The NBA Corner
Greetings IHJJR readers! Welcome to The NBA Corner. My name is Christopher Pierznik and my primary function will be to discuss the happenings within the world of the National Basketball Association, but there are times when it will deviate towards other areas including, but not limited to, films, music, craft beer and just life in general. Born and raised in the outer suburbs of Philly, I moved into the city at 18 when I went to college and stayed. I did my undergrad at La Salle and MBA at Temple. I'm a Phillies partial season ticket holder and an avid fan of the 76ers, Eagles and The Big Five (obviously), but I follow and appreciate teams and players from across the nation. I'm in awe of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, loved Pedro Martinez long before he wore a Phillies uniform and, as you will see, I enjoy watching basketball played at its highest level, regardless of where or by whom. Just because someone doesn't play his home games in illadelph doesn't mean I can't appreciate his talent and in this space I hope to shine a light on whatever catches my eye, no matter where it takes place. I don’t take this opportunity lightly and I’m here to make the most of it, so let’s dive right in.
I love the NBA. I've always loved the NBA and I don’t apologize for it. It’s become cool recently to shit all over the highest level of basketball in the world and currently there are very few people that take the time to defend the league. Consider me one of the very few. The posts that you will see in this section won’t criticize other sports (often), but they will also not ignore the constant belittling from fans of other sports. As a result, let’s look at the single major criticism of the Association.
The biggest complaint I hear about the NBA is, “the regular season is meaningless.” Yes, it is true that of the three major American sports (sorry, NHL, but major sports aren’t broadcast on Versus), the NBA has the highest percentage of teams that make the playoffs – 16 of 30 (53.3%). However, the NFL is not that far behind with 12 of 32 making it (37.5%) and Major League Baseball is the most exclusive of all with only 8 of 30 teams (26.7%) making the playoffs, thereby sparing 22 fan bases from having to listen to Tim McCarver throughout the month of October.
Regardless, the number of teams that make the playoffs does not render the regular season futile. Look no further than college basketball. Every year, the greatest playoff system in sports allows 32 64 65 68 teams to make the tournament. Furthermore, the conference tournaments absolutely make college basketball’s regular season completely useless. In 2008, Coppin State finished the season 16 – 20 but, by winning the MEAC Conference championship, earned a spot in the always forgettable Play-in game, which is technically in the tournament. Don’t worry, it gets worse. The following year, Maryland went 7 – 9 in the ACC and yet still secured an At-large bid. No offense to the Terps, but that’s a travesty. At least Coppin State won the conference tournament. Maryland lost in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament and still made the field of 65. And the NBA season is pointless?
One final thought on this topic: if no one cares about the NBA regular season, why did everyone in America focus on the Miami Heat starting this year 9 – 8? We’ve already established that the same record would’ve easily led to a berth in the NCAA tournament and, besides, I thought the NBA season was worthless? (Miami, by the way, has won 21 of their last 22 and are in first place in the Eastern Conference. But no one cares.)
Now that we’ve established that people actually do care about the NBA regular season while claiming they don’t, let’s get to the good stuff:
- Blake Griffin deserves your respect and your All-Star vote…not only for the constant highlight reel dunks and not only for the 23 (so far) consecutive double-doubles, but also because of this stat from Rob Mahoney of The New York Times: “Griffin has registered seven or more assists on five occasions this season, a mark surpassed by only one forward or center (LeBron James) in the league.” I just hope he doesn’t give himself a concussion by hitting his head on the rim.
- Speaking of the Clips, this is when the West Coast gets its revenge on the East Coast for always scheduling games on Eastern Standard Time. Because I have a job (and I’m 30), I no longer have the ability to stay up late and catch Clippers home games. I know something special is happening but since that mortgage and heating bill don’t care about the Pacific Division, I often miss out on these moments. It reminds me of the ’01 – ’04 Kings, but I was younger then – and in college – for two of those years, so I hadn’t become old and cranky yet, and could justify staying up to watch Bibby (and J-Will before him), Peja, C-Webb, Vlade & Doug Christie on a weeknight.
- Kevin Love is averaging 15.7 rebounds per game. If he finishes the season at that mark, it’l be the highest total since The Worm grabbed 16.1 every night for the Bulls in ’96 – ’97. Maybe we should call him The Medium Fundamental?
- Amar'e Stoudemire gets all the attention (and it’s deserved), but Raymond Felton is really the catalyst and a major reason why the Knicks don’t suck this season. Letting him walk is yet another personnel mistake by the Bobcats and my personal lord and savior, Michael Jordan.
- Finally, if I could pick any point guard in the Association to run my squad, I really don’t know whom I would choose. Nash & Kidd are a little too old and neither can play anything more than olé defense (word to Roger Dorn). Tyreke Evans & Brandon Jennings are still too young and, quite frankly, just not worthy of the top 5. Those spots belong to Rondo, CP3, D. Will, D. Rose & Russell Westbrook. Check out the stats so far this year at the bottom of the page.
You can't really go wrong with any of them but, gun to my head, I'd go with Rondo. He has the stats you want from a PG. His supporting cast is better than the others' (especially CP3), but numbers don't lie and I think Rondo is playing the point better than anyone else at this moment. That doesn't mean that he can't lose (and regain and lose) that title again before the end of the season but, at this point, Rajon's the choice.
I’m honored to be a part of the IHJJR family and I look forward to bringing all of you my ramblings on the NBA – and other assorted items – going forward. If you really can’t wait until then, feel free to come join the party on Twitter.