NBA, sports, Utah Jazz

NBA Wrap: November

Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank demonstrates his competence at the “Sprinkler” dance move, awaits call from Tom Bergeron.

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I (Ben) intend to follow through on my pledge to do more non-Jazz NBA blogging this year, so this will be the first of what one hopes (or for the majority of our readership, perhaps, does not hope) will become a monthly fixture.

We’ll begin each with a quick Jazz overview:

RECORD TO DATE: 9-7, 2½ games behind Denver

BEST GAME: A 90-83 win against the Spurs, Utah’s first victory in San Antonio this decade. (Not one current Jazz player was in the NBA the last time Utah won in San Antonio.)

WORST GAME: A 104-99 loss to the Kings … at home. Rookie Tyreke Evans lit up Utah for 32 points and the Jazz blew a 15-point first half lead. Did I mention the game was at home? Against the Kings?

BOOZER STATUS: Still wearing a Jazz uniform … and arguably Utah’s best player so far this season (20-10 on 55% shooting). This puts me in a conundrum since I don’t like Boozer and think he’s bad for team chemistry. But his trade value can only go up if he keeps turning in double-doubles.

ENCOURAGING SIGNS: Boozer isn’t a complete locker room cancer — yet … The offense is sharp. Utah is second in FG% behind the Suns (who are fun to watch again now that Shaq isn’t bogging down the offense) … Andrei Kirilenko has not allowed his blogging exploits to interfere with play this year, putting up a 13-5-3 off the bench … Utah plays 6 of the next 8 at home … Kyrylo Fesenko scored a career high 9 points against Portland!

DISCOURAGING SIGNS: Utah has no perimeter threat. The Jazz shoot a decent 34% from beyond the arc but only Memphis attempts fewer threes. With Kyle Korver out, Utah has no one to stretch the defense … Ronnie Brewer still has the league’s ugliest jump shot for a 2-guard … Kosta Koufos has put up an 0-fer in the last three games … Utah has already dropped three games at home. It used to be the Jazz would only lose three at home all season. But as some friendly Cavs fans reminded me, that’s also known as “the past.”

OBLIGATORY MARK EATON PHOTO:

He’s tall!

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Now that that’s out of my system, let’s (mercifully) move on to the rest of the league. General observations:

Carmelo Anthony is making the jump. I never saw Anthony play at Syracuse until the NCAA championship game against Kansas. I was fully prepared to hate him. It was nothing personal — I just believe in hating anyone who’s good who plays for Syracuse. (See Coleman, Derrick; Seikaly, Rony; McNamara, Gerry; Devendorf, Eric.) But I found myself rooting for Anthony — at first begrudgingly, then whole-heartedly. Despite his occasional forays into punkishness, Melo has been on the up-and-up for a while now, and this season looks to be his coming out party. He leads the league in scoring (30.9 a game) and Denver looks legit in the West. He also did this to Paul Millsap.

Moving on. (I can’t believe I posted that of my own free will.)

Greg Brandon Jennings might actually make basketball in Milwaukee worth watching. Not since Sidney Moncrief and Jack Sikma have the good people of Milwaukee been so excited. And with good reason.

Everyone out West not from Minnesota or Memphis is good. You could argue that Golden State should be thrown in the “not good” category as well, but I disagree. (More in a second.) Aside from the perennially bad Grizzlies and the truly atrocious T-Wolves, there aren’t many other pushovers in the West anymore. Both Oklahoma City and Sacramento won in Utah, while even the Clippers are within spitting distance of .500 … and Blake Griffin hasn’t played a game yet. Right now only one team between New Orleans, Houston and Oklahoma City would make the playoffs, while some mediocre Eastern Conference team like Charlotte, Indiana or Toronto will make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record. I promise to gripe about this all season.

David Stern cracks down on Twitter. Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler apparently believe that $53 a character isn’t too steep to keep their Twitter feeds updated.

Golden State is the headcase team of the NBA this year … yet it still might be good!

First Stephen Jackson decides over the summer he wants out of the Bay Area — even though he’s the team captain and he signed an extension in 2008. Then during a preseason game he picks up five fouls and a technical within ten minutes. (Note: This requires effort.) Coach Don Nelson apparently didn’t like that. Words were exchanged. Then Jackson’s agent Mark Stevens name checks every skeleton in Nellie’s closet, omitting only that Nellie willfully and repeatedly ran over Jackson’s dog Peetie when Jackson was a kid. Jackson gets traded (to Charlotte), but Nellie comes down with pneumonia or some such disease which causes him to divvy out PT according to an arcane Mayan numerical code which is also responsible for actors such as John Cusack making terrible career choices. All this and Golden State still goes into Dallas with just six players and beats the Mavs behind 37 points from Monta Ellis. Then, two games later, the Warriors lose 130-97 at home to the Lakers. Now Ellis wants to be traded. Only Yellow Thunder could make sense of all this for us.

No team should sign Allen Iverson. He’ll always have a special place in my heart for putting up 48 in game one of the 2001 Finals, but it’s not 2001 anymore, and nobody would benefit from an 34-year-old alpha dog with beta dog skills. Unless maybe it was Golden State.

Someone will have to win next Sunday in Madison Square Garden. And it just might be New Jersey! Don’t expect the Nets to beat either Dallas or Charlotte this week, but don’t be surprised if they get their first win on December 6 against the woeful Knicks. New York (currently 3-14) will be 3-17 by that point and just 1-9 at home. Scalpers outside will be giving away kerosene and matches along with tickets so you can light yourself on fire at any point during the game (but preferably before tip-off).

LeBron James and 2010. I think LeBron is staying in Cleveland. Chris Ballard makes the case he should do so for the NBA’s minimum wage.

Also, I didn’t include this in my Jazz/Cavs post, but I think it’s fantastic that Daniel Gibson’s community benefit group is called “Boobie’s Ballers.”

Scott Guldin says Taj Gibson “might be the worst Bulls starter ever.” I still find this hard to believe, but I’m going to defer to Scott on this one. I learned this little tidbit in one of the 21 texts we exchanged during last Thursday’s Jazz/Bulls game. He rates Gibson below Khalid el-Amin, Pete Myers and Aaron Gray. I pulled out Stacey King but Scott informed me he was never a starter. Scott also sent a different text that said, “Carlos Boozer lied to a blind man.”

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8 thoughts on “NBA Wrap: November

  1. I said Gibson was worse than Dave Corzine, an early 80s Bulls fixture whose salt-and-pepper beard made women swoon but whose 2″ vertical made effective interior defense impossible.

    Sadly, as a testament to Vinny del Negro’s sucktitude, Aaron Gray actually HAS started games for the Bulls, so I think the “Who’s worse: Gray or Gibson” could be a debated for millennia.

    I don’t really stand by my original statement, though. My two-year stay in Chicago coincided with the Tim Floyd / Bill Cartwright era, some of the worst basketball in NBA history. My aunt had season tickets then (Ron Mercer’s ceaseless clanged 10-footers finally killed her resolve), and she couldn’t unload them on me fast enough. So I watched Marcus Fizer stand 35 feet from the hoop, dribbling the ball endlessly, only to heave a desperation 3 after the clock expired. Jake Voskuhl, Kevin Ollie, AJ Guyton, Eddie Robinson, and a 78-year-old Greg Anthony, as well as a 142-year-old Charles Oakley all had starts during that putrid time. So take your pick.

    I realize that Gibson is in only because Tyrus Thomas broke his arm doing pull-ups (huh?), but the fact that he’s on the roster at all underscores the ineptitude of the Paxson-Gar Forman era, which I will summarize like this: Let’s not sign guys with talent or who fill an obvious need on our team. Let’s zero in on inexpensive but woefully overmatched and untalented guys, and tell our fans how much they “HUSTLE” or “LOVE THE GAME.” Then we’ll sign some ridiculously bad contracts that tie our hands for future trades, and we won’t come close to the luxury tax because it’s all about making money, and for some reason Bulls fans won’t stop buying tickets to watch this crapola. Finally, we’ll tell everyone we’re a premiere 2010 free agent destination, even though nobody wants to live in the cold or play in MJ’s shadow, when they could live on the beach and not have to pay state income tax in Miami, which actually has more cap room AND a good team. So we have as much chance of landing LeBron or Wade as the Clippers, only probably far, far worse.

    Ugh. It is for these reasons that I have changed my tune on the refusal to re-sign Ben Gordon. Yes, $55M is a lot for a guy with one skill, but other than Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, everyone else on the Bulls currently has zero definable skills, unless you count “sucking.” Jannero Pargo? Lindsey Hunter? Really?

    And when did you and Bob Ryan switch brains? Your take on AI is very “60-year-old white dude in a tweed jacket.” Tell me you wouldn’t love to see him on the 76s in those sweet retro unis. Or on the “2002 NBA All-Stars Mavs.” C’mon.

  2. I completely forgot about Fizer and Voskuhl. Yikes.

    As I suppose I’m destined to become a 60-year-old white dude in a tweed jacket, you really shouldn’t be surprised by my take on Iverson. I considered writing more about him and using The Sports Guy’s take as a jumping off point. Money quote: “At his peak, Iverson played with a compelling, hostile, bloodthirsty energy that nobody else had.” Huh. Is this a good thing? I’m not sure.

    My take on Iverson isn’t that I wouldn’t enjoy seeing him stick around (which I would … kind of), only that I can’t see any team benefitting from signing him. He doesn’t believe he could ever be a role player, but let’s face it: He’s a role player. That’s what would be sad to watch, like Jordan on the Wizards only everyone has stopped paying attention. So let’s remember Iverson for his better days.

    The other thing I was going to say about Iverson, and which I kept turning over in my head when I couldn’t fall asleep last night, is in contrast to someone like Kobe Bryant. I don’t like either of those guys. (I hate Kobe.) But the difference with Iverson is that I respect him because he’s not going to change his stripes. He didn’t try to be a fan-friendly “I love this game” role model. He didn’t care that his image never jived with David Stern’s PR machine. I appreciate that. Kobe, on the other hand, is a scuzzball who wants you to believe he’s a swell guy and great teammate. In the words of Owen Wilson in The Darjeeling Limited, He’s trying to sell you a vacuum cleaner. Allen Iverson never sold us a vacuum cleaner. So thank you for that, AI.

    You sound pretty bitter about your Bulls, my man. Can I give you a hug? I think you need a hug.

    1. I would never, ever turn down a Ben Vore hug.

      Two things: 1. I’m really glad AI signed with the 76ers. It feels good, feels right. I hope he stuffs it in your stuffy, white mug. 2. I read the following this morning and nearly had a seizure. This is about the Bulls mulling a Tyrus Thomas-for-Al-Harrington swap with the Knicks:

      “Thomas, 23, was the fourth pick in the 2006 NBA draft, and started to fulfill his promise with 10.9 points and 6.4 rebounds last season. Nevertheless, Chicago believes it has a worthy power forward successor on the cheap in rookie Taj Gibson.” Link: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-tradebuzz120309&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Not to get nit picky but Greg Jennings is a Wide Receiver for the Green Bay Packers… I believe the intended Jennings is Brandon Jennings the point guard for the Bucks.

    It’s an easy mistake as they both play in the state of Wisconsin, are both black, and both named Jennings. Which leads me to my next question, do you believe their are more African Americans or people with the last name Jennings in Wisconsin?

  4. (I had Greg Jennings on the brain because he was the only receiver who did anything for my fantasy team this weekend. I also had the regrettable foresight to sit Miles Austin (140 yds + TD) yet play Steve Smith (1 catch for 5 yards). It goes without saying I’m not winning my league.)

  5. If it makes you feel any better I am in last place in one of my leagues and my bench has outscored my starters every week… which shows how incredibly awful I am at picking my starters. Is Scooter Thomas available to pick my lineup for next week?

  6. I was up in my league by 30 points heading into last night. I had Tom Brady yet to play; they had Drew Brees. No way I lose, right?

    2 int for Brady
    5 td for Brees
    1 loss for me

    Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-it.

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