TrueHoop: Smush Parker
- Words of encouragement from Metta World Peace for Smush Parker, who's embroiled in yet another war of words with former teammate Kobe Bryant.
- One of the conflicts presented to serious NBA fans is how much to vest in preseason play. You want to glean something substantive -- otherwise what's the point in watching -- but the preseason is very much a laboratory of trial and error. At Liberty Ballers, Michael Levin takes a measured, patient approach to Evan Turner and his ugly shooting exhibition. At Philadunkia, Jeff McMenamin explores the central question facing the 2012-13 Sixers: Did the team improve with the addition of a top-line big man, or were the moves more lateral than upward?
- "How many games will the Houston Rockets win this season?" That's about as straightforward as a question gets, but one whose answer is as confounding as string theory. To help you out, Rahat Huq of Red94 provides three lists: What we know, what we think we know and what we need to find out. Needless to say, that last category is the most populated.
- We've said it before and we'll say it again: America's children need to watch Steve Novak shoot basketballs. An account of Novak's exploits in a preseason Knicks game against Washington.
- Evidence that Eric Bledsoe might finally see some big regular-season minutes in Los Angeles?
- Upon reading that Miami's shooters say they're "too open," commenters at Marginal Revolution wonder if Shane Battier has been reading Israeli psychologist Daniel Kahneman.
- Speaking of bookish NBA players, Dirk Nowitzki -- in a shared interview with his guru Holger Geschwindner -- says that reading physics books and attending Wagner operas have helped his game.
- Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic examines DeMar DeRozan's downward spiral, then culls the annals of Basketball Reference in hopes of finding similar players through the years who saw their true shooting percentage plummet during their early seasons, but subsequently saw a bounce.
- Gather 'round and listen to Zach Lowe with Bill Simmons on the B.S. Report.
- I'll be schmoozing NBA on HoopSpeak Live with the firm of Mason, Harper & Strauss, LLC at 3 p.m. ET.
- No Regard for Human Life's Presidential/NBA preview series has been a load of fun. But if your team's presidential analog is Franklin Pierce, you've gotta be concerned.
- Start hearing your name mentioned as an amnesty candidate, and you might take a few calculated risks -- like hiring a trainer who's been working with your kids.
- Co-sign on Mario Chalmers' impressions of Shanghai: "Gotta admit Shanghai is an amazing city. All these buildings around here is crazy. Buildings on top of buildings everywhere." Shanghai, aside from having culinary magic, makes you feel like you're starring in a movie being directed by one of those stylish, moody Chinese directors.
"Leadership" is one of those tricky things to define. It can be quietly dignified, boisterously vocal, even late-blooming. Does your team have it? The TrueHoop Network sorts through the distinctions:
Timothy Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell: "In San Antonio, everything is measured in championships. No one gets too excited about another pedestrian playoff appearance. These things are expected. A couple weeks back when the Spurs clinched, we all yawned. But this was, perhaps, the worst regular season of the Tim Duncan era. 54-28 is scraping the bottom of the injury-tarnished barrel. This season felt like a nadir. The Big 3 missed over 50 games. The team never developed a rhythm. It just punched its way to 54. It was a struggle. Last night's OT victory against the Hornets was, in many ways, an ending fitting for the start. On the season the Spurs played in 18 one-possession games and 6 overtimes, 3 of which doubled-up the extra stanzas. But for the Spurs to have fought their way there is no less glorious than if they had arrived on cruise control. This regular season was remarkable in its own way. Let's not lose sight of these easily overlooked achievements, even if they're only silhouettes standing against a much brighter light. Let's not take them for granted. Greatness is measured in the 'small' things too."
Rob Mahoney of Two Man Game: "With the playoffs looming and the Mavs playing their best basketball of the season, one can't help but feel the slightest bit of optimism. Without the weight of expectation, Dallas might just be ready to soar. It's what I want to believe and what I hope. But all of that hope, the very basis of that possibility, hinges upon the ability of this team to maintain a certain level of consistency. As I understand it, the source of that consistency is solid leadership ... For the Mavs, that responsibility falls on Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry. Each can dominate the opposition on the court, and each brings a different dimension to leadership on the hardwood. Dirk is the face of the franchise, the best player on the team, and the established star. Jason Kidd has a winning pedigree, Hall of Fame credentials, and a reputation for leadership based on the nature of his position. Jason Terry's play begs for him to assume the role, and his rapport with the fans and his teammates don't disagree."
Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold: "For a long time, Mitch Kupchak was the guy that couldn't get the job done. He was the man who couldn't build a team. He was the butt of fans jokes and the victim of media scorn. It seemed like Mitch would never measure up to the man we called the Logo ... This was our GM? I mean, this was the guy that traded Shaq. The man that thought it was a good idea to exchange Caron Butler for Kwame Brown. The guy that signed Smush Parker and then kept him. The guy that made a lottery pick out of an unproven center straight from high school ... over more proven college players who could have helped the team right away. Needless to say, there was definitely reason for concern about the direction of this franchise. But what none of us understood was that Mitch had a vision of a team and he had the patience to execute his plan. Throughout all the criticism that he received, he never wavered from the path that he laid out to rebuild and transition the Lakers from a Shaq-centric team to one that could compete with Kobe Bryant at its nexus. We just had to wait for it to all come together."
THE FINAL WORD
Hardwood Paroxysm: A visual montage of everything you love about the NBA Playoffs.
Piston Powered: It's the bench.
Valley of the Suns: Grant Hill, Basketball Professional.
(Photos by D. Lippitt/Einstein, Barry Gossage, Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)