|Posted on January 23, 2013 at 8:05 PM|
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Considering that the Houston Rockets are an above .500 team and that the Lakers aren't even in the playoff picture, you could have definitely talked me into James Harden earning the starting spot with numbers that are nearly identical to Kobe’s:
Harden: 25.9 points, 5.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 43% FG, 1.9 threes
Bryant: 29.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 46% FG, 2.2 threes
But what Bryant is doing this season is simply amazing.
First, Kobe has to put up with his coach, Mike “It only took the league nine years to figure out that I know just as much about basketball as the guy on the Pringles container” D’Antoni, with whom Kobe doesn’t agree on anything. After Monday’s loss against the Chicago Bulls, Bryant said, “[We are] probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more.” After the exact same game, D’Antoni said, "Right now, we're better when we're small," and that the Lakers need to be “running” more.
RUNNING MORE! They don’t have one fast player on their entire team! D’Antoni is so fixed on applying his fastbreaking, three-point-shooting system to a team with the complete opposite personnel – a team with not a single solid three-point shooter on the roster, but one of the five best low post-players in the NBA in Pau Gasol – that he won’t even try to alter his system to better suit his players.
Dear Mike D’Antoni, if your system tells you to play at the second fastest pace in the league with four starters over 32 years old, it's time to change the system. If your system tells you to start Earl Clark over a guy who was scoring against double teams in the Olympic Gold Medal game (Pau Gasol), it's time to change the system.
But let’s not ignore Kobe Bryant’s flawed supporting cast, starring…
- Metta Chucks Threes (believe it or not, he changed his name again)
- Darius “It should be against the law to have me in the driver’s seat of the Mike D’Antoni offense on an NBA team for a solid month” Morris
- Earl Clark, who’s having a career year… scoring 4.4 points per game
- Pau Gasol, who couldn’t find the basket if his job depended on it, except his job does depend on it… although it probably doesn’t help that Lakers’ coach Mike “No time for defense, we only have seven seconds or less!” D’Antoni killed his confidence by benching him and having him play 20 feet away from the basket. Pau needs a change of scenery really badly, and since it doesn’t look like D’Antoni is willing to work with him, the Lakes need to trade him (hold that thought for 15 seconds).
- Dwight Howard, who is playing pick-and-roll defense at a junior high school level, shooting free-throws at a kindergarten level, and is displaying maturity at a preschool level (he paraded around the Lakers’ locker room after their loss to the Bulls pointing out that he only had five shot attempts, and told reporters, "There's nothing I can do”). He’s not happy in Los Angeles, he and Pau can’t play together at all (under D’Antoni, the Lakers have the worst scoring differential in the league with Howard and Gasol on the court together), and he’s going to leave as a free-agent this summer, which is why the Lakes need to trade him as well. The trade which makes the most sense is a three-teamer with the Atlanta Hawks and the Dallas Mavericks, which you can look at here.
On top of all this madness, Kobe Bryant is forced to heave up more shots a night than any other player in the league and guard the opposing team’s best player for the entire game, not an easy task for a guy in his 17th season, and yet he’s still producing 29 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists night in and night out.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
Best point guard in the NBA, period. He’s eons ahead of everyone else: Second in the league in assists, 50th in turnovers.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
There’s never been a 6’11’’ player in the history of the NBA who could handle the ball or shoot threes as well as Durant. He defines what we know about the evolution of the human species, and it’s not fair. Someone taller than Dwight Howard should not be able to blow by guards on the crossover, like he does on this play. When you put his height with his ball-handling and shot-making attributes, you get scores like the one in the video below, which are simply unstoppable. Did I mention that his percentages are 51% field goal shooting, 40% three point shooting, and 91% free throw shooting? And did I mention that he’s 24 years old?
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs should replace Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers
Duncan’s having his best season since 2007 (the last year the Spurs won the title), averaging 20.8 points, 3.3 assists, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per 36 minutes on 51% field goal shooting and 83% free throw shooting. He's just got to be starting.
David Lee, Golden State Warriors should replace Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
Anyone averaging 19.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game for an overperforming team should make it over a guy moving slower on defense than Kurt Thomas for an underperforming team.
Check out my picks for the Eastern Conference starting All-Stars!
Categories: All-Star Weekend