Monday, August 25, 2014

4 comments Finally, Someone Tackles the Important Topic of Kevin Love's Ratedness

I have come to the conclusion that I just don't like Bill Simmons' writing style. I guess it was obvious to everyone but me. I don't like how he writes like his thoughts are the definitive thoughts on a subject and how he uses his own opinion as proof his own opinion is correct. Bill also tends to confuse his opinion with facts. He'll write something like, "Fact: No center has ever impacted a game the way Bill Russell did," when this is clearly an opinion and not a fact. So Bill has tried to determine Kevin Love's ratedness because he has nothing else to talk about and he needs to keep writing columns in a desperate attempt to trick his lemming-like Simmonsites that he still enjoys writing. Bill does everything I mentioned up above that annoys me in this column when determining whether Kevin Love is over, under, or properly rated. 

How did Kevin Love become part of LeBron’s “I’m Coming Home” package to Cleveland even before that signing went down? LeBron passes 40,000 career minutes during the seventh minute of opening night in October, that’s how. The King doesn’t have time to wait for two Canadian kids to evolve into trusted playoff commodities. Nothing personal, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. But you were omitted from that Sports Illustrated letter for a reason.

Oh yeah, another Bill Simmons writing hallmark is using too many words to say something when one sentence would work perfectly. How did Kevin Love become a part of LeBron's "I'm Coming Home" package? LeBron still wants to have proven NBA stars around him, so he was encouraged the trade for Kevin Love would help him make an NBA Finals sooner rather than later.

From what I’m hearing, the trade has been done — in principle, anyway — since before LeBron sent Ohio into a euphoric tizzy. I thought the Cavs should have waited a few months, if only to make sure that Wiggins wasn’t the Pippen to LeBron’s Jordan. But new Cavs GM LeBron James wants to win now.

It never doesn't sound douchey when Bill drops a "what I'm hearing" comment in a column. He's an NBA insider who breaks news after it's happened.

Of everyone involved, Love might have the most at stake. From May to August, he became the league’s most polarizing player without ever playing a game.

Yeah, Love has more at stake than LeBron returning home with the expectations he will win the city of Cleveland an NBA title. Sure.

Few watched him regularly in Minnesota; everyone had an opinion. Lousy defender, chased his own stats, couldn’t lead his team to the playoffs, needs help. That’s where many landed.

And if you landed there, you were wrong.

In this column, Bill will show Kevin Love is sort of a lousy defender, every player needs help to win games, and Love has never been to the playoffs. So, while the opinion on Love may be wrong, three of the four opinions Bill listed were not wrong, yet he describes these opinions as wrong for some reason.

But history says there are 26 different reasons why an NBA star becomes polarizing.

This is another annoying trait of Bill's writing. He writes lists with a specific number of items listed and then acts like this is the definitive list of items. History shows there are 26, not 25 or 27, different reasons why an NBA star becomes polarizing. Don't argue with Bill about pulling this number out of his ass, it's history that proves it. You know, history. The same history that Bill can't reference other than to use the word in a vague manner.

Let’s see …

We had no idea there were 26 different reasons. WE didn't know!

He gets paid way more than he’s worth (Spencer Haywood, Shawn Kemp, Joe Johnson) or he doesn’t come through when it matters (Elvin Hayes, Karl Malone).

Wait, so Joe Johnson is an NBA star? Isn't he overpaid because he's not a star?

He cares about too many things that aren’t basketball (Shaq), or he’s a little too outspoken (Barkley again).

When was Shaq polarizing because he made movies and rap albums? I don't recall him being polarizing because of this at all.

That’s a lot of reasons! Kevin Love hit a polarizing grand slam: He’s been criticized for chasing his own stats, putting up empty stats, being difficult and demanding, and earning “superstar” status without his Minnesota teams ever winning. Love spawns enough arguments and counterarguments to fill three BuzzFeed lists, as you’re about to see.

This is the part where Bill starts writing "Fact:" followed immediately by an opinion that he is stating as a fact. Fact: Bill Simmons is an incredibly frustrating writer. 

Fact: Love is one of the NBA’s 12 best players. It’s LeBron and Durant, then it’s Blake, Curry, CP3, Carmelo, Harden, Westbrook, Howard, Love, Aldridge and Anthony Davis in some order.

Regardless of whether I agree with this or not, this is an opinion, not a fact. Facts are based on information that proves something (like, Kevin Love is the only white guy on this list above), while an opinion is stating something like this exact sentence that is based solely on an opinion (like, Kevin Love is one of the NBA's 12 best players).

Rebuttal: Joakim Noah, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka weren’t on that list … but their teams would NOT trade them straight up for Love.

Rebuttal to the rebuttal: Trade value has very little to do with whether a player is among the best in his given sport. Also, if the sentence Bill has under "Fact" is actually a fact, then it can't be rebutted. How do you rebut a fact since a fact is based on information that proves something? I can't rebut that the Braves are located in Atlanta or play at Turner Field. I can't rebut that B.J. Upton is the current worst hitter in the lineup. The facts support this. I can rebut an opinion that B.J. Upton is the most disappointing player in the majors with facts that rebut this argument. See how it works? An opinion is stated and can be rebutted with facts. Bill doesn't understand. Saying Kevin Love is one of the NBA's 12 best players is an opinion that could be rebutted with statistics showing this isn't true.

Fact: Last season, Love averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Only Kareem, Wilt, Elgin and Billy Cunningham ever averaged 26, 12.5 and 4 in the same season. Nobody has achieved that feat in 38 years. Bird, Barkley, Baylor, Lucas and Malone never did it.

Now this is a fact.

Rebuttal: Love has played six NBA seasons and missed the playoffs every time.

This isn't really a rebuttal of the fact above, but is more of a rebuttal to the idea Kevin Love is only playing for himself to achieve these statistics. A better writer might include this so he doesn't confuse the reader on what the hell is being rebutted.

Then Bill goes on and throws more Kevin Love facts out and rebuts them by re-repeating that the Timberwolves have never made the playoffs with Love on the team. As always, Bill is not afraid to say the same thing over and over, just with slightly different re-phrasing to trick his readers into believing he has written more content when he is really just killing space.

Oh, and he finished third in the whole league in rebounding. Offensive power forwards like Love are basically created in Dork Elvis’s basketball lab.

I feel like Daryl Morey should hire Jeff "8-8" Fisher as the Rockets head coach just to complete the circle of guys who inexplicably are considered at the top of their profession.

See, that's an opinion.

Fact: Love grabbed 12.5 rebounds per game in 2014, but he also became one of the 41 NBA players who hoisted 500 3s in one season. Of that group, no other player averaged more than 9 rebounds in that same season. Think about THAT for a second.

Rebuttal: Yeah, and his offensive rebounding dropped from 4.5 in 2011 to 2.9 in 2014. Do you really want the league’s best offensive rebounder standing 24 feet away from the basket?

No, you don't. you want the lane cleared for Kyrie Irving and LeBron James to drive to the basket? Possibly you do.

Of anyone averaging 30-plus minutes per game at power forward or center last season, the NBA’s five worst interior defenders were Thaddeus Young (60.2% FG), Tristan Thompson (59.1%), Kevin Love (57.4%), Nikola Vucevic (56.4%) and Nikola Pekovic (55.2%). By that same criterion, the NBA’s worst shot-blockers were Zach Randolph at 0.3 blocks per game, David Lee, Thompson and Pekovic at 0.4 blocks, then Love, Young and Glen Davis at 0.5 blocks. Yes, Love and Pekovic were Minnesota’s two highest-paid players last season.

Remember back when Bill wrote:

everyone had an opinion. Lousy defender, chased his own stats, couldn’t lead his team to the playoffs, needs help. That’s where many landed. 

And if you landed there, you were wrong.

Bill just showed that Love has not led the Timberwolves to the playoffs and he is statistically one of the worst shot-blockers and interior defenders in the NBA. So how in the holy hell was anyone "wrong" for landing on these conclusions? I recognize that Bill will create his own reality from time-to-time, but Love is a lousy defender, so if I landed on that conclusion I am not wrong just because Bill Simmons wants me to be wrong.

Fact: Even though Love’s 2013-14 PER (26.9) cracked the top-90 all time, he probably hasn’t reached his offensive prime. Duncan’s highest PER happened in Year 7 (27.1). Bird’s highest: Year 9 (27.8). Dirk’s highest: Year 8 (28.1). Barkley’s highest: Year 7 (28.9). Garnett’s highest: Year 9 (29.4). Karl Malone’s highest: Year 12 (28.9). Even Durant peaked last year in Year 7 (29.8).

I'm sure there are zero other examples that Bill didn't include here because they didn't fit what he was trying to prove. Also, when using PER and when each player peaked in terms of PER Bill should pay special attention to the player's age and not how many years that player was in the NBA. Kevin Garnett peaked in Year 9, but he was 27 years old. Tim Duncan peaked in Year 7, but he was 29 years old. Bird was in Year 9, but he was 31 years old. You get the point. I think age is more important than how many years Love has been in the NBA and what this means for his future production.

Rebuttal: Bird, Duncan and Malone never missed the playoffs — not once. 

Rebuttal to the rebuttal. Kevin Love has never played with a teammate of the caliber that any of these three players had on their team as the second and third-best players. But how could the supporting cast around Kevin Love be important?

Has Love become this generation’s Jerry Lucas, a gifted power forward who chases his own numbers without making anyone else better?

I don't know. I guess we will find out soon, won't we? As opposed to wasting time asking questions that will be answered in a year or so, why not just have patience and wait? I ask the question already knowing the answer. See, Bill has to find something to write about. The Celtics aren't interesting to him because they aren't winning, the same goes for the Red Sox, and it isn't NFL season quite yet. So because he is out of column ideas, he tries to determine the ratedness of Kevin Love using the scientific method of giving his opinion. He's got to write something, so this is what comes out. "The Sports Guy" doesn't really write about sports as much anymore and is more of an NBA guy now.

Could he become a better version of Bosh, someone who submitted big numbers on bad teams before recalibrating his game to fit in with a champion? Is he doing something wrong? Or has he been wronged? Or both?

Or neither? Or either/or? Or neither, but possibly one of those, but definitely two of those? (checks to see how much column space has been used) Or definitely two of those, but most likely another one, but doubtful for all three at the same time? Or possibly the first one, doubtful for the second one, and just maybe for the third one?

The big question for me: How can someone experience that much individual success without having it translate to team success?

(Checks the Timberwolves roster and finds the answer)

Ideally, everyone falls into different roles — most contenders feature an alpha-dog scorer/creator (LeBron, Durant, Griffin, whomever), along with a second scorer and/or distributor as his running mate, then an interior defender/rebounder, two or three shooters and some role players.

But Kevin Love isn't really an alpha dog scorer. He got his points with the fifth most field attempts in the NBA and he plays an entirely different type of game from LeBron and Durant. He's a scorer, but I wouldn't describe him as an alpha dog scorer.

The 2014 Timberwolves followed much of that model on paper.

Love = alpha dog. Ricky Rubio = distributor. Nik Pekovic = big man. Kevin Martin/Chase Budinger = shooters. Everybody else = role players.

Except on the Timberwolves roster there is no interior defender, no second scorer, and the distributor isn't a very good scorer. The second and fourth- best scorers on the T-Wolves roster required 25 shots per game to score 31 points. One of the shooters shot 35% from three-point range and the other shooter took 15 shots per game. Yeah, the T-Wolves followed some of this model, but they had the B or C-level player at each of these positions. Their big man can't protect the rim, their shooters and scorers have to shoot a lot to score, and their distributor is the guy passing the ball to these volume scorers without scoring too much himself because he's a bad shooter.

You can pick apart Thompson’s résumé on paper — he’s only good for 18, 3 and 2 every night and can’t create shots for anyone else. Still, he’s a beloved teammate who stretches the defense in a Korver-like way and defends three positions well.

I disagreed with the Warriors because, in my opinion, they severely overrated Thompson. But at least they put real thought into their decision … you know, as opposed to how last year’s Timberwolves team was slapped together.

I think I'm losing my mind here. So the Warriors put thought into their decision to not trade Klay Thompson, unlike the T-Wolves who did their best to follow the model Bill himself states a contender would want to follow. I'm confused how the T-Wolves, by Bill's own admission, followed the model of a contender but also slapped a team together in Bill's opinion. Didn't the T-Wolves put thought into the roster if they sort of follow the model Bill is advocating that a contender should follow? I feel like these two opinions of Bill's aren't entirely consistent with each other.

Pekovic might be a crafty pick-and-roll guy and a solid rebounder, but he’s a lousy interior defender (as described above); teaming him with Love was like building a human layup line. And Kevin Martin couldn’t defend anyone five years ago. 

Throw in Rick Adelman’s family issues and nobody should have been surprised when the T-Wolves capsized in a loaded Western Conference.

And no one was surprised, which is why a few paragraphs ago I gave the reason Love has never made the playoffs as being because he has played with shitty teammates. I feel like this is very well understood and there's no reason to kill space proving something that many people reading this column probably already know. I figured it was assumed Love has shitty teammates. Why else is he wanting to leave Minnesota? So I was hoping when having this discussion on Love's ratedness Bill could bring something other than "He didn't have good teammates" to the table as to why Love has never made the NBA playoffs.

They outscored opponents by 2.7 points, and had their “expected” record at 48-34, but they struggled in close games. During one three-month stretch from November 1 through January 31, they went 1-13 in games decided by five points or fewer. Then again, saying they had “bad luck in close games” is like saying “My buddy would get laid all the time if he knew how to close with girls.”

Great analogy, Bill. I feel like you understand the college age crowd and the struggle they experience trying to get laid. You are the cool dad!

Minnesota’s defining collapse happened in Phoenix in late March, a must-win game that I happened to watch. 

Minnesota's defining collapse just happened to be the game that Bill watched. Nothing exists until Bill has acknowledged it's existence, so of course the defining collapse is the game that Bill watched. If Bill didn't watch a Timberwolves' collapse then it couldn't be defining because Bill didn't witness it.

The good news: Love finished with a 36-14-9, and the Wolves scored a whopping 73 points in the first half. The bad news: They blew a 22-point lead and scored 17 points in the fourth, missing 16 of 21 shots and committing six turnovers. Adelman even broke out his classic “Uh-oh, we’re collapsing and I can’t stop it!” face; you would have thought C-Webb, Porter, Drexler and Peja were out there.

A bad defensive team couldn't score points and turned the ball over.

And here’s where numbers deviate from intangibles …

(And why Golden State ultimately avoided Love … and why people have been picking Love apart these past few months … and why so many basketball junkies and NBA lifers are down on Love … and why Coach K warned him before the 2012 Olympics to tweak his attitude if he wanted to play a meaningful minute … and why so many basketball people wonder if LeBron might ultimately regret pushing Cleveland to mortgage its trade assets for someone who hasn’t played a big game since he was in high school … )

Coach K warned Love to tweak his attitude if he wanted to play a minute, which turned into "Okay, you are tall and we have no height so go out there and play with whatever attitude you may have at the moment."

When the collective personality of an NBA team is off, you can see it.

Much like I can see when unnecessary italics are being used.

We come to know their every expression. It’s like going out to a marathon dinner with another couple — you just know them better after the check comes. And anyone who watched the 2014 Timberwolves regularly, or fairly regularly, knew something was amiss. Love has always been a lead-by-example star, not a galvanizing, get-on-my-back guy.

Remember when this column was about whether Kevin Love was underrated, overrated, or properly rated? It's halfway through this column and at no point has Love's ratedness been discussed. Bill is just doing his typical rambling form of writing.

When your best player, your coach AND your point guard aren’t on the same page? Uh-oh. Their off-court issues bubbled over when Love publicly (and probably stupidly) called out two bench players for sulking during games. But I knew something was wrong sooner than that.

Bill totally knew something was wrong before then. HE KNEW! Bill just didn't write about it at the time, because he forgot to, but otherwise he would have written about it if he had remembered to. Bill promises he isn't claiming now to have known something before anyone else knew something. He really did know and he's not lying. He just didn't mention it, that's all, but Bill knew. Oh yes, he did.

In December, when I caught them in Lob City, Minnesota choked away a winnable road game (surprise!) despite Love exploding for 48 points and doing everything short of drinking Blake Griffin’s milkshake.

Fact: Blake Griffin has one of the NBA's 12 best milkshakes.

But on the game’s biggest play — overtime, down one, final seconds — Rubio inexplicably ignored a scorching-hot Love (open near the 3-point line) and fed Pekovic for the game-losing shot, followed by a perplexed Love slowly backpedaling in disbelief. I wanted Love to tear into Rubio right there. What are you doing? I HAVE 48 POINTS, YOU DUMBASS!!!! Instead, he remained in WTF mode for two extra seconds before glumly walking back to the bench. 

This is when Bill KNEW something was wrong with the Timberwolves. Really, he did know then. He wrote it in his diary, which he would show you, but he forgot it at home. Bill knows everything before everyone else knows anything, he just consistently fails to mention what he knew until after the fact. He can tell you after a movie was over he knew how that movie was going to end.

We pay them like franchise players before they’re ready, and we expect them to magically evolve into leaders by watching a few dozen sports movies or getting advice from their buddies from home.

Quit with the "we" shit. I don't pay anybody in the NBA and I don't expect players to become better at their sport because they watch movies. Maybe Bill expects this out of franchise players and is just doing his typical "we" crap he does, but don't draw me into this.

You can pick apart Kevin Love’s first six seasons in a variety of ways … just as long as you admit that he was the league’s secret League Pass MVP last year, as well as someone who needs to be seen in person to be believed.

I'll admit this just as long as you can admit you pull most of your column ideas out of your ass and haven't really cared about what you are writing for two years now.

He’s a flat-out weapon and an underrated heat check guy. And whenever he grabs a rebound and flicks a 60-foot outlet in one motion, it’s genuinely breathtaking to watch.

I'm glad Bill is pointing this out. I am too stupid to understand how much fun to watch Kevin Love is without watching him in person or having Bill describe it to me.

I mention these things only so people will stop comparing 2014-Love-going-to-Cleveland with 2011-Bosh-going-to-Miami. Bosh was never, at any point in his life, THAT good. Bosh never could have eviscerated 10 or 11 teams in one season like Love just did.

Plus, Bosh's team did make the playoffs (twice) before he went to the Heat with Anthony Parker as his wingman and Jamario Moon and Juan Dixon getting plenty of minutes. So yeah, they are different in that way.

When Bosh played for Toronto, he never made me say, “Oh, cool, he’s coming to town tonight and I get to go!!!!”

Bills believes his personal feelings about a player has a role in how good of a player that athlete is. Why am I not shocked that Bill believes an athlete can only be seen as great if seen that way through the eyes of Bill Simmons? The world revolves around Bill, you know.

If you remember, a much doughier Love jumped from UCLA to a rebuilding lottery team in Minnesota, went through two coaches and two GMs, lost 58 games and watched Al Jefferson tear his ACL. And that was just his rookie season. During the 2009 draft, the immortal David Kahn passed on Curry twice — with the no. 5 and no. 6 overall picks — to take Rubio (knowing he might spend an extra two years in Europe — which he did) and Jonny Flynn (bustaroo). So much for some help.

Again, since Bill is the one who brought the comparison up. Look at the roster for the Raptors two playoff teams. 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. If Bill wants to make the comparison, I would argue Chris Bosh had as much help in Toronto as Love had in Minnesota.

Nobody can do worse than McHale, Kahn, Flip Saunders and beleaguered owner Glen Taylor did running the Timberwolves these past 10 years.

This is a true statement. Where this leaves me is to still ask the question of when the hell is Love's ratedness going to be discussed? Also, it was very well accepted that Kevin Love hasn't had great teammates so why is Bill wasting so much time proving something that has already been proven as if this is new information?

You can’t blame him for leaving skid marks. And if Minnesota’s overwhelming incompetence inadvertently affected his spirit these past two seasons, you can’t blame him for that, either.

No, you can't blame Love, but it does bring up the question of whether Love can adapt his game to playing with good teammates and not sacrificing those things that have made him great in Minnesota. Bill already stated in this article that Love was,

learning all the wrong lessons on the wrong team.

So the question becomes, and again Bill made the comparison himself, if Love is more talented than Bosh then can Love still end up being Chris Bosh on the Heat because he learned wrong lessons for six years in Minnesota? Is the comparison apt because what Love has in talent over Bosh, he lacks the chemistry part that Bill thinks is so crucial to a team's success? Is he going to sulk when LeBron gets the last shot or LeBron passes the ball to Kyrie for the last shot rather than hit Love in the corner? None of these questions Bill will answer in this column.

Here’s the entire list starting with the 1976-77 season, right after the merger, of forwards who made All-NBA first or second teams.

Karl Malone: 11 first teams + two second teams
Tim Duncan: 10 + 3
Larry Bird: 9 + 1
LeBron James: 8 + 2
Charles Barkley: 5 + 5
Julius Erving: 5 + 2
Kevin Durant: 5 + 0
Dirk Nowitzki: 4 + 5
Kevin Garnett: 4 + 3
Scottie Pippen: 3 + 2
Elvin Hayes: 2 + 0
Bernard King: 2 + 0
Grant Hill: 1 + 4
Dominique Wilkins: 1 + 4
Chris Webber: 1 + 3
Chris Mullin: 1 + 2
Marques Johnson: 1 + 2

Working off of that list, here’s everyone who made an All-NBA team at least twice but missed the playoffs in at least one of those seasons.

Spoiler alert: There are five players, including Kevin Love. 

Grant Hill, 1998 (second team): Did Grant Hill things (21-8-7) for a 37-win Pistons team … although this was such a shallow year for good forwards that (a) Vin Baker (?!?!?!?!??) made the second team, and (b) Scottie Pippen missed 38 games and somehow made third-team All-NBA anyway.

Baker did put up 19-8-2 that year with a 20.4 PER. It's not like he was terrible.

Love, 2012 and 2014 (second team): Our only post-merger player to be named a top-10 guy twice … and miss the playoffs both of those times.
Is that a historical fluke or a major red flag?

It could be the product of the team around Kevin Love not being very good. Hasn't this been the main assertion of this column so far?

Let’s return to Barkley for a second, because that’s the best parallel here. I was there for Barkley. The whole time.

Bill was there the whole time for Barkley, so he KNOWS about Charles Barkley. What a bizarre sentence Bill has written. It's like Bill is bragging that he was old enough to see Barkley's entire career and he's talking down to his readers who he believes lack the perspective Bill has as one of the few people still alive to see all of Barkley's NBA career.

He’s one of the best 25 players ever by any calculation —

I sort of feel like this is an opinion by any calculation, but carry on...

Barkley was definitely a superstar, whereas Love is an almost-but-not-quite superstar. Big difference.

Oh, and in 1992, Barkley was traded to Phoenix for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry … while Barkley was still in his prime.

What players Charles Barkley was traded for isn't really a good way to begin a comparison between him and Kevin Love. It's a silly way to start a comparison, but of course it makes perfect sense to begin this way in Bill's mind.

We didn’t really have the Internet in 1992,

We didn't have the Internet in 1992, but Bill knew the Internet was coming and the impact it would have on society. He knew before anyone else did, even before Al Gore, the man behind the creation of the Internet.

but if we did, Charles Barkley would have been picked apart the same way we pick Love apart right now.

Not an opinion. Fact.

And Barkley was un-freaking-believable in person. He wasn’t just on my “Oh, cool, he’s coming to town tonight and I get to go!!!!” list during his first 10-11 years; he’s on my permanent all-time list with people like MJ, Magic and Julius.

Well, then that definitely increases Barkley's legacy if Bill Simmons had a high opinion of him. If Bill liked to watch Charles Barkley play, then this obviously means Barkley is a better player than "we" thought.

I love watching Kevin Love, but I don’t think I would ever tell my grandkids about him. I’d tell my grandkids about seeing Chuck.

Bill wouldn't tell his grandchildren about seeing Love play, but Bill also thinks Love is on the list with LeBron, Durant, Westbrook, Griffin, Davis and Curry as players he can't wait to watch play. Love is one of the seven most fun NBA players to watch right now, but not notable enough for Bill to tell his grandchildren about. The NBA must have some fairly boring players to watch live if there are only six active players Bill would mention to his grandchildren that he saw play.

Other than that, it’s easier to compare Love and Barkley than I thought.

Bill is surprised at how much his opinion on how easy it is to compare Love and Barkley contradicts his previous opinion on how easy it is to compare Love and Barkley.

Like Love, Barkley battled weight issues early in his career that led to him dropping lower in the draft than he should have gone.

Well, that and Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan were selected before Charles Barkley. Sam Perkins was taken right before Barkley and he didn't turn out to be a terrible player either. Barkley had weight issues though, so that's true, but he fell partly because there were good players taken in front of him. The same goes for Kevin Love, who had Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook taken ahead of him.

Like Love, Barkley was a below-average defensive player who ideally needed to be flanked by a shot-blocker, although he protected the rim much better than Love does.

If this is an indication of how bad Kevin Love is at protecting the rim, Barkley is six inches shorter than Love and protected the rim better than Love does. But no, those who say Love is a bad defender, those people are just wrong in Bill's opinion.

And like Love, Barkley had evolved into a polarizing personality by the time that 1991-92 season ended. Here’s what Clifton Brown wrote for the New York Times in his story about the Barkley trade. My notes are in parentheses.

“The 76ers acknowledged they were trading a superstar, but they are gambling that acquiring three quality players from Phoenix will make them a better team.”

(The 76ers went 115-295 over the next five seasons. To extend that gambling analogy,

Bill, the author wasn't using a gambling analogy, he used the word "gambling." There is a huge difference. The mere use of the word "gambling" isn't the use of an analogy. Of course, Bill really wanted to make an analogy about gambling and that's why he's pretending the author's use of the word "gambling" is an analogy. Talking about Vegas is an old standby for him.

Philly was the guy on your Vegas trip who lost $500 an hour after everyone got there, disappeared in a huff, found the seediest club possible, woke up in his hotel room the next day with no wallet and no pants, then texted everyone later that day saying, “Heading home — it’s a long story.”)

The use of an analogy is intended to help a person understand better what is being said or what point is being proven. This analogy seems to have nothing at all to do with trading Charles Barkley.

“Barkley’s outspokenness and behavior were a constant concern to the 76ers. Only hours before the trade, Barkley was acquitted in a Milwaukee court of disorderly conduct and battery charges … Such controversy has followed Barkley throughout this career. On various occasions, he has criticized 76ers management, criticized his teammates and clashed with Philadelphia reporters. During a game against the Nets in New Jersey two seasons ago, Barkley mistakenly spat upon a girl who was sitting near a fan who was heckling him.”

(Read all of those things again. What did he REALLY do?

-Beat up a guy in Milwaukee
-Spit on a girl
-Criticized his teammates which is bad for the team chemistry that Bill cares about so much
-Criticized management, which as the best player on the team could help undermine management's authority

I recognize that Bill thinks he is a rebel and tends to throw hissy-fits when he does things wrong, but at pretty much any job in the United States criticizing management is a good way to no longer work at that job. Because Bill is the golden boy at ESPN he can say or do whatever he wants in the middle of a temper tantrum, but that's not how it works for 99% of people. Criticize management and you can get your way and find new management at a new job. Also, Barkley spit on a girl (accidentally) and beat up a guy. That's what he really did.

Those were the reasons that you traded one of the best 25 players ever for 35 cents on the dollar???

The Sixers didn't know they were trading Barkley for 35 cents on the dollar. They thought the trade would make them a better team. Bill knows now they traded Barkley for 35 cents on the dollar, but assumes because he has the ability to use hindsight then that means the Sixers knew at the time they weren't getting value back for Barkley...which is obviously insane for anyone who understands the inability of humans to predict the future.

Like Barkley in 1992, Love doesn’t have the greatest reputation right now. Everyone respects him, everyone thinks he’s talented … but too much scuttlebutt piled up these past two years, fair or unfair, that Love was a selfish, me-first teammate in Minnesota. He doesn’t have a stellar reputation in NBA circles.

Reputations are magically changed by winning. It's weird how that works.

Until I started researching this column, I believed that Love had to be overrated because of his 0-0 playoff record. And actually, he’s underrated. 

There is the final answer. With 10% of the column left to be read, Bill finally gets to mentioning the title of the column and the question this entire column was supposed to be answering using the scientific method of Bill using his opinion to come to the final answer.

Barkley’s 1989 and 1990 seasons were better than his first Phoenix season, but he stole the MVP from Jordan because WE thought Barkley was better that year.

Hey look! Bill was wrong about something so "WE" were wrong about it. Bill can't be wrong by himself. It would hurt his ego too much to find out that he actually isn't correct 100% of the time.

Why did we think that?

Why do you think "we" thought that? Why do you use "we" to describe an indescribably large group of people all with indescribably different opinions on Charles Barkley?

It’s not rocket science. Put a very good basketball player in a great situation and he’s going to thrive.

This is the moral of this column. This is why Bill wrote so many words, just to prove this. Kevin Love didn't have good teammates and good basketball players thrive in good situations. So basically the rest of this column was a circle jerk because the conclusion Bill came to is the conclusion that most people already knew before the beginning of the column.

But that's just Bill. He restates the obvious in a non-obvious way in order to make it seem like he is saying something interesting. He will restate the obvious using an overly long analogy, a comparison to pop culture or by throwing a bunch of statistics around with a "fact" that is actually an opinion. In the end, his conclusion is often the conclusion already reached by others without doing as much work to get there.

He acquired the world’s best player, a talented point guard, a heat-check scorer, a decent group of role players and an intriguing twist to the “Uncle Drew” franchise. He won’t have to settle for 24-footers because he’s tired of being double-teamed. He can do what he does best — rebound, play the inside-outside game, throw outlets and rebound some more.

Here's the difference that Bill is too lazy to acknowledge, doesn't care to acknowledge because it doesn't fit his Barkley comparison, or he hasn't thought of. Kevin Love is not the best player on the Cavaliers team. He is the second-best player and the third-scorer. Charles Barkley with the Suns was the best player on the team and the first scorer. So Bill's comparison to Barkley may seem apt until it's understood that Barkley was the best player on the Suns team and Love will not be the best player on the Cavs team. Therefore their careers can be comparable, but their roles on their new team after being traded are different, which means the way they adjust to those roles may be different.

I see Cleveland playing Love as a small-ball 5 much like Coach K did.

The problem still lies in who is guarding the rim? When the Cavs play a team who can get to the rim, who is protecting that rim? I'm not saying the Cavs can't succeed, but Coach K played small ball in the Olympics. His small ball strategy has not worked in college over the past few years when facing a good team that can get to the basket. There is a difference in college, the Olympics and the NBA of course, but I feel like this needs to be mentioned.

I see him becoming a legitimate threat to be a 22-15-5 guy and maybe even average 16 boards a game (which hasn’t happened since Rodman).

This is as opposed to him being an illegitimate threat to be a 22-15-5 guy.

I see my favorite Cavs lineup being their small-ball group with LeBron, Love, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and a spread-the-floor shooter … and not-so-coincidentally, looking very ’93 Suns-ish.

Bill is going down with the ship while using this analogy isn't he? The '93 Suns didn't have LeBron James by the way.

I see anyone who said this week that (a) Cleveland gave up too much, and/or (b) Love isn’t as good as people think, feeling stupid.

I think Kevin Love is as good as "people" think. I also think that playing with talented teammates and not being able to put up the fifth most shots in the NBA per game could be an adjustment for Kevin Love. Going from the best player on a team to the second/third-best player on a team where his role becomes different will be an adjustment. Granted, an adjustment he can make, but an adjustment either way. Regardless, if Love isn't a 22-15-5 guy then I am sure Bill will say "we" were wrong about Love.

I see this trade reinventing Love’s NBA career much like Phoenix reinvented Barkley. Love won’t win the MVP, but he’ll win our respect. And he won’t be polarizing anymore. He’s going to kill it in Cleveland.

He might, but he is going to playing with two other guys who are very used to being the best player on their team. Irving is used to it, LeBron is used to it (though I have no doubts he will adjust as he has done before), Love is used to it, Waiters will want his shots, and Varejao will be injured at some point during the season. I think the Cavs are going to be very good, but just like the Heat took a season to fully mesh together I could see it taking a season for the Cavs to mesh well.

But you know what’s really funny? I don’t know if Love would have killed it in Golden State. This goes back to the Carmelo-Dirk discussion from my Carmelo column — superstars can play with anyone, but almost-but-not-quite-superstars need the right supporting cast to thrive.

Another obvious statement painted as a new and original thought. You mean Kevin Love will thrive more playing with the best basketball player on the planet as opposed to not playing with the best basketball player on the planet? You don't fucking say!

Instead, he gets to play with LeBron James on the league’s newest signature team. That’s right … David Kahn was Kevin Love’s savior all along. I’m going to walk outside and wait for it to rain frogs.
Final verdict: underrated.

Final verdict: properly rated until more information is provided over the next season. And that's a fact because it's my opinion.

Fact: Bill Simmons really said nothing new in this column, yet he wrote 5300+ words.


Slag-King said...

Bill Simmons' writing is what I called organized rambling. (The Office manager is the perfect example of that when he gives his talks in the conference rooms to his employees.) At least Peter's and Gregggg's writings are easier to digest and manage since they are organized with thought.

My wife teaches English at CPCC. I showed her Bill Simmons' post, and she would have given it a 'D' as it is.

It is hard for me to accept the fact that anyone with a college education does not know the differences between facts, opinions, and rebuttals.

I can only read Bill Simmon's work if you are disemboweling it.

Bengoodfella said...

Slag, it is organized rambling. That's for sure. I don't think there is any organization to what Gregg writes.

I always wonder what type of grades he got in school for his writing. Perhaps he's like me and just blatantly ignores some of the rules of writing and rambles a lot.

He calls things "facts" and they are opinions. You can't defeat that.

I only read Simmons' work whenever he posts something. I feel like I need a buffer too.


I know I'm late on this one, but Barkley/Love is just a terrible analogy on so many levels.

Love was traded because Minnesota was afraid he would walk in free agency. Barkley was traded almost entirely because of off-court issues.

Also, Simmons was one of the people who breathlessly hyped up Love for years, then magically decided one day that Love was overhyped (through no fault of his own, of course). Now, he is excoriating people for not recognizing his greatness. Gee, Bill, maybe some people took a more nuanced approach to evaluating him all along, and didn't resort to overreaction and hyperbole at every turn.

Bengoodfella said...

Impossible. There is no nuance involved with this. I wouldn't expect Bill to have nuance or make a good analogy. Rather than just accept there may not be an analogy available, he has to force one.

Don't forget how hard Bill was on the Ricky Rubio train, as he mocked Chad Ford for watching Yi Jianlian dribble around chairs. Yet Bill was all about some Rubio and now he's jumped off that bandwagon and erased all tracks of his existence there.

The problem with Bill's current writing is he can't just trust his writing skill and he has to force a clever take or a different look at a topic and it ends up being a shitshow.