Top 11 NBA Regular Season Observations Part 1

How about that opening weekend of the NBA playoffs? Eight games and eight good ones. I’ll get back to you with more in-depth thoughts on the first playoff weekend in the next few days and keep the coverage coming throughout the postseason.

But here’s what’s more important: I have left the NBA’s regular season considerably un-touched because of when I started this blog and various personal time commitments outside of SpreeGoogs (graduate school will murder your free time). Buckle up, readers, because I’m about to take you on the whirlyest of whirlwind tours through recaps of the biggest NBA regular season stories that stand out to me.

Since the beginning of the season, NBA news outlets have all covered exactly the same stories: Miami’s “Big 3,” the Lakers’ possible three-peat, Derrick’s Rose’s MVP campaign, you know the deal. But I’ve put together a top 11 list of the actual NBA regular-season storylines that should have been following because they’re just as important as the other ones, but don’t involve a short list of NBA players that have been pre-determined by the league as important. You probably missed them, but don’t feel bad because so did people who get paid to notice them. This will get long, so part 1 will be 1-5 and check back soon for part two.

Top 11 Regular-season NBA things that you may not have noticed:

1. Chris Andersen got the league’s most obnoxious tattoo in the offseason

He still has his whole face to go. Any bets for next season?

Andersen may have actually held the most obnoxious tattoo before getting the multicolored “FREE BIRD” across his neck, but just to make sure he held it forever, the Birdman locked down this underreported ink. In my opinion, this tattoo should go down in history as one of the all-time worst, and is significantly more important than anything the Raptors, Kings, or Cavs did this season.

One of my best friends has a father who famously told me “Nothing says ‘I’ve been to prison and I’m going back’ like a neck tattoo.” In the Birdman’s case, I don’t think he’s actually been to prison, but he did get suspended from the league for a couple of seasons for drug-related issues, and in my mind, that’s close enough.

In actual basketball-related commentary, Andersen is as close to a superhero as the Nuggets have. The applause he gets when he plays has to make him one of the most wildly celebrated bench players in the league right now, and if that neck tattoo is what he needs to keep bringing energy to the Nuggets, then go for it.

2. Forget Kevin Love’s double-double streak, his rebounding numbers were insane — Kevin Love grabbed 15.2 rebounds per game this year. Does anyone else know when was the last time someone averaged 15 boards in a season? It was Ben Wallace in ’02-’03. In fact, in the last 30 years, only Love, Wallace, Dennis Rodman, Kevin Willis and Moses Malone have averaged 15 rpg in a season. And he had that 30-30 game, something that was reported for a night and then forgotten about.

Because of where I live and the availability of nationally-televised ‘Wolves games, I only got to see K-Love play four games this year, not counting the All-Star game, but he’s beyond impressive. He is always moving to get in position for boards and has a crazy good feeling about where the ball is going to go. He’s not going to be the next Rodman, because that’s impossible, but I don’t see why a few more seasons of this won’t make him the closest thing we’ve seen since Rodman retired.

3. Derrick Rose is great, but Dwight Howard should be this season’s MVP — Sure, you can thrown other people in the mix — LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Dirk, Love, Durant — but it seems like the general consensus this season is that Rose will win the MVP. I don’t know when this award got changed from Most Valuable Player to Best Player on Best Team, but it did and that’s the only reason Rose will win it. Don’t get me wrong, he’s phenomenal — generally a step and a half quicker than anyone on the floor and unbelievable strength for his position — but no one did more this season than Dwight.

In terms of actually being the most valuable, Howard is a small head and super-broad shoulders above the rest of the contenders. Rose is great, but the next-best Bulls are Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, who collectively provide 46 points, 25 rebounds and 7.5 assists each night. Compare that to Howard’s best three teammates (difficult considering the trades this season) but I’ll count Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson. They give him 38 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. Stats aside, the Magic players who aren’t Dwight Howard just suck. And Orlando still got the four-seed in the East this year.

Writing for a blog today is kind of easy, because stats are so available to access and use, but I typically like to watch games or seasons without worrying about stats and just see who is making the biggest impact on games. If that’s the method, I think Dwight has to win this year’s MVP race. It’s too bad his supporting cast is so mediocre, because he had a fantastic season.

*Note: Derrick Rose is still good. Please don’t read this as me saying Derrick Rose isn’t good because that’s just ridiculous. I’m saying he’s the second-best player in a league of close to 400 players. That’s a compliment.

4. Speaking of Joakim Noah, I wonder how ugly he is when stacked up against NBA players of past generations

A miracle of modern genetics

There is no doubt that Joakim is the ugliest player in today’s game. He’s hideous. It’s nearly unbearable to watch.

If there were an award for Least Attractive Player, they’d scrap that name and just call it the Joakim. The physical trophy would be made of pieces of his hair sculpted into a tiny basketball. It would be delivered at the All-Star break by a blind man in a full-body hooded-monk robe.  It would have to be kept in a glass case because the smell alone would instantly kill most humans and all animals. Players receiving the Joakim would also legally be banned from reproducing, so ugly players in the college ranks would have a new wrinkle to consider when declaring for the draft early.
And his mother is a model? I know.

Unfortunately, my knowledge of the NBA is limited to the past 20 or so seasons. There may be historically ugly guys that I don’t even know about. That’s why I wonder how he stacks up against the all-timers. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated in the comment section.

5. The new technical rules are stupid — No one knows what the new technical rules actually are. Not David Stern, not any of the refs, not the players, and certainly not the fans. In general, I think the legal language says something like, “Referees can now call technical fouls on any player/coach* they so desire without good reason or penalty and are encouraged to remind spectators how vague this rule is at least once a game by issuing a technical at the least understandable moment.” The * denotes that these fouls should not be called on the short list of players that the NBA has pre-determined are above it.

Basketball is already the professional sport most controlled by referees (see also: Tim Donaghy, and we didn’t even notice that!), and it makes no sense to give them even vaguer descriptions of what a technical foul actually is. We’ve all seen a player get tagged with a T for protesting a call this year, but the big-name players who protest every call never get punished for it.

My problem isn’t with the new rules resulting in more technicals; it’s with the new rules resulting in more selective technicals. If you’re going to write new rules, write new rules. But make them specific and call them the same across every game. Everyone is tired of watching a games in which there are 50 instances of players complaining to refs in the same fashion and only one of tem gets picked out and T’d up. Generally, the new rules are only adding more cloudy officiating subjectivity to the sport with the most cloudy officiating subjectivity already in place.

I’ll be back soon with 6-11 in this list, but keep reading SpreeGoogs and don’t forget that you have the power to write back.

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