NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Saturday Slam: If LaVar Ball really cared about his sons, he'd shut up

                                         (Mark J. Terrell/AP) 

If LaVar Ball really cared about his sons, he'd shut up. There's no way to sugar coat it. His comments directed at other NBA players, most recently John Wall, serve as motivation for these players to shut down his son Lonzo, who is averaging 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game during his first four games with the Los Angeles Lakers.

I debated whether or not I should write this article given that I don't want to give LaVar any more attention. At the same time, there's no way for me to not address this guy. As a basketball writer, I have a duty to give my honest, unabashed take on how this moron is putting a target on his sons' back every time he talks trash. While some like LaVar and see him as a marketing genius, others, like myself, see him as an egotistical nut job that doesn't have all of his wits about him. To a certain extent his actions are theatre, but to another extent, this is who he really is. No sane, normal person would act like he does. Even if they were trying to promote their kids and build a brand around them.

While LaVar is batshit crazy, what's perhaps even more troubling is his lack of empathy for his sons. Especially Lonzo, who is the Michael Jackson of the Ball family. If LaVar actually cared about his son and his NBA career, he'd recede into the background and not become a problem that he has to manage. The fact that LaVar continues to make idiotic and egotistical comments just goes to show that all he cares about is himself.

Unfortunately for LaVar, Lonzo is really all that he has. Neither of his other two sons have a serious shot at an NBA career. LaMelo in particular is an overrated little dweeb that has no idea how to run an offense and only knows how to play street ball. The fact that he has his own shoe is a joke and also will likely deem him ineligible to play at UCLA. As for LiAngelo, the middle Ball brother, he's supposed to be pretty good, but the odds of him morphing into a #2 overall pick in the NBA Draft are very low.

I don't like LaVar Ball and I don't give him a hall pass for being some "marketing genius." His behavior is inexcusable and does nothing to help his sons. If he really cared about them, he'd shut up and not seek the spotlight. It's really that simple.

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Friday, October 27, 2017 Podcast: Phoenix Suns fire Earl Watson; Aaron Gordon is becoming a star

On this week's episode of the Podcast, I address the Phoenix Suns' decision to fire Earl Watson, Aaron Gordon becoming a star, and more. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: Is Aaron Gordon on the verge of a breakout season?

                                          (Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) 

On Tuesday night, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon had a monster game against the Brooklyn Nets, scoring 41 points and grabbing 14 rebounds on 14/18 shooting from the field, 8/10 shooting from the free throw line, and 5/5 shooting from three-point range. The Magic won the game 125-121, improving to 3-1 on the season.

Entering his fourth season in the NBA, the 22 year old Gordon has been viewed as somewhat of a project by the Magic organization. The athleticism has always been there, but they've been waiting for his skills to catch up. While it is early yet, Gordon appears to have flipped the switch, averaging 27.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game on the season during the two games that he has played.

When looking at his stat line against the Nets, what's most frightening is the 5/5 shooting from three-point range and 8/10 shooting from the foul line. When you combine freakish athleticism with that kind of shooting, you have a player that is virtually unstoppable. There's no way for defenses to contain a combination like that. Pick your poison, inside or out, you're going to get burned.

If Gordon keeps this up, he will have a breakout season of epic proportions. The question of course is whether or not he can sustain this for the duration of the season. Personally, I'm optimistic that he can. I was very high on Gordon when he entered the 2014 NBA Draft because of his motor and athleticism. He seemed to have all the pieces needed to be a star in the league. It was just a matter of being patient and letting him develop.

While we are still early in the season, the Orlando Magic have to be excited about what they're seeing from Aaron Gordon thus far. They drafted him with the hopes of him being their franchise player and so far, he's delivering the goods. If he keeps this up, there's no reason to doubt their chances of becoming a serious force in the East.

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: The Phoenix Suns are exploding

Earlier today, news broke that the Phoenix Suns fired their head coach Earl Watson after their 0-3 start, which consisted of two 40+ point losses to the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers. To make things even worse, their star point guard Eric Bledsoe appeared to request a trade, stating that he "doesn't want to be" in Phoenix.

There's really no way to paint a pretty picture of what's going on here. To have your head coach fired and your star player demand a trade on the same day is not a good thing. Especially when you've been getting blown off the court.

Probably the main thing to look for at this point is what the Suns do with Bledsoe. If he wants out, they should seriously explore moving him. At the same time, they shouldn't be in any hurry to move him. He doesn't hit unrestricted free agency until the summer of 2019, so it's not like he'll be gone after the season if they trade him. They could also explore moving a couple of other veteran pieces like Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley to help them rebuild for the future.

At this point, the best thing the Suns can do is just try to calm the waters and bring some sense of normalcy to the locker room. It will be up to interim head coach Jay Triano to make this happen. The Suns are behaving like a team that is 0-20, when in all reality they have plenty of time to turn this season around and not have it turn into a total dumpster fire.

Note: For more insight on the Suns' decision to fire Earl Watson, watch the video below by Phoenix Suns expert Brandon Condron. 

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Friday, October 20, 2017 Podcast: Gordon Hayward is done for the year; Rockets take out the Warriors

On this week's episode of the Podcast, I address Gordon Hayward's season-ending injury, the Rockets' win over the Warriors, and more. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday Windmill: Without Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics need Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to deliver

On opening night at Cleveland, Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics' big free agent acquisition of the summer, went down with a dislocated and fractured left tibia. Hayward underwent surgery on Wednesday and could be done for the season. Given the severity of his injury, the Celtics have to expect the worst and plan on playing the entire season without their star small forward. With this being the grim reality, the question that is on the minds of everyone is whether or not the Celtics can survive the season without him.

On the surface, there's no way to paint a pretty picture of this situation. Hayward averaged a career best 21.9 points per game last season and is just starting to enter his prime. Given how badly the Celtics fared against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, it's hard to see them reaching the NBA Finals with Hayward on the sidelines for the rest of the season.

If the Celtics want any chance of making a run for the Eastern Conference crown, they'll need to get big production from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, two small forwards who they selected third overall in the 2016 and 2017 NBA drafts respectively. Given that Brown is in his second year and Tatum is a rookie, there will be more expected of Brown this season to deliver the goods, especially in the early portion of the season.

The good news for the Celtics is that so far, both guys, especially Brown, are stepping up in Hayward's absence. On Tuesday night against the Cavaliers, Brown scored 25 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and got 2 steals. On Wednesday night against the Bucks, Brown had 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. As for Tatum, he finished with a double-double against the Cavaliers with 14 points and 10 rebounds while finishing with 8 points and 9 rebounds against the Bucks.

                                         (John Tlumacki. The Boston Globe) 

If both Brown and Tatum continue to produce like this, the Celtics could find a way to make things interesting in the Eastern Conference. As #3 overall picks, they definitely have the talent to do so. It's just a matter of them finding a way to consistently play up to their maximum potential four out of five nights.

While Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are going to have to carry the load as the two experienced stars on the team, the Celtics' season really comes down to how well Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum step up. They'll be getting the bulk of the minutes at the small forward spot and will need to make up for Hayward's absence. If they are able to do so, the Celtics' season isn't lost. If not, we might as well pencil in the Cavaliers as Eastern Conference champions assuming LeBron James doesn't go down.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Houston Rockets get a huge win in Golden State

On Tuesday night, the Houston Rockets defeated the Golden State Warriors 122-121 to spoil their home opener and championship ring ceremony. James Harden led the charge for the Rockets with 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 10 assists while Kevin Durant finished with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists, having his game winning bucket waived off upon further review. 

The fact that this game took place in mid-October doesn't take away from the significance of this win for the Rockets. They're a team that is trying to prove themselves as a legitimate threat to the Warriors and doing what they did on Tuesday night isn't a bad start. They could have packed it in when they were down 101-88 at the end of the third quarter, but instead they chose to keep fighting and not give up. James Harden stepped up big time as did Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute off the bench, who combined for 58 points. A gritty win like this took a real team effort.

As far as the Warriors are concerned, I wouldn't worry too much about this loss, but it definitely doesn't feel good to lose on your home floor after receiving your championship rings. These are the kind of games you want to come out and win wire to wire for the purpose of entertaining your fans and sending a firm message to the rest of the league. A lot of what makes the Warriors tough to stop is the mental advantage they have over other teams who believe they have no shot at taking them out. By losing tonight, the Warriors gave their opponents a little bit of hope and sometimes a little bit of hope is all a team needs to pull off an upset.

While the Rockets have 81 games to go before the playoffs begin, tonight's win is still a huge win for them. They came into this game eager to prove that they are the real deal after acquiring Chris Paul and I think they proved that they are, even though Paul himself didn't have as good of a game as he was hoping for. The bottom line is that when it comes to defeating the defending champions on their home floor, you'll take that win and use it as motivation whether it comes in October, December, or March. The timing of the win isn't nearly as important as the win itself.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: Locking up Andrew Wiggins helps ensure a bright future for the Minnesota Timberwolves

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Timberwolves inked Andrew Wiggins to a five-year contract extension worth approximately $148M, which is the designated rookie scale maximum. Since being acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kevin Love, Wiggins has lived up to the hype, averaging 20.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.0 steal per game during his first three seasons, missing only one game. Wiggins' durability and consistency have earned him this extension and in the process has helped to ensure that the Timberwolves have a bright future.

What's especially exciting for the Timberwolves is the roster they've put around Wiggins. Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the best young big men in the league, Jeff Teague is one of the most underrated point guards, and Jimmy Butler is one of the top slashing wings in the game. The Timberwolves should be a playoff team this season and eventually evolve into one of the most dangerous teams in the Western Conference with more seasoning.

Next season, the Timberwolves will have the chance to extend Towns as well, which means they could have almost $300M invested in two players. While that is a lot of money to invest in two guys who are yet to play in a playoff game, both guys have proven to be worthy of such an investment. They've played up to their expectations and been good representatives of the organization both on and off the court.

Assuming the Timberwolves lock up Towns as well, they're going to have two of the best young players in the league for the next several seasons, giving them plenty of chances to get to the playoffs, win a series, and get the seasoning that is needed to make them a championship contender. While they haven't been a very successful franchise over the years, the foundation for success is finally being put into place. They've drafted the right people, they've brought in the right free agents, and they've trusted the process. It's all finally starting to come together for them.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday Slam: How big of a risk are the Philadelphia 76ers taking on Joel Embiid?

                                          (AP Photo) 

The Philadelphia 76ers inked Joel Embiid to a five-year, $148M extension this week, which is the designated rookie scale maximum. Given that Embiid didn't play during his first two years in the league and only played in 31 games last season, many people saw this news and scratched their heads. However, upon closer examination of Embiid's contract, this actually appears to be a pretty low-risk high-reward type of move for the Sixers.

ESPN has the details of his contract below:

"Here's how a perfect storm of calamity would have to unfold for Embiid to earn any less than the full $146.5 million: Across each of the final four seasons of the extension, ending with the 2022-23 season, the 76ers could waive Embiid for a financial benefit if he's lost because of a contractually agreed-upon injury that causes him to miss 25 or more regular-season games and if he plays fewer than 1,650 minutes, league sources said.

Specific injuries are laid out in the contract and include only past problem areas with Embiid's feet and back, sources said. Embiid has to miss 25 or more regular-season games because of injuries to those areas, and play fewer than 1,650 minutes, for Philadelphia to have the option of releasing him for cost savings."
What's important to note about his contract is that the Sixers can only waive him because of injuries to specifically his back and feet. If he were to tear his ACL, they wouldn't be able to waive him. That may sound a little weird, but it makes sense if you consider the fact that no player, no matter how healthy they've been, can guarantee to avoid serious injury.

If Joel Embiid can stay healthy, he'll be worth every penny. He averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game last season in the 31 games that he played in, already making him one of the best big men in the league. Injuries aside, he's for real.

Given that the Sixers need someone to build around and put their faith in for the future, this deal makes sense for them. If Joel Embiid lives up to the hype, they could be contending for championships. If his feet and back continue to let him down, they'll be able to waive him and move on. This is a deal that truly makes sense for both sides.

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Friday, October 13, 2017 Podcast: Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins get contract extensions

On this week's episode of the Podcast, I address the contract extensions given to Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. I also talk about the Golden State Warriors. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: The Golden State Warriors are virtually unstoppable

As we head into the 2017-18 NBA season, we see a league that looks very different than it did last year. The Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves all have new looks and should prove to be very exciting teams. However, none of these teams made moves that should take the Golden State Warriors off their perch as the top team in the league.

The Warriors' only obstacle to defending their title is health. So long as they stay healthy, they will win the NBA championship again. They simply have too many weapons. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green are good enough to be the go to option on nearly every other team in the league. Collectively, they form a unit that is virtually unstoppable.

What makes these five guys so tough to stop is their versatility and ability to play elite basketball on both ends of the floor, both inside and out. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson form the most frightening three-point shooting duo the league has ever seen and Kevin Durant is one of the most lethal scorers the league has ever seen due to his combination of size, skill, and athleticism. As for Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, those guys are some of the best defenders in the league, capable of making things tough on the best of players in the league. They're also guys who you can't leave open on offense.

Outside of those five guys, the Warriors have some very solid role players like JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Nick Young, Shaun Livingston, etc. They don't just have a ton of talent. They have a ton of talent with depth. It's not like you can easily make up ground when their stars are resting. They have a second string that is good enough to hang with most starting lineups in the league, allowing them to give their stars ample rest and not wear them out too much during the grueling regular season.

Unfortunately for the Warriors' opponents, it's highly unlikely the injury bug derails their season. When you have a team as deep as the Warriors, you can keep your stars fresh and still win games handily. That's what makes this Warriors team close to unbeatable. Nobody can beat them in a seven game series when they are at full strength and even if a couple guys get hurt, they're still probably the favorites.

This upcoming NBA season promises to be very exciting due to all the moves that have happened, but make no mistake; there should be very little drama when it comes to who wins it all. The Warriors are way out in front of everybody else and will practically need to hand the Larry O'Brien Trophy to another team to not come out on top.

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: Keep an eye on the Denver Nuggets

Going into Sunday's preseason game against the San Antonio Spurs, the Denver Nuggets are 3-0, notching road wins against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers (twice). Normally I would say not to pay much attention to preseason results, but having watched the Nuggets play courtside against the Warriors last week, I have to say that I was really impressed with how well they played.

What impressed me the most was how tough they played. They did a good job on the glass and battled for 48 minutes. They didn't back down against the champs when playing on their turf.

Personnel wise, the Nuggets have a solid backcourt led by Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris as well as a quality frontcourt featuring Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, Mason Plumlee, and Kenneth Faried.  In their 108-102 win over the Warriors, Millsap started a bit slow but found his groove, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds on 7-11 shooting from the field and 4-6 shooting from three-point range. Emmanuel Mudiay finished with 19 points and 4 assists on 6-10 shooting from the field, putting together a very quality game of his own.

While the Nuggets haven't made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, I have a feeling that this might be the season they get back there. They have a quality core and a head coach in Michael Malone who seems to know what he's doing. He has them competing and playing as a team.

To a certain extent, my high hopes for the Nuggets is a gut thing. The sample size is too small for it to be anything more than that. That said, Paul Millsap does have a track record of making teams he plays on better than they were before he got there. He helped the Utah Jazz become a consistent playoff team and he helped the Atlanta Hawks reach the Eastern Conference Finals. Millsap is a really good guy to build around and the Nuggets really do appear to have the pieces around him to be successful.

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Saturday Slam: Is this new NBA All-Star Game format actually better?

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the NBA All-Star Game was getting rid of the East vs. West format in favor of a format that replicates playground basketball where two captains pick their teams. The way it will work is that two guards and three front court players from each conference will be voted in by fans, players, and media while the remaining All-Star players will be selected by the NBA head coaches. The top two vote getters will be the captains.

This departure from the East vs. West format feels weird in that it's the only format I've ever known. It's the only format that any of us has known. That doesn't mean a departure isn't a good idea, but it is important to acknowledge the historical significance of this.

In regards to the format itself, I have to admit that I do like it. It adds more meaning in that players' egos are actually involved in a way that they weren't before. The guys that get picked last will feel the need to prove themselves more and feelings might be hurt a bit as one player passes on a teammate to pick a guy who he thinks might be a better fit for his team. These kind of possibilities make this format very intriguing. As a result of these possibilities, we should see more competitive games since guys will have more to play for.

At the same time, this game still won't have any metaphysical meaning. Home court advantage in the playoffs won't be on the line or anything of that nature. I'm not in favor of the All-Star Game having any such meaning, but it is important to note that we'll still probably see carefree basketball for three quarters and then intense basketball for the final eight minutes or so. That part of the game I doubt will change much.

Still, I do find this new format to be exciting for all the reasons I listed above. More than anything, it shows that the NBA is willing to try new things and not let things go stale. The NBA All-Star Game has been in need of some sort of change and I think fans will welcome what changes this new format brings.

Something that has been kicked around is whether or not this means the NBA is open to shaking up its playoff format by admitting the top 16 teams into the playoffs regardless of conference. While I think such talk is a bit premature, I could see the NBA adopting such a format in the future. I think the league is tired of seeing teams with losing records in one conference make the playoffs while teams with winning records in another conference miss the playoffs. It certainly does make sense for the NBA to explore switching to a format that ensures the top 16 teams make the playoffs.

While a change to the playoff format is probably something that would get fans even more excited, changing the All-Star Game format is a good start for the league. It's always good to come up with creative ways to make your product more exciting for your consumers. This philosophy is what's making the NBA the most successful professional sports league in the country.

Note: My friend Brandon Condron shared his thoughts on the new All-Star format. Check out his video below! 

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tomahawk Tuesday: The San Antonio Spurs need Kawhi Leonard to stay healthy

Over the weekend, it was revealed that Kawhi Leonard is expected to miss the entire preseason as he continues to rehab from a right quadriceps injury. Last season, the San Antonio Spurs appeared to be on the verge of upsetting the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals until Leonard went down with a sprained ankle, keeping him out for the rest of the series.

While this is the preseason and not the playoffs, it is not good for the Spurs to start their season right where they left off, which is with an injured Kawhi Leonard. In order for them to come out of the Western Conference, they need to have Leonard playing his best basketball. If he isn't able to stay healthy, they have no chance at reaching the NBA Finals.

While this should be obvious to everyone who follows the NBA, it is still important to underscore this. With all the major moves that happened this offseason, it is easy to forget about the Spurs and just how dangerous they are. They were perhaps a healthy Kawhi Leonard away from winning the NBA Finals last season, which just goes to show how good Leonard is and how significant his health is to the fate of this NBA season.

Last season, Leonard averaged 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game on 48.5% shooting from the field, 38.0% shooting from three-point range, and 88.0% shooting from the foul line, establishing himself as one of the most multidimensional players in the league. He does so much for this Spurs team on both of the floor. With him, they can compete with any team in the league over the course of a seven game series. Without him, they're a playoff team that might win a first round series. His impact is that significant.

                                          (Getty Images) 

Hopefully, Leonard's absence in the preseason is just an indicator of the Spurs being extra cautious with him and nothing more than that. If he's ready to roll on opening night without any restrictions, it will be fair to wonder whether or not this blog post is an overreaction to what happened last season. At the same time, given what happened last season, it's hard to call this an overreaction after seeing what happened to the Spurs once Leonard went down.

It should be noted that the Spurs have other things to worry about in addition to Leonard's health. Tony Parker is recovering from a torn quadriceps tendon and it isn't yet clear when he'll be able to play. The Spurs can't afford to start the season with two of their best players unable to contribute. At the very least, they need to have Leonard ready to rock and hope that Parker is able to return sooner rather than later. As good as LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay are, they are a supplement to those two guys and aren't the pulse of this team. They'll play much better when they have those guys to lean on.

At this point, if you are the Spurs, you just have to hope that Leonard is able to go at the start of the regular season and that this quadriceps injury isn't anything too serious. The Spurs have the pieces to contend for a title this season, but they need to stay healthy and make sure they don't get themselves behind the eight ball early on. The Western Conference is simply too loaded for them to overcome a sluggish start to the season.

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Monday, October 2, 2017 Podcast: Dwyane Wade to the Cavs; Warriors vs. Nuggets court side

On this week's episode of the podcast, I talk about Dwyane Wade to the Cleveland Cavaliers and also my observations from watching the Golden State Warriors-Denver Nuggets game on Saturday from court side seats. Click here to listen to the podcast.

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Skyhook Sunday: Calling out Stephen Curry will come back to haunt Suns rookie Josh Jackson


Last week, Phoenix Suns rookie Josh Jackson did something very foolish: He ran his mouth. When addressing two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry, Jackson did not pull back any punches, choosing to instead criticize the future Hall of Fame player by calling him "small and unathletic." After rightfully receiving blow back for his comments, Jackson tried to save face on Twitter, saying that the media is twisting his words.

Jackson's attempt at giving his comments context failed. When you call a player in the NBA  "small and unathletic", there's no way to not take that as an insult. What's worse is that Jackson's comments aren't even true.  At 6'3", Stephen Curry is not "small" and as a guy who can dunk a basketball and cross up the best defenders in the league, he is certainly not "unathletic."

An example of an NBA player who is "small" would be Isaiah Thomas, who is listed at 5'9". An example of an NBA player who is "unathletic" would be the now retired Brian Scalabrine. If you're going to criticize anyone, your criticism better be accurate. Especially if you are criticizing a guy who has accomplished as much as Stephen Curry.

What makes Jackson's comments especially idiotic is the fact that his team plays in the same division as the Golden State Warriors. He's going to face Curry four times a year, so it's not like he's going to be able to hide from him. If Jackson played for an Eastern Conference team, his comments wouldn't be as big of a deal since he wouldn't really be competing against the Golden State Warriors all that often. But given that he's in the same division as Curry,  he's going to be setting himself up for four nights of hell every year.

                                          (Credit: Keith Allison. Click here for source)

Do you think I'm exaggerating? Do you think Stephen Curry is too nice of a guy to want to put someone in their place? Think again. Curry might have the look of a really nice guy and I'm sure he is off the court, but on the court, he's an absolute assassin, eager to deliver one dagger after the next to all of his opponents.  Whether Josh Jackson likes it or not, he will get the message loud and clear that Stephen Curry is not "small" or "unathletic."

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