Culture of Hoops

The NBA’s All-Fool’s Gold Squad

Image Courtesy of Houston Rockets/Facebook

Image Courtesy of Houston Rockets/Facebook

Now that fantasy basketball drafts have passed us by and we all regretfully have taken on a few too many teams yet again, a buddy and I recently began exchanging spiteful texts. This friend of mine is a true sports wizard, loves his fantasy and enjoys playing in leagues with his old college frat brothers. We have a lot in common, but have never actually played in the same fantasy league. Maybe it’s because we’d rather get insider information from each other and use it against all of our separate degenerate former college dorm mates and then get together and slander their inept rosters over a few big beers.

But as I was saying, we began exchanging spiteful texts on what eventually shaped into a constructive discussion regarding the “Fool’s Gold” players from around the entire sports world and then, fresh off of multiple fantasy basketball drafts, we narrowed it down to just players in the NBA. We both take pride in our sports knowledge so we often disagree like some tacky morning show on a particular sports network based in Bristol, Connecticut that I can’t mention here. However, this roster of Leprechauns clutching a pot of (Fool’s) Gold at the end of The Dark Side of the Rainbow has been heavily discussed and is contrived solely on mutual agreement – which was tough because we are both assholes.

Your Starting Five:

PG – Jeff Teague This week I saw an Indianapolis Star article by the noble Gregg Doyel entitled “Wasn’t Jeff Teague supposed to be better than this?” It was only November 1st when originally published and already people were questioning just what all of the hype surrounding Teague really is all about. To answer your question, I cannot answer your question. In 28 minutes in a loss against the Bulls on Saturday, Teague managed to score 0 points on 0-7 shooting. He followed up that dismal performance by going just 4-15 from the floor and 1-7 from beyond the arc in a nail biting win over the lowly Lakers, who were playing their third road game in five days. The worst part about Teague is that the Pacers acquired him because of his offense, knowing that his defense wasn’t going to be great from the start. Meanwhile, they shipped a solid defender in George Hill off to Utah and he has been playing out of his mind offensively, averaging 21.4 points per game on 55% shooting and just over one turnover per game.

SG – J.J. Redick – How many more seasons can we watch J.J. Redick play a major role on an alleged “contender” that doesn’t go anywhere? For all the talk about the Clippers lacking a small forward every season, the way I see it they are also missing a shooting guard. Sure Redick is a great shooter and a smart player, but what has he really done when it matters most? In the playoffs his shooting percentages dropped from 45% and 41% down to 42% and 37% while his points per game also drop from 11.5 to 9.7. That may seem petty, but for a guy whose only strength is being one of the best shooters in the league, his shooting numbers should go up when he is needed most, not down. And don’t try to tell me that he’s a great defender because he’s not. He gets blasted by anyone who can set a real screen. Take a look around the association at the best defenders in the game, a lot of them play his same position. Get Chris Paul some backcourt help so he can stop whining and making excuses for early playoff exits.

SF – Harrison Barnes – Harrison Barnes. What can I say about this man? The amount of wide open shots that he missed in the Finals last season haunted the Warriors for a few weeks until they dumped him for Kevin Durant. It may be too early to say this, but maybe Harrison Barnes claming up and firing off enough bricks to cost the Dubs a championship was the best thing that could have ever happened. As for this season, Barnes has personally gotten off to a hot start in the Mavericks 0-4 start to the season. And that’s the best way to sum up the $95 million man – he’ll score when no one’s watching. He put up 31 points in a losing effort against the Rockets last week but don’t be swindled by his stat lines. He is the pure and simple definition of Fool’s Gold, the captain of this team and the face of the franchise.

PF – Jeff Green Oddly enough, the career and skill set of Harrison Barnes has always reminded me of Jeff Green. The body type, athletic ability and great guy personality gives them the false appearance that they can be the focal point of a franchise. Obviously the league is not quite as high on the 30-year-old Jeff Green as they are on the still just 24-year-old and playoff experienced Barnes, but at one time Green was also a young, promising talent. Now he finds himself coming off the bench for the young Orlando Magic where he’s playing a career low 21 minutes a night. On the young season he’s shooting just 30% from the floor and 25% from three point range – also career lows. He has bounced around from team to team over the past couple of years and will probably be the subject of trade rumors at the deadline yet again. The only difference between him and Barnes is that HB got himself a ring and a payday.

C – Dwight Howard – The only Hall of Famer on this list, but deservedly so. Howard once had so much promise, now the casual fan probably doesn’t even know that he’s on the Atlanta Hawks. It’s his own fault. He refuses to fit in wherever he goes. He clashes with his teammates and coaching staff. He demands more touches even though his skills have obviously diminished from season to season. In his mind he is still elite, but even in a league that lacks bigs and physicality, he simply cannot get it done. Entering the league out of high school, it’s amazing to think that Howard is still just 30 years old. Maybe going back to his hometown of Atlanta will rejuvenate him, but what will that really mean? For instance, he just went for 31 points and 11 rebounds against the Lakers who were closing out a four game road trip on the back end of a back-to-back on Wednesday night, but in a losing effort. So does he consider that success? It always seems that he’d rather pad his stats than win, then complains, quits on and leaves his team because they aren’t winning enough. He had every opportunity to do big things alongside Kobe Bryant; couldn’t handle it. He had every opportunity to do big things alongside James Harden; couldn’t handle that either. Now what? Maybe he should have never bolted on the city of Orlando. They loved him no matter what, the media was laxed and the team had low enough expectations that even he could shatter.

6th Man – Danilo Gallinari – It feels like Gallinari has been coming back from his knee injury for years now, but still isn’t quite physically there. After tearing his meniscus in 2014, he has been through a lot in is his time rehabbing. But now that he is back in the starting lineup for the Denver Nuggets it’s hard not to wonder if he will ever be the same. He has struggled to find his shot early, shooting just 42% from the field and 36% from deep, but he has also struggled on the defensive end as well as on the boards. It’s clear that his athletic ability has been hampered and he doesn’t look like the same tough player that he once was. This is why it’s so strange to me that the Nuggets still have so much faith in him. With such a young, athletic group in Denver, it would make more sense to ship him out and complete their roster overhaul.

Head Coach – Mike D’Antoni – Coach D’Antoni had his run with the Phoenix Suns, but take a look back on how stacked the roster was. Steve Nash was ripping off MVP’s, Amar’e Stoudemire was in his prime and healthy, they even had Shaq for a minute (or as he called himself back then, “Shaqtus”). But they never won it all; they never even made the Finals. That almost seems like it should be a failure. And D’Antoni’s other coaching stops around the league have not worked out so well. In fact, I would consider both his stops in New York and L.A. to be disastrous – and in the two biggest media markets in the world. So what do owners continue to see in this guy? He just landed yet another gig in Houston this offseason, probably on the basis that Dwight Howard would 100 percent be out of town. His career regular season coaching record of 458-428 and playoff record of 26-33 are surely not great, yet he continues to get jobs as if he’s Phil Jackson. Well, he’s the perfect guy for this job. And he even gets to reunite with his good pal Dwight Howard.

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