Thanksgiving is an American holiday commonly associated with food, family, and football. Every family has its own traditions. But the commonality in it all: being thankful. With that, the LWOPB staff wanted to share its thanks as well.
NBA Thanksgiving: Giving Thanks to the NBA
We are thankful for…
…giving the little guy a chance
Harrison Marcus, Senior Editor: On this great American holiday, I thank Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics for shedding a light of hope and motivation to all sub 5’10’’ basketball players growing up in this generation. As a 5’6’’ basketball player with limited athleticism and jumping ability, I admire the way Thomas scores the basketball. He’s a lights-out shooter and fearless attacker who is quick on his feet. Seeing Thomas lead the Celtics to the playoffs while making his first career All-Star appearance this past season was awesome, and it should prove to every vertically challenged young basketball player that height is never an excuse (even though I use it as an excuse on the boards and on defense more than I should – that’s a different story).
So on this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family, friends, food (shoutout to my dad for the legendary turkey and stuffing) and of course, Isaiah Thomas. Thank you for inspiring all of the shorter athletes out there that basketball isn’t just a sport for the freakishly tall kids; us fun-sized ballers can hoop too!
…making the next holiday the best
Thomas Tittley, Staff Writer: If Christmas wasn’t already one of your favorite days of the year, then the NBA Christmas marathon must be the bow that wraps up the present. From 12:00 PM to past 1:00 AM Eastern Time, we are gifted non-stop NBA hoops. With special Christmas Day jerseys and now specially designed color-way shoes for the occasion, the NBA has marketed this as the ultimate day of basketball. And it lives up to expectation every single season. Every young NBA fan would be lying if he said that he hasn’t been mesmerized by Christmas-colored shoes.
Some of the best teams and players in the league will be participating this season, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Los Angeles Clippers hitting the floor on December 25th. Superstars like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Chris Paul will be on the floor.
I only have one small, let’s-call-it-a-conundrum with the Christmas Day schedule. I understand that the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and Chicago Bulls are three of your marquee franchises, but let’s be honest, they’re all terrible teams. The Minnesota Timberwolves at least have incredible youth and some real, big-time players. Why are better teams passed over for these major ones? The Toronto Raptors, Portland Trail Blazers, and Memphis Grizzlies should really be playing Christmas Day. But give credit where credit is due: the NBA does Christmas better than any other major sports league in North America, and it’s not even close.
…the next wave of NBA talent
Austin Cracraft, Staff Writer and Podcast Host: This next draft class is going to be ridiculous:
…a truly international game
James Jukes, Staff Writer: The beginning of the 2016-17 NBA season saw a record 113 foreign-born players on opening night rosters. Players like Kristaps Porzingis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Andrew Wiggins have been standouts in recent seasons. All three are just 21 years old, so the league will be seeing these guys for a while. The association has never been so influenced by such talented individuals from abroad. You may be surprised to hear that even the likes of Kyrie Irving (Australia) and Al Horford (Dominican Republic) were born outside of the United States. So with the league full of more foreign talent than ever, the impact of those players will only increase.
We are all aware of the greats. Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are not just set to land in the Hall of Fame, but they have helped build a bridge for future foreign talent. Today’s older international NBA players have helped shape a better future for the younger foreign player. That could be through playing style, like in Nowitzki’s case, or the success that the Spurs duo has enjoyed.
The NBA landscape would look very different without international influence. The Cleveland Cavaliers may not have an NBA title if it weren’t for Irving. Philadelphia‘s future would look grim without Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. That’s before mentioning the San Antonio Spurs; if their management had failed to add key foreign players, NBA history could be completely different. From Spain to Brazil, Germany to Nigeria, the NBA finds talented players all over the world. These are great individuals who make their teams better.
So remember, when you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner with your family in Oklahoma, think about Steven Adams grabbing a rebound all the way from New Zealand. If you live in Boston, before you eat your turkey, picture Al Horford’s journey to proudly wear Celtics green. You may choose to give thanks to many different things on this Thanksgiving, but I will be giving thanks for all of the great foreign talent we enjoy watching in today’s NBA.
…making some NBA teams fun again
Lior Kozai, Senior Editor: I’m thankful for Luke Walton and Mike D’Antoni, who have given new life to the teams they started coaching this season. The Lakers were a train wreck under Byron Scott, who benched the young studs, didn’t allow his players to shoot threes, and essentially facilitated the team’s stealth-tanking effort. Walton has revitalized the Lakeshow, allowed D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle to flourish, and even gotten legitimate production out of Nick Young and Lou Williams. Now, L.A. is one of the most entertaining young teams in the league, moving the ball well and jacking up threes consistently.
…the evolution of traditional centers
Dante Guarneri, Staff Writer and Podcast Co-Host: I’m thankful for more big men taking three-pointers. While I do appreciate traditional styles of play, seeing more centers stretch the floor with the constant threat of a long-range bomb simply adds excitement to the game. My Brooklyn Nets let the bigs loose: centers Brook Lopez and Justin Hamilton, who are two of seven qualified centers, respectively attempt five and four three-pointers per game. By using this type of offense, the Nets have seen dramatic difference in play from last season. With less talent than last year, the Nets look energized and committed to the increased pace of play and to watching their seven-foot behemoths launch from just about anywhere on the floor.
So, too, has Marc Gasol become a poor man’s Rudy Fernandez. Karl-Anthony Towns is morphing into the most modern, three-point shooting form of Kevin Garnett. Both of their teams have seen offensive improvements by adding this dimension to their individual skill set. As we consider some of the world-class centers in the NBA’s history, none quite match this range of abilities of certain centers today, and at no point in this sport’s history has a position made such a dramatic shift throughout the league.
While I’d still argue it will be difficult for any team to match the nearly 2600 three-point attempts by the Warriors last year, the march towards the most athletic and versatile league in history will only speed up as bigs see the success of already established players like Lopez and Gasol.
From everyone at LWOPB, happy Thanksgiving to you and your families!