I Fully Support Any Team That Runs Up The Score In The NBA

It’s no secret the NBA has undergone a drastic transformation from a league of true bruisers to a bunch of AAU babies. Gone are the days of Ron Artest running into the stands to beat the hell out of a heckling fan. Gone are the days of Kevin Garnett making fun of Charlie Villanueva because he had a hair loss condition completely out of his control. Gone are the days of Latrell Sprewell putting his NBA sized mitts around the neck of his head coach in practice and effectively choking the shit out of him. We’re in an age now where elite players leave their old teams to join the one that beat them the previous year. An age where the highest level of trash talk happens not on the hardwood, but on Twitter from teams social media coordinators. There’s a new trend starting to happen around the league now that has caught my attention. Players now get mad when an opposing team or player “disrespects” them by running up the score or taking a late three pointer or the like. There have been two instances just this past week alone.

First, with the Warriors up by about a bajillion points over the Wizards with mere seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Warriors backup center JaVale McGee shot a three pointer with 4.8 seconds left because the shot clock was expiring only to be shoved to the ground by Wizards guard (another backup) Brandon Jennings. Jennings received a flagrant 1 for the play. Via ESPN:

“Yep, totally agree,” Wizards guard John Wall said when asked whether the Warriors treated the game disrespectfully in the closing minutes. “Whenever a team is up like that, supposedly, you just hold the ball and take a shot-clock violation. So, what Brandon did, I don’t think it was dirty. I think it was the right play. You don’t let nobody try to embarrass you and I think that’s what they were trying to do.”

You don’t let nobody try to embarrass you? You lost 139-115. Might be a bit late for that. You know what’s disrespectful? Raising ticket prices for the playoffs so your fanbase can watch a team that gave up 139 points in 48 minutes. I mean do I love the fact that JaVale McGee shot a three as the shot clock expired? No. I strongly dislike the Warriors and everyone knows you let the shot clock expire in that situation. But to get so hurt for something that has zero impact on the outcome of a game is kind of ridiculous to me. Take your loss and let them be immature and focus on how you’re not going to give up 139 points again in the future. This is the NBA. You don’t like it? Play better. Simple as that.

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Then just days after that the Raptors and Pacers squared off in what turned out to be Lance Stephenson’s first home game since rejoining his former team. Shit hit the fan after he added another layup with 3.3 seconds left in the game with his team already winning by 16 points. A melee ensued as the game came to a close and three players received technical fouls. Now maybe adding an emphatic basket in the games closing seconds is a bad look. But it was Stephenson’s first game back in Indiana. Emotions were running high. They’re fighting for their playoff lives. But here’s the kicker…they were losing by 19 points in the first half. NINETEEN. Your team is losing 45-26 in a crucial game. You end up with a double digit lead with the crowd going absolutely crazy in the fourth. It’s not disrespect as much a celebration. When NBA teams win the championship should they still have confetti pour down? Wouldn’t that hurt the losers feelings? Athletes getting paid millions and millions of dollars and they’re complaining because they feel disrespected because they squandered their opportunity to win.

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But doesn’t this go against my initial point that players were tougher a few years ago? Shouldn’t I want to see reactions after a player feels disrespected? No. I just can’t see Kevin Garnett shoving someone because someone poured on a layup in a blowout. Mostly because I can’t envision a team with Garnett having that kind of lackluster effort that would put them in such a position in the first place. I also can’t see a team that would be stupid enough to test them like that knowing that future payback would be unpleasant to say the least.

The thing with these incidents is that there are other ways to show your pride and not get disrespected. How about play defense? You’re still allowed to block the three pointer or guard that final layup. Just because the game is decided doesn’t mean it’s technically over until the clock hits :00 right? Or you can play better earlier? Not blow a huge lead? Not give up a bajillion gazillion points? Something?

Joel Embiid Bullies Richard Jefferson, Brouhaha Ensues

The Sixers lost by one point earlier Sunday to the Cavs, but everyone knows that for Sixers fans that pretty much means they won. People only watch the Sixers for one reason this year and that’s to get a brief (24 minutes, max) glimpse of the highly talented and entertaining rookie, Joel Embiid. The seven footer once again delivered against Cleveland, dropping 22 points (including three 3’s) 9 rebounds and 6 blocks. Perhaps his finest moment came in the first quarter when he powered through Richard Jefferson to secure an “and-1” play and send the old man into a frenzy afterwards (below).

Gotta love it. Future perennial all star and hall of famer just punishing the long time journeyman role player. That must suck for Jefferson, his 36 year old body on its way out of the league getting severely abused by a youthful stud on the rise. Kind of like when Woody got completely out shined by Buzz Lightyear for all to see. Except Richard Jefferson isn’t like Buzz Lightyear, he’s like one of those side character toys you forget if they’re in the sequel or not. Can’t wait for the Sixers to take off the training wheels with Embiid and see what real terror he can unleash on this league.

Early Thoughts: Joel Embiid Looks Special

The Sixers may have only played two games (and lost both) but watching them this year has been wholeheartedly more exciting, mainly due to rookie Joel Embiid. Simply put I cannot stress how impressed I’ve been with the former number three overall pick thus far in the early 2016 season.

What about Embiid makes me gush? Well, there’s a lot. But the most striking thing to me isn’t really something tangible, instead it’s how natural and polished he looks as a basketball player, a rookie one at that. He has this confidence about him with the ball in his hands and looks like someone with years of experience despite playing just 44 total minutes. He looks unprecedentedly polished with his handles and moves. Actually, his whole career thus far has been unprecedented. Embiid was considered to be the number one overall prospect after only 28 games at Kansas but a surgery to his right foot following the season caused him to slide down and be selected third. He missed his entire rookie year. And the year after that. Not to mention he missed the NCAA tournament while he was still in college. So in his first real NBA games there would surely be some rust right? Not hardly. So far Embiid has put on display all the elements of his game that scouts believed could make him elite. He can step back and shoot, threes even. He has shown flashes of being a formidable defender with highlight reel rejections, including one on veteran Dwight Howard no less.

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Additionally, another reason i love watching the kid is because his game is plain old refreshing. With so many guard oriented attacks now, it’s cool to see a seven footer handle the rock and lead an offense. He doesn’t look awkward or clumsy like many players his size so often do. He plays like a guard or forward in a centers body.

I must admit that out of all the Sixers young “assets” (remember that word?), I was the most skeptical about Embiid, mainly because of his history of injuries. I still am skeptical to a degree about his body going forward. But thus far, saying he looks impressive would be an understatement. Has he only played two games? Yes. Is he going to make some bad, ugly rookie mistakes this season? Yes, of course. But from this small sample size it’s hard not to get amped about what this guy can do for a success starved franchise in the years to come.

Why The Sixers Shouldn’t Trade Jahlil Okafor

The Sixers, for once, find themselves in a not-so-terrible-place despite finishing last season 10-72. The reason being is, for once, things worked out for them on the night of the draft lottery and they secured the #1 draft pick that they…”deserved”. Additionally, they have no real cap concerns and already have a handful of highly coveted prospects on the roster. So why do I still have elevated levels on anxiety regarding this team? Because I think they could make a big mistake and trade away Jahlil Okafor.

Last year the Sixers were 18-64 and came away with the 3rd overall pick in the draft which was almost universally considered a flop for the team since they weren’t able to take guard D’Angelo Russell out of Ohio State, which in hindsight is probably almost universally considered a blessing. Jahlil Okafor, having been apart of Duke’s championship squad as a freshman, for lack of a better phrase, fell into their laps as he was deemed too talented, too valuable to pass up despite already having two other highly touted big men on the roster. Okafor was seen coming into the NBA as a perennial 20/10 guy who’s poor stamina and free throw shooting were already well documented. He is still expected by basketball experts to be a 20/10 throughout the better part of his career and even averaged almost 18 points and 7 points during his rookie season playing with a terrible team composed of fringe NBA players. So with those averages, why would it not be shocking news if the Sixers parted with him after only a year?

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Well, it was apparent there wasn’t a great deal of chemistry with fellow big man Nerlens Noel, who is expected to be a centerpiece on this young team going forward. Second, as mentioned before, the Sixers have another coveted big man on the team not named Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid. Embiid, like Okafor, basically fell into the Sixers lap when they yet again had the 3rd overall pick in the draft the year before Okafor. Embiid was also considered a can’t miss talent who many expected to go #1 that year before he got injured just before the draft which inevitably hurt his stock. Perhaps saying that Embiid was a can’t miss talent is an understatement, even with limited basketball experience people compared him to Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan. Additionally, Jahlil Okafor has had a rocky freshman campaign from an off the court standpoint. He was pulled over for going 108 miles per hour over the Ben Franklin Bridge heading into Philadelphia and was also involved in multiple drunken altercations, one where he was caught on camera punching someone and the other where he had a gun pulled on him. Finally, the last big reason why the Sixers might trade him is because he’s still considered to be one of their most valuable assets, despite all of this. He is viewed as someone who can still live up to his potential, who could benefit enormously from a change of scenery. For that reason, the Sixers could probably get a considerable offer for the 20 year old.

OK. Now that i supplied the reasoning why the Sixers could potentially swing a deal, I’m ready to defend not doing so like Johnnie Cochran in ’95.

  1. Yes, it is true that there was a lack of chemistry with Nerlens Noel and that they didn’t play well together. However, since when is it considered ok to give up on an elite prospect after only one season? Nerlens Noel is 22 and just learning how to play on his own, the notion that he should already be able to tailor his game to compliment another big man seamlessly is laughable. Not playing well with a guard is one thing, but this is another seven foot body, it’s not normal to have two elite big men playing alongside each other let alone them figuring the whole thing out in one year. Brett Brown has won less than 20% of his games as an NBA head coach. We all know that’s mainly because of the severe lack of talent but still he’s relatively inexperienced as a head coach. Maybe he should have some accountability? If he’s considered a coach worth keeping maybe he’s able to figure something out?

2. This is really the big one, no pun intended. JOEL EMBIID HASN’T PLAYED A SINGLE GAME IN HIS TWO YEAR NBA CAREER. Typing that in caps was such a satisfying release I want to do it over and over again. If you’re playing devils advocate you could argue that him not playing was more of a deliberate move by the team as they want to ensure he’s 100% healthy instead of a chronic inability to stay on the court. The point is, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if he’s the next Tim Duncan or Hakeem Olajuwon, there is literally 0 NBA experience to validate that. He was hurt in COLLEGE. His team got eliminated from the tournament as he sat on the sideline with a stress fracture. He hasn’t played in a meaningful game since. Who knows if he can even play? There’s always players who are projected to be the next _______ (insert Hall of Famer here) who never pan out even when they’re healthy. The fact that the Sixers seem poised to bet the farm on this kid  is basically doubling down because not only is his health in serious question, there’s just no tangible evidence he can play in the NBA. He didn’t start playing basketball until he was 15. Okafor seems like a lock to be a consistent 20/10 guy for years to come. What’s Embiids projection? 25/15? 30/20? Although you probably can’t tell, I still like Embiid! That’s not sarcasm! He had two years to rest up and has a lot of potential, I just would rather see him in action and see what we have before we trade away a valuable player like Okafor. Who knows, maybe Nerlens is the odd man out? I’m just throwing out nonsense because the whole point is you don’t know what you don’t know.

3. Yes, his off the court incidents were troublesome. The footage of his altercations were embarrassing. He was 19 years old. It takes time for some players to mature and handle adversity. It’s probably tougher than you would imagine to go from the National Champion to laughingstock in less than a year. Hey, let’s not act like all the other Sixers are choir boys either.  Nerlens Noel is being sued by his landlord for extensive damage and mistreatment to his property. Again, doesn’t a head coach have some influence in off court behavior? Since Brett Brown’s our guy shouldn’t he be able to show these men how to act like a professional? Just a thought. Okafor played for Mike Krzyzewski. I’m not concerned. He flipped out for being on such a lousy team and while he reacted in the wrong way, I’ll take a player with passion over a player who doesn’t give a shit any day.

4. Yes, Okafor is one of the team’s most valuable trade piece. We can probably get a top 3 pick for him and under normal circumstances that could very well be worth doing. They can get the elite guard which has been ever so elusive for years now. They can pair two young top players from this years class to go with two promising big men, but that’s all under the assumption that Joel Embiid is going to be the team’s power forward for years to come. While it’s possible that may be the case and even hopeful, it is still ultimately an assumption that’s premature nonetheless. I’ll leave you with this question: if we lose a talent like Embiid (any injury would probably be longterm at this point) do you really want to wait another 82 games trying to find his replacement?