Monday, August 20, 2012

Comparing Today's NBA Players to Today's Rappers

I was born in 1990. I was just a kid during the golden era of hip-hop and the championship run of Michael Jordan's Bulls, but the 90s are still close to my heart. I sit back and watch Fresh-Prince before work, bump Illmatic and wear slap bracelets when I'm feeling crazy. There's a lot of nostalgia for the 90s going on right now and with good reason. The mainstream creativity of this generation sucks. Don't get me wrong there are tons of talented people out there in a number of fields (technology, fashion, film); however have you listened to the radio lately? Or turned on the TV? Shitty music and terrible reality shows dominate the airwaves. Now, don't get me wrong there is still good music and TV out there, but its hard to find.

Today's NBA is actually in a much better place than today's music or TV. Tons of talent and tons of excitement right now. I'm a huge fan of all music, seriously I'll give anything a listen, but rap is closest to my heart. Today I want to compare the music scene to hoops by way of matching players to rappers. Lets begin...

Kevin Love/Action Bronson

Action Bronson is a raw ass dude from New York, with immense skill and incredible delivery. This guy is a throwback to the old days of rap. He's spitting street stuff through complex rhymes coupled with a voice reminiscent of Ghostface Killah. His counterpart, Kevin Love, is also a throwback to the old days. Love doesn't go out on the court and overwhelm you with ahtleticism, he does it with his brain and ever-expanding skill set. There's not a lot of flash to Love's game, but there is a shit load of substance. He boxes out well, shoots with great form and makes the right plays. Love isn't out there trying to break backboards and smash rims, he's trying to find the open space on the court, use his body to create space and exploit the defenses weakness. These guys are complete opposites in terms of appearance, but in terms of bringing the old school back they do it admirably.

Tim Duncan/Nas

I know what you're thinking. This is absolutely ridiculous. Let me explain though. Tim Duncan, one of the all-time greats, proven track record, longjevity, still schooling the young heads. Nas, one of the all-time greats, proven track record, longjevity, still out classing the younger generation. Nas and Timmy D have more in common than people would think. Duncan rarely talks, but when he does its captivating. Nas obviously speaks more than Duncan, well because he raps, but like Duncan he's ever insightful. What makes these guys most similar to me is the fact that they both are still doing it despite the odds. Duncan is still one of the driving forces behind the Spurs despite the fact that he's "old," and has "lost a step." Nas just put out his 10th album to much acclaim despite haters saying he was finished. Hell, they thought he was finished after Jay-z did "Takeover." While Nas may not be the 17-year-old who wrote Illmatic and Duncan not the guy who won four rings, they're still at the top. What these guys both have endless amounts of is skill, which allows each to thrive regardless of age and the changes in their respective fields of work.

LeBron James/Drake

This is another one that probably doesn't make sense off the bat, but give me a chance. LeBron James and Drake are both at the top of their professions. I don't think Drake is the most skilled rapper or the best or that he even says anything profound, but Drake is at the top of the rap game. Don't believe me? Turn on a radio or go to a show and see the legion of Drake fans out there. It says a lot about the state of hip-hop, but that is where we are.

LeBron is clearly the best basketball player on the planet at the moment. He scores, he rebounds, he passes, he defends, he does it all. LeBron has been the best in the game for years now, but certain critics were blinded by hate and never gave him his just due. This year, with another MVP trophy, his first championship and a gold medal, LeBron has separated himself.

Why are Drake and LeBron similar? When they came out, both had a buzz and were anointed without ever achieving anything. LeBron the "king," Drake the "first name greatest, last name ever." The credit they received angered both hip-hop heads and basketball critics alike. That anger turned into hate, which became as abundant as oxygen for both men.

Like I said, Drake isn't a profound artist in my opinion, but he does have skill and can obviously put a song together. I used to be a big fan, but he's gotten a little out of control and full of himself over the last couple of years. LeBron, like Drake, was hated on and ridiculed despite obvious skill and numbers to back claims of greatness. It wasn't until this spring that LeBron was able to send a huge fuck you to the haters and get his first ring. Unfortunately, for Drake, music has no championship and has much more room for subjectivity. Drake could put together a real hip-hop classic and will still have his detractors. That's just music.

I think people would like LeBron and Drake more if we knew the real them. Drake is a mixed, jewish kid from Toronto who sometimes acts like a thug from the south or a pussy whipped character from a Nicolas Sparks book. Who are you really? And LeBron is a guy who never says anything controversial and does every interview like its scripted. LeBron has shaken the hate now, but in years past if he would've just been real people would have respected him much more.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dwight's Journey is Done

The Dwight Howard saga is over. According to ESPN "A four-team trade that would send Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers is complete, multiple sources told ESPN on Thursday night. A source with direct knowledge of the talks told’s Marc Stein the Lakers will receive Howard, the Denver Nuggets will acquire Andre Iguodala, the 76ers will receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, and the Magic will get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and one protected future first-round pick from each of the other three teams."

This is the biggest trade in recent memory. This is bigger than Deron Williams to the Nets and its bigger than Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. Dwight Howard going to the Lakers is the be all end all of trades. In my opinion Dwight Howard is the third most valuable player in the league. I came to that conclusion through this thought process. If I was going to trade LeBron James or Kevin Durant the only guy you could give me back in exchange for them is each other or Dwight Howard. Dwight may not be the third best player in the league, but he has the third most value. I would trade Kevin Durant for Dwight way before I would trade him for Chris Paul or Kobe and the same can be said for LeBron James.

Howard is simply a game changer. He plays defense, rebounds, hustles and is improving his offensive game each season. Not to mention, he is only 26.

Some good came of this trade for each team except the Orlando Magic. How was Pau not included? What kind of incriminating information do the Lakers have over every team in the league? Every time it looks like they are out they pull something like this. I mean its incredible.

I was a little surprised that Denver took Andre Iguodala considering how many guys they have that play the wing already, but he can step in at shooting guard immediately and have a bigger impact than Afflalo did. With Iguodala, Lawson, Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler running the break, Denver could be scary. I could see this team competing for a ring in a couple of years based the amount of talent they have. Its just a matter now of cultivating it and turning it into something special. They could be like the Detroit Pistons in 04' if everything falls in to place correctly.

The Sixers are probably the most slept on in this whole trade. Adding Andrew Bynum solidifies that team. They still can't beat Miami and probably won't move passed Boston, but they can compete with everyone else in the east now. Bynum is a big man surrounded by a bunch of guys that will "give me the f*cking ball." This is another team that is young and has talent. I doubt they will turn into something special, but they have a great piece to build around. mean why? Was it the best?...I just...I can't even find the words.

Lastly, the Lakers have no excuses. They have a starting line-up that includs five guys who have been all-stars and at one point were the best player on a playoff team. No other team in the NBA could say that. This trade puts the Lakers ahead of the Spurs and in direct contention with the Thunder. If Kobe really is as good as he thinks then he should win it. I don't want to hear about Miami taking a year because that's BS. That team wasn't this good by any means. LA has to get it done to earn any respect from me. And please, lets quit any Kobe to Jordan comparisons from now on. If Jordan was on this team they would win 75 games. If LeBron was on this team they would win 75 games. Kobe on this team? better be 65 at least.

One final thought, this trade shows me that LeBron is better than Kobe at this point without questoin (I think hes been better for years anyway). If LeBron was on this team in place of Kobe I have no doubt they would win a ring. With Kobe on the team I still don't know.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Top 5 PGs in the NBA

Point guards are the premiere players in the NBA right now. Every competitive team has a competent one and on probably 1/3 of teams he is the best player. In the NFL the quarterback is the most important player on the team and in the NBA it may be the point guard. Even LeBron James who is a "small forward" really plays more of a point guard position on offense. He initiates often, makes plays and has the ball in his hands more than anyone else.

Before I go into the top five I just want to name off some guys who barely missed the list, but are still incredible point guards.

Derrick Rose- Purely because of his injury I'm going to leave him off the list. Everyone knows he's top 5 at this position and possibly top 5 in the league.

Stephen Curry- Great player with an awesome shooting stroke and a high basketball IQ. Hopefully he can stay healthy.

Kyrie Irving- Future star. All the potential in the world.

Brandon Jennings- One of the quickest guys in the league who can get hot at anytime and is developing more skills as a pure point.

#5.5 Steve Nash
There isn't much I can say about Steve Nash that people don't already know. He's possibly the best shooter in the league (peep his stats), he is arguably the best passer and I'll say he is the smartest offensive player in the NBA. On the offensive end Steve Nash has no weaknesses. The Lakers are extremely fortunate to have such an elite player coming to their team. The one knock is of course his defense, but when a guy is this good on O, who cares?

#5 Tony Parker
After a somewhat down year Tony Parker came back this season with a vengeance. He dominated during the regular season with the offensive changed that Coach Pop made. With the ball in his hands Tony Parker was simply dominant. Assists numbers were at a career high and the point production didn't waiver at all. TP was truly impressive this year, as was his whole team. He really just continued to do the things we were accustomed to, but at an even higher level. Tony Parker is probably the most underrated player of his generation and definitely at his position, but everyone knows hes one of the best to do it over the last 15 years.

#4 Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook as just a pure basketball player may be top 10 in the league, but as a pure point guard he may not be. By pure point guard I'm talking the days of Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash pure. Guys who pass first with amazing court vision and an Einstein like IQ. Westbrook is this new age hybrid who is essentially a mini-LeBron with less passing ability. He can fly to the rim and finish over anyone, he can kill you with the mid-range jumper, but can he kill you with the pass? I haven't seen it. I'm not trying to knock him by any means because this guy is a stud. I'm just saying he's not the first guy I'd pick to run my offense. Westbrook's best attribute, in my opinion, above the athleticism even, is his will to win. This guy is so competitive and cares so much and the passion he plays with shines through in his game. He goes 100% the whole time and that's something only the best players can do. So despite my criticism I still think he's one of the best in the game.

#3 Rajon Rondo
If Rondo had a jump shot he would be in that LeBron James/Kevin Durant super elite status. He's a tough defender, incredible passer and efficient scorer when necessary. Rondo is the best player on the Celtics and has been for a couple of years now. When he lead the team to the finals in 2008 he was the Mario Chalmers of the team. Now hes a bona fide star that is expected to lead the Celtics into the next era. Rondo is one of those guys you want standing next to you in a fight. Hes tough and never backs down, which are qualities a point guard needs in today's NBA. Hes a maestro on the court and easily one of the best in the game.

#2 Deron Williams
Deron Williams was stuck in hell the last year and a half. An elite player like D-Will hates to suffer on a losing team, but that is exactly what he did and it seems to have paid off. This is a guy who scored 57 points in a game last season. Not just anyone in the league can do that. In fact thats probably more points than anyone currently in the league has ever scored besides Kobe and "The Hibachi." I don't know if Deron Williams is a scorer before he is a passer, but he does both brilliantly. Whatever his team needs he provides. I think he is the perfect blend of scoring and passing mixed with some pretty good athleticism, not to mention this guy is low-key clutch. Now that Brooklyn has retooled with an all-star shooting guard, veteran small forward, and potential all-star center, D-Will is officially back in the spotlight.

#1 Chris Paul
I don't know if Chris Paul is actually the best point guard in the league. Any of these guys could be considered top dog, but for now I'll say its him. CP3 is a lot like Deron Williams to me. He brings the scoring, but also tremendous court vision. CP3 is completely in control when he's on the court. The way he runs the point dictates the pace of the game for both teams. Whatever style Chris Paul plays is the same style the opponent is going to have to play. I cannot emphasize the advantage that gives his team on the court. He is literally pulling puppet string out there. Paul is also an excellent defender with a nose for the ball. Going in to this season I expect big things from him and the Clippers, especially after how they got swept in the playoffs, but for now I'll let CP3 enjoy being numero uno (even though he'll never see this).