First, a quick update: underdogs went 8-7 against the spread last week and now stand at 52-50 on the season. Is it the Year of the Dog? IT IS THE COUSINFUCKING YEAR OF THE DOG YOU PUCKERING ASSHOLES. We'll see what the next few weeks bring, but my guess is this: underdogs will cover about as often as they fail to cover, and anyone who makes picks based on gut feelings developed in August about whether this is the Year of the Dog is a board certified dumbshit who should be ignored, and later thrown down a well.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of his suspension, Bill has seemingly taken his ball and gone home when it comes to NFL picks columns. We'll know for sure by this afternoon, but he was unsuspended as of last Thursday but Bill Barnwell still wrote last week's picks column. This could be ESPN quietly telling Simmons to just stay away from the NFL and focus on the NBA. It could be Simmons quietly telling ESPN that he'd rather just stay away from the NFL and focus on the NBA. Or it could be Simmons just being a moody little bitch. We can't know for sure, but I do know this much: in Simmons's absence, Barnwell sure as hell started sounding like Simmons. Fucking disappointing. Here's what I mean--some samples from Barnwell's picks column from two Fridays ago:
I have to admit I was tempted to just make this entire Week 6 preview out of J.J. Watt GIFs from Thursday night’s Texans-Colts game and call it a column. I know that he’s not better at quarterback than Ryan Fitzpatrick, if only because Fitzpatrick has spent his entire career prepping to play quarterback and Watt is built to play defensive line, but if you gave Watt six months’ notice that he was going to be Houston’s quarterback, don’t you think he would have a shot at being pretty good at it?
WHO SAYS NO????
JETS (+9.5) over Broncos
The referee assigned to this game is 33-year-old rookie Brad Allen, who joined the NFL this year after refereeing in the ACC. I have to admit that he is my new favorite referee, if only because he seems to be taking everything incredibly seriously. Allen makes his various motions for penalties like he just reread the rulebook and practiced against a mirror for hours, like he’s a new teacher being observed by the principal. Here’s his first call, a hold, from Thursday’s Packers-Vikings game:
[gif of very robotic and precise holding call signal from Allen]
That’s incredible! If Dave Chappelle’s white-guy voice could be a holding motion, it would be Brad Allen’s. Compare that to the holding call of a veteran referee like Gene Steratore:
[gif of very casual and lackadaisical holding call signal from Steratore, which still pretty much looks like Allen's]
Steratore is ready to blow this joint, man. By the time he’s grasped his wrist for the hold, he’s already ready to signal the side and get those chains moving. Get in, get out, go home. Allen, meanwhile? He’s grabbing his arm firmly, dropping his elbow all the way to his waist, looking directly into the camera … just textbook stuff. It’s Don Draper and Bob Benson in stripes. I’m excited about the Brad Allen era.
Sure sounds like something Bill would write (and a subject Bill would find fascinating, because other than the NBA, he doesn't care about sports), doesn't it?
In fact, the Eagles have more defensive and special teams touchdowns through five games than any other team in NFL history. Four teams were previously tied for the record with six, most recently the 2003 Chiefs, who were going through the absolute climax of Dante Hall hysteria. Most public schools in the K.C. area shut down as children insisted upon solely communicating by throwing up the X. It was a crazy time.
LOL! Barnwell also went 4-9 against the spread that week, further evidence that either he's turning into Simmons or he let Simmons write his column for him.
So what about last week? A little more of the same, except that he went 9-4 against the spread, because he's not a fucking idiot. But still, read this shit:
WASHINGTON (-5.5) over Titans
You played SimCity, right? You know, the original SimCity, the one you had on a gigantic 5.25-inch floppy disk, that SimCity. Do you remember how bad your attempts at a metropolis were when you played SimCity as a little kid? They were bizarre, nihilistic works of art.
Residential buildings just slapped next to smokestacks. A decaying commercial zone, victimized by a statistically improbable number of simultaneous earthquakes and Godzilla attacks. Electrical lines building a grid totally unconnected to any power plant. For public safety, six police stations and six fire stations placed directly next to one another next to a road that never loops back on itself and just runs out in the middle of nowhere. Oh, and the totally useful sports stadium, presumably attended by the one poor, confused family who showed up to live in one of your residential zones for a couple of in-game seconds before immediately leaving in a terrified huff.
Washington vs. Tennessee is the football equivalent of that city you created.
Oooh! But which unwatchable and irrelevant 1970s movie is that game like? Which season of The Challenge is it like?
Texans (+3) over STEELERS
OK. It’s time to talk about this ubiquitous J.J. Watt commercial that’s taken over television in the past two weeks.
[entirely too long seven breakdown of this piece of uninteresting corporate advertising follows, treating the ad like it was written by Hemingway and containing zero good jokes along with a bunch of dumb references and rhetorical questions]
Look, I know Barnwell has always been prone to throw a couple mediocre jokes into his analysis. But during Simmons's suspension, it sure seemed to get a lot worse. I hope Barnwell goes back to being the old Barnwell soon. Simmons-Barnwell hybrid sucks ass. Anyways, Simmons did do his fucking dumb as rocks guess the line podcast this week, so maybe that means he's back; but he also didn't tweet a Thursday night pick, so who the fuck knows. Whatever the outcome, if it results in less Simmons in the world, it's a good thing.
Anyways, Simmons has been busy lately; the suspension appears to have mercifully cut his NBA team preview video series off after he and Jalen Rose got through the 11 worst teams in the league. (I say mercifully, because holy fucking flying cats, did you try to watch any of those? That shit wouldn't fly on local access cable at 4 AM. Other than the money, why is Jalen Rose working so much with this numbnuts? Oh, that's right. It's probably about the money.) But he and Zach Lowe have released their annual "watchability rankings" for NBA teams, designed to let League Pass subscribers know which teams are worth checking in on from time to time.
For once, I'm not going to hammer on the premise of a Simmons article. This is actually something worth writing (not necessarily by Simmons; but by somebody). TNT and ESPN show so many goddamn unwatchable games it makes steam come out of my ears. It's bad enough that some of the good teams from big cities play ugly basketball, like the Bulls and Rockets. It's 1000 times worse that regardless of what a shitpile the Lakers and Knicks are, they're each going to be on national TV like 25 times this year. It's horrid. The Lakers, now that Nash is out for the year, could very well lose 60 games. The Knicks should make the playoffs, but as I've ranted about before, that's because of the joke of a division they play in. So for fans that don't want a Cavs/Nets or Thunder/Lakers blowout to be their only TV option, League Pass makes sense (even though it runs pretty poorly a lot of the time), and thus we might as well have a watchability ranking.
Of course, whether this is a good idea and whether it is executed competently are two entirely different things. And not even the presence of Lowe is enough to keep this from turning into a blimp crash. Come one, come all, marvel at Bill's obvious idiocy even when he is talking about the one sport he kind of knows, he's discussing a reasonable topic, and he has an awesome wingman.
VIEWING ALERT!!!!! At 7 p.m. ET on Thursday (10/23), The Grantland Basketball Hour makes its triumphant debut on ESPN.
I didn't watch! And I never will!
Your hosts? Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, who will be joined by Jeff Van Gundy, Doc Rivers, Michelle Beadle, Zach Lowe and rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. We made up only two of those guests.
LOL! Those last two guys were brutally murdered!
Watch us live, add us to your DVR season pass, do whatever you need to do.
One hour of free basketball chatter, 7 p.m. Thursday, ESPN. See you there.
I'd rather eat glass.
Last year’s League Pass Rankings kicked off with Simmons writing, “If I watch more than 75 total minutes of the Suns this season, I’m gonna feel like I failed.”
You failed years ago, buddy boy.
So clearly, you came to the right place for intelligent analysis and an all-encompassing feel for the league. Our mission remains the same: Figure out which 2014-15 NBA teams have the best chance to steal our attention, night after night, as we’re watching five games at once. Both Simmons and Lowe awarded all 30 teams between 0 and 10 points in each of the following five categories.
Using categories and a points system is a fine way to do this kind of thing. A fine way, that is, until Simmons then spends most of the article questioning the legitimacy of his own horseshit manufactured rankings, that are a function of his own fucking system. It makes me want to stick a fork in an outlet.
Category No. 1: Relevance/Zeitgeist
Interpreted as “relevance to the playoff picture,”
“relevance to NBA junkies on the Internet,”
What does that mean? I'm not saying it doesn't exist as a separate concept from relevance to the playoff picture, but what the fuck does it mean?
and “general day-to-day relevance.”
I do know what that means. It means absolutely nothing. It was included here to make Bill feel like he's been extra smart and analytical.
Category No. 2: Hoops Nerdgasm Potential
I don't think nerds of any kind, including sports nerds like me, should embrace the term "nerdgasm." That makes us even less likely to ever get sex without paying for it.
Covers special events like, “OH MY GOD, Phoenix is playing Bledsoe, Dragic and Isaiah Thomas right now with Gerald Green at the 4 and a Morris twin at center!”
OH MY GOD THEY'RE PLAYING SMALLBALL, THAT'S THE CRAZIEST SHIT EVER, I JUST JIZZED ON MY IPAD!
— as well as everything Pop and Carlisle are doing on a daily basis,
Meh. Those guys are both great coaches, but is it really particularly titillating to see what lineups they've constructed or which players Pop gave the night off? This isn't really "nerdgasm" (last time I'm typing that, by the way) material. It's more like, stuff that you appreciate when you see how many games the Spurs and Mavs are winning.
everything that Stan Van Gundy and David Blatt might try this season, and everything that gets Haralabob Voulgaris fired up on Twitter (in a good way).
SVG is a great coach but the Pistons are trash. I don't think he can prevent that. David Blatt is a rookie NBA coach who will probably make a bunch of dumb mistakes this year. Not seeing the appeal. Voulgaris is a guy who writes sometimes funny tweets about the NBA. If you're watching games because you hope he's going to tweet about them later, your priorities are backwards.
If you’re coaching so creatively that you coax Zach into one of those 4,500-word columns with 15 embedded YouTube clips, you’ll score highly here.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Not that Lowe isn't a good writer, just that, meh, I watch games to watch games. I'm not a coach. I don't need to be impressed by the 14 different screen and roll variations the Cavs draw up, in part because I won't recognize them as the game is happening anyways. And this should go without saying, but neither will Bill. He may not even recognize them in the YouTube clips AS he's reading the Lowe article.
Category No. 3: League Pass Minutiae
Covers the quality of announcing teams (a.k.a. The Sean Elliott Mute Button Factor) and sideline reporters (we love you, Abby Chin!), as well as uniform colors, crowd behavior, any wide shot of empty seats on TV (sorry, Miami), the home arena’s floor pattern, the mascots, and for a second time, the mascots. You know, all the stuff Zach obsesses over.
Judging based on uniform colors, crowd behavior, shots of empty seats, or home arena floor patterns is completely retarded. But mascots rule, and I have absolutely no problem with judgment based on announcing teams. Any non-Boston hockey fan who's ever been subjected to Jack Edwards knows that a terrible announcer can ruin a game with his or her buttfuckery. (Fortunately, to my knowledge there is not a single local NBA announcer who comes within a mile of Edwards.)
Category No. 4: Individual Player Appeal
If you employ the likes of LeBron, Durant or Curry on your team? You’re looking great for this category. If you revolve your team around Boogie Cousins? You’re looking great with one of us and shockingly decent with the other one. But if your only exciting player is missing the entire 2014-15 season with a broken leg? You might be looking at a Robert Parish — a.k.a. the double zero.
HE WAS A CELTIC GO FACKIN' C'S! This category is pretty dumb in the context of this article, as that is the exact kind of thing a "hoops nerd" should NOT care about. First of all, watch good teams because they're good, regardless of whether they're the Clippers or the Spurs. Second of all, pretty much every guard and small forward in the NBA is exciting to watch if you're a basketball fan, as are a good number of the big men. If you judge a game's watchability on OOOH DO THEY HAVE A GUY WHO DOES CRAZY DUNKS AND CAN HIT 3s, then you should watch every game.
Category No. 5: Unintentional Comedy/Irrational Affection/Personality Intangibles
Turn the Simmonsmeter up to 11.
This intentionally vague category covers moments like “Enes Kanter just took his 10th 3 of the night,” “Byron Scott is defending Phoenix’s 3-guard offense with Jeremy Lin, Nick Young and Steve Nash right now,”
Hey, that's double counting! We already saw that offense when we ejaculated everywhere back in Category No. 2!
“Boris Diaw is feeling it,” any text or tweet that simply reads “Dante Exum!!!!,”
Don't text your friends the name of a player who just made a good play. That's a dumb thing to do.
“Marcus Smart just dove for a loose ball and inadvertently took out the scorer’s table while down 25 with 90 seconds to play,”
HE'S BAWSTAHN TOUGH! SOUTHIE TOUGH, EXCEPT THAT HE'S NOT ALLOWED TO LIVE THEY-AH! HE'S ONE OF US! THE ANTI TOM BRADY! FACK YOU!
“Giannis is starting at point guard,”
“Dion Waiters is feeling it,” “Dirk just made his seventh straight one-legged fall-away,” “Blake Griffin just
And so on and so forth. You get it. This is a fine category, except that like I just said, pretty much every game features guys who can do incredible things, so... just watch. No need to make a big production out of your pre-watching.
We each scored all 30 teams on our own, then combined those scores into a bigger score that you’ll read below. The lowest possible score? Zero.
Thank you for clarifying what 0 times 10 is.
The highest possible score? 100. (Hypothetically achieved by the 1986 Celts, 2005 Suns, 2011 Heat and 1982 Lakers.)
THE 1982 LAKERS DID NAWT DESERVE THIS HYPOTHETICAL HONOR!
This is getting kind of long, so I'm not going to do a full detailed breakdown. Below are some LOWlights (lol) from Part 1 of Bill's rankings, which are written as a dialogue between him and Lowe. I am very glad they chose that format because it makes it easy to tell when something utterly inane was Bill's idea versus Zach's idea. Not that it would be hard to do if their thoughts were combined together; but this makes things that much clearer.
Re: the Pacers
Simmons: They have to trade David West within the next three months, right? In the Bill and Jalen Preview for the Pacers (coming Wednesday!), Jalen smartly pushes for a West-to-Charlotte trade for former Hoosier Noah Vonleh or former Hoosier Cody Zeller.
Bill thinks Jalen is so well-spoken. Also, big thumbs down for the HEY THAT PRO TEAM SHOULD TRADE FOR COLLEGE PLAYERS WHO PLAYED IN THE SAME GEOGRAPHICAL AREA idea fart, regardless of whether it was Jalen or Bill who came up with it.
The Pacers should bottom out for a year and get a meaningful asset for West … right?
ALWAYS TANK WHEN YOU GET THE CHANCE! NEVER BE AVERAGE! EVERY TEAM SHOULD BE TRYING TO WIN 82 OR 0 GAMES! THERE IS NO INBETWEEN! Well, it's really not that simple ever, or in this case, as Zach will patiently explain.
Lowe: Hmm … West has a $12.6 million option for the 2015-16 season, and it’s the rare option that presents an interesting choice for the player. As a 34-year-old on a semi-expiring deal, West just doesn’t have a lot of trade value. I don’t see the Hornets giving up a potential good young big for him, but they are the right sort of team for a trade like this — a longtime sad sack with some irrational exuberance and/or desperation to accelerate their rise.
Right. So West 1) is old and declining, so less of an asset in that sense, and 2) isn't actually an expiring deal, so way less of an asset in that sense. Thus maybe it's not in Indiana's interests to go into the season saying WE GOTTA UNLOAD THIS GUY. ASAP. DON'T CARE WHAT WE GET FOR HIM.
Simmons: We disagree — it’s difficult enough to find a playoff-proven veteran/locker room leader that West’s value might be higher than you think.
"Hey you, guy who knows more about the NBA than I could ever possibly know about anything--you are wrong. West is a PROVEN 15 and 7 guy in the playoffs. People forget that."
I would flip Zeller for him in 2.2 seconds. Imagine Charlotte becoming a genuine contender.
Because they traded Zeller for West? Did the Pacers throw in a magically healed Paul George who's ready to play right now, too?
And even better, imagine West and Lance improbably reuniting.
Ah. That's what this was all about. LANCE STEPHENSON IS GOOFY AND KIND OF RAN HIMSELF OUT OF INDIANAPOLIS. WHAT IF DAVID WEST AND HIM WERE TEAMMATES AGAIN. WHO SAYS NO.
If it happens, I hope someone takes a cell phone video of West rejoicing upon hearing that he got traded to a contender … and then realizing that he has to play with Lance again.
Oh man! That's what sports are REALLY all about! Viral videos of what athletes do when they're not playing! Bill needs a job at TMZ.
Re: the Magic
Simmons: Serious question: Would this team win more games with Jacque Vaughn or Mo Vaughn coaching?
Awesome joke. Straight out of 1997.
Re: the Nuggets
Simmons: I bumped them two points just because marijuana is legal in Colorado — on a night with a low number of games, at least we can watch Denver’s home games and guess which opponents may have wake-and-baked that morning.
LOL! Marijuana reefers! That's what some guys who visit Denver will be smoking, you can bet on that! Remember when that one kid you grew up around who was always getting into trouble started smoking weed at a relatively young age, and would look all high and stuff? This will be like that!!!!!!
Re: the Celtics
Simmons: What about Rondo for the Derrick Williams/Reggie Evans expirings, Ben McLemore and a top-seven-protected 2015 pick? That trade makes the 2015 NBA season 5 percent more fun — admit it.
NO ONE DENIES THIS. Rondo could take the Kings all the way to 10th place in the west! The Celtics would get the better end of the deal! WHO SAYS NO??????????????
Lowe: I think Boston would do that.
They're going nowhere fast and Rondo is in the last year of his deal. You fucking think they might want to pick up McLemore in exchange for someone they don't need and a little bit of expiring money that they also don't need? But why in the Christ would the Kings do this? So they can clear slightly more money next offseason? They're ditching Rudy Gay and the cap might go up, or at least will definitely go up in two offseasons. They're not just going to hand McLemore to Boston because that would give Bill a case of the warm fuzzies.
But let’s say the cap sticks at the projected $66.3 million for 2015-16, then rises into the mid–$80 million range in 2016-17 — an outcome that is not a foregone conclusion on either side, by the way. That could present Boston with the chance to re-sign Rondo this summer at a number that ends up looking good. I’ve always thought that was the best scenario for them, barring a knockout trade package — to get Rondo back below the max and use him as a lever to draw the next big star to Boston.
Ah, there you go. THAT'S why the Kings would do it--so they can help Boston achieve their best case scenario with regard to Rondo--trade him for an asset, and then re-sign him after a tanking season and keep the asset.
Re: the Heat
Simmons: Here’s a clip of Dan Le Batard walking the streets of Miami in February.
["Milk was a bad choice" clip from Anchorman, a movie that came out more than ten years ago and was quoted to the point of death as of 2009 or so]
GIVE IT TO ME AGAIN!!!!!!
[Same clip, because why not double down on your unfunny and untopical reference?]
Re: the Bucks
Simmons: That’s part of my 2016 sports czar campaign — regular citizens will no longer be allowed to fund stadiums for professional sports owners if those owners spent the past two years destroying a players’ union in a one-sided lockout, creating an owner-friendly salary structure and doubling/tripling the value of their franchises with the latest media rights megadeal. The good people of Wisconsin shouldn’t spend ONE PENNY on that new stadium. Tell those billionaires to screw off.
Simmons, still pandering to Bucks fans after all these years because 50 diptards wrote the owner an email asking them to hire Bill for the front office. Kind of sad. Really sad, actually. Related note: fuck NBA owners. At least Bill and I can agree on that.
Re: the Hawks
Lowe: And yet despite all this — all the beauty of Mike Budenholzer’s system, all the talent on hand — you ranked them 10 spots lower than I did. Nothing divides us like the Hawks and Grizzlies. The Hawks are a delight to watch, and they have an awesome new court. Also, should we call Mike Scott the regional manager? The office manager? Does going by “Mike” instead of “Michael” invalidate this? The character Michael Scott was awful at basketball, but he was a chucker — just like Mike Scott!
Lowe wanted to make sure he got in on the untimely and unfunny references game.
Simmons: Why not just call him “The Office”?
OHMYGOD THAT WOULD BE PERFECT LET'S DO IT!!!!
Would you consider Charlotte a 2015 contender if they flipped Noah Vonleh AND Cody Zeller for Al Horford? Who says no? Sorry … you know I have to do this every 1,200 words. It’s part of my contract.
Simmons: Two pectoral tears, a racism scandal, a crazy ownership situation and possible tanking … maybe the Hawks ARE ranked correctly.
OH! Thank goodness. I was worried that the arbitrary ranking system you invented for this column might have produced some incorrect outputs. Good to see it's functioning flawlessly. NEWS FLASH ASSHOLE, IT'S YOUR SYSTEM. YOU DON'T LIKE IT, JUST CHANGE IT AND RANK THE TEAMS HOW YOU WANT TO. STOP DIDDLING YOURSELF AND JUST WRITE ABOUT BASKETBALL. FUCKING TITS. I HATE THIS GUY.
More from part 2 of this Simmons/Lowe "discussion" next week.