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The Open Run | Alpha and Omega

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It’s been said that “When one door closes another opens.”

Things start and they eventually conclude.

Alpha and Omega… The entire Greek alphabet, translated A to O.

Does that mean we have a lot of words out here that mean nothing?

Things made up to skew perceptions in the face of reality?

I won’t bloviate. Let’s get down to it.

Training camps…  I’ve been through several… Cut from professional basketball team rosters more than once. I globe trotted, but not with the Globetrotters. I had a child. No more globetrotting. Stuck my toes ten deep above the 49th Parallel and began scratching out new chapters in my destiny. Worked at an ad agency… Started two companies… Almost managed Drake… became a television and radio broadcast journalist in Canada not just because I was good at it, but because I knew my rights about owning my image.

In eliminating profligate entities who know or care not for the world’s most beautiful game from the circumference, I examined questionable relationships. I confirmed things I already knew, weighed the assessments then let them go. You learn to realize all the experience in the world means nothing if you don’t apply it properly.  My Dear Ol’ Dad (Bless The Dead) learned me proper.

The Past is called just that for a reason.

New Beginnings.

I study everything.

From evolving stories, trade deadline possibilities and permutation, waiver wire pickups and doing my best to stay away from conjecture like Klay Alexander Thompson being traded from the greatest 73-9 team to ever play and blow a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, I study.

Who really believes what Brian Scalabrine says anyway?

It’s time to plan my work so I can work my plan as we go into the fourth week of an already amazingly intriguing NBA season. Got my eye on the opening of what looks to be an exciting college basketball campaign that seemingly will end with some combination of Duke and Kentucky as Usual Suspects, unless Frank Mason III and Kansas have something to say about it. They will all be seeking “One Shining Moment” in the Valley of the Sun early April 2017.

Meaning absolutely no disrespect to the women’s game, but it feels like Luigi Auriemma and his Lady Huskies, currently on a 76-game losing strike, already have a record 12th title on lock.

But plans are what we make when Life is happening.

And a lifetime in hoops at every level allows me to continue sharpening my perspicacity on All Things Basketball.

Could James Harden actually be the best player in the NBA right now, especially in the same Mike D’Antoni system that garnered Captain Canuck Steve Nash back-to-back MVPs?  What is the shelf life on the beautifully violent game of Russell Westbrook? Is this the year the Clippers finally get it all together, not just because of a healthy Blake Griffin, but by playing sterling defence?  We know the Spurs gon’ Spur as long as Pop and Kawhi 5-0 are in the mix and The King stay The King in Cleveland, but who in the East not named the Toronto Raptors can legitimately take aim and shoot at the throne?

Amidst a long 82-game season, these questions will be answered by the teams and players and I’ll pontificate ad nauseum about my premonitions, both as a fan and as a scribe, documenting the who’s, what’s, where’s, why’s and how’s while offering bars from my thinktank.

I’ve been blessed to express myself not only as a player, but also a content creator, developer x curator in the sport.

Since my playing days are now spent more in taking the lunch money of those too flagrant to recognize that I still got game, it’s time to #ProveEm again like the NBA’s current leading scorer and Mid-Range Game Murderer, DeMar Darnell DeRozan, on this side of the rock.  

There is little to prove when your performance speaks, but sometimes, all balls don’t bounce.

In another Life, I learned that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

No need to guess on who will finish strong.

The Beginning and The End.

There’s a reason why the rear view mirror is smaller than the windshield: Looking back isn’t necessarily gonna give you the bigger picture.

I’m here to give you the large picture on basketball, parsing it one critical thought and subtle nuance at a time.

When one door closes, another opens… But only if you open it.

Salute to my new poss—pardon me, Phil Jackson… team, Press Basketball.

Veterans and young stars alike; Professionals all, who stay #QuillGameHeavy.

Pick your squad.

I got mine.

Welcome to The Open Run!

Will, the former Division-1 student athlete and professional b-baller internationally, is a longtime sports multimedia broadcast content creator & personality from that sleepy burg of New York City. His guest/co-hosting appearances and contributions to such networks as HBO, CNN, ESPN, NBA TV Canada, Sirius/XM, The Score/SportsNet, TSN and more will pale in comparison to what he does here at PressBasketball.com.

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Lonzo Ball: The New Face of the Lakers

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Lonzo Ball is the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. The new savior. The Big Baller Brand is now here to stay and LaVar Ball’s family’s future is set. But is that enough?

Lonzo Ball is a great kid and athlete who knows his talent will take him to another level. The major question mark that remains is whether or not he will take the Lakers there as well. He has the platform and skillset to do so, but with that comes the added pressure from the city and league to basically become part of the next version of Kobe and Shaq. It’s too strainful for a young kid—a rookie—to achieve.  

Magic Johnson, the recently named President of Basketball of Operations for the Lakers, is taking an aggressive approach to get this team back into playoff contention his first year in. One of his first moves was sending D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall pick. Brook Lopez is definitely an upgrade at center, but has a couple of years already under his belt.   

Lopez will provide a much needed veteran presence with a great IQ for the game at his position. The only downfall is that a couple of years under his belt doesn’t really transfer to great experience, but simply wasted miles on his body. He isn’t as quick as he used to be and doesn’t even rank in the top 10 centers in the league. In fact, Bleacher Report had him last season at exactly 15 out of the top 30 centers in the NBA. While he is has improved by adding the three-point range to his arsenal, there is no doubt that he is nearly past his prime, and although he can still contribute on a nightly basis, who knows how much and what effect it will have with Lonzo Ball running the point.  

Ball has great court vision that has been often compared to that of LeBron James. Combined with his passing skills, he is a true PG with tremendous upside in the backcourt. With that being said, he will only reach a certain extent. His full potential is years from being maximized and people are buying into it early on. In fact, the pressure for him to lift a sub .500 team to the playoffs for the first time in five years is daunting. 

These are Lonzo Ball’s stats during his rookie—and only—year at UCLA: 

  • 14.6 Points
  • 7.6 Assists
  • 6.0  Rebounds
  • 1.8 Steals
  • 0.8 Blocks
  • 55.1 FG%
  • 41.2 3P%

He did a tremendous job maintaining that statline and even added a triple-double in the NBA Summer League, earning him the Summer League MVP.  

Don’t get me wrong, Ball seems ready for the challenge and is definitely a one-of-a-kind talent mirroring that of Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, but he is not an All-Star or MVP—at least, not yet. These way-too-early predictions that he is the Lakers’ new savior are farfetched. He has yet to face the elite NBA offensive threats and superstars that have been at it for 10-plus years. Defensively speaking he will not be able to keep up. Not in his first year. He still needs NBA experience and a more rounded roster to be able to reach the playoffs.  

He is off to a good start, but being named NBA Summer League MVP doesn’t necessarily mean a spectacular season is coming as some think it does. Especially if you consider the previous Summer League MVP winners.

Year Nat. Player Pos. Team
2012 Damian Lillard (co-MVPs) PG Portland Trail Blazers
Josh Selby (co-MVPs) PG Memphis Grizzlies
2013 Jonas Valančiūnas C Toronto Raptors
2014 Glen Rice Jr. SG Washington Wizards
2015 Kyle Anderson SF San Antonio Spurs
2016 Tyus Jones PG Minnesota Timberwolves
2017 Lonzo Ball PG Los Angeles Lakers

With the exceptions of Damian Lillard in 2012 and Jonas Valanciunas in 2013, the past five Summer League MVP winners have gone on to produce very mediocre NBA careers. All I’m saying is, don’t read too much into NBA Summer League. It’s the pre-preseason that no one really watches or cares about.  

The NBA season is nearing—exactly a month away—and my somewhat harsh criticism of Lonzo Ball isn’t too cruel. I am just not ready to jump on the Ball bandwagon following LaVar’s prophecies of his son being the Lakers prodigal son. He won’t be. Again, at least not yet. He needs to earn his spot and the transition will surprise him his first year in. It will hit him hard, but, despite my concerns, eventually Lonzo Ball will become a future NBA All-Star and a daring NBA point guard.  

Not yet though, and until then all we can do is prepare for his official NBA debut. Until then, we can enjoy and bask in his newly released rap single paying tribute to his little brother LaMelo Ball.  

If the NBA doesn’t end up being his calling in life, at least he has a back up career in mind.

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MELO-dy Cool

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Carmelo Anthony has been traded away from the New York Knickerbockers to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

You probably knew this before you laid eyes on these words.

It honestly doesn’t matter much who the Thunder traded away for “Melo” and who the Knicks received, because they weren’t anywhere near Melo’s overall value. But, it matters that Melo himself is gone and away from New York City, and for all his accolades, he honestly had a major part to play in his exodus.

Melo altogether is a player that both outplayed and underplayed his own potential. No one that saw him at Oak Hill Academy as a high schooler could for-sure say that he’d be a superstar, and everyone that saw him at Syracuse University might say he was a can’t-miss by then.

And he didn’t miss on most of what he’s teased, he’s delivered in a lot of ways; but, the reason why he didn’t work out in New York was because he was selfish to a fault in the key places that required compromise.

Do you remember how he got to Kings County in the first place? He forced a trade to the Knicks from his then-Denver Nuggets, a team that was teasing with talent abundant, but not unlike today, stuck in the mighty Western Conference. With title contenders like the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers at that time of the NBA, the 2010–2011 season, the Nuggets just weren’t going to make the noise they wanted to make. Melo was a free agent-to-be at the completion of that season, and it was likely that he’d leave. His time with the Nuggets, a very successful time, had run its course. The change was coming, and he was catalyst to the change he wanted to see in his world. Nothing wrong with that.

The problem was that Melo didn’t want to wait for New York. He wanted New York then and there, and it didn’t matter how it was going to happen.

It didn’t matter that the Knicks weren’t in a position to compete for a title during that season, something he long wanted to bring to New York upon his eventual arrival.

It didn’t matter that the Knicks would have to gut their team’s best assets in a trade for the Brooklyn-born, Baltimore-raised native. It didn’t matter that if he waited until the season was over, he could be playing with a young and promising Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov (a revelation upon his arrival to the States from Russia), amongst others.

It didn’t matter that the Knicks would have to sacrifice draft picks for him, instead of keeping them upon signing later.

It didn’t matter to Melo.

And so, when he arrived in New York, in early 2011, he received the adulation and praise of a prodigal son. Sure, the team lost some valuable talent and depth, but surely Melo would will the Knicks into wild success — just like he did in Denver, right?

And sure enough, after he rebuked the Linsanity of 2012 when Jeremy Lin became an overnight NBA superstar and balked at the prospect of Lin’s resigning, he gained some success.

The 2012–2013 season saw Melo as the closest thing to being an MVP candidate that anyone had ever seen from him as a professional in an 82-game season, but not before being totally indifferent to former head coach Mike D’Antoni’s wishes for him to play more at power forward to stretch the offensive side of the ball for the Knicks and the defenses of the opposing league teams. D’Antoni quit before the end of the 2011–2012 season, because of Melo’s loathsome resistance to D’Antoni and the coach’s embrace of Lin.

A big aspect of Melo’s failure to bring glory to Manhattan was his resistance to doing what has made him a legend in USA Basketball. Having won multiple gold medals as a stretch-four shooter, that he refused to embrace that positioning as an NBA pro limited the ability of his teams to win.

As a four, Melo, who had gained grown-man weight from natural maturity and strength and conditioning, didn’t have to be the cavity in his team’s defense as he struggled as a man-to-man defender. Moving from his formerly-natural small forward slot could allow him to defend more ably and allow someone more fleet of foot to stop the dominant wings that Melo often matched up against. Becoming something different and better in a new place would’ve allowed him the opportunity to be greater than anyone had known him to be in an NBA uniform.

But, he refused and rebuked such a change.

And one last thing: Injuries and front office politics aside, Melo was loyal to the Knicks organization through and through. But, he had a choice to go.

So, to recap, Melo forced a trade to New York that gutted the talent of the roster, and then he refused to change to a position that would behoove him and the team in the journey to championship gain.

Well, he also had a chance to leave for greener pastures and become a Chicago Bull, where he could experience more success with a front office committed to his development and surrounding talent. He didn’t want to do that, and that’s fair. New York was home, but if he was going to win in New York, seeing as to how being the way that he’d always been wasn’t helping — that is shoot-first, ask questions and defend later — why return to The Big Apple if you aren’t going to change?

He saw what being a score-only wing was giving his teams — it gave his teams very little success for the vast majority of 14 years. Sure, his Nuggets and Knicks made the playoffs (not so much New York) much of the time, but he said he wasn’t playing for that.

In the end, Melo and the Knicks not working out could be seen before he even became a Knick, when Melo stomped his way out of Denver to play immediately for New York when it would’ve behooved him to stay put for two more months.

Championship or bust, they say.

He couldn’t really compromise too well for the chip, it appears.

In the end, Carmelo Anthony — despite years of league-leading jersey sales, runway appearances, and bright lights on the New York City streets with LaLa — was a big, fat, shining, New York bust.

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Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview with Keith Parish — TWT 101

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Hey there, and welcome to episode 101 of the Timeout with Ti podcast. If you’ve been following the NBA pretty closely this summer, you probably know that some teams are having weird offseasons.

One of those teams is the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizz were briefly hinted at on episode 100 of Timeout with Ti, but now I’ve brought Keith Parish of Fastbreak Breakfast in to really break down their summer.

Keith is fantastic, as is his podcast—go check it out after you’re done listening to this one! Anyway, we started off by talking about Tony Allen leaving Memphis for the New Orleans Pelicans.

That really launched into a fun part of the podcast where Keith and I talked about the odd difference between the really good parts of Memphis’ roster—Mike Conley and Marc Gasol—and the rest of it. There are a lot of young, unproven, unheralded players here. How will they fare this year?

Follow Keith on Twitter (@FastbreakBreak), and feel free to give both me (@TiWindisch) and the podcast (@TimeoutwithTi) a follow as well. It’s always appreciated!

Also remember that Timeout with Ti and Press Basketball are found on Facebook, and all 101 (!!) episodes of the podcast are located on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher in addition to the show’s home on Soundcloud and here on the fantastic Press Basketball website. Please subscribe, rate, review, share and print TWT posters to put up all over your workplace or school.

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