I took some questions from ESPNLosAngeles.com in anticipation of tonight’s matchup.
The Lakers are now 8-9 and staring down nine December road games. The first comes against the Houston Rockets, a similarly rebuilt team tasked with coming together on the fly. After a slow start, they’re seemingly in better sync these days, having won four of their past five games. Not that the Lakers have earned the right to take any team lightly — just ask the Orlando Magic — but Houston may offer a tougher contest than I certainly figured a month ago.
As a young NBA player looking to find your way in the league, it’s common to head into an offseason with a plan to improve a specific area of your game that has already been deemed a strength.Are you a spot up three-point shooter? Work on that. Are you a pretty good perimeter defender? Work on that. Are you particularly adept at making worthwhile decisions handling a pick-and-roll? Work on that. Everyone wants to achieve LeBron James levels of entirety, but for the majority it’s just not realistic, and most lengthy careers are birthed from a niche: one elite area where an identity can be formed.As someone who spends their time complimenting the league’s “LeBrons” (80% of the NBA), toiling on a weakness could be viewed as a waste of time and energy. (For example, Steve Novak is paid to shoot three-pointers. When he’s working on his game in August, drives to the basket and pull up 15-footers shouldn’t be on the syllabus.)Heading into his third NBA season, Patrick Patterson chose to go against the grain, and it’s a decision that so far has paid off ten fold for both himself, and the Houston Rockets. [read more…]
James Harden’s ascension up the ranks of NBA buzzdom seems less shocking than preordained after the Beard was sent down south a couple of days before the season began. After spending a couple of years being regarded as the Thunder’s “secret weapon” or “trump card” or a host of other euphemisms for “really amazing player that gets far too few minutes/shots”, Harden’s place on the NBA’s leading scorer board and general prominence among the league this year probably makes as much sense as any other possible outcome to his trade to the Rockets. The most logical culmination, if that word can accurately be applied to describe an event that occurs in the middle of a player’s first season on a new team, to the trade now would be Harden’s ultimate coronation at this February’s All-Star Game, somehow once again hosted in the H. Yes, he’ll likely come off of the bench, but Harden’s spot is almost guaranteed on the roster, on which he’ll likely only back up luminaries like Kobe Bryant and… Jeremy Lin? [read more…]