Friday, October 28, 2016
When the Golden State Warriors signed small forward Kevin Durant last summer, most people figured they would cruise to the NBA title..They already have two of the top five shooters in the league in guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Now with Durant, they have three. Who could beat them?
Actually several teams..
If you're betting on which team will win the NBA title, put your money on two other Western Conference aces, the Spurs or the Clippers, or even on the cream of the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers, who whipped the Warriors in the Finals last June.
The Warriors will make it to the Western Conference Finals or even the NBA Finals. They just won't win.
Their problem? Their brilliant power forward Draymond Green. He's a nut, a loose cannon, a constant pain in the butt. They can't win without him. But the way he is now, they can't win with him either.
Every time he steps on the court he's a triple-double waiting to happen. He had 13 last season, unheard of for a power forward. There is nobody in the league like him. Nobody can do all the things he can do at such a high level. He's a point guard and a shooting guard rolled up in the cast-iron physique of a power forward. People who really know basketball will tell you that Curry isn't the team MVP, it's Green.
But according to sources close to two Warrior players, Green is also a cancer. He gets in fights with players and coaches. His ego is huge and needs considerable stroking. He's a constant source of locker room tension. He keeps the team on edge because they don't know what crazy thing he'll do next--like slapping LeBron James in the groin, which earned Green a suspension from Game 5 of last June's Finals, and triggered the slide which swept Cleveland to the championship..
One thing for sure. The addition of Durant has disturbed the team's dynamic and ruffled Green's ego. No question Green will get fewer shots, will figure less in the offense, will get fewer assists and triple-doubles. It was apparent in the preseason that Green was unhappy. It was clear in that ugly opening-day loss to the Spurs that all wasn't right with the team.
It's not going to get better. Quite possibly the Warriors will have to trade Green. That would seriously hurt the team since there's no power forward on the planet who can do all Green can do.
My guess? He's not with the team by the end of the season, Or maybe he stays and he's much less effective. Either way, this super team slips a few notches and become merely excellent.
So there's a very good chance that NBA title trophy won't be in Oakland next June after all.
Posted by Dennis Hunt at 3:56 PM
Friday, October 7, 2016
Let's face it, the San Francisco 49ers stink, battling Cleveland for the embarrassing title of NFL's Worst Team. The Niners are a pitiful 1-4. After shutting out the LA Rams the first week, they have lost every game, including Thursday night's fiasco, falling to Arizona 33-21.
Part of the reason the Niners are so bad is the abysmal play of QB Blaine Gabbert. Against Arizona, he was doing everything wrong--making dumb decision after dumb decision, missing open receivers, throwing into double coverage, visually zeroing in on targeted receivers so defenders knew where he planned to throw. He also had a bad case of happy feet. Gabbert was a walking disaster. What's worse, there's no sign he's getting better.
Which leads to the big question. Why is he still starting? Why is backup Colin Kaepernick, who is much more skilled, not playing, particularly since new coach Chip Kelly cherishes read-option plays that are Kaepernick's specialty? During the sparsely attended Arizona game, when Gabbert did something especially stupid, there were chants to put in Kaepernick.
Some people think the Niners are not playing Kaepernick as punishment for him leading an anti-police brutality protest movement that involves not standing up when the national anthem is played pregame. Wrong. Team management supports his activist activities and there's no evidence that these activities have created any locker room problems.
The Niners are reluctant to play Kaepernick for financial and contractual reasons. In other words, because of money. He's earning $12 million now because he was injured most of last season and virtually untradeable and consequently still on the roster this past April 1. If the Niners play him now and he gets injured, the same scenario could play out again, but this time the stakes are higher. If he's on the team April 1, 2017 he'll get $14.5 million.
They could cut him now but that would anger the liberals in their fan base. It would be smarter to wait til off season.to dump him. So don't look for Kaepernick to be in a Niner uniform next season.
Meanwhile playing Kaepernick now would definitely increase the team's chances of winning games. But so what? They may win a few more games with him at QB but not nearly enough to make the playoffs. When LB Narvorro Bowman, the team's best player, was declared out for the season last week with a torn ACL, any remote chance the Niners had of making the playoffs evaporated.
Bottom line. Playing Kapernick now and risking him getting a serious injury enhances the chances of something the Niners don't want--him on the roster next April 1.
What about winning games? They will never say it out loud but the team management has an answer for that question--"who cares?"
Posted by Dennis Hunt at 2:23 PM