Kevin Garnett does his best Alex Jones impersonation (Getty Images)
Future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett and talent-laden Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins are two of the NBA’s more, um, “talkative” players. So of course the big men are both going to talk quite a bit about a subject that we didn’t even deign to talk about here at Ball Don’t Lie – the NBA’s selections for February’s Rookie/Sophomore contest, to be held on All-Star weekend. DeMarcus was rightfully ticked that diminutive Sacramento point guard Isaiah Thomas wasn’t selected for the sophomore side.
“Really? I’m actually shocked,” Garnett said.
Then he expanded upon those thoughts.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “This league has, I guess, an agenda in what they want. And Jared’s not in that agenda. I hope it creates a monster within him. I hope it does everything [to] encourage him.”
Yikes, “an agenda?” Is Jared Sullinger suddenly the NBA’s newest bad boy? Does the league really hate featuring hard working rookies wearing really cool uniforms during an exhibition game featured on basic cable on a Friday night?
Sullinger was passed over, more than likely, in favor of another hard-working rookie wearing a cool uniform: Cleveland’s Tyler Zeller. Zeller has played solid enough this season – over eight points and six rebounds a contest while starting nearly half of his team’s games, working through a broken cheek suffered in the first week of the season. Zeller plays over eight more minutes per game than Sullinger does, which explains why Jared’s six points and six boards in 20 minutes a contest don’t match up. Per minute, technically, Sullinger has been better.
Of course, it’s the Rookie/Sophomore game. Who cares about per-minute stats, or any numbers at all?
What’s stranger, and funny to me, is the idea that Zeller (or Dion Waiters, or Alexey Shved; or any of the other players that K.G. hasn’t heard of that may have been on the fence) is – and it’s just fine if you’re laughing out loud right now – more a part of the NBA’s “agenda” than Jared Sullinger is. Because the NBA totally has it out for Jared Sullinger, and those hated Boston Celtics.
(Especially when you consider the fact that the league’s assistant coaches are the ones that pick the players, and not the league’s office from on high.)
The Sophomore team, as is usually the case, is pretty loaded. Not only does it feature a player in Kyrie Irving that could and probably should start for the Eastern All-Stars during Sunday’s exhibition, but it’s hard to find a player that isn’t deserving of being part of the nine-man roster. Though Detroit’s Brandon Knight might be a bit of a stretch.
Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins thinks it might be part of a blown call on the NBA’s end. From WEEI, as well:
“I feel like that’s on the organization,” said Cousins. “There’s no reason Isaiah shouldn’t have been in that game. He’s had an incredible year, and once again he’s not even mentioned, so I feel like that’s on the organization.”
Except the Rising Stars Challenge roster is selected by the league’s assistant coaches and has nothing to do with anyone in the Kings organization all the way up to the Maloof brothers, however reprehensible they might be for reneging on a deal that would have saved NBA basketball in Sacramento.
The great Ben Rohrbach, who made the pointed quoted above, is spot on in this regard. Cousins may think the Kings could have done more to promote Thomas’ cause, and it’s true that the Kings are the cheapest organization in the NBA right now, but there’s not a whole lot an “organization” can or should do to promote to assistant coaches a player’s chances for a meaningless affair like the Rookie/Sophomore or, er, “Rising Stars Challenge” contest.
It’s true that Thomas should have made the team last year over fringe guys like Norris Cole or MarShon Brooks, but it isn’t as if this is a massive oversight. Though it’s probably the Kings’ fault for both signing Aaron Brooks, and playing the veteran guard so much. Perhaps it wasn’t an organizational oversight that kept Isaiah Thomas out of the game for two years running. Perhaps the Sacramento Kings themselves are a walking, bitching, organizational oversight.
The Kings should work on fixing that. Make it part of their agenda, even.
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- Jared Sullinger
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- Tyler Zeller