The Entire NBA Takes a Heel Turn. No More Mr. Nice Guys
by ANDREW WILLIAMS
The first week of the NBA season is normally a snooze fest. Too many players show up out of shape, there are players who are angry about their contract situation or their other business ventures. We’re typically treated to lots of blown layups, missed threes and poor passes. Most people don’t notice this as they’re too busy watching the NFL and MLB playoffs, but this year was certainly different. There was no love-fest to be had this year and it seems that every team started off in mid-season form, with playoff levels of hostility to the reporters and opposing teams. Everyone’s angry and as NBA fans, we’re way better off for it. NBA players are being driven to prove their value on a daily basis and there’s no rest for the wicked in this digital age. With the widest open MVP race in recent memory and the 2nd to 8th seeds in both conferences up for grabs, players and teams are not easing themselves in this season but chasing after their goals from the get go.
“Tell us why you’re mad” All-Stars
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving
They’ve spent all offseason basking as NBA champions and motivating themselves in different ways. It’s hard to get jazzed up for another sleepwalk season when you know you’re going to the NBA finals but deep down you know it irks LeBron and Kyrie that nobody thinks they can defend as NBA champions. Then the biggest troll of them all, Adam Silver, had the audacity to schedule the only “Superteam” of the East to face them in the season opener. I’m pretty sure LeBron looked at the Knicks depth chart before the game smirked and told the rest of the team “I’m going to Qdoba for lunch”. He promptly insulted the rest of the world to start the season. Threw up a triple double in 32 minutes, blocked Derrick Rose (one of his favorite pastimes) and spent the rest of the game working on his handshake routine. There’s no doubt know the Cavs are gunning for the league’s best record and making the Quicken Loans Arena as inhospitable as possible for visiting teams.
Meanwhile, Kyrie has spent the entire offseason practically watching every other NBA point guard getting praised with very few lines typed about his ascendancy into the NBA’s elite. How quickly NBA writers forget that he knifed through the heart of the Golden State Warriors defenses with dribble drives, step backs and long threes. He feels in his heart that he’s the best PG in the NBA and he’s dead set on proving that this season. On opening night he dropped 29 points in 30 minutes which means he’s well on his way to achieving the much needed efficiency to ascend to MVP candidate.
Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook
Two players cut from the same cloth. Westbrook is experiencing, one year later, the departure of Kevin Durant what Lillard went through with the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge (and everyone else). They’re both bitter and angry.
Both Durant and Aldridge intimated that they believed they couldn’t win with either of them so they decided that the best revenge is living well. Lillard and Westbrook feel betrayed by how they have been perceived by the media and are staunch loyalists to their team and city. Damian Lillard gets extra angry man points for being named to the All NBA 2nd team despite not being selected as an NBA All Star.
Lillard Game 1 Stats: 39 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists
Westbrook Game 1 Stats: 32 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists
Kevin Durant and Draymond Green
Yes people dislike the Warriors but they really hate Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. Despising players are each person’s choice but it’s really silly to dislike a player solely because he went to another team in free agency or because he’s a loudmouth and dirty player. Neither of which is unique in the NBA. The Warriors might have lost their opening game but Durant and Draymond went out of their way to prove that they could not be blamed. Draymond gets extra angry man points for his mom having his back.
Kevin Durant Game 1 Stats: 27 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and steals
Draymond Green Game 1 Stats: 18 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, 5 steals and 1 block
Paul George and Anthony Davis
The Derrick Rose injury had two unfortunate side effects. The first is that is made the “Derrick Rose” rule a cautionary tale rather than something a NBA front office wants to experience and secondly, it has devalued people’s perceptions of elite players who suffer untimely injuries. Paul George who was fresh off battling LeBron in the playoffs when he broke his leg two seasons ago, had to be irked with all the attention Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson has to be getting as two way players. Now, nobody is saying that this praise is not deserved praise but Paul George was basically the player they modeled their defensive games after. Anthony Davis has been similarly discarded while other pundits curry favor with Karl Anthony-Towns. Both players are seeking to dispel the myths that their injuries have robbed them of their MVP potential. Anthony Davis gets bonus angry man points as I’m sure he was looking to impress the 10th year seniors staff since we were there to record Buddy Hield’s NBA debut.
Paul George Game 1 Stats: 25 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists
Anthony Davis Game 1 Stats: 50 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals and 4 blocks (How did they lose again?)
James Harden, Dwayne Wade and DeMar DeRozan
Three shooting guards with three crater sized holes in their games (defense, three point shooting and three point shooting respectively). Harden and DeRozan player received outlandish contract extensions and they both arguably received All NBA snubs last year. Wade has spent the better part of the last two season aging into “vino” while the Heat and rest of the world were too ready to discard him for being too old. Wade made seven three pointers last season and went 4 of 6 from downtown on opening night.
Really, the world is too focused on the one thing that they can’t (or refuse to) do and instead should be focused on their less than aesthetically pleasing ways that they score.
DeMar DeRozan Game 1 Stats: 40 points, 4 rebounds and 1 steals and block
James Harden Game 1 Stats: 34 points, 8 rebounds, 17 assists and 1 steal
Dwayne Wade Game 1 Stats: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 block
Kawhi Leonard is a robot who does not feel any emotions.
Game 1 Stats: 35 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals.
Tells us why you’re mad Centers
DeMarcus Cousins, Jonas Valanciunas, Jusuf Nurkic and Joel Embiid
Four old school, back to the basket bruisers are here to prove that they have a place in the NBA. They all have injury concerns. Each of their teams showed their confidence in them by drafting their replacements (Willy Cauley-Stein, Georgios Papagiannis, Jakob Poetl, Nikola Jokic and Jahlil Okafor). They’re simultaneously playing for their own and every center’s place in the NBA.
DeMarcus Cousins Game 1 Stats: 24 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal
Jonas Valanciunas Game 1 Stats: 32 points, 11 rebounds and 1 assist
Jusuf Nurkic Game 1 Stats: 23 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists
Joel Embid Game 1 Stats: 20 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block
Tell us why you’re mad youngsters
Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Rodney Hood and D’Angelo Russell
The NBA has fundamentally changed in the last five years to the pace and space era. The “3 and D” wings are all the vogue now as well as being able to score and create from the perimeter. MKG is an accomplished defender, unfortunately, he has spent the better part of his NBA career being injured so he has not had a lot of on court experience to refine his jump shot. He also prematurely signed a contract extension for about 40 million less than he would have been paid and promptly saw Nicholas Batum take his role and money last season.
Rodney Hood’s boring and plays in Utah which makes him twice as boring. His “boring” is actually “dependable” as he plays with the slow and confident assuredness of a ten year veteran (think the Dwyane Wade of the last 3 years). He’s the rare player to come out of Duke that nobody hates nor remembers and he’s out to prove that he’s the best young SG in the NBA.