Power Rankings for the Week of October 24th: NBA BACK Edition

Hi everybody! Did you miss me? I missed you ❤

Programming note for this season: I will be publishing the Power Rankings weekly on Sunday night/Monday morning.  My Power Rankings are usually more about the opening than they are a team-by-team breakdown, there are far smarter people doing this far better than I could ever imagine.  In addition, I am planning on doing a weekly NBA podcast on Tuesday nights (no particular reason, it just fits in my current schedule) that will sort of be an “NBA Week in Review” where I can talk about topics that I find most interesting that I haven’t or am unable to properly explore in written format.  You can subscribe to that podcast here.  In addition, you can find my work at the fantastic Silver Screen and Roll and follow me on Twitter @DamanR.  Thank you as always for your support, never hesitate to reach out to me for either criticism, feedback, requests, etc – the only thing I ever want to accomplish is to be better today than I was yesterday.

Vacation over, let’s go, onto this season!

Continue reading

The 2015-2016 NBA Report Card

So, here we are. Another season in the books.  We said goodbye to Kobe, we read the Hinkie manifesto, we marveled at Steph’s 400 and the Warriors 73, we laughed at Houston, and a whole lot in between.  Looking back, how did each team’s overall season play out?

In reverse win-totals order, pre-season over/under = O/U

Philadelphia 76ers (10-72; 21.5 O/U): F.  Jerry Colangelo might have been watching too many episodes of House of Cards when he decided to take the job to take over the 76ers with his master-plan in mind.  Just a few short months after his arrival, his son is now the leader of the team with Sam Hinkie resigning in a startling public execution of The Process.  In terms of the on-court basketball, this team somehow regressed: finishing as at 30th in Offensive Rating and 6th worst Defensive Rating.  There’s no real discernible “star” to be seen, and it seems unlikely that Noel and Okafor can play together long term – forget Embiid and Saric waiting in the wings.  It’s not all bleak – Bryan Colangelo has a remarkable treasure trove of assets in terms of young players and specifically great draft picks that he can turn this thing around quickly.  But this season? An unfortunate waste.

Continue reading

Power Rankings: Trade Machine Edition (For The Week of February 8th)

Welcome to the Trade Machine game!  The rules are simple, and it was really fun to do, even as some of the trades became a little difficult.  I ranked the teams alphabetically, assigned them a corresponding number (1-30) and entered it into a number randomizer.  The order of which the teams came up are as follows below.

Note: I did not involve any sort of intricate draft pick scenario and I tried to keep the team’s needs and overall intentions in mind.

Continue reading

Power Rankings for the Week of December 14

(Previous week’s Power Rankings can be found here)

One of my favorite things about being a fan of a team for so long is that with the rare exception of organizations like the San Antonio Spurs that cheat and bribe their way to being good forever is living through the valleys and enjoying the peaks.  I became a bigger Lakers fan after living through the immediate seasons after Shaquille O’Neal.  It makes you appreciate “the process” [now a phrase ruined by Sam Hinkie] of team-building.  It also can be painfully frustrating if you’re losing AND not really building towards something as the Lakers had been early on this season, most notably with the benching of D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle.  Remarkably, that turned around in the Lakers loss to Minnesota on December 9th with Kobe sitting in the 4th of a close game to let the kids do their thing.  Now, even though they lost every game this week, it has been SO much more enjoyable to watch.  Wins and losses aren’t the only thing that matter, it’s why I hate the “championship or failure” (#RINGZ) mentality of the way we evaluate some careers, it’s also about enjoying the journey to get there.

Continue reading

Power Rankings for the week of December 7th

I love this Warriors team.  I know that’s obvious, who wouldn’t love a 22-0 team? But there’s a purity to watching them play and rooting for them that I don’t think I’ve ever really had as a sports fan only because the circumstances have aligned so well.  As a Lakers fan, if my team had any expectations, I would still be excited about the Warriors but I would also kind of dislike the fact that I knew my team wasn’t good enough to beat them (nobody is, this year).  It’s been a joy to watch a transcendent superstar in Steph Curry exceed expectations somehow after winning the MVP.  It’s been amazing to watch the strength of an organization that was able to withstand the absence of Steve Kerr, the architect of the championship squad last season.  As the league gets more competitive, teams get smarter, differentiating yourself as an organization becomes more difficult.  The Warriors are being run like a Fortune 500 company, with a strong culture of accountability and selflessness, they truly stand for something.

Continue reading

Daily TSP: September 29th [Tech, Sports, Podcasts]

Good morning! Lakers-centric sports section today, with a great iPhone review and a podcast recommendation. Thank you as always for taking the time to read.


Jason Snell (for Macworld) Reviews the iPhone 6S & 6S Plus

Yes, the “s” models look more or less like their predecessors, but for quite a while Apple has used these cycles to upgrade a lot of the stuff on the inside. This year is no different: The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus offer some major improvements, with better cameras (front and back), much faster processors, more responsive Touch ID, and the single biggest improvement to the iPhone’s user interface in its history.

iPhone reviews bring the best out of the tech writers online, and this year has been no different.  Jason Snell’s general takes on Apple products are spot on, and I found this one no different.  I myself was fortunate enough to buy the iPhone 6S Plus (64 gb, Space Gray) and have been using it since Friday. Some general thoughts:

  • This thing is fast. It’s really noticeable beginning from the faster Touch ID sensor that is so fast that I don’t even know what my lock screen picture is anymore.
  • The iPhone has always had a great camera, but this year’s “selfie” camera and video recording took HUGE steps up.  I normally don’t take selfies, but I went outside in the dark and was shocked at how nicely the selfie came out, utilizing the screen itself as a substitution for true flash.  In addition, 4K videos are remarkably crisp and the optical image stabilization built into the 6S Plus make for a great experience.  I’ve enjoyed just taking videos, pausing them, and zooming into small portions of the video and being amazed at the level of detail that is present.
  • 3D Touch is a good feature that will simply be great in the 6 months to one year it will take developers to fully integrate it to their apps.  I worried when Apple announced the feature that I will either accidentally trigger it or have a difficult time activating it when I want to use it.  Thankfully, neither of those issues have occurred.  One tiny suggestion: it would be helpful if Apple had some kind of visual way (maybe some small mark on the icon?) to let the user know if a specific application has it enabled or not.  I find myself 3D touching every app on my home screen just to see if it works.

Overall, I’m loving the phone. Please read the review!


Baxter Holmes (ESPN.com) talks to Kobe Bryant about the Lakers

When asked if he envisions his role changing, Bryant said, “Probably. It’s hard. I don’t know what to expect. My philosophy has always been, whatever you are asked to do, try to be the best at doing it. Whatever the role, you’ve got to figure it out. Whatever it is, try to do it to the best of your ability.”

With so many key young players that the Lakers must develop into the potential future core of the franchise, does Bryant now become more of a teacher and facilitator than their top option?

“I’m not really sure what that stuff means, honestly,” Bryant said. “I think a lot of that stuff is media conversation or debatable content. The reality is, we’re all mentors, we’re all teachers in our own respects. Whether that means scoring a lot more or assisting a lot more — whatever the case may be — depends on the identity that the team takes on. It’s my responsibility to plug in those holes where we’re lacking.”

This is just the fan in me talking, but I am so excited for the Lakers this season.  Look, there will be games where Kobe is upset that the young guys aren’t stepping up and he’ll take matters into his own hands when he should be more patient.  At the same time, I think that the roster is built full of guys who are confident in their ability and will be able to play with him just fine.  The veterans the Lakers have added like Roy Hibbert and Brandon Bass will assist Kobe in setting the tone of professionalism this season, Jordan Clarkson is a young and very confident guard who has already been around Kobe, and D’Angelo Russell has the kind of edge that Kobe can appreciate.  We’ve been hearing the right things from the coaching staff, as skeptical as I remain, and although this team will not be a playoff team, I’m just glad this won’t be another lost season.  Lastly, if this is indeed Kobe’s last year, I hope he goes out on his own 2 feet, healthy, and doing Kobe things on the court.


Exponent: Episode 053 – Connect the Dots [Posted September 27th; Length: 68 minutes]

Another great installment of one of my favorite podcasts hosted by Stratechery’s Ben Thompson and Harvard Business Review’s James Allworth.  This one started off talking about Volkswagen’s emissions fraud, but it took a strange and interesting detour into a discussion about life decisions that somehow connected really well with their final topic about the Apple Watch.  Ben and James not only have a really interesting professional perspective, but a really diverse personal background that lend itself to really insightful talks.  Thanks for another great episode!

The Daily Teaspoon: September 23rd

Welcome to my first “Daily Teaspoon”.  This is a not-very-clever play on the common abbreviation of Teaspoon, TSP [Tech, Sports, Podcasts].  I plan on sharing 3-5 articles a day, covering my interests which are most commonly sports and tech, with 1 podcast recommendation.  I will hold myself accountable to do this Monday-Friday, posting these at approximately 9 A.M.  Thank you for taking the time to read, if you like what you see, PLEASE share and tell a friend. Thank You Thank You Thank You.

Continue reading

Podcast Recommendations: Week of August 3rd

As a reminder, I identify podcasts I recommend as “topical” or “evergreen”.  Topical generally would mean that it has a shorter shelf life, depending on topic it might be 1-7 days. Evergreen is good to go any time.  As always, you can find previous week’s recommendations here. Thank you as always, I appreciate every single one of you.

Monday, August 3rd

  • Monday Morning Podcast: 8-3-15 [Evergreen; Posted August 2nd; Length: 90 minutes]
    • Bill Burr is undoubtedly my single favorite comic performing today.  I share his love for sports, and I love his “angry” voice.  It’s the funniest thing in the world, and I recommend you watch his Netflix specials to enjoy comedy at its peak.  His Monday Morning Podcast is a fantastic display of his comedic ability.  Very rarely can a show hosted by a single person (and in some cases joined by his wife, the Lovely Nia, or other comedians) be this entertaining. Twice a week, Bill seemingly off the top of his head discusses current topics that branch out into pretty great riffs and tangents.  Listen to this one!  Loved his bit about Cecil the Lion.
    • I mark this episode as “evergreen” because a topic like Cecil the Lion, while current, will not age this podcast.  There are some episodes where he talks a lot about current sports events (like during the football season), so I would recommend those accordingly.

Tuesday, August 4th

  • Dunc’d On Basketball: August 4 (Worst Trades Since the Lockout with Daniel Leroux) [Evergreen – until the start of the NBA season; Posted August 4th; Length: 108 minutes]
    • Nate Duncan and Daniel Leroux of RealGM have a fun discussion about the worst trades made since the 2011 NBA Lockout.  It was fun looking back at some of these deals that I had forgotten, such as the wacky deal the Nets made for Gerald Wallace.  I agreed with most of their picks, and I really liked the depth they went into to explain why some of these deals were as bad as they were, highly recommended for NBA fans.
    • Audio quality, unfortunately, continues to need improvement.

Wednesday, August 5th

  • You Made It Weird: #270: Jimmy Kimmel [Evergreen; Posted July 8th; Length: 110 minutes]
    • The You Made It Weird podcast hosted by Pete Holmes is one of my favorites.  Pete has a very “Weird” style of interviewing, and I mean that in the best way possible.  He discusses topics such as God and spirituality that rarely get talked about and in general maintains a very upbeat and lively conversation with his guests, rather than a straightforward interview.  His guest, Jimmy Kimmel, is also one of my favorite entertainers today. I’ve been following him since the Man Show and he seems like an all-around great human being and he tells his fascinating story about traveling around the country doing radio shows before he became a true star.  Really interesting, really funny, highly recommended.

Thursday, August 6th

  • The Joe Rogan Experience: #677 – Josh Zepps [Evergreen; Posted August 3rd; Length: 191 minutes]
    • I typically have three reactions to listening to a Joe Rogan podcast: laughter, contemplation, and fear.  I laugh because he’s a great comedic mind with great comic timing. I contemplate because Joe keeps an open mind and has an extremely diverse intellectual palette, and he has many interesting guests from many different areas of expertise.  Lastly, I always get scared crapless, because Joe has a knack of reminding us as an audience that the world we live in is very fragile and our planet is a very unpredictable, violent sphere that exists in the universe. All in all, Joe has done one of the better jobs using this medium to have truly free-flowing discussions with very interesting people.
    • Today’s episode, with Josh Zepps of HuffPost Live and We The People Live, was a great one that marked all of my reactions above.  Joe and Josh discuss our current culture, Cecil the Lion, supervolcanoes, the universe, drugs, and more.  It’s a great conversation with two interesting guys and I recommend it!

The Blueprint 2: Free Agency and the Lakers

Ever since Dwight Howard left the Lakers, I’ve been generally an advocate of the “keep your books empty, and sign a couple of max players together” strategy that it seemed like Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss were going for.  Signing players to 1 or 2 year deals that wouldn’t put a dent in the Laker books while simply waiting for the “big splash” made sense.  The Lakers are the Lakers after all, they’re located in Los Angeles. What could go wrong?

Well, the strategy simply hasn’t worked.  Carmelo didn’t want to sign here last summer, LaMarcus Aldridge (the only “splash” worthy player who changed teams) never really took the Lakers seriously, and Kevin Love didn’t even give the Lakers a meeting.

Continue reading