Some music fans believe the 1982 Fleetwood Mac album “Mirage” got its name because Lindsey, Stevie, Christine, John and Mick hated each other, were trying to pass off a dated band as relevant, recorded it while whacked out on assorted liquids and/or substances, or all of the above.
While any of this could be true, the opinion here is that “Mirage” is a criminally underrated album by an often derided band. Can they be as corny as Nick Young’s early 2012-2013 ’do? You bet ya. But here, without trying, they actually pull off a “mirage” that’s a good one and not one that, say, Spike in “Tom & Jerry” might have had where he mistook Tom for a giant hambone.
On the other hand, the 1988 Sonic Youth album “Daydream Nation” is supposed to be the landmark alt-rock album of the decade, a mold-breaker and trend-setter for what was and would be cool in the industry for years to come. Some hipsters cling to this belief to this day. I’m not one of them, and I don’t share this opinion. Granted, Sonic Youth is a good and important band (I guess?), yet I implore you to head out to the Internets right now, find a tune off that album, and see if it’s not the sonic equivalent of cold school cafeteria meatloaf … yup, that’s what I thought.
Well, the realm of Boards-n-Blocks also has its share of good and bad mirages. There’s stiffs who rate as Crafty Breuers (see our scale at the bottom of this post) but look like they should be working at Wawa, and there’s 7-foot-plus beasts who could pass as Mutombo Jumbos but actually can’t get off the ground.
Here’s a few of my favorite, and least favorite, mirages from last season and what they might actually be in the 2013-2014 season:
Omer Asik, Houston Rockets: Why is Daryl Morey so obsessed with giving this guy away? He pretty much decimated Asik’s value prior to the Dwight Howard signing by putting it out there that he would unload his salary to anyone with a checkbook. Now that Howard’s in the fold, Asik is pissed and wants a trade, but now Morley says no? Whaaaa? Regardless of whether he wants him or not, Morley, one of these Smartypants Analytics Moneyball guys who apparently knows it all, has no use for this high-end Nifty Nevitt who totally fits the mold of “guy who looks like he can do nothing yet does all the things you need to help make you a winner.” And Chuck Nevitt was a Rocket! “Mirage” song equivalent: “Can’t Go Back.”
Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns: How in the name of Thunder Bob Thornton did a 6-1 guard make it into a column about rebounds and blocks? Because Bledsoe somehow managed to swat almost one shot per game, while scooping up three rebounds per contest, while playing just 20 minutes per night for Vinny Del Nincompoop. His new coach in Phoenix, “NBA Jam” legend Jeff Hornacek, is pumped to pair him with Goran Dragic. This means Bledsoe should see double the minutes. I’m not sayin’ he’ll therefore double the blocks, but is there any reason to think he won’t get 1.0 per to go along with, say, 5 rpg? That’s pretty sweet for a point guard, eh? “Mirage” song equivalent: “That’s Alright.”
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets: Look, I loves me some Brook Lopez. I look at him and I see Tim Duncan. But just like I see the cover of “Daydream Nation” and feel like I should hear a monolith of rock when I put it on, I look at Brook and see a tall guy who can score and accidentally block shots. How the freak do you get 2.1 blocks per game but only 6.9 boards per game. How? How I ask you? “Daydream Nation” song equivalent: “Teen Age Riot.”
Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers: I’m not really sure if the sixth pick in this year’s draft is gonna be a good or bad mirage. Before the draft, I thought to myself, “Whoah, is this guy a member of Bell Biv DeVoe? Does he think it’s 1993 and not 2013? Whoever takes this guy is an idiot!” Of course my hometown 76ers end up getting him in a trade with the Pelicans (can I take a second here and join in the chorus of people who hate this name. Why can’t New Orleans go back to being the Jazz and then Utah just takes another more appropriate name, like the Saints, Mountaineers or Builders, sponsored by Home Plus?). Anyway, Noel should get plenty of blocks when he comes back late this year – especially if he channels the rage that made him want to wear No. 5 to call out the teams that passed on him – but he better start bulking up and/or scarfing down Philly cheesesteaks if he wants to bang with the big boys and get some boards. I think the mirage here is I’ll see Ricky Bell whenever Nerlens is on the court and I’ll be waiting for him to bust into the rap from “Poison.” Song equivalent: Either “Empire State” from “Mirage” or “Total Trash” from “Daydream Nation.”
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: Do you think NBA players bust on Korver endlessly? I mean, he’s way up there with Mike Miller and Modern Day Steve Nash on the Dweeb-o-Meter. Yet this guy, who plays almost exclusively on the perimeter, popping threes and defending the weaker offensive players on the opposing team, somehow gets half a block a game to go along with four boards. Of course, no one is going to grab Korver for either of those things ever. But it’s a nice little bonus to be getting a surprise stuff and maybe a smattering of rebounds every once in a while from a completely unexpected source. “Mirage” song equivalent: “Hold Me.”
Ian Mahinmi, Indiana Pacers: There are a lot of deep-league owners, present company included, who might find themselves looking toward Mahinmi at some point this year as a streamer or cheap fill-in for blocks and boards. He’s 6-11, his name has that blocker ring to it, he’s Roy Hibbert’s back-up on a defensive-minded Pacers team, and he just looks the part. He only played 16.5 minutes a game, but to me it feels like he stunk on ice last year. Maybe he should have played more, but maybe that’s his fault. And maybe if he played more he would have piled up more than 3.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per. Or maybe his involvement in Indiana’s collapse against the Heat has me unfairly thinking bad thoughts about him. Regardless, this dude has got to be up over a block a game even if he only plays just one minute in said game. “Daydream Nation” song equivalent: “Trilogy: The Wonder.”