Time for awards and other all-stars
And with it being so quiet around the Heroes Of The Hardcourt, let’s do a bit more league-wide stuff than usual.
I’m prone on the couch watching the Lakers and Cavs last night and, like everyone I imagine, the attention is on Kobe vs. LeBron.
Now, Irregulars know I think Kobe’s a better player because he can do more offensively, I think he’s better defensively and there’s just so, so much to appreciate about his game.
Not that LeBron’s a stiff, of course, but it came to me last night just why I go with Bryant.
I’m much more for grace than power, especially in basketball, where I can appreciate nuance more than brute strength.
And maybe that’s the genesis of Bryant over James, there’s a style to Kobe that I appreciate. The head fakes, the pump fakes, the cutting off screens. The immaculate jump shot that might be the best in the game.
LeBron? A fullback on a basketball court and for raw power and an incredible ability to get to full speed so quickly, he’s unrivalled.
I’d rather watch Kobe play than LeBron.
Okay, some real quick halfway awards since everyone’s getting to that point in the season.
See above, also see (last night’s game notwithstanding) the best player on the best team.
Rookie of the year: Tyreke Evans.
I haven’t seen an awful lot of him but enough to know this kid is polished, and fearless and very well-rounded.
Sixth man of the year: Jamal Crawford.
He could be the best Eastern conference pick up of the year.
Coach of the year: Scott Brooks.
There’s going to be a lot of love for Larry Brown when this is all over but taking a young team like the Thunder to where they are gets him the nod.
Biggest surprise: Memphis.
You could put Oklahoma City in here and I’d have no problem with it but the Grizzlies are going so well, getting so much good play from so many guys and I don’t imagine too many of us saw this coming.
Biggest disappointment: Washington.
Let’s see: Guns, injuries, guns, suspensions, guns, losses, guns. This might be a unanimous choice.
So the fans got nine out of 10 right, I guess, in the all-star voting.
I can live with Kobe, Nash, Carmelo, Duncan and Amar’e in the West and Wade, LeBron, Garnett and Howard in the East.
But Allen Iverson?
Simply a ridiculous choice as an all-star and perhaps the single greatest embarrassment in the history of fan voting in any sport. A travesty.
I have no idea why anyone would have punched his number in the first place, either when he was in Memphis or in Philly. And seeing how he was coming off a wretched season that he quit on in Detroit, not sure recent history played a role in it, either.
But, anyway, like I said, nine out of 10 are understandable and we can be thankful enough people came to their senses and got Tracy McGrady out of the starting West lineup.
The most interesting thing to me?
That Chris Bosh had the 10th largest number of votes of all all-star on the ballot, finishing third to James and Garnett among forwards.
Guess this whole “they’ll never pay attention to him because he plays in Canada” stuff might be a bit of a fallacy.
Random thought, apropos of nothing really:
As I sit there and watch all the hugs and high fives and enough elaborate and secret handshakes that would put The Loyal Order Of The Water Buffaloes or the Raccoon Lodge to shame when the Raptors take to the court, I figure it out:
If they put as much energy and thought into, you know, the plays and defensive assignments, it might be better for all concerned and give them something to really celebrate about.
They’ve hit the halfway point in Milwaukee, which is what the local fishwrap is writing about today.
What do you think we see tonight when the Bucks and Raptors renew hostilities?
Well, I would suspect the Raptors would pay more attention to putting bodies on people on the boards, I would suspect Bargnani, whose back acted up in Cleveland, will have benefited from a day of rest and treatment, and I would suspect more consistent energy from the heroes of the hardcourt.
One thing to look for, and this came out of a question I asked Jay in Milwaukee about the use of point guards down the stretch.
(The premise of the question being that he went with Jose in Cleveland and Jarrett in Milwaukee, hooking Jose with about six minutes to go after he’d been playing very well). Said Jay:
“At one point, we thought Jose was a little bit fatigued and we suspected, as they do sometimes, that they might come back with Ridnour and Jennings on the floor at the same time and we wanted to make sure Jose was prepared to come back had they gone small. It was just a rotational thing.”
All right, since we know the all-star starters, let’s figure out who else makes the teams. Here’s the deal, the coaches, who can’t vote for players on their own teams, have to choose seven subs – two guards, two forwards, a centre and two “wild cards.”
They have some leeway in what’s a guard or a forward or a centre or a forward and can choose players they think will give their team the best chance to win the game.
Some of them decide who goes on the strength of a team’s record, some choose on personal bias, some choose because they are lobbied by friends in the business? Me? I choose off the top of my head.
(That’s a bit of a joke but I offer these as a first-draft, if I had to pick today; they could be revised by this time next week, when the subs are to be announced).
So, without further ado …
Guards: Joe Johnson, Rajon Rondo.
Johnson’s a lock, I go with Rondo because despite the roster, they’ll need a ball-handler on the team somewhere.
Forwards: Chris Bosh, Gerald Wallace.
Complete no-brainers here. If there’s an argument against them, it’s so radically flawed I don’t want to hear it.
Centre: David Lee.
It’s a tough one, no doubt. There’s got to be some love for Andrea Bargnani out there but I don’t think enough coaches know his game well enough.
Wild cards: Josh Smith, Paul Pierce.
Toughest group to decide although Smith’s pretty easy. Pierce probably gets it on reputation but I could see them going with someone like Andre Iguodala here, or maybe even a Stephen Jackson. If they go all crazy on me and take, say Derrick Rose over Rondo as a guard, all bets are off.
Guards: Chris Paul, Brandon Roy.
Duh! I guess you maybe make a case for Tony Parker in here, or even Jason Kidd since he’ll be at home but it’d be hard.
Forwards: Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant.
This might be even easier than the East forwards. Dirk’s at home, Durant’s spectacular and the all-star game should suit his talents perfectly.
Centre: Pau Gasol.
This is where I’m giving the coaches a break. The leeway they have fits perfectly in this situation.
Wild cards: Zach Randolph, Deron Williams.
A toughy again. Randolph should go on his numbers and the fact the Grizzlies are going well but the coaches may like Rudy Gay better. And Williams is a reputation pick and maybe the coaches go with Gay and Chris Kaman of the Clippers here. Me? I’ll stick with Zach and Williams but could be convinced otherwise.
Don’t forget, we’ve got to go at noon eastern time, 9 a.m. central, late afternoon or early evening for our European friends, with the game-day question-and-answer thingy today.
See you then?