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.
On today’s episode, the guys dissect their recent Starters Fantasy Basketball Draft featuring luminaries like Lamorne Morris (“New Girl”), Kristen Ledlow (“Inside Stuff”), and Joe Mande (comedian/writer). We discuss where Kevin Durant fell, regretful picks, and the rookie class. That, plus your fantasy basketball questions, and we pull off a trade DURING the show!
On today’s eighth installment of The Starters’ 2014-15 NBA preview podcasts, the guys continue to answer 72 burning questions about the upcoming season. Who will win MVP? Who will win Coach of the Year? And what “pun-tastic” N.Y. Post headline are we most likely to see? All that, plus Skeets tackles double-doubles, Klay Thompson’s contract, and the “Game of Thrones” on the dreaded “Hot Seat.”
On today’s seventh installment of The Starters’ 2014-15 NBA preview podcasts, the guys — minus Dad Kerby — continue to tackle 72 burning questions about the upcoming season. Which team is the most difficult to predict? Who will win Defensive Player of the Year? And which random nickname will Tas try to get to stick this season? All that, plus Leigh discusses Coach Pop, Tom Chambers, and the best biceps in the league on the “Hot Seat.”
On today’s sixth installment of The Starters’ 2014-15 NBA preview podcasts, the guys continue to tackle 72 burning questions about the upcoming season. What’s one 2013-14 playoff team that’ll end up in the lottery? What were a few of the best under-the-radar moves of the offseason? And who will win the Most Improved Player of the Year? All that, plus Trey’s a dad, so Skeets jumps back in the “Hot Seat.”
On today’s fifth installment of The Starters’ 2014-15 NBA preview podcasts, the guys continue to tackle 72 burning questions about the upcoming season. Who will be the eight Eastern Conference playoff teams? Which team got better, not by who they added, but who they lost? And what was the best offseason trash talk? All that, plus Tas jumps back in the “Hot Seat” for five more hard-hitting questions of his own.
On today’s fourth installment of The Starters’ 2014-15 NBA preview podcasts, the guys continue tackling 72 burning questions about the upcoming season. Which Western Conference lottery team has the best chance of making the playoffs? Who has the league’s worst contract? And once and for all, just who is the best backcourt in the league? All that, plus Skeets hands over the cue cards to take his first turn in the “Hot Seat.”
On today’s third installment of The Starters’ 2014-15 NBA preview podcasts, the guys continue tackling 72 burning questions about the upcoming season. Who will make their first NBA All-Star Game? Who’s the most overrated player in the league? And in creating the perfect Dunk Contest, who’s your one “must invite” dunker? All that, plus Leigh jumps in the “Hot Seat” for five hard-hitting questions.
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.
On today’s second installment of The Starters’ 2014-15 NBA preview podcasts, the guys continue tackling 72 burning questions about the upcoming season. What was the worst and/or weirdest move of the offseason? Which team has the league’s deepest bench? And who has more left in tank: Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade? All that, plus Trey hits the “Hot Seat” for five hard-hitting questions of his own.