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#IMHO: Jamal vs. Kyrie, the Warriors’ Dynasty, and an early take on rookies

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: Tuesday, November 06, 2018 10:54 AM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

So Monday night in Denver, Jamal Murray dropped 48 points, which is undoubtedly a tremendous achievement for such a young player (he’s still just 21 years old!). But the real interesting stuff happened later. When Murray fired up a shot at the buzzer to try and top things off at 50 points, Celtics guard Kyrie Irving grabbed the rebound and eventually fired the ball into the crowd. Why? Well, according to Kyrie, “Obviously, I was pissed at the game, but it's time to decompress and move on. Congratulations to him having 48 points. He did it in a great fashion against us. Our defense has to be better, especially against a player like that in the pick-and-roll. He was the primary concern tonight and he made us pay in certain instances of making some tough shots and some tough layups… But the ball deserves to go in the crowd after a bulls--- move like that. So I threw it in the crowd."

Mike, I totally understand Kyrie’s frustration, especially in the waning moments of a loss. But do you feel like Murray was trying to show up the Celtics? Or is this just a case of Kyrie overreacting in the heat of battle?

Jamal Murray

From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2018 12:55 PM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: RE: #IMHO

First off, credit to Jamal for dropping 48 against one of the better teams in the league. That said, kudos to Kyrie for making a statement that there was indeed a BS element to what Jamal did. The game was already in hand in the final seconds. There was no need to take that shot. The fact that he did take the shot convinces me that there was a Ricky Davis quality to pursuing that milestone. Remember when Ricky intentionally missed a shot at the wrong basket to get the rebound that would have secured a triple-double? I get what the potential moment meant to Jamal, as the Nuggets serve notice to the league that they’re a legit threat. Just like I get why Steve Kerr allowed Klay Thompson to keep chucking threes in a blowout until he set the league record. But I’m glad Kyrie didn’t like it, and essentially said, “You want 50? Well, go 50 rows up to get your ball back!”

Meanwhile, the Jimmy Butler experience just keeps rolling – or careening – on in Minnesota. The disgruntled guard was in Los Angeles this week for games against the Clippers and Lakers, with both franchises being potential destinations for his services via trade or free agency. I respect Butler the player, but I’m just tired and ready for the drama with him and the team to end. Lang, how long can the sub-.500 and sinking Timberwolves afford to allow this saga to potentially derail the season?

Kyrie Irving

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2018 1:10 PM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

First of all, someone sound the Ricky Davis Alert siren!

Since we’re dabbling in recent nostalgia, do you recall like a decade ago now when there were all those rumors about Carmelo wanting to get traded from Denver to the Knicks, and it went on and on for what felt like forever? I feel like we’re in a similar situation with Jimmy, except we don’t know how far down the road we’ve gone. Will this last another month? Two months? A year? Say this for Tom Thibodeau: After everything he went through in Chicago, Thibs must be fairly used to distractions like this. Last season the T-Wolves nearly won 50 games and they still just barely made the postseason. They don’t have that much of a margin of error here.

I’m guessing you, like me, watched the Warriors/Grizz game the other night, when the Grizz kept it close for the first 24 minutes before Golden State suddenly started raining buckets. When/if they get Boogie Cousins back and healthy they will likely have the best starting lineup of all-time. But do you think they have enough depth to win another title? I know it’s early in the season and Iguodala and Livingston were out, but they sure seemed heavily reliant on a bunch of guys with not so much experience.

Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry

From: Michael Wallace
Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2018 6:22 PM
To: Lang Whitaker
Subject: #IMHO

Hold up, man! I’m not ready to anoint the Warriors the best starting five of all time once Boogie Cousins joins the lineup. The Bill Russell-and-Bob Cousy Celtics might need a word with you. The Chamberlain-West-Goodrich-Hairston-McMillian Lakers from the early 1970s request a seat at that table, as do Magic-and-Kareem’s Showtime Lakers from the following decade. Then there’s the ’83 Sixers, ’86 Celtics and ’96 Bulls. Don’t be a prisoner of the social media moment, Lang.

But depth isn’t the Warriors’ biggest threat. Complacency and boredom are. Are these players ready for a new challenge individually? Will all the games and postseason runs over the course of the past five years finally catch up to the Warriors physically? Those are legit questions and concerns. No outside opponent will beat these Warriors. Their biggest threat will come from within.

OK, we’ll wrap up on this. With October behind us, who are your NBA opening month coach of the year, MVP and rookie of the year? I’ve got Denver’s Mike Malone, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Atlanta’s Trae Young pushing from the gate as my early frontrunners. Lang, who ya got?

Luca Doncic

From: Lang Whitaker
Sent: November 7, 2018 7:37 AM
To: Michael Wallace
Subject: #IMHO

So I guess I know what we’ll be debating in this week’s video segment. Will you actually tell me to get off your lawn, or will that part just be implied?

As far as the first month, I’ll go with Toronto’s Nick Nurse for coach of the month. I know he’s got a couple of All-Stars on his roster, but making the jump to being a head coach in the NBA is really, really hard, and Nurse has made it look pretty darn easy thus far. For MVP, I’ll ride with Giannis as well; as brilliant as Steph Curry has been once again this season, he’s got so many amazing players around him that it’s hard to single out any one of them. And I’ll go with Luka Doncic (20.3 ppg) as my rookie pick, although I should also note that Deandre Ayton is averaging a double-double and has been better than I expected early on. Of course, the real test will be seeing how these guys hold up over a grueling 82-game season, and with his professional experience in Europe, I suspect Doncic is best-prepared for that task.

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