With the NFL season winding down, I have found myself watching exponentially more NBA in order to fulfill my sports fix. However, as I watch, I am becoming more and more frustrated with what the National Basketball League has become. The league just doesn’t seem to be what it used to be. So, I have decided to compile a short, but essential list, of a few things that the NBA is now lacking.
#1. Boxing Out
This has to be the most obvious. If you watch any NBA game, and I legitimately mean any NBA game, nobody boxes out. What has happened to the age old strategy for getting rebounds? Every single kid who grew up playing basketball learned how to box out, so I am just curious as to how, when you get to the pros, it is forgotten? I find the excuse that “they are taller” to be absolutely ludicrous. If you think about it, every time you increase the level that you are playing at, everyone becomes taller, more athletic and just better in general. So why would that lead to players not using techniques that are so useful? Players have increasingly become so poor at rebounding and it is due to the fact that they do not box out. The amount of offensive rebounds that teams give up is unacceptable and it often makes a difference between a win and loss.
Now, there are exceptions to every rule. There are a fair number of players who defend well. However, in general, good defense is a lost art. When you’re watching a game, it is clear that at least 50% of the guys on the court are never in a good defense stance. On top of that, players will typically shy away from a block or taking a charge for fear of the “embarrassment” of being dunked on. When did we all become so soft? Put your body on the line, take a hit, do anything you can to prevent a basket! Defense wins championships, there is no doubt about it, but these days, there are only a few players out there who really give it their all on both sides of the court.
#3. The Mid-Range Jumper
Don’t get me wrong, I love a crafty finish at the rim, a ferocious dunk, or a smooth three-pointer. Yet I feel as if part of the game has just disappeared. How often do you really see a player pull up from 15 feet out? I’ll answer for you, it’s rare. It seems that players are almost only playing for show, and I suppose that mid-range jumpers don’t look as cool as three’s or dunks/layups. Yet, at some point one has to ask the question, why does no one want to shoot the easy two-pointer? Players seem to care far too much about flash and appearance, and the mid-range shot just doesn’t have it.
#4. Mental Toughness
The other night, I watched James Harden and Joel Embiid go at each other like little school children on the playground. Harden was getting rattled way too easily, and Embiid was acting like a baby, complaining about everything, but then pounding his chest when something went his way. What happened to the days when players acted like grown men, kept their cool and spoke with their playing? I just cannot sit idly by while these players act like infants waiting to get their way from the referees. On top of that, it occurs off the court. A few years ago, we watched Kevin Durant blow a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals and then go join the team that beat him! Are you serious? Does anyone have any principles these days? On top of that, Kevin Durant has the audacity to come out and say, “people hate the fact that I’m so damn good at basketball.” Kevin, you must be joking. People hate you because you completely lack integrity and pulled off one of the most spineless moves that we have seen in the athletic world. To everyone in the NBA, for all of our sake’s, grow up!