Twitter launched in July of 2006, but I didn’t decide to go full Twitter until late 2015. The amount of missed laughs in that almost nine year span hurts my brain to think about. Just last week, Friend of the Program Marcus Morris randomly chimed in on SB Nation’s CelticsBlog:
Admittingly, Morris’ quick conversation isn’t the funniest thing in the world but, in NBA Twitter’s case, it’s the merger of curious and relevant topics combined with literally laugh-out-loud jokes/takes that make Twitter so darn enjoyable.
The guys and gals who can fire off such witty, smart and whimsical tweets in real time just blows my mind. By the time I think of something clever to share, someone has already tweeted my same thought with superior wording ten minuets earlier. It’s a rather humbling experience to find out you’re not as sharp as you think you are.
(Same deal for DBB GameThreads - by the time something registers in my head, u/V., u/CheerstoLilWayne, or u/yelloweye and the like already said it. I simply cannot think that fast.)
To catch up the non-Twitter people, a debate of who’s better: Blake Griffin vs. Kevin Love took off last week. Like everything Twitter, it wasn’t necessarily settled. The fun, though, isn’t in conclusions, it’s in the argument!
A cranky Kevin Durant also made headlines last week when he replied to a CJ McCollum tweet touching on Durant’s still questionable(?) move to Golden State.
Now that I’ve had some time to digest the issues and think with a clear mind, body and soul, let’s discuss! After all, what’s better than a rehash of last weeks topics? That’s right, nothing.
Blake Griffin vs. Kevin Love
When both players were at their best, who was better? Blake Griffin or Kevin Love?— Vince_Ells56 (@Vincent_Ellis56) July 25, 2018
You can thank Pistons beat writer Vince Ellis for this one.
I feel obligated to start with this preface: You can’t go wrong with either and a vote for one isn’t a knock on the other.
Kevin Love is the prototypical stretch-four who put up monster numbers while in Minnesota. His career 37 three-point percentage didn’t fully evolve until this third season, but has been a viable weapon ever since. Blake Griffin posterized players on a regular basis during his early Clippers’ days, but has slowly drifted away from the basket. Nowhere near the rebounder Love is, but the role of ball-handler clearly favors Griffin. Both are sub-optimal defenders, and both own sketchy injury history. It’s a close call no matter how you slice it.
Who is better solely based on their “prime” is nearly impossible to determine, thanks in large part to the inconvenient piece of the puzzle known as context. Good numbers on a bad team with Love or the highlight factory of Griffin, it’s a dealer’s choice.
Who’s better now? That’s where the real debate begins.
Spoiler alert, it’s Blake Griffin.
Why? Easy, he keeps adding in-demand offensive tools. Since 2011-12, how, exactly, has Kevin Love expanded his game? Kevin Love is the same today as he was seven years ago. There is nothing wrong with sleepwalking into 18/11, and there is certainly a starting spot for him on every team, but the NBA currently rewards versatility more than ever.
Vince’s original question is geared towards the past tense, with the assumption we’ve already witnessed the best of both players. With Love, I think it’s fair to say. Griffin’s best days, however, might still be ahead of him. Skill meets gumption and the two share center stage when the discussion turns to “the best of the best” talk, the category these players belong to. Griffin is still progressing forward while Love is what he is (which, again, is awesome.)
The stretch big man was all the rage seven to ten years ago. Find yourself a shooting big and the space he’ll create, simply by existing, will give you a distinct advantage over the rest of the league.
Few, if any, did it better than Kevin Love in that time span.
Times have changed, even from seven to ten years ago. While still valuable, the stretch big isn’t cool anymore. It’s all about the playmaking big. In regards to judging stars, the 6-foot-10 guy who can initiate offense, generate looks for himself and teammates, and shoot at a decent clip beyond the arc is inherently more impactful from game to game than the beefed up one-trick-pony.
Griffin’s playmaking outweighs Love’s shooting.
As of now, Love’s long-ball accuracy is much more stable than Griffin’s. But it’s a completely different type of long-ball that, in terms of strategy, needs to be distinguished.
Two percent of all Love made threes were unassisted in 2017-18, and spot-up shooting accounted for 23 percent of all Love possessions. Griffin’s numbers sat at 30 percent and 12 percent in the same scenarios. Griffin has only dipped his toes into volume three-point shooting, but more than a handful of off-the-dribble buckets are already on film:
Outside touch plus being able to put the ball on the floor equals:
Love ain’t doing any of that. If there is continued growth in the three-point shot creation department, the comparison between Love and Griffin becomes a blowout.
Entering 2018-19, Kevin Love seems to be the go-to guy in Cleveland. Assuming health, he’ll be an All-Star, and 20 points and 10 rebounds should be penciled in before each tip-off. He’s not better than Blake Griffin though.
Kevin Durant sounds off
Below, CJ McCollum answers a question in regards to Durant’s decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors, Durant replies:
So,I would get into a gang fight, lose, plot on my brother for 2 months in our home and then go get the gang we lost to and beat him up? U think that low of me CJ? I just did your fuckin podcast. Snakes in the grass boy I tell ya— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 26, 2018
Durant kept up the Twitter talk:
So they can keep talking but I have to shutup? Sounds fishy to me but u know what, I’m not even allowed to be on here since I’m in the nba. Lemme fall back. My bad— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 26, 2018
I’m with Kevin Durant.
“Soft” and “snake” are words seemingly synonymous with Durant On NBA Twitter, but they’re not in my thesaurus. In fact, I think the descriptions are somewhat lazy.
In every basketball game ever played - from pickup at Lifetime Fitness to the NBA Finals - there is a distinct pecking order of talent. When it comes down to the most meaningful decision of the game, there is no discussion, straw poll or any team meetings, it’s just known who is in charge of making that decision. It’s. Just. Known.
In Golden State, the alpha is Kevin Durant and his two Finals MVPs are proof.
It’s a shame people cannot enjoy these.
The “snake” label is absurd. Calling someone a snake, outside of idioms, is a sizable shot at character, and you better have some sizable proof to back it up. Even relatively speaking, switching teams in basketball as a free agent, in my book, isn’t a snake-worthy offense. My absolute favorite comments in the world are the ones where the person making said comments never have to back them up.
Random Twitter hate: Durant is such a snake, I’d never do that!
Well, isn’t that convenient - you’ll never be in a position to prove it.
Anyone can make such silly claims. “If I win the lottery, I’d give it all to charity”. Now I feel better about myself for making an asinine assertion, and the best part? I’ll never have to back it up.
So, yeah, I don’t play the soft or snake game.
As far as commenting on Twitter and sticking up for himself, who cares? It takes, maybe, 20 seconds to script a tweet depending on how deep it is. Why the Nate Joneses of the world seem alarmed enough to dole out advice is beyond me.
You might have a case in which Durant could be using his time more wisely, and I might be with you, but the “not soft” examples from above exist. Since that’s the case, do whatever you want KD. Why should I care what he does on Twitter?
We beg for athletes to be an open book, but when they do, they’re grilled for it. I don’t get it.