HOOP LOGIC WITH GOD FORBID’S DOC COYLE: LIN-FECTED!
Hey ballers! Welcome back to MetalSucks’ Hoop Logic, the only column on Earth where metal and NBA basketball collide, take a step back, and then collide again even harder. In our awesome fourth edition, God Forbid stud/NBA expert Doc Coyle takes a break from prepping new album Equilibrium (out March 26) and packing for this killer Overkill tour to talk hot NBA action with me, MS senior editor Anso DF. Hellz yeah! So join us as our Doc examines the Lin-fection that’s afflicting balls all over America, gives his prognosis for the sickly Lakers, checks for lumps on the newly announced All-Star team rosters, and more!
ITEM 1 At the peak of their dysfunction, the Knicks have unearthed an unlikely treasure in PG Jeremy Lin. Lin is the NBA’s only Asian-American and only alum of Harvard; most amazingly, Lin had hardly played before last week and was basically a last resort mid-season addition for his team. But then Lin immediately powered the woeful Knicks to five straight wins — while their two best scorers sit out — and now LINsanity fully grips the NBA. Mind-blowing, right?
Doc Coyle: At the time of this writing, the winning streak — or shall I say Lin-ning streak — is up to seven, and with a gimme game coming up against one of the NBA’s worst teams, the New Orleans Hornets, that streak should reach eight straight wins. Let’s face it, this is the biggest story in sports, to the point where it has transcended sports altogether and has become regular news. It’s all they are talking about on sports radio and ESPN. Hell, even Obama is talking about it. I don’t know if I can take it, I’ll have to go to a Lin-sane asylum. These puns never get old.
For those who don’t know the story (live under a rock much?), I’ll recount it very quickly: Undrafted Harvard grad Jeremy Lin, who was previously cut by the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, and was warming the far end of the Knicks bench for over a month, gets inserted into an underwhelming performance against the lowly NJ Nets as an act of desperation by Coach Mike D’Antoni. The Knicks record was 8-15 at the time, and they were the most disappointing team in the league. Then Lin scores 25 points and dishes eight assists, winning the game virtually by himself. The next game, Carmelo Anthony (groin) and Amare Stoudemire (death in family) go out. Lin goes on to break records for most points and assists (and turnovers) in his first five starts. The Knicks go undefeated without their stars and climb back into relevancy.
I have never even heard of anything like this, let alone witness it firsthand. It’s kinda hard to digest the fact that it has happened to my favorite NBA team within a couple weeks of my favorite football team’s Super Bowl victory. What is my reaction? Pinch me. I’ve just watched a group of guys that were playing the worst team basketball I’ve ever seen transform into a cohesive, energized unit that moves the ball, hustles, and cares about each other. They look like they are actually having fun. The turnaround is startling.
Two questions remain: Is Lin for real? Can they continue the success when Carmelo Anthony returns? My answers to each question is a tentative yes. I’ve watched every game except the Utah game, and I think Lin is for real. His on-the-ball defense is a bit questionable, but he’s smart and has quick hands. He also needs to get his turnovers under control. As for Melo, I don’t see how one of the game’s top scorers doesn’t make this team even better. I really think he wants to win, but Melo has to be willing to fit in and let the offense flow. Plus, he and Stoudemire have to commit more to defense. Their return is a defense downgrade from bench guys Jarred Jeffries and Bill Walker.
ITEM 1.1 Do you expect teams to adjust to Lin and his moves?
Doc: Teams already have started to adjust. Lin saw tons of traps and double teams on the pick and roll from the T-Wolves and Raptors. Hence the very high turnover rate. Plus, opposing teams, especially the point guards, are playing extra hard to not be shown up by this “new dude” who’s getting all this attention. A lot of people compare Lin to Steve Nash, but his slashing, finishing ability around the rim really reminds me of Tony Parker. The truth is when Melo comes back opponents won’t be able to double Lin. That’s the reason that I think things will actually get better. Just having someone to orchestrate the offense makes the Knicks a vastly better team. When Baron Davis (back) returns, the Knicks will have a nice point guard in the wings to run the floor when Lin rests. This Knicks team could be really scary come playoff time. Only time will tell.
ITEM 2 We talked about the underachieving Orlando Magic last week. Let’s talk about some overachievers this week: It’s no surprise that coach Doug Collins is getting great game from his 76ers, but holy shit could anyone have predicted this awesomeness from the Utah Jazz?
Doc: Actually the Utah Jazz have come down to earth, currently hovering at .500 and having lost seven of their last ten. I am not worried for the Jazz though. This season will be crazy. There will be lots of ups and downs with teams going hot and cold. We’ve already seen a bunch of teams start slow like the Mavs and Celtics, and some teams have been up and down like the Lakers, Nuggets, Magic, and Grizzlies. I love Utah’s frontline: Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap, Derrick Favors, and rookie Enes Kanter. All those dudes are 6’9 and taller, 250 lbs or more. So, prepare to get your ass beat up when you play the Jazz. Even if they finish around .500, it’s not a bad place to be after losing a franchise player like Deron Williams. Now, the truth is that PG Devin Harris just doesn’t have it anymore. Their guard play has to improve to compete with the big dogs in the league.
ITEM 3 Last week the NBA All-Star team rosters were unveiled. Awesome first timers include Pacers C Roy Hibbert, 76ers F Andre Iguodala, and Lakers C Andrew Bynum. What you think?
Doc: There are definitely a few questionable selections. I won’t talk about the obvious choices like Lebron and Kobe; those choices are obvious and require zero debate. I would like to mention guys who deserve it but for whom it could have gone either way:
First, Luol Deng is very deserving. He is the Bulls second-best player by far, and a team doesn’t win games at the Bulls’ rate with only one guy playing great. Deng is a top-five two-way player and always has to guard the opposing team’s most dangerous wing player. And he is also the only guy on the Bulls who can consistently create his own shot. Props to Lieutenant Deng!
Next, I am happy that Andre Iguodala made it. Philly was having too good of a season to not be represented in the All Star Game. Considering their top scorer comes off the bench, and they are the most balanced team in the league. Iggie made the most sense. He is their most talented and versatile player and probably the best distributor at the 3 spot after Lebron. He could average 20 if he wasn’t so unselfish. You want that dude on your team.
Out West, you have to give it up to Blazers C LeMarcus Aldridge who really deserved to be on the squad last year. Spurs G Tony Parker often gets left out because of huge depth at the point guard position in the Western Conference. Well deserved. You also can make the case that he was snubbed last year.
Now onto the guys who should not have made it: The only reason Grizzlies C Marc Gasol and Pacers C Roy Hibbert were named all stars is that the NBA requires team GM’s to select one center to each reserve squad. Al Jefferson from Utah deserves to be on the West All Stars more than Marc Gasol. You can make a case that Rudy Gay and Danny Granger deserve to represent their respective teams more than their centers.
And Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce aren’t even the best players on their own teams this year. And because of the Nets’ awful record, it’s questionable whether Deron Williams deserves his spot. I get the feeling these GM’s select the reserves based on reputation and not specifically on current performance. But this season, there are too few games to base these decisions on. A third of the season is not enough time to make quality judgements.
ITEM 3.1 I’m glad Deron Williams made the team; it will help him stave off a frustration-induced breakdown. But some standout snubs include Hawks F Josh Smith and Warriors G Monta Ellis. To you, who got overlooked?
Doc: Josh Smith seems to be the most obvious snub. He is as dominant on the defensive side as he is on offense, and he’s kept the Hawks winning with Al Horford out. And I’m high on Al Jefferson. He is one of the few big men with a truly effective low-post game. The guy has been hovering around 20 and 10 his whole career, and yet everyone is talking about Paul Milsap; I like Milsap, but he’s the second best player on his team. Many pundits just repeat what their peers are saying. No respect for Jefferson. Kyle Lowery probably should have made it, but there are just too many good point guards in the west. Out East, I would have liked to see Rajon Rondo, and Tyson Chandler is having a great season. Monta Ellis is nasty, but he’s not gonna get any love until the Warriors start winning. They reward winners with All Star action.
ITEM 3.2 On the flipside, who made it undeservedly? Dirk Nowitzki right?
Doc: Dirk Nowitzki’s all-star appointment amounts to a lifetime achievement award for his legendary 2011 playoffs and Finals performance. Even he said he didn’t deserve to be an all star. I would have rather seen Danilo Gallinari, Al Jefferson, or Kyle Lowry in his place. I hate this type of selection. He already has a million All Star appearances. Missing one won’t kill him, while some of these young guys now playing at a high level may never get another chance. I say you should always give it to the young guy.
ITEM 3.3 At age 38, Steve Nash has made his eighth All-Star team. Amazing right?
Doc: Steve Nash is doing things at 38 that no one should (leading the league in assists and top ten in FG%). He is keeping his Suns team competitive despite below-average talent. Please, someone trade for this man and put him on a contending team. Except the Heat. They will be invincible if they get Nash.
ITEM 3.4 Nash definitely needs a championship ring. Hey, will you miss Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett, who miss their first All-Star game since the freaking ’90s?
Doc: Nope. They had their time. I’m ready to see some fresh blood. Duncan should not have made it last year either.
ITEM 4 At the time of this writing, the Lakers are taking a long look at available-but-expensive PG Gilbert Arenas. Doc, what do you think of Gil and does he signify desperation on the part of the talent-packed but awful Lakers? If the Lakers problem is bad chemistry, then what can a renowned headcase contribute?
Doc: Kobe Bryant said it the best,”It can’t hurt.” The Lakers have the worst bench in the league, and they have a 37-year old point guard who can’t stay in front of anyone anymore. Their problem isn’t chemistry. The Lakers problem is having only three players who contribute on a regular basis. The reason that Kobe is leading the league in scoring is that he has to score that much. This Lakers team has always been best with balanced scoring and with Kobe scoring 25 rather than 40.
But Arenas will not be expensive. He was amnestied earlier this year, which means he already got the money from his very large contract. He can sign for the veteran’s minimum and still be one of the highest paid players in the league. Also, he had the same knee surgery in Germany that Kobe had. That has done wonders for Kobe’s game. In his prime, Gilbert Arenas was one of the best. His issues lately are clearly directly to his knee injury, so if he looks good in the workouts, give him a shot.
I also don’t think this Lakers team is done making changes. I heard a rumor that there is a trade in the works that would send Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol away for Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, and Luis Scola in a three-way trade with Orlando and Houston. This would not surprise me. The Lakers are still in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. We will know in a month or so when the trade deadline hits.
— Doc Coyle, God Forbid
God Forbid has set March 26 for release of their sixth album, Equilibrium (pre-order here). Check out a new snippet here and get your tickets here for their awesome tour with Overkill, Diamond Plate, and Suidakra.