(Kyle Porter is the author of an excellent new Oklahoma State Cowboys blog called Pistols Firing. He’s taking over this installment of some random NBA Power Rankings. So have a read here and then skip on over to Pistols Firing if you’re orange inclined. You can follow him on Twitter at @pistolsguy.)
I won’t be breaking down Evan Turner’s PER vs. the Western Conference, but rather dropping a sampling of what’s hot in the basketball world today. Here we go:
1. UCLA – This year has been a coming out party for Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook. Throw in the fact that Jrue Holliday and Darren Collison are having a coming out social get-together and UCLA is leaving quite the mark on this 2010-2011 NBA season. By the way is it just me or does it seem like Kevin Love is posting a 28-18 every other night? Seriously, every time I log on to check NBA scores it seems like he’s putting up high double figures in each category.
If you had “Kevin Love, NBA rebounding champ” at 15-1 odds before the season started I’m standing up and applauding you. Also, while we’re here, how good was the 2007-2008 UCLA team that had Love, Westbrok and Collison? That team wins a three on three tournament against any other trio of current NBA guys who played on the same team in college, right?
2. Three on three tournaments with current NBA guys who played together in college – I liked the idea so much I decided we should break it down Tim Leglar-style:
- Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison, Kevin Love – 07-08 UCLA
- DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe – 09-10 Kentucky
- Caron Butler, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor – 01-02 UConn
The Other Guys
- Luol Deng, JJ Redick, Shelden Williams – 03-04 Duke
- Charlie Villanueva, Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong – 04-05 UConn
- Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey – 07-08 Memphis
- Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, Landry Fields – 07-08 Stanford
- Al Horford, Joakim Noah, David Lee – 04-05 Florida
- Kevin Durant, DJ Augustin, Damion James – 06-07 Texas
Some of those UConn mid-2000s teams were unbelievable. I just kept reading names and saying “Noooooo… HE was on that team?!” The fact that they only won one title confounds me. With my life on the line I still say Westbrook, Collison, and Love win this hypothetical three on three tournament although the 09-10 Kentucky crew would give them fits. The Butler, Gordon, Okafor trio might be the most talented but who’s going to guard Westbrook or Wall and for that matter, who’s going to handle the ball? Same with the 04-05 Florida team.
I suppose you could take Lee, Horford, or Noah off and put Corey Brewer on but then…well…you’re going to war with Corey Brewer. The Texas squad is terrifying mostly because nobody on any of those lists can even begin to think about guarding Durant. How difficult would it be to get this as an All-Star Game Weekend event?
3. KDs arsenal – I remember when he was at Texas he had 3 moves. One was the in-your-face-one-foot-forward-semi-fade which is, for all intents and purposes, not guardable by any human currently living on earth. The second was a little dipsy-doodle spin move that he’d try when he got deep enough in the lane. The third was a breathtaking baseline dunk move that he’d abuse any unwitting soul courageous enough to body him up 20 feet from the goal. He was limited (mostly by his strength) but those three moves were virtually better than any one move we’d seen by anybody else in Big XII history. KD just wasn’t the player he is today though.
And that’s kind of the point. Bill Simmons has written extensively about how Kobe is the best in the world because he adds a move every summer. Jordan used to do it too. My mid-range game is a 10, ok, good, I’ll move down low and work on posting people up. It’s why KD will always be better than LeBron — because in the summer, while LeBron is dancing for All State and hopping around for Nike, KD is adding moves to his already-crazy-deep arsenal. Darnell Mayberry even wrote about it recently.
4. Halfcourt shots – First, Robert Yanders got the fun started by drilling the MidFirst (with an emphasis on first considering it had never happened before at a Thunder game) $20,000 halfcourt shot on December 12. Then Todd Lafferty followed him up 9 days later with a $20,000 bomb of his own at the yet-to-be-named-arena-formerly-known-as-the-Ford-Center. Finally, as a topper, Tyreke Evans made both of them look stupid when he hit a 55-foot dagger against the Grizzlies at home. The irony about Evans’ shot is that Yanders and Lafferty walked away with twenty big ones because of their respective feats of hoops prowess and Evans walked away with $47,000 (what he gets paid a game) but he didn’t even have to make the shot to cash his check. The joke’s on us I guess.
5. JamesOn Curry – Yeah, that JamesOn Curry. The former Oklahoma State star is playing well for the Springfield Armor, who is the D-League affiliate for the Knicks, and Sixers. The beleaguered Curry has bounced around since being drafted late in the second round by the Bulls in 2007. He was on the Clippers briefly last year but has mostly played for D-League teams and a couple of French and Cyprus squads whose names I can’t even type because I have an American keyboard. He seems to have found his fit in Springfield though, tossing in 3 boards, 4 assists, and 2 steals to go along with his team-leading 18 points. He’s also shooting a stealthy 46% from 3-point land.
6. The Elderly – I try to call my grandparents once a week. When I ask them how they’re doing they usually respond, “Well, we’re just trying to survive, trying to put one foot in front of the other.” Why do they say this? Is it a metaphor? I would imagine it’s not, I would imagine there’s more truth to it than I give them credit for. That’s why the seasons Boston, San Antonio, and Dallas are having are so spectacular. Granted, Paul Pierce isn’t going to be rolling around in a wheelchair like my grandmother does sometimes…wait…wait for it…everyone in Los Angeles who reads this blog is laughing really hard…actually, maybe he is.
But that’s not the point. The point is that Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and KG are leading their fellow geriatrics through the rugged portions of their respective schedules and currently hold the leagues three best records. Throw in Kobe and his aging knees and you have 4 of the 6 favorites to make The Finals (Miami and Orlando being the other two). This was supposed to be the year of the upstart. Durant is going to own the league! Derrick Rose is making “the leap”! The Miami triumvirate won’t lose! Make no mistake, the youngsters are coming, but the elder statesmen aren’t ready to relinquish anything just yet. What does all of it mean? This spring is going to be awesome.
7. The state of Oklahoma – Really, does it get any better for the Oklahoma sports scene than it is right now? Oh, sure, KD could put up a playoff average of 44-12-7 en route to a title and I suppose OSU and OU could both go undefeated in football and be ranked #1 and #2 on their Thanksgiving weekend affair but come on, realistically, does it get any better than OU winning a BCS bowl, OSU going 11-2, and the Thunder in the thick of things in the West? Now we just need to figure out how to get the OU hoops team to not struggle with Maryland Eastern Shore and keep all the OSU players out of the Payne County Jail and we’ll have ourselves a regular little Midwest title town.
8. Fans as reporters – The line between “I’m paid by ESPN to write articles for them” and “yeah I just bought this domain name and I hack out 1,000 word posts every day” is getting pretty blurry. That’s a wonderful thing for you and me because, more than ever before, there are specific niches that quench our respective thirsts. You might have an entire corner of the internet devoted to Baron Davis’ eating habits while, across the bandwidth highway, there’s a crowd of people discussing the history of Andris Biedrins hair vs. Andrei Kirilenko’s hair (this would actually be rather interesting). More colorful, relevant, and sometimes even eloquent writing is being produced each and every day, it’s just up to us to find it.
9. Young athletic point guards – You know what would happen to Jason Kidd if he entered the league in 2011? He’d get eaten alive by all the sinewy, uber-athletic point guards right now. Westbrook, Rose, Rondo, Wall, Williams, Paul – that’s 20 percent of the league with floor generals who can, literally, take over a game whenever they want to. Gone are the days of Sam Cassell leading teams to the finals. You basically have to be a track and field star and borderline Olympic weightlifter to play the position these days. I don’t really know where it’s headed either. The development of the professional basketball point guard is, to me, equivalent to the development of the NFL wide receiver. Both positions seem to be employing humans that do inhuman things on a regular basis.
10. Kicks – It seems like there was a lull in the shoe industry between all the incredible models in the 90s and now. You had the Barkleys, the Iversons, the GPs, the Pennys, and of course, the Pippens. I knew high school kids who would have stripped down naked and done the Dougie in the middle of our cafeteria for those Pippens. They were hot.
Of course we haven’t even touched the Jordans yet (that’s probably its own blog) but even his seemed to kind of fade away after he did that Wizards thing for a few years. The last 10 years have been kind of…blah…in terms of hot hoops kicks you could associate with big time players. Maybe that had to do with the fact that you had Tim Duncan, KG, and Gil pumping out atrocious Adidas models, maybe not. I attribute most of it to the fact that Nike could never top the XIs but, again, another post. The comeback is on however and I feel like KD is kind of leading the charge. Wade, CPIII, and Melo are doing their MJ thing, the Kobes are in again, even the John Walls are kind of fun. I’d give anything to be a 14-year old with Christmas money right now.
Thank you guys for reading and be sure to check out Pistols Firing!