Shoutout: The Thunder lost to the Trail Blazers because their second leading scorer was Lance Thomas with 14, but RussellMania seems like it’ll be as good as advertised. 38 points on 11-26 shooting, plus six assists, three rebounds, three steals and just two turnovers for Westbrook on the evening, as he immediately began the season as the league’s leading scorer. Things slowed down for him once he stopped getting every single call when he drove to the hoop, but these 20 non-Durant games are going to be a treat, especially if he plays as controlled as he did last night.
Not so much: Every single player on the New York Knicks scored last night. That’s a positive way of spinning a 24-point loss in a season opener, as the Bulls waltzed in to Madison Square Garden, shot the lights out and just generally made the Knicks look silly. Carmelo and Amare led New York with 14 and 12, respectively, which means we can start the clock on when they’ll start complaining about the triangle to 10:45pm ET last night.
Buzz buzz: Kemba Walker decided to show Hornets fans why that $48 million extension was worth every penny, and he wasted zero time doing so.
Two humongous clutch shots in an overtime win that came on the back of the biggest comeback in Charlotte franchise history — the new Hornets era literally could not have started any better than it did. I mean, just look how happy the boss is. Not to mention, everything looked just as dope as we thought it would. The uniforms, the warmups, that terrific court, just everything. Cool night in Charlotte.
Just a quick rundown of all the weird stuff happening in this Ryan Anderson videobomb from last night:
– Is videobombed twice, actually — once by a jumping, stuffed pelican and also by some random dude assuring us, “This guy knows what he’s doing. He knows what he’s doing.”
–Ryan Anderson is so tall that Pierre the Pelican is forced to jump as high as he can, just to be able to see his giant head. This is what happens when the guy getting videobombed is the tallest person in frame. There are some kinks to work out here.
– For whatever reason, Fox Sports decided the best way show off Pierre’s hops was by chopping and screwing the interview and keeping the audio turned up. Half-speed Ryan Anderson is the new Drunk Goldblum.
– This screencap, which makes it tough to sleep at night.
We’re one night in to the season, and things are already getting weird. Something tells me this is going to be a good year.
Shoutout: Anthony Davis wasted all of zero games fulfilling that “Next NBA Superstar” tag that everyone gave him this summer. He went for 26 points, 17 rebounds, a career-high nine blocks and three steals while leading the Pelicans to a win. Those are, quite literally, Hakeem Olajuwon numbers. Oh, and he did it all while shooting free throws on top of a portrait of himself. Plus, at the start of the second half, Smoothie King officials had to check whether or not the rim he’d been dunking all over was bent or not. Tremendous performance.
Not so much: The Lakers went 3-10 from three-point range, allowed both Houston Rockets starting bigs (Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones) to go for double-doubles and got destroyed in a game where Kobe Bryant led them in scoring. Kind of feel like that sentence is going to be a template for the entire rest of the season.
IT’S BACK: This play was awesome when it was Patrick Beverley crossing up new Youngest Looking Guy in the League Jordan Clarkson…
…and then it got even better when Honest Ed Davis put his shot in to the stands. Basketball rules.
It’s a glorious day, my friends. In just a matter of hours, the 2014-15 NBA season will tip off and all will be right with the world. By now, you’ve read all those wacky lists, like “78 Things Awesome Things About the NBA Season” or maybe “28 Things to Watch for This Year in the NBA” or whatever. This is not that. This is the opposite. This is what you shouldn’t expect to see this season. Try not to cry.
Indiana Pacers Shootouts
The Indiana Pacers finished last season 22rd in offensive efficiency, while failing to score 100 points in 52 of their 78 non-overtime games. Then this summer, they lost to Lance Stephenson to the Hornets and Paul George to a broken leg so gross networks won’t show it happening. That’s bad action.
Even worse action – all three of David West, George Hill and C.J. Watson are going to miss a few games to start the season. This team is going to struggle to score 80 points a game, unless Roy Hibbert turns in to a monster post-up player who goes for 40 a night. The thought of that is hilarious, because how many shots would it take Roy Hibbert to score 40 in a game? 40? 50? 100? Not going to be a fun season in Indiana, so I think it’s safe to skip over them in your League Pass listings for at least a few weeks.
Any Totally Watchable Plays
Probably the thing that bums me out the most about this upcoming season, more than Kevin Durant’s foot injury or the impending sense of doom I feel knowing the Bulls will somehow squander what might be their best recent chance at a title, is that Andray Blatche won’t be in the league this year. After two seasons in Brooklyn where he remade himself in to a quality role player and one of the better backup centers in the league, which was followed by a legitimately inspiring performance for the Filipino national team at this summer’s FIBA World Cup, Blatche joins Jordan Crawford on the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Associations. That means we lost two of our most notorious gunners in one summer, plus Nick Young is hurt to start the year. Not good for fans of basketball silliness.
Blatche is the one that hurts the most. He’s been a huge part of my basketball internet career, from the Knucklehead Wizards Era up until last season’s Chicken Dinner Finger Roll, and it’s incredibly sad to see him go.
On the plus side, the Wizards are still paying his since-amnestied contract this season. Andray Blatche is the gift that keeps on giving.
A Los Angeles Laker Making the Three-Point Contest
Byron Scott hates three-pointers like Byron Mullens hates anything besides three-pointers (he’s gone to China too — WHERE HAVE ALL THE GUNNERS GONE, PAULA COLE?). Sure, he shot 37 percent from deep in his career, which would lead you to believe he’d be down with the deep ball as a coach, but nope. As such, I think the odds of seeing Wayne Ellington or Ryan Kelly in the three-point contest this season are pretty low. Tragic, I know.
DeMarcus Cousins Meeting Reggie Evans’ Five-Technical Limit
A hilarious thing from this summer is that DeMarcus Cousins only cocking a fist at and not sucker-punching Jonas Valanciunas during an international competition was considered a sign of maturity. Think about how bad your rep has to be that people seeing you not punch someone in the back of the head is considered growing up. That’s why I’m expecting Cousins to break that five-tech limit by the All-Star break, if not months earlier. I mean, the dude had multiple techs in the preseason, so this is a deadbolt lock.
Philadelphia 76ers Making the Playoffs
Just a hunch.
The Up/Down Report is a weekly look at people, teams and other things across the league and whether they are trending up or down, plus some things I’m still haven’t figured out. Here’s what’s up (and down) for the first week of the season.
UP: Milwaukee Bucks
Ever since I’ve been a basketball fan, the Milwaukee Bucks have been pretty boring. I mean, this is a franchise that counts Glenn Robinson, Michael Redd and Vin Baker among its biggest stars of the past three decades. Even Ray Allen, probably the coolest Buck of my lifetime, is more of a classy gentleman than trend-setting iconoclast. The notable exception is Sam Cassell, but I don’t think anyone really thinks of him as a Milwaukee Buck.
That’s going to change this year. After a bizarre 2013-14 season in which they tried to make the playoffs but instead finished with the worst record in the league despite the 76ers tying the record for most consecutive losses while simultaneously forcing the NBA to consider lottery reform due to their obvious tanking, the Bucks have some indie cred this season. And it’s mostly thanks to those two guys you see up top — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. One of them set the league on fire (as much as a guy who averaged 6-4-2 can) with his wide-eyed enthusiasm and frighteningly long limbs, the other was the next LeBron before Andrew Wiggins showed up on YouTube.
And that’s why I’m loving the Bucks. They’re still going to be pretty bad this season, but at least we know that going in. And we also know that this team might lead the league in Vine-able highlights like a game-winning dunk over a guy off a spin move or dunking after covering the entire court with all of two dribbles. Throw in a potential Larry Sanders bounce-back year, John Henson playing NBA basketball as a human stick figure, O.J. Mayo with a young Kobe fro, the fact that Jason Kidd is somehow their coach and the likelihood that Zaza Pachulia will do something hilarious this season and the Bucks might actually be a feel-good story this year. Because seriously, when is the last time the Bucks had more than one player whose jersey you’d like to wear? It’s been forever. Fear the Deer.
DOWN: Klay Thompson
It really seems like Klay Thompson is going to be the main dividing point among The Starters this season. Skeets and Leigh think he’s one of the best players in the league, primed for a breakout season, while Tas and I think he’s good but definitely replaceable. So let me lay out my position on why I’m down on Klay Thompson.
For one, he’s never posted a league average PER. We all agree it’s not a perfect stat, but it’s pretty good for a quick look at how a player performs and Klaybird hasn’t even posted the magic number of 15 that John Hollinger used as the baseline of “average” for his entire system. Outside of that, he averaged 18 points per game (good!), three rebounds (not so good) and two assists (also not so good) last season, numbers that are fine but that certainly don’t earn Wesley Matthews and Arron Afflalo the same kind of accolades. And while Klay is definitely a good defender and can handle a huge chunk of the league’s point guards, he does the majority of his work on the wing, which is by its nature a less impactful position for a defender.
Those are the facts, so here are the opinions. He’s not the best shooter on his own team. He’s not the best wing defender on his own team. He’s not the best ball-handler, rebounder, passer or scorer on his own team. And for me, two guard is the single most replaceable position in today’s NBA. Would the Warriors be just as good with Matthews or Afflalo in Klay’s spot? Could J.J. Redick step in for Klay and have the same impact? I think the answers to both of those questions are yes, and I think everyone in the league would trade all three of those guys for Kevin Love.
That’s just how I feel about Klay Thompson — very good player, perfect fit with Stephen Curry, not a franchise guy. That being said, having seen him in the preseason, I am 100 percent prepared to be wrong about this.
By now you have heard the news — Steve Nash is an old man and he hurt his back carrying bags at practice. Really.
Nash hurt his back carrying bags today, Byron Scott said. Did not practice. Wouldn’t count on him playing Thursday vs. Utah.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) October 15, 2014
You may be thinking that 40 years old isn’t that old, and I’d totally agree with you. But on the other hand, look at every other player 40 years or older who has played in the NBA recently and you’ll see that it’s been more than a decade since someone had a successful season whilst being at least 40 years old. And that’s without being Steve Nash, who has been having back problems for basically as long as I can remember.
As such, here is a quick guide to help Steve Nash avoid hurting his back any more by doing things that would be OK for a younger man.
– Don’t try to carry a non-flatscreen TV up and down the stairs, even if there aren’t that many stairs. Those old TVs are super heavy, and though his old man strength (the strength you randomly acquire throughout life until you are somehow able to carry bulky furniture all by yourself) will surely kick in to make this do-able, I just wouldn’t recommend it because the angles are very awkward. And as we all know, awkward angles lead to hurty backs.
– Find someone else to mow the lawn. Also saves you a sunburn.
– When you go out to a yacht rock concert, try to keep your dancing to a minimum. It’s going to be tough when you hear “Easy Lover” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” but the long term benefit of not dancing with wild abandon is playing (at least) another 10 games during the regular season. I don’t know how scientists figured out this corollary, but that’s why they’re scientists and I am not.
– Sit down to fold laundry. A lot of people like to stand while they’re folding because clothes can get pretty long, but if you stay seated you can just chill and get your clothes folded. It doesn’t have to be a big production.
– Don’t jump off any roofs. This is good advice in general, but there are times when you’re on a pretty low rooftop deck, then you look over and think, “That’s not a far drop, I could jump this.” Maybe you could, but it’s going to hurt your back, so just don’t.
– No shoveling the driveway. Probably pretty easy to do in Los Angeles.
Now obviously there are a bunch of other things Steve Nash could do to save his back, from heating up a sock filled with rice in the microwave and putting it on his back to freezing a bag of peas and putting it on his back. In fact, there are thousands of foods you can put on your back to make it feel better. But that’s after your back is killing you, which is why he needs to avoid these basic, every day things in order to preserve his body.
Either that or find a rookie to carry his bags. I kind of thought that was the whole point of rookies.
If you’ve been following The Starters since our TBJ days, then you know we’ve always had a soft, salty spot in our hearts for Jose Calderon, the Raptors’ all-time leading assist man and the only person in the league who I am aware of that owns a ham farm in Spain. And if you’ve been paying close attention to all our ham farm mentions, then the fact that Jose Calderon hates all those ham farm mentions should come as no surprise.
We finally found someone Jose Calderon, perhaps the nicest man in the entire NBA is a little cross with — whoever wrote in the Raptors media guide long ago that Calderon was a dedicated pig farmer.
Calderon spent a few minutes prior to Monday’s pre-season game, his first at Madison Square Garden as a member of the Knicks, playing down talk that he is some sort of pig farming kingpin who is heavily involved in the process.
“I’m just part of that business, I’ve just got my brand,” Calderon said with a laugh, dispelling any rumours he spends his spare time in the mud with swine.
“We just buy some ham for farmers. You sell that, it’s not like we’re huge, big, I don’t have pigs. I don’t know who did that at the beginning, that media guide,” he said.
OK, fair enough. If he doesn’t own pigs, then I guess he isn’t technically a ham farmer. Sure, he did a commercial with Sprint last year talking about Spanish ham and which soil is the best in all of Spain for ham pigs, so he seems to be a bit more involved than he’s letting on (not to mention, the fact he knows their diet and its effects). At the very least, it seems like Jose Calderon is really trying to put his delicious ham farm behind him.
Not so fast, says Dwane Casey.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has made no secret of his fondness for Calderon: “He’s one of those guys you remember (when you are done coaching),” Casey said.
“He’s one of the most beautiful leaders I’ve ever been around. Jose is great, he’s a beautiful man. Very knowledgeable, I always tease him, does he want to get into coaching, and hopefully he’s smart and doesn’t do that, stay with his pig business over in Spain and raise his family.”
Right around that time, Calderon walked by and interrupted Casey’s media scrum for a hug.
“I was just telling them what a great pig farmer you are,” Casey said, keeping that narrative going.
Hahahahahaha. You know what they say — once a ham farmer in a media guide, always a ham farmer.
Important news re: memes, my friends.
Westbrook was asked if he’d seen the meme of him eyeing the MVP trophy: “I don’t know what memes is.”
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) October 13, 2014
This. Will. Not. Stand.
So as one of the basketball internet’s foremost experts on memes, here’s a quick refresher course for Russell Westbrook on some popular memes.
A very popular Twitter meme (and also a Prince song), #ThisCouldBeUsButYouPlayin shows ill-fated relationship scenarios between two compatible people. You know, like when two fashion-forward superstar guards come up with the same team, but one gets traded because of money.
An extension of the standard Doge meme, Fashion Doge allows fancy dogs to show off their finest wares, like a bowtie AND suspenders AND clear glasses AND a fedora. All at once. Wow. Much influence.
Do You Even Lift Bro?
A Starters office classic, Do You Even Lift Bro? shows a small, fit dude asking an obviously jacked dude if they lift weights, leading to the meathead getting very upset about being accused of being small.
Not Sure If…
Not Sure If… is the perfect meme for when you’re pretty confused by what’s going on. For instance, if a reporter asks you a question that doesn’t makes sense and you really want to ridicule them, hit them with the side-eye to make them feel like a total idiot.
Booty Had Me Like
Find a picture of two people next to each other, hashtag it #TrueDetectiveSeason2 and you’ve made a meme. It helps if the two people are both striking double-teapots and it would be hilarious to imagine them solving crimes.
Because Russell Westbrook is grumpy and a cat.
These are just a few of the at least 100 memes out there, but this is just a quick primer so that Russell Westbrook can know what memes are. Now that he’s got some background, the next step in his meme education is creating memes. I’ll be waiting for a call.
It’s hard to say if this 12-year-old kid is going to be an NBA player someday, but considering he’s “already better” than Chandler Parsons, I wouldn’t be surprised. I mean, he’s got the fadeaway, the free throw, the Manu Ginobili behind the back, the immaculate staredown face:
So basically, he has it all, Monta Ellis style. Seven years from now, Chandler Parsons better watch out.
The NBA Global Games tipped off earlier this week, with the Spurs losing their world championship belt to Alba Berlin on a buzzer-beater in a game that was actually hotly contested. As such, the team was in Germany with a little time to explore Berlin. And that’s when our pal, Matt Bonner, did what any NBA player would do — throw on some cords and hit the streets for some frolicking.
Now, from careful research, it appears Bonner was lucky enough to enjoy two separate frolics: a street frolic and a water frolic. The details of these two frolics follow.
The Street Frolic
Attire: Navy crewneck, brown corduroys, some grey and red adidas that I’m pretty sure say “Red Mamba” on them, bike helmet (for safety).
Activities: Biking, posing on bike, signing autographs, stopping in the park to eat a sandwich.
The Water Frolic
Attire: Black crewneck, grey Spurs pants, those same “Red Mamba” adidas, sailor hat (for laughs).
Activities: Strolling, gazing, listening to Yacht Rock playlists, yelling “Land Ho!” a bunch, sandwiches at sea.
What can we learn from these two frolics? Well, for one, it’s always important to have the right headwear when you’re frolicking. Sometimes you’re going for safety, sometimes you’re going for style. Either way, make sure to cover your head.
And secondly is the Joey Tribbiani Rule: it’s never a bad idea to pack a sandwich, because you never know when you’re going to need it. Take care of those two things and you’re good to go, even if you are 6-foot-10 NBA player.