HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Unearthing The Nonverbal NBA
By Travis Heath
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is a classic scenario that can be seen multiple times in any single basketball game. A player is removed from the game by his head coach and moves toward the bench. Rarely is anything said by the player toward the coach (although this does occur now with more frequency than it did in previous decades). Instead, nonverbal cues tell the entire story.
I can think of one specific circumstance in which a player came off the court with his shoulders slumped, eyes rolling, and sort of flopped onto the baseline out of bounds while giving his coach the “stink eye.”
When I spoke to this player after the game he defensively noted, “I didn’t say anything!”
Therein lies the power of nonverbal communication. Even if you have never played basketball at a competitive level, I’m quite certain you have been a participant in a similar dance somewhere in your life.
Max Contract for John Wall?
By Alex Kennedy
There’s no question that John Wall is the most important player on the Washington Wizards. When Wall missed Washington’s first 33 games with an injured left knee, the Wizards went 5-28. They opened the season with 12 losses in a row, ruining their playoff hopes and ending their campaign before it started.
Since Wall returned from injury in mid-January, the Wizards look like a completely different team. They have gone 18-15 with the 22-year-old in their lineup, including impressive wins against playoff teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets.
Wall has played extremely well this season and made all of his teammates better. This March, he’s having arguably the best month of his career, averaging 20.1 points, 7.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 steals while shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from three-point range. Wall is certainly showing improvement and making his presence felt in Washington.
However, is Wall a franchise player who is worth a maximum contract?
Can’t Fault Philly For Bynum Gamble
By Lang Greene
Last season the Philadelphia 76ers reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the 2003 campaign, which was during the Allen Iverson era. They were just one win away from their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2001.
In short, the Sixers have been the definition of a team stuck in the middle of the road, a place where front office executives around the league dread winding up. Being stuck in the middle of the pack typically means your team will lack the financial flexibility to sign the free agent who could push the organization over the top and being slotted in the middle of the annual draft where the franchise changing talent is usually long off the board.
So instead of resting on their laurels, the Sixers’ front office swung for the fences by getting in a four team trade last summer to acquire former All-Star center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers. Bynum, on paper, was just the type of elite talent the Sixers had seemingly been missing since the days Iverson drove the lanes.
The Miami HEAT’s Path To 33
By Bill Ingram
The Miami HEAT are the hottest team in the NBA, riding a 22-game winning streak that ties the second-longest streak in NBA history. The Houston Rockets accomplished that feat in 2007-08 with a shadow of the roster currently residing on Erik Spoelstra’s bench, but the HEAT now have their sights set on an even more impressive streak.
The only team to have won more than 22 games in a row in a single season is the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who won 33 straight en route to their first NBA championship since relocating from Minneapolis. Elgin Baylor was forced to retire nine games into the season due to knee issues, but a roster that still featured all-world players in Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich and Jerry West went on to put together the record winning streak that has stood for 43 years.
The burning question around the NBA now is whether or not the HEAT can match that historic winning streak.
Grizzlies Better Without Gay?
By Alex Kennedy
When the Memphis Grizzlies decided to trade Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors back in January, there were plenty of critics who questioned the move. After all, Memphis was viewed as one of the top-tier teams in the Western Conference so the decision to break up their talented core and trade Gay for Tayshaun Prince, Ed Davis and Austin Daye seemed financially motivated more than anything.
However, two months later, not only are the Grizzlies still a contender in the West, they’re seemingly a better team. Prior to the blockbuster deal, Memphis was 29-15 (winning 65.9 percent of their games). Since the trade, the Grizzlies are 16-5 (winning 76.1 percent of their games).
David West: Indiana Pacers’ Unsung Leader
By Richard Hardy
The Indiana Pacers have a big concern to address this offseason. Veteran power forward David West, a vital component to their recent resurgence, is set to become a unrestricted free agent. The 32-year-old may be highly coveted, which is an issue for the Pacers since West is arguably the team’s most important player. Ask anyone in Indiana’s locker room and they’ll say that they can’t afford to lose their anchor.
“David West is a leader, man,” Paul George told HOOPSWORLD. “[West] means everything to this team. He’s really been our most consistent player this season. He doesn’t get the credit or the recognition around the league, but he’s one of the best power forwards in this game.”