NBA Tipoff: 5 Things to Look Forward to This Season
Every season a new story line that takes over the NBA. Last year, it was the Heat with their self-proclaimed fame, leading to a very timely demise at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. This year, at least so far, we see rising to the surface of almost all nba conversations, the great mythical fables of young Blake Griffin and CP3, making a splash in the purple and gold lakes of Los Angeles. With the regular season less than 12 hours away, I wanted to discuss 5 things I’m most excited for in the 2011-2012 season.
Josh Smith losing ~25 pounds in offseason
Smith has been hitting the practice facility day in and day out, beating his teammates to the gym, and usually being the last one there. This sort of work ethic doesn’t go unnoticed, and even more evident is this- J-Smoove is approximately 25 pounds lighter, proof that not all NBA players go with the Shawn Kemp diet during lockouts. Jokes aside, I’m interested in seeing how Smith’s game is affected. He is down to about 225 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame. He says he desired the quickness he had as a rookie seven years ago. So, good news: Smith will be dunking the ball, alot.
What troubles me however is that his leaner body will struggle against bigs in the paint, an issue that could force Smith to take more jump shots. Smith spent much of the 2009-10 NBA season in the paint, but reverted back to old instincts in 2010-11, settling for outside jump shots. But, but .. Josh Smith hit a career-high percentage from three-point range in 2010-11! .. The problem with that is his career-high is a measly 33 percent from beyond the arc.
So here’s to Josh Smith’s quicker, leaner body and to all the fans and Coach Drew hoping it leads to everything but more jump shots.
How the LA Clippers will manage with little depth
The Clippers start a top 2 point guard, a top 10 power forward, and an athletic center who complements both their games. Add 2 veteran shooters to fill in the blanks, and the starting five here is solid (CP3, Billups, C. Butler, B. Griffin, DeAndre Jordan). The Clips’ lack of depth up front is the only thing that keeps them from being a top notch contender, IMO. The Clippers are in desperate need of frontcourt depth and even after the adding Reggie Evans, the team is dangerously thin up front. At the moment, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will have to log heavy minutes to get this team to a solid record and playoff berth. In a season where the schedule is unfriendly to say the least, wearing down their young bigs could prove to be troublesome as the season moves forward.
Russell Westbrook / OKC Thunder passing
Last year’s playoff run showed us a huge problem in the Thunder offense: no desire to pass the ball. Each offensive play was seemingly an isolation set with whoever had the ball for that moment. There was little off ball movement, and the frustration built play after play, both for the team and their fans.
I don’t like judging players on their stats, but rather how they impact a game. You can have 0 assists but still be the main distributor on the team. One of the understated ways in which great point guards (Jason Kidd or Magic for example) impact their teams is not simply by passing the ball to the open guy, but also in the way that their passing attitude infects the entire team’s mindset. When a player like Kidd is on the court, it immediately becomes apparent that the way in which Kidd thinks about the game is infused into his teammates. So, even when Kidd leaves the floor for his backup, the mentality of looking for the open man and running through the offense is still ingrained with the others.
So, please Mr. Westbrook, pass the ball a little more. Go through the offense instead of continuous dribbling followed by a futile attack to the basket. And last, but not least, be the floor general OKC needs, not the scorer it already has (KD).
Improvement in LeBron’s game?
I flip to the Magic/Heat preseason game the other night (Dec 21st) just as the game is starting, and Lebron did something for me to dislike him even more: he airballed a freethrow in the first quarter of the game. After hearing so much about Lebron working on his game during summer, specifically his post game with Hakeem over the summer, I’d expect little things like airballing free throws to stop. I say stop because it has happened before. Sure he had 27 points in 30 minutes, but what ‘chosen one’ would ever airball a free throw?
Since 2003, I’ve watched LeBron do very little to his game; let it be noted, he hasn’t really had to. His pure strength and athleticism has provided him with great individual success in the league, and I can see why people would say he has very little to change to his game. To all those people, you couldn’t be any more incorrect. When teams really lock down on defense (say, the playoffs for example), LeBron’s constant drives to the basket aren’t getting it done. So, please Lebron, don’t work on your game just to tell us you’re working on it, but do it so you can actually win someting meaningful. Put in time at the gym with just you and the ball. No Hakeem, no media, no nothing. Work on your game so you can stop airballing free throws. Work on your game so that you can add an up and under move to your arsenal. Work on your game so that you have moves B, C and D, when the defense takes away A. Work on your game so you can be remembered for something substantial, not just a sore loser who never reached his full potential.
Javale McGee Dunks
JaVale McGee can dunk the ball, and well, we all enjoy seeing dunks on people’s heads. Pierre enjoys them too, mostly because he can stare them down after the fact. Welcome to the league young Vucevic.
This is the jump off, face off, kick off and first pitch
Opening serve or tee off, take your pick
I’m the Mailman delivering styles that I’m concocting
While my man Mr. E assists like John Stockton
I stay wilding, mad range like Ray Allen
And while you rock your anthem I refuse to stay silent
Akrobatik – “Sportscenter”