Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  October 28, 2010

Houston Rockets Yao Ming of China (L) goes up to shoot past Los Angeles Lakers Pau Gasol of Spain during the second half of their NBA game in Los Angeles, California, October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

A couple of off days in a row for the Lakers allow me to look around the league and truly take in the entire association.   And with the NBA finally back, a few musings from one happy basketball fan…

*The first few days have provided some fantastic performances with some eye popping numbers from players around the league.  Monta Ellis scored 46 points on 24 shots in his 40 minutes of game action to help dispatch the Rockets, essentially carrying over his hot shooting from his last preseason game against the Lakers.  Meanwhile, the ageless Jason Kidd tallied 18 assists with only 1(!) turnover to go along with his 12 points to lead the Mavs in their opening night win.  Joakim Noah, a player I’ve been high on for some time, had a monster opening night outing – albeit in a losing effort - by scoring 18 points and grabbing 19 rebounds (7 offensive) to go along with 2 each of assists, steals, and blocks.  And then Chris Paul had 17 points and 16 assists (only 1 turnover) in his return to action after an injury plagued 2010 campaign.

*But it wasn’t just the veterans that have been playing well to start the season.  DeMarcus Cousins opened his NBA career with 14 and 8.  Wesley Johnson shot well in his debut.  Derek Favors played well last night too, and tonight we get to see John Wall try to fullfill his promise as an elite PG.  But, I can’t talk about rookies without mentioning the guy that resides in the other locker-room in Staples.  BLAKE GRIFFIN!!!  Sorry, got a little excited there, but even though it’s only one game, I don’t see how basketball fans couldn’t be excited about this kid.  His all-around skill set is stronger than many remembered from his college days and his athleticism is beyond anyone we’ve seen since a pre-injury Amar’e or a young Shawn Kemp.  As for the Laker rooks, Ebanks and Caracter haven’t had the types of starts that really deserve mention, but I think that will change soon enough.  With match ups against the Suns and Warriors in the next couple of games, both players should be in the mix for minutes as Ebanks can match up against the many wings that both Pacific Division foes will dispatch and Caracter’s post game can be one ingredient to pound undersized teams when one (or both) of Pau and Odom are on the bench. 

*The Heat are going to be a big story all year.  The stars they have and the media machine ensure that.  So far they’re 1-1 with a win over Philly last night and a loss to Boston in their season opener.  Many have jumped to conclusions about the loss to Boston, but I’m not one of them.  The Heat undoubtedly have enormous talent.  But talent takes time to mold and jell.  Wade’s injury during the preseason didn’t help matters, but to think that this team – a team with only a handful of players returning from last year – would have a strong chemistry or could put it together on the fly were ignoring what the past has taught us about team building.  I don’t care how talented players are, it takes time to come together.  It’s one thing if you’re adding one great player (like the Lakers did with Gasol three seasons ago), but the Heat have added James and Bosh to a team with Wade and working that out will take time.  This is why I thought reaching 70 wins was nearly impossible for this team. (That, and travel concerns.  As Phil has said many times before, teams traveling from the coasts have a rougher road when trying to win that many games.  And Phil would know such things.  Since, you know, he’s the last guy to actually accomplish the feat.)  Ultimately the Heat will find their way…they’ll have to find it amidst a shower of boos and every team’s best effort each night, but they’ll find it.

*We all saw the Lakers championship rings.  They are magnificent and gaudy all at the same time.  People like us could never dream of actually having one.  Except, you know, Ron Artest is raffling his off so now we all have a chance to own one.  If you want to participate in the raffle, you can go here or here for the info..  Also, I agree with commenter busterjonez (who is on his way to buy tickets as I write this) when he said, “If I win, I am going to give the ring back to RonRon. I don’t care if he raffles it off again, but he earned that thing.”  Hear, hear. 

*We’ll have more on the Lakers tomorrow, what with them facing off against the Suns, but I really can’t get enough of the action that’s going on all over the league.  Which reminds me, if you want to catch all the NBA games, NBA League Pass is free through next Tuesday.

Darius Soriano

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30 responses to Fast Break Thoughts

  1. I’m on the same page regarding Ron’s ring. I entered the raffle specifically to win it and give it back to Ron.

  2. Does anyone have any idea what is going on between Kevin Love and Kurt Rambis?

    I cannot understand why you would leave your best rebounder on the bench for nearly the entire second half of a close game.

    Love is obviously a good player, why not give him minutes? Must be something behind the scenes, yes? I mean, I don’t think Rambis is an idiot…

  3. I’m looking forward to thoroughly dismantling Darius next week in our fantasy league. How about loser writes a post of effusive praise for the other’s omniscient fantasy abilities?

  4. I entered the raffle too. But if I win, I’m putting it in a nice Plexiglas box on my desk. I will gladly give Ron Ron some pics of it though. ;-)

  5. Triple – I didn’t know about the Love benching but there’s a real good Wolves blog called A Wolf Among Wolves and I’m sure they’d be on top of it.

    Re: the trend toward fast break games around the league, I’d only say one thing. Speed gets you nowhere, power gets you everywhere.

  6. Wolves fans seem to agree that Anthony Tolliver outplayed K Love that particular night, but that doesn’t explain every other night

    Now I’m not exactly following the Minnesota media lines but Love and Rambis have traded barbs with each other publicly and there is some sort of problem between them.

  7. Looking forward to the Phoenix-Utah game. One is a clear contender, and count me as one of those not willing to write off the Suns quite yet.

  8. heh, giving it back to Ron is a nice thought. I’m all for it, but I’ll be all for it for all the wrong reasons… which is to say I’d have a good excuse to call Ron every now and then and pretend I know him very well and stuff.

    Now that’d be much cooler than feeling somewhat guilty of depriving Ron of his ring, regardless of how sincere he is about giving it away to raise awareness.

  9. Just purchased 5 tickets (yes, I’m cheap, and I don’t think purchasing 10 would actually increase my chances of winning – 0.1% is not much more likely than 0.05% even if it is mathematically twice as likely).

    It would probably be worth it just for the Laker tickets and airfare, so returning the ring would be no difficult task except that Artest ordered size 11 rings while his fingers are size 15, just so he doesn’t have second thoughts, which leaves me speechless.

    Just wondering what the tax implication would be to give up something you probably have to pay tax for upon receiving it, and if that cost would be quite prohibitive, but then again, I’m thinking way too hard after having bought just 5 tickets ;)

  10. Is Orlando that good, or is Washington that bad?

  11. @2, 4, 6. There’s clearly an issue between Rambis and Love. The Canis Hoopus blog has a pretty funny flow chart where every problem on and off the floor somehow points the way to “Bench Kevin Love” as the solution. Some of those problems are “Oh God, Corey Brewer’s still on the roster” and “Team has many choices at point guard, all of them horrible.”
    http://www.canishoopus.com/2010/10/28/1779883/the-kurt-rambis-decision-making-chart#storyjump

    Apparently he was benched last night because he didn’t rotate quickly enough to defend the rim on a Luther Head layup. Carl Landry struggled to score against Love but lit up his replacement Anthony Tolliver, so it looks like Rambis has problems with Love’s team defense. Love and Al Jefferson were Kevin McHale’s guys, while Darko, Tolliver, and Michael Beasley are Kurt Rambis and David Kahn guys. I think Love could be traded while his value is still relatively high. He did have a double-double in his limited minutes last night and he had a 30-20 game in the preseason, but Rambis clearly believes he’s not one of Minny’s best frontcourt players.

    As for my opinion on this, all I can say is I’m very happy that Rambis got the T-Wolves job and Brian Shaw is Phil’s heir apparent, and if the Gnats win the World Series I will go find a bunny rabbit and punch it in the nose.

  12. #10. VoR,
    Yes. To both questions.

    Now, RE Love: I’m just not sure what Rambis is doing. It’s like he’s unaware of all the good things Love can do and only focusses on his shortcomings. Didn’t Rambis coach on a team that employed Lamar Odom? You would think after coaching LO he’d learn to appreciate players’ strengths and work around their weaknesses by trying to put them in positions to succeed. I’m pretty sure the bench isn’t the place for Love to be if the ‘Wolves expect to win.

  13. I like what I’ve seen of Love’s game. But I find it kind of weird that he couldn’t consistently get off the bench for three coaches now. If you include the USA team and Coach K in that count.

    What the heck is going on behind the scenes? He’s always showed maturity and the right attitude. But why can’t he get consistent playing time and is on such a short leash despite being very productive on the court.

    He would have absolutely thrived in the international game. I just don’t get it.

  14. @harold #9, quoted from the raffle site… “Winner will receive a cash prize in the amount of $13,007.50 to mitigate the Winner’s tax liabiltiy that results from winning the raffle. This prize is withheld and paid, on behalf of the Winner, directly to the IRS ($10,750.00) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ($2,257.50)”

  15. Dude,
    That was a great link. Rambis has got himself into a battle of wills and it’s part of a larger context of trying to conjoin a hybrid triangle offense with hard nosed team defense and one of the younger rosters in the league. It’s a tough task and your take on a possible trade adds a real interesting twist.

  16. 11) The Dude;
    That’s a great chart – there could be a couple of Lakers’ fans versions of it, with a “Blame Derek Fisher” and “Blame Luke Walton” as the endpoints.

  17. This has nothing to do with anything, but Reggie Miller is an awful commentator. My goodness. I think my ears are bleeding from listening to his drivel.

    Oh, and that Love flowchart is awesome. Not sure exactly what the situation is in Minnesota but it sure seems they’re trying to ensure he skips town at the first opportunity.

  18. Just thought I’d share this hilarious story:

    http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22748484/25536486

    Apparently, the Miami Heat haven’t even sold out their home opener yet. And they want to talk about LA fans?

  19. That’s pretty stunning… that the Heat haven’t sold out their season opener.

    How about Blame Sasha?

  20. what a difference a day makes in the Celtics Bizarro World..

    http://celticshub.com/2010/10/28/dont-be-too-quick-to-downplay/

  21. @18. “Just thought I’d share this hilarious story:

    http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22748484/25536486

    Apparently, the Miami Heat haven’t even sold out their home opener yet. And they want to talk about LA fans?”

    The solution for that, obviously, is to bench Kevin Love.

  22. John Wall -31 in his debut, worst on his team! 35 minutes, 6-19 with 9 assists. ROY implications? Just kidding, but still…

  23. #18, I thought this reference was hilarious:

    “I wonder what it feels like to be KOBE, I mean he sells out staple center ever game and the seats are not cheap let me tell you. No player I mean no player has ever been so good in the history of the NBA that 3 All-Stars had to be assembled to take one man down.
    Kobe has just added Cav’s to his fan base. ”

    Not entirely true, and far from being grammatically correct, but hilarious nonetheless.

  24. I thought the Heat sold out all their tickets, that’s why they fired the ticket sales staff en-masse?

    Or was that just for season-tickets?

  25. Wow, a young star who only played for the Bruins for a short period before leaving UCLA for the NBA has:

    A) shown flashes of great ability
    B) failed to get along well with his coaching staff
    C) taken an unfair amount of blame for his team’s poor performances
    D) become the subject of early career trade rumors

    So were we talking about Kevin Love above, or Jordan Farmar one or two years ago?

  26. The development of the Lakers and Heat couldn’t have been different over the past five years. In Los Angeles, it has been “family;” in Miami, it has been revolving door. The Lakers have been lovingly assembled; the Heat has been slapped together.

    Opening night, the difference was there for all the world to see: Team Lakers faced a Rocket opening night challenge right up to the end–and pulled it out, much like they did in game seven against the Celtics.

    The Heat assembled their team of superstars and castoffs in Boston–and the Celtics showed them that a couple of pieces were missing.

    The weakness in the frontcourt, already apparent in the preseason, transformed a team of Miami slashers into mostly jump shot shooters sans rebounders on offense, and weak defenders against a penetrating point guard distributor on defense.

    Miami showed that, even with the arrival of “the Chosen’ that they weren’t all that different from the year before–Chris Bosh basically replacing Jermaine O’Neal, and shooter Lebron replacing the “Bease.” Still no true center, unlike the Celtics depth provided by the O’Neal boys–and Perkins waiting in the wings. Chalmers, the drafted Heat point guard of the future, hasn’t even played this season. Arroyo and House, who have played, have almost had no assists between them in the first two games.

    Doubtless, the assembled pieces that are this year’s Miami squad will shape up somewhat–but they can’t shape up a front court that doesn’t exist–or give pg Chalmers the three additional years of experience that he doesn’t have.

    The Lakers get to test out “the Chosen and the Castoffs” for Christmas.

  27. Harold -
    Actually, I think they fired them in order to restaff with trainees from LBJ’s marketing company.

  28. @Harold and Dave
    They “only” sold out their season tickets.