HOOP LOGIC: GOD FORBID GUITARIST DOC COYLE ON THE NBA, VOLUME III
Hey MetalSucks readers! It’s me Anso DF, MS senior editor and NBA mega-fan. I’m up here in italics to welcome you to this week’s installment of God Forbid guitarist/NBA expert Doc Coyle’s awesome Hoop Logic column. I love NBA trends, tricks, talk, and TV, so for this third edition, I backed Doc into a corner and hammered him about the league’s hot issues. Are we metal’s Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson, but with tighter bods and fouler mouths? You be the judge!
ITEM 1 The Orlando Magic: A core of All-Star players with recent NBA finals experience. A superstar on the trade block. A dearth of team chemistry. A string of blowout losses. Are the Magic in big trouble?
Doc Coyle: I think it’s now clear that Orlando’s quick start was an aberration caused by Hedo Turkoglu’s early return to form and Ryan Anderson’s Most Improved Player-level start. Now that those two shooters have come down to earth a bit, and Jason Richardson’s and Jameer Nelson’s age is starting to show, this Magic team is more reminiscent of last season’s Magic: the best center in the league surrounded by good, not great, talent. The model is actually not too dissimilar from the Lebron James’ Cavs of 2005-2010. There are only a few guys that can carry an NBA team, but when the weight of an impending trade slowly deteriorates locker room camaraderie, the cracks will show on the court.
At the season’s start, I believed that Dwight Howard had a pretty good chance of returning to Orlando for a few
reasons: One, he had been with the team for eight years (longer than Lebron, Carmelo, and Chris Paul stayed with their respective draft teams). Two, Howard seems like a good, loyal guy who cares about that city. Three, Orlando is a pretty big market, so the Magic organization is not afraid to spend money; they have one of the league’s highest payrolls and just built a luxurious new arena. Four, the Magic are a pretty good team with potential to benefit from some crafty maneuvering (although they’re handcuffed by a couple difficult-to-unload contracts). Also, the loss of Rashard Lewis, Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, and Mikael Pietrus now seem ill-advised, but they had hit a similar wall last year and gambled big.
But recent reports state that D12 is on the way out, especially after the recent bad losses. Supposedly, the Magic’s plan was to keep him until after the All Star Game — in Orlando this year — so as not to ruffle any feathers in an event with political ramifications. And the truth is that losing a star is not the end of the world. In fact, Denver and Utah have come out on top of their respective superstar trades, with drastically better records than their trade counterparts, Tri-State-area disappointments New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets.
Even the Cavs have rebounded rather quickly, scoring two of the top three picks in the 2011 draft and netting franchise player Kyrie Irving, possibly the best natural point guard since Chris Paul. If the Magic send Howard to the Knicks for Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler, they get 30 points and 18 rebounds in exchange for Howard’s 20 points and 15 rebounds. That’s two top-25 players. Then unload Tukoglu’s shitty contract. They could do a lot worse. Make the best deal. The Orlando Magic will be alright.
ITEM 2 Last Monday, Clippers F Blake Griffin perpetrated the year’s (and possibly NBA history’s) most brain-smashing dunk over Thunder C Kendrick Perkins (above). In its wake, the jam’s legend status was cemented by a roar of fan appreciation. Did that slam rock your face, Doc?
Doc: Let’s be clear about one thing: The main reason I watch NBA basketball is to witness superhuman shit. For fundamentals, go watch the WNBA. And I was watching the game as this happened. I screamed in disbelief at the television for about two minutes. It’s one of the few dunk highlights that’s more impressive in real time than in slow motion because you can feel the power and high degree of difficulty. Perkins is 6’10”, 280 pounds. He’s one of the toughest guys in the league. So it’s pretty crazy for Blake to do that to Perk. This is more proof that Blake Griffin is special and maybe the most athletic guy ever at his size. He’s almost a hybrid of Shaq and LeBron.
You gotta respect it.
I heard Kevin Durant was all butthurt about the public reaction and complained that the first-place Thunder still weren’t getting their deserved respect. Someone needs to give him some cheese with all those sour grapes. He needs to get over it. Blake gets attention because he does phenomenal things — but so does Kevin Durant. Basketball people know that Durant is a top-two or -three player in the league and that his Thunder might be the NBA’s best team. They are getting their respect. What Durant needs to worry about is the fact that his team lost that game to the Clippers, and I think the Clips have more talent. It could be insecurity in his voice as the Thunder have a contender on their heels.
ITEM 3 LeBron James’ all-powerful Miami Heat (18-6) are 0-2 against the Milwaukee Bucks (10-13). What the hell? Are the Heat for real or not?
Doc: Despite a pair of losses to the Bucks, the Heat are the frontrunners to win the title this year. And the Bucks are better than people think. They look like a contender to make the playoffs this year with a surefire All-Star reserve in PG Brandon Jennings. They also beat the Spurs, Rockets, and Lakers.
I can point out three games that the Heat seemed to have had wrapped up, but then stumbled under pressure. They could’ve been the only three-loss team in the NBA. So I’m not worried. They have tools that no other team in the league has. Lebron James is playing on another planet. Chris Bosh has proven he is an indispensable part of the Big 3 (despite Shaq hating on him). They have better chemistry this year, and are deeper at every position.The truth is that no one will remember some early-season game you lost to an average team. Nothing matters expect the playoffs.
Last year, the Spurs and Celtics each had the best record in their conferences at the All-Star Break, and what did that do for them in the playoffs? This lockout season will favor young, deep teams because of the frantic schedule and ever-growing number of injuries. So I am not surprised about the current division leaders. I think the playoffs will be about who is healthy and who is clicking at the right time; anything could happen. Shit, the last lockout season (2000) had an eighth-seed Knicks team with a .500 record go all the way to the Finals.
If the Heat can figure out how to close games, then no one will stop them. Barring major injuries of course.
Image by Doc Funk // docfunk.tumblr.com
ITEM 4 I’m bummed about how referees are handling offensive charge vs. defensive block calls. Plus, the practice of “drawing a charge” encourages play that runs counter to the spirit of basketball and creates huge potential for horrific injuries. What do you think, man?
Doc: The biggest problem with this call is the incessant flopping. I would like to see more no-calls. Off-the-ball flops should be ignored, and obvious flops should be punished with a technical foul. Players have become so good at snapping their head back or contorting their bodies after a play that it has become kind of ridiculous. Derrick Rose and Chris Paul are particularly good at this.
I also wish they would just let guys bang more. Some of the calls in the post, especially with a guy like Dwight Howard, just seem kind of arbitrary. I see two guys banging on the block, and most of the time, there is no culprit — both guys are fighting for position equally. I just wish they would let them play.
Doc Coyle’s God Forbid plays Brooklyn on Feb. 18, Clifton, NJ on Feb. 24, and Springfield, VA on May 11 (with Overkill). Dates here.