Sports fan shares feelings, musings about recent professional sports seasons
It’s been a little over a week since the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros in the World Series, and we have all moved on. I’m going to call that the first thing I want to talk about in this column. This column is going to really just be me being me, talking about stuff that I see in pro sports right now.
1. It’s been a little over a week since the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros in the World series, and we have all moved on. Nice.
2. LeWashed James. Can you imagine only averaging 26.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and a league-leading 11.1 assists per game, whilst having one of the best defensive seasons of your late career in your 17th NBA season? Wow, LeBron James, you are so washed. On a less sarcastic note, please reread those stats. For the advanced stats fans, James is putting up an offensive rating of 116, a defensive rating of 96, and a box plus/minus of +11.5. For those who aren’t advanced stats fans, LeBron is really good. Like really, really good. He has made a case for being the best player in the league again, and it is so beautiful to watch.
3. WANTED: Kawhi Leonard. LAST SEEN: not getting on the team plane to play the Milwaukee Bucks. Kawhi Leonard has already missed two games this season, and we are not even at the three-week mark of the season. The Clippers are already 0–2 in games played with Leonard, and both of these games were played against playoff-level opponents, the first game against the Utah Jazz, a very possible playoff matchup, and the second against the Milwaukee Bucks, probably the most likely finals matchup if the Clippers think they are making the NBA finals. It’s all right though, Kawhi Leonard made sure he played against the Charlotte Hornets who might not even have five NBA players, and the falling San Antonio spurs. Can’t be the best player in the league if you don’t play.
4. The NBA’s drug problem. The NBA has suspended John Collins and DeAndre Ayton, star big men for the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns respectively, both for 25 games for use of illegal substances, most likely Performance enhancing drugs. The NBA is widely regarded as the most relaxed league in terms of using PEDs and drugs in general. Will we see more stars fall victim to failed drug tests, or were these two just unlucky? Were they not careful enough? Only the future will tell, but there’s a chance we are watching the start of a big change in the NBA that could have lasting impact on the NBA’s history.
5. Jonathan Isaacs has got it. The IMG Academy alum is having an absolute career year on the defensive end. The young star is second in blocks per game, with three per game, posting a defensive rating of 95, and a defensive box plus/minus of 7.2. Isaacs has always had the tools to be one of the best defenders in the league and it seems like he is finally figuring it out.
6. Who would have thought that surrounding one of the best scorers in the NBA with an actual point guard might help your team win games? It’s okay Phoenix Suns, not all of us came to the same conclusion (we actually all did, but don’t tell them though). The Phoenix Suns have been going toe-to-toe with every team in the league, including toppling the previously undefeated Philadelphia 76ers. To make it even more impressive, they’ve been doing all of this without the help of star big man DeAndre Ayton, whose suspension we talked about earlier. Robert Sarver is a garbage owner, but I am way too happy to see Devin Booker killing it and winning.
7. Luke Walton commits regicide. Last year the Sacramento Kings were the ninth seed and almost in the playoffs. They then fired head coach Dave Joerger, notorious for being hard to work with, and hired head coach Luke Walton, notorious for being loved by everyone. This year they sit in the standings right beside the injured and retooling Pelicans, the injured and retooling Warriors, and the ‘one last year before we get serious’ Memphis Grizzlies, who are at the bottom of the standings. Lakers fans tried to warn them that Luke Walton sucks, but no one listened. Now the Kings pay the price, a quick return to their status-quo: losing seasons and not making the playoffs.
8. Dwight Howard’s resurgence! Yes, I did write an article talking about why Dwight Howard should not be signed by the Lakers. Yes I am eating crow. Yes I am so happy to be wrong, I cannot believe it. If I was always this happy to be wrong, my girlfriend would be the happiest woman in the world. Dwight Howard has been absolutely critical for the top of the league Los Angeles Lakers, with his hustle play, stifling defense, selfless play and much improved mobility, he has been everything the Lakers could have asked for and more. With a 136 offensive rating, a 92 defensive rating (both career highs), a 7.0 defensive plus/minus and 8.0 box plus minus (also both career highs) in terms of advanced stats, this season so far has been the best of Dwight’s whole career. Obviously the defensive player of the year awards and Houston years were actually better but that doesn’t invalidate how amazingly Dwight has played this year. He also hasn’t done anything extraordinary - just hustle and work hard, which makes me believe this is sustainable in his bench role. Very excited to see if D39 can keep this up.
9. Young flukes, or new stars? Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves. Both basketball teams have been playing to their potential, and it’s really great to watch Andrew Wiggins go on an 11–0 run all by himself the other night. Personally, I think they both will fall, but the Mavericks might still sneak into the playoffs.
10. “Gangstas don’t die, they get absolutely shredded and they move to Miami!” - almost Tory Lanez. The Miami Heat have been one of the best teams in the league this year, beating even the mighty Phoenix Suns and absolutely obliterating the Houston Rockets, at one point being up over 40 points. The Heat went from Jimmy Butler and a bunch of average role players to Jimmy Butler and some dedicated mercenary journeymen, hungry rookies and one of the best coaches in the league. Kendrick Nunn has scored the most points of any player in their first five games, Meyers Leonard looks like the $11 million he’s being paid, Tyler Herro is going to win rookie of the year,and they are all absolutely shredded because of the Miami Heat’s strict fitness requirements.