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History, Good and Bad
Unbreakable records, or not? Plus cheating at home, an under the radar MVP shout, COVID news and the latest Aussie sensation.
Records Are Made To Be Broken
2974 (and counting…) three pointers is a hell of an achievement, and to do so at the pace and volume Steph Curry has to pass Ray Allen as the game’s premier shooter deserves to be celebrated for generations to come.
In reality, there was no better venue to do it than Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of basketball, in front of a packed, parochial New York crowd, walls laden with history, from Mike Breen’s “BANG” to Spike Lee trash talk, Latrell Sprewell, Patrick Ewing, Carmelo Anthony, Bernard King, Clyde Frazier, and all great Knicks past and present.
There’s a lot of cool shit happening in this video.
The three made is quintessential Steph. The ball is in his hands for a fraction of a second, blink and you miss it. What separates Steph from a lot of other elite shooters, besides his obvious ability off the dribble, is his ability to not bring the ball down off a pass. Any pass in his vicinity is in his shooting pocket, and therefore he’s open the second he wakes up in the morning.
The NBA as a whole also has a tremendous culture of celebrating history. Immediately, Tom Thibodeau calls a timeout to allow the moment to be fully appreciated. That culture of respect is evident throughout the league, and it was a really cool moment, so well done Tom and New York.
The Garden was also on edge until the moment. In all honesty, Steph had, by his standards, struggled as the record drew closer, and while he may not admit the chase was affecting him, there were a few poor shooting nights before the big moment. The Garden crowd erupting for an opposition basket isn’t something that happens too often, which should tell you Steph’s impact on the league.
Obviously, the attendance of two other members of the Hall of Shooting Fame is awesome, with Dell Curry, Steph’s dad, and Ray Allen, the second best shooter in history, on hand to witness the moment. There’s also a cool photo during the rounds of the seconds before the shot hits net.
Now the question pivots to where Steph will end up, and will the record be broken? At Steph’s pace, style of play, and expected aging of his game, it isn’t unreasonable to think he’ll shoot past the 4000 barrier. Steph doesn’t rely on athleticism to get his shot up, and his all-world efficiency and blazing volume won’t just disappear.
Now, will the record be broken, whenever Steph hangs it up?
In short, it’s possible, if not probable.
The reason anyone will break Steph Curry’s eventual record…is Steph Curry.
The generation coming into the league now are shooting way more threes than ever. From their rookie seasons, 19 year olds are coming in and blazing triples away.
For example, Anthony Edwards made 171 triples last season as a 19 year old rookie. Not only is he shooting more threes per game this year, but he’s shooting them at over 36%, compared to 32% last year. So higher volume and higher efficiency, pushing him on pace for well over 200, depending on games played.
Steph took until Year 4 to hit the 200 threes mark in a single year, and then exploded. Whilst there’s an obvious level of projection here, and I’m not saying the record will be broken with certainty, because we don’t know where it’s going to settle, but I wouldn’t be so quick to place it in the untouchable basket.
Volume will break the record if it is indeed broken. It isn’t about percentages anymore, it’s about getting the shots up.
You can thank Steph for that.
Cheating In The WNBL?
So I only heard about this one the other day but it’s pretty wild if true.
Essentially, referees in pro sports are given clips of teams to use for educational purposes. It’s a pretty common thing in high level sport, that’s normal. What isn’t normal, is for a referee to then disseminate clips that are sent in confidence to the referees, to rival coaches.
Well guess what’s happened here?
WNBL referee Simon Cosier was found guilty of supplying clips of a Sydney Uni Flames training session to Canberra Capitals coach Paul Goriss. Cosier has been banned from refereeing for the rest of the year while Goriss was banned from coaching for a month.
Let’s break down the punishments.
On the face of it, these sanctions seem pretty light for the accused breach. A referee found distributing confidential video to rival teams is surely a serious integrity danger to the competition moving forward, I don’t see how a rest of the season ban is enough.
That’s before we even question the motivations behind this? What was the point of sending on the clips? Was it requested by Goriss under the guise of education for his coaches and players? The whole thing reeks of underhanded competitive advantages being sought.
Speaking of, the official Basketball Australia inquiry found that “no actual advantage” was gained by the Capitals?
Private footage of a confidential training session in the hands of a rival isn’t an advantage? Think about what this represents, for a league trying to establish itself and be taken seriously. It isn’t a good look.
Famously outspoken owner Paul Smith (you may remember him from a previous ASB newsletter about the Kings-Hawks rivalry; he also owns the Flames) put Basketball Aus, the referees and the Capitals on blast in a statement.
"We are bitterly disappointed by the actual incident but also the findings handed down by Basketball Australia’s independent hearing panel,"
"This matter strikes right at the heart of the integrity of our league."
"It's more than opaque, it's invisible for us to understand [the process]. And that's frustrating in it's own right,"
"We've been very careful to sit at arm's length from that process. We haven't attempted to influence that investigation in any way, shape or form.”
"Our major objection [to the finding] is the fact that the independent tribunal appears to have considered whether there was any impact on the result of the game, and came to the finding that there was no impact on the result of the game."
"I ask the question very simply: if there was no bearing on the result of the game, why would [Basketball Australia] find any penalty against these two individuals. Why?"
By my understanding, this matter is still in the post-findings appeal stage, so we’ll see if anything more comes from this.
An MVP On A Losing Team?
In short, next to no chance.
But, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is dragging the Oklahoma City Thunder to surprise play-in contention. On the face of it, fighting for a play-in might not seem impressive, but when you consider both the Thunder’s roster in terms of age, experience and talent, and the teams they’re in the mix with, and it becomes far more eye-opening.
OKC currently sit at 11-19, good for 13th in the Western Conference, but only one game out of the 10th seed, currently occupied by an extremely disappointing Portland Trail Blazers squad.
Shai is averaging 21.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game, and while his shooting efficiency has been down, he’s been doing just enough to drag OKC to improbable wins.
During a tough start to the season, OKC famously beat the Lakers twice, while in more recent times, they’re on a three game win streak, with impressive victories over the Clippers, Grizzlies and Nuggets.
This OKC team isn’t super stacked with talent. They have a great core guard trio in Shai, Lu Dort and Josh Giddey, and potential contributors down the line in guys like Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski and Darius Bazley (although I think Bazley has done himself no favours this season), but the team is stil a bit of a hodgepodge.
Coach Mark Daigneault still hasn’t settled on a final rotation, and it’s a regular occurrence to see 11-12 guys take the court for OKC, even with no garbage time. A lot of the minutes are still being filled by second round rookies, journeyman vets and other filler, which makes their run so far all the more impressive.
In the preseason I did a Thunder preview podcast with David Brandon (@birdrightsnba), and the question of the Thunder’s wins line came up (it was set at 23.5 from memory).
Over or under?
Shai will drag this team to the over by himself
Shai’s turned a lot of heads this season, his killer stepback gamewinner against the Clippers the latest in a growing catalogue of clutch moments for the young Canadian star.
The team record will hurt him, but he deserves some MVP chatter for how he’s willing this team to wins they probably don’t deserve.
Who Are All These People?
The NBA has moved to push forward with the league and avoid postponements or a shutdown like 2019-20 by allowing teams to sign as many players as they need under the hardship exception to account for players caught in health and safety protocols.
Effectively, a player goes into the protocols? Bring someone in, without it affecting your salary cap or luxury tax.
It’s a progressive move from the NBA, and one that should see games no longer need to be postponed due to roster limitations for players caught in protocols.
The other side of this coin is it allows players who ordinarily wouldn’t get a shot in the NBA to prove their worth, whether it’s a young guy toiling in the G-League or a shelved veteran looking for one last hurrah.
For example, Joe Johnson, he of 40 years old, catching on with the Boston Celtics, the team that originally drafted him 20 years ago, or Tim Frazier, signing with the Orlando Magic after sitting on his couch in Phoenix and staying in shape.
The chances are now out there, be prepared to see some names you’ve never heard of in the coming weeks.
Another Aussie Next Gen Star
Finally, some small news on a prospect you may not know as much about, Tyrese Proctor.
Proctor is a 6’4” point guard eligible for the 2023 draft, known for his offensive skillset, citing his playmaking as his biggest strength.
As you can see, a horde of top college programs are offering Proctor for the 2022-23 college season, so he has no shortage of options.
Older readers might remember Proctor’s father, Rod Proctor, who played a season with the Sydney Kings in 2001 as an import. The older Proctor played college ball at Ole Miss.