Phil Jackson was full of surprises at last night’s draft and the surprises just keep on keeping on – rumor has it David West is “very likely” to sign with the Knicks. I wrote about the questions and possibilities such a signing would raise at P&T. There are risks – West’s 35 and plays the one position the Knicks aren’t totally depleted at. But West has more basketball IQ in one of his brutal elbows than a lot of players have in their gray matter. There are risks, but a lot of fits here, too.
The Knicks picked up two players in the first round of yesterday’s NBA draft: 87 inches of Latvian controversy, Kristaps Porzingis, and Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant. Porzingis was the headline move, but trading Tim Hardaway Jr. to Atlanta for Grant says a lot about the style and substance of the team Phil Jackson’s putting together. I broke Grant’s game down today at P&T. Long story short: he’s the complete opposite of Hardaway…in that he does things. Lots of things. He could be a good fit for where the team is headed.
When I was a kid, I had a friend whose house was always messy. Everything inside was broken or broke-down. The lawn was scraggly and brown. He had a swimming pool, but it was never clean or useable. There was a gorgeous Cadillac in the driveway. But it was forever one repair away from working.
The Knicks are that friend’s house. Carmelo Anthony is the Cadillac: the one bright spot, only 31 and coming off of major knee surgery. The rest of the roster needs a makeover. I reviewed lottery prospect Stanley Johnson at P&T today, the rare 19-year old who’s already showcased NBA-level skills on offense and defense. Long story short: Johnson could be as close to a one-man home makeover as there is in this draft.
A late-rising mystery man in this year’s NBA draft is Murray State point guard Cameron Payne. I reviewed his game for Posting & Toasting. Here’s an apertif:
“Player comparisons are like cancer: inevitable irregularities that bloom to the point they overwhelm their point of origin. Consider: Payne’s one of only 13 collegians ever to average at least 20 points, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 three-pointers per game for a whole season. One was Steph Curry. Eight never played in the NBA. The best after Curry? Jason Terry. Drafting a Steph Curry’s unlikely, but not unheard of (as Knick fans know all too well). Curry dominated lower-level competition, then dominated some more in the NBA; so did Damian Lillard. Those are Payne’s best-case scenarios.”
I give up, writing. I think.
The first story I wrote was in 1989, when I was 11, after an earthquake interrupted the World Series. It was a short story about humans discovering two warring nations beneath the surface of the Earth – one benevolent and friendly, the other violent and obsessed with power.
The last story I had published was seven months ago: a sultan in an ancient Muslim paradise must decide which of his three sons should succeed him. Two of the sons, the twins, are fools; the third son is born of a slave girl and never speaks. The father gives them a test, a magical bird. Whoever gains the most with it will gain the throne.
The last story I wrote? I don’t remember.
Many of my friends are successful/aspiring writers. Sometimes that’s cool. Writers are weirdos. They’re grown-ass adults who voluntarily spend much of their lifespan alone, obsessing about the world of make-believe. Company helps. Ever seen a mental patient on the street versus one in a psych ward? Company helps. Sometimes knowing so many writers blows. Because just like when you were in elementary school and always comparing your height to your peers, as an adult writer you end up comparing your life to the people you know who chose to be the same lonely make-believe weirdo you chose to be. Yet comparing yourself to another writer is a fool’s errand, since it’s impossible to ever really know how any other human being is ever really doing, much less one who excels at storytelling. Writers excel at manipulating reality and spinning believable falsehoods. Writers are basically taking selfies 24/7, only selfies of places that don’t exist. People who take selfies look like they’re seizing the day, but stopping life to freeze a frieze of it’s not carpe diem. It’s carpe cellulaire.
One of the NBA draft’s most promising yet perilous prospects is 19-year-old Latvian Kristaps Porzingis. I reviewed his game over at P&T. A hint of what you’ll find:
“7’1”, with a quick release, a wet jumper, infinite range, the athleticism to beat bigs off the dribble, the hops to finish strong, the height to post the sub-84-inchers of the world, and an unholy amalgam of wingspan and footspeed on defense feeding on the souls of NBA offenses…and yet, more than one scouting report included the phrase ‘the new Bargnani.'”