First off-the title to this post was, ahem, “procured” from the keyword listing on a post by Rob Mahoney at the well-written, entertaining, and, God help us all, occasionally thought-provoking Hardwood Paroxysmand The Two Man Game. The phrase stuck with me and definitely synced with some things I’d been pondering regarding the way some NBA teams seem to want to play.
Guess what style of play I’m about to drag through the proverbial mud?
That’s right. Smallball, run-n-gun, small but quick, blahblahfreakinblah. Teams who “shoot” (pun intended) for this identity take steps to make sure that their rosters arestructured to “run” that way. This includes focusing on long-range shooters, undersized everybodys, and preferably no Lurchlike slowfooted tall guys…with a faster-than-lubricated-lightning PG.
The problem? These teams avoid defense like Jessica Simpson avoids the salad course, whether it’s the starters or a “specialty bench unit” of some sort.
And guess what? That means they don’t win big. Or maybe even much.
Sure, players love to run and dunk and run and pass back and forth and run some more and dunk some more. Until they get really, really tired or really old or both.
The teams that like to play this way…hmmm..PHX, GSW, PHI (to a degree, even though their collectivethree-point ability really isn’t any better than mine),even the lowly Grizzlies purport to play such a style…wait? Those teams aren’t contenders?
Who are really good teams? Pains me to say it, but LAL. Oh, look who they start (pre-injury): Fisher, Kobe, Odom/Snowboard King, Pau, Bynum. Hmm..three guys who either are or are scaring seven feet. They have super talented players and do not talk about “running identity” or any such foolishness.
Houston (tip o’cap to Dr. Zack): Brooks, Battier, Crazy Pills, Scola, Yao. Plenty of height there once you get past Brooks. Boring but effective.
Boston…Rondo, Allen, PP, KG, Perkisachump.com…4 and 5 could almost be considered “oversize”. Exciting to watch sometimes maybe..but really only ‘cuz the media tells you they are…but they’re exciting ‘cuz they’re really, really good.
Sure, PHX started Amare and the Methuselah Saguaro…but they philosophically avoid taking advantage of that size unless they get jammed up in the halfcourt.
It’s just not possible to state this in an appropriate fashion-but size matters in the NBA. The small teams are gonna get their tall cousin’s hand put on their head so they can’t shoot at the family gathering (AKA playoffs).
Now let’s make this a bit more (phrase of the day upcoming) temporally relevant.
Grizzlies v. OKC, Saturday 2/28.
This game was sort of (and that’s being kind) a mess. Westbrook is fast and extremely talented, but is a rookie and a bit of a bull in a china shop. With both of these teams going small for fair stretches, the pace and precision of this game was helter-skelter (but since both teams sorta suck, the score did not wind up like 135-123). With both of these teams lacking talented size, ‘we have to get out and run’ is something one hears from both these teams’ camps…and neither of these teams is exactly burning up the league. This game was like a Clash of the Suckitudinal Titans, with both teams being seduced by the Dark Side…playing too fast, that is.
Distilled, the idea is that SSOL and its stylistic siblings seem to place form over function, and attempt to overcome basic flaws by accentuating minor, unsustainable strengths.
And in my world (and, it seems, the NBA world), placing form over function=mortal sin.
Look for another post soon on this subject-next time, I’m going to discuss reptiles.