1. Let’s put this one on the table at the outset… I have a man-crush on Chris Paul. And I ain’t ashamed to say it.
2. I’m all types of confused after watching the Knicks a bunch recently. When they traded for Carmelo, every article I read about the trade said that they DID NOT TRADE Landry Fields. Yet, I’ve watched a whole bunch of Knicks games since the trade and haven’t seen him do a single thing. I mean, there’s a guy on the court wearing a Fields jersey, running around and sweating, but that guy doesn’t attack the rim, doesn’t crash the boards, and doesn’t even play good defense. It’s really quite baffling. It’s like something got into the guy’s head, and took away his mojo. Reminds me of whatever-it-is-that-happened-to-LeBron-in-the-middle-of-last-year’s-series-against-Boston. I hope Delonte West had nothing to do with this.
3. The evidence is in, and it’s quite clear: knees are overrated. Yup. DeJuan Blair has no ACL in either knee, yet is an effective player on the #1 seeded team out West. Brandon Roy has fallen from superstar status to a bench player because of crippling knee injuries, yet, there he was the other day, carrying his team to victory. And, all season, I’ve been listening to The Sports Guy on his podcast talk about how unimaginably big Chris Paul’s knee brace is when seen in person, and how Paul’s shelf-life as a star PG is limited. All CP3 has done is lead the overmatched Hornets to a 2-2 tie against the two-time defending champions.
4. Have I mentioned yet how amazing Chris Paul is?
5. One of the most misused terms is “role player,” and the problem with the term is used is clearly illustrated by this year’s New York Knicks. People refer to Carmelo, Amar’e, Chauncey, and a bunch of “role players.” But that’s inaccurate; there are hardly any true role players on the roster. I guess Douglas could be a player whose role is to come off the bench, harass the opponent’s PG, and knock down some 3’s. But when he’s asked to lead the offense at the PG – as he often is – he’s not in that role. What role has Landry Fields been filling? Early in the season, he did a bunch of things — including grab more rebounds per game than any other guard in the league. Recently, he hasn’t filled any role. There’s nobody whose role is to control the paint and the glass – this is theoretically what Turiaf does, but he doesn’t actually do it. Shawne Williams is a 6’9″ forward who attempts more than 3 three-point shots per game, and pulls down fewer than 4 rebounds per game. I guess that’s a “role,” but it’s not a role that winning teams bother to fill.
To make the point clearer, think of the great Bulls teams. Dennis Rodman was a role player — a phenomenal one, but a role player — whose job was to rebound and play defense. Steve Kerr couldn’t rebound or play defense, but that was fine because his role was to shoot. Bill Cartwright wasn’t much of an outside shooter, but that was fine because his role was to operate near the rim.
Basically, there’s a difference between guys who are role players and guys who just aren’t that good. Two superstars and the right mix of role players can be a very good team. Two superstars and a bunch of guys who just aren’t that good isn’t going very far.