Hoop Logic with God Forbid’s Doc Coyle: A Very Merry NBA TR00 or FALSE
Hey heavy metal people! It’s me, MetalSucks senior editor Anso DF, proudly directing your eyeballs to a very special MetalSucks Hoop Logic with God Fobid’s Doc Coyle! He’s not just an ace guitar player/teacher, awesome singer, cool dude, and black-belt bonermaster — he’s also a brilliant basketball mind and a sly rake. Take Thursday night, when I ribbed Doc about his state of Knicks Fan Total Worry (KFTW) but then bam, sure enough, a Knicks rout of the Lakers turned tense in the second half when Kobe and crew stabilized and threatened. JUST LIKE DOC SAID. So what other NBA assumptions can Doc endorse or debunk? Read on for a very special holiday edition of Hoop Logic TR00 or FALSE!
Doc Coyle, God Forbid: I am going to be very diplomatic here. Joakim Noah is a player you love if he plays for your team — and absolutely hate when he’s playing against you. He’s one of the best under-the-radar talents in the league among centers. He’s a top-five defender at his position, perhaps the best passing big man that isn’t a member of the Gasol family, and a provider of the intangible intensity that leads to a winning spirit (like Tyson Chandler). His current line of 13.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.3 APG, 2.3 BPG, and 1.4 SPG, and his help keeping the Chicago Bulls’ record above .500 in Derrick Rose’s absence, will earn Noah serious All Star consideration and deservedly so. That’s the only reason he’s allowed to do the goofy ‘gunslinger’ move. Once Derrick Rose is back, and Noah doesn’t have to carry the team, I’ll be back on the Joakim Noah hater squad.
TR00 or FALSE The Lakers have a serious hustle problem and it starts with Howard.
DOC: I am going TR00 on this question, but with serious reservation and humility because the Lakers debacle has stumped the brightest basketball minds around. First let’s be real, Dwight Howard has not been the dominant player we know, and that tells me he isn’t recovered from his back injury. Defense has been the Lakers main issue, and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year should clean up a lot of mistakes, but it’s not happening. D12 doesn’t have his lateral quickness and lift, which is imperative for the big man on a pick-and-roll and backline help defense. Even with all that, there seems to be some stink left on Howard from last season’s Dwightmare, and there is a lack of enthusiasm on the court with this team that is somehow filtered through him. His reputation has been hurt as a team player also with the uncertainty around his forthcoming free agency.
Let’s be honest again: You do not have a super team if your super guys aren’t there. Steve Nash hasn’t played, Steve Blake is out for two months, Pau Gasol has been out — and was apparently playing hurt — and the bench hasn’t performed as advertised. The situation has just snowballed, and the air around this team has become toxic. Basketball doesn’t work when you aren’t having fun and you don’t believe. It’s wholly ironic that this L.A. team with major star power, with no point guards, and coached by Mike D’Antoni is tailspinning less than a year after the exact same scenario in New York. Is Jeremy Lin available to save the day?
I believe they can turn it around. But a team of Kobe, Dwight, and spare parts won’t get it done. Unlike many, I am open to trading Gasol for a stretch 4 and a good back-up point guard. Sometimes it’s not about having the best players, it’s about having players that compliment each other the best. Dwight Howard needs shooters to space the floor, and the Lakers NEED a good back up PG in case Nash goes down again — and even when he’s healthy; at his age, he can’t play 35 minutes every night. That Toronto deal for Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon would cool some concerns even if each is a liability on defense. [Such a deal now may be endangered by Bargnani’s injury on Wednesday. — Ed.]
TR00 or FALSE Amar’e Stoudemire’s return will disrupt the Knick’s surprising successful run and bring his team crashing back down to earth.
DOC: This is all I have been hearing from EVERYONE. It’s almost like there is a script going around. This echo-chamber analysis is weak as fuck, and I’m gonna set this straight: Amar’e’s return will take the Knicks to the next level, not backwards.
The Knicks are one of the best offenses in the NBA, but Amar’e will make it perhaps the league’s top offense. The shooting percentages of second and third options Felton and JR Smith are hovering around 40%, and this will hurt the Knicks in the long run. More shots for Stoudemire will make the Knicks offense much more efficient and raise their profile in the paint. Also, this gives NYC a true alternate go-to-guy while Melo rests. STAT struggled last year with no point guard to get him the ball in the right spots. Now he has three (!) pure PGs to run pick and roll, feed him all day, and make the game easy for him.
I admit that Stoudemire is a weak defender, but in no way do I believe that he represent a real drop-off from Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas, the old-timers now filling the gap at power forward and backup center. Plus you can’t count on the older players to stay healthy over 82 games. The Knicks will need depth in the front court.
Another thing that hasn’t been mentioned much is that the Knicks have won in spite of their low rebounding numbers. Melo is great at the 4, but for the long term the team needs big bodies there to match up against the front-court size of the Grizzlies, Lakers, and Nets. Even though Melo has been playing at power forward, he is usually guarded by the opp0nent’s small forward; having Amar’e there will not effect this dynamic, and will protect Melo from getting beat up guarding and boxing out bigs on the block all year.
Whether Stoudemire is to come off the bench remains to be seen, but even that supports my last point: The Knicks were 6-1 with Melo and Stat starting together while Mike Woodson was coaching. All of the reported struggles were with the Mike D’Antoni no-point-guard team, the one that couldn’t find a way to integrate Melo and Amar’e because of the coach’s inability to adapt to his team. I have faith that Woodson knows his team and how to make it all work. This is finally the Knicks squad that we thought we were getting last year and had high expectations, so I’m still not sure how more talent could make you a worse team. If they stay healthy, getting Stoudemire back gives the Knicks a real chance to contend for a title. (Disclaimer: If I am wrong about this, I will have to eat some serious crow.)
TR00 or FALSE Durant and Lebron were named NBA Players Of The Month for November. For December, the most deserving are Zach Randolph and Raymond Felton.
DOC: The big problem with being the world’s best two players is this: People stop being impressed with your god-like consistent production. Fans and pundits both tend to give more credit to players and teams that we have low expectations for, and not nearly enough credit to those that we expect a lot from. LBJ and Durantula are the best players in the NBA and it’s not even close, and they play for the best teams of their respective conferences. They are also the league’s top Player Efficiency Rating (PER) guys by a decent margin. The only other guy even in the conversation this season is Carmelo Anthony because of the Knicks great start and he alone is “the guy” on his team, and may have more overall value to his team with no Dwayne Wade or Russell Westbrook at his side. Purely as individual players though, Melo is LeBron and Durant’s equal only as scorers, but they are superior in every other aspect of the game. As great as Melo has been, if OKC finishes this season with the best record, Durant gets my MVP vote. Let’s not forget about Chris Paul as a dark horse if the Clips keep rolling.
As for Felton and Zach Randolph, those guys are having big years but just aren’t in the same class. Again, it’s a matter of expectation. Last year, everyone counted out Raymond Felton; let’s just say if I had a dollar for every fat joke I heard, I would be very prepared at strip clubs. The fact that Felton has pretty much returned to his 2010 form, and the Knicks are killing it goes against expectations and now the Felton bandwagon is full. It’s the same with Zach Randolph. He was unable to live up to his incredible 2010 playoff performance because of injuries last season. Now he’s even better than he was, and the Grizzlies are a real contender.
I’ll give you another example of the expectations game: Last year, Knicks PF Amar’e Stoudemire was considered to be one of the most disappointing players because his PPG and FG% dropped sharply from his 2010-11 MVP candidate season. Yet he finished with a line almost identical to Chris Bosh’s (around 18 pts, eight boards, shooting roughly 48%). Bosh made the All-Star team easily, and wasn’t criticized — because his expectations and output were consistent from the previous season.
TR00 or FALSE ESPN commentator Hubie Brown is a lucid, insightful, sweet, logical, and nuanced NBA educator who continues to teach u stuff.
DOC: Hubie Brown reminds me a lot of my grandfather, a basketball ref and coach, who taught me my fundamentals when I was a kid. Like my grandfather, Hubie is always educating you about the game. My favorite on-air team is Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen, but Hubie is best at expressing the logic behind the events. He may give you lots of numbers, but his research tells a story. So you not only learn what is happening, but why it’s happening. You can tell he is someone who has lived and breathed the game for most of his life. He’s not getting any younger, so let’s appreciate Grandpa Hubie while we still have him.
DOC: I’m not sure I can watch twelve straight hours of B-Ball glory, but the first three games are essential viewing: Celtics-Nets, Lakers-Knicks, and Thunder-Heat. That will be my Christmas present to myself, and my gift to you guys will be some snarky tweeting.