November 20, 2016, 4:46 pm
One Big Thing: Accepting the Clippers
You’ve read at length about the Warriors going from golden boys to major villains thanks to their jacked up death crew that can torch anything in sight. A wide range of reasons, with an equally wide range of validity, have been thrown about in an effort to justify the abrupt end to America’s most recent basketball love affair.
That’s great. Stories demand a villain and we’ve been gifted a fantastic foil for someone to rise up against. The Warriors already started rubbing people the wrong way by the end of last season as they outlasted purists’ choice San Antonio and toppled underdog Oklahoma City before losing a lead of some particular magnitude on the way to LeBron James’ hometown coronation.
Now there’s no safety net. On paper, they’re just too good. There’s no chasing the Bulls’ record in the backdrop to provide a historical context that we should root for. If they break history, it’ll be their own from just a single year ago. And quite frankly, they probably won’t. More frankly, it doesn’t matter because there’s almost nobody outside of the Bay Area that’s pulling for them this time around. If they somehow complete their quest for vengeance they’ll only fuel the fire of people who are mourning the NBA’s competitive balance.
Golden State has executed a glorious heel turn. But every heel needs a face. A villain without heroes hardly makes for a story worth telling. The NBA needs someone to rise up and embrace the role of reluctant champion of the peoples’ cause. There just happen to be minimal contenders vying for the role.
The Thunder and Russell Westbrook, bless his heart, are completely outgunned. They’re out. Westbrook will raise hell on the way but it’s a battle he just can’t win. He and Durant together were always the bridesmaid but never the bride, coming so very close to climbing the mountain but coming up just short at every opportunity. They were close to earning the neutral public’s undying adoration as a sort of lifetime achievement accolade, but that’s all gone now.
The Spurs are without Tim Duncan this time around and for as impressive as they are, their consistent excellence makes it hard for people to rally around them. They can always work up an old school vs. new school debate but San Antonio doesn’t scream ‘big fight feel.’ In keeping with the Spurs’ ethos of being a boring, gently murmuring basketball machine, they just aren’t the most inspiring candidate for the role. Not to say they can’t win- they definitely could. Plus, watching Kawhi Leonard try (and maybe possibly succeed?) to defend Golden State’s best three or four players would be immeasurably fun. It’s just not exactly the outfit that people think of when they call for a new hot team to take down the Dubs.
Cleveland could make the grade, though there’s a sizable chunk of people who will always talk down LeBron’s greatness. There’s also the idea that Cleveland’s had their turn at the top; them winning again, even if it means taking down the Warriors, only establishes two teams that everyone is sort of sick of. They’re probably the best positioned to get the job done, aided by a weak conference and the secret weapon of ‘Finally Trusting Kevin Love 100%” plus the pretty good move of acquiring Channing Frye for a song and dance last trade deadline. They’ve got it all in place, but it just doesn’t feel right.
In a dramatic twist, the team perhaps best positioned to become the new sentimental favorite is the one that we’ve all hated for the last handful of years.
The Los Angeles Clippers are who we’re looking for.
It feels dirty, doesn’t it? The group that everyone detests could become our next bandwagon effort. The Clippers budding ascension from most-hated to leaders of The Cause will be a slow burn affair, but they’re in the best spot to win over a lot of fans.
There are many reasons that people don’t like the Clippers currently, but a lot of the sentiment seems to be a nebulous brand of ‘I just don’t like them’ reasoning. Maybe it was their premature anointment as the next great team when they acquired Chris Paul. Lob City was fun at first and seems more a victim of sheer overexposure than anything else.
Perhaps the most common complaint is that the Clippers are a group of incessant whiners. They complain about the hacking strategy. They flail and flop around and make normal body contact look like a shotgun blast. The Clippers spend more time than anyone lobbying to the officials and often seem intent on turning the refs into a second opponent on the floor. Every call results in an exchange. It’s infuriating, but it might become a good thing if they match up with the Warriors.
Who cares if the Clippers complain about everything? Golden State is already super overpowered, so you gotta do what you gotta do. The sheer talent that the Dubs possess gives everyone else some major leniency when it comes to grinding for any advantage they can get. When you’re up against public enemy number one people tend to overlook some flaws.
It’s a matchup we were robbed of last year, and it’s obviously extremely early to fantasize about such things, but the way that LA has played to this point makes it seem like that’s where we’re heading.
If we’re going for some mythmaking the journey to likability makes for a good redemption story but beyond that the Clippers are just a damn good basketball team with a nice mix of ingredients to pull off an upset. The fact that there’s a real rivalry and some shifting public perceptions around it all makes it that much better.
We (the Royal ‘We’) need someone to support in the face of basketball Goliath. There are certainly more likable alternatives out there than Los Angeles, but hitching your wagon to a team that’s destined to get eviscerated doesn’t give you a great ROI. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and friends actually have a shot. They can do it, and they’ll revel in the chaos if they actually do.
Maybe none of it matters. Maybe the Clippers are destined to lose just like everyone else. That shouldn’t take away from the fact that this season is beckoning for a new cult hero. Give it time and enough people will come around.
I’m ready to root for the Clippers, and you should be too.
January 19, 2020, 11:39 pmJacob EvansSG, Golden State Warriors
Jacob Evans (concussion) will be absent from Monday's game against the Blazers.
That makes three consecutive games that Evans has been forced to sit out. He has not been able to crack the Warriors depleted rotation for a consistent role this year, and it is safe to assume that it is not going to happen anytime soon. Evans is only worth owning in the deepest of fantasy leagues when he is healthy.
Source: NBA Injury Report
January 19, 2020, 11:36 pmAbdel NaderSF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Abdel Nader will miss Monday's showdown against the Rockets due to a left ankle sprain.
That'll be Nader's fourth straight game on the sidelines. He's been receiving minutes in the mid-teens lately and does not make much of them. Best to not bother wasting your fantasy memory space on Nader.
Source: NBA Injury Report
January 19, 2020, 11:31 pmChandler HutchisonSF, Chicago Bulls
Chandler Hutchison is probable to play against the Bucks on Monday due to a sore right shoulder.
The injury has not cost him any games yet, although there were some concerns when it first arose back on Wednesday. You should feel comfortable including him in your lineup if you own him. Hutchison has been on a roll in the steals department lately.
Source: NBA Injury Report
January 19, 2020, 11:27 pmRyan ArcidiaconoPG, Chicago Bulls
Ryan Arcidiacono (right elbow discomfort) is probable to face the Bucks on Monday.
Arcidiacono receives this designation all the time but does not seem to have any issue playing through it. You can assume he'll be out there on Monday, but he is not going to do much stats wise.
Source: NBA Injury Report
January 19, 2020, 11:21 pmJeremy LambSG, Indiana Pacers
Jeremy Lamb was able to play through his bruised left hip on Monday against the Nuggets, but it led to horrendous results with zero points (0-of-7 FG), one rebound, one assist, one block.
While it was nice to see Lamb play through the injury, this is not what we had in mind. Things will get tougher for Lamb once Victor Oladipo returns, but it is best to tackle that logjam once it becomes an issue at this point. For the time being, Lamb is worth having in your lineup in standard leagues.
January 19, 2020, 11:12 pmDomantas SabonisC, Indiana Pacers
Domantas Sabonis had a great performance to lead the Pacers to victory over the Nuggets, notching 22 points (10-of-16 FG), 15 rebounds, 10 assists and five turnovers.
The left knee soreness does not appear to be much of a factor right now for Sabonis, and it is a relief to see a swift bounce-back from the stinker he had against the Wolves on Friday. He played nearly 41 minutes against Nikola Jokic in this one and put up a nice imitation of the triple-double performances we've come to expect from the Serbian. Keep deploying Sabonis with confidence.
January 19, 2020, 11:05 pmMalcolm BrogdonPG, Indiana Pacers
Malcolm Brogdon continued his strong play on Sunday vs. the Nuggets, going for 22 points (8-of-17 FG, 4-of-4 FT), eight assists, three rebounds, two 3-pointers and two turnovers.
Brogdon has been excellent since returning from strep throat and lower back soreness. He is resembling the early-season production that had him returning early-round value, and while that may be too much for Brogdon to do over an 82-game campaign, he is going to be a mid-round asset, even when Victor Oladipo rejoins the fold for the Pacers. Justin Holiday had a decent line off the bench, going for 14 points, four rebounds, three 3-pointers and one block. The Pacers have a number of options off the bench, making Holiday more of a 16-team play.
January 19, 2020, 10:53 pmTJ WarrenSF, Indiana Pacers
TJ Warren had a solid outing on Sunday versus the Nuggets, totaling 22 points (7-of-13 FG, 8-of-8 FT), three rebounds, one assist and one block.
Thank goodness Warren had a solid night from the field and free-throw line to keep this line productive. Then again, that is the rub with Warren, who makes his living as a mid to late-round player thanks to his healthy scoring average (18 PTS) in combination with his strong percentages (.509 FG) (.813 FT) for the season.
January 19, 2020, 10:45 pmMichael Porter Jr.PF, Denver Nuggets
Michael Porter Jr. put up 10 points with eight boards in 23 minutes of action in a loss to the Pacers on Sunday.
Porter Jr. has been gaining some serious hype since he has started getting more minutes in the rotation. He has put up top-100 value over the past two weeks and should be picked up in all formats as he should see over 20 minutes per game for the remainder of the season.
January 19, 2020, 10:44 pmDoug McDermottSF, Indiana Pacers
Doug McDermott caught fire down the stretch on Sunday against the Nuggets, leading the Pacers' comeback with 24 points (9-of-10 FG), six 3-pointers, two rebounds and two assists.
This was McDermott at his finest as a sharp-shooter from long range, but we also saw the emptiness he is known for as he did barely anything beyond the 24 points and six 3-pointers. He is still just a 3-point specialist on a deep Indiana roster. He was able to snatch some minutes from Jeremy Lamb tonight thanks to his hot streak.