Sunday, June 29, 2014

Is Louis Labeyrie Interesting?

On Wednesday the New York Knicks drafted Louis Labeyrie using the 57th pick in the draft which they acquired by affording "Cash considerations" to the Indiana Pacers. This piece seeks the answer to an important question about this young man: is he interesting?
Louis is a 22-year old man from France. He plays basketball professionally with Paris-Levallois Basket of the French LNB Pro league, the top pro ball league in France. He is Six feet, ten inches tall, taller than most people. Here is a photo of him standing with a young woman where the top of his head has been cropped out.

The fact of his height is a matter of interest for NBA GMs and coaches and observers, because being extraordinarily tall is an advantage in basketball. Of course, this doesn't really matter if he is a startlingly incompetent basketball player. Real GM's recorded tell the strange tale that many Euro prospect's line tells. Last season, Louis netted a mere 5.26 points and 3.39 rebounds a game and he only plays 12 minutes a game. But in that 12 minutes, he is shooting 61.2% from the field and a whopping 51.9 % from three.
Even when someone is shooting behind the truncated FIBA line, 51.9% is VERY INTERESTING. This mark is probably the reason that the Knicks have decided that Louis, who is at first sight maybe a little wiry to play in the NBA, is at least interesting enough to spend a super late draft pick on the right to sign him to a contract someday.
A six-ten player who can shoot three pointers can do a lot to spread out and opponent's defense and open up a lot of options in the modern NBA. When this year's Phoenix Suns used lineups with Marcus Morris (38.1 3pt%) at power forward and Channing Frye (37.0 3pt%) at center they had a whoppin' +14.4 Net Rating, the result of a blown out offense keeping shotblockers away from the rim or lurching towards shooters at the line. Even if Louis is not playing a lot of minutes in Europe right now there's a kernel of potential as a NBA stretch four in his heart and if it can be forged with fire and spirit and blood and metal, it will be a pick well bought for the Knicks.
Here is a video of Louis playing basketball at a clandestine, winner-keeps-his-life game in an underground complex somewhere in Europe. It was brave of whoever shot this footage to release it. He cut the sound out so the notorious gangsters involved in this nightmare hoop scene wouldn't be able to figure out who he is. It was shot before he refined his three point shot, so don't expect to see that. From that same game, here is him dunking on a fool:
Sorry man, Adidas goons are going to kidnap your family and force them to sew shoes now. Get out of the way next time.
Oh, did you want to see a video of Louis getting some artistic portraits taken in a graffiti ridden alley in France, set to a sort of B-/C+-y semi-political club jazz mock-y song?
There's no way of knowing if Louis will make the NBA. But IF HE DOES, I think it's possible we have a new Tyson Chandler on our hands. Expect videos from art galleries, appearances in left-of-center fashion magazines. In short, expect an INTERESTING player.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

An Excerpt from TRIPLE DOUBLE: MY THREE PRONGED PLAN TO GET AHEAD IN BASKETBALL AND BUSINESS!, a book written by Jason Kidd in three years.

(NOTE: Jason's book frequently utilizes Points, Rebounds, and Assists as metaphors. It gets pretty confusing if you think too hard about it, but you bought it at an airport so what do you care.)


Congrats! Utilizing the strategies of SCORING, ASSISTING, and REBOUNDING at work, you have reached the top of the mountain and are now ready for a new challenge!

What should you look for in a new career? Well, considering you were a RUNAWAY SUCCESS in your old career:
1. REBOUND into a new career that is in the same industry as your old one!
2. PASS up the opportunity to start from the bottom! Roundly reject the idea of being a middle manager or assistant at your new job. You deserve the big chair. Just walk right in! You earned it! And make sure you don't mess around with a company that isn't up to your standards! Working with young, inexperienced people is a surefire way to NOT succeed immediately!
3. SCORE by recognizing who craves attention and owns insane piles upon piles of shadily acquired money just sitting there waiting to be burned! Target a company that is in direct competition for market share with a local rival. They won't be terribly concerned about your qualifications, as long as they can get attention!
THEN, do the job! Just do it! It's not that hard! You were an INSANE SUCCESS at your last job! Maybe hire some experience dudes to help you SCORE, then ASSIST them out of their job if you feel like it! Don't worry, they have money, they'll REBOUND. If you've followed my advice so far, you're in a pretty good situation and there isn't really any way you can mess it up that much.

Hey, wait!? What's going on!? That company across town hired a guy who wasn't NEARLY as successful as you were to do the job you're doing now!? Oh man, you can't just take that sitting down! It's time to talk to your boss about a raise. You know, what, FUCK a raise! You're not going to be in a position to continue SCORING at your job if they give give you a measly little raise! It's time to ASSIST yourself! You know that guy who is nominally your boss, not really, but to the extent that there is anyone who you work for on a day to day basis, he is that person? He should work for you now!
Talk to the one of the intense Russians that runs your company. Yell a little, throw verbal elbows like you're GOING FOR A REBOUND. Can you believe they gave THAT GUY more money than you!? Insane! He didn't SCORE, ASSIST, or REBOUND nearly as much as you did!

At this point, your demands should be acquiesced to, and you should have more money and stature at your new job! BUT but of you didn't manage to SCORE with your bosses, it's time to ASSIST yourself into REBOUNDING with someone who will respect you.
You invested your money with a hedge fund, right!? Well, that guy probably owns a company now! That company is probably dying on the vine and located in a frozen wasteland where no one in your old industry wants to live! He'll probably hire you! It might not be as easy as your last job, where everything was built to be a success but I'm sure you'll be fine! They just recruited some hotshot guy, you can work with him! Don't worry, it's going to work out great!

If, by now fault of your own, it does't work out great, don't worry! All industries LOVE recycling old talent, and while you sit around and wait for the next call, you can SCORE money by writing self-help literature (With an ASSIST from a ghostwriter!) and REBOUND yourself a position working for some college to rebuild your reputation! Washington State? Rutgers? Nebraska? The world is your oyster!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The best game of Andrew Bynum's career as a Cleveland Cavalier was a 20-Point, 10 Rebound, 5 Block (His career high), 3 assist effort in a November 30th, 2013 home win against the Chicago Bulls. There is a fan made YouTube highlight mix of this game.  It is a bitter joke.
Right in the middle a season where he car-bombed TWO teams and probably put an end to his NBA career, the man is here toying with the future NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Soft touch on a fadeaway in the lane. Stuffing him at the rim. Turnaround push shot. Duncan-esq bank shot. The Youtube commentators are pumped:

Austin Carr is tidal wave of joy. "Oh ho ho. The big fella is bringing out some of his arsenal tonight!" "Nice up and under move by the big fella!" A trademark "Get that weak stuff outta here!" when Bynum blocks a Hinrich layup attempt. He even (Erroneously, even in his best season Bynum had a 1.4/2.5 AST/TOV ratio) exalts Bynum's willing passing after a jump pass out of a post up. Austin's unbridled joy made sense at the time, when one could still construct a reality where Bynum might be on his way back. But in retrospect, this performance and these exaltations are an insane joke. His career in Cleveland ended when he jacked up a shot every time he touched the ball during a practice scrimmage. Then he went to Indiana, where his arrival marked a precipitous downturn in the fortunes of the Pacers. With bum knees he poisoned the wells of every town that had him.

There is a moment that nods at the darkness to come. When Bynum forces a shot clock violation with yet another block on the outmatched Noah, announcer Fred McLeod mentions his smile. "And Smiling! Perhaps his first as a Cavalier!" In that moment, we see the worms and mildew underneath this performance. He's playing well tonight, but he has been apparently miserable in Cleveland. Fred tries to frame it as a new day, the first smile of many, a young man making his way in the great City of Cleveland. But he knew. He was around the team. Bynum was hurting and everyone was turning on each other. There was no real hope here.

What made Bynum do this? Perhaps Noah's very shout-y hustle-bullshit existence annoy him so much that he decided to impose his size for a night, damn the knee pain. Maybe it was a full moon. Maybe all his knee parts were lined up perfect for one night and he figured "Fuck it" and went out and did work because what else was he gonna do out there. The post game interviews don't provide any clues: Bynum just told reporters that the performance felt good and that he hoped his knees would feel okay the next day.

The video ends with McLeod's voice. "And the good time, the good feeling is back in the Q!"