My Weekend Learning Curve

As I watched hours upon hours of sports on Christmas Day, only leaving my couch to check on the prime rib in the oven, it dawned on me that I learn something new from every weekend of my sports viewing. 

In the world of sports, thoughts and opinions change on a dime. It wasn’t all that long ago when Michigan getting into the College Football Playoff was a laughable thought. And yet, Jim Harbaugh will lead his Wolverines into the Orange Bowl against No. 2 Georgia on December 31st. 

So, while I’m well aware that my opinions will change and you’ll be able to call me out for the inevitably incorrect thoughts, I’m going to provide them anyway. 

The Lakers are a hot mess

When the Los Angeles Lakers made the trade to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in the offseason, his addition alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis was touted as the new “Big Three.” The Lakers were the favorites to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals, an opportunity for James to win his fifth NBA championship. 

Why? I can only assume that oddsmakers either know nothing about basketball or haven’t been watching Westbrook play for the past 14 seasons. 

The fit never made sense, and it wasn’t just the bizarre Westbrook addition that was confusing to the trained eye. The Lakers added Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard, two players well past their primes. But the Westbrook trade was the most glaring mistake by vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka. 

Westbrook is making more than $44 million this season and will make a whopping $47 million for the 2022-2023 season. He won’t be improving with age. Throughout his career, Westbrook has relied on his superior athleticism, something that is beginning to fade. 

Now, Westbrook is durable — he’s played in all 34 games this season — and he’ll always put up his stats. He’s averaging 19.6 points, 8.1 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game in 36 minutes per, but he can’t shoot. He’s a career 30.3% shooter from three, and is shooting 30.4% through 34 games from beyond the arc on 3.7 attempts per game. 

In today’s game — especially with James’ telepathic ability to find the open man — shooters are everything. Why the Lakers decided not to go through with the reported trade for Sacramento Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield in the offseason will be questioned for years to come. Hield would have provided the Lakers with floor spacing and shooting, something the Lakers could desperately use. 

Following the Lakers 122-115 loss to the Brooklyn Nets — which dropped them to 16-18 on the season — James backed Westbrook after his poor performance. 

“He gave us extra possessions, he gave us a lot of looks around the basket, which I know that he can’t stand [failing to convert] as well,” James said following Westbrooks 4-20 game. “But as far as the effort piece, if a guy plays hard, if a guy leaves it all out on the floor, I got no problem with that. It’s a make-or-miss league.”

James can say whatever he wants to the media. The fit never made sense, and the Lakers are an afterthought in the Western Conference. 

The duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum isn’t the right fit in Boston

How many times do we have to watch the same thing before we finally say “this isn’t working?” For the past five seasons, we’ve watched Brown and Tatum play together, getting the Celtics to multiple Eastern Conference Finals. The two appeared to be the league’s next great duo, adding another winning run to the Celtics organization. 

It hasn’t played out that way, and based on what we’ve seen so far in the 2021-2022 season, it seems a long shot to ever happen. 

The Celtics are 16-17, currently 9th in the Eastern Conference, good enough to earn them a play-in game if the playoffs started today. Yes, the Celtics have been hit hard by injuries and by COVID-19, but so has everyone else. It’s the way the Celtics play that points to Brown and Tatum not being the right fit next to each other. 

First year head coach Ime Udoka wants Boston to play fast and move the ball. Neither has happened, with the Celtics ranked 23rd in assists per game and 21st in pace. The “my turn, your turn” offense with Brown and Tatum lends itself to a stagnant offense, one which bothered Boston’s Marcus Smart so much that he felt the need to call out the two stars in November. 

“I would just like to play basketball. Every team knows we’re going to Jayson and Jaylen, and every team is programmed and studies to stop Jayson and Jaylen,” Smart said. “I think everybody’s scouting report is to make those guys try and pass the ball. They don’t want to pass the ball and that’s

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" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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