The NBA is home to the best athletes in the world and the most entertaining offseason in sports. March Madness is the best annual sporting event, and college hoops (more on that soon) features more parity than most other sports. High school basketball provides the most intense rivalry atmosphere of any competition at that level.
These things might be hard to prove, but they’re facts to me, and this is my blog. I decided this space will primarily be dedicated to basketball until I want to write about something else.
I’m also into different genres of music, so I’ll try and leave you with some of recommendations at the end.
First, some housekeeping: when it comes to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Creighton Bluejays, this will not be an unbiased blog. I will try to keep the topics varied to include some local stuff as we get into the season and I learn more about the landscape.
With NBA teams opening training camp this week, I figure that’s a good place to start.
The biggest NBA news of the past couple days, prior to Dwyane Wade signing, is the Knicks-Thunder trade that sends Carmelo Anthony south in exchange for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second-round pick.
The Knicks’ motive was clear. The partnership with Anthony was beyond repair with both parties looking for an out. New York will likely spend the season figuring out who works best around Kristaps Porzingis and scouting the top lottery picks.
Biased note: The change of scenery should be good for McDermott. Chicago was - and remains - a mess, and he wasn’t in Oklahoma long enough to carve out his role. If nothing else, he should help create some much-needed space in the offense.
The interesting part of this trade is how Melo approaches his role in OKC.
When a picture of the Thunder’s presumed starting five popped up on my Instagram feed, my initial observation was more optimistic than I would have anticipated.
The roles should be clear.
Russell Westbrook needs to be able to play much the same way he has, bending defenses to their breaking point with fearless drives and providing unmatched energy.
Paul George is a true two-way player, a rarity in today’s game.
The added offense should allow Andre Roberson to focus exclusively on what he does best, defend the perimeter.
Steven Adams is back as a rim protector, put-back/lob specialist and Most Interesting Man in the League candidate.
That leaves Anthony, the most important cog.
A lot about Melo’s game has rubbed people the wrong way. The ball-dominant player who doesn’t create for others is something of a dinosaur today, and the Thunder can’t afford to watch Anthony regularly jab step his way to contested, but makable, jumpers.
That might’ve been the best offense for the Knicks at times, but that won’t be the case this season.
If Melo can embrace a smaller offensive role as a stretch in an much less glamorous market in exchange for more wins, I think the Thunder join the Spurs, Rockets, and Timberwolves as teams that can stretch the Warriors to five games. I think the Nuggets sit just outside that crowded second tier.
The Thunder should still be in the back half of the Western Conference’s top eight if ego and contested 20-footers follow Anthony to the midwest, but they won’t scare the top teams. That's where they would've been without the trade.
The deal caps a strong offseason for Thunder general manager Sam Presti, and New York’s new front office made the trade it needed to in order to move into the next phase of the franchise.
Now for the music. SZA’s debut album Ctrl fuses R&B, soul and a little bit of hip hop. It starts strong with ‘Supermodel’ followed by the Travis Scott feature on ‘Love Galore’ and never drops off. It’s not for everyone, but if co-signs from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and the rest of the Top Dawg Entertainment lineup mean anything to you, give it a shot if you haven’t already. It’s been one of my favorite albums of the year.