Simply put, I’m a huge Bill Simmons fan. It doesn’t even matter that he is a diehard Boston Celtics loyalist. Right now, I am in the process of reading his bestseller The Book Of Basketball and let me tell you it is some of the most entertaining material I have ever come across. In fact, I recommend it to any person who loves the NBA. You won’t agree with everything said, but that is beyond the point.
Anyway, around this time every year Simmons compiles his ranking system of the 50 most desirable trade pieces and assigns them their “value” through groups. Most of these names would never be shipped out of town in a million years, which I guess, in a weird sense, is the inspiration for the entire piece.
GROUP A: “Completely And Utterly Untouchable”
5. Blake Griffin
And now, I am no longer depressed! I want to self-plagiarize a point I made on a podcast recently: However Blake’s career plays out, we’ll remember him as the first sports hero of the MultiTasker Generation. When Blake had a monster dunk, not only did you know about it right away, you practically saw it right away. Usually within 8-10 minutes. Like Jordan came to personify the mid-’80s — crisply directed commercials, snazzy posters, trend-setting sneakers, highlights perfectly edited for the “SportsCenter” generation — Blake personifies what’s happening right now. You can watch every Clippers game on DirecTV or your laptop if you want. You can tweet during games with your buddies waiting for something to happen. If you want to skip the game and wait to be alerted that something magical happened, followed by your Twitter account exploding and the inevitable YouTube link getting forwarded around, you can do that, too. Either way, it’s 2011 and you can consume Blake Griffin any way you want.
4. Derrick Rose
I still have him as the MVP. If you disagree, go look at the standings, try to find me 10 games in which Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah played together, then watch Keith Bogans play for 10 minutes. Derrick Rose did more for that team through the first 50 games than anyone else did for their team; doesn’t make him the best player, just the most valuable. At least so far. Of course, we can’t sleep on this scenario, courtesy of Tim in Troy:
“I think we could have a Hakeem Olajuwon/David Robinson situation brewing with the 2011 MVP: What if Rose gets presented with the trophy in front of LeBron before a Bulls-Heat Round 2 playoff game? I picture a standard LeBron Eff You game (40, 10 and 10, five mean dunks, sits for the fourth quarter) making Hakeem’s shakedown of The Admiral look like a birthday present.”
Great call. Yet here’s the difference between Rose and Robinson: Rose would get ticked off by the Eff You performance, try to match it … and then it would be on like Donkey Kong. Have I mentioned how excited I am for the 2011 playoffs? I’ve mentioned that, right? We’re definitely getting Boston-Chicago, Boston-Miami or Chicago-Miami in Round 2. Round 2!!!! Any one of those three matchups will be old-school, ’80s-style, no-handshaking bloodbaths. I can’t wait for the refs to get overprotective and screw it up.
3. Kevin Durant
With LeBron splitting shots with the other MoHeatos, it’s hard to foresee a situation in which KD’s 30 a game wouldn’t take the scoring title year after year after year until he got bored … and that’s assuming 30 is his ceiling, when actually — if Oklahoma City added a low-post threat and Durant bumped up his 3-point shooting (34 percent right now) — he could climb to 33-34 pretty soon. (The record: MJ and Wilt both won seven straight scoring titles.) So worst-case scenario, barring injury, he’ll be a rich man’s George Gervin.
And with that said …
Remember this past September. Turkey? The Baster Game? Why did so many Team USA guys make a leap afterward (Rose, Westbrook, Gay, Love, Chandler, Odom, etc.) and Durant went sideways? Am I picking nits? Were my expectations too high? Are his teammates worse than we realize? Did he already HAVE his leap, and that’s as far as we’re going? You’d think Westbrook’s leap would have facilitated a second mini-leap from Durant, right? And further–
(Oh, that’s right … he’s 22. I forgot.)
Look at this as a proper tipoff to All Star Weekend because you will hear the words “Carmelo Anthony” and “trade” more than your brain will ever care to process. It is quite a lengthy read though, so don’t be alarmed into thinking this is time sensitive material. Just make sure to do so before the trade deadline expires next week. Those interested in engaging in completely hypothetical scenarios can head over to ESPN.com to read the entire article.