ONE: Rest assured, this blog is not moving exclusively to weekly Sunday Six Packs. I’m back from my overseas trip from Manila and what a crazy last couple of days it has been. Woke up Friday morning at 10am, worked for half a day, jumped on a flight to Singapore, bought some duty free shit, overnight flight to Melbourne (which I never sleep on), straight to the MCG to watch the Grand Final and get rained on (more on the GF in another post), then out to a birthday party in the evening. That’s about 40 hours without sleep. Then to top it off, I find out this morning that Manila completely flooded barely a few hours after I left. To think I could have been grounded and missed the Grand Final… well, I don’t want to think about that.
TWO: Some news about Bogut and his back rehab. Things seem to be progressing, albeit slowly, for the big Aussie. “It’ll probably take me two or three months to get that confidence, where I’m not thinking about it anymore at all. That’s a long way off…. There are a lot of people that will say, ‘You’re still getting paid’ or ‘Maybe he’s not rehabbing as he should.’ . . . It has nothing to do with that. It’s just a frustrating time. It’s a frustrating time as an athlete. It’s frustrating for fans and frustrating for everybody. I definitely want to be out on the floor.” I guess it must be frustrating. Meanwhile, Bucks Diary takes a look at Why Bogut’s Contract Probably Isn’t Toxic. Probably? I’d say definitely. It’s way too early to be questioning the merits of Bogut’s contract (which I know Bucks Diary isn’t trying to do, but others have), given that he hasn’t been fully healthy for a while. Look forward to AB proving all the doubters wrong this season.
THREE: I haven’t heard much about Nathan Jawai since he headed Dallas way, but Interbasket recently had this brief interview with the 6-10 Man Mountain. Was interested to read this tidbit: “The NBA can be summed up well from my mate Bogut. It’s much more of a marketing ploy, other than a sport. Though, my impressions right now is that is high intensity and a massive privilege for anyone to be associated with the NBA.” I also caught these comments on Jawai from the Maverick’s Director of Basketball Development.
FOUR: Continuing the Aussie streak, there’s been a couple of articles written about Patty Mills recently and all around the same theme: trying to grab that last Portland roster spot. Both the Canberra Times and Daily Telegraph have quoted Mills recently, making mention of the fact he’s turned down offers from European teams to pursue his NBA dream. “It’s going to be tight. But I want to show them how fast I can recover and get back to the form I was in and show them I belong at this level. I don’t want to give them the reason not to pick me just because I’ve been injured… They haven’t filled the roster as yet, which is good, and they do have three point guards already. They signed Andre Miller, which puts me in not an ideal situation, but we’ll see when I go over. They’ve still shown they’re keen and interested a lot.” Of course they’re still showing interest. They’d be foolish to turn their back on Patty, who has already shown he can play at this level. All of Australia is wishing you the best Patty, and we hope to see you in that Blazers jersey real soon!
FIVE: If you haven’t already seen it, Dime Magazine is running a piece on the NBA’s 30 Best Go-To Players. I was happy to see Rip make the cut at #30, then mortified to see Boris Diaw one spot ahead of him. WTF? Come back to me when you’ve won a title and lead your team to countless playoff victories, Boris. Anyway, it’s an interesting topic, and it prompted me to list my own top 10 best go-to players. Primarily based on recent memory with a bit of history thrown in.
1. Kobe Bryant – No surprises here. Can get his shot whenever he wants, wherever he wants. Has done it countless times on the big stage for almost a decade now.
2. Paul Pierce - Maybe I’m still mesmerized by that Game 5 performance against the Bulls, but I was close to putting The Truth at #1. I rate him that highly. The best thing about Pierce is that in crunch time he doesn’t try to over-engineer things (like Kobe sometimes does). He knows what tools he has and how to use them, and he executes methodically.
3. Lebron James - Nothing can stop Lebron James. We just haven’t seen enough Go-To Guy Heroics over a sustained period for him to jump the above two guys on this list. Plus, he’s still a little shaky from 20-30 feet. Despite this.
4. Ray Allen - I can’t recall a veteran player with 12+ years experience and an already stellar career managing to raise their clutch legacy an order of magnitude the way Ray Allen did these last playoffs. He hit more clutch shots in that Bulls series than some players hit in their entire careers (there’s literally too many to link to). From three-point range, he is so far ahead as the #1 Go-To player in the league that it’s not funny.
5. Dwyane Wade - I still don’t think Dwyane Wade has a reliable jump shot. And he can’t shoot threes. But he has that rarest of qualities in crunch time that only few others have shared in recent years – he makes shit happen. He’s been doing it since he was a rookie. Mark my words, he will retire as one of the most clutch players in history.
6. Brandon Roy – I’ve summed up my thoughts on Brandon Roy as a go-to player already. The two words that come to mind when I think of Roy in the clutch are “poise” and “awareness”. For a young player they are invaluable assets, and I’m extremely jealous of Blazers fans everywhere. I look forward to many more years of post-season action from this guy. Until then, I’m happy to just watch this shot over and over again.
7. Ben Gordon – I think Doug Collins best summed up Ben Gordon’s clutch abilities when he hit his crazy shot in Game 5 against the Celtics (see below clip). Listen carefully to Collins just as Gordon releases the shot. It is by far the most bizarre and hilarious one-liner from an NBA commentator during an intense game-winning moment that I have ever heard. As I said on Day 9 of the playoffs, when it comes to crunch time Ben Gordon is sometimes too stupid for his own good. He is beyond fearless. He is beyond confident, but it’s not arrogance. It’s something else. It’s Ben Gordon.
8. Hedo Turkoglu – The Orlando Magic are going to severely miss this guy, and they probably won’t realise till the last ten seconds of a close game. The thing about Hedo as a go-to guy is that you literally can’t prevent him from getting his shot off. It’s like he has a separate arsenal of moves and shots that he specifically reserves for game-winning moments, because despite how unbalanced or cramped he might look, he makes those shots far too many times for it to be a coincidence.
9. Jason Terry – It’s funny watching the Mavs, with Dirk as the unquestioned superstar yet someone who is all too happy to defer to Terry in the clutch. In fairness to Dirk, that’s not his decision. Terry’s name gets called out in those situations because he has a knack for making big plays. The fact he is a sixth man just makes it all the more demoralizing for the opposition.
10. Rashard Lewis - It’s spooky how similar this guy is in the clutch to his former teammate Hedo. Killer from long range, maybe not quite as versatile, but needs even less space. Just – ask – Cleveland.
Joe Johnson - Still have very fond memories of his performances against the Celtics last year. Can hurt you from anywhere on the floor. Just needs a couple of more big playoff performances under his belt before he cracks the top ten.
Steve Nash – Extremely reliable with the game on the line because you know he will always make the right decision. If I need a game-winning three, Nash is not far behind Ray Allen for me.
Derrick Rose – You just know you are going to see a whole bunch of clutch performances from D-Rose this coming season, now that Ben Gordon has left town. As a rookie displayed so much composure it was scary.
Danny Granger - You would hear more about him if he didn’t play for Indiana… or if they were a decent team. Difficult to guard in the best of situations, let alone when the game is on the line.
SIX: Here’s a Jordan tribute you rarely see: The Top 23 Michael Jordan Fails. The highlight for me (or more accurately lowlight) was undoubtedly this clip. You may not know this, but I have a deep, deep-rooted hatred for Kevin Bacon. I don’t know why, but I just really hate the guy. And now after seeing this clip, I hate Michael Jordan too.