Observation Deck (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday April 10, 2007 5:53PM; Updated: Tuesday April 10, 2007 6:23PM
A lot of hype preceded Gerald Wallace's sixth season, and for good reason. The Bobcats' forward nearly established career highs across the board in 2005-06, save for assists (meh) and turnovers (good!). And now the 24-year-old was entering potentially the last year of his contract (he has a $6.05 million player option for next season).
But injuries and a bit of confused play (especially with Adam Morrison gobbling up minutes) hindered Wallace in the first two months of this season, and with the Bobcats never making much of a dent in the playoff picture, most tended to forget about this high flier.
Well, Wallace figured it out. In the 2007 calendar year (40 games thus far), he's averaged 21.7 points (hitting over half his shots from the floor), 8.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 2.1 steals in 39 minutes a game. As a reward for his play in the first week of April, Wallace was voted the Eastern Conference's Player of the Week.
Sports Law Blog's Michael McCann recently did a fine job breaking down the usual reasons behind the sort of hand-wringing that follows every supposed "distasteful" loss by a potential lottery participant. While there is absolutely nothing to disagree with in McCann's breakdown, I think he's giving the hand-wringers a little too much credit.
Since the NBA's establishment, there have been plenty of nasty things to deservedly carp about regarding pro basketball. Many have grown up with the game as something to pick on, not champion, and it makes total sense that some in the media would (wrongly, I might add) continue this pursuit of picking on lottery-bound coaches for playing the youngsters and sitting the semistars.
You won't see the same hand-wringing when a baseball team passes Labor Day with 65 wins and decides to take advantage of the youthful fringes of its 40-man roster, or when an NFL team dumps a veteran starting quarterback after Thanksgiving in favor of the 23-year-old rookie first-round draft pick who has been holding a clipboard since August. But we've come to expect this from those who love to do nothing more than let the NBA boost them onto their high horse.
Of course, only four times in the 22-year history of the NBA lottery has the team with the worst record (ties included) actually won the whole thing, but nobody should let that get in the way of a well-placed plea for the integrity of the sport to be reestablished.
This really isn't worth the brouhaha, is it? I mean, I like watching (Milwaukee's) Ersan Ilyasova. We share a birthday (seven years apart, mind you), he's yet to turn 20, and he just dropped 18 and 5 (in 22 minutes) on the Magic.
It's an easy line -- "play your best, no matter the outcome" -- but that also means missing Ersan and watching Brian Skinner play 30 minutes a game in April. How that affects the sanctity of the game, I'll never understand.