By Sherwood Strauss
I’d favor Tyreke, and it’s pretty damn close. The choice should be made for the right reasons, though. Upon watching “Inside the NBA,” I fear the stupid. Longer term, I fear for Stephen Curry’s rep.
No one likes to admit it, but Kenny Smith is a force of dumb when it comes to NBA commentary (Hey, I enjoy him–I just don’t respect his knowledge). And no, I don’t care that he played the game. If we learned anything from an era that saw the rise of “Moneyball” parallel the fall of Isaiah Thomas, it’s that jocks have a tangential connection to understanding their own professions. Sort of like how the Warriors have a tangential connection to winning.
Running a great pick and roll doesn’t equal understanding who the best pick and rollers are (Were I undermining my point, I’d claim Kenny just chucked open shots bequeathed by Hakeem, which possibly explains his lack of basketball IQ).
Just a couple months ago, I fainted when El Jet proclaimed the Celtics better than the Cavs. Well I didn’t faint, but I would have if my anger did not act as a natural smelling salt. So when Kenny tried to denigrate Curry’s accomplishments, I was primed to rage. Smith thinks Curry’s stats in this Warriors hellscape don’t mean much because he “essentially gets to play streetball on a losing team.”
Perhaps Smith is obliquely referring to pace factor, in which case, yes, a fast pace inflates Curry’s conventional numbers. But his advanced metrics aren’t too shabby either. I give you a 16.32 PER (not my favorite stat, but that’s another topic for another day). You want a +2.6 on a wretched team? You got your +2.6 on a wretched team (not my favorite stat, but that’s another topic for another day). I like his 56.8% true shooting percentage (Not my favorite stat…), and I’ll quit while I’m still using numbers within my comprehension boundaries.
It’s not Kenny Smith’s conclusion (Curry’s the No. 3 rook) that bothers me: It’s the lame, intellectually lazy reasoning behind it. There’s a bizarre conventional wisdom out there that says players on bad teams get inflated stats. Logic would dictate that whatever dregs are left on a bad team get the points (our D-Leaguers know that). But that doesn’t mean those points will come efficiently. Put more succinctly: Monta. Curry has been efficient, and since the All-Star break, dude’s been an offensive machine. That’s not attributable to some magic streetball potion. It’s all on Steph. He earned it.
Another hated aspect of Kenny’s fixtures is his overemphasis of team success. Yearly, I suffer through Smith’s dumb All Star picks, when “Kinny” (Chuck voice) will take the best team and essentially read out the roster. A few seasons ago, I wouldn’t have been shocked had Smith chosen eight Detroit Pistons. So it’s not surprising when KS selects Jennings because BJ’s team made the playoffs.
There are logical arguments to make on behalf of Jennings, and BJ really killed it in his first playoff game. But please, let’s not do the whole, “His team made the playoffs, therefore he’s ROY!” thing. That argument could be made on James Harden’s behalf.
Drawing this back to Curry, sans segue, how does a “style” miraculously make a player’s performance? Why do casual NBA fans believe it’s impossible to suck when playing for the Warriors. I’m not even going to dignify such assumptions with a response (unless you count this blog post as a response to such assumptions).
• Joakim Noah’s knack for tapping into Clevelander insecurity is hilariously douchefied. I’m among the many entertained by his (truthfully) negative assessments of the Mistake by the Lake. But I’m not in love with how sports media is covering his Cleveland-baiting. As in, what if Joakim was less articulate and of poorer stock? I doubt NBA mavens would be amused by his sore loser shtick. Noah acts like victory is his birthright, and cries foul whenever he’s beaten. I’m hearing all this “What a winner!” talk about Noah when we should probably be saying, “What a spoiled, rich-kid loser.”
• I’m slowly warming to Jerry Sloan. Jerry, I’m sure you had your reasons for yelling at John Amaechi (Side note: I was working on a Salon.com photo slideshow, and needed to find a speech expert. I researched some BBC reality show called “The Speaker” and guess which former Jazz center was on the program’s expert panel? Too bad a cranky John Amaechi called me back four hours too late, because that would have been the novelty interview of my lifetime.)
• Lebron bopped on James Johnson, but the greatness of the moment was lost on people who were still at work during the dunk. Johnson was flailing at LBJ 35 feet out, like some Bruce Bowen wannabe. After Johnson got crushed on…not so much with the flailing. It was like watching an excitable puppy get zapped by the electric fence collar.
• The Warriors will gift Randolph/Biedrins for Jeff Green.
• I hated on Jeff Green for all this time, but I predict he’ll have a great Game 3. I call this “pulling a Kawakami.” As in, after constantly ragging on a player/organization, you prognosticate a minor success (as to prove you’re not biased). Then, upon the player/organization falling short of expectations, you gleefully trumpet the shortfall as more evidence toward your negative assessment. Tim’s an original, I’m consistently amused by the TK dance.
• I keep hearing that Jeff Green can “guard multiple positions,” which is a lot like saying, “I can date multiple supermodels.” Just because you want something doesn’t make it so. Actually, maybe it’s more accurate to say that just because you want to do something, doesn’t mean it’s a smart idea. As Chris Rock would yell: “You can drive a car with your feet with you want to, but that doesn’t mean it is to be done!”
• Kobe’s shooting his team out of easy victories. Credit Charles Barkley for noticing LA’s criminal low-post-avoidance.