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The Nets, the Cavs, and Ronald Threesley.
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Thought of the Week: The Nets
Man, what a joke of a franchise. Here is a list of headlines that have come out just in the last couple of sun-cycles:
None of that even mentions Ben Simmons!
It’s worth pointing out that Boston comes off very poorly here, too. Kelsey Russo from the Athletic summed up the Nets’ all-but-certain Udoka hiring nicely:
The same team that said it supported its female staff members a month ago permitted the Nets to interview Udoka. By declining Brooklyn’s request, Boston could have ensured the one-year suspension was in place. Instead, the Celtics turned their backs on those very employees whom they said they’d protect.
Boston is so eager to wash their hands of the still-mostly-unknown Ime Udoka mess that they’ll ship him off for free to whoever wants him, but it completely unravels the punishment they had put into place. Udoka essentially will serve a couple-week suspension before resuming work at one of the world's scarcest and most highly-sought-after occupations. Not a good look for Brooklyn, and not a good look for Boston, a franchise that has traditionally held itself up as a class act.
Speaking of former Bostonians: the Kyrie stuff gets worse by the minute. I will never forget this:
It is a perfect sentence. Irving’s so narcissistic, so eager to be ostracized for his enlightened takes, that he says and posts controversial things without any thought of how it will impact others outside of himself. He’s desperate to have a vocal majority angry at him to improve his standing among his supporters — you can’t be an iconoclastic “beacon of truth” without making waves, after all.
It’s pathetic, and the NBA and NBAPA’s mealy-mouthed statements half-heartedly opposing antisemitism weren’t much help. Reggie Miller correctly brought up the point that not a single player has come out and said what Kyrie has done is bad, and that’s been true with virtually all of his transgressions over the years.
He operates in this strange bubble that distorts reality so that he’s acutely aware of the outside noise but doesn’t seem to fully process it besides a base understanding of what will increase the volume. It reminds me of my infant — he knows he will get attention if he cries and doesn’t quite understand how to communicate with the outside world. So he cries constantly. But he’s a baby, and you wouldn’t punish a baby, right?
But for all their similarities, Kyrie’s a grown-ass man who is more than intelligent enough to understand the foreign language of consequences. It’s troubling that he chooses not to, and it’s depressing that none of his peers or bosses are willing to translate for him.
Clip of the Week: Donovan Mitchell, trying
Well, I hated writing that and have not enjoyed the last few hours thinking about it, so let’s move on to happier things.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are officially the most fun team in basketball. It’s safe to say that I’ll be writing much more about them in the future. Coach Bickerstaff has this collection of young guys running their rears off on defense. Even Donovan Mitchell, loathed on parts of the Twitterverse for his previous lackadaisical approach on that end of the floor, has bought in. Seriously, watch this clip:
At 6-1, Cleveland is second in the East (behind the most ho-hum unstoppable team of recent memory, the Middleton-less Milwaukee Bucks), with a sparkling point differential and the third-best defense in the league. That’s despite missing All-Star Darius Garland for pretty much the whole season and playing a hellacious schedule, beating the Celtics twice, the Bulls, the Wizards, and the Knicks.
It’s been as good a start as could be imagined. Mitchell is playing like a down-ballot MVP candidate, his fit with Garland has looked great in our small sample, and the team’s vibezzz just feel good. I thought this team was a tier below Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Boston entering the season; now, I think the Conference Finals are a very attainable goal.
Stat of the Week: +40.6
Red Velvet. K’Von. Ronald Threesley. Whatever you want to call him, Kevin Huerter has a reality-tearing +40.6 point differential per 100 possessions for the Sacramento Kings, second in the league behind only Keldon Johnson on the Spurs. Of course, that’s wildly unsustainable, but it does speak to how good he’s been for the Kings. To wit: he and Memphis’ Desmond Bane are currently on track to becoming the only two players in NBA history to average more than four made three-pointers per game before they turn 25.
Huerter hasn’t missed since he joined the Kings. The key is his ability to shoot in any situation. Pullups, catch-and-shoots, sidesteps, stepbacks, corners, logos, however, whenever, and wherever he wants. He combines supervillain-like marksmanship with a well-rounded blend of size, footwork, and off-ball relocations. Here, he combines all of those traits:
In his fifth season, Huerter’s setting career-highs in every relevant metric while still competing on defense. Although the Kings haven’t yet met internal expectations (they’ve certainly met mine, at a 2-5 record), Kevin’s success is something to celebrate.