Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Good and Bad From Opening Night

I'm determined to keep this blog relevant, interesting, and - to a certain degree - specialized. That's why I've gone all NBA, all the time. I really don't have time to be blogging anymore (variety of reasons), and, frankly, my will to blog is sapped on some level my the proliferation of the form. When I decided to move away from writing columns for and do my sports writing here, I never realized how quickly that would move my work from "legitimate" to "whatever" in the eyes of most readers. In many ways, blogging about sports in the year 2007 feels both fruitless and akin to spitting into the wind.

That said, I can't shake the NBA. I love it.

So the blog lives on. Perhaps barely, hanging by a thread not unlike Lord Voldemort when he became a half human/half spirit thing in one of the Harry Potter movies. Maybe it will live on hearty and strong, like the way Dwight Howard looks grabbing a rebound. I have no idea. But I'm going to try.

And in the interest of trying, I am going to be constantly searching for little gimmicks. Not because gimmicks in and of themselves are great or some how "eye catching," but because it will provide a more cohesive nature to what is going on here.

For the time being, the gimmick is going to be something quite simple: Good and Bad.

My goal is to watch a lot of basketball late at night, on the TiVo and try to come away with some observations that don't show up in boxscores. Maybe some things that are being overlooked by the national media and even in the blogosphere. We'll see how it goes.

Here is the Good and Bad from opening night.

Good - Martell Webster.

There were plenty of good things going on last night (Duncan looking just as good as he did in last spring's playoffs, Aldridge fulfilling all of my hopes and dreams in Year 2, Deron Williams abusing people, Ronnie Brewer looking like the realness, and so on), but I thought the key "good" thing to come out of opening night was the emergence of Martell Webster at small forward for the Blazers. I know he had a big preseason, so perhaps this shouldn't have been a complete surprise, but I was just not ready to see him look so quick, confident, and versatile on the floor. I wrote about this an email earlier to my buddy Josh Stump (biggest Blazers fan I know), but I think Webster showed the skills last night that translate to him filling a vital role on this Portland team for years to come. He can stretch the floor, he has good hands, and he can attack the rim when needed. If he can add a more solid understanding of defensive principals, his ceiling becomes a slightly lesser version of Michael Finley (which would work out rather nice next to Aldridge and Oden down the road). If he can learn to be more physical, he looks like he has the makings of a non-crazy Stephen Jackson, which is also a good thing. I don't even known how many points he had or what his stats were, but I can tell you that Webster looked like the real deal. The type of guy that could be the starting small forward in Portland for the next ten years. Now that is a good thing.

Bad - The Rockets Offense

I know Houston won the game and the TNT guys were lavishing praise on their new schemes and pace, but I wasn't impressed with the Rockets offense. They won the game last night for three reasons: 1) McGrady shot 50% from the floor, which is rare, 2) Kobe was in total ballhog, wild shot mode and also did an Antoine Walker impersonation from the foul line, and 3) the Lakers suck. I wasn't impressed with Houston at all. They supposedly have this new and improved offense, yet I still saw Luther Head taking bad shots, McGrady taking tough looks, and too many trips that resulted in turnovers. And I think the problem is at point guard. They have a bunch of really fast, really talented guys in Rafer Alston, Mike James, and even rookie Aaron Brooks, but I'm not sure they have the type of guy who can orchestrate Adelman's offense. Perhaps if they had a great passing big man like Chris Webber or Vlade Divac, they could use Mike James in the old Bibby role, where he just passes, runs off a screen, and then catches a sweet dime before drilling a jumper. But Yao Ming, while an able passer, isn't Vlade. And they sure as heck don't have Chris Webber. So what is the answer?

I'm not entirely sure. One option is to evolve McGrady's role to the point where he becomes more of a point-forward ala Scottie Pippen. He actually had to do a lot of this last year as well, but that was in addition to scoring all the points. With a gunner like James and a bruiser like Bonzi Wells around, T-Mac doesn't have to worry as much about scoring. If the Rockets were to use him almost like the Kings used Webber, I could see him going something like 23-8-6 and really making this thing work. Whether he can reprogram himself to play that way and whether Houston will recognize the need are two big questions.

Another possible solution is to go get a real point guard. I keep hearing that Jose Calderon is off limits, but if Houston could present Toronto with a package of youth, size, and bench scoring punch, maybe they could swing a deal. Calderon would be the ideal floor general for this team. But alas, that is probably just wishful thinking.

Perhaps the Rockets will eventually get it revved up, but for one night, their offense gets the "Bad" award. And maybe Martell Webster will come crashing back down to earth, but he's Mr. Good for the opener.

Hopefully we'll be back tomorrow with more Good/Bad from the NBA.

1 comment:

jessica said...

good - this blog was interesting but you never post! Hopefully you'll post more - it's hard for people to follow a blog that doesn't update much