This Week In Hoops: February 1

Hey, everyone! Welcome back to basketball season. If you were around these parts last year, you remember our weekly feature: This Week in Hoops. It’s changed a bit, but the essence is the same. If you’re new to Palestra Back, TWIH is a helpful guide to the recent goings on in the world of basketball. If something happens on the hardwood, you’ll hear about it here. 

The Biggest Story in Basketball

Yesterday, I posted this on Twitter:

Oklahoma survived the game, in  part thanks to the absolutely torrid shooting of Buddy Hield. LSU’s inability to effectively play through Ben Simmons and the…questionable coaching of Johnnie Jones are a topic for another day.

To me, Hield has essentially locked up national player of the year. He’s 3rd in the nation in scoring and plays for a team ranked #1. In order for someone else to catch him in the race for the big awards, Denzel Valentine will need a few more triple doubles, Kris Dunn will need a few MONSTER games (especially against Villanova), or Jarrod Uthoff would need to do something special for Iowa.

But to date, in this year of wildness, Hield winning the biggest individual awards is as close to a sure thing as we have. He’s making 52.4 percent of his threes and 51.2 percent of his field goal attempts have been threes. He’s filling it up. To get a better idea of how well he’s stroking it, take a look at his game by game 3-point shooting numbers, since Christmas day.

buddy good bud

For the bottom metric to be making half your threes, that’s some good shooting. And I love it. I yell “BUDDY!” like Lars from Heavyweights every time he shoots. (Sidenote: don’t watch an Oklahoma game with me.)

And now, thanks in part to ESPN’s absurd “Green Room Guys” promotion and to a disappointing NBA draft class, the entire conversation about Buddy Hield has turned into his prospects at the next level.

Hield is lighting college basketball on fire, but count me among those unsure if his game will translate.

As I mentioned, he’s hoisting threes at an incredible rate. In today’s NBA, that would seem to be great trait to have. See: Warriors, Golden State.

But watching Buddy Hield more closely, I’m not so sure he’s taking so many threes specifically due to his hot streak. Down the stretch, he was able to find open shots, but generally when the defense had lost him or he found space in transition. He’s not beating anyone off the dribble or inside the perimeter. Kansas felt content to let 5’9 Frank Mason cover Hield.

Against LSU, when Lon Kruger needed to set up his team for a basket at the end of the game, Hield acted as a screener, looking to open for a shot, but a teammate took (and made) the game-winner instead.

That’s not a death sentence for Buddy as a pro. Again, he’s making an obscene amount of threes, but a 6’4 shooting guard who can’t get by his man is not a hot commodity in the NBA. Could he be…JJ Redick in the NBA? I think that’s a fair comp. Would you draft the next JJ Redick in the top ten?

If I’m the Sixers, Lakers, or other dregs of the NBA, I’m steering clear of Buddy early on. If I’m a team like the Pelicans with a clear star and building core, adding Hield is something worth exploring.

Basketball is Fun!

With all of the hot takes and super serious basketball related opinions out there, it’s important to remember that this is a game being played and watched for fun. Every week we’ll highlight something on the lighter side of the hoops world. 

It’s not often you see the very first moment a father needs to deal with a young man hitting on his daughter, but we are #blessed to have this video of Steph Curry:

Good costumes for children: furry animals, cartoon characters…inventors of popular sports? This kid went for it, with his Dr. James Naismith outfit at the Kansas game on Saturday.

Essential Reading

All the pieces and posts you need to read to be on the ball. 

Palestra Back this week: On the brilliance of Steph Curry, and the response from around the league

More from me, at Rush The Court: Louisville has looked great, but their schedule ahead is fearsome.

Watch a Virginia game and you’ll hear a lot about their “Pack Line” defense. What does that mean? SBNation’s Mike Rutherford provides a nice explanation.

Rank Shots

May the Tuesday Top Tens rest in pieces. Long live Rank Shots! If you’re not familiar, this is where we rank the best teams in the NBA, college basketball, and rank another totally irrelevant something.

NBA:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers
  5. Toronto Raptors
  6. Los Angeles Clippers

College Basketball

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Iowa
  3. Texas A&M
  4. Maryland
  5. North Carolina
  6. Iowa State
  7. Villanova
  8. Kansas
  9. Michigan State
  10. Virginia
  11. Miami (FL)
  12. Arizona
  13. Louisville

A note about these rankings: SMU will not appear here all season. They are banned from the postseason, and while I’m not taking a stand against their NCAA violations, I see these rankings more as a list of teams most likely to reach the Final Four or win the whole tourney. They aren’t allowed to do either, so I’ll refrain from listing them. This week they’d be just on the cut line, for what it’s worth.

Chipotle Meats

The crisis is over. Go back to Chipotle, guys.

  1. Barbacoa
  2. Chicken
  3. Carnitas (RIP)
  4. Steak
  5. Sofritas (full disclosure: never tried it, probably never will)

Something Vaguely Basketball Related You Should Have Seen By Now

Let it rain.

Games To Watch This Week

Monday

NBA: Cavs at Pacers (7 PM/NBATV)

NCAA: #2 North Carolina at #16 Louisville (7 PM/ESPN)

Louisville’s remaining schedule is a gauntlet. They follow up a beatdown from Virginia with a visit from the Tar Heels.

Tuesday

NBA: Thunder at Knicks (7:30/NBATV)

NCAA: Butler at Georgetown (7 PM/FS1), #9 West Virginia at #14 Iowa State (9 PM/ESPN2)

Thanks to recent struggles by Butler, that first game is feeling very bubbly. The second game is just another tussle in America’s most exciting conference.

Wednesday

NBA: Warriors at Wizards (8 PM/ESPN)

The Dubs East Coast swing has allowed fans on this side of the country a few chances to watch the NBA’s best without needing to inhale a pot of coffee the next morning.

NCAA: #25 Notre Dame at #15 Miami (7 PM/ESPN2)

Thursday

NBA: The amount of nationally televised Lakers games is sickening.

NCAA: UCLA at USC (10:30 PM/PAC-12)

Friday

NBA: Spurs at Mavs (9:30/ESPN)

Saturday

NBA: Thunder at Warriors (9 PM/ESPN)

jerry loves sports

NCAA: #11 Virginia at Pitt (Noon/ESPN3)

#6 Villanova at #10 Providence (2:30/FS1)

#21 Purdue at #8 Maryland (4 PM/ESPN)

#2 North Carolina at #25 Notre Dame (7 PM/ESPN)

#17 Baylor at #9 West Virginia (8 PM/ESPN2)

What a week for Carolina. Want to prove you are one of the best teams in the country? Here, have back-to-back road games at Louisville and Notre Dame.

Sunday

NBA: Clippers at Heat (2 PM/ABC)

NCAA: Utah at #22 Oregon (4 PM/ESPN…better than endless Super Bowl pregame coverage!)

NFL: Panthers vs Broncos (6:30/CBS)

cam!

And one more thing…

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Enjoy the games, folks. Let’s have a fun season. 

(Note: Every edition of This Week in Hoops will end with a song. I’ve compiled all of these songs into a playlist that you can find here.)

**

Header Image via Elsa/Getty Images

Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org, Rush The Court, and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to palestraback@gmail.com.

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