Just a random collection of thoughts on the NBA ahead of Boogie Cousins’ return.
‘Dubs’ More Than a Name
Game over. That has to be the feeling around the NBA as everyone braces for the return of DeMarcus Cousins. His presence alone is big news, but it is who and what he is returning to that makes his debut the beginning of the end for everyone else.
The Golden State Warriors don’t ‘need’ Boogie to win (another) championship. They know that as well as he does. They also don’t need him to be the guy who averages 20-10, though that guy will certainly show up occasionally.
All they need is a solidifying presence at the pivot. We’ve already seen the evolution of the Warriors ‘death lineup’. Now imagine that being the primary grouping instead of just the final blow that puts teams out of their misery.
The Warriors have had their worst (relative term) season of this run so far. With Boogie set to make his highly-anticipated debut against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Association is about to witness the basketball version of Thanos ready to snap.
Lakers Seeds Flourishing
When LeBron James went to L.A. it was widely considered a non-basketball business move. He could pursue his off-court ventures and play for a legendary franchise while helping develop their younger guys. Well, LeBron’s vision may have been better than anticipated.
For all their well-earned grief received in James’ absence, the young Lakers dispatched of the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime. Now 5-7 without their mega-star forward, the core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma have had ups-and-downs ice this stretch. Their upside was evident against OKC.
Their issue is consistency. It remains to be seen if that will change. James is not due back, according to some reports, until February. In the meantime, the young core will continue to build confidence and try to maintain that level once LeBron does return to the floor.
A Bunch of Bull
Imagine firing a coach, hiring his philosophical opposite, then firing that guy only to hire a lesser -version of the guy you let go, to begin with. If your head is spinning, you’re not alone. Bulls game and the rest of the NBA alike are wondering what exactly is the plan.
A leadership group that has built lost of its reputation on identifying and developing talent cannot even lay claim to that. If Lauri Markkanen’s stagnation is a reflection of the organization (duh) then those in charge must be held accountable.
John Paxson has said that if this rebuild is unsuccessful, those clamoring for his job will get their wish. It is fair to wonder if that will be the case. Ownership has long been reluctant to make changes on the executive level. Maybe that changes with the team currently a laughing stock.
Failure to Launch
The Houston Rockets will not win the NBA championship this season. James Harden is more likely to win the MVP again and I’m not certain that happens either. The Rockets are banged up without Chris Paul and Clint Capela, but even they would not change to ending.
Houston’s window was different from most contender in that it was put together somewhat on the fly with older players. Trevor Ariza left before the season, and in general, the switchy defenders from the last year are all gone.
If the Rockets cannot defend those switches with the same veracity, what are they? They are a deeply flawed team too-reliant on their remaining healthy star. They also don’t do that defending thing too well. Even when Paul and Capela return, there is no cure for what ails this franchise.