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The Madhouse - Week of 10/11/19

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Preseason Suns basketball, Five Thirty Eight’s ‘RAPTOR,’ Dubs, Kerr, Pop, Trump, communication

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NBA: Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Going to Star Nursery in Las Vegas to talk kale and other stuff this weekend.

Suns Stuff

We actually get to look at some basketball games now. On Monday Rod and his team shared their thoughts on what they’d like to see out of your Suns this preseason.

Firstly, they won. They won, and that’s a big deal. I don’t care if it’s preseason. I don’t care if it’s Minnesota. In the back of your mind you’re thinking the Suns could take a significant step forward this year. In the front of your mind, and in 90% of your mind, you’re thinking there’s going to be more badness in Phoenix this year than goodness.

Tuesday’s win over Minnesota, if nothing else, saved you from losing saved you from labeling the upcoming season a certain disaster.

There were lots of good things. Deandre Ayton scored 18 and pulled down 13 boards. That’s what Deandre Ayton should be doing. Future Hall of Famer Devin Booker put up 15-4-5 in 21 minutes, and that sounds about right. He also turned the ball over five times, but that’s hardly worth dissecting.

Okobo, 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting? Yes, please. Ty Jerome hitting 6 of 7 from the field? That sounds promising. Tyler Johnson with a whole bunch of nothing in 15 minutes? A few more games like this and questions will have answers.

I don’t need a reminder that Bridges and Oubre were out.

Rod also asked the FanTable is the Suns should actually be trying to win these games, rather than treating preseason matchups as glorified practices.

That’s an easy one for me.

HELL YES YOU NEED TO TRY TO WIN THESE GAMES. If the Suns are not trying to win these games, dump the bums. All of them. Tomorrow. Kill the lights and turning Talking Stick Resort Arena into a parking lot.

We need a team that plays unnecessarily hard at completely unnecessary times. “But what if someone gets hurt?” What’s going to happen? They’re going to win 17 games instead of 19 games?

They beat Minnesota. Now go beat Sacramento. I’m typing this before the Sacramento game, but hopefully when you’re reading this the Suns are 2-0. And hopefully the Kings were down 20 with two minutes remaining and the Suns kept playing way too hard with a 20 point lead in a preseason game. And hopefully the 2400 fans in attendance leave thinking that it’s bizarre that the Suns tried so hard in a meaningless game.

Update: The Suns did not, in fact, beat Sacramento and they certainly did not, in fact, try hard. Least of all unnecessarily hard.

You know what? Because f*** Sacramento and f*** the rest of the NBA. We need to sports hate ourselves a little bit less and sports hate the rest of the league a whole lot more.

Portland on Saturday. Denver on Monday.

Rod also asked the team which bench player will be the “fan favorite” this year. That’s easy. If the Suns are winning it will be the player who is most contributing to that winning. If we’re losing we’ll all be miserable and not care. Except for the nerds who will find an obscure metric that’s supposed to get you excited about basketball but doesn’t because the team is in the same spot they were last year and who cares about TS%. Is it TS%? I’m not even sure that’s right.

NBA Stuff

There’s a whole lot of great big, bad, sad news regarding the NBA’s relationship with China, and I genuinely have tried to care. But I don’t care. Maybe you will. Read this.

Kevin Durant thinks the Los Angeles Clippers are more talented team than the Los Angeles Lakers. If you disagree, leave a comment on the article. Kevin Durant reads the comments.

CHECK IT OUT. You know how I feel about advanced statistics. I very, very much do not like them. BUT CHECK IT OUT. This week I learned that the fine people at Five Thirty Eight created a new metric they’re calling RAPTOR. I didn’t read it. I think it’s dumb without reading it, but here it is if you want to read about “Robust Algorithm (using) Player Tracking (and) On/Off Ratings.”

Draymond Green is now a wee 6-foot-5.

Ben Simmons made a three-point shot.

John Hollinger really doesn’t like the collection of small forwards the Golden State Warriors have put together.

Just finding a fifth starter is a challenge. “Warriors small forward” is the worst position group of any team in the league. Alec Burks dribbles too much and doesn’t defend enough, but he may end up starting simply by virtue of him not being Alfonzo McKinnie or Glenn Robinson. Behind them, Jacob Evans was the eighth-best player on his G-League team. If first-round pick Jordan Poole flashes any ability at all, he may end up finishing games in three-guard fronts with Russell and Curry.

The Warriors compounded their depth issues with a bizarre decision to trade Shabazz Napier’s and Treveon Graham’s minimum contracts by paying $3 million to Minnesota to take them. Golden State could have just paid somebody the same amount to take the since-waived Shaun Livingston and his $2 million cap hit instead.

Alternatively, the Warriors could have retained Napier and Graham and not signed Burks or Robinson. Napier was decent in Brooklyn last year and would have helped on a minimum deal, while Graham is a low-ceiling grinder but certainly not any worse than McKinnie or Robinson.

If there’s one thing this world needs it’s another NBA podcast. Well fret not, The Starters and The Athletic are delivering just that.

Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich shared their opinions on the NBA’s relationship with China. Donald Trump shared his opinion on Kerr and Popovich.

Rich Paul, whose job it is to say nice things about Anthony Davis, thinks that the Bucks would have reached the NBA Finals last year if they had Davis and not Giannis.

When you truly have nothing to talk about, you compare the salaries of NBA players against golfers on the PGA Tour.

My Stuff

What I’m reading: I’ll wrap up The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen this weekend. Next is The Topeka School by Ben Lerner.

What I’m playing: Not a minute of video games this week, but I’m looking closely at Freedom Finger on the Nintendo Switch.

What I’m listening to: Recently I’ve eschewed listening to the radio on my commute for phone calls to people I haven’t chatted with in awhile.

What I’m watching: VGK hockey, baby.

What I’m Thinking

You know how people “like” texts? It may show up on your phone in this way - “So and so liked ‘hey I think the Suns could do something this year.’” Stop doing that. It’s nothing. It’s worse than nothing. You can manage, “I could see that!” Communication is dwindling down to nothing.

Some Quote

“The road to Hell is paved with adverbs.”