July 23, 2016, 5:13 pm
One Big Thing: Understanding
‘Ignorance is bliss,’ goes the popular refrain.
It’s one of those statements whose validity depends on the context of the situation. Like anything else, it’s far from an absolute. But there’s a whole lot of merit to it.
There are many, many things in life where your experience is improved by a lack of understanding. Sometimes your enjoyment is predicated on not knowing a damn thing.
As a confession, I do not watch college basketball at all. I do not care about college basketball at all. But March Madness is awesome.
I have a vague idea of who’s supposed to win, but at the end of the day I pretty much circle whichever team I feel like picking in that moment. It’s great. It’s almost like a novice gambler sitting at a slot machine and just watching the numbers and the colors whoosh by. I don’t know what’s going on; all I know is that I can’t control it and will have to enjoy the ride.
The first two rounds are great because it’s a constant blur of games. It’s two days where I’m either right or wrong without any responsibility over the outcome. The tournament gets less fun for me once we hit the Sweet 16 because there’s fewer games and more time spent on analysis of something I don’t really care about to go with rising stakes.
The games of the first two rounds, aside from the high seeds, are basically crapshoots. At the Sweet 16 and beyond, the money pot at the end of the rainbow seems close. The potential for winning starts to weigh on me and the games become torturous. After three or four rounds I start to pick up on things and begin to doubt my dartboard picks from two weeks ago. At that point I know just enough to understand the stakes and odds at hand.
I would imagine that a professional poker player is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Nobody at the table can influence what cards come up, much like me with a bracket. It’s pretty much twisting in the wind and playing your way into favorable odds. I’m an idiot with a pen and a dream whereas those professionals draw on a wealth of experience; millions of hands and a learned sense of probability.
I can’t fathom how nauseating it is to watch your financial fate hinge on some cards. Poker players are sharp guys, no doubt. Sharp enough to be fully aware of the game changing around them; of odds and fates being shattered with a single card at the best or worst possible time.
That seems like the sweet spot. You have enough experience and acquired knowledge to understand what’s happening but are essentially powerless to conjure up the card you need. Couple that with the stakes, and it seems like a mentally taxing way to earn a living. The highs are high, but each hand has the potential to be a total gut punch.
It sucks to make the right play and still lose. You know the theoretical ‘proper’ decisions to make but sometimes it just won’t work out. And that’s brutal.
There’s something to be said about not knowing enough to really enjoy yourself. That manifests itself in many ways, but I think it’s particularly prescient considering some of the moves made this summer.
Oklahoma City made a really good trade to lengthen the roster by shipping out a player who’s begun to decline. They did about as well as they could’ve this season and looked like an even stronger threat to take down Golden State this year. They knew what they had to do and went out and did it. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant had a better supporting cast.
Kevin Durant left but it’s hard to argue with the path that OKC was on this summer. They made the right moves and KD just picked Golden State. It’s a real downer to know that the team did just about everything right and still came up empty handed with the specter of a rebuild now looming over their shoulder.
How about the Magic assembling the league’s deepest collection of big men in a league that’s going smaller and smaller? That rotation could be hell to work out, even if Nikola Vucevic leaves town. Many people just don’t get what Orlando is trying to do.
Imagine sitting there and trying to piece together leadership’s long term vision for the Magic. It doesn’t seem like a fun exercise. If all you know is that Bismack Biyombo is cool and that Aaron Gordon is set to earn more minutes, then maybe it looks like you’re in for a good time. It just depends on your perspective.
I’ve interacted with lots of Knicks fans who are genuinely excited about the upcoming year and think they’re back in the mix of Eastern Conference contention. There are many people out there in the wild who think Derrick Rose will give the team a point guard that they’ve been desperate for.
It must be nice to go through the world and look forward to the season as if Derrick Rose isn’t terrible.
In their defense, they just don’t know better. That’s not a remark on intelligence; they just didn’t watch the Bulls last year. They didn’t have the husk that was once an MVP on their fantasy roster, tanking entire categories to earn his 16 points per night.
It’s easy to be persuaded into a nice comeback story because those stories are the exception and not the norm. Of course he’s bad analytically. Of course he looks awful on tape. There’s nothing to come back from if he didn’t bottom out first. It’s setting up the narrative.
It’s not knowing enough to realize that Derrick Rose is washed but knowing just enough to understand that he was once really good and is now on your favorite team.
And honestly, I envy those people a little bit. Every fan looks forward to the upcoming season, but a select few get to do so with such unbridled optimism. It seems pleasant in many ways; to be unaware of a troubling reality and simply enjoy what’s in front of you.
July 16, 2019, 11:59 amNicolo MelliPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli underwent knee surgery and will not participate in Italy’s training camp at the end of July, ahead of the FIBA World Tournament.
This comes out of nowhere and the only relative information we have is that Melli will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis. The Italian big should be fine for the Pelicans training camp where he will compete for the backup power forward minutes as long as the surgery is not anything too serious.
July 16, 2019, 11:32 amBam AdebayoC, Miami Heat
Bam Adebayo is envisioning himself as a better all-around player, with averages of 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists this upcoming season.
Adebayo, who turns 22 on Thursday, averaged 8.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 23.3 minutes while playing in all 82 of the Heat’s games last season. With the Heat trading center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers earlier this month, Adebayo is expected to be the clear-cut choice at starting center and a fantasy breakout candidate.
Source: Miami Herald
July 16, 2019, 10:49 amReggie BullockSG-SF, New York Knicks
Reggie Bullock has agreed to sign a two-year deal with the Knicks for less than the $4.7 million exception.
It was reported that Bullock intitally had an offer for two years and $20 million so this is a considerable drop on the monetary terms. The two parties had to rework their agreement after unanticipated health issues that almost made the deal fall through. This is also the end of the domino that had Marcus Morris back off his initial agreement with the Spurs and sign a deal with the Knicks instead. New York seems to be loaded in the forward positions and it’s anyone’s guess who earns the minutes to become fantasy relevant next year.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
July 16, 2019, 10:24 amDragan BenderPF, Phoenix Suns
As Dragan Bender continues to explore the NBA market, the Cavs and the Raptors are among the teams that have inquired about the former lottery pick.
The European market also remains an option for the Croatian forward as CSKA Moscow and Fenerbache are monitoring his situation. Bender is still only 21 years old and teams around the NBA could still take a chance on him after what has been a disappointing NBA career so far with averages of 5.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 131 career games.
July 16, 2019, 9:36 amRaul NetoPG, Philadelphia Sixers
Raul Neto could end up being Ben Simmons' backup to begin the 2019-20 season.
Right now, the two candidates to be the backup to starter Ben Simmons are Neto and former two-way player Shake Milton, a second-year combo guard who earned a lot of minutes at the point in the NBA Summer League. Neto started 53 of the 81 games in which he appeared as a rookie in 2015-16, but only started once over the past three seasons. He has averages of 4.8 points, 1.9 assists and 37.7 percent shooting from 3-point range in 14.2 minutes and it’s highly unlikely that he gains fantasy value even if he earns the backup job.
Source: Bucks County Courier Times
July 16, 2019, 9:27 amChris PaulPG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Brian Windhorst of ESPN is reporting that the Heat are open to the idea of teaming up Chris Paul with Jimmy Butler, but what has hung the entire negotiation up is the discussion of picks.
The Thunder holds two of Miami’s future first round draft picks, an unprotected selection in 2021 and a protected one in 2023. The Heat want those included in a potential deal and Oklahoma City has no shortage of assets as, since draft night, Sam Presti has acquired a remarkable eight first-round picks. Windhorst also added that the Heat seem to be CP3’s preferred destination and if he actually ends up in South Beach, he could retain his strong fantasy value.
July 16, 2019, 8:53 amKyle LowryPG, Toronto Raptors
Josh Lewenberg of TSN is hearing that the Raptors have no intention of moving Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka, at least not before the season.
All three veterans are on expiring deals and Masai Ujiri will give this group an opportunity to sink or swim before choosing a path and deciding what comes next. With those three and Fred VanVleet hitting the open market next summer, the Raptors will have over $90 million coming off their books and plenty of flexibility. It’s clear that there won’t be a fire sale in Toronto anytime soon while this group has proved that it is capable of winning games even without Kawhi Leonard. Things could change quickly though and Ujiri has never been shy of pulling the trigger so the future looks murky for the veteran champions.
July 16, 2019, 12:38 amDaniel TheisPF, Boston Celtics
The Celtics have rescinded their qualifying offer to big man Daniel Theis, making him an unrestricted free agent.
This is move is to maximize the team's remaining cap space. Theis will eventually be signed to a deal using his Early Bird Rights. Theis will have value as a deep-league source of blocks. He will be competing with Robert Williams to back up starting center, Enes Kanter.
Source: Keith Smith on Twitter
July 15, 2019, 10:52 pmKelan MartinSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kelan Martin led the Wolves in their 92-95 loss against the Grizzlies on Monday with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting while adding three 3-pointers, five rebounds and an assist.
Martin helped the Wolves claw back into the game with a big third quarter, but the team just fell flat. He was by far the best player on the Wolves tonight, but it's still uncertain as to whether or not tonight's performance was enough to push him onto an NBA team to start next season.
July 15, 2019, 10:51 pmKeita Bates-DiopSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Keita Bates-Diop scored 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting with four rebounds, an assist and a 3-pointer in Monday's loss to the Wolves.
Bates-Diop was outplayed by his fellow benchmates in this one, but nailed a clutch 3-pointer to bring the Wolves within a single possession late in the fourth. He's struggled with consistency which is why it'll be hard to envision him having an impactful role to start next season.