Igouadala as MVP

Andre Igouadala was named the Championship MVP, an unlikely, feel-good story that will surely be recalled for decades to come.

Since there is a little dispute about the selection, I will weigh in…

  • Iggy was the primary defender of LeBron (who had a ridiculously high usage). And he made him inefficient.  (BTW – Iggy, a renowned defender, gives up just 2 inches, 35 lbs, and 11 months to LeBron. The matchup is not as as mis-matched as you might think.)
  • Iggy was suddenly promoted to the starting lineup in game 4.
  • Iggy scored 25(!) in game 6. That sealed the deal. Curry also had a great game 6, but the Cavs surely didn’t game plan for Iggy’s points!
  • Underdog! Everyone loves those guys.
  • Curry already has a MVP. That counts for something, among the cigarette-smoking-men who pick the finals MVP.

Bottom line:

As Bill Simmons has noted,  the definition of a MVP is squishy, and the league likes it that way. I like the Igouadala pick.

 

 

The complex and fascinating Lakers draft pick

Thanks to the Lottery, the Lakers surged to the 2nd overall pick. Who will they take?

I’m not actually making any predictions. I just want to point out how complex and fascinating the pick will be.

The pick will, in part, signal their plans for the future. Do they want to be a 4-out, ball-movement team? Or a 1990s-style inside-out team? Don’t laugh! The Grizzlies win lots of games with their 1990s-style game. The Cavs reverted to superstar isolation in the championship, and scared the Warriors with 2 consecutive wins. Many styles are possible.

Here’s what we know:

  • Jim Buss is on the clock. He promised a turnaround in 3 years. This will be year two. He needs help.
  • Byron Scott is coaching the Lakers. He is not sympathetic to current innovations.
  • Kobe will come back this year, then retire after the season.
  • The Lakers have chased top-shelf free agents for two summers, and come away empty handed.
  • This draft is deep, but may not have any superstars.

Given that, here are some scenarios:

If he only had more time!

Jim Buss is on the clock. He is stuck with Kobe and Byron next year. The obvious choice is Jalil Okafor. If Mitch K can backfill with two or three 3-and-D vets, the Lakers can contend for the 7-8 spot (alongside the Mavs, Pellies, and Suns).

Taking the long view.

The Porzingis kid could grow into the next Dirk Nowitzki. Or not. But imagine having the next next Dirk! The Lakers could switch to a 4-out, or 5-out system. As they say on the Mio commercial, “they could change everything.”

Stall for time.

Next summer, the Lakers will have windfall cap space. Kobe will be gone. Byron could be gone. For now, they should draft a great wing player, because wings are the future of the NBA. Frankly, off-guard is in critically short supply right now. Kobe will retire, leaving them with nothing. They will not see a pick this good for 20 years.

Trade down.

This never happens in the NBA. Never. I can’t recall the last time a top 10 pick was traded down. The cost/benefit of young guys is just too compelling.

If the Lakers want to stall for time, they could easily swap down to 5-6 and still get a quality wing in this draft. Recall this: in 2012, the Warriors drafted Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Draymond Green, all on one night. That’s the kind of draft the Lakers could use.

Split the difference.

The Lakers could grab a wing this year, and backfill with 3-and-D vets, and pretend to chase the playoffs this year. Next year, they will still have cap space to chase a star, and the chance to make a coaching change (Thibs?!).

See you next week!

Champions

The Warriors won it all. Without a doubt, they were the best team in the NBA this year. I am, of course, pleased. And exhausted.

And yet…

Being a Warriors fan is not really about championships. That’s what Lakers fandom is for. Warriors fandom is about constantly trying to figure out how to get over the hump. What are the missing pieces, and how can we fill them? The goal is not championships, the goal is to get over .500, and contend for a playoff spot.

Warriors fandom is also about falling in love with the guys on the roster, because they are Warriors. We can’t bear to trade anyone, because we love them like our own sons.

And now, with the Warriors poised to at least contend for the next many years, I have to change my approach. The way the Warriors are set up, with their youth and cap situation, they will resemble the Pistons of a decade ago. Or the Spurs of the last 15 years. It’s a train that will just keep chugging.

I’m glad the Warriors won. For sure. It just feels like the end of an era.