Dear Santa Claus,
It’s me, Sonny. I saw you at the mall the other day from a distance and it looks like you’re doing well. I know that you’re probably busy with all of your Christmas prep stuff—feeding the Reindeer, offering positive reinforcement to the elves for all of their hard work, etc., but I needed to get you my Christmas before it was too late. It’s not too lengthy, but admittedly, the ten items on my list might be hard to come by. But take it all into consideration because what I’m asking for is for the betterment of all fans of the NBA—for the most part.
1: I want mine AND Stephen Curry’s ankles to both be healthy
-Back on October 23rd in my Top 50 Players write up on Stephen Curry I wrote: “I’d gladly donate both of my ankles to him if mine were healthier than his.” On November 16th I sprained my ankle playing basketball. On December 11th I re-aggravated said ankle injury, once again playing basketball. Look, I’ve only got one semester left until my college pick-up basketball career is over. I’d appreciate if you could lift this hex that I have brought upon myself and keep both me, and Stephen Curry healthy for the remainder of our careers.
2: I want an endless supply of NBA tickets, and a private jet that will fly me to any game that I want whenever I want.
-So this one is a little more expensive than most of the other items on my list, but money isn’t really a snafu for you, right? You’re more of a mystical powers kind of cat if I’m not mistaken.
3: I want NBA referees to stop calling a shooting foul any time Kevin Durant sweeps his arms into the arms of a defender.
-I try to live by the motto “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” but this is some small stuff that really grinds my gears. Why do we pretend that this is a shooting foul when Durant doesn’t come close to releasing anything that resembles a jump shot, even by Shawn Marion’s standards? It’s lunacy in my opinion. On a related note, why don’t they call shooting fouls when teams have a foul to give late and the offensive player launches a 50 foot jumper as the defender is reaching in? It’s a hell of a lot more of a shot than whatever Kevin Durant is doing.
4: I want the 2014 Draft Class to join 1984, 1996, and 2003 on the Mount Rushmore of NBA Draft Classes.
-This isn’t just for me. This is for the good of the NBA and all NBA fans. I mean, who doesn’t love good, young NBA players? You might not have to do a whole lot of work on this one. Most scouts would agree that there are somewhere between six and eight future All-Stars that we know of in the 2014 NBA Draft, and that doesn’t account for any late round steals that won’t blow up until we’re further down the road. I won’t get greedy and ask for any sure things outside of the lottery. I’m just asking for Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, and maybe two or three five or six others to shine as brightly as it seems like they are capable of.
5: I want control of the NBA playoff picture.
-Wouldn’t everyone feel comfortable with an informed NBA fan having the fate of the NBA playoff seeding’s in his hands? I assure you guys, the only bias I have with my choices is one that would make for the most intriguing playoff matchups.
In the East:
I won’t even get greedy and ask that the Heat get the #1 seed. Let’s slot Indiana in at 1, and let’s give them Charlotte, playing their last games as the Bobcats. As for the 4/5 matchup, let’s settle for a battle of styles with the Wizards vs. Pistons. In the 3 and 6 matchup, how about we go with the surprising Boston Celtics and voodoo master Brad Stevens playing host to the always irrelevant Atlanta Hawks. And how about the #2 seed Heat playing host to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Come on, wouldn’t it be fantastic to watch LeBron go back to the Q and get wildly cheered for by the hopeful, and somewhat delusional, Cavaliers fans. In games 3 and 4 would they put playoff themed t-shirts on every seat or would it be LeBron James Cavaliers jersey shirts? I’m not sure.
In the West:
Goodness gracious! An absolutely loaded conference! There are thirteen teams that you could make a legitimate case for to make the playoffs. So instead of leaving four or five deserving teams out entirely, why don’t we do this instead…
6: I want the NBA Playoffs to be re-formatted.
-This looks better. Regardless of conference affiliation, the top 16 teams would make the playoffs in my re-formatted system. This shouldn’t be a completely new concept to informed NBA fans given the tragic state of the Eastern Conference this year. Even if everyone gets behind this idea, it will never happen because of the reluctance to give up conference rivalries, and more importantly, because of the amount of miles that teams would have to travel in a 2-2-1-1-1 playoff format. On the other hand, it’s the only logical way to really make sure the sixteen best teams make the playoffs. I stand for one thing and one thing only in all sports: making sure the postseason is as entertaining and as competitive as possible. That’s why I’ve been lobbying for a sixteen team playoff for college football for years. Wouldn’t the Pinstripe Bowl be way more entertaining if it was a matchup between the 4th and 13th ranked college football teams in the country? I think so. And I think the NBA playoffs would get more entertaining—this year especially—if we remove three or four below average Eastern Conference teams and replace them with the teams that would be otherwise left out of the Western Conference playoff picture. Without speculating further, the NBA Playoffs would be seeded as such if the postseason started today:
1: Portland Trailblazers v. 16: Minnesota Timberwolves
8: Phoenix Suns v. 9: Atlanta Hawks
4: San Antonio Spurs v. 13: Los Angeles
5: Miami Heat v. 12: Golden State Warriors
3: Oklahoma City Thunder v. 14: Washington Wizards
6: Los Angeles Clippers v. 11: Denver Nuggets
7: Houston Rockets v. 10: Dallas Mavericks
2: Indiana Pacers v. 15: Charlotte Bobcats
7: I want don’t want Derrick Rose to be Penny Hardaway.
-Penny Hardaway in 319 games pre 1st knee injury: 19.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.9 steals, 48% FG, 4 All-Star appearances, All-Rookie Team, Two Time 1st Team All-NBA
-Derrick Rose in 279 games pre 1st knee injury: 21.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 46% FG, 3 All-Star appearances, Rookie of the Year, 2011 MVP, All-Rookie Team, One Time 1st Team All-NBA
-Penny Hardaway in 385 games post 1st knee injury: 11.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 43% FG
This is more of a gift for Derrick Rose and Bulls fans. You’re welcome, city of Chicago. I’ll always have your back, if only because of Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bears, Chicago style pizza and ER.
8: I want the Charlotte Hornets to go back to the old school Teal and Purple logo and uniforms.
-Hey, you got this one covered. Way to go Santa! Last year I asked for some teams to permanently go back to their retro uniforms, leaving out the Charlotte Bobcats since the “Bobcats” have no retro uniforms. You went above and beyond what I expected, somehow managing to change the name of the franchise and return their old color scheme in the process.
9: I want to choose the USA basketball roster for the 2014 Basketball World Cup.
-Keep in mind, I’m picking a realistic roster consisting of players who will likely have interest in playing for Team USA over the summer.
PG: Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving
SG: Paul George, James Harden
SF: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard
PF: Kevin Love, Blake Griffin
C: Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond
We’ve got everything covered with that twelve-man squad: Size, quickness, knockdown shooting, defensive prowess, plenty of ball-handlers, line-up versatility, and most importantly, a group of high character guys who will work hard, give a shit, and play well together. The toughest cuts:
Ryan Anderson- Even though another stretch four would be nice to have, we already have Kevin Love fitting that mold. Plus, Durant and Leonard could both slide over to play power forward as well.
Greg Monroe/DeMarcus Cousins- The only reason they get left off is because of Andre Drummond’s ascendance. Before the season started I would’ve given the spot to either one of these two (Most likely Monroe out of fear of Cousins’ crazy potential).
Kenneth Faried- All kinds of energy and would run the floor well, but not quite polished enough offensively or defensively to get a spot.
Bradley Beal/John Wall- I love the Wizards backcourt duo right now, and even more five years from now if they are still playing together. Tough to get a spot on this team with the six guards ahead of them though.
Marcus Smart- Went to USA Basketball camp over the summer and received rave reviews. I’ll be buying more Marcus Smart stock than stock of anyone else who will be in the 2014 NBA Draft.
10: I want everyone to have a Merry Christmas.