League Pass Alert, Vol. 3: Eastern Conference League Pass Team

Don’t think defense is fun to watch? Maybe you haven’t seen Taj Gibson play it.

Patrick J and I are doing a series on players you’ll be watching for one reason or another this season on League Pass.

Timberwolves fans are naturally less familiar with Eastern Conference teams and players.  This is one reason of many why League Pass is a worthwhile purchase and use of time.  The following is my ALL-LEAGUE PASS TEAM, Eastern Conference style.  Oh, and remember the discussion surrounding Rookie Blake Griffin’s eligibility for both the Rookie Game and the regular All-Star Game?  At Punch-Drunk Wolves, rookies only get one team — so the rookies Pat described here and here are INELIGIBLE.

G – John Wall, Washington Wizards: For the same reason you enjoy 100 meters of Usain Bolt, you should also enjoy 48 minutes of John Wall.  The dude is just stupid fast.  His shooting is a problem — a big one — but that hasn’t prevented Rajon Rondo and other point guards from doing good things.  The ‘Zards have expunged some of the cancer that plagued recent seasons and the development of Wall; they traded Nick Young and let Andray Blatche take his talents elsewhere.  Now that Wall can team with legit NBA talent (Nene, Okafor, Bradley Beal) the hope for League Pass aficionados is that Wall’s game will develop accordingly.  His athleticism is breathtaking and we’d all benefit from getting to watch more of this guy in big games.

G – Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers: Please take 51 seconds to watch the following youtube clip:

You get the idea.

SF – Paul George, Indiana Pacers: George is an unfinished product, which makes it extra fun to tune in periodically and enjoy the PROGRESS.  Along with continued development in his game, he is apparently still developing as a human being — as in, he grew two inches, last offseason.  (!!!)  George isn’t Tracy McGrady, but he might very well become “A Poor Man’s Tracy McGrady Who is Great at Defense.”  Indy will sick George on opposing point guards where his ridiculous length allows him to give space and still contest jumpers.  In five years, maybe you’ll see George defending Irving in an Eastern Conference Finals.  Who knows.  For now, just enjoy Paul George for what he is: always changing, usually improving.

PF – Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls: You probably watch the Bulls to see Derrick Rose slash into the paint and dazzle with dunks and twisting bank shots.  So do I.  But while you’re flipped over to the Chicago game, take notice of something less fancy: Taj Gibson’s Post Defense.  You know how almost every great power forward is criticized for their defense (think Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, etc.)?  That’s probably because it’s difficult to defend the world’s best power forwards.  (Just a wild guess.)  But Taj Gibson somehow does it, and does it REALLY well.  Check it out.

C – Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons: Monroe is a cerebral player, well-trained at Georgetown in Princeton principles. He can play high post or low.  More than anything, Monroe has the size, skill and mindset of a great passing big man.  More than DeMarcus Cousins, the Wolves probably whiffed harder on Monroe when they instead drafted Wes Johnson.  Monroe is a perfect fit for the offense that Rick Adelman usually runs.  For that reason and others, flip over to the Detroit game and watch Greg Monroe.

6th Man – Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks: Stephon Marbury once said that point guards are delivered from God.  While Brandon Jennings is far from a perfect player, he is a perfect representation of what Marbury was probably thinking when he said that.  Jennings controls pace, he shares the ball, commands his fellow troops and plays nasty defense on the ball.  While Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo are better all-around players than Jennings, neither paints such a perfect picture of how the position is supposed to be played.  He’s a facilitator without being too ball dominant.  He’s unselfish yet competitive.  When you’re perusing League Pass options on a Tuesday night in January, see what I mean.



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