what you did? Good, now we can move on to two players who I genuinely dislike (one of whom does not belong this high on the list) and one who Bill is GENUINELY WORRIED ABOUT, GUYS.
8. Blake Griffin
A. Why didn’t Blake’s elbow injury submarine the Clippers’ season?
Well, he only missed 15 games. His shooting and rebounding are at career worsts, but his assists are at career highs and his PER is pretty much holding steady. He's a good player. He's not an irreplaceable player. His absence probably cost them a win or two.
This is a team that gives real, actual, tangible minutes to Hedo Turkoglu, Big Baby Davis and Occasionally Fredo Rivers. They just signed The Artist Formerly Known As Nate Robinson and made him a rotation guy. They were upset when they couldn’t get Tayshaun Prince or Kendrick Perkins. They could sign literally any washed-up former star (Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Gilbert Arenas, Shawn Kemp, etc.), play him 12 minutes tomorrow night and you wouldn’t be shocked. And they went 9-6 without one of the league’s best 12 players? Where was the 15-game swoon?
I don't like Griffin's game at all, I think he's overrated, but Jesus's hairy balls, dude. It's not that weird. They have one of the three best PGs in the league, a good coach (even if he can be a total shithead) and an elite rebounder/rim protector. What were they supposed to do, go 0-15 without him?
B. He’s headed for his third straight Antoine Walker Award, given annually to the NBA star who provokes the highest ongoing level of disdain from opponents and referees.
Herrrrrre we go.
Look, it’s hard to stand out on the 2014-15 Los Angeles Bitchers —
Horrible, unfunny, corny nickname. (I don't think he's got another "Jackass Central" in him.) But it is most definitely accurate.
an irascible bunch that spends an unfathomable amount of time griping about calls, stink-eyeing officials, taking hard fouls way too personally and reacting to unexpected whistles by sprinting in short bursts with outstretched arms and their faces contorted in disbelief (or as it’s better known, “The Doc”).
Wow--shocked that he would admit to as much. I guess he's still sour about that time Rivers (rightfully) called him a know-nothing dumbass live during the NBA draft, as well as the fact that Rivers is no longer coaching his beloved C's.
But Blake has managed to do it. Opponents believe they can get in his head. And they usually do.
Go buy a lottery ticket, everyone. I agree with Bill Simmons about something. (Although I disagree that it's cause for concern about his status/value as a player. I mean, he's a good player who has a short fuse. Plenty of those guys have had successful and productive careers.)
C. A 6-foot-10 power forward who’s built like a Greek god, plays waaaaay above the rim and once averaged 12 boards a game as a rookie can’t grab eight rebounds a night in his fifth NBA season? That’s an astonishing drop-off, no?
Excuse No. 1: His offensive rebounding fell off (3.3 as a rookie, 2.0 in Year 5) because he shoots more jumpers now.
Love Bill's thinking here: he's grabbing 4.5 fewer rebounds per game than at his rebounding apex. First possible reason: he's grabbing 1.3 fewer offensive rebounds per game. Mystery: solved.
Excuse No. 2: There aren’t enough available rebounds now that Contract Year DeAndre has become possessed by Wilt Chamberlain’s ghost.
This one is actually pretty legitimate--Jordan is grabbing 15 boards a game. That's nuts. When Griffin was a 12 RPG rookie, Jordan averaged 26 MPG but only grabbed 7.5 boards. It's like they've switched roles, and then some.
Excuse No. 3: Blake has bigger ambitions; he wants to be more of a playmaker now. That brings us to …
Probably fair, given that he's handing out more than five APG. I don't like the guy, I think he's overrated, I think he's too high on this list (I'd take Cousins over him ten times out of ten), but that's pretty impressive for a guy who also scores 22 a game and plays most of his minutes with Chris Paul.
D. I voted Blake third for MVP last season and believed he was heading for a decade-long run of 24-and-10 seasons.
Bill's obsession with HOW WILL WE LOOK BACK ON THIS IN X YEARS continues, only now he gets to unsubtly drop in the fact that he has an MVP vote. Go fuck yourself, Bill.
This generation’s best power forward, basically. Well …
Mailman (Years 4-10): 28-11-3, 53% FG, 10.2 FTA, 2.5 stocks, 25.1 PER
Duncan (Years 4-10): 22-12-3, 51% FG, 7.7 FTA, 3.3 stocks, 25.8 PER
Barkley (Years 4-10): 25-12-4, 56% FG, 9.3 FTA, 2.4 stocks, 26.3 PER
Dirk (Years 4-10): 25-9-3, 47% FG, 7.1 FTA, 2.1 stocks, 25.5 PER
Blake (Year 5): 22-8-5, 50% FG, 6.6 FTA, 1.3 stocks, 22.9 PER
Why are FTAs in there? I'm not saying it's a useless statistic, but the way games are reffed has changed so much over time that I really don't see the point of comparing Malone's and Barkley's numbers with Griffin's. Look, the facts that his PER is materially lower than any of those guys, and his rebounding is disappearing (whether in deference to a teammate or not) are enough to convince me.
And I had to round up from 7.6 to get to eight rebounds. Shouldn’t he be trending up? Last season, after Blake carried the CP3-less Clips for a month and showed off a better all-around game than we ever imagined, Kirk Goldsberry called him “the most prolific interior scorer in the NBA” and backed up that progress with year-by-year shot charts.
Difficult title to bestow on someone who plays with CP3 (who I also hate, but do not think is overrated). With his post game, his insane vision on the pick and roll, and his ability to space the floor (not to mention frequent punches to opponents' dicks), Paul makes life easier for any big man. With the Hornets he made Tyson Chandler and Emeka Okafor look like legitimate inside scorers. He could probably get 2015 Charles Barkley 15 points a game if Barkley suited up and went back out there.
This season, Blake wanted to show off his improved jump shot and admitted as much in a piece in The Players’ Tribune
Side note: the Players' Tribune is a great idea. It's also a tire fire in terms of execution. Much like Grantland.
that contributing editor Blake Griffin headlined, “Why Ain’t He Dunkin?” Kudos to him for spending thousands of hours fixing a once-broken jump shot, but man … we have 100 guys who can make 20-footers. As Goldsberry joked last week, nobody ever watched Blake and said, “Someday, maybe he can become the next David West.”
Well, in theory, a professional athlete should have so much time available for practice that they can work on one skill without having others deteriorate. Maybe the reason Griffin's improved jump shooting has come at the expense of his interior efficiency (and possibly his offensive rebounding) is that he's just not as good as everyone thinks he is.
Like everyone else, I loved watching Year 4 Blake — the reckless super-athlete with a blossoming inside-outside game who searched for GIFtims (GIF victims)
every time he careered toward the hoop. But Year 5 Blake? Let’s play America’s hottest game show, “When The Eye Test Meets Advanced Metrics!”
Hate to show too much love to Grantland, but those shot charts are fucking cool.
Goldsberry’s translation: “The good news: He’s finally converting all of those elbow shots at above-average rates. That will help him extend his career. The bad news: He’s gone from ‘great’ to ‘good’ in the paint. Not only is his efficiency down close to the basket, but his usage is way down, too; for the first time in his career, the majority of his shots are jumpers. So he deserves credit for improving as a jump shooter, but he may have already peaked as an interior force.”
Is he afraid of contact? Do hard fouls get to him? Is he getting lazier as he ages? I don't really give a shit, but he's not the #8 trade asset in the league. Especially not when he's getting ~$20 million a year through 2018, and his contract includes a 15% raise if he gets traded.
Ideally, you would want to combine Great-In-The-Paint Blake with Above-The-Rim Blake, Crash-The-Boards Blake, Sneaky-Good-Passer Blake and Above-Average Elbow Shooter Blake and create Super-Blake.
America's most popular basketball analyst, and bestselling author of "The Book of Basketball" shares his really interesting thoughts about Blake Griffin.
(Right now, only Anthony Davis trumps Super-Blake as an all-around “JESUS! HOW DO YOU STOP HIM???” forward.) Will it ever happen?
I mean, it sort of already has happened; he's a really good player who's good for 22 and 8 or so. If he wasn't playing with Jordan it would probably be 24 and 10. Please stop concern trolling about him.
Should we be concerned that,
Please stop concern trolling.
during his age-25 season, Griffin’s rebounding, free throw attempts, blocks, steals, in-the-paint numbers and everything else that signifies “I am zipping around like a force of nature!” are drifting the wrong way?
Please stop concern trolling.
Super-Blake was and is untradable. But Not-As-Reckless-Above-Average-Elbow-Shooter-Who-Can’t-Get-Two-Rebounds-A-Quarter Blake? You tell me.
He's not untradable, other than perhaps from the perspective of the other 29 teams in the league with that 15% escalator. He's still really good. We have learned nothing from Bill's 500 words on Blake Griffin. We're done here.
7. Chris Paul
Fucking complainy-pants asshole extraordinaire. Unlike Griffin, though, I think he is properly ranked on this list.
And just like that, Adam Morrison was out of the NBA."
Referees dreaded calling his games, knowing they couldn’t toss the league’s best player even as he was serenading them with F-bombs.
I wish he were talking about Tim Duncan.
Fans struggled to connect with a prodigy who had little interest in connecting with them.”
Now he's talking about himself, maybe?
Did I write that in my NBA book about Chris Paul … or Oscar Robertson? (Checking.)
OK, I'm out of bad "lol he was talking about someone else" jokes.
Whoops, Oscar. But Chris is really three people: Cliff Paul
Darren Rovell just got half a boner upon reading that Simmons has internalized State Farm's marketing.
(the bespectacled guy from the State Farm commercials),
Cliff Paul stinks.
Chris Paul (the media-savvy brand who gives thoughtful interviews, runs the NBPA and always does the right thing)
Again, except when he's taking cheap shots, flopping, or bitching about the correct call.
and CP3 (the player himself). And you know what CP3 is? An impossible crank, an unforgiving perfectionist, a drill sergeant, a weirdly joyless player who struggles to resonate with teammates and home fans … and someone who plays point guard about as well as that position can be played.
And who has never been past the second round of the playoffs. I hate that kind of criticism in most sports, but in basketball, great players have the ability to carry teams. Paul is exiting his prime. Within a couple of years it'll be pretty much impossible for him to be the best player on a championship contender. But still, fuck, he's pretty good.
CP3 spent the first half of this season getting into shape (it’s true) while remaining supernaturally efficient; he’d routinely take quarters off and halves off and seemed even grouchier than usual.
For fuck's sake, Bill. You don't know the guy personally. Who the hell knows how he was really feeling?
When Blake went down, CP3 unleashed holy hell; he has vaulted to that Westbrook/Harden/LeBron/Davis/Curry level for a solid month (and counting) while carrying a limited team.
HE IS A TOP SIX PLAYER, MOST LIKELY EXACTLY SIXTH BEST. NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING BUT YES
As Doc loves to point out, CP3 actually plays both ends and loves disrupting other point guards; new advanced metrics even back up CP3’s defensive brilliance.
I'm not sure which ones he's referring to, but given his "the sun shines on things because I cast my eyes upon them" attitude, they're probably metrics that have been around for like five years that Bill just discovered. Thus they are brand spanking new.
(I went to a Grizzlies game a few weeks ago in which he absolutely destroyed Mike Conley, who’s only one of the league’s best 25 players.)
I like Mike Conley, but no he's not.
And CP3’s pull-up elbow jumper remains the NBA’s best crunch-time weapon. It’s about as sure of a thing as you can get these days.
"These days." What the fuck is he talking about? Is it way harder to get crunch time points now than it was ten or twenty years ago? What?
And yet … CP3 is also a basketball curmudgeon, someone who dominates the ball in close games to an almost harmful degree. He doesn’t trust anyone else late; he’s like one of those moms who won’t let anyone babysit her kids.
He also plays on a team with little scoring depth and no shooters other than "35 and not aging well" Jamal Crawford and "can't be on the floor continuously during crunch time because he can't guard anyone" JJ Redick.
His teammates know it, and even worse, his opponents know it. Can you win in the playoffs that way?
Well, he hasn't yet.
Doesn’t it open the door for what happened in Game 5 of last spring’s OKC series? Can you point to another example of a ball-dominating little guy who also won four straight playoff rounds?
We got it--enough with the fucking non-rhetorical rhetorical questions. Also, how about Isiah Thomas?
He’s certainly the best pure point guard since Isiah Thomas — another fiery competitor who demanded perfection from everyone around him. But Isiah trusted his teammates way more than CP3 does.
WHO SAYS NO????? Thomas averaged 16 FGA per game for his career. Paul, playing in a higher-scoring era on a very fast team, is averaging 14 this year and for his career.
If CP3 is more dictatorial, then Isiah was more democratic.
You didn't use either of those words correctly.
He allowed Dumars and Vinnie to freelance in big spots and never needed the ball late like CP3 often does.
I very much doubt that he "never" needed the ball late.
You would have loved playing with Isiah. You wouldn’t have loved playing with Oscar. And CP3 is floating somewhere in between those two extremes. It’s crazy that he hasn’t played in a conference finals game yet … but it’s also not that crazy.
Excellent writing. Top notch. When is this guy going to give up on the whole TV/podcast thing and just start cranking out some novels?
6. Kevin Durant
I’ll be honest, the broken foot debacle freaks me out.
Crank up the BILL IS WORRIED, GUYS tornado siren.
A quick recap: KD suffers a Jones fracture in mid-October … everyone spends the next few days writing that it’s a secretly dangerous foot injury and that you CANNOT rush back from it … Durant promises not to rush back, then comes back in six and a half weeks …
Great job providing context to readers as to what would constitute rushing back. Hey look, a Google result that says that for certain types of Jones fractures (of course Bill doesn't tell us which one Durant had, why would he) six to eight weeks is normal recovery time.
he doesn’t look quite right heading into the All-Star break and plays only 10 minutes in the All-Star Game (uh-oh) …
THAT'S your barometer for "something might be wrong?" Fuck the All-Star Game. Fuck all all star games in all sports.
right after the All-Star break (February 23), OKC shelves him with a “minor procedure to help him reduce pain and discomfort in his surgically repaired right foot” because of a faulty screw, saying he’ll be reevaluated in a week … and three weeks later, the team announces that he’ll return within “a week or two weeks.” (Sorry, I can’t fight off these 2009 KG flashbacks.)
IT AWWWWL COMES BACK TO THE C'S. IT AWLWAYS DOES!!!!! Too bad those 2009 Celtics couldn't even deal with a Magic team that was Dwight Howard and a bunch of mid-rotation guys, let alone the Cavs or any team that could have come out of the West that year.
If KD weren’t an incumbent MVP coming off of one of the best offensive seasons in 40 years, I would have panic-dropped him to sixth.
Well, I'm certainly glad you didn't resort to such--
Oh wait, I just did.
OH SNAP, AMERICA! Truth bombs, falling all over your head! Protect your neck!
Please no. You self-important twat.
The thought of a “recovered” KD getting thrown into this late-season playoff push scares the bejesus out of me.
Well, fortunately that's no longer an issue.
They’re supposed to protect his minutes and his twice-repaired foot when the alternative is “If we miss the playoffs, we’ll take one more giant leap toward becoming one of the most snakebitten almost-dynasties in NBA history”?
They're no snakebitten. They're just dumb. Here's your annual "Bill was right" admission from Larry B: the Harden trade is such a gigantic disaster I don't even know what to compare it to. It's like all the classics--Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen, an entire draft for Ricky Williams, Wayne Gretzky for not Wayne Gretzky, etc. But it's worse. Man, Harden is good.
They’re going to protect his minutes with Serge Ibaka out indefinitely? They’re going to protect his minutes in an up-and-down, testosterone-fueled, run-and-gun Round 1 bloodbath against the Warriors?
They'll be golfing in about a week. Rest easy, Bill. KD will have all summer to recuperate.
THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION OF BASKETBALL TEAMS ON BASKETBALL COURTS
has taught us a variety of valuable life lessons, ranging from “If you make $100 million, that doesn’t mean you can actually spend $100 million” to “Always use the condoms that YOU brought” to “Don’t ever ask your casino host for a second marker”
Some good mealy-mouthed New England racism in all of those.
to “Don’t ever marry anyone with the last name Kardashian.”
Are you kidding? Humphries and Odom are doing just fine.
But this lesson ranks way up there: “If you break anything in your foot, don’t come back until you’re 100 percent healthy, and then wait ANOTHER two to three weeks just to be safe.” Can’t mess around with feet. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t. Not in basketball.
Not in any fucking sport, you moron. Human feet (and knees) are not at all designed for what athletes do to them. We all know this.
I don't care.
Friday, April 3, 2015
GROUP H: “Stop It, He’s a Young Stud, No Way!”
30. Bradley Beal
29. Jimmy Butler
28. Andre Drummond
UPDATE: We need to find the right teammates for Drummond soon. I’m convinced that SVG traded D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler for Reggie Jackson as a stealth tanking move. And if he did, congratulations. It worked.
GROUP G: “Sorry, Too Many Karmic Implications”
27. Tony Parker
26. Tim Duncan
25. Dwyane Wade
24. Dirk Nowitzki
23. Paul George
UPDATE: Parker is starting to look like Parker again. Oh God … oh no …
GROUP F: “Hold On, I Have to Finish Guffawing”
22. Andrew Wiggins
21. Giannis Antetokounmpo
UPDATE: I blew it with Wiggins. He’s a top-12 trade asset.
GROUP E: “Well-Priced Impact Stars”
20. Mike Conley
19. Serge Ibaka
18. Kawhi Leonard
17. Al Horford
16. Kyle Lowry
15. Damian Lillard
UPDATE: I’m not rattled by having Lowry too high after his January-February offensive swoon. He’s too good.
GROUP D: “The Mega Free Agents”
14. LaMarcus Aldridge
13. Marc Gasol
UPDATE: No regrets.
GROUP C: “No Offense, But I’m Hanging Up”
12. John Wall
11. Klay Thompson
UPDATE: If I had to do it over again, I’d give Wiggins and Kawhi these two spots and bump Wall and Thompson back a few spots. We’re stuck with those first two parts for eternity. Without further ado, the 10 most untradable players of 2015.
GROUP B: “The Untouchables”
10. Kyrie Irving
9. Boogie Cousins
In Part 2, I mentioned the smartest non-trades in recent NBA history —
Maybe 2015 Boogie isn’t 1992 Hakeem,
Boogie, last two seasons (123 games): 33.0 mpg, 23.1 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 48% FG, 25.5 PER
Duncan, ’01-’02 and ’02-’03 (163 games): 39.9 mpg, 24.4 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 51% FG, 27.0 PER
Maybe he isn’t Apex Duncan, especially in the defense/teammate/leadership/intangibles/getting-thrown-out-of-games-for-wonky-behavior categories,
Haha. No sarcasm, that last one is a good line. "Jackass Central." That's pretty good. Bill does induce one chuckle from me about every six months or so. HE'S STILL GOT IT!
So if you were Boogie, what would make you feel good about playing in Sacramento other than the city’s fantastic hoops fans? George Karl? Too soon to say.
Last Boogie note: Check out these names: Wilt, Kareem, Barkley, Pettit, Duncan and Elgin. That’s the complete list of players, along with Boogie, who averaged 23 and 12 with a 25-plus PER in their fourth and fifth NBA seasons combined.
Monday, March 23, 2015
First, a fun (not really!) anecdote: on Thursday night I was at a bar that was (of course) showing NCAA tournament games on 59ish of its 60ish TVs. The only exception was one screen over in a corner showing what was on ESPN at the time--a Phillies/Yankees spring training game. No better demonstration of what ESPN's baseball coverage is all about than their decision to televise a game between two teams that, if things go well, will combine to win 150 games. Anyways, I (partially) focused on this game for about 8 or 9 minutes. That's all the time I needed to see: 1) Ryan Howard make an error trying to field a ground ball that 80% of high school first basemen would make 2) an unearned Yankee run score due to said error, and finally 3) a montage of Derek Jeter moments, likely prompted by the fact that new Yankees SS Didi Gregorious committed the baseball faux pas of coming up to bat while playing Jeter's former position. I really feel bad for Gregoious. If he starts at least 120 games at SS for the Yankees this year and performs at any worse than an All-Star level, someone in the Bronx is going to run onto the field and attack him by mid May. Anyways, fuck ESPN's baseball coverage.
Now we move to Bill's piece de resistance, his Trade Value column. Not content simply to write like an asshole, this year he also edited/promoted like an asshole as well. I don't need to cover that, 1) because it's hard enough to just critique the flaws with the substance of this piece and 2) because Drew Magary did a great job talking about the other stuff last week. It's awesome. Go click that link and read it. If I were to pick the best and most demonstrative line, it would be:
Bill Walton and Larry Bird changed my too-harsh opinion of Kobe's style…
(Magary) "No way! Two great basketball players told you a great player was great? WHAT A REVELATION."
Really, that just about sums up what Simmons is about at this point. He's a wannabe "hoops nerd" who actually knows little about basketball but hopes that hiring Zach Lowe and having access to NBA greats via his ESPN gig will make his opinions interesting and legitimate. But the opinions are just as idiotic as ever, and now, by flaunting these ESPN-facilitated relationships that would NEVER develop or maintain themselves organically if he were an independent blogger (even a nationally popular one) outside of the ESPNiverse, he's exposed for being a starfucker too. Good on you, Bill. Feel free to quit ESPN and go the fuck away any month now. DIE.
Anyways, this is actually part 3 of 3 of his trade value column. I'm just going to start here because it's plenty long anyways and I'm blogging at a snail's pace these days. In fact, this whole first post is just going to be the first half of his recap of the previously published rankings from 60 up to 11, and commentary on how things have changed in the time since he made those rankings in January and February. Really makes sense, right? No one enjoys Bill's writing and Bill's thinking and Bill more than Bill, so of course he's going to comment on thoughts he thinks he thought a few weeks ago.
GROUP O: “You’re Just Lowballing Me Because He Expires Soon”
One of the dumbest features of what could (could) be an interesting premise for a column--the fact that conveniently, he ends up ranking guys that all have some relatively unimportant (relatively unimportant in the entire scheme of the player's total trade value, I mean) in common together consecutively in groups. For fuck's sake, he puts Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge together at 13 and 14 below because they're both unrestricted free agents this offseason. Yeah, they're maybe both top 20 value guys right now, but did you absolutely have to do it that way? To the extent Bill takes this serious (he really, really does) this really takes away whatever legitimacy he was hoping to cultivate.
60. Brandon Knight
59. Greg Monroe
58. Paul Millsap
57. Draymond Green
56. Goran Dragic
UPDATE: In February, no. 56 and no. 60 DID get traded … and Dragic fetched a slightly higher price than Knight did. Big win for the 2015 Trade Value column! Don’t get used to it.
Both were dealt in three way deals, but in essence, in exchange for Knight the Bucks got a possibly useful combo guard (Michael Carter-Williams, who should be less of a shooting disaster now that he's not carrying the crappy Sixers around) who has two team option contract years left, a young point guard (Tyler Ennis) who may or may not be anything, and a warm body (Miles Plumlee). Meanwhile, in exchange for Dragic, the Suns got a guy who probably doesn't even qualify as a warm body (Danny Granger or THE CORPSE of Danny Granger lolololol) and first round draft picks in 2017 (top 7 protected) and 2021 (apparently unprotected).
They're both good players, but Dragic is a better scorer than Knight (for now), so Dragic is definitely the better overall player (for now). But as far as value goes, I feel like Carter-Williams + Ennis >>> a protected first rounder that's 27 months away and an unprotected first rounder that's more than two presidential elections away. Like, that's a pretty clear win for the Bucks, as far as comparing their haul to Phoenix's. Yeah yeah yeah, you've got to stockpile draft choices blah blah blah, but fuck that. A first rounder in 2021? The guy the Suns could potentially take with that pick is probably in like 8th grade right now.
GROUP N: “I’m Hanging Up and Calling You Back From a Pay Phone”
Why would a GM do this? Because their office phone is tapped? By who? Unfunny, unclever, dumb.
55. DeMar DeRozan
54. Ty Lawson
53. Eric Bledsoe
52. Kevin Love
Here we have a group of guys who are thankfully not tied together by some unifying thread; Bill just thinks they have relatively equal trade value. But here's another fundamental weakness of this whole thing that ruins its legitimacy from the start. (And again, I get that the whole column is just supposed to be a fun thought exercise. But you Billophiles out there know this to be true: Bill desperately wants to be taken seriously, and the NBA is the sport which he knows the most about.) Love is a stretch four with just one year left on his deal. Bledsoe is a point guard with four years left on his deal. The idea of either getting traded for the other, or either getting traded for draft picks and trying to decide which would fetch more, is so totally dependent on the needs of the other hypothetical teams involved and those teams' willingness to take on long term salary that this list loses all meaning.
Yes, I know I just a minute ago said it was bullshit that Bill groups together guys who have something in common, and now I'm saying it's bullshit that he groups together guys who have nothing in common. Guess what? This whole dumb column is, in fact, bullshit. If you asked me for a sincere idea for how to make it less bullshitty, after telling you to jump in a wood chipper, I'd suggest that the whole list be just 20 players long. How the hell do we even begin to guess if the Suns would or would not swap Bledsoe for Love? It's pointless. The only fun and meaningful theoreticals of that kind involve superstar level players, not guys like the four listed above.
UPDATE: Latest odds for Kevin Love’s new home address this fall: Back Bay (-120), Brookline (+200), Beacon Hill (+350), Wellesley (+500), Weston (+500), South End (+700), Charlestown (+2000), Scituate/Hingham/Duxbury (+4000), Revere (+2000000).
KEVIN LOVE!!! NEVAH WAS THEY-AH A TRUE-AH CELTIC. HE'S BEEN PAHHHHT OF OW-UH CITY HIS WHOLE LIFE! IT JUST TOOK HIM UNTIL NAW TO GET HE-AH!
GROUP M: “I Know, I Know, We’re Being Irrational”
51. Victor Oladipo
50. Alex Len
49. Jonas Valanciunas
48. Nikola Vucevic
47. Jusuf Nurkic
46. Nikola Mirotic
45. Derrick Favors
UPDATE: Oladipo made The Semi-Leap after the All-Star break: 12 games, 20.6 ppg, 4.8 apg, 45-39-83 percent splits, excellent defense and a recent Orlando Sentinel story headlined “Victor Oladipo is learning that success commands opponents’ attention.”
That's not "making the leap." "Making the leap" is a dumbass concept that Bill likes a lot (naturally), when he most commonly applies it to situation like this which would more properly be called "a good month-long stretch by a good player on a bad team." OLADIPO IS ON HIS WAY TO THE HALL OF FAME, READERS. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST.
The following "self-deprecating" sentence is presented without commentary:
Please add “Oladipo over Bennett and Noel” to my all-time NBA draft win tally, along with “Durant over Oden,” “CP3 over Bogut and Williams,” “Derrick Williams over Kyrie,” “Okafor over Dwight” and “Jabari over Wiggins.” (Fine, I’m batting .500. Whatever.)
What an asshole.
GROUP L: “Sorry, He’s Worth More to Us Than He’s Worth to You”
44. The Completely Rejuvenated Pau Gasol
He gets a special nickname because he's white!
43. Jeff Teague
42: Zach Randolph
41. Joakim Noah
40. Markieff Morris
39. Wesley Matthews
38. Kyle Korver
Korver is a good player signed to a good contract (about $6MM per year for the next two years). Many contenders would be happy to have him; he's obviously the best pure three point shooter in the game right now (he has a shot at finishing the season above 50%) and he's not too much of a liability on defense because of his size. But holy shit--Randolph is also signed for the next two years, at about $10MM per. Teague is signed for the next two years at $8MM per. Noah is signed for next year at $13MM. You're either drunk or mentally challenged if you think Korver has more value than any of those guys, and it's not particularly close.
UPDATE: Matthews was earmarked for an $80 million to $90 million market max payday before that unfortunate Achilles injury. What a bummer.
Even without that injury, since he was on an expiring deal this year, he's probably the one guy from the above list who maybe actually belonged alongside the likes of Korver.
If you gave me a do-over, I’d stick Matthews on the Trade Value DL, move Oladipo into this group and give Oladipo’s old spot to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Why? Because MKG is destroying people on defense, to the point that he boasted, “I want to be the best defender ever” last week — and nobody laughed.
I'll laugh. He's not even in the top 20 in the NBA right now in defensive rating, which might seem to some like a bullshit fancypants way to judge defense until you see that the top 5 (currently) are Draymond Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Rudy Gobert and Tony Allen. Or in other words, five guys who all are frequently mentioned as among the best in the league based on the ol' eye test. So yeah, maybe Kidd-Gilchrist is on his way to greatness, but he's a couple plane flights away.
Kawhi and MKG are in the Finals in any “Which Guy Would You NOT Want Guarding You If You Had To Score A Basket To Save Your Own Life?” contest.
That isn't a contest, and it's a really dumb way of trying to make the point you're trying to make. In any case, Leonard is obviously way better, as are a lot of guys.
GROUP K: “No Thanks — We Don’t Want Him to Come Back and Haunt Us”
37. Rudy Gobert
36. Jabari Parker
35. Joel Embiid
UPDATE: I didn’t have the balls to throw Gobert in the low 20s with Giannis and Wiggins. Big mistake. His next 11 games after Part 2 was published: 11.3 ppg, 15.9 rpg, 2.6 bpg, nine wins in 11 games, one Kirk Goldsberry piece titled “Rudy Gobert Is Making Utah an Elite Defensive Team.” Anytime “The French Rejection” and “The Gobert Report” aren’t your best possible nicknames, you know something special is going on. All hail the Stifle Tower!
MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST FOR DEFENSIVE POY!!!! Also, just the fact that you have to account for a guy like Embiid in these rankings makes them not worth writing, or reading. Obviously the guy is untradeable right now. Nothing anyone offered the Sixers would be good enough, and if they shopped him around, every team they offered him to would say that they were asking an insane price.
GROUP J: “Don’t Tell Anyone, and I’ll Deny It to the Death, But I’m Listening”
34. Carmelo Anthony
HAHAHAHAHA again. Simmons went into greater detail about how fucked Carmelo and the Knicks are in the full version of part 2 of these rankings, but he (Simmons) still refused to recant his position that you can "absolutely" win a title if Carmelo is your best player. Really, if I had to pick one piece of evidence that he's a fucking moron when it comes to the NBA, I might settle on that one.
33. Chris Bosh
33. Hassan Whiteside
32. Dwight Howard
UPDATE: Whiteside wasn’t really a top-60 guy (just filling in for Bosh),
Just another reminder that while Bill wants these rankings to be taken seriously, a guy with like 100 games of NBA experience can be plugged in for a ten time all star. Because both guys play on the same team and sort of play the same position, kind of! It makes sense! WHO SAYS NO
but let’s say I told you, “I will bet you $100 that Whiteside will either make the 2016 All-Star Game OR be out of the league before the 2016 All-Star Game, and you can pick only one of the two sides of that bet,” which side would you pick? I can’t decide, either.
I hate entertaining his little thought experiments, but I'll take the latter. Whiteside kind of seems like an asshole who can't get his shit together.
GROUP I: “This Is So Ludicrous That I Can’t Even Hang Up On You Yet”
31. Gregg Popovich
UPDATE: I don’t know if you noticed the ’69 Celts potential of the 2015 Spurs lately, but … well … I mean …
IT ALL COMES BACK TO THE C'S! BAWSTON IS THE LITAHRAL AND FIG-YOU-A-TIVE CENTAH OF THE UNIVAHSE! FIFTY YE-AHS FROM NOW, PEOPLE WILL ASK "DID THE POPOVICH SPURS PROPAHLY CARRY THE DYNASTY BANNER ESTABLISHED BY THE AUERBACH C'S? AND THE ANSWER WILL BE FACK YOU, BEANTOWN IS THE GREATEST! I BET POPOVICH WEARS C'S PAJAMAS TO BED! WHO SAYS NO?