Ahh Thanksgiving, the forgotten middle child of the end of the year. I am not quite sure I understand why Thanksgiving is pushed under the rug, maybe we don't have the stamina, but at least in a moral sense it feels like the 4th Thursday of November stands just as tall as any December festivities. Heck, it feels like even the pure spirit of gratitude is stolen by Christmas, with the gift giving and religious pretense. So just leave it up to me, the advocate of the abandoned, the bulwark of the blown over (ok fine you got me I'm talking about my Rudy Gobert essays, sue me) to give Thanksgiving the limelight it has searched for since 1621 (or more precisely, the commercialization of Christmas but lets keep the cynicism out of this). So while I say in the Spirit of the Season, let it focus not on Christmas, but on Thanksgiving, someone has got to give it its due respect. The fact that an entire season has been taken over, leaving Turkey Day nothing? Not on my watch.
All right all right you don't need to remind me this is an NBA website, not my own personal blog. Each NBA season, I often find myself giddy over a new player seemingly every day. "This one, this one right here, that's MY GUY!" after they drop 7 5 and 5. "Never been a more underrated player than THIS DUUUDDEEEE!" as they complete the double double in their first (and often only) start of the season.
So on this day of acknowledgement, let me acknowledge the "Thanksgivings" of the NBA; the players thrown under the rug, the ones glossed over in favor of superstars. And in order to truly stay on Thanksgiving theme, let each player be represented by the true star of the day, the food.
Green Bean Casserole is no ones favorite part of the meal, but imagine a Thanksgiving banquet without it! There would be a hole, a particular smell and taste that completes and compliments the heavy hitters of the day. Enter Kevon Looney, one of the casualties of the dominance of the Warriors "Death Lineup". In the Death Lineup, they tend to play Draymond at center, and the strength of that squad leads the viewers to undervalue of the Warriors true center, the big man in the middle, Kevon Looney, the definition of a complimentary piece. A powerful defender down low, using his high IQ to make up for his lack of height and mass. An excellent extra passer, specifically in the short roll, with the ability to unlock the offense that gives Stephen Curry his time to shine. A great screener, opening 2 on 1 opportunities at the drop of a hat. While no one says Kevon is their favorite, its hard to imagine the dinner table without him.
Stuffing? To stat sheet stuffers? Ehh, Ehh??? Alright forgive me for taking the easy way out on this, but it works a little bit too well. TJ is not dominant in any one area, but can stuff your team up in more ways than one. You want tight perimeter defense leading to steals? Call up TJ. You want a pick and roll maestro leading to easy assists? Mcconnells your man! Heck you want an above average rebounding guard? Text up McClutchell (Basketball References nickname, not mine). There's nothing TJ can't stuff, making him the perfect stuffing for your NBA thanksgiving.
The Rolls are always the ones that trip me up. On paper, they have no business being near the top dogs, it is just bread. But then when it comes to dinner time I stuff myself silly on them. I know I need to make room for the big guns, but something about the rolls just casts a spell on me. Enter Bruce Brown. Obviously, James Harden and Kevin Durant (Kyrie can be the yams I guess, simply for the fact no one knows why they're here, and frankly, we're sick of em) are taking the limelight but whenever I watch Brooklyn I am simply CLAMORING for more Bruce Brown. He fills so many "roles" (feel free to clap) it is almost whimsical. Him playing center isn't insane, he has started as the man in the middle in the past. You want him to lock up the best scorer on the other team WHILE doing some of the best backdoor cuts in the league WHILE getting a lot of manly rebounds WHILE hitting the occasional three WHILE running the occasional pick and roll? When Bruce gets on a "roll" he can do all of that and more, he can turn it on to such an extent that my puns are the "yeast" of the other teams problems. While he won't ever be the main course, it is very easy to catch yourself filling up on all the little things he does, while disregarding the heavy hitters that the meal was made for.
Ahhh, your guilty pleasure. You know eating 7 slices of pie with a not-so-healthy helping of whipped cream isn't good for you necessarily... but then why does it feel so right? I am sure that has to be the feelings of Thunder Fans whenever Poku steps into the game. Yeah yeah you don't have to remind him, Poku may be the worst player in the NBA, not being able to grasp basic basketball concepts and such. However, this kind of bad...feels good. Watching Alekseq run pick and rolls, knowing it is the least effective way for your team to score but every time it works, it is the definition of sweet. You can't forget the fact of his versatility as well! Apple pie, pumpkin pie, banana cream could just as easily be phrased Pokus shooting, Pokus defense, and Pokus passing. He brings a bit of everything to the table which you know is bad and you know doesn't help you win basketball games, but you let it slide because WOW it is oh so tasty. You can't have it every day, and you can't play Poku 34 minutes a night, but you can't deny this little guilty pleasure of yours.
You had to have seen this coming. Who else would be sitting in the center of this table of Thanksgiving I have made? Now, the real question is, what can I say about Rudy Gobert I haven't already said. It turns out, not much, I have written my fair share of words on this fantastic Frenchman. You take the turkey out of the meal and what happens? The dinner crumbles, the main course has been defeated. Sure, you'll find people dissing on turkey, with the "it's too dry", but they have simply begun to take it for granted. They see the greatness of Thanksgiving, like the greatness of the Utah Jazz, and begin to think that the supporting pieces are strong enough to function on their own. However, take the big bird out of the picture and it becomes clear; you need turkey. You need Rudy Gobert. With a dominating defensive presence, carrying a bunch of (to put it bluntly) scrubs on that end of the floor to one of the best defenses in the NBA. Sure, his elbows on screens looking like wings certainly doesn't hurt his case to be the main course of Thanksgiving, but the fact of the matter is Rudy Gobert is the most neglected, under appreciated star the NBA has ever seen, and I will give him his dues. True fans of what makes basketball, basketball, who see the game past the flashing scoring, past the marketable superstars, past the Halloweens and the Christmases, should give Rudy Gobert some thanks.
So, in the spirit of the season, give some thanks to your favorite players, don't let the neglected stay neglected. Thank you, and have a wonderful day.