Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reviewing The Rookie-Sophomore Game

A few thoughts on last night's Rising Stars Challenge among first-year and second-year NBA players:

Early on, point guards Jeremy Lin and Ricky Rubio were throwing up three-pointers like Craig Hodges. Why? Shooting from distance is not their strength.

And Lin has been the most celebrated player from this group in recent weeks, and the NBA is surely trying to promote him to viewers around the world, yet he barely played ten minutes. Why? Perhaps some of his comrades, who have worked in relative anonymity to put up equal or better regular-season numbers to Lin (DeMarcus Cousins, Kyrie Irving, Greg Monroe, Paul George) are tired of his wattage and didn't want to play with him. That is only my rank speculation, of course. Or perhaps Lin is just fatigued by all his sudden on-court and off-court responsibilities.

I thought former Kentucky teammates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins might connect for some sweet plays, but I saw little of that. Cousins did appear to be trying hard, as I saw sweat covering his face.

Paul George is just as smooth and agile as fellow 6'9"ers Kevin Durant or George Gervin, though not yet as accomplished. A first-half spin move and dunk by George had me standing at my kitchen table.

This is a bit personal, but Ricky Rubio, I'm sorry to say, has a forest growing in his armpits. Perhaps that is the Spanish style, but beard trimmers are fairly cheap at your nearest drugstore.

I wish the "Team Shaq" players had all worn a common-colored jersey, and the same for the "Team Chuck" players. Each player wore his regular NBA team's jersey, and thus trying to follow the action was extremely difficult without constantly consulting a roster sheet. I saw a few errant passes that might have been the result of similar confusion among the players. (Or maybe it was just the same sloppy play that regularly characterizes the rookie-sophomore game.)

Several of the players, notably Kyrie Irving (8 for 8 from 3-point land), unleashed perfectly launched, high-arcing shots that tickled nothing but the nylon net. To me, this demonstrated that most NBA players can hit baskets from anywhere on the court without defense or pressure. They have spent most of their free time since teenagedom, whether during the season or not, practicing precisely this skill. This game, of course, involved little defense, but real pro games are not like that. The great shooters are not merely the guys who can deliver the proper form with arms extended, feet aloft, and wrist bent, but the man who can run around a screen, catch, gather, and shoot with three hands in his face and an opposing coach screaming epithets from the sidelines. Having said that, Irving and others show great promise to become legitimate stars.


Suraj said...

Super impressed with Irving. Hadn't seen him play much this year, but I'd heard he's having a good season. He looks to show more potential than I would have guessed from reading about him before last year's draft.


Anonymous said...

I like Ricky Rubio's furry pits. That and his beard make him look like a real man, a hot one at that!