LeBron is the Slowest Player in the Playoffs?

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to my first Lebron Blog™, which certainly won’t be my last with his impending free agency and the fact that he could very well lose a playoff series to the Maine Red Claws. Anyway, recently it was reported that LeBron James’ average speed during the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals was 3.4 mph. That is the slowest of any player during that stretch, by the way. This may seem like a surprising fact, and LeBron is certainly taken aback:

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 2.24.59 PM
via USA Today

I have a few thoughts on LeBron’s reaction and the stat itself (hence why I wrote this blog). The first is why LeBron is so angry about this data point. The dumbest —- he’s ever heard? Him questioning it is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. This is not something that is up for debate, this is a stat, a data point, a known truth. So he better believe it. This is not something LeBron can go all #FakeNews on, because the simple fact of the matter is that he has been the slowest player during these playoffs, and I’ll tell you why…

*clears throat* HE DOESN’T GET BACK ON DEFENSE! There, I say it, and I feel better now that I’ve said it. It is a site we NBA fans get to see time and time again: LeBron drives to the hoop, misses a layup, looks for a foul, then instead of running back to make up for his miss he complains with the refs a bit before putting his head down and walking to the other side of the court. That is why, on average, he has been the slowest player in these playoffs. He may be running around on offense, or hustling down the court in transition offense, but when something does not go his way on that end, he shows no effort in getting back on defense. It’s inexcusable for the alleged “greatest of all time.” If he really wants to be known as the best to ever play the game, then he needs to stop playing for whistles, and start playing for scoring points and getting back on defense. He cannot point to stats that help him, but when stats then expose him for his lack of effort turn around and tell stats to “kiss [his] ass.”

He then also turns around and brags about how tired he is after games, as if that excuses poor performances. Granted, games 3 and 4 were not ‘poor’ performances whatsoever, but whenever effort is an issue then something is wrong. LeBron will always go hard when it counts, then point to that and say oh look how hard I’m working, when in reality he takes every other play off. Not only is it disrespectful to his team, it is disrespectful for the game of basketball. If the best player in basketball can determine when and if he wants to put the effort in, then kiss the sport goodbye. People who look up to Bron Bron (why they would do that I do not know) will see him half-assing it every other play, then will follow suit. Thus ending the game, and the hustle put into the game, as we know it. So essentially, LeBron is killing basketball by barely caring about defense. Quote me.

Mr. James, if you really care how this data makes you look, then go out and change the data. Put in the work on both ends of the court, and stop chasing fouls. I mean, you suck anyways so maybe just go ahead and quick while at least some people still think you’re the greatest.

MLB Update: Everything Coming Up Colbert

Boy oh boy do I have some old takes for you. At the end of our season finale, me and Dubs (and Eric) talked about the MLB and some of its struggling teams. Namely the Cubs, Nationals, and Dodgers. The question we posed was which teams are the most likely to improve and be the contenders they were expected to be. Dubs chose the Cubs and Dodgers, citing that there was too much turmoil with Washington leadership, and that the Dodgers were just too talented. I, however, chose the Cubs as well, but said that the Nationals were more likely to get out of their funk that the Dodgers, who are coming off a World Series lost. A quick look at the current MLB standings and…

As the title indicates, everything coming up Colbert. Since the day of the recording, April 25th (yeah yeah it’s only been three weeks and there’s still lots of baseball left- let me have my fun), the Nationals would go 13-4, the Cubs 11-7, and the Dodgers a measly 5-13. A tough time to be a Dodgers fan, and possibly a tougher time to be a Dubs fan, or Dubs himself for that matter. Yes, Corey Seager did get season-ending surgery during that span, but during the five games he played after our episode, the team went 1-4, so it’s not like things were getting better. Is it too early to tell exactly how all three of these teams end up? Possibly, but let’s entertain ourselves here. In my opinion, there’s one Nationals player that Dubs seemed to have forgotten about. One player that has carried this team during the month of May, taking them from a losing record, to a game and a half back of their division. You guessed it…

Matt Adams.

Honestly I was just as surprised. I was ready to look up the Nationals stats during the month of May and find Bryce Harper high above his teammates in every category. Did you see the ball he absolutely murdered the other day? I think that was the purest sound you can create from hitting a baseball with a bat. Despite that, he’s just hitting .208 this month, which is not great if you ask me. Matt Adams on the other hand, is hitting a respectable .277 with seven (7!) home runs in 14 games. The guy’s OPS is 1.159, which for the month of May is right up there with stars like Mookie Betts and Giancarlo Stanton. I know he is not the sole reason this Nationals team has been able to turn it around, but he is certainly helping the cause. Props to Strasburg and Scherzer for leading that rotation with three and two victories, respectively. Of course, this is all without Harper contributing his usual load, so imagine when he gets going again what this team is capable of. The Capitols just made it to their first conference final in what seems like forever, so maybe this is the Nats year, too.

While I didn’t quite nail down why the Nationals would do so good, I did better than Dubs. My eyes and ears are going to glued to the MLB Standings and our old episodes so I can keep bringing up Dubs’ old and oh so bad takes. You can also go ahead and count that he gave the Celtics a 0% chance against the Sixers. A literal zero percent chance, the guy wouldn’t even give them a fraction. Good news though because he’s fixed and is thinking like a Celtics fan now, I think he has/will have a blog about it. Anyway, to special attention to my takes next year, cause this year everything is coming up Colbert.

Welp…

Not gonna lie it kinda stung hearing other people’s names getting called. We hyped up being nominated for a while, but didn’t get the finish we wanted. As my dad would say, “Bummah.” This doesn’t mean the run is over. Far from it. Now we have a chip on our shoulder, which makes us more dangerous moving forward. Season 2 is about to hit like a meteor. “POP on the Block” has been put on watch.

A Healthy Hayward and Irving Spells Doom for the Rest of the NBA Next Year

It’s fun to imagine what could’ve been this season had Gordon Hayward’s ankle not tried to run away from the rest of his leg. It’s also a dangerous slope for Celtic’s fans because it gets everyone depressed that we’re not as good as we were destined to be. The fact of the matter is, the Celtics still played well. Extremely well, actually, given the circumstances. Irving was as advertised, Horford returned to an All-Star caliber player, Brown was just another LeBron curse away from being an All-Star himself, and Tatum acted like he’s been playing at the NBA level for at least five years. In Irving’s absences Rozier really earned his “Scary Terry” nickname, to the point that I would believe you if you told me this team was making it to the ECF. Still, making it out of the East seems out of reach, let alone winning the whole damn thing. However, with this year closing out, it is easily time to start speculating how good this team will be next year. And if you wanna hear my two cents (I’m assuming you do since you clicked on this blog), then I think they’re going to be the team to beat in the East.

When I started writing this blog, I literally spent like an hour trying to calculate what each player’s win shares was going to be this upcoming season. I took into account their minutes per game from last year, their win shares, their win shares per 48 minutes, all that crap. However, win shares is a tricky stat. I’m not really sure how it works. It’s not like points per game, where you can calculate what they’re expected to do if they just play four more minutes per game. That’s easy stuff. Win shares? Not so much. So I gave up. I have like two and half paragraphs explaining what Irving’s win shares would be if he had a nice 73 game season with 32 minutes per game, but I’m pretty sure that math is all wrong. What can I expect though, I go to Emerson.

So without any player-by-player calculations, what can the Celtics expect next season? Well the biggest difference could potentially be the point guard position. Or in Brad’s system, the ball handlers. With Smart as an RFA and Larkin a UFA, the Celtics could potentially have both back, or neither. Smart was being said to garner attention from other clubs, and if someone gives him an offer sheet of $15M+, Ainge does not have the flexibility to match it. Larkin doesn’t have that same effect, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s wearing white and green next year for the minimum again. So what would the Celtics be missing if Smart heads elsewhere? Well his 1.9 win shares from last year for starters, though a more accurate stat would be the year prior, where he played close to a full schedule and had 3+ win shares. Smart is especially helpful in the defensive win shares department, where he’s never dipped below 2.2 in his career. That’ll certainly be a large blow, however a fully healthy Irving and an improving Rozier leads me to believe that the C’s can make up for at least most of that production should Smart leave. Ideally though, he stays to anchor down the second unit.

For forwards, or as Brad would call them “wings,” this is where the Celtics see their biggest uptick. Brown’s jump from Year 1 to Year 2 was incredible. He was close to being an All-Star, and he started knocking down those corner threes more effectively. Tatum will also in all likelihood make a jump as well. Although, his playing time will be the most affected by the return of Hayward. However, given how Brad does not care much for normal lineups, we can probably expect him at the 4 a lot. Even if his minutes take a hit, his improvement could be enough to offset, or even overcome those changes. Speaking of Hayward, he appears ready to come back full force in the 18-19 season, and I cannot wait. His final season in Utah saw him with a 10.4 win share, the highest of his career. It would not surprise me to see him jump right into things given that he’s had a year to learn Brad’s system and become acclimated with the team, we’ll call it the Ben Simmons effect. Just to temper expectations though, if we take the average win share from his last three full seasons, it is still 9.3. So any way we slice it, the C’s roster is primarily staying put, while straight up adding 9-10 wins.

I’m also not concerned about the bigs. Horford is showing exactly why he was worth the max, and he is only entering his age-32 season, so don’t expect any decline due to age. Both Baynes and Monroe have expiring contracts, though I would expect them to at least resign Baynes due to his efficiency with the first unit. Additionally, Theis will be back to be a part of that second unit again. This group is mostly staying put, so I expect the same kind of production that these players had last year.

The biggest concern heading into next year is what will happen in Smart’s absence. Though compare that to what other teams have to worry about (like if a certain Bron Bron ditches his hometown, again) and I say we’re in good shape. I mentioned that overall production from the rest of our point guards can compensate for Smart the Ball Handler. As for Smart the Defensive Mastermind, that might be harder to make up for. However, with the likes of Semi Ojeleye whose sole purpose is to play defense, and Guerschon Yabusele who is the second coming of Draymond Green, the Celtic’s are not completely out of players who can guard multiple positions. Next man up mentality. However, if Smart stays, then there is absolutely nothing to worry about. This team won 55 games last year. Go ahead and directly slap on nine more thanks for Hayward, and a few more here and there for everyone just getting better, and this team can easily be a 60 win team for the first time since 2008-09. Considering the top Eastern Conference team hasn’t had 60 wins since the Hawks three years ago, that would put the Celtics right up there as favorites in the East. Side note: would it shock anyone if five Celtics made the All-Star game next year? Anyway, watch out NBA, the Gordon Hayward Revenge Tour starts this fall.