Jae C. Hong/AP
Comedy Central’s Workaholics might be more than just a satirical, hippied-out, sarcastic dedication to today’s working class (who knew?).
Between the drugs, drinking, and controlled substances that Anders, Blake and Adam consume on a daily basis, the troubled trio manages to spit out some important (and strange) life lessons; lessons that the sport of basketball (NBA included) have recently come to admire, adhere to and even practice.
Bare with me here.
Lesson 1: Ep. 1, ”Let’s Get Weird”
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the first three weeks of this NBA season have been as odd as they come.
First things first, the Los Angeles Lakers have a worse record than the Charlotte Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors and a number of other less-talented teams, and they selected Mike D’Antoni over ex-Lakers head coach Phil Jackson to be the chosen figure that will solve their multitude of problems and lead them to the promised land.
For a team that’s “championship or bust,” most analysts assumed that Jackson was the easy and obvious choice between the two coaching candidates. However, Jerry Buss and the Lakers management went with D’Antoni instead, who is arguably the most-gifted NBA offensive mind over the past decade.
The downside is that he’s not known for his defense (he’s a pedestrian defensive strategist at best), and he’s never been to an NBA championship as a head coach, whereas Jackson owns a collection of 11 championship rings.
If I wanted a championship this year, I probably would’ve gone another direction, which was the “Zen Way.” However, it seems like the Lakers are hellbent on out-scoring their opponents rather than locking down defensively; a strategy that rarely pans out favorably.
Also, when was the last time that the New York Knicks were the best team in the league? 1999? Maybe 1973 (the Dave Debusschere, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed and yes, Phil Jackson playing days)? Regardless, at this exact moment, Carmelo Anthony‘s squad is balling out of control (Jim Jones‘ Dipset style) and tearing apart the competition one team at a time.
What’s more is that Amare’ Stoudemire’s absence from the active lineup is arguably the prime reason for their recent success. That’s right, the Knicks play better without one of the game’s most dynamic forwards of the past ten years.
Also, for a team that’s older than a good 99-percent of the league (average age is 31), they are out-running and out-going teams to the tune of 103-plus points-per-game.
Plus, J.R. Smith is having the best season of his career thus far, with insane off-the-bench averages of 18 points and five boards a night on 72-percent shooting from downtown!
However, the most impressive stat-line for the Knicks right now is their stifling defensive numbers. Their defense is allowing the league’s least amount of points per game (87.8), and they are leading the league in defense per 100 possessions (only giving up 96 points).
Also, they are forcing opponents into a very pedestrian field-goal-percentages (42). If they keep this up, they might as well just bench Stoudemire for the remainder of the season, because you shouldn’t try and fix something that’s not broken.
Frankly, the Knicks and the Miami Heat may be the only NBA championship contenders from the Eastern Conference.
Also, how long has it been since the sixth man of the year was up for NBA MVP bragging rights? Since the creation of the Sixth Man of the Year award in 1982, no reigning winner of the award has ever been considered a top-MVP candidate the following season, but James Harden deserves to be in this year’s MVP conversation.
You have to give credit where credit is due folks.
In all my years of basketball research and analysis, I’ve never seen a player as instantly explosive as the Houston Rockets shooting guard. He’s ready to score the second the game starts, and his ability to fight through double teams and make intelligent basketball decisions in only his first season as an NBA starter is uncanny.
The only other “James” that might be more explosive than Harden is King LeBron James himself (who’s currently ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s MVP rankings). In his first season as a starter, Harden’s averaging about 26 points, five boards and five assists per game. He’s turned his Rockets into a legitimately competitive team that recently gave LeBron and the Heat fits in Houston a few nights ago (it took a 38-point effort from LBJ to get MIA a “W”).
I don’t know what’s more strange: the fact that he’s averaging the third most points per contest in the league as a first-time starter on a new team, the fact that he stole the spotlight from Jeremy Lin or the fact that he’s a credible MVP candidate the year after he won the Sixth Man award.
Right now, the Oklahoma City Thunder might wish that they hadn’t wasted their max contract on Russell Westbrook last January because Harden is worth franchising and he’s worth every penny of his five-year, $80 million max deal in Houston. He’s just scary good.
Tune in for some more NBA lessons from Workaholics.
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