Our Basketball Panel answers questions about LeBron, Dwight Howard, and Kristaps Porzingis
What grade do you give LeBron’s walk off just in terms of theater?
C.J. Hampshire: I give it a 5. The walk off wasn’t very theatrical. It was very much like walking out the door when your girlfriend needs to have the last word and you don’t want to hear it. But you come back a few minutes later after you cooled off. It doesn’t mean that much. I will say that LeBron this year is angry. That has been surprising.
Brendan Gillespie: I’d give it a 7 only because he didn’t look at his teammates. He jumped ship. It was funny. But I bet they don’t think it’s funny.
Mallory Stith-Wheat: It was unprofessional to abandon his teammates like that. I’d give it a 2. That was beneath him. What was he trying to prove? That he gets fed up like everyone else. Or, was that just one of those games he didn’t want to play in.
Julian Billick: A 9. Just for being a pioneer. It’s never been done so why not set a precedent LBJ.
The Houston Rockets have almost as many losses as the Lakers. That is the definition of misery. Dwight Howard had a chance to go to the Warriors as a free agent in 2013. They had just signed Igoudala so he couldn’t have gotten as much money. But he would have been better off basketball wise, right? Is that Howard’s legacy? Always making the not right decision?
Mallory: He’s a Hall of Famer, look at the numbers. By the time his career is over he’ll be in the top 20 in rebounding. But what has dogged him his entire career is his maturity. When we think back on Howard we will say two things. He could rebound. And he was silly.
Brendan: Howard went to Houston because he was romanced by the entire team for two months. Howard is needy. He needs to be loved. He needs to be wanted. After his Lakers disaster he needed to know he would be met with open arms. No one on the Warriors did that for him the way the Rockets did. Plus, he saw James Harden as a star and he knows he needs a star. What Howard is not smart about is evaluating players. He hated Kobe when they were on the same Olympic team. Why sign off on the L.A. move? Harden may be nicer than Kobe but you have the same basketball dude.
C.J.: His legacy will be about all the things he couldn’t get done. Howard wasn’t into building anything. He ditched Orlando, he ditched the Lakers, he won’t ditch the Rockets because now Howard is broken down. No one is giving him $20 million. Centers just don’t matter that much and who is to say Howard won’t break down again. He’s stuck with Houston and James Harden.
Julian: I think, from a pragmatic sense, Howard was one of the all time great rebounders. But because he is pretty much a specialist, his usefulness has waned. Wouldn’t you rather have DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond? Those guys aren’t the divas that Howard is. I love how Howard supposedly was blaming James Harden for everything in that team meeting. That’s how he rolls. No accountability, it’s always someone else’s fault.
Speaking of which, without Howard, Porzingis went crazy last night. 24 points. 14 rebounds. 7 blocks. Charles Barkley has him as the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. Agree?
C.J.: Agree with Barkley who said no three-point shooting team would win the Finals? No. I like Karl-Anthony Towns. Their numbers are pretty close. But I will say this about Porzingis. He is a guy that can drop close to 20 a night, once he gets a feel for the NBA game. So his numbers have the potential to go up. And he’s doing it in New York so that means a hell of a lot.
Mallory: It’s November. And the Rockets are a really bad defensive team.
Julian: I really like this kid. The most important thing is that he fits with Carmelo. For the first time in his career Carmelo has a player who he has chemistry with. They both can be themselves and no one has to take a backseat. I agree with Barkley. I think by the end of the year he’ll be a 17 and 9 player and Rookie of the Year.
Brendan: A Phil Jackson win. He wanted Okafor, he settled for Porzingis. Okafor doesn’t rebound or block shots. He’s an offensive specialist getting burned out psychologically because of the evil genius, Sam Hinkie. Porzingis should take it away from Towns in the last month of the season.
photo via llananba