|Thanks for the win, Mamba|
This is, of course, the best team in town.
The home team put six men in double figures and shot 14 for 32 from the arc, with the two guys who are actually good ideas from there (Robert Covington and Isaiah Canaan) combining to go 9 for 18. F Jerami Grant posted a 14/7/4/1/4 line in 30 minutes on six of seven shooting, which is to say he was spectacularly effective. G TJ McConnell had a 7/5/6 line with 2 steals in 20 minutes, with only one turnover (hooray!), and won a jump ball, probably for the first time in his life. They built a lead, corrected themselves when it looked like it was going south, and showed toughness when punk Laker C Roy Hibbert swung elbows. It was actually kind of fun to watch.
And yes, we are judging them on the shallowest curve imaginable right now, and you don't have to look too far to find the warts. It doesn't look good when C Nerlens Noel and C Jahlil Okafor try to play together, which is kind of a problem, considering they are two of the five current undeniable assets. (The rest? Covington and the rights to Dario Saric and Joel Embiid. Which is to say, theoretical on assets 4 and 5.) Judging your basketball team by how they look against the true worst franchise in the Association, at home, is silly at best. Grant really needs to repeat this game a few dozen times before he can move into that asset list. They'll play New York next, and probably lose, and everyone will forget about feeling any relief from this one. Until they somehow rack up 9 more wins on the year -- not a given, especially if the team has any more injuries -- the entire enterprise will be how to avoid terrible history. Next year's draft looks like it has a clear #1 in Ben Simmons and no fallback position, which means the lottery gods will smite the laundry one more time and we'll wind up with more Process Time. Finding a quality free agent that wants to walk into this will require overpaying by a factor of 3.
But tonight, it's a win. The Knicks can stink out a building. Denver is next, on Saturday at home, and has a rookie point guard that can brick his team out of any game.The Spurs is an auto loss on December 7, but the Nets are horrible. By the end of the year, they might not even have the worst record in the league.
And in the meantime, they are the only team in town with any coherent plan, young players that seem to enjoy playing (Grant and McConnell might not be NBA players, but they are adorable), and a GM that has a clue. Short of just taking a sabbatical for a few years, they are all we have.