In my nerver ending quest to do no work while at work, I've been going over the strengths and weaknesses of each of our main players, trying to see who would mesh best with whom.
I can understand Roy. Who can't? He's a leader that can create his own shot but is unselfish enough to pass to the open guy when the time is right. He's smart enough to make the right decision at the right time. Simple. Build around that guy.
Oden, when healthy (don't start) is a beast. He's every point guard's dream; a big body in the post with soft hands and monster dunk potential. He can clean up weak defensive perimeter play with his agile feet and explosive blocking ability. Game changer. Got it.
Batum is like Inspector Gadget; he's got everything you want in one body. Need a 3pt shot? OK. Need a chase down block? OK. Need a monster put back dunk in Gasol's face? Heck yea. Get this kid a cape and he'll have his own comic book before the next season is done.
Aldridge is the next main guy. Sure he can hit that pick and pop on most nights. He'll even grab a few boards and block some shots. I just can't get past the fade-away jumpers. Left shoulder, right shoulder....fade-away jumper. Pretty when it goes in, but where are the consistent "and 1" fouls? He's not a bonus guy. Greg will score and get to the line, so will Roy, so will Bayless. But not LMA. Fade-away jumper. I've heard the explination that he's the ideal fit for when we've got Oden on the block because that will give both guys more room to work and the defense can't double. I call Bull-puckey on that. It may be accurate, but that don't make it right. The objective should be to pressure a defense and force them to react by either moving bodies or fouling. I've never seen a defense react to a jump shot in any other way than to look for the rebound. LMA needs to channel a little Magic Johnson.
Here's the play. Andre brings the ball up and passes to Roy. Roy initiates a move that immediately draws a double team, so he kicks it back to Andre who immediately sends it to the high post to LMA. LMA holds for a second for his defender to relax. He jab steps once, sets his feet like he's going for his patented fade-away. The defender knows to get a hand in his face so he closes the gap and jumps, but it was a fake. Instead of the jumper LMA sees the defender commit and puts the ball on the floor and heads toward the rim. Nothing flashy needed since he's already by his man. The only player that has a chance to stop him is busy guarding Greg on the low block.
Greg's defender sees his choice clearly; either he stays with his man, allowing LMA an uncontested demoralizing dunk or he leaves Greg unguarded to defend LMA. He opts for the latter.
LMA sees the choice and decision flash though the defender's eyes before he's even taken a second dribble. As the defender moves to reposition himself to contest the shot, LMA and Oden lock eyes.
Just as the defender's arms start to rise to defend the shot attempt, Oden prepares for the pass that LMA is bouncing towards him. Oden looks the ball into his hands and immediately rises into the air with both huge hands encapsulating the ball, lifting it higher with his arms even as his legs propel his entire frame into the air. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see his dumbfounded defender quickly trying to rotate back to block, but it's of little matter. The ball is now mere inches from the rim and there is no force in the universe that can stop him now.
Greg's universe has collapsed into a small half moon shape on a painted floor, where only the ball and the rim exist. Massive hands release their grip on the small orange orb and force it into the metal band. A faint vibration is felt in the corner of his mind as he allows gravity to once again rule the world.
Upon landing his senses explode again, taking in all the sounds and sights around him. The cheering crowds, the refs whistle of the shooting foul called, the defender lying on the floor a beaten man, and the exhilerated faces of his teammates as they rush to congratulate him. High-fives abound, but there is more work to do. The charity stripe awaits.
And if the defender doesn't leave Greg...Dunk it!