Life, The Universe and Everything: Another Weekly Roundtable
These weekly roundtables have quickly become a part of our weekly routines and we have every intention of extending through the rest of this barren offseason and right into the season proper. We hope you’re enjoying them as much as we are. Don’t forget to check out question 6, which asks for answers from you, the readers.
Editor’s Note: Kris Fenrich (@dancingwithnoah) is the author of this week’s questions
1. Pick one player from NBA past or present to add to your favorite team’s roster this season. Sure, you can take the easy way out and pick Michael Jordan, or you can give it some thought and tell us who’s the best fit and why. Larry Bird with the Rockets? Karl Malone with the Bulls? James Harden with the Thunder … what?
Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh): I’d give Reggie Miller to the Pacers. I know they made the Finals in 2000, but the brawl team was the most talented he played for and robbed him of the best chance he had to bring a title to Indianapolis. I’d love to see Reggie drilling threes off the bench for this year’s group and getting one more chance to chase that ring. (I’d also like to free up my Twitter timeline from all the people complaining about his performance as a broadcaster.)
Kyle Soppe (@unSOPable23): My Toronto Raptors probably need more than a single player, but I’d love to add Ricky Rubio to the fold. The Raptors have plenty of depth and scorers who excel at running the court/slashing to the rim, so the court vision of Rubio would be ideal. Can I take the 2015 version of Rubio? The one who theoretically develops a reliable jumper? I’m breaking the rules (future doesn’t really qualify as “past or present” I suppose), but that’s what I want North of the border.
David Vertsberger (@_verts): Scottie Pippen to the Knicks. New York’s biggest issue is their defense, and with Chandler already commanding the paint, a wing that can make the right rotations and let Shump off the task of guarding LeBron and Durant is my best bet here. Also doesn’t hurt that Pippen can relieve Melo of some scoring duties and can literally do everything well.
Andrew Johnson(@countingbaskets): Easy, the Celtics need scoring, and that means Adrian Dantley. Besides one can never have enough shooting guards, right?
Patrick Redford (@patrickredford): Kevin Johnson. Dude is already the mayor of Sacramento and the architect of the team’s salvation. The only step missing is his on-court coronation in a Kings jersey.
Cole Patty (@ColePatty): There are so many options to go with the Indiana Pacers. A two-guard that spreads the floor with legitimate 40% three point ability and can eat up some usage. Which means you can try and be realistic and say that Indiana should swing a deal for Klay Thompson — who has been rumored as a potential trade piece — or go “hey. why wasn’t Reggie Miller born 15 years later? He would be super cool on this team!” Either way, adding that piece would make me really happy.
Dan Lewis (@trueDanLewis): Bill Walton to the Nuggets. Brian Shaw is a rookie head coach, and wants to install an offense built around an elite big man who can distribute the ball. Plus, with the new state regulations on performance enhancing drugs, Walton joining the Nuggets would be the easiest free agency sell of all time – well, besides what Portland offers. Watching Walton and Faried own the glass would bring a smile to my face, and less Mozgov and McGee is always good for me.
Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla): What if, instead of bringing one player to Dallas, I just decrease the entire roster’s age by, say, five or 10 years? Since I probably can’t do that, I’d love to bring a time-traveling Wes Unseld to the Mavericks. Dallas has a solid pair of rim protectors in Sam Dalembert and Bernard James, but imagine Unseld grabbing a rebound and firing one of his famous outlet passes to a streaking Monta Ellis on the fast break. A pass-happy-yet-competent-in-the-post Unseld would fit right in to the Mavs’ system.
Rich Kraetsch (@richkraetsch): This is especially relevant given the news that Joakim Noah will miss the remainder of the preseason but I’d love to have a prime Hakeem Olajuwon manning the middle for the Bulls. Noah has the size/speed and occasional shooting range to slide down to PF with Taj as his backup while Boozer will be jettisoned into space. Olajuwon absolutely makes them one of (if not the) best defensive teams in history, brings a post scoring presence the Bulls don’t have a ton of and would open up opportunities for shooters on the outside. Karl Malone was mentioned in the question and I’d be a-okay with that too, especially dreamy thinking of a pick-and-pop with Malone and Rose.
Kevin Ferrigan (@NBAcouchside): Well, the Bulls biggest weakness is starting power forward, so Karl Malone is tempting, but he’s already been mentioned twice, so I’m not going to go that route. Instead I’ll add Kareem to this team. With Joakim Noah operating near the elbow / high post area, shooting mid-range jumpers, and taking people off the dribble for left handed flip shots, there’s plenty of room for a true low block presence (sorry Carlos, you’re not it) and with the length of Noah and Abdul-Jabbar, it would be nigh on impossible for opposing teams to score in the paint, especially given how tough it is to enter the paint against this Bulls team given their perimeter defensive excellence.
Sean Widmer (@SeanTWidmer): The Blazers could use a dominant center so I’d give them Sam Bowie. Oh wait, scratch that, I’ll take Greg Oden… Nevermind this isn’t working out too well. In theory I’d take Shaq in his prime because if Lamarcus Aldridge had an all star center taking away some double teams he would be even more of an unstoppable force. But with the Blazers I assume that in some freak science accident Shaq’s bones would turn to play-dough in week 1 of the season.
Myles Ma (@MylesMaNJ): Walt “Clyde” Frazier to the Knicks. It would be painful to lose his exquisite work in the broadcast booth, but I want Clyde back on the court. He’s clutch, he shares the ball and a Shumpert-Frazier backcourt would be a terror defensively.
Matt Cianfrone (Matt_Cianfrone): Magic Johnson. I mean, have you seen the Bucks? Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo aren’t exactly making teammates that much better. Magic would do that and most importantly the team would be fun to watch, something that the past few years have been far from.
2. What really grinds your gears about the NBA? Is it the officiating? Players flopping? Lockouts? Dwight Howard’s existence? Consider this an opportunity to vent.
Levy: I recognize that this is completely lame, but there’s just no grind on my gears. I can deal with any minor annoyances #ForTheLoveOfTheGame.
Soppe: I hate the hate expressed toward flopping. Is it an issue? Sure. But can we blame the players for doing something that gives them an edge? Again, I do not condone flopping, but I can understand why players do it. Along the same lines, I hate that people still kill LeBron James for The Decision. A chance to increase the probability of winning. “You play to win the game”. Sounds reasonable to me.
Vertsberger: The idiot fan who acts like he knows it all. Have you ever read through YouTube comments? So awful. Now you may be thinking, “hey, let people enjoy the game however they’d like.” But my thing is this, basketball is an art, and if you can’t appreciate and understand the art at some level – stop commenting on Picasso’s work like you’re a scholar in the area.
Johnson: The Hack-A-Stategy, even if it is the most efficient strategy in any given situation it is brutal to watch. Brutal. I only pray that Andre Drummond continues his improved freebie shooting otherwise Detroit games will be long dolorous affairs. Silver step in, this is your chance to make your mark.
Redford: At the risk of sounding like an idiot; certain aspects of the advanced stats revolution. I get that it’s a new and potentially exciting way to understand the game and God Bows to Math and all that, but it’s just no fun to me. But hey, whatever works, enjoy basketball however you do.
Patty: Lately, the war against high-usage guys. I understand this isn’t a popular answer, and one I never thought I would find myself on the other side of the fence of. But these players are useful. We love our efficient players, and for good reason. Watching a three-and-D guy flutter around the court and playing hyper-aware basketball makes all of our hearts flutter. There is still a need for the high-usage guy though, the relationship between USG% and TS% — or eFG% if you prefer — is one that is close to inverse. We almost never see a guy go from 15% USG to 25% USG and have it go well. Even Paul George last season, who went from 19.3% to 23.5%, saw many more issues than before. It’s a tough argument to make because the casual fan will vouch for a Melo or Monta everyday of the week, so you immediately have the prerequisite rage built up from that experience. But one I find necessary to make.
Lewis: I actually agree with Redford, which may go against the grain here at Hickory High. Oftentimes I feel like the numbers occasionally overshadow the story. While I lived in Utah, I used to hate really dislike hearing about Jimmer Fredette’s per/36 numbers. “He should be starting, look at his stats!” Well, you know what, Isaiah Thomas beat him out in practice, so he actually kind of sucks. I have to remind myself that when it all comes down to it, the only stat that matters is winning – and, of course, getting buckets.
Karalla: I hate the Kobe/LeBron argument, the Kobe/Jordan argument, the LeBron/Jordan argument, the LeBron comparisons to a Jordan/Magic hybrid, the #LeBronLegacy argument… ugh. Let the players play, and 20 years from now we can have a cool conversation about it. Enjoy what’s happening in front of you without subjectively (or objectively, even) quantifying how “great” someone is. LeBron rules, Kobe is incredible, MJ was superhuman. But stop it already. Just stop it.
Kraetsch: Expanding on Karalla’s point — the inability to fans to allow themselves to enjoy any of the current crop of unbelievable superstars without directly comparing them to the greats of the past. Hey LeBron won a title! JORDAN HAS 6. Hey Kobe made a last-second shot! JORDAN MADE MORE! Just stop. We’re in a special period in NBA history with some amazing players, multiple top 50 all-time guys running around and a lot of fans can’t help but put them down at every turn, focus on “legacies”, focus on comparing them to guys from the 80s and 90s, it’s just so tiresome.
Ferrigan: I hate it when a certain type of fan acts like numbers are the whole story, without looking at broader context. Like, is Steve Novak a better shooter than, say, Carmelo? Well, maybe, but it’s also really hard to say and if you look at raw FG% or even just FG% on jumpshots you’re missing out on the context that Carmelo’s shots are much more contested than the wide open ones Novak might get. Also, this answer was for David. You’re welcome, buddy.
Widmer: Time to get extremely petty, and I mean beyond petty, but much like Ian my gears are pretty grindless. I’m sick of the officials giving the ball to big men on the low block after the first free throw attempt. Why do they need to rub their sweat all over the ball before the second free throw is attempted. Again, this is nitpicking but it does drive me crazy.
Ma: This is weird as a fan to say, but too many games. I love having something to watch every night, but there are a few too many games where guys mail it in. If there were fewer games, they would each matter more, and dudes might not get injured as much.
Cianfrone: That people can’t appreciate LeBron. I’m not asking everyone to like him but the irrational hate that gets directed towards him that leads to a constant belittling of all he has does frustrates me. We are seeing one of the greatest players of all time do things that have never been done before. Like him or not, I just wish people could step back and could accept that instead of trying to downgrade everything or assign stupid narratives and qualifiers to diminish those accomplishments.
3. Derrick Rose?
Soppe: He’s going to be scrutinized at every turn, and if I was him, I’d probably be talking less about how good I’m going to be, but I’m excited to see him lace em up for an already good Bulls team. I’ll become very annoyed if the Bulls struggle out of the gate and the “are they better without Rose” debates begin. He’s a great player, and regardless of how you feel about him missing all of last season, that we should appreciate watching.
Johnson: Was a much better pick than the number two guy that year.
Redford: Rerrick Dose.
Patty: So happy. Glad he’s looking fresh after the year off.
Vertsberger: Derrick (don’t get fired – Dan) fucking Rose.
Lewis: Needs to apologize for last season. One of my rules in life is to be honest with your fellow man, and another is take responsibility for your choices. Derrick, you lied to a lot of people by not being completely honest. If you feel okay with that, then I have nothing else to say to you.
Karalla: I’m curious to see how he looks after Game 20. Is his style going to change? Will he still throw himself at the basket, or will the injury stick in the back of his mind, perhaps keeping him on the perimeter? How will teams defend him? But, yeah, Derrick Rose.
Kraetsch: As a Bulls fan I’ve been ecstatic from what I’ve seen and any of the wounds he created last year healed the first time he cut through four Pacers for an And-1. It will be interesting to see how the knee holds up and how he handles the swelling and general pain he’s going to endure. This is half the reason why rehab should have occurred last year and not this year, but at the end of the day if he’s healthy my Bulls are going to be a joy to watch all year.
Ferrigan: I’m not sure I have the words to properly describe my excitement for his return. He looks as fast as ever and his jumper looks improved, more fluid and relaxed. Also, he’s sporting a new, slightly different haircut which I’m all about.
Widmer: Bulls fans on social media are treating this Rose a lot like my sister and her friends treated the magic rose from “Beauty and the Beast”, a lot of “ooo-ing” and “awe-ing”. Is it bad that just like that magic rose I want this Rose to fail as well? Sincerely, Team Gaston Team Damian Lillard.
Ma: Is not very charismatic.
Cianfrone: Can’t wait.
4. We’ve seen injuries (or tragedies) rob a lot of players of Hall of Fame careers. Of all the guys we’ve lost … Grant Hill, Yao, Bill Walton, Len Bias, Greg Oden, Gil Arenas … which pains you the most?
Levy: Grant Hill. He played a beautifully complete and indelibly smooth brand of basketball. Watching him hang around for another decade after his injury, rebuilding his body and his place in basketball, was a wonderful but bittersweet reminder of all that was lost.
Soppe: Does Tracy McGrady count? He had some great seasons, but it pains me to think what could have been. He’s a borderline hall of famer as it is, and that’s with chronic injuries that robbed him of his athleticism. People say he didn’t have the swagger of an all time great, but I think that could have developed with a handful of of consecutive seasons. The idea of pairing him with Yao (both healthy) would have been revolutionary.
Johnson: I have to go with Len Bias. Otherwise I would have to legally have to leave Boston. Also honorable mention goes to Drazen Petrovic (all time great 30 for 30).
Redford: Probably Gil, mostly because his was the most prominent career of this category that I had the chance to watch from start to finish. What left with Arenas wasn’t just a florid scoring virtuoso, it was a true maverick. Arenas was a dude whose basketball ethos flew in the face of the AAU Palz trend of the day, and it was great. He represented possibility and it was beautiful for a while. Also he engenders maybe my favorite FreeDarko throwaway line of all time to a T; “people who think basketball is jazz have never listened to Rakim.”
Patty: McGrady. I sit around every day waiting for the next Tracy McGrady. It pains me that I never get to experience him play basketball again, because it was the most alive I ever felt watching the game. Watching T-Mac go down the court with thoughts in your head of “how he was going to score” was a magical experience. I hope one day I will find a basketball player that makes me feel the same, but he was such a unique talent I’m not so sure it will happen.
Vertsberger: Well, I have to take a modernist approach to this with my relative newness to the NBA game, so I’d go with Brandon Roy. That dude was a monster.
Lewis: KOBE BEAN BRYANT – no, I’m just kidding, but I will stay in Lakerland. I’ve gotta choose Magic Johnson, who had his career cut short by HIV. Magic had 62 assists in the 1991 Finals, where the Lakers lost to the young, athletic Bulls, when MJ replaced MJ atop the NBA. While the Lakers were beginning to break down, I wish Magic could have gone out another way.
Karalla: For me, it’s Len Bias. Larry Bird told Bill Simmons (I think) that he was actually considering retirement until Bias died. That might or might not be true, but I wonder what the Celtics, at the height of their greatness, would have looked like with a Bird/Bias/McHale/Parish/Walton/DJ/RICK CARLISLE core. Oh, man. Surely the C’s could have beat LA in 1987, right? Could Boston have ripped off another title or two after that, too? I’m a huge fan of dynasties, and Bias’ presence in Boston could have continued the LA/Boston power struggle for another three or four years at least.
Kraetsch: Yao is one that sticks in my mind because I feel like we only scratched the surface of what he could have been. Just a rare, unbelievable almost unfathomable talent who did things men his size shouldn’t have been able to do. Add in the fact that as a Chinese-born player he had global appeal the likes which no modern sport has seen, there was a lot of special years ahead of time.
Ferrigan: For me, it’s definitely T-Mac. I still remember the unbridled joy I felt watching him dominate in that series against the Mavericks when he sucked the gravity right out of the building. I watched that game in my college dorm with my roommates and friends and man alive was he awesome. I thought for sure he and Yao would make up the new, easier to root for version of Kobe and Shaq. Speaking of which, honorable mention to Yao.
Widmer: Brandon Roy. This guy was a basketball genius and was well on his way to a “Should Vince Carter be in the Hall of Fame?”-esque career. Roy played solid defense and could score it in a ton of ways from all over the court. He and Aldridge were just starting to click too. Plus he is the reason that the Rose Garden Moda Center is started selling out again.
Ma: Yao, and not just because he’s Asian, you assholes. When he was healthy and in his prime he gave Shaq a run for his money as the best center in the league. He was a great passer and shooter for a giant, but he just wasn’t built to last. Also his response when asked about his favorite song (“The National Anthem. I listen to it every day.”) is the best.
Cianfrone: Michael Redd was a Hall of Famer right? In all seriousness Chris Webber’s knee really bums me out. Those early 2000s Kings were some of the most fun teams I have ever watched and Webber was right in the middle of it. It is a shame we never got to see those guys fulfill their potential and play for an NBA title because of Webber getting hurt.
5. This is David Stern’s last season as NBA Commissioner as he steps down on Feb. 1st, 2014. Most of us have only known a league with Stern at the helm. What do you expect of his successor, Adam Silver? A mere proxy, continuing to drive the same Stern policies, but with less condescension? Or do you have high hopes of innovation from the league’s new leader?
Levy: I’m writing blind here, but he seems smart enough to know not to mess with a good thing.
Soppe: I think we will see innovation … eventually. The Stern era lasted so long that even if Silver wants change, he will have to move at a glacier’s pace. The NBA is in a good spot right now, so I don’t expect any ground breaking changes in the near future, but I don’t doubt that the game we follow in 10-15 years will be different in more than a few ways.
Johnson: He will change the rules to give the fouled team possession after a third consecutive non-shooting foul on the same player, ending the Hack-A-Strategy. And the global thing.
Redford: New boss, same as the old boss etc. The seeds have been sown for the biggest changes of Silver’s tenure, at least early on. Globalization and expansion of the NBA on TV’s and shoulders around the world. I’d like to see him start to deal with a better draft system and ban the one-year college thing, or at least make it work better.
Patty: A Stern 2.0, if you will. Not in the fact he will be a carbon copy, but a better more intuitive to the time Stern. David was great for a long time, and built the NBA into what it is now, but the last few years there were some moves that seemed off. I believe he turned into a less progressive commissioner as time went on, as all humans do. I expect Silver to implement some of the same policies while adding a breath of fresh air in there.
Vertsberger: I kind of just hope he rigs the lottery in New York’s favor at one point or another.
Lewis: I’ll miss the NBA draft entertainment. It will be interesting to see the NBA continue to push into global markets, and continue to develop the D-League. I think, by the end of Silver’s time as commissioner, we will see a MVP from Asia who leads his team to a NBA Finals championship and the game will truly begin to be an international game. With international players finding success in other leagues (Yu Darvish in baseball, Ezekial Ansah in football, and Serge Ibaka, for example) it is only a matter of time before international athletes begin to receive the same level of coaching as American athletes. Have you seen these Kenyan students high-jump? Imagine them doing the Fosbury flop! So, Silver, let’s see your international game.
Karalla: Call me a whippersnapper, but I’m a fan of young(ish) guys taking over. The international revolution is real: it’s time the NBA either becomes more like FIBA or vice versa. I think/hope Silver will explore every possibility in terms of how to make the regular season better, and ultimately I hope he considers a change to the playoff system. I also don’t know if he’s actually thinking about any of this stuff, but until I see what type of commissioner Silver will be, a boy can dream.
Kraetsch: I’m cautious right now as I think he’ll take it easy for a few years but I’m hoping for expansion to the D-League and development of a true “farm system” using those teams as well as refine and well, eliminate the one and done rule. It’s an awful rule to save lazy GMs from making dumb decisions but if the D-League expands, there’s absolutely no reason to keep it in place. Allow teams to draft high schoolers and if they aren’t ready, they go to the NBDL for a few years to season and get ready. There’s no reason for elite-level talents to go to Lexington for a year.
Ferrigan: I know very little about Adam Silver, other than that he is far taller and balder than his predecessor. I believe Stern was smart enough and loved the league enough to pick a great successor, though, so I have no doubt we’ll be in good hands as hoops fans.
Widmer: It’s just going to give me a lot more time to try and figure out which type of bird it is that he looks like to me.
Ma: If he keeps acting like Vince McMahon on draft day, it’s all good.
Cianfrone: I assume Silver is going to continue the foundation Stern has built in making basketball such a global game. But really the most important thing he needs to do is convince Stern to come back and run the draft every year. We need more of this.
6. A repeat of Question 1 for you the readers. Which NBA player, past or present, would you like to see filing a hole on your favorite team’s current roster?
We’re leaving this last question up to you the readers. Put your answer in the comments or use the hashtag #Question6 to share your answers on Twitter. I’ll find them and drop them in here. Check back throughout the day as answers roll in.