Whilst there've been a couple of boxscores trickling over from Europe already, t'day marked the beginning of the preseason schedule, in earnest; meaning there were numerous games, numerous stories, and numerous lessons to learn. To the roundup!:
DAVID LEE, ISIAH'S SECOND-LEAST HATED WHITE PERSON (BEHIND JAMES DOLAN)!
Dearest Zekeypoo: I know it's been a difficult summer, and all, what with trying to work out the logistics of that weird Dan Dickau/Jared Jordan trade thing, and trying to sketch together the details of Jerome James's potential buyout, and trying to psych out Demetris Nichols into playing in Italy rather than daring to show up, and trying to find out Zach Randolph's whereabouts on the eve of camp, and trying to find a taker for Jared Jeffries and that stupid contract you signed him to last year, and trying to clarify the distinctions between men of different ethnicities using the word 'bitch' in reference to women of different ethnicities (and, whilst I've got you here, it's been bugging me all week: what if a half-Japanese, half-Kurdish man calls a half-Hawai'ian, half-Tibetan woman a bitch?), and trying to work out whether the phrase "very, very innocent" actually makes linguistic sense, and trying to come up with an offensive scheme that can possibly involve both Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry at the same time, but, I was wondering, over this long, hot, finally-over summer —the summer of intern love!— have you found a way to get David Lee on the court more than 29 minutes a game? Other than, y’know, hoping Eddy (No, not Whoopi Goldberg, silly! That guy with the heart defect!) injures his shoulder in training camp? I noticed you played Lee 31 minutes in tonight’s meaningless preseason game. Meaning, once the stakes get higher, he’s surely gonna play more, right? Like, you’re pretty much not going to sit him at all, no? Given how he’s, y’know, the team’s best player, and best defensive player, and best rebounder, and best off-the-ball player, and best passer on the nights when Stephon’s not quite ‘in the game’, and best hustler, and best source-of-inspiration, and best loved by the crowd. You’re not going to bench him in favour of, say, running Curry and Randolph together, endlessly, pig-headedly, even though it’s clear they’re not gelling, are you? Or bench him to try and ‘showcase’ James or Jeffries or Malik Rose for a trade that’ll never come, right? I’m sorry to ask. These questions are so dumb and obvious, but, for some reason, I feel the need to check in with you, just to make sure we’re on the same page. I know we are. I don’t give a fuck about white people, too. Even ones that average double-doubles in minutes limited only by coaching idiocy. Love, Stan, Your Biggest Fan.
J.J. REDICK, ALSO WHITE!
The other day I, in all my prognosticatory wisdom, spent whole paragraphs detailing why JJ Redick was a piss-in for fantasy-friendly role-player this season, breaking down the statistical reasons that everyone’s most favouritest ever Dookie would be a beloved addition to any final-round-picking fantasy squadron. Whilst tonight didn’t prove me wrong —30 minutes, 10 points, 1/3 threes— it did make me realise something that I should’ve thought of well before I ever committed those words to, uh, print (browser?). Cheering for JJ Redick is as much fun as you’d imagine. My public-declaration of Redick’s potential makes me feel like I should be pulling/rooting/other-double-entendres for him already, given that positive results would only validate my beliefs, and my opinions, and the very existence of this weblog. Yet, after one game, I’m wishing my own fantasy draft/s will roll around, so I can have people other than JJ to cheer for (I mean, other than just Eddie House). Like, last year, in one league, I drafted Mike Dunleavy Jr. Whilst his eventual output ended up justifying his selection, there was not a single day in the entire season when I felt excited to be owning Lil’ Dunny. Not to mention that every one of the 450-odd trades I proposed with Junior as part of the package were rejected with an Eatonesque viciousness by opposing GMs. Apparently, this painful life-lesson taught me nothing at all; for already I have talked myself into owning JJ Redick(!!!) for the forthcoming fantasy season. Thankfully, today’s boxscore watching has made me wake up to the obvious: to own the most abhorrent sporting poet this side of Stu Scott would be an utterly joyless experience, from day one.
MIAMI RUNS OUT D-LEAGUE SQUAD!
Ladies and gentleman, Michael Doleac! In the absence of Shaquille O'Neal, Udonis Haslem, Antoine Walker, Dwyane Wade, Smush Parker --a quintet that, you'd guess, will end up starting at least one game together, as five-man-unit, this season-- and top reserve Alonzo Mourning, Doleac was the only Riley-friendly member of the Del Boca Vista Heat's senior's circuit that hit the court; the Shufflin' Ute looking like he was working off about three years worth of rust in a (futile) attempt to prove he's more than just one big expiring contract with a blonde buzzcut. With the actual, y’know, team absent, Rilezzz actually got to trot out some limbre young legs in Miami's opening run; an 86-103, intensity-lacking pasting at the hands of the Pistons that was over early. Meaning, Daequan Cook actually got on the court; something that, rest assured, won't happen once the season begins. Whilst Dorell Wright, of course!, impressed in his game-high 31 minutes --9 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks-- the rest of the roster resembled guys gunning it in a glorified open tryout; the Heat having less NBA-calibre talent on the floor than last April's Milwaukee Bucks. In regards to such: Marcus Slaughter got a jump on playing his way into one of the vacant roster-spots, and tiny Brian Chase looked roughly a dozen times better than Chris Quinn, the babyfaced Irishman who rather looks a dead roster-spot walking. A question for another day: how on earth did Chris Quinn get an NBA shot, whilst Chris Thomas never did? Oh, and, PS: Penny Hardaway = DNP-CD.
NO-NECK JOHNSON, WORST PLAYER TO EVER SCORE 40 IN A PLAYOFF GAME!
Not that there’s anything wrong with being the Hawks’ fourth-string point-guard, or going 0/5 with 0 assists in 10 pre-season minutes, or, for that matter, in having no neck, but, um, could it really have only been 17 months ago that No-Neck Johnson was hanging 40 points on Jason Kidd’s large head in a playoff game? Wha’ Happened? The guy who was stumbling, stiff-legged, about for Atlanta tonight looked like he’d have trouble scoring 40 points in a one-on-none game, let alone someone who can be counted on for ever coming close to that, ever again, in an NBA game. With Speedy Claxton roughly five minutes away from his latest broken bone, and Acie Law IV seeming like a rather suspect lottery selection, once more Atlanta fans, in their teeming dozens, are anxiously awaiting the return of Tyronn Lue.