Tag Archives: Durant

If We Lined Up Every NBA Player, Who Would You Take 1st?

A few weeks before Green Bay defeated Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV, Fox analyst Troy Aikman made a declaration that somehow stands as both shocking and obvious: If every single professional football player were available and he had the first pick in a real-life draft, he would roll with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Aikman’s rationale was made based on three factors about Rodgers: (1) a proven ability to compete and thrive on the professional level, (2) space for improvement with a limitless ceiling, (3) and age.

It was met with a mixed reaction of sacrilege and revelation.

For nearly a decade, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were the most widely accepted number-one picks in such a theoretical draft. To most NFL followers, a conservative sport that overwhelmingly values tradition, including anybody else in the discussion was blasphemy.

Yet what Aikman said made sense.

He noticed a young, bright star about to catapult himself into another stratosphere and ventured ever so slightly against the grain to make a logical answer. His hypothetical choice was a bold one.

After the 2011 NBA Finals, and the unprecedented collapse of a player who was recently accepted by everyone in the universe to be the sport’s greatest player, how would Aikman’s proclamation translate to the NBA?

Let’s say a new CBA is agreed upon and calls for a complete overhaul. On September 1, each player is thrown into a league-wide draft with the order conducted at random. In this fictional future, Curt Flood never existed and free agency has yet to form. You pick a player and he is yours until death or retirement — whichever comes first.

In what order would the players go?

Is LeBron James still the first pick? Are Kobe and Amar’e selected in the first round? Does John Wall come off the board before Dirk Nowitzki? Would Chris Wallace drop down on his knees and take Zach Randolph without blinking?

In the aftermath of LeBron’s mental defrost, this vague, otherwise pointless question has become rather interesting. Being 26-years-old and undoubtedly the most athletic, talented and complete player in the game — and still improving — LeBron was the obvious answer. To many he still is. But if the ultimate objective each June is to become that lucky one team out of 30 to win the hardware, handpicking a player who will lead you through a sunny meadow with unparalleled dominance only to cower when the grass thickens turns this once-easy selection into quite the predicament.

Below are my top five.

None of the players on this list are better overall basketball players than LeBron James. For that matter, Derrick Rose isn’t any more adept at running a team than Chris Paul, and Blake Griffin may never rival Pau Gasol’s touch around the basket. But their value, mostly thanks to youth and lofty ceilings, make selecting them over The King less far-fetched as it once was.

5. Russell Westbrook

When he needs to make a quick decision, say, in transition with numbers, Russell Westbrook morphs into a stallion with blinders. In half-court sets he tends to search for seams that simply don’t exist, stubbornly forcing his square body through a round hole.

But what if we look at Westbrook through a different lens? What if we decrease the comparisons to Steve Nash and replace them with Dwyane Wade’s ability to attack the rim, score at will, and get to the free-throw line enough to keep conspiracy theorists up at night?

Comparing Westbrook’s third season (age 22) with Wade’s second (age 23) is telling.

Westbrook: 21.9, 8.2, 4.6 with 1.9 steals per game.
Wade: 24.1, 6.8, 5.2 with 1.6 steals per game.

Their PER and Usage Rate are within two percentage points, and Wade attempted 9.9 free-throws per game to Westbrook’s 8. Wade took 17.1 shots per night. Westbrook? 17. If a changed environment were to alter Westbrook’s role on his basketball team, the results could be more conducive to the style he was born to play.

4. Dwight Howard

Maybe he’s unfairly being compared to the league’s seven-foot ghosts. Maybe it’s that he has no rival. Or maybe the game’s drifted too far away from the big man as a noteworthy puzzle piece. Whatever the reason, Howard might be the most difficult of the five to build a championship-caliber team around.

He has carved out a niche as basketball’s most imposing defender. He’s the best in the league at altering shots and a top three rebounder, but there’s so many things on the other end he still needs to improve — and time’s running out. The 2009 Finals appearance wasn’t a signal of Howard staking a claim so much as it was Kevin Garnett’s faulty knee rewarding him with a free pass. All that being said, he’s twice as talented as the next best at his position. He’s also 25.

3. Blake Griffin

It’s tempting to put Griffin at the top spot. He’s the youngest player on the list, a more athletic Karl Malone, and for the next eight to 10 years should finish top five in scoring, free throw attempts, and rebounds. Off the court, Griffin seems to be a charismatic person; the most relatable 6’10” gravity defying freak of nature who’s ever lived. On the court he mutates into a monstrous brute. (Multiple reports from a slew of anonymous sources say a handful of players are refusing to see Super 8 this summer, due to its summoning of disturbing Blake Griffin related flashbacks.)

Random Fact: In less than 15 minutes of action, he recorded five assists in his first All-Star game. It took Charles Barkley five All-Star weekends to get five assists total.

2. Derrick Rose

He’s a 22-year-old MVP. Cut it, dry it, place it in the freezer.

And just wait until he starts making 40% of his threes.

1. Kevin Durant

Durant already has two playoff series (2010 vs. the Lakers and 2011 vs. the Mavericks) under his belt that, when we look back in a few years, could be the character-shaping events that transformed him from a talented, once-in-a-decade scorer to a grizzled, 25-year-old assassin. The curtain was turned back a few inches after the Dallas series, and what was revealed should scare everyone in the league. Durant’s mental fortitude aligns well with his atypical body, and the result is destined to be historical dominance.

Doc Funk Friday

There have been a lot of great developments so far during NBA Playoffs: Week 1.

Deron Williams proved to be even more amazing than we thought. The Spurs stole home court from the Mavs. Josh Smith has devoured four souls. Dwyane Wade learned new and more vengeful ways to hate his teammates. Joakim Noah went to war with the city of Cleveland. Gerald Wallace suffered 14 undiagnosed concussions. And J-Rich had the best game of his career.

Still, the best development of this postseason thus far has not happened on the court or even within Joakim’s scrunchy — it has happened in Photoshop.

Doc Funk has been dropping masterfully captioned photos after each game, and every batch is better than the last. LOLz for dayz. So to help spread awareness and revisit some of the awesome, I’m planning to do a little “best of” recap each Friday until the trophy is handed out by posting my fav five (don’t call it that) of the week.

Be sure to check out Doc Funk’s Brain on Funk for many, many more everyday.

And please let me know in the comments if I missed your favorite.

Here goes:

matt barnes block bobcats orlando magic

Matt Barnes and some ref from Magic/Bobcats Game 2

kevin durant phil jackson

Kevin Durant and Phil Jackson from Lakers/Thunder Game 1

lebron locker room media

LeBron from Cavs/Bulls Game 2

vinny del negro

Vinny of the Black from Cavs/Bulls Game 3

kevin durant russell westbrook thunder

KD and Russell Westbrook from Lakers/Thunder Game 3

Mt. Manu Puts KG on His Hind Parts

Everybody knows that Manu is both one of the best players in the League and perhaps the best international guard to ever grace the NBA. He’s also one of the most fun guys to watch and the main reason that I have always been baffled that anyone could ever consider the Spurs boring. Timmy is the Big Fundamental and does everything with perfect precision, but has little in the way of flair or personality, so I get why some people would fail to enjoy his even-keeled brilliance.

But Manu?

He plays a brand of basketball that inspires joy joy feelings in all those around him and Kobe, according to Chris Ballard in his book The Art of a Beautiful Game, likes to repeatedly characterize as “balls to the wall.” Usually, Manu’s greatness comes with the rock in his hands. But this year, dude’s defense has been on full display.

Last night, par examplar, he unleashed this Yeti-like-force block on KG, who now has two huge reasons to be thoroughly embarrassed: the blowout his Celtics suffered at the hands of the old, boring Spurs and being swatted this badly by a slow, white, geeky, balding chump. (via Real Cavs Fans)

And this wasn’t the first time this year Manu has publicly de-scrotumed a future Hall of Famer named Kevin. Here we see Mr. Durant also get got by the Argentine. (Video via Project Spurs … Click through to see KD’s PG-rated response to the block … And my sincere apologies for the Sean Elliot commentary.)

Is that all?

Nope.

Here’s Manu standing on his head to prevent a lay-up attempt by his Eastern Conference SG doppelgänger. If you can’t stand the Heat, Dwyane, better get out of the kitchen.

Am I right?

Lastly, who can forget this Halloween swat?

Business Insider Says Jon Brockman Makes $411 per Tweet on Twitter

As some of you know, I enjoy this whole Twitter fad these whipper snappers are always talking about. For general NBA stuff, I tweet under @BothTeamsPlayed and I also do a lot of in-game commenting on my Pacers under @8pts9secs. (I also cover Indy over at 8 Points, 9 Seconds, if you weren’t aware.)

But it’s not just me. The entire NBA world has embraced the micro-blogging social media site as much as any other community I can imagine. Media folks like @russbengston, @StackMack and @RobMahoney drop knowledge during games. Players like @KevinDurant35, @AndrewMBogut and @OneandonlyCP3 talk with fans constantly.

All in all, it’s pretty great.

And it seems like at least one NBA player has found a way to make money off of it. I’m not sure exactly what the consensus is on the the kosher-ness of doing this, but Jon Brockman (@MrJonBrockman), a rookie reserve with the Sacramento Kings, is reportedly getting paid to send out corporate-sponsored tweets from his account, according to Business Insider.

Jon Brockman of the Sacramento Kings has 319,195 followers on Twitter.  Tweeting “Has anyone seen the new Volvo C30? There are tons of features on this thing! Check it out…http://spn.tw/5q81 #ad” earns him around $411, SponsoredTweets.com reports.

$411 per tweet isn’t all that much. But it is roughly $411 more than I make per tweet.

As for whether or not celebrities should be doing this (Kim Kardashian reportedly makes $10,000 per tweet and Soulja Boy may make something similar), I don’t really care.

It’s obviously a little disingenuous, but none more so than doing a “corny”commercial for PowerBar, Samsung or Taco Bell. (What up, Lamar Odom. Nice shirt.)

Can’t knock the hustle, ya know.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Lamar’s wife, Khloe Kardashian, reportedly makes $1,359 per sponsored tweet. Here’s a full list of other “celebrities” tweeting for dollars.)

jon brockman twitter

Now … did he really enjoy the cake or is he just saying he did cause the cake shop paid him? I mean, I’m guessing he likes cake regardless cause who doesn’t like cake? But you know what I’m saying.