And that's what really matters, right? It's so easy to get
caught up in the minutiae over the regular season. Wins and losses,
scheme stuff, injury maintenance, transaction talk. It was honestly
cool to watch (bad, at times) basketball and just bask in the
ambience of the world's best sport.
(This is not an invitation to argue. Be wrong in your own
Here are some things that stood out to me.
MYLES GARRETT IS A MASSIVE HUMAN BEING
While it's generally understood that professional athletes are
abnormal humans (in a positive sense), you still come across a few
that bend the realm of what should be possible. Garrett is one of
those dudes, an electrifying defensive end for the Cleveland Browns
listed at 6-foot-4, 272 pounds.
Guys his size aren't supposed to move as well as he does. That
blend of size, athleticism and fluidity makes him one of the best
linemen in the sport — seriously, line him up inside or outside and
he can absolutely blow up your game plan — but it seems unfair that
he can also serve as a terrifying transition threat
on the basketball court.
Though his team ultimately lost the Celebrity All-Star Game,
Garrett popped on the screen all night. He was a Drummond-esque
bully on the glass, a vertical spacer you had to account for in the
half-court, and a dunk-happy hooper whenever he got the chance.
What the heck do you do with a refrigerator-with-hops flipping
the angle of a screen, then rumbling down the lane like this?
You get out of the way, like the defense does here. Or you just
go full Dearica Hamby:
Garrett didn't show much in the way of shooting touch or passing
chops, but he also didn't need to.
JACK HARLOW — GAP FILLER?
We all knew Harlow had at least an interest in basketball;
within that realm, his relationship with Tyler Herro begins to make
more sense. I'll leave that up for your interpretation.
But to watch Harlow shooting in for boards, knocking down
four-point shots (yeah, that was a thing) and keeping the ball
moving in the half-court was ... honestly satisfying? A pleasant
surprise? There were a few audible "...huh." exclamations in the
Duncan household on Friday night.
You know what every low-stakes, full-court pick-up game has?
Shoddy transition defense.
You know how you take advantage of shoddy transition
Well, you cherry-pick pass the ball
ahead and generate easy buckets. Harlow was doing that in
I'll give him the hat tip.
You can nestle in more Garrett talk here, but I want to hone in
on the Rising Stars event.
First off, well done on the format. Two games to 50, and a final
with a 25 target score. I was a bit iffy on 50 as a target score —
the possibility of things going too quickly
or dragging on too long was in the back of my mind —
but it turned out to be a solid sweet spot.
Beyond that, let's talk about Team Barry.
Having Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Franz Wagner and Jae'Sean
Tate is a gnarly blend of size and IQ. It's cliche, but all of
those dudes just know how to play basketball. Quick processors,
sound decision-makers, spatial awareness on both ends of the floor,
all of that.
But man, can all of these dudes just abuse mismatches.
Even on missed shots, it was wild to watch Mobley put his
shoulder into his defender's chest on post-ups. Poor Bones Hyland
(Team Payton) was fighting for his life when defending drives. Tate
was a bowling ball on drives, or when fighting for rebounds. We got
this very early on into the Cade-versus-LaMelo Ball battle:
I'm just not sure what you're supposed to do with that. All of
the positioning in the world only goes so far when you can be moved
off your spot. Team Barry didn't have watch-your-ankles shot
creators, but they didn't need 'em — they had enough get-to-my-spot
guys to make the offense work when it mattered.
IS EVERYBODY OKAY?
Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way first. Scottie Barnes
has rightfully flowed between 1-and-4 in the Rookie of the Year
race, depending on when you check in. He's a star in the making. Precious
Achiuwa, the key prospect in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade from
this summer, has shown some
darn good stuff defensively this year. Raptor fans should be
(and are) excited about what's being built up there.
With that said, they gave us
some hilarious moments on Friday
We'll start with Barnes (and Tyrese Maxey, to be fair), who
completely bombed during the Clutch Moment event.
But also, how wholesome are these two?
And then there's Achiuwa, who played with his usual brand of
energy on both ends. He also tapped into his
I'm-a-big-wing-not-a-big bag at the worst
Attack your goals with the confidence of Achiuwa, and you're
much more likely to achieve them.
- Boy, did the Jalens — Green and Suggs — give us some material
in the opener. Green showcased his shot-creation chops early on.
Suggs was flying around, and even gave us a 360 for our pleasure.
Of course, we also got some ill-advised shots from Green down the
stretch, and a missed free throw from Suggs that pried the door
open enough for Team Isiah to steal the victory. Ah, well.
- Desmond Bane is shooting 42% from three on nearly 7 attempts
per game this season. You could not pay that man to make an open
shot last night, going 3-of-10 from three across the two exhibition
games and mostly wetting the bed in the Clutch
Moments event. Thank goodness for Tyrese Haliburton.
- HUNT ALPEREN SENGUN IN SPACE AT THE END OF A MEANINGLESS GAME
AT YOUR OWN PERIL.
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