Welcome to the 7th installment of Four Thought. This version is a little different as we welcomed Joel to our roundtable via Skype – technology…am I right! This time we tackled a range of topics including injuries to some up-and-comers, what grinds our gears when it comes to broadcasts and whether or not parity has finally arrived. Xander, Sam, David and Computer Joel sat down with some chicken to delve into the Pre Trade Deadline events.
Looking at the standings, there are significant clusters of teams in both conferences that are within a bee’s dick of each other. Lots of rosters have genuine star players but are losing teams. Other than some major outliers in Brooklyn, Golden State and San Antonio, are we seeing the arrival of parity in the NBA?
Joel Noble: We are. Not one of the major market teams scored a big name free agent again last off season, unless you count Dwyane Wade at Chicago (LOL). Aldridge went to San Antonio and Moose Monroe went to Milwaukee in the 2015 off season, more of the same in 2016.
David Nash: More of an effort in the latest CBA to stop teams being able to ‘poach’ players. Players are incentivised even more to stay with their incumbent team, and organisations that draft well are being given the ability to retain talent – as long as they’re willing to pay. Can expect this to continue at least through the end of the new CBA (7 years)
Sam Eley: I think the league is more paritable [ed note: Sam asked if this was a word…it’s not], but there are still too many haves and have-nots. Easy for me to say as an ex Heat fan (I’m on the Warriors bandwagon now), but a lot of that was set up under the old CBA.
JN: The Dubs are a result of drafting and trading well. Drafting Draymond, Steph, Klay, Barnes, trading Monta Ellis when he was a star. You look at the Cavs taking 3 first round picks to get Kyrie and then GM LeBron coming back and trading for Kevin Love. The Spurs obviously are the model. There still has to be an emphasis on drafting, signing and trading effectively.
DN: That was my takeaway from your first article Joel. Even the Bostons and Miamis had a foundation player (Wade and Pierce). Spurs couldn’t do it without Duncan/Robinson and good scouting.
Xander Hamilton-Reeves: The mid tier teams are playing better now too. Golden State had an amazing fan base but weren’t a ‘major player’ in Oakland. Now they are moving into a brand new arena in San Francisco and will become a major market team. Philly have been bad, Washington are in a major market but have been inconsistent. Better drafting and use of resources seems to have leveled the playing field for locations that don’t have the same allure as some of these ‘legacy’ franchises.
Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker are both out for the year with ACL injuries. Both are important parts of up and coming squads, and this sets back their personal and team developments. Which player is the bigger loss?
SE: Parker. His development has been pretty full on over the past few years. Looked promising before busting his knee 25 games into his rookie year. It took some time to get back to being himself but he’s basically spent halfway through last year to halfway through this year dominating. He’d expanded his range (his defence was still a bit shit but so was LaVine’s) but his ceiling was much higher than LaVine. Doing a second ACL on the same knee, who knows what sort of athleticism he will come back with. LaVine should come back similar to Parker – you might not know he did it in the first place. Parker will potentially lose a lot of money too. I’ll be writing about all this with Jabari very soon!
JN: If you’re Minnesota your 2 best players are KAT and Wiggins. I hate to say this but Muhammad is OK (I hate UCLA players though), they brought in Lance Stephenson [ed: now injured as well, 10 day contract has expired], they have Kris Dunn… from a team standpoint they can probably cover LaVine better than the Bucks can make up for Parker.
XHR: I honestly think this balances Milwaukee Better. Push Giannis to the 4, Middleton to the 3, Snell at the 2 and Delly/Brogdon at the 1 plus Henson at the 5. You then look at the future with Parker coming off the bench where his giant “attack me on defence” sign will matter less. I’m saying this is a bigger loss to Minny because I think they were closer to being a legit playoff team. LaVine was also more likely to be a trade chip, and that is now off the table. Wiggins has looked better without LaVine though.
DN: Going back to our off season reports, I’ve basically been spruiking LaVine as a 6th man [JN: Yeah!] for a while. You don’t want Brandon Rush starting at the 2, but it might mean the Wolves go and find a more genuine 3&D guy. To answer the question though, I think it’s LaVine because I saw this year with the ‘Big 3’ and Thibs as a springboard for next year. This might get them Fultz (or Smith or Ball) though.
DN: Can I just add as well, pour a little out for my man Dragan Bender. Just because post trade deadline is when I was hopeful he would get major minutes and use that as a springboard for next year.
XHR: Same for Evan Turner. Terrible contract, but he was finally playing well before breaking his hand. Now Portland probably won’t make the playoffs.
SE: Can I pour some out for Justise Winslow while we’re at it!?
So Boogie has had so many flare ups this year [enjoy, Pelican fans!]. LeBron starred in a beautiful meme video after his missed dunk and subsequent whinge at the refs. Suspensions kick in at 16 technical fouls, which is meant to stop players and coaches bitching and moaning. They talked about zero tolerance on demonstrative actions for a while and the flop rule is meant to clean up the game. Have we reached the point where we are completely over saturated with complaints?
DN: Yes and I can give you the solution. Make a tech a personal foul. No one will bitch when they have 2 early fouls and a tech is a 3rd. As someone who only more recently came back to playing basketball, I’ve never understood why the NBA has that rule. They already give you 6 personal fouls, where FIBA is only 5, and they have the 2 techs and you’re out. Scrap the 2 tech ejection and just make techs personal fouls. Especially since a Flagrant counts as a personal foul.
SE: The League won’t do it since people pay to watch the players play. No one cares if a ref gets yelled at. The stars bitch and moan the most and they’re the ones that teams (and the League) can least afford to have off in foul trouble. What they should do is make the fines bigger, make them miss games.
DN: Very interesting CBA wrinkle: fines are a tax write off as a work expense. And are donated to charity, so no one cares about them. Get guys missing games. Think of Boogie, guy is always in foul trouble.
XHR: Boogie doesn’t care. He had 16 techs at the All Star break and that’s a high number these days. Not like Sheed getting 41! LeBron complaining after that flop, they haven’t done enough with that. The flop rule has been a joke, no one has been penalised severely for it yet.
JN: With the flops, they should retroactively give techs for flops and have that count towards their tech total. Or make a point where you get too many ‘flops’ and get suspended a game.
XHR: Agree, but the league won’t do that. Imagine them saying “sorry LeBron, you’ve flopped 16 times so you’re suspended now”. Just not gonna happen.
Commentary is such an integral part of the home viewing experience, so let’s talk about the best and worst local broadcasters. What makes them good and bad?
DN: It’s a fine line. Phoenix haven’t had a good team for a long time so the broadcasters don’t mean shit to anyone outside Phoenix. I imagine Boston fans love their broadcasters though but everyone else hates them. SE: do they really love them though? DN: Yes.
XHR: I like listening listening to Philly. Probably because they have been so shit for so long, the announcers have to appreciate the other team as that’s the only good basketball they’re gonna get. They want Philly to win but they understand the whole “process” thing, they will find things to talk about that are relevant to the team and the contest. And they are knowledgeable about the other team.
DN: What pisses me off more than homerism is commentators that have no idea what they are talking about. Which I get in a way, since they only watch their team but not knowing dudes names, not knowing how to pronounce someone’s name, that all gets at me more than straight homerism because I get it’s their job to go for the ‘home team’.
XHR: I was listening to someone, maybe Minnesota, and they were talking about some streak for the opposition and the play-by-play guy mentioned he should have done more research into the advanced numbers…the research is part of their job.
SE: The homerism still shits me though. When it’s clear that there’s a foul on their team or one of their players does something bad and they are like “awwww that’s not fair, that was a foul” and you’re like what the fuck man?
DN: It also comes down to who you watch. I watch a lot of SAC games because of Boogie [ed: Cousins hadn’t been traded to the Pelicans yet, it’s unclear if David will still watch the Kings now]. They’ve watched a lot of bad basketball, they are one of the better groups to watch as an away or neutral supporter.
JN: BOOGIE! One thing that annoys me is when the commentators are too familiar and use first names. “Gordon passes to Dante passes to Joe”, mate it’s not fourth grade basketball.
XHR: What about when the Utah guy says “jingling Joe? That always makes me giggle. JN: That’s a nifty nickname, that’s fine. But when they make you think you should be on a first name basis with the players that bothers me.
WORST AWAY BROADCASTS
SE: Toronto – Matt Devlin’s whiny voice does my head in; Boston – obvious reasons.
DN: Houston – Loved Drexler as a player, hate him as a broadcast guy & all of them have poor away team knowledge.
XHR: Cleveland – DEEEEEEEP IN THE Q! can go die; San Antonio, New Orleans – Joel Meyers sounds so depressed all the time [ed: might not anymore, BOOGIE!].
JN: Utah – “Oootaahhh” cause they’re too colloquial.
BEST AWAY BROADCAST
XHR: Portland – homer pick, so glad Mike Rice is gone. Knicks – Walt and Breen are the best. Also, Philly.
SE: Knicks – Breen just reminds me of the Heat winning NBA finals. Portland – they have the best one liners. One this year went something like “get the salt, butter and a tiny fork..Crabbe is cooking”
DN: Kings – I’ve always respected how Grant & Jerry call games and provide even commentary. Even willing to call Boogie on his shit occasionally (*this was written before Grant teed off on Boogie)
JN: Toronto – just because they say ‘aboot’ every once in a while.
‘TFPP’ ULTIMATE BROADCAST ROSTER
Mark Albert – Play by Play. The Voice of the NBA, basically forever.
Jeff Van Gundy – Analysis. Can listen to him talk ball all day.
Mike Fratello – Analysis. The Czar of the Telestrator (if they let him leave Ukraine).
Doris Bourke – Analysis. Completely underrated and a great knowledge of the game.
Craig Sager (RIP) – Sideline. Style, flare and professionalism personified.
Stuart Scott (RIP) – Sideline. A pioneer for many with impeccable catchphrases. Boo Yah!