West was the architect of the Showtime Lakers, picking up subs still able to do it like Bob McAdoo and Michael Thompson and later Sedale Threatt, who was the perfect off the bench compliment to Magic as a shooter if Magic hadn’t come down with AIDS. Later on, in the Shaq/Kobe era, he picked up Horace Grant, Ron Harper and Robert Horry.
Jerry West has an innate x-ray vision into the hearts of players and also their hoop IQ’s and remains the finest mind in the game, a man who watched how Red Auerbach traded for veterans for bench strength back in the day when the Celtics always had just a little more than the Lakers and beat them every time.
Does one think West, like Auerbach, would adhere to “sabermetrics” over instinct and knowledge of the game when judging a player?
The recent winning streak of the LA Clippers without all star forward Blake Griffin is a testament to the symbiotic relationship between Chris Paul, the best pure Marine DI-like point guard in the league, and his coach, Doc Rivers, one of the premier strategists and adjusters and game coaches in the league and a rock-solid tough-as-nails point guard in the league in his day.
Fact is, in this league, an all star point guard is much more valuable than an all-star power forward. Paul, like Magic Johnson, runs the show with the disciplinary strictness of a 19th Century Midwest schoolmarm, which means, like Magic, he will not tolerate a player who is not constantly focused and doesn’t know where to go and what to do, especially in clutch situations. Thus, Doc benched Josh Smith, always a stats player with great flash who never won and doesn’t know how, and Lance Stephenson, a terrific talent with an adolescent’s attitude. Far less talented overachievers like Cold Aldrich, who learned the game from Bill Self at the basketball academy called the University of Kansas, and Pablo Prigioni, a castoff who knows how to run an offense and come up with loose balls and timely steals, have found themselves excelling under Doc’s management.
Magic, like Paul, had a say, was excited when the Lakers acquired all star forward Orlando Wooldridge, but after a few games he was traded because he either wouldn’t or couldn’t do what Magic wanted him to do, which didn’t involve free lancing. Magic can make you better than you are, bro, and you will win. Like Paul.
Stan Van Gundy knew about Josh Smith and unloaded him pronto, and since that time the Detroit Pistons have played above .500 ball. So has Charlotte without Stephenson.
Charles Barkley sometimes makes more sense with his opinions on politics and social ills than he does on basketball. He is obsessed with the rack (rebounding) and inside game and has no faith in jumpshooters, but the Warriors pretty much shut him up, much to former cold-blooded clutch jumpshooter Kenny Smith’s glee on TNT.
The most interesting match-up will be San Antonio and Golden State. Will coach Popovich try to squeeze the Warriors by taking them off the 3 point line and forcing them to drive and make shots inside the line? Will he slow the game down and pound the ball into newly acquired LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Duncan and Diaw, wearing out the Golden State front line?
Or will the Warriors run the Spurs off the floor?
The match-ups are fascinating. Danny Green will have to guard Curry, because Tony Parker cannot. Maybe Leonard will guard Curry or Klay Thompson. Draymond Green will have to guard Aldridge. Duncan/Bogut? Not fair for Bogut. But who will guard Harrison Barnes? Leonard can guard anybody. Maybe Ginobili.
The real difference will be the benches.
About 75% of the games on TV are boring or second and third quarter blow-outs because of back-to-backs or because so many teams are terrible, and worse on the road due to being stocked with a bunch of highly drafted one-and-done'rs who are basically overgrown teenagers with no clue, only attitude and false bravado when they are embarrassed.
Laker rookie guard and no. 2 draft choice DeAngelo Russell, who can’t guard anybody, isn’t strong enough to be physical, finally had a hot night and swiveled his head and gloated after a few threes. He is not a dynamic player and figures at his best to be a taller Mike Conley without the explosion in his first step, possibly a good enough guard to lead a team of also-ran's into the playoffs and never advance past the first round.
Julius Randle still can’t shoot, can’t go to his right, doesn’t have the body for a true power forward, and strikes me as a seventh or eighth man off the bench for an average team. He seems lost most of the time, having no idea where to go or what to do, except drive when he has the ball and go to the rack when he doesn’t, and lead a fast break from time to time, most of the time blowing the play.
The Lakers look like a pick-up team at the local gym.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have the greatest team player since Magic in Lebron James, and all the right parts in place, but are they a cohesive unit?
Sorry, but Derrick Rose has turned into one of the foremost NBA divas and cry-babies. The color guys have to stop making excuses for him.
Outside of Curry and Lebron, little Isiah Thomas with Boston is as fun to watch as any player in the league.
Wherever one-dimensional multi-traded hot-headed Matt Barnes goes, the team seems to spiral; downward.
Why do they keep showing NBA players walking past the camera encased in massive head phones and appearing like vacuous zombies?
Why are the brothers dying their hair bright blond? Because of Odell Beckham of the NFL?
Is there a more lackluster, unhappy looking worthless slug in the league than Roy Hibbert? Talk about going through the motions! Ever since Indiana unloaded him on the Lakers, and replaced him with Mahimi, they have taken off and seem happier. Hibbert is probably a nice guy, but he is taking a lot of money on the most dysfunctional team and franchise in the league next to Philadelphia, which at least had the sense to bring in Jerry Colangelo.
It is painful to have to watch their expressions and listen to Stu Lantz, James Worthy and Michael Cooper try and make sense of what former teammate Byron Scott and the Lakers are trying to achieve as they flounder, founder and flop night after night.
It is painful to have to listen to Hubie Brown and the rest of the color guys try to find something good to say during blowouts by teams that largely give up when you know Jeff Van Gundy and Brown are embarrassed and disgusted with what they are seeing.
In short, there are too many bad players and bad teams in the NBA and it’s because the NBA used to stand for NO BOYS ALLOWED. No more. Charles Oakley, Buck Williams, where are you…?
Superstars never used to be pampered. They were beaten up and came back to beat you up. Just ask Kareem, Larry, Magic and Michael.