Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Predicta-Bucks

The NBA trade deadline is tomorrow at 2 p.m. Central Time.  NBA talking heads expect the Bucks to dump salary and pursue a point guard.  If past is prologue, that is exactly what will happen.

The Edens/Lasry/Dinan ownership tenure has been nothing if not predictable.  The world knew that Larry Drew was an inherited, losing coach; he was quickly dismissed.  Ownership's eye was on Jabari Parker's "NBA readiness" at the 2014 Draft, and that's who was selected.  (One spot ahead of Joel Embiid, it must be said.)  Brandon Knight was dumped for a guy on a cheaper contract, a big money center was signed in 2015 and the team's glaring 2016 weaknesses -- backup point guard and shooting -- were addressed last summer.  Each of those events were pegged by local and national NBA reporters before they happened.

There is nothing wrong with being predictable off the court.  It lessens the stress on players and fans. It can help build relationships with other teams.

Being predictable probably aided the dumping of Miles Plumlee.  The whole NBA world knew that the Bucks wanted to delete the Plumlee mistake.  When Charlotte went looking for an active bench Big, they settled on the Bucks.  That may not have happened if the Bucks were more secretive and unpredictable.

If the Bucks continue their history of predictability, we know what will happen at the trade deadline.  They will acquire a point guard.  They will not surrender a first round pick to get said point guard.  They will rid themselves of between one and three Bigs, either via trade, release or both.

The frustrating part of all of this is that it feels like the team is settling.  They have beaten good teams this season and they are in a wide open race.  The Wizards feel like a contender, for goodness sakes.  Why not the Bucks?

The Bucks had an awful stretch early in the year.  They exited San Antonio on January 10 with a 19-18 record and some impressive wins on their resume (Cavs, Grizzlies, Thunder and Bulls, in addition to the Spurs).  They exited the Bradley Center on February 10 with a 22-30 record and Jabari Parker's blown out knee.

Parker's injury may be obfuscating the truth about the Bucks' rough month: they were a broken team, and Jabari deserved a lot of the blame.  Parker was scoring every night, rebounding above his average and even posting a few blocks and steals.  The problem was that he started initiating offense and that seemed to cause Giannis to shrink.

Jabari wasn't solely to blame for Antetokounmpo's mini-funk, but he played a role.  Giannis likes being the catalyst.  He can't be when Parker runs the show.

The Greek Freak's struggles showed up in his numbers.  In the first three games after Jabari's injury, Giannis posted six, ten and six assists.  With Jabari playing, Giannis hadn't gone above six assists since New Year's Eve.

Trading Jabari Parker prior to this year's deadline is not in the cards.  Bucks management; especially Senior Vice President Alex Lasry, loves Parker and think he'll be one of the League's top stars.

Making a run at the East crown could be in the cards.  The Bucks won three in a row prior to the All Star break, and nearly made a titanic comeback against the Lakers the game before that.  Those are the four games since Jabari went down.  This Bucks team is out of its funk.  The Greek Freak is one of the NBA's best, and in the Playoffs the Coach Kidd can play him forty-five minutes a night.

Online Bucks fans seem to be content with playing the waiting game.  Hopefully make the Playoffs, probably pull an upset due to Giannis, then bow out to Cleveland, Toronto or Washington.

This blog would prefer a riskier path.  Draft picks and young players are nice, but a couple of solid vets could give the Bucks a chance.  It's the East and we have Giannis.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Poaching We Will Go

It's poaching season, Bucks fans!  And boy, do we need it.

The Bucks have a (potentially) great team.  They play in the East.  Giannis Antetokounmpo has the look of a Playoff Stud.  2017 is their year.

Unfortunately, the Bucks have not been playing great.  There are debatable reasons here and there, but ultimately it comes down to one ugly fact: the roster is full of untradeable bloat.

Monroe, Plumlee and Henson all make eight figures.  None of them feel like the starting center on a contender.

Teletovic makes eight figures.  On a great team, he is a matchup guy.  He'd play some nights and sit others.

Delly makes nearly eight figures.  On a top team with a point-forward, he's a solid third guard.

If Middleton were healthy and if things had gone according to plan, that's the rotation. Snell, Beasley, Terry and Brogdon were tabbed as benchwarmers.  Any contribution, a bonus.  Instead, they're essential.

Here's the thing: it's fine.  Roster bloat is not a killer.  Winning is about what you have, not what's being wasted.  Paying sixty million bucks to five guys who sit is annoying.  It's not debilitating, as long as they find a replacement.

Replacements can be had this time of year.  The Nets, Heat, Suns and Mavs are going nowhere.  They all have an active, aggressive Big, which is what the Bucks need.  They all appear to be interested in adding draft picks.

The question is whether the Bucks will be willing to give up a first round picks as "payment" for swapping Big men.

Tyson Chandler, Trevor Booker and Andrew Bogut don't feel like guys who deserve a first round pick.  Ideally, they're not.  Ideally, you convince a struggling team to trade for youth, and hand them Monroe, Plumlee or Henson.  But ideals don't matter in deals.  And the Bucks need to make a deal.

2017 is important for the Milwaukee Bucks.  Yes, the core is young.  Yes, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a superstar who will be around for many years.  But this is a year with a real opportunity.  Having more years of opportunity is never assured.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Milwaukee Shuns the Bucks

The Bucks beat the Nets in Brooklyn last night, 111-93.  If you're reading this blog, chances are you already knew that.  If you're a Milwaukeean, chances are you didn't.

The online Bucks community -- typically residents of Real GM and Twitter -- is beginning to percolate with frustrations about local Bucks coverage.  Specifically, the lack thereof.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is a particularly hot target.  Every Packers game is prognosticated and autopsied as if it were the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Most Bucks games get a short preview and a nominal recap.

News organizations have to go where the readers are.  It's hard to fault the Journal-Sentinel when Wisconsinite's appetite for Packers copy is seemingly limitless.  

Are the Bucks so unworthy of feature articles?  Is, "McCarthy Breaks Traditional Play-Calling Model" -- today's thousand-word tome that meanders from David Bakthiari's footwork to anecdotal breakdowns of run/pass ratios, all as a way of saying 'the Packers do better when they pass a lot' -- necessary, while the most insightful of journalism's five W's, "Why?", is getting completely ignored in Bucks coverage?

Judging from public interest, the answer may be "Yes".  From television ratings to attendance to sports talk radio calls, the advantage the Packers hold over the Bucks is obvious.  In fact, it's not just the "Green & Yellow", as Keith Millard once infamously called it.  The Badgers, Warriors (sorry, they'll never be the Golden Eagles to me) and even high school football grabs more attention from the average Wisconsinite.

It is especially frustrating because the national media cares.  Giannis Antetokounmpo was swarmed by New York area reporters after his exquisite eviscerating of the Nets.  TNT's post-game show, Inside the NBA, ran Bucks highlights after 2:30 a.m. Eastern time without a hint of "let's get this over with".  

In some ways, Milwaukee's shunning of the Bucks is not unique.  The Warriors went through a similar period of on-court success and off-court indifference.   Out of 2.5 million Bay Area households, an average of only 71,000 tuned into Warriors games during their breakout season in 2013.  Viewership rose steadily, to 81,000 in 2014 and 93,000 in 2015, their Championship season.  It wasn't until last season, when Steph Curry became the biggest NBA star since Michael Jordan, that interest skyrocketed.  An average of 243,000 households tuned in to local Warriors games last season, a mind-blowing increase of 160%.  (For context, the second-highest local NBA viewership increase last season was just 17%.)

Anecdotal evidence told the same story for the Dubs.  Even during most of Golden State's 2015 Championship season, local interest was tepid.  Local media -- sports talk radio, newspapers and television -- were dominated by the Giants' World Series run and the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh drama.  A similar dynamic exists in Milwaukee with the Badgers' Playoff bid and the Packers' fan hysteria.  

Milwaukee doesn't love the Bucks, at least not yet.  Could they?  Sure.  The more important question is, will they?

Milwaukee's apathy towards the Bucks is part circumstance.  The city does not have the urban eruditeness of New York or Los Angeles, and it never will.  The NFL, which has become America's version of what soccer is in Europe, is close by.  Milwaukee can never be San Antonio, Sacramento or Salt Lake City, where the local pro basketball is beloved by default.  An NFL team in any one of those cities would decimate interest in the NBA.

Still, why can't Milwaukee be Portland?  College football dominates the fall and soccer dominates the summer, but the Blazers still have space.  Even in the low, 'JailBlazers' years, the team's average attendance dipped below 16,000 just once.  The Bucks have drawn less than 16,000 per game for nine straight seasons and are on pace to do it again in 2017.

Sports fans reward success and continuity.  The Blazers have had both and the Bucks haven't.  The good news is that the latter is changing.

The Bucks have put a lot of effort in to changing the image of the team.  Effort is good, but not decisive.  No company worked harder than Microsoft to gain market share in personal computing.  Apple still dominates the market for personal smartphones, laptops and tablet computers.

NBA basketball is not electronics and the Bucks are not Apple.  NBA franchise rules prohibit the Bucks from taking the type of bold, innovative steps Apple took to create the iPhone.  If Apple were an NBA franchise, they would've been told that Blackberry owns that market, just as the Bucks get told that the Bulls own Chicago.

Part of life is concerning yourself with things you can control, and to that measure the Bucks have tried.  They're allowed to promote themselves in Wisconsin, and they have.  They're allowed to use Bill Clinton's presence at Nets games to get more New York media to come, and they have.  They're allowed to lobby the League for spots on All-Star Saturday Night, and they have, successfully.  (Look for Jabari to be a Slam Dunk Contest participant this season.)

Bucks management has also turned a lot of Wisconsinites off.  They traffic in nepotism, with an owner's son now claiming the second-most powerful spot in management hierarchy, Senior Vice President.  He's 29 years-old.  They traffic in politics, with their tone and substance being approximately a left-wing counterbalance to the alt-right.  These are hurdles, especially in a state that values merit and shuns divisiveness.

Nepotism and politics can be overcome.  The San Francisco 49ers's CEO, Jed York, is the poster boy for nepotism.  The Los Angeles Kings play in a left-wing city, but are owned by a man who has a record of opposing what has become the left's most sacred issue, gay marriage.  Both teams have a large, passionate fanbase that the Bucks could envy.

The Bucks will get more attention in Milwaukee.  With a team this fun and with a star as charismatic as Giannis, it's bound to happen.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Which Giannis is Real Giannis?

The 2017 Bucks season is three games old, and if I were going to write a song about it I'd probably title it "Hater's Delight".  If you're a hater of Bucks players, coaching, management or ownership, you're having a field day.  Every player on his second contract looks overpaid, the coaches can't seem to get the players united on offense or defense, there've been about a half dozen second-guessable personnel moves in the past year alone and the sight of thousands of empty seats for a game the team claims is a "sellout" doesn't exactly engender trust in the guys who write the checks.

Still, look where they are: 1-2 after playing a doormat, a stealth contender and a youthy upstart.  What can we expect?  It'd be nice to see the Bucks keep games close, I guess, but ultimately the ledger says that the Bucks have won the games they've been favored in and lost the games they haven't.

What is more concerning to this blog is the play of Giannis Antetokounmpo.  He is obviously the team's leader and best player.  At age 21, he has yet to hit the typical prime years for NBA players.  He probably will get better.  And, yet, in watching him play I can't shake the feeling that he'll never be the best player on a good team.

I can't help but think back to another tall, wiry freak, Kevin Garnett.  Like the Greek Freak, Garnett entered the League raw and, frankly, unplayable.  Due to circumstances, he played rookie minutes on a bad team, just as Giannis did on a 15-win Bucks team.  Garnett got a stud rookie partner for his second year, unexpectedly made the Playoffs and by year three was the unquestioned face of his franchise.  (So unquestioned, in fact, that Stephon Marbury, Garnett's aforementioned stud partner, left town once he realized that he'd never be top dog in Minneapolis.)  This should all sound very familiar to Bucks fans.

The accepted history of Kevin Garnett, at least in some circles, is that only won when he played on stacked teams.  That perception has some merit.  Garnett lost six consecutive first round series (amazing, but look it up) before reaching the West Finals in 2004 with Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell.  He then completely missed the Playoffs for three straight seasons, before joining Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in Boston for their mini-dynasty of the late double-oh's.

The reality, as this blog sees it, is that Garnett was an incredible player from his third season (sorry, I still think the Soph Garnett/Rook Marbury combo of '97 was overrated) through his seventeenth season (his second-to-last last one in Boston).  There were ugly win-loss records pockmarking some of Garnett's years in Minnesota, to be sure.  Even in those seasons, Garnett was always a valuable scorer and rebounder, and his coaches could feel good about centering the defense around him.

Giannis is putting up big time stats this season, but he's comparing unfavorably with Garnett on both offense and defense.

On offense he's just not slick.  He can finish and he's getting that quasi- set shot, but he just isn't a natural at keeping the defense guessing.  The NBA is filled with great defenders, and Giannis can't frustrate any of them.  When he ballhandles on the perimeter he can't explode past anyone and his fast-twitch information processing is just a bit too slow.  He's a poor man's LeBron, basically.  Take LeBron, subtract the explosive leaping ability, add an inch or two of length, slow down his passing to defendable levels and you've got the Greek Freak.

On defense it's even worse.  Either he doesn't care or he can't keep focus.  Or maybe he's developmentally disabled.  I don't know.  But on possession after possession Giannis doesn't do what he needs to do to let the Bucks play great defense.  He rarely gets embarrassed, but that's only because Giannis's errors are the catalyst.  It's always some other poor sap whose man ends up with the easy layup or open three.

Players learn and get better.  Great players do, especially.  Ray Allen drove George Karl nuts in Milwaukee.  A trade to Seattle woke him up.  He spent the next decade playing attentive defense and being more patient with his offense.

We look at Giannis's highlights and gaudy stats and think that the Bucks have something special.  Hopefully they do.  Is Giannis the guy who is going to be taller, slightly less versatile LeBron?  Or is he going to be the guy who always puts up numbers and highlights, but whose promise always seems arm's length away?

The time is now.  These next two weeks hold some winnable games.  More importantly, they present a chance for Mr. Antetokounmpo to become more than just an empty highlight factory.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

It's Early and I'm Tired

To give up on a Bucks season after one game would be rash.

We've seen turnarounds before.  The 2010 Bucks -- the team of Brandon Jennings' rookie year -- looked woeful on offense and overmatched down low when they lost their first game in Philly.  That was the Fear the Deer team, and the city was inspired by Playoff time.

It's just that they looked so bad, and in all the ways I worried they might.  They have a star, but not a top star.  They have athletes, but not athletes who look smooth.  They have vets, but the vets aren't their best players.  They have size, but their Bigs aren't tough.  And they don't play as a team.

Beyond the fake sellout (there were thousands of empty seats), the boo birds (I was one of them) and the antagonism towards their own fans (at one point Novak, in full Cubs Fans At Miller Park mode, defiantly stood an clapped for Plumlee as the crowd booed him), that was the worst part: the teamwork.  It felt like the Hornets loved playing with each other.  They looked the part of Contender. The Bucks looked like they just wanted to justify their place on the court.

I could run down a list of puzzling personnel moves made by this regime, or perplexing philosophies that appear to have been instilled by the coaches, or players who lost their spark the moment they got paid.  But what's the point?  It's 5:45 a.m. on a Wednesday.  I'm awake because I wanted to watch the Bucks game when there was work to be done.  I'm tired of giving this franchise attention that it doesn't deserve.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Dreams of Jabari

The Bucks won their annual (maybe?) Madison pre-season game on Saturday.  They beat the Dallas Mavericks 88-74.

It's always nice to beat a Playoff team, even if it is pre-season.  Pre-season is not the time to mention that the opposing team was without their All-Star, or that the opposing team missed a metric ton of open jump shots.  No, pre-season is a time for optimism, and a decisive victory for a likely 2017 West Playoff team is something good.

Reaction from online Bucks fans focused on the play of Jabari Parker, and for good reason.  He led all scorers with twenty-one points, he shot an "efficient" (GOSH, do I hate that word) nine-for-fourteen and he even grabbed six rebounds.  (His plus/minus was plus-sixteen; tops amongst either team, for those looking for stats even more worthless than typical NBA stats.)

It was impossible not to notice Jabari while watching the game.  He was active, he was athletic and he was finishing.  It was great to see teammates reward him for his activity.  Six of Jabari's nine baskets came off assists.

Just as noticeable, at least for those of us accustomed to watching young players develop, was Jabari's coordination.  Or, more precisely, his lack of coordination.  This is not a smooth dude.  He's an incredible athlete in terms of explosiveness, but when it comes to touch and feel, he's no Chris Paul.  He may not even have the motor skills of Ron Paul.  He's just a naturally herky-jerky guy.  It happens.

Bucks fans who dreamt of Jabari turning into the next Paul Pierce or Carmelo aught to treat those ideas like a Larry Sanders practicing a hook shot: think about it occasionally, toss it up just in case it hits, pout for a while after it doesn't and get over it using your preferred stash of drugs and alcohol.

None of this is to say that Jabari is a waste.  He can undoubtedly contribute.  But for him to contribute the same thing's going to have to happen that happens with every valuable NBA player: he's going to have to be used right.

For Jabouncy (new nickname; we'll see if it sticks), being used right means being used like another athletic phenom with suspect motor skills: Blake Griffin.

When Blake debuted during the 2011 season, he took the League by storm.  He was just flying all over the place; dunking on people seemingly at will.  Clippers games turned into an event.

(In fact, I trace my own ticket-buying addiction not to the decision to sign up for Bucks season tickets in 2009, but to my decision to plunk down some cash for a late season five-pack of Clippers tickets the next season.  It morphed me from a guy who just attends sporting events to root for his team to a guy willing to buy a ticket to be a part of a hot crowd.)

Jabouncy may not quite be the athlete Blake is.  Few are.  He may be close enough.  Blake was measured to be six feet, ten inches tall, with a thirty-five and a half inch vertical leap.  Jabari is an inch shorter and his vertical leap has never been independently measured, but the way he propels off the floor certainly makes it look like he could approach Blake's number.

2017 is Jabouncy's age twenty-one season, which happens to be the same age Blake was as a rookie.  Blake's results: twenty-two points and twelve rebounds (!) per game, while shooting over fifty percent and getting to the line eight times per game.

Can Jabouncy do twenty-two and twelve?  Oh goodness.  The Bucks will be a handful this season if he does.

The key -- as Bucks Forest sees it, at least -- is for both Coach Kidd and Jabouncy to embrace who he is.  A little work on the jump shot or the post moves is fine; surely Blake Griffin worked on both of those things when he was Jabouncy's age.  The more important thing is for Jabouncy to play like an animal.  He has to be bowling people over and punishing opponents on the glass.

Jabari is an ambitious fellow -- he clearly thinks that he'll end up being one of the greats -- but ambition without discipline just makes you a dreamer.  The NBA is not a kind place to dreamers.  Hopefully Jabari and Coach Kidd do the right work and leave the dreaming to Bucks fans.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The NBA Sucks This Year or: Bucks Forest's 2017 League Pass Rankings

As the patina of Wisconsin begins to turn a lovely reddish-brown, so too does Zach Lowe of ESPN release his 2017 NBA League Pass rankings.  It's an autumn tradition on par with warm apple pie and my trying to fit into the Flipper Anderson replica jersey that my grandma bought me in 1989.

Also an annual tradition is me rolling my eyes and shouting ineffectually into cyberspace about the order of Zach Lowe's rankings.  But it's a new season, I'm trying to grow and it's just tacky to pick apart the words of those with larger followings than you.

So, instead of rambling on about his annoying affection for the Celtics uniforms or his indefensible aggrandizement of Anthony "Heir to 'Out of Service' Pervis" Davis, I'll take the high road.  I'll simply post a list of teams that Bucks fans might want to watch on NBA League Pass, or some other legitimate, super-legal streaming service for out-of-market NBA games.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Duh.

But there is a reason why I want to mention Bucks fans watching the Bucks.  The NBA has become a provincial League in many ways.  Like with baseball, fans like to watch their own team play.  Unlike with football, NBA fans are becoming less and less interested in games that don't involve their team (unless the team on TV features Steph Curry).

Which brings us to number two:

2. Golden State Warriors

Another "Duh".

The Dubs are an absolute lead pipe cinch to win the Title.  They are the greatest basketball team ever assembled; better than the 1992 Dream Team.  They would have pants'd the Dream Team.  Space Jam may never have happened if Steph & Company were born in 1966.

This may sound like trolling or exaggeration or whatever, but it's 100% Shoot, brother (that's a pro wrestling term).  They are too talented, too smart and they enjoy playing with each other (*ahem*) too much.

I know I said I wouldn't talk about Mr. Lowe because he writes to a bigger audience than I do and it's taken when small aud writers attack big aud writers and all of that, but I have to.  He compared the Cavs -- the 'Luckiest NBA Champion in NBA History, Possibly' Cavs --  to this Warriors team.

Now, I realize that the Cavs were the recipients of an NBA Title in which they "beat" the Dubs in the Finals last season.  And I realize that LeBron James is a media infatuation non-pareil.  But come on.  They play a bunch of iso-ball, they clutch and grab instead of playing defense and they don't even seem like they're having fun together.  They suck.  I'd be fine never watching them again.  Bucks fans can feel free to ignore them.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

KATs!!

KATs, KATs, KATs!

Man, I love KATs (Karl-Anthony Towns).  The guy has a great nickname, he seems like a cool dude and he is a freaking freak of nature on the basketball court.

Oh, my gosh you should watch more KATs.  He is so slick on O, so savvy on D (like, Larry Sanders 2012-13 savvy) and he has taken the worst trend in nicknames (the lazy, "let's just use this guy's initials" nicknames) and turned it COOL.

KATs.  It just so cool.

There's also Rudio, who's nice.  And Thibs, who's a maniac.  And a bunch of overrated young bums, many of whom played college basketball for the scandal-ridden program called the UCLA Bruins.

But tune in for KATs.  He's a baller and he'll be around for a long time.

4. Brooklyn Nets

Ah hah!  The reason that I felt compelled to respond to Mr. Lowe.

He had the Nets 30th.  Last!!  How dare he.

The 2017 Brooklyn Nets are the NBA's sleeper team.  Kenny Atkinson will win Coach of the Year (because media members give coach of the year to the coach of the team that media members were most wrong about at the start of the season), Brook Lopez or Jeremy Lin will win Most Improved (because media members give most improves to the player that media members were more wrong about at the start of the season) and Sean Marks will win Executive of the Year (because media members blahblahblah you get the point).  This team is actually good.  And they'll play an attractive style.

But, still: Why the Nets?  Other teams are good.  Other teams play an attractive style.  Why should Bucks fans watch the Nets when there are 26 over teams (including the bum Cavs) available on NBA League Pass?

One: The Nets will compete for a Playoff spot.

The Bucks are also competing for a Playoff spot, so that's makes the Nets a natural rival.  Cross off the Western Conference from your League Pass list, because none of those teams compete with the Bucks for a Playoff spot.

Two: The Nets don't have any overrated, has-been "stars".

Overrated, has-been stars are only fun when they play for your team.  I absolutely LOVED watching Robin Yount pursue 3,000 hits.  It was fantastic.  However, I have a hard time believing that, say, a Twins fan enjoyed watching "The Kid" plink and plunk opposite field singles over the second baseman's head.  Those types of guys are ANNOYING.

D-Wade, you're out.  Carmelo, you're out.  LeBron (even though you amazingly made up for your slightly diminished athletic ability by becoming a superlatively accurate passer last year), you're out.  Even guys like Paul George, who stretch the definition of "star", are not particularly fun to watch.

Three: The Nets have my favorite announce team.

Ever wonder what happened to "The Czar of the Telestrator" Mike Fratello?  He's alive and well on Nets broadcasts!  And he's paired with Ian Eagle, who is arguably my favorite play-by-play man in any sport today.  (Why would a personal preference like "my favorite" require the adverb "arguably"?  I don't know.  It reminds me of Ric Flair's WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was INARGUABLY one of my favorite live events I've ever been to.)

Hell is sitting through a telecast captained by Boston's broadcast team.  Or Orlando's.  Or Philly's or DC's or Detroit's.  The NBA season is long and monotonous, and by the end you're glad it's over.  Same with those teams' (and others') local broadcasts.

Being the fair and forthcoming broadcast journalist that I am, I will give special notice to the broadcast teams of the Raptors, Knicks and Bugs.  They are all quite good.

5. Houston Rockets

I could give a crap about the team.  They'll probably be better without Dwight.  D'Antoni is probably the perfect coach for Harden.  Capela is probably the most underrated center in the League.

But this is all about their hilariously bad broadcast team of Bill Worrell, Matt Bullard and Clyde Drexler.

Bill Worrell is a classic local sports homer.  He gets frustrated with bad play and he thinks refs are unfair to the local star, James Harden (of all people).  He's excited when the team wins and he usually takes a glass-half-full approach.

The comedy comes from Clyde and Bullard.  Bullard takes his job seriously.  He does his research and it feels like he would like to get a shot at national broadcasts some day.  Clyde, on the other hand, is all about having fun.  He's an all time great Houston basketball player (three Final Four appearances [yes, THREE] for the Houston Cougars and an NBA Championship with the Houston Rockets) and he comes off as a jovial, good natured guy.  He clearly has no intention whatsoever of improving as a broadcaster, however.  And the dynamic of the ambitious former journeyman looking to make a name for himself and the satiated local legend often leads to the type of unintentional comedy rarely seen from modern sports broadcasting.

Sadly, last season may have been the peak for unintentional Rockets broadcast comedy.  The season was a massive disappointment, the coach was fired early, the interim coach was in over his head and the team had obvious, major chemistry issues.  It was as beautiful for lovers of unintentional NBA broadcast comedy as this season's Warriors team will be for lovers of blowout victories.  This season the Rockets aught to be good, and if that happens the team's NBA League Pass ranking will plummet.

6. Nobody

Who else is worth watching?  They all do the same crap: lots of PnR and three chuckin'.  None of them have interesting stars.  Westbrook's a ball hog.  Kawhi is great on D, which is only fun during the Playoffs, Kristaps plays outside too much. Chris Paul is an annoying ass and Blake lost his smile. Dirk?  Old.  Lillard?  I'm sick of PnR.  Boogie?  I like him but the Kings are probably bad again.  DeRozan & Lowry?  I like DeRozan because he's a Trojan, I guess.

It's a bad League this season.  We know who the Champion's going to be, most of the other teams aren't all that interesting, and the Young Prime generation of stars (John Wall, Anthony Davis, Kyrie, Drummond) all are personality-free AAU types.  They can do their own thing, but none of them play a good team game.

So, enjoy the Bucks and their underdog Playoff run (hopefully), enjoy the Warriors ruthless march to the Championship (unfortunately) and enjoy watching re-runs of The Larry Sanders Show on HBOGo.  It'll be a whole heck of a lot better than this NBA season.