Kawhi Leonard Is A (Death) Star
It’s time we give the Spurs’ star his due: he’s a bonafide, clear-cut superstar, in the same echelon as Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and LeBron James. He doesn’t have the flash of those other players, and he probably never will. But flash can be overrated; sometimes, it’s even used to mask a dearth of substance. Leonard is nothing but substance.
He passes every test — from the eyes to the numbers — with flying colors. He’s an elite defender, probably even better than he was last year when he won the Defensive Player of the Year award for basically a half season of dominance. The Spurs have timed his progression on offense perfectly, and now he’s at the point where it’s hard to discover any noticeable shortcomings in his offensive repertoire.
He can handle the rock, back his opponent down, run the offense, and put the ball in the bucket with the best of them.
There are no holes in Leonard’s game. There aren’t even little divots or cracks. His game is one flat, smooth surface, impenetrable and lethal. He is one of the last basketball Jedi’s and The Force is strong in him.
Robert Sarver Wants The Suns To Get Off His Lawn And Probably Eats Dinner At 5:00 PM On The Dot
Oh dear, Robert. This will not do.
“I’m not sure it’s just the NBA,” Sarver said. “My whole view of the millennial culture is that they have a tough time dealing with setbacks, and Markieff Morris is the perfect example. He had a setback with his brother in the offseason and he can’t seem to recover from it.
“I’m not sure if it’s the technology or the instant gratification of being online. But the other thing is, I’m not a fan of social media. I tell my kids it’s like Fantasy Land. The only thing people put online are good things that happen to them, or things they make up. And it creates unrealistic expectations. We’ve had a number of setbacks this year that have taken their toll on us, and we haven’t been resilient. Therefore, it’s up to our entire organization to step up their game.”
That’s good ol’ Robert Sarver, majority owner of the Phoenix Suns, responding to what he thinks is the problem with Markieff Morris and his team overall.
The Suns have been a special kind of mess lately, what with Morris throwing a towel at Jeff Hornacek, leading to a two-game suspension; the loss of Eric Bledsoe for the year after he had surgery on his knee. Plus, there were already rumors of a split between Bledsoe and fellow point guard, Brandon Knight. The Suns have just been generally awful at basketball. Blaming millennial culture and social media is a tired and oft-used tactic by people like Sarver (mid-50’s, rich, kinda smarmy), but it doesn’t really hold water.
Does he really think that Eric Bledsoe hates losing because he saw his friends post an awesome sunset selfie on Instagram? Or, could it be that — and I know, this is unthinkable — Bledsoe hates losing because he’s a professional athlete who has been conditioned to hate losing since he was old enough to dribble?
The Suns are a professional basketball team, made up of players paid millions upon millions of dollars to play a children’s game. Their lives are already pretty damn fantastic. I don’t think their timelines or feeds or peaches (is that a thing now? Ed. Note: It is!) are going to fill them with unrealistic expectations or delusions of grandeur? It could just be that, like all humans, they have some bad apples on the team. Tyson Chandler hasn’t done much #veteranleadership-ing, and while Hornacek’s two-point-guard system is genius in theory, it’s hard to get two players who are so used to having the ball in their hands all the time to completely, and agreeably, change the mindset that catapulted them to the NBA level and actually share the rock.
While we’re at it, if Sarver’s really looking for someone to blame, he might want to look inward. This is an owner who has repeatedly and profusely punted in the draft during previous years, trading away picks (which turned into players like Luol Deng and Rajon Rondo) to save money. Then, when they blindly stumbled onto something that worked – Hornacek and the Bledsoe/Goran Dragic pairing – they completely messed it up by adding yet another point guard the following offseason, in Isaiah Thomas. Dragic put it best when he said the Suns weren’t loyal.
“It feels like they’re always changing something. They’re not like Miami, San Antonio, those teams that are really loyal when they find something.” Truth.
Highlight Of The Week: Deron Williams Did What?
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 6, 2016
Rick Carlise is a sorcerer, or a warlock, or a demon, or a God — something that allows him to take players off the scrap heap and make them effective once more (like the Spurs did with Boris Diaw). Deron Williams is the latest player to benefit from this bit of age-defying wizardry. A shell of his former self in Brooklyn, Williams has been revitalized in Dallas. He may not be an All-Star (yet), but he’s playing well enough to start, and well enough to knock down this game-winner against the Kings.