Welcome to the Hype/Concern Index, a semiregular post capturing the NBA news and events to get hyped on or concerned about.
Hype: Gerald Green Going Off
Green has played for eight different teams in his 12 seasons in the league. People know him. So it’s fair to wonder why no one else thought about signing him, especially after seeing the sporadic yet sometimes very important contributions he made on the Celtics last season. Daryl Morey perked up last week, providing Green what has quickly turned into a picture-perfect situation.
Green is thriving for a title contender that needs him while James Harden is out. In five games, Green has scorched the nets: 16.8 points on 50 percent shooting from both the field and beyond the arc. It was enough for the Rockets to guarantee his deal for the rest of the season on Thursday night, after he scored 29 on the Warriors. The sample is small, but if this is as good as it gets for Green’s tenure in Houston, I can guarantee that the money forked over was already worth it.
Hype Meter: 7/10
Concern: Early All-Star Voting Results
Let’s talk about the voting for a popularity contest — er, I mean, the All-Star Game. There’s a lot of good: Giannis Antetokounmpo is the leading vote-getter. Kevin Durant leads the West “frontcourt” players while Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry lead the “guards” in their respective conferences. Sounds about right. But once you dig into the ballot, you’ll see why the event is often a topic of (meaningless) contention.
First All-Star balloting returns, via the NBA. Giannis (East) and Durant (West) are leading vote-getters so far. pic.twitter.com/OAdqmDAUI7— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) January 4, 2018
Lakers fans clearly have no issue tweeting and RTing #NBAVote as if each tweet gives them a shot at winning the lottery (see: Kyle Kuzma as a top-10 vote-getter!); and while I am rooting for Lonzo, there’s no way he deserves to be in the game more than Jimmy Butler and about five other players who are actually, well, playing. Kyrie Irving having about 600,000 more votes than DeMar DeRozan feels wrong. (Where’s Canada at?) Finally, can someone please explain to me how in the world Dwight Howard is on this list?
Oh, right, I keep forgetting. This game is meaningless.
Wait, one last thing: Listen to John Wall and televise the draft!
Concern Meter: 3/10
Concern: The Cavs Have Lost Five of Seven, and LeBron Is Shooting 28 Percent From 3 in His Past 10 Games
Concern Meter: 1.5/10
Hype: The Balls in Lithuania
Move aside, Golden State. BC Vytautas is now the most important team in the world. The two youngest Ball brothers — LiAngelo and LaMelo — were pulled out of American schooling last month and signed professional contracts with the Lithuanian club.
With forced smiles on their faces and jerseys in their hands (LaVar got one, too, inexplicably), the two younger Ball siblings were introduced to Lithuania on Friday morning in a sprawling news conference that properly represented the hype around the arrival of two teenagers looking to shoot some hoops. Just a day before, the Balls arrived and were immediately swarmed with adoring fans who clearly have not watched LaMelo play defense before.
Insane. Ball family came to Lithuania, Absolute chaos in Vilnius airport pic.twitter.com/vZALO33BSw— Donatas Urbonas (@Urbodo) January 3, 2018
Friday’s news conference somehow turned into a real-life Reddit AMA, and a young woman asked LiAngelo if he would go on a date with her. Gelo reportedly responded by looking over at LaVar and saying, “I came here to play basketball.”
My only question: When’s the 30 for 30?
Hype Meter: 9/10
Concern: George Hill Is Fed Up
The Kings don’t have the worst record (12–25) in the NBA, but the way in which they’re losing games is evidence to the contrary. Their minus-9 point differential is the worst in the league by nearly three points. Hill, who signed a three-year, $57 million deal with Sacramento last offseason to put up with these growing pains, isn’t having it.
“Very frustrating,” Hill told the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin. “I’ve never been through anything like this, not ever. It’s not what I expected, a little more difficult than I anticipated.”
In the past couple of weeks, Hill has voiced his concerns about his team’s performance as well being benched late in a game against Milwaukee, and a report from December said that the front-office message to Hill, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter was that they would compete for a playoff spot. Welp.
The problem is that even in his misery and disappointment, the Kings are going to have a tough time trading Hill — who might still be able to help a contender — given he’s set to make $19 million next season and has a player option for $18 million the next.
Concern Meter: 6.5/10
Hype: Put Donovan Mitchell in the Dunk Contest
Hype Meter: 9/10
Concern: The Pacers Have Lost Five in a Row
The Pacers’ shine has worn off in the past few games. They’ve lost five straight and eight of their past 11. Their last win came two days before Christmas in a tight overtime contest against the Nets.
What may be more troubling for the Pacers, who have been without Victor Oladipo in their past four, is the scoring totals they’ve allowed (119 points to the Bulls, 119 points to the Nets, 122 points to the Bucks). As a result, the Pacers, once middle of the pack on defense, have fallen to tied for 24th. Indiana can break the losing streak Saturday against the Bulls, but its defensive regression may be a sign that they’ll wind up on the outside looking in for the Eastern playoffs like most expected leading into the season.
Concern Meter: 5/10