The Three Stigmata of Scott Brooks: Another Weekly Roundtable
USA Today Sports
These weekly roundtables have quickly become a part of our regular routines and we have every intention of extending through the of the regular season. We hope you’re enjoying them as much as we are.
1. Everywhere you look injuries are piling up. Is this an accumulation of bad luck? A physiologic trend? The universe restoring balance after the beautiful basketball played in last year’s Finals?
Cole Patty (@ColePatty): Just a string of bad luck, hard as that is to believe with all the hand injuries happening all at once.
Miles Wray (@mileswray): I remain amazed that NBA games transpire without somebody down low rolling their ankle over, hard, on every other possession. My verdict: less bad luck and more like good luck slightly dissipating.
Daniel Lewis (@danlewismedia): I am surprised by the number of broken hands. I mean, it’s not like people are out there punching each other, right? I’d like to think it is just a case of bad luck, and something that will right itself soon.
Rich Kraetsch (@richkraetsch): I think it’s just bad luck, it’s hard to point to any one specific. If it were all ligimates and weird muscles we could start the “NBA PLAYERS ARE ON STEROIDS~!” wild, unfounded discussion but that’s not what’s happening. Instead, we’re seeing freak broken hands, odd bones in the knee breaking and so on.
Kevin Ferrigan (@NBACouchside): It’s bad luck but also sort of the nature of the sport. It’s huge men running very fastly, or just a lot, changing direction rapidly, and exploding to jump incredibly high. Injuries are bound to happen with the size and athleticism of these players and the physical limitations of the human body, even the superhumans that populate the NBA.
2. Steven Adams, Rookie of the Year?
Patty: No, but he’ll be way closer than I would have ever believed. In the end, I have a belief that Trey Burke is going to wrestle the award away despite missing time early.
Wray: I feel like Michael Carter-Williams has assumed too many big-boy responsibilities for the award to belong to anybody else. Sixers are 7-10 with MCW healthy and playing, 1-10 and lost like lambs without him. That said, Adams will affect this year’s playoffs more than the rest of the rookie class combined.
Lewis: Not unless he finds Sauron’s ring of power and begins dominating the court in a decisive manner. I think the race is between Carter-Williams, Oladipo and Burke, with the Jazz point guard taking home the title at the end. Adams does have that whole “Hey, Trey, what are you doing in May? Nothing? Too bad!”
Andrew Johnson (@countingbaskets): He would have a shot if Scotty Brooks would recognize he is the Thunder’s best center. As is, I think it is between Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams. Those are the ninth, eleventh and twelfth selections for those tankers scoring at home.
Kraetsch: Sean laughed when I put him in the top 5 of my 2013 NBA Re-Draft, he’s been great. With that being said, no way he wins the award. It goes to the more flashy, dynamic, potential star rookie (either MCW, Oladipo or Burke). Now if we had a Most Valuable Rookie award, we may be talking.
Ferrigan: No, but he’s tremendous and going to be a very valuable role player for some time. But MCW’s in poll position right now, with Trey Burke hot on his heels after turning the Jazz into something resembling an actual NBA basketball team since he got healthy.
3. Inspired by Miles Wray’s piece on the Rockets from last week, of the likely playoff teams in either conference, who do you enjoy watching the least?
Patty: I pride myself in enjoying most teams playing NBA basketball. That being said, I hate the Nets. They might be the only team I really can’t stand to watch. To me, you either have to play at a decent pace or have a top-ten defense. The Nets have neither, ranking 24th in pace and 29th in defensive rating.
Wray: In the interests of not continuing to be a Negative Nancy, there are actually lots of non-playoff teams that I really enjoy watching–especially in the East. I feel like Boston, Toronto, Orlando, and Philadelphia were very wise in their decisions to begin rebuilding. These teams made their decisions independently of one another, but virtually simultaneously (Orlando a year earlier than the rest), which I think that random timing is as responsible as anything for the winning percentage debacle in that conference right now. Just about every transaction these four teams have made has been, in my estimation, brilliant, resulting in rosters that I find compelling to watch on a game-by-game basis and also a month-by-month basis as their GMs plunder the league’s less savvy over the phones.
Lewis: Detroit. I was a fan of the Josh Smith-Al Horford pairing in Atlanta, and Smith doesn’t have that chemistry yet in Detroit. Sometimes, the Pistons are just ugly on offense. Andre Drummond makes up for a lot of that though.
Johnson: The Celtics, after last night’s demolition in Indiana, I think it would be too painful to watch unless they ‘win’ the Atlantic and get a bye.
Kraetsch: I have to go Detroit here. They were on my shortlist of NBA League Pass Favorites at the beginning of the year only because I was fascinated how they would operate on offense. I’ve found out and yeah, it’s not very fun. They don’t seem to have much of an idea what they are doing on offense, Smith is chucking, Iso turns, bleh. I will also put Washington in this list. Spare me the John Wall is exciting narrative for a second (he is) but that rest of the team is just annoying as all hell to watch and they are another team that seems absolutely clueless on offense most of the time. If you’re a fan of shot clock violations, the Wizards are your team!
Ferrigan: Well assuming they make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, which they probably will because LOL LEASTERN CONFERENCE AMIRITE, I gotta go with my own Chicago Bulls. They struggle so very much to score points and as a result, their only hope of winning games is to beat the other team into submission on defense. That makes for a lot of really ugly basketball, played almost entirely in the 80 points per game range for both the Bulls and their opponents. Plus, seeing the Bulls get bounced in the first round of the playoffs is going to be painful, because of what this season was *supposed* to be about and what it ultimately has become.
4. Who is a more deserving MVP candidate in Portland, Damian Lillard or LaMarcus Aldridge?
Patty: Aldridge. Both lack the kind of efficiency numbers that we try to look for in MVP caliber year, but both are having strong seasons from the narrative standpoint. I just find Aldridge’s story this season a little more empowering.
Wray: The award would be distributed evenly amongst the team’s co-op, just like all of Portland’s farm-direct produce.
Lewis: Lillard. I wrote before the season that he was the most important player on their roster, and I still believe that. I do think that Coach Stotts is the most deserving of an award, and should be the favorite for coach of the year.
Kraetsch: This is tricky as I think Lillard is the engine that makes the whole machine go but I don’t think it goes anywhere without Aldridge. That’s a cop out answer because I’m really not sure who I would pick so……LOOK OVER THERE!
Johnson: I will say Lilliard because I am afraid of him making a stank face at me.
Ferrigan: I think it’s Aldridge, because of all he does on both ends. I think Dame is the clutchest player alive (hat tip: Bulls vs. Blazers podcast bros) but Aldridge is more impactful on both ends. Illard is still working towards being a plus defender, so I’ll take LMA, but they’re both great and I’m glad we get to watch them.
5. What do the Brooklyn Nets wish for for Christmas?
Patty: For the Hawks to give back the ability to switch draft picks for this year and 2015. Sure, the pick was leaving Brooklyn either way this season, but that 2015 pick might really hurt if the Nets don’t get it together by then.
Wray: Access to an alternate dimension where they can hit control-Z on last June’s BLOCKBUSTA with Boston. I remember hearing about this trade and thinking that Danny Ainge had fallen off his rocker/had been illegally coerced by a delegation of Prokhorov’s monosyllabic muscle/the terms of the trade were misreported. Now it seems pretty clear that both teams just swapped heaps of dead salary, and then Boston receives three extra first-round picks–which is, like, a ton. With our crystal-clear hindsight spectacles on, it seems pretty obvious that the heavily sentimental Celtics would not have thought about thinking about trading Garnett and Pierce unless it was for a super-de-duper good reason, while Brooklyn got blinded by the glitzy big names for neither the first nor the last time.
Lewis: A Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock. Seriously though, with their bank account, why wish for anything when you can buy it? Money buys success and happiness, right? (Checks standings, injury report) Hahahaha. Oh man. You can’t fix that with a Christmas gift.
Johnson: I suppose some sort of reversion to the mean in their luck, for the Atlantic to continue to stink and Mason Plumlee to make a rookie of the year run, the Mirza Televoic three to become a thing, and a pony. That last of which I pretty sure they could all buy.
Kraetsch: For the FDA to approve Orthokine in the US.
Ferrigan: I think they’d probably like KG, Pierce, and AK47 to retire and fall off their books. Oh, it also might help if Deron Williams started playing up to his incredibly outsized reputation.