If it feels unseasonably warm for the start of basketball season, we may have just found the culprit.
Well, besides the obvious effects of global warming that is.
Blame the smoldering bridges burning in Detroit and Milwaukee, sparked by point guards Brandon Knight and Brandon Jennings, respectively.
Each player has blasted his former team. Teammates have been tossed under the bus as an excuse for everything from the Brandons' atrocious shot selection and minuscule assist totals.
Now we're expected to believe that both will thrive with their new teammates. Yes, the same ones each has blamed for the lack of his past production.
If your head's not spinning just yet, try to follow the logic of this battle of words.
Jennings fired the first shot at his former employer, the Milwaukee Bucks. He said his lack of a supporting cast led him to adopt a gunner's mentality that he obviously doesn't have the game (career 39.4 field-goal percentage) to fill.
He promised the Detroit Pistons that they'd see a changed man this season, thanks to the talent that now surrounds him. Via Dan Feldman of NBC Sports:
You’re going to see a whole different player…I definitely have to change my game. The things that I was doing in Milwaukee, I won’t have to do here, take all the bad shots. Now, I can just actually be myself and be who I was five years ago when I was in high school, playing AAU basketball.
Sometimes having a moment of nostalgia can work wonders for a basketball player. The Miami Heat might not be two-time defending champions if LeBron James doesn't go back to his "Cleveland days" (h/t Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.com) in Game 5 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals.
But it's hard to imagine the Pistons gave up three players (including Knight) and $25 million to acquire the high-school version of Jennings this summer.
And, like Bucks big man Larry Sanders told Andrew Gruman of Fox Sports Wisconsin, there are no guarantees that Jennings will use his new bigs any better than he used the ones he had in Milwaukee:
Not to be outdone, Knight (the new Milwaukee Bucks point guard) blamed his former teammates for his unsightly career stat line: 13.1 points per game, 41.0 field-goal percentage, 3.9 assists against 2.7 turnovers per game.
Knight told Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times that his teammates forced him to be an inefficient scoring guard:
I’m not trying to blame anybody. But the team we had ... It was a tough situation. When you have shooters, it’s easy to get assists because they’re going to knock down open shots. We had, maybe, one (Kyle Singler) knock-down shooter.
There's nothing quite like seeing these supposed leaders trash their former squads like spoiled milk. I'm not sure how much excitement surrounded either player at the time of the trade, but you have to think it's been diminished during this battle of words.
From an analyst's standpoint, though, this is basketball gold. For the first time in a long time, I can say that a Bucks-Pistons game promises to be a must-see event.
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