I checked Bill's Twitter feed to see if he commented on the Bruins' amazing game 7 comeback against Toronto last Monday. He did, but just barely. A two word tweet: "Holy shit," that can't be about anything else. I guess he's waiting until the conference finals before he starts reminding us of his eternal and unbreakable Bruins fandom. Most recently, he sent three tweets today bitching about Lenovo's customer service. Apparently poor Bill has been wronged, AND THE WORLD IS GOING TO KNOW ABOUT IT. Lenovo is my new favorite company.
10. Dwyane Wade
Go Pacers! Since I always dump on others' predictions and rarely make any of my own (hey, I called Bulls over Nets in the first round--WHAT A STUNNING DISPLAY OF GENIUS that I was able to pick that 5 vs 4 upset) I will do so here so that I may be ruthlessly mocked a month from now. Heat in 5. Spurs in 5. Then Heat over Spurs in 5.
Wade will clinch "second-best player on one of the best teams ever" status.
HE CAN NAWT HOLD A CANDLE TO KEVIN MCHALE ON THE 85-86 C'S THOUGH. MCHALE HAD MUCH MO-AH HAHHHHHHT AND HUSTLE.
He's part of the NBA's "What if?" draft lore (Darko over Melo and Wade),
I edited out a few sentences where Bill made mostly sensible, relevant points about Wade's statistical accomplishments. Now here's a whole paragraph of meaningless bullshit.
an officiating nadir (the 2006 Finals),
In the context of Wade's trade value, who cares?
WTF history ("The Decision") and meaningful history (Miami's incredible 27-game winning streak).
Jesus. Get over it. No one is going to give a shit about that by this time next year.
He's the five-time MVP of the "Most Misspelled NBA Name" All-Star team,
There's this post's occurrence of subtle racism...
as well as a five-time member of the John Stockton "I'm Much More Ruthless and Sneaky-Dirty Than People Realize" All-Stars.
...somewhat mitigated by his willingness to concede that dirty-ass John Stockton was actually really dirty and not just "full of grit?"
OK, so what's happening in Decade 2? Why does Wade keep getting banged up?
Because he's old and (sometimes) plays recklessly?
Should we worry that his body is breaking down?
I... I guess? Why is that a question? Like Iverson before him, he probably will not age very well. He's also been really good for a long time. I think we'll look back on his career and say "Yup, that was a really good career that ended like many careers do."
Shouldn't we worry that his per-game free throw attempts dropped over the past five seasons from 9.8 to 6.2?
Hey, good for him for not crashing through the lane and falling on his ass nearly as often.
Or what about his perennially lousy 3-point shooting (career: 28.9 percent) atrophying to the point that he's only attempting one a game these days? Doesn't he need to keep adding pieces to his game?
I mean, I guess it couldn't hurt? Then again, he'll still be really good for a few more years, even if he doesn't? This is so stupid.
If there's a positive sign, it's this.
Player A: 25.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.6 APG, 45.6% FG, 33% 3FG, 19.9 FGA, 6.9 FTA, 21.9 PER.
Player B: 22.0 PPG, 5.3 APG, 5.2 RPG, 52.1% FG, 26% 3FG, 16.5 FGA, 6.4 FTA, 24.0 PER.
Player A? 31-year-old Kobe Bryant's per-36 minute numbers during the 2009-10 season.
Player B? Dwyane Wade's per-36 minute numbers this season.
6 FO-AH 24!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111
Here's what those numbers mean …
Thanks to LeBron, [4 sentences that didn't need to be written deleted].
Yes, that's correct, playing with the best player in 15 years DOES make it easier to excel at age 31.
We'll remember Dwyane Wade as one of the best 20 players ever. It's in motion.
Always with the obsession about how we'll remember the present when we get to the future. What a chud.
9. Derrick Rose
I covered Rose's non-comeback in last Friday's column on the first round of the playoffs, specifically the Shadow of Gilbert Arenas (the crucial point here).
Can you imagine if Gilbert Arenas were an NFL player? The comment sections at ProFootballTalk would have broken the internet between 2008 and 2011 as self-righteous racist assholes tripped over themselves to point out what a lazy no-good villain Gilbert was.
There's a 90 percent chance that Rose is deep inside his own head … but for Trade Value purposes, I'm concerned about the other 10 percent, which covers the length of Rose's recovery time (longer than usual),
No, not really.
the problems that popped up along the way (muscle atrophy and hammy issues),
and his health going forward (who knows?).
He's day to day, but aren't we all? I remember that time I wrongfully attributed that joke to Dan Patrick, and I got like 18 comments telling me NO STUPID IT'S VIN SCULLY. That was a good day. I learned something.
Rose's game hinges on attacking the paint, attacking the rim, attacking defenders, attacking everything. If you could describe him in two words, you'd use these: "relentless fury."
And you'd sound like a fucking moron whose thoughts were being written in Russian and then translated to English and then back to Russian and back again to English.
Well, what if that fury has been compromised a little? What if post-ACL Rose decides, I'm gonna pick my spots, shoot more 3s, maybe pass up a few of those fearless drives in traffic? Remember, Rose's breathtaking athleticism was his single best asset.
There are zero point guards in the NBA (other than 49 year old Jason Kidd) who don't use massive amounts of athleticism on every single possession. I get what he's saying, but it's still dumb.
So what now? It took 12 months for Ricky Rubio to look like Ricky Rubio again. It took 12 months for Iman Shumpert to look like Iman Shumpert again. We're at 13 months and counting with Rose.
Should we be worried he didn't rush back and play at 75% after 10 months? Have I mentioned that I invented 30 For 30? Have I ever asked a single interesting question in my entire life?
I don't totally know what we're getting from Derrick Rose when he comes back. And neither do you.
GROUP B: "Lemme Save You Some Time: N-O."
8. Chris Paul
Three reasons he's not higher …
A. He's about to get paid $80 million to 100 million for five years by somebody, whether it's the Clippers, Mavericks, Rockets or Lakers.
Already said this, but please please please let it be the Lakers. Paul is one of my least favorite players in the NBA. Please let him and Dwight Howard fail together for the next five years. I swear I'll be good. I'll be nicer to strangers. I'll stop wishing Derek Jeter gets caught with steroids and/or gets hit in eyeball with a pitch. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease
C. Look, I'm one of the preachers at the Church of Chris Paul. He's the best point guard I've ever watched on a regular basis.
Oh, are you not a Clippers 5th row season ticket holder? Pity. The best part is how he has sworn on multiple occasions that he's done following them because he's pissed at this for some move or non-move or another. Fortunately for legendary piece of dog shit Donald Sterling, Bill is a huge front runner, so as long as the Clips keep winning, he'll keep following them.
I can't blame him for being saddled with an overmatched coach and two years of pieces that never totally fit.
LOB CITY LOB LOB CITY. Oh, wait, did that not work out? I actually don't have much hate for the Clippers, or anyone on their roster besides Paul, but I sure do hate "Lob City." Here's hoping their second successive disappointing playoff exit means we've heard the last of that crap.
He did everything he could. But his personality isn't always … um … favorable?
HE'S SO UPPITY.
He's demanding and occasionally condescending. He has no problem undressing a teammate verbally in front of 18,000 people. He's always gesturing and telling teammates where to go and what to do, almost like an abrasive wedding planner. He's always playing angry.
He needs to be more like John Stockton or Bob Cousy! What's funny is that Paul's personality is worth criticizing, but not this part of it, which from the 10 or so Clippers games I saw this year (including playoffs), is mostly made up. The bigger issue is that he's a legendary whiner and flopper, and I can't imagine him being a favorite of the league's refs. That kind of thing can come back to haunt you.
Should we read anything into the fact that, in eight years, Chris Paul has never played in a conference finals?
Much as I dislike him, probably not. The supporting cast he had in New Orleans was consistently awful. These last two years, eh. The Clippers weren't that good. The west is tough. What are you going to do? I dislike him, but I won't deny that he's awesome.
Or that he's 16-24 in the playoffs? It's a fair question, right?
JACK MORRIS PITCHED TO THE SCORE, HE HAD THE WILL TO WIN. THAT'S WHY HE HAS ALL THOSE WINS. CHRIS PAUL DOES NOT HAVE THE WILL TO WIN. Sorry, mixed my rants there. You know what I'm getting at. You know whose playoff record is horrendous? Carmelo. You know who's about to appear two spots ahead of Paul on this list?
For the life of me, I can't understand why Paul and Blake Griffin don't get along, or why two straight Clipper postseasons COMPLETELY self-combusted. Even factoring in the Vinny Del Negro Effect, it's still a little strange — you shouldn't keep self-combusting when you have one of the league's best players.
Except that in 2012, they lost to a team with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, and this year they lost to a team with Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. It happens. Fuck Chris Paul, but he's really good. Switch him with Westbrook and the Thunder don't miss a beat. Switch him with Wade and he's got a ring or two right now.
7. Kyrie Irving
My buddy House tried to throw his body in front of Kyrie cracking the top eight, asking, "Can I see him stay on the floor for one season? Can he give me ONE season? Just one? Am I asking for too much?"
Nothing like riding Bill Simmons's coattails to Z-list sports media celebritydom. Good for you, House.
Let's see … Irving missed 26 of 37 games at Duke, then 15 of 66 games as a Cavs rookie and 23 of 82 games this season. In three years, he's played 121 games and missed 64. So far he's torn ligaments in his big toe; sprained one shoulder; broken his hand; suffered a concussion; broken a finger on his non-shooting hand; broken a bone in his jaw; hyperextended a knee; and sprained the other shoulder.
(Long bit about how Kevin Johnson was super awesome but got hurt a lot, and John Stockton was incredibly durable because HE WAS TOUGHAH THAN TOUGH--MAYBE EVEN SOUTHIE TOUGH)
So we'll see about Irving, an electric offensive player who is already one of the league's best clutch scorers. He's only two years into a favorable rookie contract. And he's also just 21 years old, a baby for God's sake. There's a lot to love. Ironically,
Get ready for something that's not ironic at all.
I think he's Kevin Johnson 2.0 as a basketball player — just as devastating off the dribble, just as unstoppable getting to the rim. Let's hope that comparison doesn't stretch to his durability, too.
Irony: when one basketball player's skillset resembles another's, and they both also sometimes get hurt.
6. Carmelo Anthony
I will try to not overplay my Nuggets fan bias here, but it's going to be tough. I don't hate the guy. I don't wish harm on him. But his exit from Denver definitely annoyed me, and the holes in his game are more glaring than ever (to me) now that he's not playing for my team. He's an elite scorer who can take anyone in the league 1 on 1. He also 1) plays good defense when his man has the ball, but has never learned how to play halfway decent help defense, or defense away from the ball, no matter how many sportswriters may try to tell you otherwise on a yearly basis, 2) is prone to keep shooting and shooting and shooting when he's having an off night, which is not ALWAYS a bad decision, but is a bad decision if you have no other plan for coping with an off night, and 3) does not do a good job adjusting his offensive game when a team is doing things to effectively stop him. He's a superstar, but a flawed superstar, and does not belong in the top 10 of this list. If, in an imaginary world where all salaries are equal, the Knicks call up the Heat, Bulls, Clippers or Cavs and offer Melo for Wade, Rose, Paul or Irving, the Knicks get laughed off the phone each time. Factor in his huge salary and it's even more of a no-brainer. I think it's very, very clear at this point that you can't win a title with him as your best player. He needs to play the role Wade is playing now. The problem is, he's not suited for that role, because he's got to get his 20 shots per night, or 25+ if it's a big game. It just doesn't quite work.
As the longtime president of the "I Still Think Carmelo Can Work in New York,""I Still Believe In Ben Affleck" and "I Still Think Kerry Washington Will Make It" Fan Clubs,
Sports = Hollywood!
it's been a big last 12 months for me.
Look, Carmelo CAN work in New York. He can work anywhere, as long as "work" means 45-55 regular season wins and zero expectations for the postseason.
Since the ABA-NBA merger, we've seen five NBA teams legitimately contend for a title while being built around the offense of a scoring forward who averaged at least 27 points a game in the playoffs: Dirk Nowitzki in 2011 (won the title!), Dominique Wilkins in 1988, Bernard King in 1984, and Julius Erving in 1977 (made the Finals). Let's look at their playoff numbers …
This very biased Denver fan would like to throw in the 2009 Nuggets, who had Melo averaging 27.2 PPG and were even 2-2 with the Lakers in the WCF (and should have been up 3-1). Sigh.
/smallest violin plays for Larry B
'11 Dirk (21 games): 27.7 PPG, 2.5 APG, 49-46-94%, 18.9 FGA, 8.9 FTA, 25.2 PER, 32.0 usage
'77 Doc (19 games): 27.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, 52-00-82%, 20.5 FGA, 7.1 FTA, 22.9 PER, 29.0 usage
'88 Nique (12 games): 31.2 PPG, 2.8 APG, 46-22-77%, 25.0 FGA, 10.4 FTA, 22.9 PER, 35.8 usage
'84 King (12 games): 34.8 PPG, 3.0 APG, 57-00-76%, 23.5 FGA, 10.3 FTA, 27.6 PER, 31.9 usage
'13 Melo (8 games): 29.3 PPG, 1.9 APG, 39-28-92%, 26.8 FGA, 7.4 FTA, 21.3 PER, 39.0 usage
Of those five, Carmelo is the least efficient playoff forward BY FAR … and yet, per game, he's taken the most shots, involved himself in the most possessions and generated the lowest number of assists.
Definitely worth being ranked #6 on this list. No question. So Chris Paul is 16-24 in the playoffs? Melo is 22-44. He's won three series in ten playoff appearances. He's made it out of the first round just twice. That's ghastly. In many of his early appearances with Denver, his teams were overmatched (losing to the eventual champ or conference champ three out of five years from 2004-2008). But he was never close to winning any of those series. His teams had a hard time trying to do more than steal one game, let alone steal a whole series. Remember what I said about him doing a shitty job adjusting his game when teams key in on trying to stop him?
He's been a black hole. There's just no way around it. Since the merger, only three players averaged more than 26 shots per playoff game and made the Finals: Allen Iverson in 2001 (30.0 FGA, 39% FG); Hakeem Olajuwon in 1995 (26.2 FGA, 53% FG); and Michael Jordan in 1992 (26.4 FGA, 50% FG), 1993 (27.8 FGA, 48% FG) and 1997 (26.2 FGA, 46% FG). Carmelo isn't MJ, and he certainly isn't Hakeem.
He's not Iverson either. Iverson was a better pure scorer, Melo's only elite talent, and a better distributor too. Iverson also made the Finals once, and got out of the first round three of the six years he was in the playoffs and not paired with Melo.
Throwing in his ample salary (2014-2015: $45 million), the following question seems fair: Why did you stick him at no. 6?
Because you're dumb.
Because I know what I'm getting with Carmelo. The dude loves playing in New York. He can handle any pressure/spotlight/scrutiny you throw at him there. He loves taking and making big shots.
Like I said. (Also, those last three sentences also perfectly describe J.R. Smith, who definitely rules, but also is not on this list, because those three things don't make you a top 50 player.)
And if he's playing well, you can absolutely win the title with him.
So I guess at no point in the last ten years, other than maybe 2009, has he managed to play well in the playoffs. Got it.
He's just not playing well lately.
Or in 2004, 2005, 2006 (a particularly ghastly five game first round loss to the fucking Clippers in which Melo shot 33% from the field), 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 or 2012.
You might see Carmelo swing three spots higher or five spots lower depending on what happens these next three weeks. I'm still a believer.
Because you're dumb.
Just know that the Knicks aren't winning a title with Carmelo shooting 27 times a game. That needs to be fixed starting tonight.
Hey, he's only 28, with a mere 713 regular season NBA starts under his belt. I'm sure Mike Woodson will have no problems with that task.