Every so often, after games where it seems natural, I’ll be checking on a few trends and longish-term observations for the season. I’m sure that we’ll get a catchy name up in here some time, but for now, here is the first installment of your SEASON NOTEBOOK.
Meyers Leonard: Last night, Meyers split minutes evenly with J.J. Hickson, setting in motion a second half dunk-and-flex routine that included an obliteration of Runny Turiaf and will no doubt have fans excited about the promising young big. But while Leonard is unquestionably developing, already showing a potent mix of strength and aggression, it’s worth noting a few things. He spent the first half looking lost on the court, at one point literally walking through two consecutive sets as LaMarcus Aldridge pointed him through them. He was abruptly benched, and Stotts after the game said Leonard “failed to execute two consecutive plays.” Meyers is still mixing in stretches of strong play with stretches where he seems utterly lost on both ends, and fans would do well to remember the bad with the good when calling for him to see the court, as they undoubtedly will.
Opponents’ shooting percentages: As I’m sure you know, Blazers opponents are shooting a ridiculous percentage this year. NBA Stats has it at .496, but my private analytics firm UnSkewed Stats has opponents shooting eleventy scintillion percent. Something like the last 14 teams the Blazers have played have shot something like higher than ninety percent or something. What I’m saying is: this team, currently, is a collection of turnstiles, which I guess means sort of like a car wash, with those brushes that all sort of work like turnstiles but there’s more than one of them. Look, I know J.J. Hickson isn’t getting any taller, and I know the bench isn’t getting less hideous, but the Trail Blazers are not consistently sticking to any cohesive schematics. There were stretches last night that saw the Blazers generating a lot of live-ball turnovers, but as I wrote last night, that had more to do with Nic Batum going HAM on Chris Paul than it did an otherwise balanced team defense.
The band “fun.” I hear this band every single time I am in the car now, including both to and from the Rose Garden last night, and they are just completely the stupidest. They sound like the staff of an Urban Outfitters formed a Kansas cover band to perform the musical Rent. You’re here, so you can read, so we don’t really need to talk about the name “fun.”—my quotes, their period—and how stupid it is. But we will.
That name, with its one stupid word and its “branded” lower case and period, immediately makes me think “OH FANTASTIC. MORE SELF-CONSCIOUSLY YOUTHFUL TWEEPOP. I HOPE THEY HAVE EARNEST LYRICS. IF THEY HAVE EARNEST LYRICS I WILL SURELY BUY THEIR CASSETTE TAPES.”
This may shock you, but my oh my are those lyrics earnest. These young men are so theatrically confused about their young and youthful lives! Their current chant-and-piano anthem for the kids is “Some Nights,” and it is, as near as I can tell, about how feelingsy feelings can be. Just have a gander at the lyrics here. This is music for kids who just got back from studying abroad and like, just can’t figure out how they can feel so much, you know? Like, love is a lie? But also, so much good can come from love, you know?
My favorite part of the song is when the singer says “My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she call ‘love/” But when I look into my nephew’s eyes/ Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things/That can come from/ some terrible lies.” When he sings “lies,” he flies into this Autotuned falsetto for, like, 45 seconds, completely obscuring just how nonsensical and vacuously half-felt those lyrics are. IN THE EYES OF A CHILD IS THE DEPTH OF THE SOUL, YOU GUYS. fun. is Queen for Thought Catalog readers, only with Autotune and no discernible awareness of their own idiocy. Which actually sounds like a pretty fool-proof sales plan these days.
Oh uh, where were we…oh yeah. Jamal Crawford: Jamal Crawford came back to the Rose Garden last night, and he torched the Blazers to the tune of 25 points after a few boos greeted his introduction. After the game, Crawford was insistent that he feels no hard feelings for Blazers fans, going as far as to admit that “anybody involved in last year deserves to get booed.” And though he reminded fans that he took a pay cut to play in Portland, he says that he has no problem with being booed and feels like he has a home in Los Angeles.
Can I be real for a minute? It feels a little forced to gin up anything with Crawford. Crawford was by all accounts excited to come to Portland, the boos from the fans last night felt just a little bit obligatory, nothing to see here. Plus, Jamal seems like a very nice young man. He actually told a reporter not to interview him until after Chris Paul was done because he “didn’t want to be disrespectful to Chris.” I know that “nicest human in the world” is sort of his thing, but still. If you media jackals don’t stop picking on him I WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION!
LaMarcus Aldridge and JumpShotGate 2012: Well, here we are. The “LaMarcus takes too many jumpshots” discussion predates my time in Portland by, like, infinity, but consider the topic OFFICIALLY BROACHED for the season. Jason Quick points out the tremendous discrepancy in Aldridge’s attempts at the basket and from mid- and long distance, and while I was talking to other players at the time, it seems he roused the big man’s ire somewhat with the questions. As Quick points out, Terry Stotts does not seem concerned with forcing LaMarcus into more physical post-up touches, and I’ll be looking for the next few games at whether that will last, or whether and why Stotts is cool with Aldridge continuing this trend.
That’s what I got for now, y’all. I will keep an eye on these trends and other as the Blazers take on San Antonio Sunday and finish their three-game homestand Monday against Atlanta.