Remember, remember the third of December, in the year of our LORD 2014. This was the day He gave the Philadelphia 76ers their first victory of an already lost and troubled season, albeit one calculated to be that way; let us rejoice, and be glad in it. The Sixers managed to avoid setting a record for the worst start in NBA history, so, you know, there’s that. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis is quickly becoming who we thought he was, and the Hornets are creating the wrong kind of buzz.
1. The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 85-77, avoid the worst start in NBA history: The Sixers were two losses away from having the single worst record to start a season ever. Things weren’t looking great. Friday night showed the Thunder on the schedule, and both Kevin Durant and RUSSELL HUSTLE BUSTLE WESTBROOK (a.k.a. #LETRUSSELLBERUSSELL) figured to be in the starting lineup. Conditions were imperfect. The Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t pose the biggest threat, but the game was on the road, and when you’re literally the worst team in the NBA, every little bit of (dis)advantage counts. None of that mattered to these Sixers, however. The resilient squad, the youngest in the NBA, rolled into Minnesota like it was 1983, and, after a confusing and convoluted start, jettisoned the T’wolves to another stratosphere of basketball futility. Minnesota figures to be the answer to many a bar trivia question next week, and now the Sixers can continue on their run-of-the-mill path to the lottery without the fear of having set that dubious record.
2. Anthony Davis is really good at basketball: Coming out of Kentucky following a national championship in his only season, scouts and analysts deemed Anthony Davis to be the mythical “once-in-a-generation” talent that would not miss as a top pick. Early in this, the third year A.D., we are all starting to see exactly what that means when it comes to fruition. Through the first sixteen games, Davis averaged 24.9 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. Let’s run that back: 3.1 blocks per game, a season after leading the league with 2.8 a season ago. That’s utter insanity. No team should ever go anywhere near the rim when Davis is on the court, and because of that, everyone else’s job is made easier on defense. That’s the biggest difference between Pelicans lineups with and without Davis, though his floor-stretching jumpers and force-of-nature presence under the rim on offense means he’s no sucker MC on offense either. It seems that he’s finally healthy, for real this time, and at 21 years young, only another galaxy poses any limit to his nightmarish combination of physicality and skill.
3. The Charlotte Hornets stumble to a 4-15 start and are reportedly willing to trade almost anyone: …including big splash free agent acquisition Lance Stephenson. Following an encouraging last season and an even more encouraging re-branding campaign to dispose of the Mountain Lions, many people slotted the Hornets to be a top-four seed in the abysmal East, figuring that Professor Al Jefferson’s 25-and-10 tendencies would coalesce with Kemba Walker’s continued development. Throw the unpredictable yet sublime #BORNREADY, and Charlotte’s squad projected to be far improved from last year’s stay in McBucketland. Following a 102-95 loss to the Chicago Bulls at home, however, the Hornets are off to a Bobcats-like collapse out of the gate, often turning up as lifeless as Poe in a Baltimore sewer drain. Stephenson’s volatility has yielded few dividends, and help off the bench is sparing. Michael Jordan has been in charge of this team, at least partly, since 2010, and though he has a history of what we’ll call “questionable management decisions” (SEE: Brown, Kwame), as recently as eight weeks ago it seemed that he had surrounded himself with enough knowledgeable non-“yes” men to produce a worthwhile product. Based on reports, however, from now until the trade deadline, everyone not named Jefferson or Walker is on notice that he could be traded at any time, to any team (that includes Stephenson, who, along with every other offseason free agent signing, is eligible to be traded on December 15th). Somebody, anybody, save the purple and teal (Editor’s Note: the equally atrocious New York Knicks visit the Hornets on Friday night – just what the doctor ordered, I imagine).
AND-1: Just look at this Yahoo Sports headline:
I saw this scrolling through my phone Tuesday night, and it gave me pause. Enough pause, in fact, to warrant a screenshot and an email to myself with that screenshot attached. Subject line: YUNG BUCKS. What we have here is a quasi-missed connection, or a half-hearted effort, really. There is a lot going on, so let’s take it step by step: first, the Cleveland Cavaliers did, in fact, defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by a reputed count of 111-108. Next, because LeBron James is the world’s best basketball player, the headline featured him instead of the Cavs’ leading scorer, Kyrie Irving. Third, Irving’s face is the one featured next to his team-leading point total. All of this is well and good, except that Yahoo (sort of?) tried to cash in on the NBA’s best marketing campaign of the last few years while failing to entirely incorporate its leading man.
Granted, “young Bucks” does not quite equal “young bloods,” but it’s close enough for rock and roll. Leading with Kyrie would’ve been the logical choice for a number of reasons. Hell, I would’ve even been content with a Wes reference. Get it together, Yahoo. Your app is already way better than that of the Worldwide Leader in Hype.