Which Players Create a More Compelling NBA?

R.L. Woodson

Cinephile, audiophile, and avid sports fan. I am the creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind sports and entertainment podcast found on TalkLoudRadio.
I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.

Latest posts by R.L. Woodson (see all)

The Old Fashioned 3-Point Play

The Old-Fashioned 3-Point Play features commentary on two recent observations (The Bucket) from the world of sports, and some commentary on one event (The And 1) in American pop culture.

The Bucket

In Super Bowl XLI… No. 49 along with 4x Super Bowl champ Tom Brady, one-time SB winner Russell Wilson, and dominant TE Rob Gronkowski a Seattle Seahawks WR named Chris Matthews (4 rec. 109 yds. 1 TD) and unheralded rookie New England Patriots DB Malcolm Butler nabbed a walk-off interception at the goal line. The 49th Super Bowl also featured a bevy of household names including the boisterous Richard Sherman and his dreads, “Mr. I’m Just About That Action Boss” Marshawn Lynch and his skittles, Darrelle Revis, Vince Wilfork and Sherman’s Legion of Boom brethren. Heck, just about the entire Seahawks defense!

The Seahawks second leading WR was Ricardo Lockette who hauled in three receptions for 59 yards; in comparison Doug Baldwin had just a single catch – albeit a TD – for three yards.

In the NBA fans are seemingly force fed the game’s handful of elite players, and this becomes an even bigger eye sore in the Association’s post season. The constant superstar spotlight may originate from annual draft where the second round is typically barren regarding professional basketball talent, and in most years lottery picks become very skittish after slots 5-7. In fact, it’s not rare to see the lottery players be dominated by incoming Euros – often promising players who NBA teams opt to simply hold the rights to for a few years.

Thank you Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green! Both of these former collegiate upperclassmen shook hands with former NBA commish well outside of the highly coveted lottery slots as Butler went to the Chicago Bulls with the final selection (30th overall) of the first round in 2011, and in the subsequent year Green would hear his name called in the second round (35th overall) by the Golden State Warriors.

Butler’s rise has been a welcomed sight for fans of the entire NBA, and he’s come a long way since averaging 2.6 points in 42 games as a rookie for the Bulls. The 2012 season was a challenging one for all rookies as it was strike shortened, and Butler had a steep mountain to climb vying for minutes against Bulls starting lineup stalwart and proven wingman Luol Deng. Deng would earn his first of two consecutive trips to the NBA’s All Star Game in 2012.

However, things change quickly in the NBA and young prospects must convincing display their skills sets when opportunities present themselves. Butler was able to log some extended minutes in the absences created by the oft injured Derrick Rose as coach Tom Thibodeau adroitly tinkered with his first unit to keep his Bulls in the running for one of the top four spots in the Eastern Conference. Deng would leave for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, clearing the way for Butler’s emergence as a potential max deal performer.

Butler averaged 20.0 PPG in ’14-’15 nearly 6 boards while shooting over 45% according to NBA.com. He followed up that career-best season with numbers that placed him amongst the 10 best seasons by any NBA guard since 2011. Butler’s 22.4/4.3/.455 comes in one place behind former No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving, and Toronto Raptors G DeMar DeRozan is the lowest drafted player on that list at 9th overall in 2009. Not bad for a late first rounder.

Per Game Shooting
Rk Player Season Age Tm Lg AST PTS FG%
1 James Harden 2012-13 23 HOU NBA 5.8 25.9 .438
2 James Harden 2013-14 24 HOU NBA 6.1 25.4 .456
3 Damian Lillard 2015-16 25 POR NBA 7.0 24.3 .422
4 Stephen Curry 2013-14 25 GSW NBA 8.5 24.0 .471
5 Russell Westbrook 2011-12 23 OKC NBA 5.5 23.6 .457
6 Russell Westbrook 2012-13 24 OKC NBA 7.4 23.2 .438
7 Stephen Curry 2012-13 24 GSW NBA 6.9 22.9 .451
8 DeMar DeRozan 2013-14 24 TOR NBA 4.0 22.7 .429
9 Kyrie Irving 2012-13 20 CLE NBA 5.9 22.5 .452
10 Jimmy Butler 2015-16 26 CHI NBA 4.3 22.4 .455
11 Derrick Rose 2011-12 23 CHI NBA 7.9 21.8 .435
12 Kyrie Irving 2014-15 22 CLE NBA 5.2 21.7 .468
13 Klay Thompson 2014-15 24 GSW NBA 2.9 21.7 .463
14 Isaiah Thomas 2015-16 26 BOS NBA 6.7 21.5 .423
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/31/2016.

Draymond Green‘s basketball career is almost pristine. The 6’7″ forward from Saginaw, MI spent four years under the tutelage of Michigan State Spartan head coach Tom Izzo becoming a leader and a man. According to Sports Reference, Green went from averaging 3.3 PPG as a freshman to become the Big Ten Player of the Year and Consensus first team All-American as a senior in 2012. Green, or Day Day, may have failed to cut down the nets in the NCAA’s Big Dance, but in his final March Madness run in 2012 he joined fellow Spartan Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only college players to accomplish two triple doubles in a 89-67 victory against LIU Brooklyn – Green’s line was 24/12/10.

After being drafted 35th all Green didn’t hang his head or show any signs of embarrassment over any doubters or detractors – you know the silly stigma associated with 4-year collegiate players. In a similar fashion to his days in East Lansing, one of the NBA’s shortest Bigs has improved his PPG from just under three points to nearly averaging 15 each night. Green’s role with the Golden State Warriors has increased dramatically with each season as he’s relied on his leadership skills honed during his time as a Spartan to earn a spot on NBA All Defensive team, and to propel the Dubs to the franchise’s second World title in 2015.
In my travels to the local sports bars I’ve heard a lot of shade thrown at Green, and this is in the heart of Big Ten country.  I appreciate the brother’s hustle, and so does the Golden State front office as they rewarded Draymond’s triple double performance in the 2015 Finals’ series-ending Game 6 versus Cleveland with a 5-year deal for $82 million this past offseason.
We all know that the Warriors are on pace to obliterate the Chicago Bulls 72-10 mark at this point, but individually, please recognize that Green is currently leading the NBA in triple doubles with 9 per SportingCharts.  A pair of highly regarded PG’s are second and third with OKC’s Russell Westbrook and Sacramento King’s Rajon Rondo with 7 and 5, respectively.
Keep playing your game Day Day!

As I’ve said these types of player improvement stories are sorely needed for fans of the overall NBA product. The LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis career arcs are great and compelling but after watching the game for 20-something years I need some stories to grab me during the 82-game season. And, the growth exhibited by Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green is must-see stuff… Butler’s 53 points versus the hapless 76ers Jan. 15 marked an interesting twist to Chitown’s ongoing dispute regarding “Whose Bulls team is it?”

The And 1

This TOF3PP’s And 1 is light. But, peep the Pay Me No Mind podcast that’s embedded – plenty of entertainment in there.
I’d only like to add that last week actor/director/writer Nate Parker accepted a $17.5 million distribution deal from FOX Spotlight for his Birth of A Nation film which is a Nat Turner biopic. I can’t believe I’m writing this. Nat Turner.
In intermediate school Black history may have been 2-10 pages. There were mentions of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Harriet Tubman, Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr (very likely not in that order). How dare I forget Boston’s unfortunate Crispus Attucks.

But, there were these short paragraphs of each person’s grand accomplishments and/or contributions to the history of the United States of America, and then in two or three sentences there was this blurb about the uprising of slaves led by Nat Turner. To this day I know the gist of the story – a brother rebelled and some slave owners were killed.

White America. I’d understand if you sat this one out because it doesn’t appear to be about the survival and redemption of 12 Years a Slave’s diplomatic, violin playing Solomon Northup. Nation isn’t expected to be a tale of personal struggle, survival and humility.
However, I would respectfully suggest that if anybody enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s audacious re-imagining of how Black people should have (or could  have) responded to slavery in Django Unchained (2012) Parker’s film my present a more historically accurate tale of an uprising and the factors that contributed to it. I just never felt Tarantino’s revolt never served any purpose, and may have added a little too much levity to such a grave matter. This is no hate to Tarantino neither, I just think Django’s instances of rebellion were so far-fetched, and maybe that was the point, but for those that endured the practices of that time… it was just never that easy.
I don’t know the entire cast but I know Gabrielle Union has a role, and the film is already being discussed as a valid 2017 Oscars contender. See, so many wonderful things get accomplished through conflict!

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R.L. Woodson

Cinephile, audiophile, and avid sports fan. I am the creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind sports and entertainment podcast found on TalkLoudRadio. I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.

Latest posts by R.L. Woodson (see all)

R.L. Woodson

Cinephile, audiophile, and avid sports fan. I am the creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind sports and entertainment podcast found on TalkLoudRadio. I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.

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