Week 23 Rebound & Rant: End-Of-Season Edition
There are only six more days of the NBA regular season, and I don't know about you, but I'm spent. How many Bobcats/Wizards box scores can one man read? For the few of you with a chance to win your hoops league, soldier on. And for the rest of you, let's remember a few things for next year.
Hello? Hibbert!? HELLO!?!
What the heck happened to Roy Hibbert in the second half? Maybe he did owners a favor by not playing Wednesday night? (The entire Pacers starting five got the night off versus Milwaukee.) The pre- and post-All-Star Game numbers from Hibbert are ugly:
Pre-All-Star Game: 11.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 46.4% FG%
Post-All-Star Game: 9.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 41.6% FG%
Yikes! It's hard to watch what seemed like a great Pacers season grind to a halt. Coach Frank Vogel seems to have worn down the 7-2 Hibbert. He had played in every game of the season until last Wednesday night. On Sunday, Vogel only played Hibbert for nine minutes. Frankly, the rest seems like too little, too late. Coach Gregg Popovich seems smarter and smarter, doesn't he? Ask 37-year-old Tim Duncan how he feels about Pop's philosophy on resting his stars.
Surprise Fantasy Hoops MVP?
So who do you nominate for 2013-14 Surprise Fantasy Hoops MVP? Every year there are some out-of-nowhere performances that earn lucky ballers a championship. Here are my favorites :
Trevor Ariza (WAS): How often do you see 28-year-old veterans return from injury to have a career season? Almost never – but funny how when it does happen, it's often their "money year" (their last season of a contract). Ariza probably made himself too expensive for the Wizards this upcoming free agent summer by posting what will be (barring injury over these next four games) career highs in minutes played, points, rebounds, and made three-pointerss. And he did this returning from a knee injury. Not bad. Yahoo has him ranked 19th for Season Total versus a pre-season rank of 157.
Kyle Lowry (TOR): Lowry is a guy who a few years ago everyone (except Rocket's GM Daryl Morey) liked, but he couldn't stay healthy. Well, this year he was finally healthy, playing in 75+ games. It also helped that black hole (balls go in, but never return) Rudy Gay and his highly inefficient game was shipped off to Sacramento. At age 28, Lowry this year will have career highs in points, assists, three-pointers, rebounds and steals. CBS has Lowry ranked 4th for all players, not just point guards.
Robin Lopez (POR): Be honest, did you even notice when the Train Blazers traded for Lopez last summer? I bet LaMarcus Aldridge noticed. LMA could finally be a true power forward while Lopez guarded the middle. But Lopez exceeded expectations. Yes, he played great defense with 138 (and counting) blocks. But who expected the career high 8.5 rebounds per game, plus game averages of 10.9 points, 1.7 blocks, 55% from the field and 82% from the line? Lopez is only 26, so this could be the start of a nice trend.
Of the three, I give this year's Surprise MVP to Ariza. But I bet Lowry costs the most next year, with Lopez still having a good chance of being under-valued.
Thank You, Thank You. Please Tip Your Wait Staff Generously.
Well, this marks the end of the Rebound & Rant for the 2013/14 season. I'd like to thank my three loyal readers (Shannon McK, Hokboyc22, Joey'sCookies – rock on, dudes) and leave you with the greatest SportsCenter ad ESPN ever made. Why is it great? Because it highlights the graceful moves of Gheorghe Muresan, that's why. Enjoy and I'll see you next year!
BONUS: OK, here is a little more office-time wasting video. Shaq's worst plays of the 2013/14 season:
EXTRA BONUS: You guys know I love Coach Pop as well as Craig Sager. Well, Sager is missing the playoffs so he can battle leukemia. Sager's son, Craig Sager Jr., asked Coach Gregg Popovich if he'd record a pre-game message for Sager Sr. Pop did one better, insisting they record something in-game during Game 1 of their first series. Here it is. Pop is awesome: