NBA All-Star Voting Is Dumb

The NBA announced the 10 “starters” for the NBA All-Star pick-up game that is set to be performed at the Staples Center midway through the N.E.R.D. concert, and just following the Fergie/Bare Naked Ladies National Anthems next month.  Yes, you read that correctly, Bare…Naked…Ladies are still around apparently.

The voting is a trifecta of confusion and stupidity based on 3 voting groups consisting of fans, players and media members.  The media members cast votes for 7 frontcourt players and 5 backcourt players which are then ranked accordingly.  While this seeems like a decent system worthy of even the GOP’s approval, the fans are allowed to vote as many times as they want online and there was even recently a “double voting” night on the NBA website which made every vote count as two.  What?!?!?!

Lastly, the players themselves cast votes, which leads to 125 guys who got at least one vote from a fellow player.  That’s an average of a little more than 8 per team — not just to be an All-Star, but a starter.  Here’s a list of every player that received 1 vote:

  • East Frontcourt: Cedi Osman, Domantas Sabonis, John Henson, Jabari Parker, Jarrett Allen, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doug McDermott, Frank Kaminsky, Bismack Biyombo, Trevor Booker, Dwayne Bacon, Ike Anigbogu, Denzel Valentine, James Michael McAdoo, TJ Leaf, Semi Ojeleye, Taurean Prince, Amir Johnson, Lance Thomas, Marvin Williams, Anthony Tolliver, Tyler Cavanaugh, Johnny O’Bryant III, Eric Moreland
  • East Guards: Derrick Rose, JR Smith, Frank Ntilikina, Zach LaVine, Dennis Schroeder, Courtney Lee, Terry Rozier, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson, Mario Hezonja, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway, Cameron Payne, Sean Kilpatrick, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Derrick Jones Jr., Derrick Walton Jr.
  • West Frontcourt: David West, Julius Randle, Rudy Gobert, Kosta Koufos, Nemanja Bjelica, Paul Millsap, Willie Cauley-Stein, Josh Jackson, Omer Asik, Dragan Bender, Matt Costello, Damian Jones, Ivica Zubac, Trey Lyles, Gorgui Dieng, Darius Miller, Dwight Powell, Justin Jackson, Nerlens Noel, James Ennis III, Dakari Johnson, Willie Reed, Brice Johnson, JaKarr Sampson, Jack Cooley, Tyler Lydon, Brandan Wright
  • West Guards: Jordan Clarkson, Danny Green, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Seth Curry, De’Aaron Fox, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Gerald Green, Tyus Jones, Will Barton, Brandon Paul, Wes Matthews, George Hill, Briante Weber, Pat Connaughton, Daniel Hamilton, Emmanuel Mudiay, Aaron Brooks, Sindarius Thornwell, Wayne Selden

For now let’s focus on how dumb fan-voting is.  Here’s all you need to know, Lonzo Ball received 607,961 fan votes, which beat out Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Devin Booker, Tony Parker, Lou Williams, CJ McCollum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kyle Kuzma, Blake Griffin, Brandon Ingram….I mean the list is long and distinguished, unlike Lonzo’s stat-lines this season.

Here’s another cherry on top of the madness, Gordon Hayward received more than 79,000 votes from fans (16th among East frontcourt players).  Hayward has played less than six minutes this season because of a vomit-inducing injury on opening night.

Sure it feels weird to whine about voting for what is billed as a “fun” celebratory basketball weekend for the NBA, but players’ career stats and salaries are partially affected by all-star voting.  The number of all-star appearances are valuable, feather-in-your-hat, negotiating tools in contract discussions as well as HOF induction parameters at the end of a player’s career.  So while it may seem like a meaningless award to be named to an all-star team for casual NBA fans, it’s much more meaningful to players.

Damian Lillard is a two-time all-star, that averages 23 ppg during his six year career in the NBA.  He’s consistently considered widely as a top-five guard in the western conference and by some hoop-heads, a top-five guard in the entire league.  He’s the 4th highest voted guard in the west by the players this season, but 8th overall in the west by fans and received ZERO votes by media members.  How is this possible?  Simply put: Lillard plays in Portland in a tough western conference, and the pacific northwest is a forgotten wasteland to media members and fans alike unless the city is named Seattle or whatever Narnia those vampire emo-kids are from.

Furthering my point, Lonzo Ball of the Los Angeles Lakers has 250,000 more fan votes than Lillard (insert stat-lines that will infuriate):

Damian Lillard 2017-18: 25 ppg 4.8 rpg 6.5 apg

42.8 FG% 34.9 FG3% 91.9 FT%

PER 22.8

Lonzo Ball 2017-18: 10.2 ppg 7.1 rpg 7.1 apg

35.6 FG% 30.3 FG3% 48 FT%

PER 12.1 

In addition to fans being degenerate, drunken, mental dwarfs….the players’ vote isn’t much more efficient when you consider: Tyler Zeller, who is 10th on the Nets in minutes per game at 17.6, received four votes from the players.  So did Jahlil Okafor, who barely played for the 76ers before getting traded to the Nets.  He’s played 138 minutes TOTAL this season.  Knicks bench-mooks Michael Beasley and Kyle O’Quinn also received four votes.  Enes Kanter finished tied for ninth among frontcourt players in the East with 17 votes, ahead of players like Khris Middleton, Dwight Howard and Hassan Whiteside.  The Knicks’ 2nd best player all season, Tim Hardaway Jr., only received two votes, the same was Wily Hernangomez but one more than Doug McDermott and Lance Thomas.

So what’s the answer?

First of all, expand team sizes to 14 per side with 2 alternates.  Who cares about playing time, this isn’t the YMCA rec league.

Secondly, voting for those 16 total players in both conferences should come from a) NBA Coach’s vote, b) Media Members vote, and c) NBA Players’ vote.

Lastly, let the stupid fans have their fun by selecting the starters from those rosters selected by the coaches, media members and players.  Fans votes should have ZERO affect on a player’s career stats or future contract-bargaining chips when it comes to all-star appearances.

Why is this whole thing so dumb?  I used to love the NBA All-Star Weekend, what happened?!?!

 

Boston Celtics’ Guard Isaiah Thomas Wrote A Letter

I had just gotten ejected. We’re on the road playing the Lakers at Staples Center — my first game in a Celtics uniform — and I had picked up two technicals. Automatic ejection. I walked down the tunnel and into the locker room, still in uniform, still sweating, still hot about that last call I got T’d up over, and I saw one of the strength coaches sitting in the locker room watching the game. He looked up at me and smiled.

“Man … the Celtics fans are gonna love you.”

I was thinking people were gonna be mad about this. My team debut and I get ejected? That’s not a great first impression.

“What are you talking about? They’re gonna love me?”

“Oh, yeah. Your first game, you score 21 points and you get ejected? Boston loves that type of stuff.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was the new guy. I didn’t know anything about Boston or its fans.

I thought this dude was crazy.

Three days later — six days after the trade that sent me from the Suns to the Celtics — I played my first game at TD Garden. It was surreal. I mean, walking through the halls at the Garden in that Celtics jersey, seeing all the pictures of the Bill Russells and the Larry Birds, getting into the warmup line and looking up into the rafters at all the banners — there’s just so much history. And the arena fills up so fast before a game, faster than I had seen anywhere else. Like these fans can’t wait to watch their Celtics play.

It was only my third game with the team, so I was coming off the bench. And when I subbed in for the first time and stepped onto the parquet, I felt this burst of electricity fill the building. When I stood up to walk onto the court the whole crowd stood up with me — and they went crazy. It was my first time on the floor at the Garden, and they gave me a standing ovation like I had been a Celtic my whole life.

That was my introduction to Boston fans.

I thought, Man, these fans do love me …

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Photograph By Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images

The craziest part was that less than a week before I first took the floor at the Garden, I was in Phoenix sitting at the back of the Suns’ team bus waiting for the 2015 trade deadline to pass. We were about to head to the airport to take off for a road game, but the bus was waiting for the trade deadline to pass so that we didn’t take anybody with us who had to stay back and get ready to ship off to their new team.

Everybody knew that Goran Dragic was going to get traded — his name had been thrown around in rumors for weeks. And sure enough, a few minutes before the deadline, one of the assistant coaches came walking up the aisle to break the news.

Goran had been traded to the Heat.

So Goran grabbed his stuff, dapped everybody up and hugged a few guys. We all wished him luck, and he got off the bus.

The rest of us looked around the bus at each other, thinking, O.K. That’s done. This is the team it’s gonna be now. Let’s rock with this group.

I started thinking about the expanded role I would have as we went down the stretch and tried to make the playoffs. With Goran gone, I was the second point guard. More minutes meant more opportunities for me to show what I was about.

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Photograph By Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

But five minutes after the deadline passed, the bus still hadn’t moved. We thought the bus was waiting for the deadline, so we were wondering what the holdup was. Brandan Wright was sitting a couple of seats in front of me, looking at his phone, and he turned back and looked at me.

“I.T. … you just got traded.”

“Nuh-uh. The deadline passed, bro. What are you talking about?”

He showed me the notification on his phone.

ISAIAH THOMAS TRADED TO CELTICS FOR MARCUS THORNTON AND A 2016 FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK

Dang …

I couldn’t believe it.

I looked up and saw the assistant coach walking back up the aisle.

“I.T. … they just traded you.”

I held up Brandan’s phone.

“Yeah, that’s what they just said.”

I guess the trade was in the works right up until the deadline, so the news didn’t get out until a few minutes after. But it was a done deal.

I was shocked.

I grabbed my stuff, dapped everybody up and hugged a few guys. They all wished me luck, and I got off the bus.

Everything was happening so fast. I hadn’t even expected to get traded, and now I had to go meet with the Suns’ front office. I had to pack up my locker and get my family set up.

And I also had to stop at a store on the way to the airport and get some clothes. It was February, and the weather in Boston was crazy — like, worst-winter-in-Massachusetts-history crazy — and I was coming from the desert. I didn’t even have a winter coat. So I picked up a big North Face jacket and a couple of beanies before I jumped on a plane to Boston to take my physical.

When I got off the plane, it was snowing. It was so cold. That jacket-beanie combo saved me.

I passed my physical that night, and while the Celtics were in Sacramento playing the Kings, I watched the game with Danny Ainge in his office — just me and the GM. We talked about the team, about the trade, about me. And he said something to me I couldn’t believe.

“Isaiah … the way you play the game of basketball, you could be a Celtics legend.”

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Photograph By WINSLOW TOWNSON/USA TODAY SPORTS

A Celtics legend? I thought he was crazy — like he was just caught up in the excitement and hype of making a big trade.

But then I Skyped with coach Brad Stevens later that night, and not only was he hyped about the trade, he was hyped about me. He said he didn’t want me to adapt to the rest of the team. He wanted the rest of the team to adapt to me. He said he wanted me to play my game and be the best Isaiah Thomas I could be.

I had never heard anything like that from a coach in my professional career. These guys weren’t just hyped about a big trade. They genuinely believed in me. And I could tell that they believed in every guy in that locker room. That’s why they brought us here.

That’s when it hit me: This was the opportunity I had always wanted. The one I had worked my whole life for. And I was going to do everything I could to take advantage of it.

The transition was kind of difficult because for the rest of that season we basically played every other day. We only had back-to-back days off one time, so we never really had time to practice, which meant I didn’t have time to learn Brad Stevens’s system. So when I came into the game off the bench, we basically just played off the pick-and-roll. It was almost like streetball. I was just out there playing, trying to make plays and get comfortable with my new teammates.

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Photograph By Elise Amendola/AP images

I was learning a lot, but I think I learned the most about my teammates — and the city of Boston — in the playoff series against the Cavaliers.

I know, I know. We got swept. Our season didn’t end the way we wanted it to, believe me. But a lot of good came from that series. It was an experience that our team needed, because in three of the four games, we had a chance to win in the final minutes. But we didn’t know how to win. Not in the playoffs, at least. They’re just different than the regular season. When people say that in the playoffs every play counts and every possession is crucial, they’re not kidding. It sounds cliché, and it is, but you can’t really understand what it means until you’re in position to close out a playoff game — and you get out-executed in the final minutes. You start thinking back to all the little things you could have done differently to change the outcome of the game. An extra pass here, better shot selection there — it all adds up. And against a great team like the Cavs, those little things will kill you.

I was proud of the mindset we had coming out of that series. We lost, but we gained confidence. We came out of it thinking, O.K. That’s what it takes to win a playoff series. Now we know.

I also came out of that series knowing exactly what it means to play in Boston.

I’ll admit, it took us a while to find the silver linings in getting swept. We still lost four straight, and that’s tough to stomach. But when we were walking off the court at the Garden after Game 4, something happened that I had never seen before, anywhere.

The Boston fans got on their feet and started chanting, “Let’s go, Celtics!

They gave their team, who had just been swept, a standing ovation.

At that moment, I knew that this city was like no other. Even though the season was over, it felt like we were starting something.

And it’s carried over into this season, too. We don’t have the best record, but we’re always moving forward and getting better. There have been times this season when we’ve shown that we can compete with the best teams in the league — and win.

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Photograph By Tony Dejak/AP Images

I look back at our game against the Warriors a couple of weeks ago. That was like a playoff game, both in the way it felt and in the way we approached it. It was a nationally televised game, so we knew everybody was watching. We were coming off back-to-back losses and fighting for playoff position so we badly needed a win, and the Warriors were riding a 54-game home winning streak.

We wanted to be the team to knock them off.

And we knew we could. Remember, we took them to double-overtime back in December when they were still undefeated. We knew we could beat them.

So when we won, a lot of people were surprised. But for us, we felt validated.

Now, as we go into the playoffs, we know that we’re capable of beating the defending champs in their house, which is one of the toughest arenas in the NBA in which to play.

The next step is taking what we’ve learned and putting it all together for a seven-game series.

***

Right after I got traded to Boston, I got a text from Isiah Thomas — the older one. It said, “This is the best thing that will ever happen to your career.”

I didn’t really know what he meant by that. So I called him up, and he broke it down for me.

“Now you’re gonna experience what real basketball is like, what real fans are like, what a real organization is like,” he said. “And they’re gonna fall in love with you more than any place you’ve ever been.”

Honestly, I still didn’t know what he meant. Playing in Boston is just one of those things you can’t prepare yourself for. You can’t understand it until you experience it.

Now I get it.

Playing in Boston has changed my career. I’ve never been able to play with this kind of freedom, and because of that I’ve never played with more confidence.

And the fans have welcomed me with open arms, too.

newisaiah

Photograph By MARK L. BAER/USA TODAY SPORTS

I’m a little guy — I’m only five-foot-eight — so unless you’re a huge basketball fan, you’re probably not going to recognize me around town. I’m not like Jared Sullinger ducking into the doorway of a restaurant. I blend in.

At least that’s what it was like everywhere else I played. Here in Boston, though, people recognize me everywhere I go. They ask me for my picture or my autograph. They know my kids. It’s different from anything I’ve ever experienced, and I love every minute of it.

My parents come to games at the Garden sometimes, and every time they do, they say, “Do you see how many number 4 jerseys there are in the crowd?”

I do.

And I appreciate the love, Boston.

I appreciate that fact that above all else, you have embraced me for me. The same way Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens embraced me. For being Isaiah Thomas.

Older Isiah was right. Being in Boston has been the best thing that could have ever happened to my career. I can honestly say I feel blessed to be a part of this city and this organization.

They say if you win a championship in Boston, you’ll be loved forever.

And I want every guy on this team to experience that.

 

St. Patty’s Day Irish Whiskey Rankings

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Two things we love on this perfect mish-mash of a highly alcoholic-cultural day with the greatest basketball day in sports history: Irish Whiskey and March Madness.

Here’s 11 great reasons to throw-up today and call in sick tomorrow:

  1. Paddy; $20, 80 proof

Paddy’s from Cork, if that sort of thing means anything to you, and it’s triple-distilled, as are most Irish whiskies. It’s very smooth and easy to drink, though a bit light on flavor, with hay and Triscuits atop a bit of nutmeg and not much else. Paddy is fine whiskey, particularly for the price, and it’s probably the strongest last-place finisher in any Drunkspin ranking. Sorry, Paddy, but we can’t all win. Or finish second-to-last.

  1. Kilbeggan, $26, 80 proof

Kilbeggan is slightly better than Paddy due to a deeper flavor profile, with some sweet corn and cinnamon notes that make it one of the more bourbon-like of the Irish whiskies in this lineup.

  1. Teeling Small Batch; $37, 92 proof

This was partially aged in used rum barrels, and it shows. I like rum, but the molasses and vanilla flavors were overpowering, without much real whiskey character underneath. It tastes objectively pleasant, though: rummy and slightly floral.

  1. 8. Jameson; $28, 80 proof

Jameson is the most popular Irish whiskey in America by a preposterous margin. It outsells second-place Bushmills by more than 10 to 1. That’s crazy, sure. But just because its market dominance isn’t justified by a strict qualitative accounting doesn’t mean Jameson sucks: This isn’t a Irish Jose Cuervo situation. Jameson smells like vanilla, candied orange peel, lemon, and pepper; it’s simple and clean but assertive enough to be worth the effort, and you should absolute accept it every time it’s offered.

  1. Bushmills; $25, 80 proof

Bushmills is from Northern Ireland. I like it because it tastes like apples, toast, cinnamon, and wet pine bark, with a light tropical hint underneath.

  1. Glendalough 7-Year Single Malt; $40, 92 proof

This is the entry-level bottling from one of the newest Irish distilleries, founded in 2011. It tastes somewhat harsh, boozier than 92 proof ought to, but I was won over by the relatively complex flavor profile featuring sweet orange, lemon, cinnamon, pear, pistachio, and wood.

  1. Powers; $32, 80 proof

Powers has a unique chocolate, cherry, and caramel flavor, along with cinnamon and a touch of clove.

  1. Tullamore D.E.W.; $28, 80 proof

So the D.E.W. represents an old distiller’s initials, which is nice, but feel free (by which I mean, feel obligated by decency) to pronounce it “Dew.” It opens with a strong, sweet vanilla and butterscotch aroma, with cherry and faint pine needle notes emerging with time. And this is weird, but hear me out: I swear I pick up a little mustard seed? Good stuff.

  1. Jameson Gold Reserve; $70, 80 proof

Of course it’s good, it costs $14 a gulp! But, price gripes aside, the caramel apple, cinnamon, vanilla bean, oak, indeterminate spice, and light toffee work very well together, and I’ll happily drink this any time someone else is buying.

  1. Tullamore Dew Trilogy 15-Year; $75, 80 proof

Another super-deluxe model, this one is a blend of whiskies aged in sherry, bourbon, and rum barrels. It tastes like butterscotch, orange blossoms, maybe even mango, definitely cashews, and smoked honey. It’s bonkers and delightful, and I would likely feel that way even if they hadn’t sent me a small sample bottle.

  1. Redbreast 12-Year; $55, 80 proof

Sweet and spicy, with vanilla, black pepper, plum, anise, and molasses. I will very rarely advocate that Drunkspin readers spend this many of their own dollars on a single bottle of liquor, especially one that’s only 80 proof, but here’s a plan: Get yourself a bottle of Redbreast and have two ounces on the 17th of every month for a year. You’ve done so many worse things with $55.

Converse Changed The Game, But Not The Shoe

Converse hasn’t changed the aesthetic and simplistic perfection of their first and most iconic shoe, but they have adapted to the future FINALLY after 98 years.

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Sneakerheads around the world (if they’re being honest) will all agree that the shoe game began with the Converse Chuck Taylor, it’s like the holy grail of sneakers.  If you consider yourself even a little bit old-school, then you own at least one pair of Chucks.

But what’s the real-world issue with Chucks?  The simple yet perfect style has always been there, but the comfortability, stability and cushion have always been a problem.  Seriously, how did dudes EVER hoop in these shoes!?!?

Converse (Nike) fixed the issues and managed to keep the integrity and classic-ness of the shoe.  It took almost 100 years and Nike buying Converse in 2003 to do it:

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Technical shoe-talk: Designers concentrated on improving the shoe’s comfort and feel. They inserted a cushy Nike Lunarlon sock liner into the shoe, added a padded non-slip tongue, and a perforated micro-suede lining for moisture-wicking breathability.

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The Converse Chuck II are made with a thicker premium canvas, an embroidered All Star logo on the inner heel, and debossed, painted eyelets.  But other than that, it’s the same classic style.  From a distance it’ll be hard to tell they’re anything but the original classics, except the person wearing them won’t be limping in pain.

They’re priced decently, $75 for the highs and $70 for the lows.  Although, a $5 difference between the two seems a little off to me, but maybe I’m being too picky.  They will be available July 28th.

NBA All-Star Rosters Announced

Fans voting is officially a big problem in the NBA (thanks Dr. Obvious).

The NBA All-Star rosters and starters have been announced, surprisingly the fans DID get something right by voting Steph Curry into the starting lineup in the West.  But then they managed to “bish don’t kill my vibe” when I read that Kobe Bryant was voted in as a starter in the West over James Harden or Russell Westbrook or Damian Lillard or Klay Thompson or ANY guard on the roster!?!?

Then as if voting Kobe in on the West side of the country wasn’t enough, the fans on the right coast voted in Carmelo Anthony as an East starter.  Here’s the full rosters:

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 2.28.29 PMCue the conversation/argument and frustration level with WHY CAN’T THE NBA JUST DO IT CORRECTLY?

I understand that EVERY year there will be snubs, there’s just not enough spots to vote in everyone who’s deserving.

But the fact that Kobe Bryant who has declined in every single statistical category this season, including only playing in 35 of the first 53 games and yet he’s still a starter in the All-Star game.

Oh, and the Lakers STINK and Kobe won’t stop shooting, even when his right shoulder is literally falling off:

Kobe is the first NBA player in history to have a MLB pitcher’s injury from over-usage, what’s next?  Deandre Jordan getting tennis elbow from batting away shots in the lane?  (i have no official proof for that Kobe statement).

Did I mention the same thing happened last season when Kobe played 6 games all year and was still voted into the All-Star game?!?!?  Fans voting needs to go away.

Here are your starters this season:Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 2.52.10 PM

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Next in line for the firing squad: Carmelo Anthony.  Just like in Kobe’s case, Melo’s stats have all declined this season from what his normal career numbers are.  Of course a big part of this is due to the Knicks STINKING worse than the Lakers after a night out at the clubs in West Hollywood sweating it up to house music.

This season is a perfect opportunity to leave off players like Melo and Kobe and make room for other younger players.  ONE All-Star game miss isn’t going to tarnish their careers.

Two quick substitutions worthy of note:

1)  James Harden leads the league in scoring and living animals inside a beard, both these stats make him deserving of an All-Star start in the West.

2)  Al Horford deserves the start in the East more than Melo, he’s averaging career highs in points (15 ppg) blocks (1.4 bpg) and PER (20.92).  He’s also the leader on the court for the first ranked team in the East, Atlanta Hawks.  Which is a sentence that I never thought I’d ever mutter, “the first ranked team in the East, Atlanta Hawks”.

Two things I’m looking forward to in the All-Star game:

1)  The Spanish Civil War in the paint!!!!  Marc Gasol and his brother Pau Gasol will both start the game, Marc in the West and Pau in the East.  This has NEVER HAPPENED in the history of the NBA.  I’m sure nothing interesting will actually happen, like an old-fashioned Spanish stand-off at gunpoint, causing mustaches and red capes to flutter in the wind.  But maybe just maybe, they’ll hug under the basket instead of rebounding???

2)  Steph Curry playing with Blake Griffin for the West.  This is a pick and roll alley-oop of Shawn Kempian proportions waiting to happen!  How do you defend that!?!?  Fight over the top of the screen to respect Curry’s three-ball and Blake quickly releases to the basket to throw down on Gasol’s soul-glo curls!!?!?  Or, do you go under the screen to help make sure Blake can’t release, then Curry steps back and drills a 28 footer and smirks like Urkel from Family Matters:

You can't guard me

You can’t guard me