“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
At the trade deadline, the Milwaukee Bucks took part in a 3 team trade that moved Bucks guard Brandon Knight to the Suns and last season’s Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams from the 76ers to the Bucks. Some other players were involved, but these two players were the primary pieces of the trade, with the 76ers getting nothing of value except for a protected lottery pick from the Suns. Phase 1 of the 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie’s master plan is to suck as much as possible for as many years as possible. It’s a remarkable plan, consisting of 3 main parts:
Phase 1: Suck at basketball
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: Profit
Hinkie is truly a visionary.
But this article is not about the 76ers godless quest to push the definition of a ‘professional basketball player’ to its absolute limit. This article is about the Bucks, a team with a talent level comfortably higher than a highschool junior varsity team.
Michael Carter-Williams Rookie of the Year status is misleading, considering he came from a 76ers team which exists in own psychotic universe where bad is good and Trix are exclusively for Rabbits under threat of death. Furthermore, the draft class in 2013 was pretty sub-par. Anthony Bennet was selected 1st in the draft – if you haven’t heard of him, it’s because he’s a human hamburger.
‘Feast’ your eyes:
Delicious burger. Less delicious ballplayer.
Michael Carter-Williams isn’t bad, but he has no jump shot to speak of, which is not ideal for a position that is dependent on stretching the floor to create offense for the team. Yes, he’s athletic, he’s 6′ 7″, and he’s got acceptable floor vision. He’s the prototypical player with ‘star potential.’
Every time I hear someone use the phrase ‘star potential,’ I cringe. Shawn Bradley, 7′ 6″ body pillow impersonator, had potential, but he was too fluffy to fully realize it. Michael Beasley had star potential, and arguably still does, but he was born with a crippling disability called ‘being Michael Beasley.’ Hell, I have star potential, but instead of shooting 2 or 3 thousand shots every day, I watch other people do it and sob into my pillow every night.
Michael Carter Williams would be a star if he developed a silky smooth outside shot, but he hasn’t done that. He would be a star if he were much better at the things he does do well, but he hasn’t done that either. Let’s all collectively agree to stop talking about ‘star potential,’ unless you want to also admit that Danny DeVito has star potential because he has two arms and would be an NBA caliber player if he made 90 percent of his 3 point shots.
What Carter-Williams has developed is a rangy, highly athletic, versatile game with mismatches up the wazoo. When Jason Kidd, the Buck’s Head Coach, traded for Carter-Williams, he had a different vision for his team than convention usually dictates.
When defensive dynamo Larry Sanders left the team to kick his reefer madness and to address his mental health issues, the key roster components consisted of Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounpo, John Henson, Khris Middeton, and the newly acquired Michael Carter Williams. All of these players are 6’7″ or above, present significant matchup issues due to their combination of height, athleticism, and youth. Assuming the Bucks resign Middleton, which is not guaranteed at this point, this young core represents the rigorous self-admiration and auto-erotic fantasies that take place within Jason Kidd’s shiny bald head.
They might go with a different shooting guard because of Middleton’s projected price as a free agent. The aptly named O.J. Mayo is currently on the roster as a shooting guard, but according to Rudy Gay, he has been eating a little too much mayo and not enough O.J.
That joke was really low hanging fruit. Which is another weak food joke.
Now I just feel dirty.
Watch this video from SlamOnline.com while I take a shower and try to wash away my shame.
Now, I have to admit that Rudy isn’t being entirely fair in his analysis here and he is clearly biased. So, in the interest of full disclosure and ethical journalism, I should clear the air.
O.J. Mayo is not a “good ballplayer.”
More importantly, he doesn’t fit into Jason Kidd’s hypothetical basketball menage a cinq. Ostensibly, the core that Jason Kidd is crafting is based on the philosophical precepts of defensive versatility and offensive exploitation.
Defensively, 5 similarly sized and similarly gifted athletes can freely switch between who they are defending without missing a beat. Even if a center sets a pick for a point guard, Carter-Williams won’t be screwed by switching coverage to a slightly larger opponent, and Henson similarly won’t be screwed by switching to a slightly more athletic opponent. The result is a fluid defense that is impenetrable on good nights and still frustratingly difficult to take advantage of on bad nights.
On offense, the jack-of-all trades aspects of each player means that smaller defenders can be shot over, and larger, clunkier defenders can be out-finessed.
The potential of Kidd’s team tickles my a theoretical side , but it is by no means a sure thing. It will take time, practice, and luck to develop 5 players who can truly defend every position without consequence. Offensively, the whole ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ dynamic is of real concern. Nobody has effectively put a team this unorthodox into practice, but that being said, the game is increasingly less position intensive than it has been in the past.
Jason Kidd, in many ways, was the embodiment of the positionless player. He’s the 3rd all time leader in triple doubles, one of the most versatile defenders in NBA history, and his offense relied on being good at everything rather than being great at one thing. He’s an interesting model on which to build an entire team, and he clearly agrees. Most likely, he wakes up every morning, looks in the mirror, and thinks to himself, “the world would be a much better place if everyone was me. Also, damn I’m sexy. I’m never changing this bald head + goatee combo.”
It’s difficult to be certain that this is the ideological concept on which Kidd is crafting his roster. A magician never reveals his secrets, and Kidd’s bald head and meticulously sculpted goatee indicate that Jason Kidd is either a magician, or some type of super-villain. But even super-villains wait until the last second to reveal their grand schema, and his master plan is far from completion.
I’m not saying that Jason Kidd is secretly Walter White, I’m just saying that Kidd is suspiciously concerned about chemistry. And he’s a coach, which is basically a teacher: a chemistry teacher. No one knows exactly what he’s up to, and I find that suspicious. If he’s doing what I suspect he’s doing with the Milwaukee Bucks, there might be crystal-meth involved.
If the Velvet Underground used heroin to inspire their music, then who am I to judge Jason Kidd for using meth to inspire his basketball craft?