Conference imbalance? What Conference imbalance?
Whoa! Holy frakking Belgium and frell! There are FOUR Western conference teams that have already been eliminated from playoff contention. There are none in the East. That’s just beautiful. The 20-46 Atlanta Hawks, who are trying to lose games, still have a mathematical possibility of reaching the playoffs. I love the Eastern conference.
In the East, only one team with 30 or more wins is, at this moment, out of the playoffs. (It’s the Detroit Pistons. Duh.) In the West, there are two teams with 36 wins who are currently out of the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers are 29-36 and could still possibly make the playoffs.
Lemme ask you a question: If the Lakers made the playoffs, do you think Lonzo Ball would get down ballot votes for MVP? Yeah, me either. Because he’d win MVP unanimously. Can you imagine what would happen to the planet and all of God’s children if the goddamn Lakers made the playoffs and actually did something? Like, if they somehow, someway, made the 8th seed and then beat either the Warriors or the Rockets to advance, would you stop believing in God? Or, would you start believing in God? I think I’d just, like, run and hide in the woods, and hope that in 6 months’ time the craziness had passed and I could once again return to the world. On the other hand, I’d very much like to see the City of Angels secede from the nation after winning the most improbable NBA playoff victory of all time just out of sheer, exuberant hubris. Angelinos would proclaim Lonzo as their leader for life, and we’d enter a new age of American royalty: the country would split asunder between the Trump Clan, the Ball Dauphin, and King James & His Court, and a war of dynasties would ensue. King James and his noble knights and cavaliers would guard the Midwest Realm with justice and honor and sick passes, but I dunno about the other two, man. Ball v. Trump kinda seems like it makes sense in this weird, new world we live in. Would you watch a TV show of just LaVar Ball and President Trump talking to each other, calmly or otherwise? God help me, I think I would!
“Except, wait!” cries a voice. “What about me for MVP in that unlikeliest of scenarios?”
I look around but I can’t see anyone. “Hello?” I ask.
“Yeah, hi,” says the voice. “I’m right here.”
“Where? I can’t see you.”
“Oh yeah, my bad, hang on a second, let me turn to the side.” Out of nowhere, Brandon Ingram appears, as he turns to face me. (Ingram is 2D and technically has no mass, as our human scientists typically define it. They’re still working on whether he’s actually composed of matter, but in the meantime Brandon Ingram lives his life and plays his basketball as a two dimensional Mannerist painting of a stick figure with legit skills and no ceiling.)
Brandon Ingram, who literally doesn’t weigh anything, has averaged 16 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4 (well, 3.9) assists this year. Follow with me as I trace the lines of this stick figure’s awesome basketball aptitude.
61 players are averaging 3.9 assists in the NBA this season.
Of those 61 players, only 22 are also averaging at least 5 rebounds.
Only 18 of those 22 players also average at least 16 points per game.
And, of those 18 players in all of the NBA, only 9 have a better field goal percentage than Brandon “2D” Ingram.
Please, allow me to show you the list (in descending order):
- King James, 54.5 FG% (Holy Mother of God)
- Ben Simmons, the Chosen One, 53.9%
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, 53%
- Kevin Durant, 52.6%
- Steph Curry, 49.4%
- Nikola Jokic, 49.1%
- Victor Oladipo, 47.7%
- Jimmy Butler, 47.3%
- Boogie Cousins, 47%
- Brandon Ingram, 46.9%
There are superstar names missing from this list (James Harden, Paul George, Anthony Davis, me), but there’s a case to be made that this type of efficiency and all around contribution is more valuable than some of the other elite-elite players’ scoring. NO ONE would take Ingram over Harden or PG13 or Big KAT, obviously, but the point I’m tryna make here is that Brandon Ingram, who you can pick up and fold into an origami swan if you want, is a top 20 player in the NBA right now, and he WILL GET BETTER. 2D may be a top 10 player in a few years. He’s 20 years old. Imagine what this guy will do when he learns defense, and improves his all around game even further.
Think about it this way: 31 players in the NBA are averaging at least 0.8 steals per game, and 0.8 blocks. (Over the past 30 days, Ingram has basically been averaging 1 of each; only 10 players are averaging that on the year.) But, only six of the players from the above list reach those numbers. Six.
Now, 2D’s numbers aren’t top 10 in real life, and they’re not top 10 in fantasy. He’s been just outside the top 100 in my fantasy league (different/more stat cats than ESPN basic). But, when you take all those numbers together and look at them in context, especially considering how frakking young Ingram is, it’s hard to dismiss the fact that he’s one of the brightest young stars in today’s NBA. Once he starts filling out and becomes three dimensional, he’ll most likely start going to the foul line a helluva lot more. That’s when he’ll start scoring 20+ points a game. Give him a few more years worth of practice on defense, and you might just be looking at one of the best overall wings in the entirety of basketball.
Something tells me that this guy is going to absolutely destroy for USA Basketball in the next Summer Olympics.
If you can get your hands on him in fantasy, you should do that. He’s around 80% owned right now. But, that might just be because some people literally can’t see him yet.