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#IMHO: Christmas Games; LeBron and the Lakers; Conley for All-Star?

by Lang Whitaker | Grizz Gaming GM

Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace have been covering the NBA since shorts were short and socks were long, but their opinions about the League don’t always mesh. #IMHO is their weekly chance to weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.


From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2018 12:30 PM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

Mike,

First of all, a Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and the Wallace crew. Hope you guys are having a great holiday season! My apologies for getting a late start on this version of IMHO -- got that post-Christmas Day hangover.

Speaking of which, yesterday was the annual NBA Christmas Day extravaganza. And while the games are just regular season games that don't mean any more or less than any other regular season games, it always used to feel like there was some added importance to the marquee matchups, as we unwrapped all the contenders and got to watch them face off.

So maybe it was just me, but did the bloom feel a bit off the rose yesterday? I know there was Bron versus the Warriors and Russ versus the Rockets, but I had a hard time getting fired up to watch Rudy Gobert square off against Zach Collins. Not to mention having to watch Ben Simmons not shoot jumpers -- well, actually, he did make one jumper, which nearly broke twitter.

My question to you: Have the Christmas Day games lost a bit of their luster?

BlazersvJazz

From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2018 1:29 PM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: RE: #IMHO

Happy Holidays to you and your family, too, Lang. No, I don't think the luster has worn off the Christmas Day games. It's still a unique and exclusive platform for players and teams to showcase everything from their wardrobe and shoe game to their actual basketball talent.

If there is one thing I'd change, though, it's the number of games. As Jalen Rose mentioned on the studio show, there are just too many games on. Not everyone is worthy of Christmas exposure. A third of the league being in action is a bit too much. The middle three games carried all the intrigue we needed. Start them at noon, 3 and 6 pm eastern.

Turns out, the biggest takeaway from those games was the injury scare to LeBron James. The results of the MRI on his strained groin were reportedly encouraging. He won't miss extended time. But LeBron may still miss a few games. The Lakers emerged from Christmas sitting fourth in the West and four games out of ninth place. Their next four games are against winning teams currently in the playoff picture. Lang, can these Lakers survive even a week without LeBron on the floor in the crowded west?

Lebron James

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2018 3:01 PM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

The good news is that LeBron is actually a cyborg and despite the injury will probably not miss too much action. He really is unbelievable -- I can't remember the last time I saw him slowed by an injury.

I think the more pressing concern for the Lakers is keeping their bigs healthy. We saw last week when you and the Grizzlies were out West and the Lakers were without Tyson Chandler and JaVale McGee, and the Lakers were forced to give heavy minutes at center to the guy from "Eddie."

If you're going to ask LeBron to carry you, I feel like it's probably more effective if you ask him to do it in the postseason, instead of during January and February. Let everyone else get you to the playoffs, and then once you're there, ask Bron to do work.

One last thing before we get back to our families: If you could give a Christmas gift to any team in the NBA, what would it be? I'm going with peace on earth for the Wizards. There might be a work stoppage in Washington, but it shouldn't extend to the Wiz, who seem like they are finally (maybe) starting to round into form?


From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2018 4:29 PM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: #IMHO

That one's easy for me. I'm gifting the Grizzlies relative health the rest of the way and Mike Conley, specifically, the spot he's long sought and deserved in the All-Star Game. He's put together a career start to the season and is clearly the most important player on this team. When he plays, the Grizzlies have a shot to beat anyone. When he doesn't, they've proved to be a lottery team.

Considering what this team has endured collectively, and what Conley has pushed through individually, those would be the greatest gifts of all.

Omri Casspi

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2018 5:05 PM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

I agree, Mike.

I tweeted this a few weeks ago and I’ll stand by it: If Mike Conley doesn’t make the All-Star Game this season, just cancel the damn thing. The last few years I watched Conley from afar, and for some of last year and all of this season I’ve watched him from up close, and when Conley is healthy there is no point guard in the league that can stay in front of him. He can drive and shoot floaters with either hand; he’s not a lockdown defender but he is above-average, especially on the ball; he’s become a deadeye at three-pointers from the wings.

I know the All-Star race in the Western Conference is basically a traffic jam of talent, but I don’t know how someone gets in over Mike.

I guess we’ll find out which Western Conference coaches still have on their Grinch hats.

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. Their sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and they have no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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