Victor Oladipo is not the most efficient rookie in his class. He is not the most efficient 2-guard in the NBA. He is not even the most efficient 2-guard on his own team. But that isn't the point. The Orlando Magic have set a course to something worse than mediocrity, and that ship is cruising. The purpose of their season appears to be along the lines of this: lose 55 games; turn Arron Afflalo into a steamer trunk of draft picks; exhume Nik Vucevic from the ocean each night so he can lay waste to a new city; develop Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson into chirping, Spurs-esque shooters; shed dead weight like Christian Bale in The Machinist; and let Dipo do Dipo.
The NBA is holding something called the #PaniniNBARookie photo shoot today, which is both a testament to David Stern's tireless quest to sell advertising on every single thing that could possibly be associated with his sport, and also a great excuse to look at some fun portraits of NBA rookies. But none of that is important.
On a bad night, Marijuana Deathsquads is a band full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. This is the risk of music that relies heavily not on rote performance but on a kind of high-wire act of endlessly unfolding possibilities driven by a couple of things, including faith, instinct, adrenaline, and Ryan Olson, who for tonight has jumbled and crushed more than 600 slam dunk clips together and set them to MIDI triggers in order to cue and manipulate them while two drummers, an endless procession of MCs, and a half-dozen guys with samplers do their best to burn down the Icehouse in Minneapolis on a rainy Wednesday night.
Olson is just a little concerned. A giant screen hovers above the empty drum kits. TVs dot the stage’s corners and another pull-down screen looms over the room from above the entrance. He’s run it through a couple times, but he doesn’t know exactly who is going to be getting up to freestyle or when. It probably won’t be as smooth as he wants it. There are likely going to be a couple car wrecks along the way, but in my experience, a good night for Marijuana Deathsquads is going to involve some car wrecks. Some bruises. A pitchless humming in your bones.
Andrew Wiggins, for those unfamiliar with his work, is the Canadian basketball sensation who spent this season as the Gatorade West Virginia Player of the Year at Huntington Prep. He still has yet to make a decision on where he'll attend school (for six months), but I'd say this 2:55 puts him firmly next to Jadeveon Clowney among candidates for bypassing those pesky NCAA rules. If you don't have a free three minutes, skip to the 2:17 mark. I would describe what happens — if I had any idea how.
I’d had a similar thought when the dunk happened, but I was doing my best to ignore it. I wasn’t ready to admit that all those hours I’d spent last week scouring the annals of alley-oop history were wasted. Alas, they were. The AOx+ (a.k.a. the wholly scientific metric used to determine alley-oop awesomeness) clocked in at 9.1, the second-highest figure ever recorded. That number is mostly a product of Brandon Knight’s death, and DeAndre reacting like he just killed Brandon Knight.
Because the previous power rankings are now obsolete, we figured this would be a good opportunity to sort through some of the other omissions that readers pointed out upon seeing the original post. With some thorough examination, we concluded that only one of these dunks (the first one below) was good enough for the new top five (sorry, Shawn Kemp), but the others are definitely among the best of the rest.
Rest easy, everybody. LeBron is not stopping his now-famed pregame dunk routine. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a quick primer: For the past few weeks, the Heat have been holding impromptu dunk contests before games. Because no one gets to Miami Heat games before the third quarter, LeBron’s pregame craziness hadn’t been widely circulated until early this week, when a cell phone video started making the Internet rounds.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever. And also ones that happen in zoos.
Shout-out to Grantland copy editor Dave Mesrey, who must have seen this come through his "sea otter dunking" Google Alert. This is the most interesting thing that's happened in basketball today. Hold your head, Terrence Ross. — Chris Ryan
I'm not going to lie to you all — I've been low. Life's hard, ya know? There are times where stuff really starts to pile up, and there's no worse sound than that alarm clock buzzing in your ear, no worse thought than having to put your feet on the floor. But do you know what I do when those mornings come? I think of Timofey Mozgov.
I spent about five hours on the highway this weekend, and before we get to the college basketball–related epiphanies for this week, I have three driving-related epiphanies:
1. In my mind, the worst breach of highway etiquette is when a driver in the left lane travels at the exact same (slow) speed as the driver in the right lane, clogging the highway and making it impossible for anyone to pass. It's selfish, stupid, and beyond infuriating. I used to deal with this problem by stewing in anger and shouting a few obscenities inside the safety of my car. Not effective. Eventually, I began tailgating in an effort to show that I hated the driver and would like to pass. More effective, but sometimes they'd become obstinate and refuse to move. But now, my evolution is complete, because I've reached a point in life where I just drive up, wait a few seconds to make sure I'm not being an impatient douche, and then hit the horn at reasonable intervals until they move. And the crazy part? It works, and I'm a lot less angry. I just sail by while the offender glowers at me from the slowpoke lane where he belongs. I'm pretty sure this new Zen-like approach contains the seeds of a great motivational book.
2. Things can get really, really odd when you're alone in a car. I once had a roommate in New York who told me he was looking forward to visiting his family in Kansas City for a holiday so he could "get in the car and just get weird." I knew exactly what he meant. And I'm not talking weird in any kind of perverse way. I'm talking, like, singing freestyle blues songs about highway signs. I'm talking about giving fake interviews in foreign accents. I'm talking about carrying on one-sided conversations with other drivers. Just letting the brain roam where it will, which is always some place bizarre. If there was a TV show that was just footage of people who thought they were alone in a car, it would be a smash hit. And if aliens ever considered invading, but that show was the only thing they watched ahead of time, they'd immediately cancel their plans, since we are clearly a planet of psychopaths.
3. If someone is exhibiting "dickish" behavior on the road, there is a 95 percent chance that he will be driving a pickup truck. Pickup trucks are the new 18-wheelers, and 18-wheelers are the new sports cars. I know a lot of good people who own pickup trucks, including my father, so please don't think I'm stereotyping. This is just a scientific conclusion culled from years of observation; among the thriving group of respectable pickup truckers, there is a group of renegade road terrorists. And if you bike? God help you, because then it goes up to 100 percent. Pickup truck people hate bikers and love to buzz them or scream out the window as they pass. Someday, I'm going to bike past a pickup trucker stopped for speeding, and I'm going to get my revenge by mocking them on the fly. And on that day, the driver will probably be my father. Sorry, Dad.
On to the hoops! Here's what we learned from the past week:
That happened in Beijing last night, during the Heat's game against the Clippers. Miami won, 94-80. Two things worth noting in the above video: Norris Cole is apparently going as one of Big Daddy Kane's backup dancers for Halloween, and LeBron James is awesome at putback dunks. I don't know that I ever realized how much I truly love his custodial dunks. Let's go to the tape and appreciate him cleaning up other people's messes.
Remember back when Blake Griffin wrote a mid-air obituary for Kendrick Perkins with the above dunk? Go to around the :10 mark, hit pause. See that girl in the lower left-hand corner of the frame, with the "OMGWTFROTFLBLAKEGRIFFINKSURFACETOAIRRIPPERK" look on her face? Yo! That's Katniss!
For most basketball fans, there are two types of people in the world: Those who like Kevin Garnett and those who do not. For Kevin Garnett, there are two types of people in the world, as well: People he likes and nobodies. You hear those trumpets blaring and those banners unfurling? (You can totally hear the banners unfurling.) That's Jeff Teague being inducted into the latter group.
Rod Stewart once sang that every picture tells a story. Here's a (moving) picture of Arkansas Pine-Bluff's Savalace Townsend dunking on a guy from Grambling State on January 28. The story it tells goes like this: Once upon a time, Savalace Townsend threw down on a Grambling State player and now he has to go live in a cave on Shutter Island.
On Monday night, Blake Griffin dunked so hard on Kendrick Perkins that the Mayan apocalypse was called off. So emboldened were some NBA players with this new lease on life that they too decided to start dunking on the skulls of their peers, so as to bring about more Armageddon-halting joy. I know that people have been dunking on each other since the mid-16th century, but it's getting very intense out there.