A few days ago, the basketball world blew up when DeAndre Jordan dunked over Brandon Knight. The dunk stirred some big emotions among the CelticsHub staff. Emotions so large, a 3-on-3 was necessary. Emotions so grand, they brought Hayes Davenport out of hiding (real life/real job) to offer some awesome first hand reaction/analysis. He’s back, baby! Enjoy!
Hayes Davenport: I was at the game, so: leaping out of my seat, cackling hysterically, dumb fist-pumping, waiting for the replay, cackling again, one last horrible fist-pump, sitting down, texting. To those who argue that celebrating the dunk is somehow immoral and that Brandon Knight deserves all the credit for contesting it: he jumped way too late and gifted Jordan a free throw! Providing a team with extra scoring opportunities is “the right way to play” now? Maybe we all just relax and have fun watching sports.
Brian Robb: I was impressed. I didn’t see it live, but thanks the explosion on Twitter, I was led to it instantly. The throwdown by Jordan was tremendous, but after the shock wore off, I’m with Hayes on just how dumb the play by Knight was. It was a foolish attempt to contest it and the Clippers got an extra point because of it. There’s a fine line between making a honest and brave defensive challenge and just conceding the dunk/layup so you don’t give up an extra point. This is a time the latter option was probably the right one. Some of the reaction to it was over the top, but so are most things on Twitter. I’m fully behind any play that creates opportunities for things like this.
Brendan Jackson: Initially, I marveled at the sheer power and athleticism of Jordan’s move and finish. Then I saw him go into the crowd and do the whole stupid posturing thing (quick note: I don’t mind posturing if the player hasn’t done the thing he’s posturing about 5,437 times before. Act like you been there before, bro!) and I remembered that this is DeAndre Jordan and he finishes these types of lobs ALL THE TIME. The Clippers’ nickname is Lob City for crissakes! Nate Robinson blocking Yao Ming and Vince Carter dunking over Frederic Weis are both infinitely more impressive given the size discrepancies involved. In this case, it was the oppositie.
I disagree with you fellas on Knight. He wasn’t late. He would have been if he was trying to impede Jordan’s progress towards the hoop, but he wasn’t. He was trying to bat the pass down from Chris Paul. There are essentially four ways to prevent a lob: 1) pressure the passer; 2) show on the pick-and-roll and then quickly retreat; 3) impede the lobbee’s progress to the hoop; or 4) deflect the ball before the lobbee gets to it. Knight was attempting to do the fourth option and got completely eaten up Jordan in the process. You can argue that Knight should have let the dunk go through and played for the quick outlet but I don’t begrudge him the contest attempt given Jordan’s free throw percentage (42%).
Oh and Hayes, sports aren’t fun. They are MISERABLE. I’m sorry, I know this isn’t the first time I’ve sent you the X Gonna Give It to Ya music video, but it’s just really important.
Davenport: I do, yes. Home court advantage is more significant in the NBA than in any other professional sport. This is fact. Crowds do matter, and a crowd collectively pooping its pants with excitement is an advantage to the home team, however slight. Also: thanks to Saint Hero Brandon Knight, it was definitely more valuable than “just two points” because it was three points.
Robb: You have to think so, at least in some circumstances. There have been plenty of times at the Garden this year, when Jeff Green, Pierce, etc have made an eye-opening or out-of-nowhere jam which energizes the Garden crowd and in effect, the Celtics. The threat of the lob is also a very realistic weapon in NBA games, as KG and Rondo showed during their first couple years in Boston. At times, it was almost impossible to defend, giving Boston an incredibly efficient scoring weapon.
Jackson: You guys are both right, home-court advantage is very real. Hell, if this dunk was on the road I’m sure you’d still get a very similar crowd reaction. People love raw power. I love basketball players. While I think the value of these dunks could be measured to be more than 2 points (research paper at next year’s MIT Sloan Conference?) I think the number of points Jordan gives away by being a severely limited player (42% free throw percentage, snags under 7 boards a game, can’t be on the floor late in the fourth quarter of a close game) outweighs any potential extra value of a dunk.
Davenport: I can SEE the derision steaming off of this question. But if you mean a player who scores at a high percentage around the basket, it’s pretty high up there for me. A big lob threat underneath is helpful for spacing, and because the Celtics don’t have one, they’re very lucky to have an artisanal small-batch space craftsman like Pierce to create it for them. Dunkers also get fouled a lot, which means they’re ultimately more productive on offense than jump-shooting bigs like KG or contact-avoiding layup contortionists like Rondo. KG is a higher-usage and ultimately more valuable scorer than DeAndre Jordan, but I wouldn’t mind the eleven extra points of FG percentage Jordan brings, and I definitely wouldn’t mind more dunks. Dunking is the best. Dunks, please.
Robb: Close to the bottom of the list, given Jeff Green is already in the fold and he’s one of the best in that department already in the NBA. All things being equal, you want the better all-around player than the DeAndre Jordan’s of the world, but that dunking ability is a fun little bonus for any player to have. No one should be arguing against getting a player who can dunk a lot.
Jackson: This may be the PTSD talking but I don’t want the Celtics prioritizing this at all. Unless, that player brings something other than dunking to the table. I got over dunking the moment I realized how terrible Kedrick Brown was. Coincidentally, it was about that time I found out professional wrestling was scripted. Then, a few years later the Celtics draft Gerald Green, a pick based mostly on size, athleticism, and potential. Please, give me basketball players. Give me more Jared Sullingers and less Fab Melos, Gerald Greens, and Kedrick Browns. I would take Omer Asik over DeAndre Jordan everyday of the week.
As I mentioned before, dunking seems to reward severely limited players. Take Jeff Green as an example. Prior to his midseason dunk-a-thon, Green was being crucified for his play. His public perception shifted dramatically after he dunked on Al Jefferson. The truth is that Green still can’t rebound, defend the pick-and-roll, consistently back down smaller opponents, and still makes an average nine million dollars a year. He can dunk, though!