Full Court Digress: Michael Beasley is MVP & Jason Kidd Sucks

Full Court Digress, POW's new NBA column, makes its debut appearance with thoughts on Michael Beasley, Josh Richardson's defense, and more.
By    January 17, 2018

Art by All-Pro Reels

Mike Dupar thinks we don’t even use ten percent of our hearts.

Entering last season one thing was obvious: Russell “Ubermensch” Westbrook was prepared to detonate every rim across America. Prior to the start of the current season we knew that LeBron would be without Isaiah Thomas and resigned to MacGyvering a walking bottle of Henny, a Mormon, a no kneed rapist, a man who is confusingly ashamed of having had his ass eaten by Gabrielle Union, and Kevin Love, into a competitive basketball team. The common denominator for these two pre-season MVP favorites was the perception that these players were playing with an ensemble that rivaled the Washington Generals.

While I’m surely not the first basketball fuckboi to pick up on this trend, I am maybe the first to lobby for a new methodology in determining the NBA MVP. Imagine if you will, if the MVP award didn’t favor hollow triple-doubles, media-driven narratives, and regular season wins. What if the criteria favored the not-so-prodigal sons and the inspired moments of an enigmatic folk hero? What if I told you that Beasus Christ, is our lord, savior, and my mid-season MVP.

Before the season even started Michael Beasley let us know that he wasn’t fucking around, he was coming for that number one spot. Wearing three watches, one on each wrist and one on his right ankle and a sweater that read “goat in new york” Beasley attempted to dismantle the widely held theory that humans use only 10% of their brains.

Beas doesn’t have any fucking idea what he is talking about but his enthusiasm and stoner charm is infectious. Despite how dumb he may sound, Beas is self-aware and smart enough to understand that this is the type of shit that makes you a legend, particularly in New York.

When not preoccupied with matters of neuroscience, Beas is busy innovating on the court. Recently against the Spurs, with the Knicks looking particularly flaccid and Porzingis playing like he had contracted mono, Beasley once again defied convention.

If you think for one minute that Beasley didn’t know that this ball had gone in, you’re probably only using 10% of your brain. You also probably didn’t know that Beasley perfected this shot during his time in the far east. Time and time again, Michael Beasley has stolen the show. Whether it be his 32 point effort against the Celtics or fouling out in 10 minutes to the morbid glee of Knick fans. Nowadays the NBA game is all about efficiency and strategy, but while most of the league is dissecting film and pouring over analytics like some hieroglyphics Jay Electronica left scribbled on a diner napkin, Beasley is thriving more than ever with a bling-bling era mentality.

The NBA’s most beloved wayward son has finally found a home and for that, Michael Beasley is my mid-season MVP. Oh and by the way, Beasley’s Player Efficiency Rating in the month of January (per Real GM) is better than MVP favorite LeBron’s.

Heat Check

Until yesterday’s loss to the Bulls, the Miami Heat had rattled off a 7 game winning streak in which they beat the likes of Toronto, Utah, Indiana, my Milwaukee Bucks, and Michael Beasley’s Knicks. Despite all their recent success, the Heat haven’t done any one thing particularly well on offense, but on the defensive end it is a completely different story.

As the NBA turns to pace and space, Eric Spoelstra has constructed a defense that invites nightly rock fights. Since the start of January the Heat are 3rd in the league in Opponent Effective Field Goal %, 2nd in Opponent 3-point %, 5th in Defensive Rating, and 6th in Opponent Field Goal % (all per NBA.com). Much of Miami’s success on the defensive end stems from their DJ Screw like pace, which ranks 4th slowest over the course of the season and the slowest in January thus far (per NBA.com).

Abetting that sluggish pace is the Heat’s reluctance to run on offense. Ranking close to last in transition offense frequency, the Heat drag games into the mud, there being no better example of this than their victory over the Toronto Drake’s last Tuesday.

Entering that game the Drake’s had been on a pretty good run, what with DeMar DeRozan finally actualizing a 3-point stroke alongside the sudden realization that one should pass out of double-teams. Truthfully up until that point of the week I was considering writing about him. Then the Heat came to town and shit tar all over their court.

Of the many notable moments in this game, what stood out the most was Josh Richardson’s bastardly defense down the stretch. Tasked primarily with stopping DeRozan, J Rich rose to the occasion and helped hold DeRozan to converting only 26% of his Contested Field Goals and shooting his 5th lowest Field Goal % of the season (34.5%). Along the way J Rich had 12 shot contests, 3 blocks and 2 deflections.

Here Richardson makes DeRozan’s life impossible, first by repeatedly denying the entry pass, then deflecting it. Ultimately DeRozan highlights one of his improvements to his game by throwing a pass out of the double team to a wide-open Norman Powell. Had it not been for an unnecessary double team and/or the poor defensive shifts along the baseline, this would’ve been a complete defensive possession.

Earlier in the week the Heat hosted the Jazz. Once again J Rich was tasked with guarding a stand out player and yet again he made some huge plays down the stretch.

Here Richardson is switched off of Donovan Mitchell onto the weak side. Although he doesn’t have an immediate impact his patience to not gravitate too quickly to the driving Mitchell allows him to make a timely strip moments later.

On the very next Utah possession Richardson is now back on Mitchell. Here Mitchell calls for a Favors screen, which Richardson goes over the top of (since Mitchell has a solid 3 point shot) while Olynk tags. Knowing that the trap has worked, Richardson instinctively closes the passing lane and strips the ball. Upon official review the Heat are awarded possession.

On this inbounds play the Heat employ a press, in which Richardson is again on Mitchell. Repeatedly Richardson denies the pass to Mitchell, who ultimately defers to standing in the corner to watch Rodney Hood chuck a piece of flaming shit at the rim. The ensuing possession results in a game winner for the Heat.

So far this season J Rich, according to Cleaning The Glass, has given the Heat a +7.7 point differential while on the court and dropped opponents’ Effective Field Goal Percentage by 3.4% while on the court (which puts him in the 90th percentile of all players). Additionally he has continued his career long knack for blocks, of which he ranks in the 92nd percentile amongst players of his position (per Cleaning the Glass).

Ultimately, the loss of Dion Waiters, who is injured (hopefully forever for the Heat’s sake), may be the real saving grace of this Heat team, but let it be known that J Rich, A$AP Rocky braids and all, is coming for a spot on the NBA All-Defensive team.

Close Lines

This past week featured two variations of one of the best plays in all of sports, the Close Line!

Delly really is a garbage basketball player but he is one of the quintessential guys that you love when he’s on your team and hate when he isn’t. This looked worse than it was but you’ve gotta love Delly pretending not to be a weasley little shit. His reputation preceded him and he was ejected, but ultimately this bit of tomfoolery served the Bucks well as Jason Kidd couldn’t inexplicably play Delly for 5 minutes in the clutch and it lit a fire under the cold, cold ass of my Milwaukee Fucks.

Now this is a close line! I suppose it’s more of the Austin Power’s Judo Chop, but regardless of title Isaiah really got his money’s worth with this. Hopefully Delly is taking notes.

Baptism of the Week

I like to call dunks Baptisms. I don’t really know why but I think it sounds fantastic. A Baptism in the purest sense involves the one who was dunked on falling over as if they were thrown into a river. Ideally the dunkee arises as Delmar did, with a comical expression and a desire to repent. This week the Baptist was Ryan Anderson, our eye-liner wearing sharp-shooter friend out in Houston. His victim—rather, Baptee—is none other than Alex Len. All you need to know about Alex Len is that this is the most relevant moment of his sad, sad NBA career.

What’s so great about this dunk is that Anderson has probably only dunked twice in his life and for whatever reason with the Rockets up nearly 20 points on one of the league’s worst teams, he decides to punch down as hard as possible. Poor, poor Alex Len.

Kidd’s Malpractice of the Week

If I’m going to be allowed to have a platform to talk about the NBA you better believe that I’m going to take shots at Jason Kidd (sponsors feel free to contact me).

In our first installment I present Exhibit 5,342, which is a video of the NBA’s leader in minutes, Giannis Antetokounmpo telling the media about Jason Kidd’s 4-5 hour practices. This kind of speaks for itself, but the absurdity of all this is that Thibs continues to be destroyed by the national media for overplaying his players, meanwhile in Milwaukee Jason Kidd has his young superstar playing more minutes than anyone and fucking Khris Middleton playing second most in the league, only a year removed from a freak hamstring tear.

It’s one thing to play heavy minutes and be incredibly competitive, but it’s something entirely different when your team is still middling. It’s malpractice.

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