Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spottieottiedopalicious

(Editor's Note: If you need help with the title, go here. After reading, hopefully you'll catch the relation between title and post.)

After watching Nuggets-Lakers last night, I see some startling correlations between a team's offensive philosophy and they way that roster is constructed. What I mean is that the more chaotically uptempo a team plays, the more castaways that are present on that team.

The biggest example of this is the Nuggets. They look like the Association's answer to "The Longest Yard." Let's see. There's 'Melo—who seems to be sort of the Forgotten Man among the great class of 2003 as Wade and 'Bron ascend to Justice League status. J.R. Smith, who just can't seem to focus his absurd talent enough to be more than just a long-distance mercenary off the bench. They added the Birdman, the former drug addict looking for a fresh start among his semi-kinfolk. Even Nene' has been converted, and now rocks the cornrows. Perhaps the best example is Ronaldo Balkman, who is a Knicks throwaway and branded as a scrub because he was drafted by Zeke. But he is an energy guy in the second unit that heavily contributes on the defensive end for a team that plays little defense. At Denver's epicenter is Billups, a former outcast himself that found maturity in the D; and is now being brought in as the mentor who has traveled down that wayward path to stabilize the scatterbrained Nugs and teach them concentration and winning. Mainstream may be blinded by all the tattooed ink that they may not see that Nuggets are a damn good basketball team.

Another example is the Phoenix Suns under D'Antoni's influence. Those that have found oasis in the Desert include another throwaway Celtic, a Maestro without an orchestra, an allegedly immature high school monster, a small forward that can only function at the 4, Atlanta's tossed-out versatile Frenchman, Raja Bell, a man that found his ankles, Superman: Resurrected, and Matt Barnes. All these players had been thought of as expendable at one point; yet have become relevant again or have elevated his place in the Association by going through Phoenix. It also doesn't hurt to play in a style in which the goal is to attempt a shot in the first third of the shot clock.

I first began noticing the outcast/uptempo correlation by watching everyone's recent darling, the 2006-2007 Golden State Warriors. With Boom Dizzle as their brash flag bearer that Chris Paul made everyone loathe in the Big Easy, and Stack Jack as their Ride-or-Die Fearless Captain, they held the NBA captive with their Bay Area lawlessness—rather, their making of their own laws and giving the proverbial bird to "conventional" positions and just played ball. S-Jax is interesting because he's viewed by most as a convict in a headband; but in NBA circles he's very respected as a great teammate—even when he was in the Land of Bland that is the Spurs' locker room. This current band of Warriors may not have the same appeal as the one that toppled the Mavs, but Anthony Randolph is the individual definition of Basketball anarchy. Just throwing that out there.

But why does this outcast/uptempo correlation exist? It may be because those players mentioned don't play basketball in the traditional sense, therefore must reside on teams that don't play the purists' Way. In contrast, to me, the Spurs look like the kind of guys that crack observational jokes that are funny, but funny on an intellectual level. The Warriors look like the guys that will snap on anyone and everyone, and while they may not mean a word of it, no one would dare challenge them—either to the Dozens or the physical. While I love the fundamentals of Timmy, it's nice to see J.R. Smith pull from 30 feet. Both are a pleasure to watch.

Peace.