Ham’s Hoops Roundup Friday 1/26: Team LeBron, Team Steph — Who You Got?

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Team LeBron and Team Steph are set… who you got? Plus Westbrook gives it to the Wizards, De’Aaron Fox levitates, KAT is a problem for Golden State – but not enough of one, and the Knicks stink. It’s the Hoops Roundup for Friday, January 26th. Let’s get it…

Scores from Thursday, January 25th:

Sacramento 89  –  Miami 88
Washington 112  –  Oklahoma City 121
New York 118  –  Denver 130
Minnesota 113  –  Golden State 126

Around The Association

The teams LeBron and Steph drafted were announced last night.

We’ve got Team LeBron.

And Team Steph.

I had my Mock Draft written yesterday but had something come up and couldn’t finish it. That’s on me. Be a better writer, Ham.

For the sake of posting it… this is what I had, which I think is the order it went:

Lebron — Durant
Steph — Giannis
Lebron — Davis
Steph — Harden
Lebron — Boogie
Steph — Embiid
Lebron — Kyrie
Steph — DeRozan

The first four were locks… same with DeRozan last. I think LeBron went Boogie at five knowing he’ll still get Kyrie at seven. And worst case he’d end up with an insane five big LeBron-KD-AD-Boogie-Embiid lineup and simply out-size them down the stretch. If not then that means he went Kyrie at five and Steph simply likes Embiid more than Boogie. I’m embarrassed how much that question is eating at me.

For the reserves I was off so I’ll spare you my mock. If I had to guess, this is how I think it played out:

Steph — Klay (easy. would’ve been his pick over Harden at 4 if he could have)
Lebron — Russ (will 100p play him over Kyrie down the stretch and it’ll be hilarious)
Steph — Draymond (sticks with his guys)
Lebron — Porzingis (perfect for this game – hits threes and protects the rim. also wants to see what it would be like playing with him in New York next year. shhhhhhh)
Steph — Jimmy (need someone to guard LeBron)
Lebron — Beal (wants another shooter)
Steph — Towns (will give a shit, and he needs a big)
Lebron — Love (is afraid Love will give secrets to GS. i’m only half kidding about that)
Steph — Dame (at this point it doesn’t matter)
Lebron — Wall (are you still reading these?)
Steph — Lowry (that peach the only all star in my mind)
Lebron — Oladipo (dark horse in the dunk contest. will be a great value)
Steph — Horford (will set the record for All Star screens set – you’ll hear that joke a lot)
Lebron — LaMarcus (will play no more than 4 minutes)

Right now I’m leaning Team LeBron strictly on the basis of them having the two best players in the world. There’s a case for the shooting (Steph, Harden, Klay) and youthful energy (Giannis, Embiid, Towns) of Steph’s team jumping out early and holding on with defense. They have the bodies to defend LeBron (Jimmy), KD (Draymond), AD (Giannis), and Kyrie (Klay).

Team LeBron is older, more content, and very possibly more contentious (LeBron-Kyrie, Durant-Westbrook, LeBron-Love, AND Westbrook-Oladipo… jesus christ). I’m actually all in on Team Steph winning, and Team LeBron being the favorite pushes me even further in that direction.

But I’m still picking Team LeBron because Kristaps Porzingis All Star Game MVP with 47 points and 8 threes is happening and there’s nothing you can tell me otherwise.

Kyrie is saying now that he would have threatened to sit out with knee surgery if the Cavs hadn’t traded him, which might be the most fraudulent statement I’ve heard this season. Dude, no you fucking wouldn’t have. Be happy you’re not in that mess and worry about the shape of the globe.

Sacramento 89  –  Miami 88

Sacramento  (15-33)  15th in West
Miami  (27-21)  4th in East

De’Aaron Fox levitated last night.

The kid had 14p/3r/4a, hit a monster layup in traffic to pull the Kings within three, picked Dragic’s pocket on the other end which led to a Buddy Heild layup, and then flew… literally took actual flight… for the game winning putback with three seconds left. It’s one of the most impressive putbacks I’ve ever seen. No joke he might have jumped 55 inches to get that.

Sacramento is still a mess, but they’ve got something with Fox.

The Heat rocked their Heat Vice jerseys last night. There isn’t one good reason you can give me that the heat wouldn’t just go to these things full time. These jerseys are… flames.

Washington 112  –  Oklahoma City 121

Washington  (26-22)  6th in East
Oklahoma City  (28-20)  5th in West

Russ (46p/6r/6a/2s on 19-29 shooting) came out and gassed the Wiz last night, helping convert 23 Washington turnovers into 36 points off turnovers.

In a game where it did feel like Westbrook washed John Wall, Wall actually did post a good line of 21p/12a/2s with a season high 5 threes.

What kept Washington in it though was a brilliant night from Brad Beal (41p/12r/7a/2s with 6 threes on 15-26 shooting), who solidified just how well deserved his first All Star nod was on Tuesday. Don’t sleep on Beal as a very, very sneaky longshot MVP candidate for that game. Dude will come in with a lot to prove and can obviously fill it up. Maybe he’s not out there in crunch time (Kyrie, Russ, KD, LeBron, AD), but when guys get hot in that game their team will let them cook.

New York 118  –  Denver 130

New York  (21-28)  10th in East
Denver  (25-23)  8th in West

Porzingis (20p/7r) and Jokic (18p/7r/10a) battled last night. If I remove my paternal bias for my large adult unicorn son for a second, it is interesting to compare these two. They’re different players with very different games… but both transcendent, unique players with nearly every skill set you want from your big man. And it’s funny that the one trait they lack (Porzingis isn’t a good passer, Jokic isn’t a good rim protector), happens to be one of the other’s one or two greatest strengths (Porzingis is an elite rim protector, Jokic is an unreal passer).

I don’t know if you can turn Jokic into a rim protector. He’s long, but you need timing and bounce that he just doesn’t have. Porzingis will never be Jokic as a passer, but there’s no reason he can’t become a great distributor from the high block and the elbow. He has the size and the instincts. Not Jokic instincts – but still elite basketball instincts.

What Jokic has that KP doesn’t is talent around him and a really good coach. Harris, Murray, Barton, and Chandler are all better than any guard or wing the Knicks have right now and would help Porzingis immensely. And Mike Malone is just a better coach than Hornacek – who is inching closer and closer into “do we fire Hornacek” territory.

My concern right now is that KP is dangerously leaning into Melo/Kobe black hole territory. There’s a concerning amount of midrange iso and “throw it to him and you’re not getting it back” in his game.

I understand the defense is the major concern right now. This team is a DISASTER on that end. And they’re scoring enough to mask the offensive issues. But Hornacek needs to get to the break and reset the offense just as much as he does the defense.

And hey… if that doesn’t work… we just wait it out until next October when new coach Ettore Messina has second-year, full offseason Frankie Smokes and his new backcourt running mate have us looking like the Spurs North Euro Knicks.


Minnesota 113  –  Golden State 126

Minnesota  (31-20)  4th in West
Golden State  (39-10)  1st in West

First off… this has a real chance to be an awesome series when Jimmy is healthy and when the Wolves have another few months to gel even further. Towns is a problem for this Warriors team, and Jimmy is one of a few guys who could give Curry real problems defensively if Thibs goes with that matchup.

I’m not saying Minnesota can win that series. They need Wiggins and Teague playing at their absolute best, plus Bjelica and Jones giving very quality bench minutes to even compete. But they have the talent and they have two guys in Jimmy and Towns who you know can take control of a game.

Speaking of Towns, he went for 31p/11r/5a last night on 13-24 shooting and was the sole thing keeping them in this game. It’s rare to see a guy physically overwhelm the Warriors – both with size and with strength. Towns is one of a small handful of guys in the league (LeBron, Giannis, AD, Boogie, Embiid) who can do that

But the Warriors are still the Warriors. They shot 53.9% from the field, 56.8% from three, and set an NBA record with 39 fast break points in the first half.

They got a casual triple double from Kevin Durant (28p/10r/11a/3b/2s), a typical brilliant Curry night (25p/5r/9a/3s), and a preposterously efficient game from Klay (25p/5r/3a).

Those three combined for 78 points on 60% shooting. Racked up 20 boards and 23 assists. And hit 18 their 27 combined three point attempts

18 threes. Three guys combined for 18 threes at a 66.6% clip. The three best shooters in the entire world are all on the same fucking team, and also happen to be the 2nd, 6th, and 14th best players in the world***. No matter how many times you say that, it’s still insane.

***while we’re here… here’s an updated Top 30 Players list because I like keeping track of completely subjective things like this.

It’s hard to fully describe the way I weigh this. But one thing I do in comparing guys is use a tiebreaker of “who do I want for one game?” That just matters more to me than who do I want for a season. For example, Curry-Harden was neck-and-neck for me, but I went Curry because at the end of the day, my gut is going with Curry over Harden in one game. Simple enough? Ok here we go. Also… all my opinions are correct.

  1. Lebron
  2. Durant (borderline 1A, still lame)
  3. Kawhi (still here, still deserved the MVP last year)
  4. Giannis (yes, he’s already here… he was Curry’s first pick for a reason)
  5. Davis (flip-floppable with Giannis)
  6. Curry
  7. Harden (flip-floppable with Curry)
  8. Jimmy
  9. George (would be fascinated to see him and Jimmy trade places)
  10. Kyrie
  11. Russ (Kyrie-Russ is a surprisingly hard toss up… but one game my gut–and brain–is going Kyrie)
  12. Boogie
  13. Towns (almost flip-floppable with Boogie, but not yet)
  14. Klay (slightly above Draymond)
  15. Draymond
  16. Paul
  17. Embiid (hardest to pin, could arguably be right there above Boogie & Towns)
  18. Porzingis (arguably #1)
  19. DeRozan (might even be low, he’s been unreal)
  20. Horford
  21. Jokic
  22. Oladipo (yes, he’s higher than Wall, Beal, and Dame)
  23. Wall (super underwhelming year)
  24. Beal (might honestly be better than Wall at this point – one game I really might choose Beal)
  25. Dame
  26. Blake
  27. Love
  28. LaMarcus (probably deserves to be higher, but I can’t commit to that yet)
  29. Lowry
  30. Devin Booker (shouldn’t have made All Star, but that doesn’t mean he’s not already on this list and climbing quickly)

Apologies to DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, CJ McCollum, Ben Simmons (he’ll be in the top 20 soon enough), Steven Adams, Marc Gasol, Lou Williams, injured Gordon Hayward (would be in the 18-20 range), absolutely nobody on the Miami Heat, and most of all the god Michael Beasley – who is every bit as talented as Kevin Durant.

Schedule for Friday, January 26th


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