Tuesday, May 26, 2009

J.R. Smith etc.

I’m with Jeff Van Gundy on this one; I didn’t know that J.R. Smith had this kind of court vision. The guy looked like a great point guard last night and he doesn’t even play the point. Finding an open teammate now and again is one thing, but he kept slipping great pass after great pass by people leading directly to dunks or layins. Now that he’s shown this part of his arsenal, is there any that he can’t do? I even saw him get pissed when there was a breakdown defensively leaving Jordan Farmar with a wide open three (which he missed). I’m baffled by this whole thing. It has become abundantly clear that Smith needed a guy like Chauncey Billups to take the knuckles out of his head. His game is completely different than it has been in years past because he’s now added defense and passing, you know, almost like a complete basketball player.

Is it possible that we’re seeing a superstar in the making? He’s 23 (turns 24 on Sept. 9). He bound by nothing physically because he’s got terrific size for a 1 or a 2 at 6’6 220. He has a beautiful jumpshot with unlimited range. He has good court awareness and a knack for finding open players (which has been apparent in this series). He’s explosive as hell, possessing a preposterous, but believable when you see him jump, 44-inch vert. (I really wish that he would have flushed right on Kobe’s head last night, even if it was a foul). He’s quick and fast. He’s strong. He’s got it all.

So, adding Chauncey Billups to his life has probably added several million dollars to his name because if he continues on this path of becoming a complete guard he will be a wildly valuable asset. Ever since he’s been in the NBA he’s either been first, second, or third team all knucklehead squad. He shot with no conscience and had no idea how to be a team player. Some switch must have been flipped because he doesn’t resemble, at all, the player that he used to be. He looked like the second coming of Larry Hughes. For those of you out there who have never seen Larry Hughes play, believe me, that’s not a compliment.

I’d like to see him become an even better defensive player and there is absolutely no reason why he can’t be because he’s so quick and strong. I’m excited about watching this dude explode. With his size and skills, I could easily see him averaging 25 points 6 assists 4 rebounds 2 steals through the prime of his career.

Oh, and he comes very cheap (relative to production) with a contract that will pay him about $5.5M through 2010-2011.

If Kenyon Martin really has a broken ring finger on his left hand and isn’t even taping it, then he truly is crazy. Right handed players who are shot blockers often block shots with their opposite hand. I have no idea how he’s doing this without writhing in pain. Broken fingers hurt!

Speaking of blocked shots… the Birdman is on a tear. Shannon Brown has got to know better than to throw up that weak mess.

I, like many others, was disappointed in Melo, but I’ll give him a pass if he had a stomach virus and was yakking. Along those lines, shouldn’t he be quarantined? The stomach flu is so incredibly contagious so shouldn’t we expect someone else to start heaving any second? On both teams? When I was in college, we had some crazy strain of stomach flu run through nearly our entire campus, causing people to expel out of the front and the rear. We dubbed it “The Beast.” It was like the movie Outbreak, except with better acting. Also, instead of some exotic monkey who spread the virus, we presumed that it was a friend of ours who was, and still is, shaped like a perfect square, who exposed everyone on campus. He probably picked up the strain at an exotic porn shop. The point is, as soon as one person got it, nearly everyone got it. I’ve got to think that Melo left some the virus all over the locker room and on the court. Someone else is going to come down with it, trust me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t harangue the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the exception of LeBron, whom I love, I hate their team right now. None of them can do anything. I don’t like Big Z, at all. I’d rather see Joe Smith out there. At least he can bend over and pick up a ball and he’s also shooting the ball really well. As opposed to Z who has been hitting some jumpers, but who doesn’t seem the least bit confident. Smith needs more minutes at the expense of Big Z and a guy I’ve already killed—the much despised Varejao. However, I’ve only railed against his personality rather than his ability, of which he has none, aside from being tall. But here’s the deal, he’s an awful player, who occasionally chases down rebounds, fouls people, and annoys the living hell out of the opposition, referees, fans, and probably his teammates. I loved watching him get beat so badly down the court by his man (Odom) who subsequently flushed it on the other end because he runs like he’s dragging 20 lbs of sand tied to each foot.

Additionally, and I’m not stating anything new here, Mo Williams and Delonte West have been atrocious, and that’s putting it mildly. I don’t see how Cleveland wins this series after watching three games. Orlando looks like the far better team, even without Dwight Howard. If they had Marcin Gortat playing instead of Howard, they’d still be in the same position. Dwight is good, but he’s not the difference maker (Gortat is much, much, much better than I realized, but still not “just as athletic” as Dwight Howard as Reggie Miller would have you believe). Rashard Lewis is playing like he’s getting paid insane money (oh wait, he is). Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus are fantastic role players and scorers. I was so wrong about this Cleveland team to the point of embarrassment. LeBron is doing this on his own (his block and alley oop the other night were breathtaking… he was above the square) and it’s really too bad. It’s not as if he’s not passing the ball, he’s doing that with regularity, but his team just keeps missing. Which reminds me, shouldn’t Wally Szerbiak get some run? If there is anything that the guy can do, it’s shoot, and no one else has been able to do it. He needs to play.

I’m fine with LeBron not driving to the hole every single time down the court (although that would be effective, it’s just not possible, he’s be completely spent after 2 quarters of doing that and playing defense). I just ask that when he settles for a jumper that he do so decisively. These jab-step-launching a 20%-chance-of-making-it jumper from 20 feet are not getting it done. It’s times like that when I have to concede to non-NBA fans the following: “Yes, that was a bad shot and makes for bad basketball viewing.”

If they don’t turn it around tonight, it’s curtains and I’m officially bummed about it because I’d like to see him win this year.

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