The Sword of Omens gave Lion-O the power to see into the future. We are calling on it to help us predict season 2014-15.
It was almost impossible to avoid the hype surrounding 2014's "super" draft. Even those not interested or well versed in college basketball were caught in the vortex, since it launched a tank-race featuring roughly a quarter of the league's teams.
Logically, it stands to reason that the forthcoming Rookie of the Year race should be of high quality. The class who effectively caused a season-long reverse auction for their services will play 2014-15 under heavy expectations.
When the dust (finally) settled on the Kevin Love Treaty in August, 5-star prospects Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker had both found homes on moribund Midwestern franchises. For them, opportunities for minutes and shots abound.
Conversely, athlete-extraordinaire Aaron Gordon and crafty playmaker Elfrid Payton join a Magic team who have may have had enough of "rebuilding." 2014-15 will mark the 3rd season since they lost Dwight Howard and there have been few signs of progress to date. Simply by trying to win, the Magic may find themselves pushing for one of the East's final playoff spots - a potential vote-winner for their 2 RoY candidates.
Julius Randle may be in a similar boat as he joins a Laker team looking to bounce back from one of the worst seasons in franchise history. A marked improvement in the win total may help his cause, but he may find it hard to break into a veteran starting lineup.
Marcus Smart, Dante Exum and Nick Stauskas are all projected to have long and productive careers, but aren't in ideal situations to take the trophy. Smart will presumably be asked to take a back seat as Rajon Rondo runs the show in Boston, while Exum is likely to be brought along slowly as he physically develops. Stauskas, Baseline Leaner's outsider of choice, should be a contributor from day one - however, a large role is unlikely with Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore ahead of him in the rotation.
The Sword of Omens 2014-15 Rookie of the Year
We enjoy irony almost as much as we enjoy NBA basketball, and when the two have the rare chance to come together, we must actively support and endorse it. The above draft class - the one that convinced the 76ers to spend less than the NBA mandated minimum on their team and Boston to nuke Ubuntu, among other things - may not produce this season's Rookie of the Year.
That honour, according to vision delivered exclusively to our Sword, will belong to Nerlens Noel. Originally picked 6th in 2013, Nerlens sat out the year with a torn ACL, and is thereby eligible this year under the same rule that saw Blake Griffin win in 2011. (And a ripped-off Sabonis fall short in 1996).
It's worth noting that Nerlen's candidacy is not only manufactured to fit our strange narrative. The Sixers are bereft of quality in the front court, with neither of their 2014 picks - Joel Embiid, Dario Saric - likely to suit up this season. With that in mind, Nerlens will plausibly play 30-35 minutes a night from Game 1 and should the Sixers continue to scream the ball up the floor (see "Pace"), he'll have a ton of chances to fill the stat sheet. His box scores should outshine those of his competitors - a similar advantage shared by his teammate Michael Carter-Williams last season.
With few legitimate big men to compete with, Nerlens is a strong chance to blow all rookies away in rebounds and blocks. Moreover, he has flashed an Anthony Davis-like ability to snag steals from the 4/5 spot and should also rank highly in that category. Overall, defensively, he looks to be an above-average NBA big man already - with huge potential to become an elite one. Of course, only contributing off the ball usually doesn't equal RoY success, but Philly's go-go system means Nerlens may crack double-figures in points on dunks and put backs alone.
A double-double with a couple of blocks and a steal every night will make a strong case and we're calling it now: Nerlens - your 2014-15 Rookie of the Year. A victory for ironing.
had openly stated on several occasions that the shoot-first mentality of
Iverson had hindered his development. And though Brown would never say
so publicly, he was convinced that Stackhouse or Iverson had to go."
Stackhat Stackhouse is our man, and he is a proud man. During his playing days, it was that pride that meant he never took a backward step, from anyone.
Prior to being dealt to Detroit, the former No.3 pick managed to get into some significant scuffles whilst wearing these sharp little numbers:
For his "fightin' around the league" efforts as a young fella, we dedicate Jersey of the Week to Stackhat Stackhouse's road strip from '95 - '97.
Jerry Stackhouse Road Jersey
(1995 - 1997)
We had the privilege of watching Stack in Brooklyn during his final season in the league. We happened to be sitting next to a cranky old Nets fan who was very displeased when the final play of the half resulted in Stack being forced into a tough jumper. He had some things to say about Jerry that were unkind. We sat in silence and did nothing.
As it has weighed heavily on our collective consciences for the past two years, we would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Mr Stackhouse for not punching this man.
While the commentators were likening him to former NBL import Calvin Talford, Jahii Carson's winning dunk at the NBL Blitz Slam Dunk Contest took us back to Stevie's "any other night" tomahawk in 2000.
If you haven't Youtube'd Talford, we highly recommend it.
UPDATE: Full contest footage here. The comparison here.
There have been plenty of odd interviews throughout the history of the league, none better than Hedo's legendary "Ball" interview during his less than memorable stint in Toronto.
However, back in 1998, another Raptor, Lloyd Daniels, said everything that needed to be said before he even opened his mouth. Observe Lloyd loosening up as Rob Sinclair kicks off the interview. Thank you Rob for remaining professional throughout.
With the final result a foregone conclusion, we take a look back at the most controversial aspect of the Australian Boomers' FIBA 2014 World Championship campaign: Nasal Gate.
Joe Ingles and Adam Gibson
(September 8, 2014)
During each and every rendition of our great anthem, Joe "Lucky Lefty" Ingles actively sought out the nostrils of close friend and former Dragons teammate Adam Gibson.
Gibson, a willingly accomplice, displayed exceptional poise throughout each invasion of his cavities.
Of course, this country's athletes have a proud history of larrikanism (didn't Dawn Fraser blow up the Olympic Village?), yet we can't help but think what would've happened if a similar stunt was perpetrated by say, a member of USA Basketball (Ack that no one in their right mind would touch Boogie Cousins).
Whether FIBA elects to investigate these "cheeky and fun" shenanigans remains to be seen, but rest assured if this curious practice surfaces in Rio 2016, we'll be there to immortalize it in GIF form.
One of the best oops of '04-05 season was this no-look Baron Davis lob to a teenage J.R. Smith against the Raptors:
Baron Davis to J.R. Smith
(January 16, 2005)
The finish was exceptional. The Roc-A-Fella/Diamond Dallas Page celebration on the other hand was a little confusing, which is probably the same as saying it was quintessential Smith.
Now the closest Roc-A-Fella release to this game was Cam'ron's "Purple Haze". So as an accompaniment to this play and the subsequent gesture, we're just gonna let you enjoy this slice of mid-2000s brilliance.
(Thank you William Bell, Mavis Staples, Kanye West and Brian "All Day" Miller)
BONUS: Baron continued to throw ridiculous alley-oops even in the twilight of his playing career: