Takeaways from the first three nights of the NBA season

It’s the opening week of the new NBA season, which means the League Pass fest is in full effect.

Here are my screenshot-backed observations from the first three nights.

This Spurs employee needs a manicure:

Spurs ring

It is not clear who is holding the ring here, but to whoever it is: Come on, dude. You’re on national TV. Don’t look like a tramp.

The Lakers’ season is already over:

Julius Randle

Just when you thought the Lakers could not get any more depressing, Julius Randle breaks his leg. A devastating blow for the lad, and a clear cue for the Lakers to embrace being as bad as possible and maintaining their top-five protected draft pick. With Jeremy Lin running the point like this, it seems inevitable.

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1993 NBA Draft revisited: C-Webb, Penny, Van Exel & Co.

The ‘93 Draft produced no MVPs and only two All-NBA First Team selections, but was deep enough to yield seven All-Stars and a couple of huge post-lottery steals.

As was the case with the 1992 Draft, the first pick had the best career and two players picked outside of the top 20 had top-five careers.

Here are the top 10 picks, retrospectively re-ordered to reflect each player’s NBA accomplishments:

1) Chris Webber (picked No. 1 by Orlando, traded to Golden State)


831 games, 37.1 minutes, 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 blocks, 47.9% FGs, 20.9 PER.

Best season: 2000/01 – 70 games, 27.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.7 blocks, 48.1% FGs, 24.7 PER, 55-27 record, All-NBA 1st team, 4th in MVP voting.

Most memorable moment: Behind-the-back dunk on Barkley.

The Rookie of the Year, a 5-time All-Star and a 5-time All-NBA selection, Webber never quite fulfilled his otherworldly potential or won a championship, but remains one of the most athletic, skilled and best passing big men the game has seen. Over his prime seasons (’99 to ’03, his first five with the Kings), he averaged 24, 11 and 5, and came within a Robert Horry three of making the Finals.

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1992 NBA Draft revisited: Shaq, Zo, Spree & Co.

The ’92 Draft produced an all-time great (Shaq), a franchise player (Mourning), three other All-Stars (Sprewell, Guliotta, Laettner) and a 7-time champion (Horry).

As was the case with the 1990 Draft, the top two picks actually turned out to be the top two players – something that has not happened since.

Two players picked outside of the top 20 ended up having top-five careers – further evidence that there are always gems to be found outside of the lottery.

Here are the top 10 picks, re-ordered to reflect each player’s NBA accomplishments:

1) Shaquille O’Neal (picked No. 1 by Orlando)


1,207 games, 34.7 minutes, 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.3 blocks, 58.2% FGs, 26.4 PER.

Best season: 1999/00 – 79 games, 29.7 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.0 blocks, 57.4% FGs, 30.5 PER, 67-15 record, MVP, Finals MVP.

Most memorable moment: Alley-oop dunk to seal the Lakers’ Game 7 win over Portland in the Conference Finals

An easy pick then and an easy pick now.

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Who should win the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery?


The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery will be held tonight. This year’s draft class (featuring Andrew Wiggins, pictured above) is a particularly impressive one, so it is more important than ever that the lottery rewards the right teams. Here I rank the lottery teams in order, from most deserving to least deserving of winning the top pick.

The order is determined by Davometrics – a balanced consideration of each franchise’s fanbase, history, location, ownership, front office and existing talent.

I want to see the best young prospects in the world playing in the best possible basketball environment: in front of sold-out crowds of educated, passionate fans who will appreciate watching them develop; for owners who are financially committed to surrounding them with the necessary talent to win; and preferably in a large, desirable metropolis that offers superior living and marketing opportunities.

Bonus points for other reasons will be awarded to a team’s case wherever I see fit.

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Nick Young shoots the brick of the season

The Nick “Swaggy P” Young experience is an eventful one. He recently attempted a ridiculous 540-degree layup, and the next ill-advised shot is never far around the corner.

Last night, he put the cherry on the top of this brutal possession by wedging the ball between the rim and the backboard – a huge rarity on a 3-point shot:

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Howard’s post game still ugly, ineffective and over-utilized in Houston

The tutelage of Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston has had as much impact on Dwight Howard’s post game as that of Patrick Ewing in Orlando and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Los Angeles: none.

Howard is getting roughly the same number of post touches than he did in Los Angeles, and is still just as feckless at taking advantage of them. His go-to move, if you can call it such a thing, remains an awkward sweeping hook that sometimes goes in and sometimes careens straight off the backboard to the other side of the rim:

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1990 NBA Draft revisited: The Glove, Coleman, Kukoc & Co.

The 1990 Draft is one of the least revisited in NBA history. It was relatively weak in terms of impact players, but full of interesting case studies.

It produced one Hall of Famer (Gary Payton), a 3-time champ (Toni Kukoc), a hugely talented disappointment (Derrick Coleman), a 48th pick who made the All-Star team (Cedric Ceballos), a professional boxer (Kendall Gill), and a Tourette’s syndrome sufferer who refused to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner (Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf).

Here are the top 10 picks and their profiles, re-ordered with the benefit of hindsight:

1) Gary Payton (picked No. 2 by Seattle)


1,335 games, 35.3 minutes, 16.3 points, 6.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 46.6% FGs, 18.9 PER.

Best season: 1999/00 – 82 games, 24.2 points, 8.9 assists, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 44.8% FGs, 23.6 PER, 45-37 record, All-NBA 1st team, All-Defense 1st team.

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The Minnesota T-Wolves: where “T” stands for “Treadmill”


With the re-signing of Nikola Pekovic to a 5-year, $60 million contract this week, the Minnesota Timberwolves secure their intentions to fight for a first round playoff appearance for the next several years. A big three of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Pekovic could mean just enough wins to be a perennial 7th or 8th seed in the Western Conference.

I am a fan of Pek. He is an old-school, no-nonsense bruiser in the paint who for good measure occasionally runs over smaller opponents like a mack truck. He has a decent jumphook, can finish through contact, and is a reliable free throw shooter (75% for his career). On the other side of the ball, he has a decent understanding of team defense, moves relatively well for his size defending the pick-and-roll and can occasionally use his mass to ward off opponents from entering the lane, but by NBA standards he is a sub-par athlete who offers minimal rim protection. At $12 million a year he will be a little overpaid – particularly if he continues to be troubled by nagging injuries – but so are most useful NBA centers.

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