Since I discovered him on Grantland, ESPN's Zach Lowe has long been my favorite writer on the NBA and I try to catch everything he does. It's not always easy, but when I do I always learn. I am just getting to December 29's 10 Things now, but this part on the TNT crew and what he thinks they should have done is a perfect example of what makes him the best. He doesn't just critique, he goes on to show what else this team could have done to make their criticisms even stronger.
I suspect Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O'Neal using the Wolves-Lakers Christmas game as a vehicle to hammer analytics did not go over well on NBA Twitter.
I didn't mind it. Those guys are entertaining. Between guffaws, they were actually having an interesting chat about the value of playing fast, Tom Thibodeau's minutes management, and the tradeoffs of having your biggest players -- and best rebounders -- shoot so many 3s.
My only wish: that during their lamentations over the (alleged) death of the post-up, one of them would mention how shifting illegal defense rules have made posting up so much harder than it was when they played. At one point, they reminisced about how Houston's championship teams used Hakeem Olajuwon's post game to draw double-teams, and manufacture inside-out 3s -- the "right kind" of 3s, in their view.
That was the perfect jumping-off point for a discussion about how rule changes unlocked better ways to defend the post! Defenses in the 1990s had to trap hard. Illegal defense rules (mostly) prohibited players from lurking in no-man's land to deny entry passes, swipe at the ball, or clutter those inside-out passing lanes Olajuwon exploited. Help defenders can do all of that today.
Every step of executing a post-up is harder now. There are few people alive more qualified than Barkley and O'Neal to discuss that. I wish they would.
This is how you do it.