Back in the Bay, and caught the Portland game last night, the first game I’ve watched in a couple of weeks. It was, for me, like sitting through a couple of hours of fingernails being scraped down a chalkboard. And I wasn’t even tuned to Bob Fitzgerald.
Since April Giants baseball was (correctly) pre-empting April Warriors basketball, I watched the national broadcast. There, I got to listen to Chris Mullin tell us what a good coach Mark Jackson is going to be. And got to listen in on the huddle to hear Mark Jackson tell the boys to please play defense.
The Joy of Tanking.
I’ll try not to discuss what actually happened in the game — we all know that’s not the point of April Warriors basketball — but here’s a couple of talking points:
Klay Thompson: I know it’s not fair, but I find myself watching him most intently on the defensive end. And wondering just how much Andrew Bogut will improve his game.
I continue to believe that you can’t win in the NBA without a two-way shooting guard.
And judging by the minutes Thompson has been getting, Mark Jackson might share that belief. Thompson has reached 30 minutes in only two of the last nine games. That’s somewhat curious at this time of year isn’t it, particularly given Lacob’s desire to push him into ROY recognition?
Jeremy Tyler: I was utterly startled by a couple of Tyler’s recent box scores while I was out of town. Points. Rebounds. Blocked Shots. Could Tyler really have promise as an NBA player?
I didn’t see any evidence of it in this game. What I saw was an inability to finish inside, force Hickson left, find good rebounding position, defend without fouling, or understand at all what is unfolding on the floor.
Maybe someone can fill me in on the previous games.
I’ve seen a few pundits speculating about whether Tyler could play power forward in the NBA. I’ll make this simple.
No. Not ever.
Like Kwame Brown, it’s center or bust.
Charles Jenkins: I don’t know if I have ever seen a point guard who is more deliberate in the paint. Not since Mark Jackson, at any rate.
It can be very interesting to watch, but at times I start to channel my inner football coach. North South dammit! Hit the damn hole!
I’ve also been starting to wonder whether Jenkins can go left. His handle is far superior to Jeremy Lin’s, but I’m afraid the answer is no. Like Lin, no finish.
Jeremy Lin: I was sad to see Lin get injured, but I have to say that I was not surprised. During Linsanity, I watched him continously force his way into the lane and throw himself into opposing big men to draw contact. It was effective, and certainly calculated to please coaches of the Keith Smart and Mark Jackson tier, but it was not a great recipe for longevity.
As Dwayne Wade and perhaps now Derrick Rose too have discovered.
Lamar Odom: Now that Odom fever has hit the Bay, let’s at least get one part of the discussion straight:
Lamar Odom is not a small forward.
He is a power forward. Someone needs to get this news to Bob Fitzgerald ASAP.
Odom began to find himself as a player when Pat Riley traded for him, and installed him at the four for the Heat. He put up 17 and 10 in 2004.
After the Lakers traded for Gasol, Phil Jackson had a choice of Odom, Vlad Rad, Luke Walton and Sasha Vujecic to play the three. Whom did he choose?
He chose Vlad Rad, with Walton backing up. Lamar Odom is a four, and one of the best fours in the league. He averaged close to 10 rebounds a game for the Lakers, coming off the bench. He defended the rim. Ran the high post. Spread the floor.
Even thinking about playing him at the three — as Rick Carlisle unfortunately did — is a travesty. His mediocre outside shooting doesn’t help you at the three, he can’t beat threes off the dribble the way he beats bigs, and he can’t guard threes. Period.
Now that we’ve got that straight, speculate away.
Here’s my take: He would look absolutely great alongside David Lee in a small ball unit.
But Joe Lacob doesn’t know what a spread four is.
The Monta Ellis Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks lost a heartbreaker at home to the Knicks last night, which unfortunately puts their playoff hopes on life support. Monta haters will make hay of this. (Some have already dismissed his 35 points on 14-25, 10 assist, 6 rb, 4 steal line against Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler by pointing to his -8. I would think they might want to direct their attention to Klay Thompson’s -18 first.)
I think the Buck’s lack of real success since the trade can be attributed to three things. 1) Extremely ill-timed injuries to Drew Gooden, Ilysasova and Delfino. That’s their entire front line, and they had all been playing well. 2) The difficulty of assimilating new players late in the season. Monta has been extremely deferential to Brandon Jennings, and Skiles doesn’t trust Udoh on offense. 3) Their general talent deficit. Even with Monta and everyone healthy, its pretty hard to say the Bucks have more talent than any team above them. Impossible, in fact.
And then there’s the Brandon Jennings problem. I absolutely hate Jennings as a basketball player, and I’m pretty sure Skiles does too. Jennings’ Bucks career has reached an end, and I have a sneaking suspicion his days as an NBA starter may be nearing an end as well.
Since the trade, Monta has averaged 6 assists and a better than 2:1 ast/to ratio while playing for a brand new team, and sharing the backcourt with Jennings. Which has only cemented what I already feel about him.
If I were an NBA GM, I would give Monta Ellis a max contract to run my team. And be confident I was getting a better point guard than Tony Parker, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.
Is Monta willing to play the point? The beginning of next season might provide a clue. It could be the showcase to end all showcases.
Frisco Joe and Dodger Pete: This week brought the news that 1) the Warriors have eliminated the Giants as a “middleman,” and are looking at their own site on the SF waterfront; 2) the second oldest franchise in D-league history, and most strongly supported, is on its way out of North Dakota to the sunny shores of Santa Cruz; and
3) Warriors co-owner Peter Guber just bought a piece of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
All three of these news items are of a piece to me. They all resonate within me the same way. And I’m a little curious why more isn’t being made of at least this last item in the media.
I guess that’s what I’m for.