The other day my friend and I were chatting amiably and agreeably about basketball when, suddenly and irrevocably, he suggested that, maybe, the East is as good as, or better than, the West.
He is wrong.
This is the truth for you Eastern Conference homers out there: Just like there wasn’t a real argument to be had between Oklahoma and Ohio State — no offense, Buckeye fans! — there is no real argument to be had about which conference is better in the National Basketball Association.
1. PJ Tucker Watch: The Dude Loves Pancakes
PJ Tucker, for a variety of reasons, continues to be one of my favorite players to watch and track in the NBA. From his Europe- and Middle East-galavanting career when he didn’t quite cut it in the NBA early after college, to his weird continued presence in the starting lineup of the Houston Rocket — which he deserves, but which is still insane when you consider he beat out Carmelo Anthony! — he is very, very fun. He’s also a Texas Longhorn. Hook’em.
Anyway, since I’ve been following Tucker on Instagram I can’t help but be fascinated by his fascination with pancakes. He doesn’t really feature the breakfast delight in his posts much — mostly in his stories — but there’s him in a cool outfit:
2. Who Will Win The Title?
Probably a team from the Western Conference, because it’s a whole lot better than the Eastern Conference.
These are the facts: The East has two legitimate contenders in the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics and two semi-legitimate contenders in the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers. I know, I’m being generous to both the Raptors and the Celtics, but I think the Kawhi Leonard situation plus a fresh face in head coach Nick Nurse and, most importantly, the fact that LeBron James is in the West, means that Toronto could actually win the conference. They’re long, deep, athletic, and they have star power.
The West has the heavy, heavy favorite in the Golden State Warriors, two legitimate contenders in the surging Oklahoma City Thunder and the upstart Denver Nuggets, and a whole slew of semi-legitimate contenders in the Los Angeles Lakers, the Houston Rockets (I said it!), Portland Trail Blazers, plus a bunch of pretty darn good “WTF how is this team any good?” teams like the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Sacramento Kings.
But where the difference really becomes obvious is at the bottom. The West has one certifiably terrible team in the Phoenix Suns. So bad! The East boasts three to five scrubs, depending on your belief in Dwyane Wade’s Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets (they still play in the NBA?).
The evidence is clear. The West is (still) much better than the East.
3. Stats Are Important But Not Everything: Whoa Bamba
Mo Bamba’s rookie year has not been stellar. It’s definitely too early to call him a bust or anything, but he won’t be garnering any Rookie of the Year votes.
Here’s a crazy stat from the other night: In Orlando’s 105-90 pounding of Miami, Bamba earned a minus-16 +/- in just 15 minutes of play. How is that even possible!?
4. Get Off My Parquet, Featuring Adam Oestreich
By Adam Oestreich, of course
Just a friendly reminder that the Golden State Warriors have Boogie Cousins and he will be back playing again soon.