Stan Van Gundy can coach... the NBA's cult of personality deal and Nolan Smith's picks

Stan Van Gundy can coach... the NBA's cult of personality deal and Nolan Smith's picks
March 26, 2013, 9:00 am
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You get a few thoughts that really aren't beefy enough to turn into an entire blog post, but you want to get them out there, just the same. Thus, here's an old-fashioned NBA notes column:

  • When you watch the Los Angeles Lakers play you can't help but think there should be more wins there than they're getting out of this team. So much talent and so much of it ill-fitting. Shouldn't Steve Nash have the ball more, especially late in games? Why can't Dwight Howard be more effective at both ends of the floor? Has Pau Gasol slipped that much this season? Yeah, I realize it's a team that doesn't match its coaching staff well. And I also understand there aren't many defenders there... BUT, there is enough talent on hand that a playoff spot should have been locked up by now. And I'm just asking this one question -- is Kobe Bryant part of the solution or part of the problem?
  • Stan Van Gundy turned Dwight Howard into the defensive player of the year, an all-star and a Most Valuable Player candidate. When you watch Howard struggle now you realize the magnitude of SVG's achievements with Howard. Say what you want about him, the man can coach.
  • In baseball when a player went on a tear late in the season for a team not in the pennant race, they used to call it a "salary drive." Washington guard John Wall, a free agent after the season, is on a salary drive, in case you haven't noticed.
  • One of the most interesting questions of the free-agency period this season will be whether Portland power forward-center JJ Hickson will get the big contract you'd think he deserves. Hickson is having a career season, but there's a lingering belief within the league that once he gets the big contract, you won't see his motor revving up to the same RPMs he's churning for the Trail Blazers this season. It's hard to watch him, though, and wonder how a team with cap space could ignore his combination of rebounding and inside scoring.
  • Nolan Smith has been "video-bombing" the Trail Blazers' pre-game show recently. The latest, last Friday in Atlanta, saw him picking his nose behind the Portland broadcasters. I know, the fans think he's cute. Funny. But, I'm here to tell you he's not doing himself any good in becoming a marketable free agent this summer. But it was the only pick I've seen him involved in all season.
  • Are you pumped up about Miami's pursuit of the NBA winning-streak record? I have to tell you, I'm not. It's an incredible achievement, but certainly not enough to get me to tune into a random Heat game vs. Orlando or Toronto. And the LeBron James-is-God stuff... my goodness, can we please just slack off a tiny bit? Frankly, the one thing about the NBA that's always bothered me is the persistent feeling that of all the pro sports leagues, the NBA seems to ask for the most complete and utter hero worship of its stars. Right now, the love affair with LeBron James is crazy. People just can't stop fawning over him. It was the same with Michael Jordan, though. It's the typical NBA, "cult-of-personality" deal. And after all these years, I still have a problem with it.