Citizens everywhere are retiring their snowblowers and Ski-doos for the season and busting out their grills and lawnmowers.
Sports fans have no shortage of upcoming competitions to get all geeked up for. Baseball is
just getting to the point where the sample size is big enough to substantiate optimism (Hello, Detroit!) or blind panic (Sorry, Boston).
The NFL draft is right around the corner, creating a virtual mountain of mock drafts and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that sports fans can be huge nerds too.
Most importantly (at least to this writer), the NBA playoffs are just about to kick into full gear. As always, the NBA playoffs are sure to be chock-full of surprises of the positive and negative variety. Here are
four players that are bound to do some shocking in the playoffs.
It’s hard to believe that, between kerfuffles with teammates and the front office and some of the most sensational performances we’ve ever seen, that Kobe could do anything in the playoffs that would be all that shocking.
However, I sincerely think he will shock just about everyone in the playoffs. I’m just not sure if it will be positive or negative.
Here are the facts. The Black Mamba is 33 and has logged over 40,000 minutes in his career. He’s faced nagging injuries all year and no longer commands a double-team. His efficiency numbers make advanced stat nerds scoff.
Still, he’s Kobe Freakin’ Bryant.
If anyone is able to shake off the stigma of age and give a giant proverbial middle finger to father time while leading his team on a crusade to the finals, it’s Kobe.
Paul George’s story is the polar-opposite of Bryant’s but is still primed to shock many a hoophead.
George came to the Pacers as a relatively raw player super-saturated with tremendous potential and freakish athleticism. It looks like he’s just beginning to hit his stride.
Starting in place of an inactive Danny Granger, George put up an eye-popping 27 points and 10 rebounds against the Pistons Monday night, including shooting a game-high 15 free throws.
Granted, George is sure to face stiffer competition in the playoffs. But considering Danny Granger’s shooting woes of late (17-of-51 in his last three games), the surprising Pacers should have a potentially explosive backup plan in the event Granger’s shooting slump continues.
The basis of Zach Randolph’s shock potential can be summed up in three words:
Zach versus backups.
Ever since the big man suffered an injury that shelved him for a large chunk of the season, the Grizzlies found success starting Marc Gasol and Marreese Speights, who was acquired from Philadelphia to help fill the void Randolph left.
The Grizzlies had surprising success with Speights and Gasol as frontcourt starters, so Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins opted not to rock the boat and to bring Randolph off the bench.
If Randolph can work himself back into midseason form, he will be an absolute nightmare for backup forwards and centers to deal with.
Serge Ibaka already has shocked me, and I think he’ll do the same to you come playoff time.
I was shocked to learn Ibaka is only 22 years old.
You’ll be shocked when Ibaka proves to be a reliable offensive option in the postseason in addition to the defensive spectre that haunts all those who dare come near the paint.
Though his impressive 53 percent FG percentage is largely padded by a number of dunks, Ibaka has started to hit mid-range jumpers with regularity.
If he can replicate the insane stat line of 18 points, 14 boards and SEVEN blocks he compiled against the Lakers on Sunday, you may as well christen Ibaka “The Electric Chair” for all the shocking he’s going to do.