Let’s get something straight, shall we?
I do not like Paul Allen. Not even a little bit. He rubs me wrong. He was buddies with William Gates at a historically opportune moment, made filthy lucre off of his stock in the Microsoft monopoly, and has spent the subsequent couple decades doing his best Howard Hughes impression. That’s his life, alpha to omega. At least that’s my take and I’m sticking to it. If Paul Allen were to wind up spending his golden years in a hermetically-sealed bubble with 15 inch fingernails and neurotoxic B.O., I would not be the least bit surprised…
The very rich are indeed different than you and me and that self-absorbed “Idea Man” is perhaps most different of all. I could see that jackass spending $120 million bucks to refit a yacht owned by a robber baron in 1892, just so he and his steampunk buddies would have a place to promenade with their ladies fair en route to a convention in Norway without having to muck about with the passengers in steerage. Paul Allen is a fucking geek, and I do mean that in the worst possible way.
Are you feeling me?
So I’m ready to hate when Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Paul Allen goes after yet another Point Guard with the 6-pick in his never ending quest to one-up David Kahn in overdrafting the position. I mean, you never can have too many PGs, right? This time of year PA gets lustier than a hybrid coyotewolfbear at a furry convention, yiffing on the latest and greatest foxy PG heartthrob from Smalltown University. This passion of Paul’s lasts precisely 0.8 seasons. Then he’s on to his next unrequited encounter with a ballyhooed ballhandler that has never played top competition in his life.
Rinse and repeat.
I will give you this: Damian Lillard was probably the logical call in this case. But mark my words: nobody that’s from Oakland and knows the loathsome Gary Payton as “G.P.” is gonna be a good fit in Portland. That’s the mark of a guy that should be toiling for the hapless Sacramento Kings and their numbnuts ownership… We all have our red flags and that’s Mayday in Moscow for me…
I console myself: it probably won’t matter all that much, because in 0.8 seasons G.M.P.A. is gonna be admiring the svelte stroke and smooth crossover of another 5-foot-9 superstar-in-the-making.
I can hardly wait.
Neil Olshey, you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into…
• • • • •
And then there’s that 11 pick. Jesus…
The joke I made to Ben Golliver is this: “Most teams follow a policy of drafting the ‘Best Player Available.’ General Manager Paul Allen can’t even draft the ‘Best Haole Clod Available’ properly…”
That’s a pretty good joke, I think, considering what a lie they were telling about “accumulating the best assets available” rather than “drafting for need.”
But then I started doing a little research. He’s got an interesting personal story.
And I saw a picture. This is Meyers Leonard in high school.
Rim: 10 feet up.
Ball: 11-1/2 feet up.
Crotch: 6 inches above hapless defender’s face.
I don’t care if it is the man’s season highlight for the Robinson Maroons, if a 7-footer can get up like Benny the Bull on a mini-tramp, then you take a chance on the guy.
I thought the best case scenario was for Leonard to be a replacement for Joel Przybilla post-kneecapping — a guy that would play hard for 15 minutes a game, hopefully performing without causing fans grimaces or facepalms. Nope, turns out that I was really wrong about that. That looks more like worst case scenario now. The kid could be good.
So lemme tell you a little bit about Meyers Patrick Leonard…
The dude was born in February 1992, which makes him a baby. He hails from Robinson, Illinois, a little town of less than 7,000 folks that lies downstate, near the Indiana border. His daddy got offed in a bike crash when he was six, his mom had a chronic back condition and couldn’t work. They were poor as church mice.
Here’s Meyers’ big brother reflecting on where they came from: “We slept on the living room floor with blankets and candles. No electricity. No water. No furniture. With hardship and getting through hardship, that only helps bring people closer together.”
And here’s Meyers: ”It was tough growing up. Not a lot of money sometimes. Not that much food. But we got through it.”
That doesn’t sound so fun.
His high school graduating class had 120 students. They were the Illinois state basketball champions for their division. Their town was proud. He also played baseball in high school, where he was a hard throwing right hander. Pitchers are getting bigger, I know, but that guy coming off the mound would be Randy Johnson scary.
And he is a big unit. Meyers Leonard goes just shy of 7-feet barefoot; close enough for rocknroll. He’s a Christian boy, for what it’s worth, so he should be a good fit for Canales and LMA, etc.. After high school Leonard went to school at the nearby University of Illinois and played virtually zilch as a freshman. He was a starter as a sophomore and the team started the season 11-1. They finished the season on a 2-12 skid and out of the postseason. One can’t say that’s a feather in the cap.
Here’s something good though: dude shot over 58% from the field and 73% from the line. You can work with that.
All in all, yeah, great pick. Might pan out, might not pan out, but 7-feet tall can mean a long career in the NBA, particularly if one can jump high enough to plant one’s crotch in one’s opponent’s forehead. He’s already totally ruined my Best Haole Clod Available joke.
• • • • •
Great and Good…
I was calling Heat vs. Clippers pre-season, with OKC my number two choice. That was pretty much on the mark. The fact that I have underestimated the Thunder and given far too much credit to the Donald Sterling Make Me Rich, Baby Clips may be reduced to four words: Blake. Griffith. Kevin. Durant.
Durant is a Hall of Famer. Griffin is an entertaining guy that is young and dunks real hard.
There is a big difference.
And no, I didn’t mention Greg Oden once.
Oops, I just did.
• • • • •
Fun with Statistics…
I was on strike last year, sort of. David Stern may have had Billy Hunter and the players union wandering around the lobby of a Manhattan hotel in their boxer shorts, sobbing like Tammy Faye Baker over the shitty contract he just crammed up their posterior, but he didn’t get me. Nosirree, bub, I just kept my League Pass money and invested it in beer.
It was good.
While I was temporarily richer and drunker, my entertainment-purchasing stoppage did actually cramp my style, basketball-wise. With fewer chances to surf the league watching teams that didn’t suck, I found my self watching the Portland Trail Blazers, who most assuredly did.
People were pointing and laughing and calling me a “pessimist” going into the season. I figured they were gonna lose as many as they won and that seemed to many like I was pissing on the marching band at the Championship Celebration Parade. Then PDX opened 7 and 2 and I felt like a schlub. As things turned out, I was the voice of foolhardy optimism, seemingly a by-product of too much beer. (See above.)
Yeah, the Blazers really sucked.
Here’s the funny thing though. Part of my strike was Not Really Caring. I watched and was entertained — frequently in a black humor sort of way — but I never once checked a statistical summary all year. I simply averted my eyes from the numerical cacophony and limited myself to watching the caca and phonies on the court.
Now I feel like a geeky teenager taking a furtive look at an old porno movie. I know I shouldn’t be doing this, damaging my virgin eyes with a hideous glimpse of Ron Jeremy’s backside… I know it’s wrong and that what I’m gonna see is disgusting but I just………… can’t……….. help………. it. I just have to see those numbers for the first time.
A deep breath. Here they are….
Jamal Crawford from the arc — 30.8%.
All year long I was looking at Jamal and seeing the goofy looking face and figure of Travis Outlaw, ‘cept now with less conscience about forcing up 5 shots a minute. So howdja do this year from the arc, Travbo, just so we know? — 26.7%.
Well hot diggity, it turns out I was just being an old grump. Jamal rocked the house, relative to ATF’s sweet yunggun.
All right, now the next set of numbers I wanna see — Fatty Felton’s numbers next to Andre Miller’s.
Fatty Felton — 6’1″, 198#, $7.6 million.
Andre Miller — 6’2″, 200#, $7.8 million.
Yeah, right, like I believe (a) Fatty Felton is actually taller than about 5’10″ and (b) that his fat little fingers are attached to a butterball body that goes any less than 220. There’s no way on the planet that Dre outweighs Portland’s porcine PG. We do know that he outplays him, however, and the fact that a pound of Andre Miller cost more than a pound of Fatty Felton last year illustrates a certain rationality of the price system.
Okay, now let’s see how far Wesley Matthews plummeted.
2010-11 — 33.6 mpg, 15.9 ppg, shooting 44.9% and 40.7% from the arc. 1.14 points per possession used.
2011-12 — 33.8 mpg, 13.7 ppg, shooting 41.2% and 38.3% from the arc. 1.07 points per possession used.
Hmmm, something like a 7% hit to his efficiency. Not good, but that alone doesn’t explain the End of Days Mayan Meltdown that the Blazers underwent.
“Oh, if only we had Brandon, boo hoo hoo…”
Now the same numbers for Brandon Roy‘s last season…
2010-11 — 27.9 mpg, 11.1 ppg, shooting 40.0% and 33.3% from the arc. 0.97 points per possession used.
So much for that well-worn hooey bunkum theory that the lack of Brandon Roy had much of an impact on much of anything other than the salary cap… At the end he didn’t.
Okay, now let’s look at my main man, JJ Hickson.
As a Blazer he averaged 31.6 minutes — which is significantly more than I would have guessed, given that he was LMA’s backup for a time. He put up 15.1 ppg — that’s a career high, while shooting 54.3%, which is nice. The dude has only about 12 feet of range but if he keeps next to the round ring he can put the orange object through it, no doubt about it… 8.3 rebounds per game — NOT a career high, he was gathering 8.7 rebounds a game in less minutes the previous year in Cleveland. Yep, real deal. I’m buying…
Okay, from my favorite Blazer to my least favorite Blazer. Let’s look at Luke Babbitt‘s year against Mike Miller‘s career, they being two haole three point specialists with frequently unfortunate hair… Hell, let’s just throw in Kyle Korver‘s career numbers and make it The Three Amigos…
Miller — 31.1 mpg, 40.5% from the arc, 12.8 ppg, which is 0.41 points per minute.
Korver — 24.2 mpg, 41.3% from the arc, 9.5 ppg, which is 0.39 points per minute.
Babbitt — 13.4 mpg, 43.0% from the arc, 5.1 ppg, which is 0.38 points per minute.
Oh, yeah, Miller made $5.4M this year, Korver made $5.0M, Babbitt just $1.8M. It is a frightening, true fact that Luke Babbitt is good value. Score one for Kevin Pritchard, I always though Luuuuuuuuuuc was one final Pritchslapping delivered to Paul Allen.
Well, everybody knows that there really aren’t any good defensive stats out there. But we know what we saw, eh? How should we quantify these things? It is difficult… Hmmmmm…. I’ve got it! To put the Blazers’ bad defense into words, I’ll just put it into words. Feel free to clip and save to use next season as applicable…
The 2011-12 Blazers’ defense was: abhorrent, abominable, abortive, adamsandleresque, agitating, amateurish, angering, appalling, asinine, atrocious, awful, awkward, bad, blundering, botched, brainless, bungling, bush-league, clumsy, comical, contaminated, crappy, damaged, dazed, deformed, dense, detrimental, dire, disagreeable, disastrous, disenchanting, disfigured, dismaying, disturbing, dizzy, doltish, dreadful, dumb, dung-encrusted, dysfunctional, erroneous, faulty, fearful, feckless, feeble, fetid, flabbergasting, floundering, flubsy, foul, frightful, fucked, futile, gangrenous, ghastly, godawful, good-for-nothing, grim, grody, gross, grotesque, grievous, grisly, gruesome, gunky, ham-handed, hideous, horrendous, horrid, horrifying, icky, idiotic, ignorant, ill-advised, imbecilic, immobile, improper, inadequate, inane, incapable, incompetent, ineffective, inexpert, inferior, inoperative, insufficient, insulting, irresponsible, junky, laughable, lazy, loathsome, lousy, ludicrous, maggotty, maladroit, malodorous, mangled, matadorian, mind-blowing, monstrous, moronic, muddled, nauseating, nightmarish, nonfunctional, nonsensical, noxious, numbing, objectionable, obnoxious, odious, paltry, passive, pathetic, petrifying, pointless, poopy, poor, profitless, pukey, purposeless, pussificated, putrid, rancid, rank, raunchy, raw, reeking, repugnant, repulsive, retarded, revolting, rotten, sad, scandalous, screwy, shitty, shocking, sickening, slipshod, sluggish, smelly, sorrowful, staggering, standingaroundwiththeirdicksintheirhandscuzetheyaretoofuckinglazytofightthroughascreenforchrissakesian, startling, stupefying, stupid, substandard, tepid, traumatizing, troubled, troubling, ugly, unacceptable, unappealing, unfit, unfortunate, unhinged, unintelligent, unpleasant, unproficient, unqualified, unsatisfactory, unskilled, upsetting, useless, unthinking, unworkable, vile, vomitous, weak, worthless, wrecked, yucky.
And they were congenitally unable to cover the open shooter on the arc, too.
Whew, I’m out of air…
Catch ya next time.
Jambalaya is a weekly column by Tim Davenport about the Portland Trail Blazers and other assorted crap. It comes to you farm fresh every Monday morning.