Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hunting for Fun

For some reason, I've always watched NBA games with too much emphasis on analysis, big picture, strategy, and so on. Rarely do I just have fun watching these talented guys play my favorite game. That's why so many of my posts this year are going to focus on the fun elements of this NBA season. Fun games, matchups, players, and the like. In fact, I am considering spending a couple of months watching every player in the league and then ranking them from #1 to whatever based on how fun they are to watch. It will have no analytical value whatsoever and probably won't actually happen because of the sheer magnitude of the undertaking, but I'm giving it some thought.

In the meantime, here are a few guys that were just fun to watch play basketball tonight:

1. Carmelo Anthony. He's quietly becoming one of the best players in the NBA and a legit MVP candidate. He is improving on defense and has one of the most devastating inside/outside games in the league. Not only that, but he seems to play alongside Iverson without any effort whatsoever. So much for AI being impossible to pair with a superstar. I also love that Melo keeps things lively with all his dust ups. Everything from the Stop Snitchin' DVD to the brawl at MSG to the convenience store altercation to (of course) the amazing Blood Brothers painting in his episode of Cribs. It's just compelling. But what made Melo so fun to watch tonight was that pure 18-foot jumper where he catches in the mid post, reverse pivots, squares up his defender, ball fakes, and then takes a flawless jump shot. Does anyone do that better in the NBA? I highly doubt it.

2. Gerald Wallace. His dunks and high-flying swats are breathtaking to be sure, but they are also what cost him 20 games every year when he lands on his head or hip or other body part that starts with an "h." What made him fun to watch tonight was the way he led the Bobcats to an inspired W over the Pacers by hitting outside jumpers and finding ways to attack the rim that didn't put him at risk of a trip to the ER. Seeing his game evolve and become more controlled is very exciting.

3. Martell Webster. I've already written quite a bit about him, but there isn't much about the NBA that is more satisfying than watching a guy that doesn't "get it" suddenly pull it together. I'm telling you, there are many who insist that he's just a shooter (I'm hearing poor man's Glen Rice), but this guy can play and he's going to be around a while.

4. Louis Williams. It won't be long before the Sixers find a way to get this guy 25+ minutes a night off the bench. He's got blinding speed, great handles, and is totally fearless. His hoop while drawing the foul (even though he missed the free throw) late against Toronto was breathtaking. He put TJ Ford on skates with a lightening quick crossover that was probably the best move I saw all night. The only thing better was the little Sixers ball boy who was going crazy celebrating in the background.

5. Jeff Green. I know he's not getting a ton of run or racking up huge stats in Seattle (it makes perfect sense that they want to get Wally Z his minutes, because he's a franchise builder), but Green is just a fun guy to watch. He knows how to use his body, he moves without the ball, and - most importantly - he's just a fantastic passer with great instincts for drawing contact and anticipating the lane that he just created. It's a rare skill and the only guy I can really think of that does it well is Baron Davis and he's a point guard.

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