I’ve been told over and over for two decades that Michael Jordan is the most competitive man to ever walk the planet; annoyingly so; dangerously so. He’d footrace some awestruck 10-year-old to that tree and back and trip him at the turnaround point to get an advantage. He’d be the guy at your houseparty wrecking everyone at flip cup because he showed up and hour early while you were still making the playlist, to practice his sip ‘n’ flip strategy. And if all his old runnin’ mates retired and got jobs on NBA franchises building toward championships, one would think he’d do his damnedest to excel at that too. Not so. With the exception of perhaps Isiah Thomas, Jordan more than any of those players from the ’80s and ’90s has floundered terribly. With two franchises. The Bobcats, last year, eeked into the playoffs and had one of the best defenses in the game. This season, they rid themselves of two starters and replaced them with nothing. Adding mostly utility guys or young players in need of development, both of which Charlotte’s coach Larry Brown wanted nothing to do with. But Brown was kicked the eff out by an embarrassed Jordan mutually agreed with Jordan to step down, leaving Paul Silas to take the blame for whatever happens next. Sweet deal! But possibly – hopefully – the deal will be sweeter for Tyrus Thomas, the lone untapped resource on the Charlotte bench. In five seasons with both the Bulls and Cats, T-Time has never cleared 12 ppg/ 7 rpg or 30 mpg, but has long been thought of as a player that can be (and should be) an 18/10 and 2 bpg kind of guy. He’s flashed his ability (is that what he flashed?) here and there this season, but never with any consistency. The Bobcats don’t run, they have the eighth slowest pace in the league despite Thomas and a starting rotation that seems better equipped for wins sprints. Thomas himself has flourished against faster teams this season, but Silas isn’t exactly Mike D’Antoni. Even with a spry, young LeBron James six seasons ago, Silas couldn’t crack the top 10 in pace. This will come down to how the offense is run and whether the current sweeps Thomas up more often than before. I’d guess it does a little, but not much. Forget 18/10/2, but if you’ve held onto Thomas this long, perhaps 14/7/2 with about 31 mpg will make you feel better.
Here’s what else I saw in fantasy basketball last night:
Antawn Jamison – After starting the season as a 12.5/5.5 reserve, he’s averaging 18/6.5 in eight games as a starter. You feel that tinglin’? That’s you being wooed by ‘Tawn all over again. Don’t fight it. Feel it.
Marcus Thornton – 18 points (four threes) in 19 minutes. Monty Williams swears his defense is bad enough to justify Thornton’s scarce minutes, but NOLA has the fourth-best defense in the league and the fifth-worst offense. This solution seems simple to me. And if that solution doesn’t seem simple enough, how ’bout this: Marco Belinelli‘s DRtg is 107 (average). Thornton’s is 103 (above-average). If I have to take this spoon and feed you the solution, I will. I’ll do it.
Rip Hamilton – Caught fire after being burned in the press about his attitude and his place in Detroit’s rotation. This is why you should wait to invest in Pistons. And then after you’ve waited long enough … you should probably keep waiting. At least until they’re traded away from the Pistons.
Tracy McGrady -17/7/7 with three steals. Best game of his season so far and he’s gone at least 16/6 in two of his last four. He’s still pissed that Arenas is wearing No.1 on the Magic in honor of … Anfernee Hardaway.
Ben Gordon – In the battle of the starting Detroit Bens, Wallace (4/6/3/2 stl/3 blk/1 tov) wiped the floor with Gordon (4/5/0/0/0/2). You see what I do for you? I paid attention to a Detroit-Toronto game and watched what Ben Wallace was doing in order to write this blurb! Who else do you know that would mention Ben Wallace? No one, that’s who!
Amir Johnson – Returned from injury, but probably shouldn’t have. He played 15:31 scored a pair of points, grabbed a pair of rebounds and looks to have injured himself in the process. He hasn’t strung together even two solid games in a row in the last three weeks. If there’s a more reliable option (Glen Davis, anyone?) I might look elsewhere.
Andrea Bargnani – Returned and shot poorly (6-of-17), but has has five days off. Should return to normal by his next contest, which is a completely different problem.
Jose Calderon – The excellence of his 13 assists was canceled out by his 8 tovs. Hope five points is enough Christmas goose to tide you over for another five days, Tiny Tim.
Derrick Rose – Twenty-five points is nice, but it doesn’t stop him from being a 0-for-6 threejerk.
Greg Monroe – Maxiell left with a middle finger injury. Monroe has averaged 8.6/7.2 when he plays 25+ minutes. If that does it for you, he might see a small increase in minutes.
J.R. Smith – With Carmelo Anthony out for the next couple games due to the death of his sister, Earl will take over chucking duties in the interim. He’s unlikely to be traded until Carmelo comes back, so now’s a good time to plug him in.
Ty Lawson – Billups remains rusty (permanently?), ‘Melo’s out a couple games and J.R. Smith could be on his way to Chicago any day now. If you can stash Lawson, you should stash Lawson.
Serge Ibaka – He’s shot 3-for-16 in the last three games and blocked three shots. Hell, you might have better luck grabbing Birdman off the wire.
Al Jefferson – Blocked seven shots to increase his career-best blocking average to 1.8 per game. Now if he’d just increase his scoring, rebounding, assisting and stealing, we’d be cool.
C.J. Miles – Eight points, three steals and shot 33 percent from the field. His quiet night was due, in part, to Kirilenko’s loud one. Still, this is how he do. A couple good games, one bad one. Plug him into your lineup for at least the next two.
Gary Neal – He’s scored 22 points in back-to-back games (five treys last night). With George Hill likely to miss San Antonio’s next couple game, he’s a probably-should-add in all standard-sized leagues.
George Hill – Out. Likely won’t play tonight against Orlando unless Mr. Miyagi starts rubbing his hands together in the locker room.