Friday, May 22nd, 2009 at 3:30 pm  |  39 responses

Links: Melo Gold

Plus, where’s Ricky Rubio going?

by Lang Whitaker

So…SLAM 130 is out the door. Whew. Heck of an issue, with a classic cover shot. Should be out in about two weeks. And we just got out of a meeting to figure out our issue that drops after the Finals. Luckily we got the email from the The Sternbot that let us know the Finals would be over in 6 games and the Cavs would…whoops! Sorry, Sternbot! Almost spilled the beans.

• Let’s start today with an email from Linkstigator Joe B, who writes…

As I’ve read the Links daily over the years, I remember you (at least I always thought it was you) witnessing Melo warm up prior to a game with an assistant coach. You stated something along the lines that you’d never seen such a pre-game warmup. Something about the way the coach would be all over Melo and he’d only use a dribble or two max, or just use his body to get his shot up. These were all mid-range jumpers or so. I think after watching Game One against LA, you should grave dig that post as you’ve done things like that in the past. I feel your observations would be especially true in this series and it’s worth re-visiting given this is the farthest the Nuggets have been in a long time.

Oh, beg me to be self-referential, why don’t you! Actually, I remember writing about that, but I just went and searched the SLAMonline archives and couldn’t find it anywhere. Which is awesome.

melolakersBasically, what I wrote about was going to a Nuggets/Knicks (or maybe it was Nuggets/Nets) game and watching Melo go through his pregame workout. I’ve seen hundreds of NBA guys practice shooting jumpers around the perimeter before a game, but they almost all practice wide-open jumpers, or maybe they’ll have a guy half-heartedly run at them as they shoot.

But Melo was doing something I’d never seen before. He was standing at the three-point line and practicing shooting threes without a dribble and with assistant coach Tim Grgurich right in his face. Grguric would hand Melo the ball then get right up on him, almost like how Melo was guarding Kobe last night. Melo would hold the ball, then jump straight up, without a dribble, and drain jumper after jumper.

And yep, Joe, it was pretty similar to what Melo’s been doing in these Playoffs. His jumper is so solid and so pure that it’s opened up chances for Melo to drive the lane. And he’s strong enough inside to push Kobe or Ariza around and get boards. I’ve been one of the few members of the media who hasn’t completely ignored Melo the last few years, and even I haven’t been giving him the credit he was due.

If there’s one player who is having a breakout postseason thus far, it’s Carmelo Anthony.

• I also want to re-iterate what I wrote here last weekend — I haven’t seen an NBA player playing as complete a game as LeBron is playing right now since Michael Jordan was in his prime. Not Duncan, not Shaq, not Kobe. I know people were mildly surprised by his performance in Game 1 (41 minutes, 49 points, 20-30 from the floor, 3-6 on threes, 6 boards, 8 assists, 3 blocked shots, just 2 turnovers), and that doesn’t even count all the blown assists he had where he hit open guys who missed open jumpers (specifically Z and Mo Williams).

I’m assuming a lot of people didn’t watch the Cleveland/Atlanta series in its entirety, because so many of the games were over early. But I watched every minute of all four games and was just blown away by Bron, how complete he is and how easy he makes it look. And he’s carried that right over into the Conference Finals.

• I’m sticking with my Lakers in 7/Cavs in 5 predictions. The LA/Denver series is going to be awesome, two great, evenly-matched teams. But to me, Cleveland is a much better team than Orlando. They lost Game 1 because a) they ran out of gas down the stretch, which I understand because they hadn’t played a close Playoff game and weren’t sure how to pace themselves; b) the Cavs missed so many open jumpers in the second half. Two relatively easy things to fix.

• Wouldn’t it be great if someone re-released Kobe Doin’ Work but took off Kobe’s voiceover and replaced it with a voiceover from Shaq?

• I mentioned Ricky Rubio in passing on Twitter yesterday and got a ton of questions about him, asking where he’s getting drafted, what he’s going to do, etcetera and so on.

The truth is, I have no idea. I haven’t spoken to anyone in the Rubio camp since the Draft Lottery happened, so any headlines that dropped this week, particularly the one about Ricky supposedly not wanting to play in Memphis and only wanting to go to L.A., are as much news to me as they are news to you. That said…

When I talked to Pau Gasol back at the All-Star Game, I asked him about Ricky possibly coming to the NBA next season. Here’s a transcript of one relevant passage…

SLAM: Do you think Ricky could play in the NBA now? I mean, next year. Is he good enough to play now?

PG: Probably to play, yes. But to be what people expect him to be, that’s a different story. Once the pressure is on and you jump on here and you compete for eighty-two nights a year, a season, it’s a different story. So you got make sure that you get yourself ready for it, you know, at the right time. So you know hopefully he’ll make a good decision as far as the timing.

SLAM:  How hard is the cultural adjustment?

PG: It’s hard. And also depending on the city that you end up. So, you…some cities the cultural change is a lot harsher and different. So if you go to a more cosmopolitan, international city, then it’s a lot easier, I think.

“A lot easier,” Pau said. This coming from a guy who was born and raised in Barcelona, like Ricky, and then spent the first few years of his NBA career playing in Memphis.

I don’t know for certain how Ricky feels about the possibility of playing Memphis or Oklahoma City. (After all, his buddy from Barcelona and the Spanish National Team, Marc Gasol, could be chilling with him in Memphis.) But I know Ricky spent time in the U.S. last June…in Los Angeles. And having been to Barcelona many times the few years, I’m always struck by how similar the city is (the climate, the proximity of the beaches and mountains) to…Los Angeles.

The other thing worth remembering is that Ricky is one of the few guys in the Draft with leverage (and I’m not talking about the TNT original series that nobody wants to watch). If he doesn’t like the way things are playing out, he can still opt out of the Draft and return to Spain, play another season and rejoin the Draft next summer, where he wouldn’t have to pay a buyout and would be able to play an entire season with a healthy right wrist.

• And I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Brandon Jennings go fifth to the Wizards.

• If Kenyon Martin didn’t have anyone to beef with in the Lakers series, he might now. Trina is now saying that she doesn’t know Kobe, that she just “said his name in a song.”

Oh, OK. Well, I’m sure Kobe (and Vanessa) will appreciate being name-checked in that way.

Have a great weekend everybody…see you all here on Tuesday.

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  • ENDS

    Melo has officially arrived (to my disdain) playoffs were stars are REALLY born.

    Kobe better watch the hell out K-mart’s a thug

  • tenorca

    Lang: Didn’t Pau spend his first couple years playing in Vancouver? Same team, different city?

  • tenorca

    Also: I’d assume Rubio would have it easier than Pau since he looks less like a camel.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    Trina thought she could just drop that verse w/o some talk?!? She must have underestimated how big of a deal Kobe is. Or maybe she likes this free publicity.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    You claim to be a player but I fu….

  • Esco

    …your wife.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    at some point phil jackson will put odom on melo. he can match melo’s size and strength. if that never happens, lakers won’t make it to the next round.

  • Tommy Patron

    That’s one of the LAST chicks I’d figure for a Kobe jump-off.

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!

    Trina ….yikes.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I totally was gonna start calling myself Farmer Jones Diamond Princess Rock Star, but I guess she’s got that on lock. Darnit.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper


  • Pardeep

    Melo didnt arrive right now Melo is underrated the last 4 years the guy shot 50 percent last year and averaged 25 ppg. The guy was supposed to be this good hes had a low scoring season this year because he never got to get into a proper groove adjusting to Billups and then having that injury. Dont jump on the Melo bandwagon now hes been good his whole career I think he shoulda got ROY over LeBron but again the league dont like the non class acts.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    No SLAM until Tuesday. Oh well, just gotta hear more from chintao about Rubio being a lot less likely to be a game changer than people are saying/expecting, for lack of a better example Yi style-but he’s not hyped by his country like that. Forgot about that Pau quote postup (did faintly remember the Melo pregames). That’s more to supplement the opinion right there. So what, Toronto trades up to get him? After moving the proven Calderon or something?(Stern’s new international team, used to be Dallas)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    Or uh, really keep Calderon. Who better to learn from. Language barrier non existent. Cosmo-high tax town.

  • http://fashionsensei.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jackie-moon.jpg Jackie Moon

    So Rubio can opt not to play even after a team calls his name in the draft? What are the rules for this again? Didn’t Danny Ferry pull something like this?

  • Jon in Vancouver

    Tenorca: wish Paul was playing in Vancouver…Grizzlies may have never left

  • http://www.slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @jackie moon: no, he has to pull out like in a week or so.

  • http://nicekicks.com MeloMan13

    Does anyone have the “Chris Rocks” issue of SLAM? maybe around 115 last year.
    because i wrote a letter that got published in trash talk. In the letter, i begged for SLAM to send it to Melo so he could rededicate himself and reach the upper echalon of NBA players.
    I don’t know if u guys actually sent the letter to him but if u did, THANKS. Now when i bring up how Melo ranks among the best, i don’t get laughed at. infact, i regularily get praised

  • iamse7en

    Wiz pick Brandon Jennings? I’m not too angry about that, but I really think this is a one-man draft, as far as immediate impact is concerned. Ernie Grunfeld has said that the time to win is NOW. Jamison is getting old, Arenas might finally be healthy, Caron is getting too many minutes and strain on his body…

    Thus, the Wiz (as EG has been stating since the Winter) should just package the pick with some bad contracts and move the hell on. We wanted Griffin, and we didn’t get him. So goes the Curse O’ Les Boulez.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Melo has been a revelation this postseason, started his roll in Game 3 in the Dallas series and has kept on being unstoppable. Other breakout players in my opinion?
    Courtney Lee: What a defensive pest and solid contributor on offense.
    Rondooooooooo: Did you see some of his games? That Chicago Series he turned into the most antagonizing player on both rosters. no small feat in a series featuring Noah, T-Thomas, KG’s tailor and big nasty Perkins
    Dirk: holy crap, he just put the team on his shoulders in the Nuggets Series, scored at will against the most athletic frontcourt left in the playoffs, all while his personal business was being put out there for all to read. Soft….my…….cornholio!
    Derek Rose: Guess the future is here already
    i would have put Bron in there but hey, with that freak of nature it’s becoming a regular occurrence.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    Hey kiddies, the best player in the world just won the most crucial of games for his team on a last second three pointer. Just thought you all should know that.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Told y’all ’bout Bron.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @MeloMan: I remember that letter. We didn’t send him that letter directly, but Melo reads every issue of SLAM and I bet he saw it. Not saying that’s the reason he improved, just saying I bet he saw it.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    yes you did Lang, yes you did tell us. But hey, we aren’t exactly blind ya know. Great shot, still horrible execution by the Cavs in the 4th for the second game in a row. Orlando can throw these guys out. Pietrus was bombastic playing D on Bron.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Oh, update on my list above, the revelations? Lebron is all up in that sucker…. regular occurence, eh? whatever…

  • http://www.galatasaray.org madamerica

    Really, Lang? Cavs in 5? You should know better than that.

  • clapzilla

    It Won’t Be Long Before The UN Puts Sanctions On Melo Because He Has Too Many Weapons.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Darksaber: Add Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, Ron Artest, and the rest of the Rockets to that list. That fight they put up showed tremendous heart.

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!!

    Bron didn’t even think he was gonna make that shot. No offense but look at how he reacted when it went in. Orlando has these cats shook no matter what ABC or ESPN or TNT would have you believe. Oh yeah Lake show wont tonight biatches!!!!! WHAT!! 2-1. I’m just saying.

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!!

    And if they show this Lebron shot one more f’ng time.

  • http://www.clutchfans.net nick

    I think your absolute confidence in the lebrons is misplaced. They barely (BARELY) eeked out a single win in two home games to start this series, and now head to Orlando, where they haven’t won, and took one of their worst losses this year. At the outset, i was also predicting the Lebrons in 5…but this first couple of games has given me pause. I still think they’ll win, but it won’t be as easy as you, me, or the vast majority of pundits assumed it would.

  • Jeronimo

    @Tenorca: Nope, the Grizzlies moved to Memphis just the year Pau Gasol got into the NBA.

  • playboy

    orlando will win this series. mark it down.

  • playboy

    By the way, i dunno who the F**ck this writer is, but you sure show your complete bias in a team that barely ever beats orlando. postseason is not a “different thing entirely”

    lebron is extremely overrated and when he’s watching the finals at home, what will this writer write about next time?? That its everybody else that didn’t step up but lebron??

    basketball is not about numbers-

  • chintao

    @ Blinguo ==> As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a pretty ignorant guy. For that reason, I don’t feel confident in saying Rubio is “a bust”, waiting to happen. I’m just saying, all that stuff that Pau said. It’s like that. You can’t just be a special player and make the kind of adjustment that is required to go from Euroball to the NBA (or, the other way around, for that matter). You have to be a special PERSON. The vast majority of people are alot less special than they would like to think.

  • chintao

    Shaq re-dubbing “Kobe Doin’ Work” has to be high on the big man’s offseason agenda. Finally, there’s a chance for Shaquita to open her mouth without being annoying to anyone except the one person who deserves it most.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    I got you, and didn’t think of you as an ignorant guy, nor have an (opposing) opinion on Rubio myself. That’s a good point as he may not be born with “it” or may even find it as he matures, cosmo-city or not, or just be a serviceable Fernandez/Calderon on the cusp of more despite his unlim.potential everyone sees in him now. Didn’t think you wrote him down 100% as a bust, just wanted more insight into that line you wrote about he could not be as good as everyone may be expecting. This postup adds to that a bit even as old & vague Pau quotes. Another post back and forth some guys mentioned like a $5 mil buyout and essentially playing for nothing his first few years in the league, hence needing exposure/media blitz/endorsements to pay back that buyout to his Spain club and even live off of. So, sorry OKC, Memphis, Sacto – even if his camp says its ok there.

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  • chintao

    Yeah, man. I just see a risk. That’s all. If I were the GM of a tema on the verge, I would shy away from him. If I were the GM of a team with no hope for the next year or two, I might take a chance.