2014-15 NBA Season Mailbag

One NBA season closing and another one is just beginning; the playoffs. A casual fan is just starting to get ready for their season to start, while others enjoyed one of the better regular seasons in quite some time. Bandwagon season is back (if your team didn’t make it), baby! Maybe you’ve “been there since the start”. Don’t worry, I get it, you’re a Lakers Heat Cavaliers Warriors Cavaliers Warriors fan, nothing wrong with that. 

*Side Note — When did it become cool to be a bandwagon fan?? “I just cheer for my favorite player, LeBron, he’s the King, man. Doesn’t matter if he’s in Miami, or Cleveland because I’m cheering for him! Cleveland deserves it!!” Why do you care what Cleveland gets??? I’m over it.*

This year included things that previous seasons hadn’t offered — Steph Curry adding himself to the top five club with an impressive regular season, a two week vacation starring no other than LeBron James, Anthony Davis dunking on the heads of every NBA defense that he could while waiting in line to become the face of the league (soooo close Brow, so close), legit beef was born between Trevor Booker and Enes Kanter, Russell Westbrook pushed the boundaries of what a normal human is capable of doing in any sort of competitive format/what a person should even attempt to do, Paul Pierce lit the Brooklyn Nets, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and others on fire in an EPIC column, Kyrie Irving proved that he IS an elite player, the Knicks lost games the entire season and decided to win at the worst possible time, Brad Stevens elected himself as a potential top-tier coach, Derrick Rose is PLAYING in the playoffs for the first time since 2012 (round of applause), Rudy Gobert passed Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo for best nickname in the league (The Stifle Town, OR French Rejection), the Minnesota Timberwolves finally made a great general management decision, only to be followed by a really poor one (more on that later), and lastly, the book of D-Wade/Kobe/Melo/Dirk is about shut, the year off Vine was born which resulted in average players/dunks/highlights looking awesome thanks to emojis/retweets/cool music, and LeBron FINALLY ditched the headband!!! 

Obviously there are more great story lines that I could have chosen to throw in there, but what it came down to was a few things. 

1.) The playoffs are starting Saturday and I have to get this written.

*Editing at tip off of Washington @ Toronto (ahhhh, so close…)* 

2.) My paragraph (sentence) was just reaching an obnoxious length. I appreciate the support and all that, but I seriously doubt you care THAT much. It was obnoxious, I apologize. Not really.

3.) I could have written that much JUST about my Celtics — Smart being the best rookie defender in YEARS, Bradley playing up to the hype of his deal he signed last summer, the cancers caused by Rondo/Green (never thought I’d say that) were cut out of the program and spread into others, DATOME acted like a boss, THE ISAIAH THOMAS TRADE, Sullinger looking like he went on the Charles Barkley post-career diet, Ainge being the GM of the year, THE ISAIAH THOMAS TRADE, or Gerald Wallace turning into a really cool (feel sorry for him more than anything), likeable guy — but I decided to just hint at how dominant of a coach Stevens already is and will become. Again, THE ISAIAH THOMAS TRADE!!!!

The purpose of this was to answer the fan’s questions. These were REAL questions that were submitted

Without further ado I present, the 2015 NBA Mailbag, Thus Far. Continue to send in questions and I’ll continue to do these. 

Q. Which is more likely to happen? Celtics get two wins against the Cavs, or San Antonio loses to LA in the first round?

 — Brian, Cleveland, TN

Wow. As much as it hurts me to say this, Boston doesn’t have a chance to win the series against Cleveland. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that, but it is heartbreaking that a terrific season full of growth will be ending in likely 5 games or less. LIKELY. However, I think Boston can steal at least one win, possibly two. Here’s why:

A.) Over the last 40 games of the season Boston has the 5th ranked defense and 10th best offense in the entire league. Boston also lead the NBA in field goal attempts per game. 

B.) The Cavaliers have the 20th ranked defense in the NBA. Three of their starting five players are sandbags on defense. 

C.) Brad Stevens is the best coach in this series (maybe Eastern Conference) and has proved that all season long. His team will come out oozing with confidence because that’s what happens on a team with Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, etc. TOUGH guys on a tough guy team. 

D.) I think Boston can steal the first game for the reasons I listed above. IF this were to happen, ESPN would literally just shut down their news coverage completely in fear that “LeBron is going to lose in the first round”. Please, don’t be silly. I’m a HUUUGGGGEEEEE Celtics fan (if you didn’t notice) and will say there isn’t a chance that Cleveland loses this series. But two games? Two games are possible. One game is a lock. Two games are possible. 

Oh yeah, I just don’t see how San Antonio losesto LA. Like, at all. Again, here is why:

A.) Outside of Chris Paul, Los Angeles doesn’t have any permimeter threats on offense AND (especially) defense. 

B.) I believe the Clips have the mental toughness of a puppy. Whether it’s Blake Griffin sticking his chest into opponents, but not looking them in the face, or _______________ literally crying to the refs anytime that he doesn’t make his shot.

C.) I firmly believe that Popovich will take “Hack-a-Deandre” to a level only maniacs would dare.

D.) I don’t think they can beat SA if the health of Jamal Crawford isn’t 100%. Crawford is their killer. Crawford is usually the player that picks them up when they’re down. 

D.) The Clippers’ home-court advantage is a joke. I bet the fans that sit courtside could name more Warriors than Clips. 

E.) The answer to this next question. 

Q. How good of defender is The Klaw? Compare him to an offensive talent if you can. Leonard might be the best defender I’ve ever seen (I’m 42). 

— Tyler, Kankakee, Illinois

I’m so happy somebody sent this question in. I was literally having this exact discussion the other day with a friend. Here is what we decided:

Is Kawhi Leonard the best perimeter defender in the NBA? Absolutely yes. Without question. 

Is Kawhi Leonard able to guard any of the stud wing players in the league? Absolutely yes. Without question. I mean, he won an NBA Finals MVP against LeBron James. 

Now, he’s the best defender since __________?My buddy mentioned apex Ron Artest, but I’d go a step further than that — Scottie Pippen 2.0. 

Leonard is a nuisance to opposing ball handlers. Point guards stay awake at night scared that he is going to appear in their dreams. Other positions aren’t good enough ball handlers to come within Kawhi’s circumference (anywhere past halfcourt), or else he will use his Go-Go-Gadget arms that are connected to his lawn rake sized hands to steal the rock! 

Honestly, this could be Kawhi’s defensive duties throughout the playoffs: Chris Paul, James Harden, Steph Curry/Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving/LeBron James. 

Let that sink in.

How many players can do that?

He’s the best defender in the league. So to me, he’s as good at defense as anybody is on offense. He’s a top 10 player in this league. 

Q. At any point in time will there be subtitles on the TV so we can identify whatever it is that Doc Rivers is screaming? 

— Chuck, Ann Arbor, MI

Hey now, wouldn’t you be screaming if you had to coach that grossly underqualified bench? Doc’s bench features his own son, Spencer Hawes’ wallet, Big Baby’s, uhm, diet (is that what you’d call it?), and the same player that potentially costed you a championship in 2009 (Hedo)? 

The only reason why Doc hasn’t accidentally shouted his vocal chords through is mouth is because he does have Jamal Crawford on his bench.

Doc the GM needs to have a serious talk with Doc the coach after they lose out of round one. 

Q. After (finally) making a good franchise decision by trading Kevin Love for basically Andrew Wiggins, where does the Thaddeus Young/KG trade rank on bone headed moves in Wolves history? This might’ve been the last straw for me. Why trade a talented PF for ticket sales? 

— Mickey, TC, MN

Okay, I agree the Garnett trade was awful, but it’s easy to understand why the Wolves went through with it. And that reason being that any time Minnesota gets an opportunity to bring back a former player, they do it. I don’t know why they are obsessed with it. It does sell tickets. KG will retire and join the front office so I think they’re just getting him familiar with his office…

It’s funny you ask about this because I have a specific “Top 5 WORST General Management Decisions in Minnesota Timberwolves History” list in my mind at all times — always ready for updates when needed. As follows:

5.) 2007 Kevin Garnett Saga

The Celtics and Wolves agreed on a trade in the summer of 2007 that eventually took Boston to two NBA Finals out of three seasons. Garnett was arguably the biggest piece of that championship team in 2007-08. A player when surrounded by the right coach and teammates proved to be one of the best power forwards of all-time.

So the details of the trade:

Boston gets: Kevin Garnett 

Minnesota gets: Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, 2009 1st rounder (top 3 protected), and a return of a conditional pick from a prior trade with Boston. 

Why is this a bad trade? Minnesota went 191-656 (.291) since the trade. 

The wolves no longer have any of the players from the KG trade, no players from the trades they made with the KG trade players, and no longer have any of the players they received from trading the traded players they received from trading the KG trade players!! You might have to read that a few times. 

4.) 2008, Awful, but Possibly Good?

The 2008 NBA draft confuses the hell out of me. 

So Minny has the third overall pick and passes on an opportunity to snatch RUSSELL WESTBROOK for… O.J. Mayo. 

Minnesota then flips Mayo, Antoine Walker, Marko Jaric, and Greg Buckner to Memphis for Kevin Love (5th pick 2008), Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, and Jason Collins.

Sure, MN “won” the trade, but Westbrook is much, much, much better than ANY of the eight players involved in that trade. So I don’t see how they really won that trade.  

However, if this trade never happened every little boy at the Target Center wouldn’t be wearing Andrew Wiggins jerseys/t-shirts. Who doesn’t like products grown in Kansas?

3.) 2010: Wait You Drafted Wesley Johnson over who???

The 2010 draft doesn’t have a lot of details. 2010 is just a classic case of over-analyzing by the Wolves’ staff. David Kahn being the elite basketball mind that he is, decided to draft Wesley Johnson (4) and Luke Babbitt (16) over the following players: DeMarcus Cousins (5), Greg Monroe (7), Gordon Hayward (9), Paul George (10), Eric  Bledsoe (18), Avery Bradley (19).  

2.) The Ol’ 2009 Point Guard Pick ‘Em/Ticking Kahn Bomb

Younger basketball fans (such as myself) are very very very very familiar with this draft. Everybody remembers this draft as the “Rubio over Curry”, which somehow (AHHHHHHHH) actually happened. But that’s not even the worst part! 

With BACK-TO-BACK picks the Wolves went Rubio and Jonny Flynn. In what universe was that a good idea as a backcourt?? I don’t care which point guard you take with your first pick, but you MUST follow with Steph Curry. Shooting ability alone makes him a better fit than anybody else in that situation. 

*David Kahn ordering point guards like he’s at a fast food joint* 

“Ahhhhhh. Do you have any point guards with questionable shooting to match the other point guard I just ordered?” 

Then things got weird. David Kahn drafted a THIRD point guard (Ty Lawson) after he already took TWO. He triple dipped! You never ever, EVER triple dip!

What did Minnesota do with Lawson? Traded him to Denver for a 2010 protected first round pick that became……… Wait for it……… waaaaait… Luke Babbitt!

Then eventually flipped Babbitt and Ryan Gomes (2007 KG trade) to Portland for……. Martell Webster!

Webster didn’t even play the first season due to back surgery and was eventually released by Minnesota after a couple of seasons. 

Oh yeah, David Kahn also drafted Wayne Ellington sometime in the first round. Apparently that was the 28th pick. Whatever.

*Key players MN passed on in 2009 — Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday.* 

1.) The Classic 1996 NBA Draft

A year after drafting the franchise’s all-time greatest player, Kevin Garnett, the Wolves had an opportunity to draft a player that would play with KG for the next 10 years by using their fifth overall selection.

*Side Note — you CANT screw up this pick.*

So what do they do? Draft Ray Allen. There you go! Game. Set. Match. Championships are coming! But wait, what’s this?! They trade Ray Allen and Andrew Lang for the rights to the 4th overall pick… Stephon Marbury. 

Yeah, right, like Garnett and Ray Allen could have ever won together. 

*Key players MN passed on in 1996 — Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and basically Ray Allen.*

Q. What is your All-NBA “fake tough guy” starting five?

— Travis, Nevada

First Team:

Chris Paul

Steph Curry

Matt Barnes

Blake Griffin

Andrew Bogut

Second Team:

JR Smith

Dion Waiters

Lance Stephenson

Glen “Big Baby” Davis

Dwight Howard

Third Team: 

Damian Lillard 

Dwyane Wade

Trevor Booker

Marcin Gortat

Kendrick Perkins

Honorable Mentions:

David West

Any other Clippers that I didn’t list 

Anybody who pretends to stand up against Zach Randolph

Is it bad if the entire first team is made of Warriors and Clippers? I just noticed this while I was editing this… 

Q. If your life was on the line and you had to pick 4 players in the NBA to be in a street fight for you, who would they be? 

— Carl, Adrian, Michigan

So basically what I did for this question is just picked the most mentally unstable players/thirsty for blood/unstoppable motors/who I think would be able to survive the longest on The Walking Dead. 

Zach Randolph, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins

Honorable Mention: Tony Allen

Okay, LeBron gets a lot of hell on social media for being a “fake tough guy” and flopping, but c’mon. Let’s be serious. He’s arguably the greatest athlete in league’s history, nobody is beating him up. If you think differently, have you ever looked at LeBron James?

Q. If I used my time machine to go back 3 years ago and told you what has happened this NBA season, what wouldn’t you believe?

— Anthony, Breckenridge, CO

I wouldn’t have believed that…

Kevin Love became a glorified Mike Miller.

Kyle Korver would be an All-Star.

The Atlanta Hawks earned a #1 seed.


LeBron returned to Cleveland without a reward for his body.

LeBron’s legacy was kinda-sorta saved from Ray Allen, Derrick Rose’s knees, and the power shift from East-to-West. 

Steph Curry would be on pace to SHATTER any three point records.

Aaron Hernandez would be spending the rest of his life in prison after winning a fantasy football title for me. 

The Celtics would be back in the playoffs and the only players that are still on the team are Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass, and Jared Sullinger.

Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tyson Chandler are on the Mavericks, but likely WON’T get out of the first round. 

Evan Turner is a really good basketball player. 

Injured Kobe Bryant would be unamused on Jimmy Kimmel after seeing his worthless teammates celebrate a meaningless win. Meanwhile he’s probably thinking about Dwight Howard making the playoffs with James Harden. 

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook might not make the Finals ever again, at least together. 

Q. Does LeBron have to win a championship this season? 

— Craig, Indiana

Does LeBron have to win a Championship in Cleveland? Yes. Does it have to be this season? No.

Here is the deal, everybody understands what James is trying to do. He will have done his job, or fulfilled his promise if he can win one championship for Ohio. One! Doesn’t have to be this year, doesn’t have to be next year, just needs to happen once. 

LeBron, you only need one more ring. Then do whatever it is you’d like to do! My advice? Go try and play wide receiver in the NFL. But LeBron, give me a one year warning so that I can draft you in the last round of my keeper league. 

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