When It’s Over: The Victory Cigars
Every team has them. Mostly, they sit on the bench. But when they play, you know the game is over, one way or the other. Here are 10 most-notable victory cigars of the NBA playoffs, ranked in order of nothing at all.
Kent Bazemore, Golden State Warriors
His fellow teammates filled his car with popcorn because he’s just a dumb rookie, but consider this: The Warriors have won every playoff series in which Kent Bazemore plays. If that trend continues, they should apologize and fill his car with diamonds.
James Jones, Miami Heat
Remember when James Jones was the best three-point shooter in all the land? Then one day, he came to work and Ray Allen was parked in his spot.
Vladimir Radmanovic, Chicago Bulls
There is not much garbage time in Chicago. Ask Luol Deng. That makes playing time even more precious for Vladimir Radmanovic. The native of Bosnia and Herzegovinia played in 25 games this season, though he only played more than 10 minutes in six. The first game of the Bulls’ season, a 29-point win over Cleveland, was a typical Radmanovic outing: Less than three minutes, three points and a foul. Only once did Radmanovic get meaningful minutes: an April game against Orlando, the fifth in seven nights, with five Bulls injured. Radmanovic shot perfectly from the field, finishing with seven points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Most of those stats were season highs. We haven’t seen Radmanovic in the playoffs yet, and with the Bulls in a close series with the Nets, we may not ever.
The man they used to call Vlad Rad is a former Most Improved Player and major contributor to the Sonics (RIP), Clippers and Lakers, but he fell off after a snowboarding injury. At least he’s been better than Derrick Rose this year right?
Robert Sacre, Los Angeles Lakers
In a sign that he’s really not ready, Robert Sacre hardly got any burn in the playoffs, though most of his teammates ate fruit from the same appendage-destroying tree. But Sacre may be one of the best bench celebrators in the league. The folks over at Believe the Hype NBA even made a mix of his antics. He has a ways to go before he can unseat Ronny Turiaf, but he’s only 23, so the potential is there.
Tyshawn Taylor, Brooklyn Nets
While Robert Sacre is a force for joy, Tyshawn Taylor is more of a brooding victory cigar, the kind hanging off the lips of a hardboiled detective in a black-and-white movie. Basically he’s a whiner. He’s griped on Barclays Center TV-to his own employers-about his lack of playing time. He’s shown flashes in limited opportunities, but he’s also shown the opposite of flashes in many more outings.
Jeremy Lamb, Oklahoma City Thunder
After playing in 20 wins and 3 losses during the regular season, Jeremy Lamb might be the most victorious cigar of them all. Lamb’s fortunes changed drastically after the Houston Rockets chose him 12th in the 2012 draft and traded him to the Thunder. He went from a young, rebuilding team to a championship contender, where playing time was scarce. Lamb has played almost exclusively in blowouts. The one exception was a 41-minute stint against the Bucks. He struggled, shooting 6 for 21. However, he has been killing it in the D-League.
Ben Hansbrough, Indiana Pacers
Possible nicknames: Hansbroughbrough, Psybro B, Lil’ Crazy. Ben Hansbrough is obviously most famous for being Tyler’s younger brother. As crazy as Tyler Hansbrough is, playing with his younger brother makes him even crazier. Remember that time Tristan Thompson elbowed Ben in the face? Psycho T went bananas, as Ben’s eyes glazed over, like your grandpa who was in the war. Ben actually played 17 minutes that game, but he’s been relegated to mop-up duty in the playoffs. But if the Pacers really need a bench spark, they can send Ben toward J.R. Smith‘s elbow.
James White, New York Knicks
If you haven’t watched much of Knicks, Mike Woodson does this weird thing where he’ll start a guy, play him a few minutes and then never play him again. James White played that role 16 times, because J.R. Smith can’t play well unless he sits first, I guess. Anyway, White is probably best known as a major dunker, though he failed to show it the slam dunk contest. He can use those hops for celebrating his teammates’ buckets.
Tony Wroten, Memphis Grizzlies
More small sample size fun: Tony Wroten has a team-high .630 TS% in the six minutes he’s logged in the playoffs. Fire Lionel Hollins right?
Anthony Randolph, Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets were the latest team to try to crack the nut that is Anthony Randolph, that maddening package of limbs and potential. Randolph veers wildly between seeming like the second coming of Kevin Garnett and then, on the next play, an amateur stiltwalker. And yet, I want to believe.