Why LeBron James didn't win his rivalry with the Warriors in any way

Why LeBron James didn't win his rivalry with the Warriors in any way

Another day, another crazy comment on the Internet.

On Thursday morning, Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated said the following after LeBron James and the Lakers throttled the injury-riddled Warriors on Wednesday night:

"In a way, LeBron James won his rivalry with the Warriors. Sure, he was just 1-3 against them in the Finals. But with the Dubs done and the Lakers looking like contenders, it appears his dynasty has outlasted theirs -- which is something that once seemed unimaginable, considering James was in the midst of a fifth straight Finals trip when they first met, and since a 73-win team added KD before the rubber match.

"And what James said about missing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in 2015 has some validity. Of all their meetings, none will have the meaning of 2016. The comeback from 3-1 to vanquish what would have been the greatest season in NBA history must still sting in a way LeBron losing with Matthew Dellavedova as his wingman won't.

"And I don't think anyone believed it was reasonable for James to conquer Golden State plus Durant after that. Now the Warriors are in the lead for the lottery while the Lakers are on top of the West with LeBron on an early MVP campaign and leading the league in assists."

First and foremost -- the Warriors beat LeBron and the Cavs in the NBA Finals three times out of four. So no -- in no way, shape or form did LeBron win his rivalry against Golden State.

We could just end this article right now, but let's continue a little longer.

Yes, LeBron is off to a terrific start this season and the Lakers are rolling at 9-2.

But what if Los Angeles doesn't win the championship this year? We have no clue how things are going to play out.

Even if the Lakers ultimately win the 2020 title, it will not be an indictment whatsoever on the Warriors, who have been decimated by injuries.

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Now, it would be a different story if a healthy Lakers team beat a healthy Warriors team in the playoffs, but that won't be happening this season.

Hopefully, we get to see a Warriors-Lakers matchup sometime in May 2021. That would be great for the NBA and basketball fans everywhere, and actually could be used as "evidence" when discussing the "LeBron-Warriors rivalry."

Until then, it's silly to make any sort of judgments.

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Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Potential Warriors NBA draft target James Wiseman declared ineligible

Today is a bad day for college basketball and its fans.

Memphis star freshman James Wiseman -- the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft -- was declared ineligible.

The school issued the following statement:

University of Memphis student-athlete James Wiseman has decided to withdraw his lawsuit against the NCAA and the University. The University supports the decision, as it believes it is in James' and the men's basketball team's best interests to resolve his eligibility issue expeditiously through the NCAA process.

In order to move the matter forward, the University has declared James ineligible for competition and will immediately apply for his reinstatement. Pending that notification, James will be withheld from competition but will continue to practice with the team.

The NCAA is fully aware of the unique nature and challenges in this particular case, and the University is confident that the NCAA will render a fair and equitable decision consistent with its mission. 

Spoiler alert -- it will be shocking if the NCAA renders a fair and equitable decision.

Sorry Warriors fans, but you probably won't be able to watch the 18-year-old phenom again this season. Neither will Golden State's front office:

Wiseman -- who is listed at 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds -- averaged 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks in his first three games with the Tigers, while shooting 77 percent overall and over 70 percent from the free throw line.

The Warriors currently sport a record of 2-10, and it's not inconceivable that they end up in position to draft Wiseman in June.

So why is he ineligible exactly? As ESPN's Jeff Borzello writes:

The school acknowledged last week that [Penny] Hardaway, before he became the Tigers' head coach, provided $11,500 in moving expenses for Wiseman and his family to move from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017. At the time, Hardaway was Wiseman's AAU coach and would then coach him at Memphis East High School. Hardaway, a Memphis alum, was considered a booster due to a $1 million donation he gave the school in 2008 to build a sports Hall of Fame.

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Wow. Hardaway is nothing short of a monster and Wiseman should never be allowed to play basketball again.

That's obviously a joke, and it's a complete joke that Wiseman can't suit up for Memphis right now.

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This potential Warriors lineup could help mitigate defensive problems

This potential Warriors lineup could help mitigate defensive problems

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

There is no sugarcoating the fact that the Warriors defense has been abysmal this season. Playing without their best defenders from last season in Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Kevon Looney and even Draymond Green for half the games, the team is giving up on average 121.1 points per game -- good for third-worst in the NBA.

The roster is young and inexperienced this season, filled with players not known for their defensive abilities who all are trying to adjust to playing with each other and form some sort of semblance of defensive chemistry. Yet while the team will have to cope without almost all their stalwarts on defense from last season, there might be a tiny glimpse of hope in sight for this season.

Coach Steve Kerr has begun to experiment with playing rookie Eric Paschall at the wing position alongside Green. Paschall has made headlines for his surprisingly polished offensive game so far, but his defensive capabilities have flown under-the-radar.

His generic numbers do not jump off the page, averaging only 0.5 steals per game and 0.4 blocks, but he has been a steady force on the defensive end, staying in front of smaller, quicker guards while also muscling up to defend big men in the paint. By playing Paschall alongside Green, Kerr is trying to find a lineup where his best players can be on the court simultaneously. 

Many had figured that the only reasonable way the two could play together right now would be small-ball lineups, with Green playing the "five" and Paschall playing the "four." But against the Lakers on Wednesday night, Kerr employed multiple lineups in which Paschall and Green played together, with a rotation of centers on the court with them.

In one particular lineup, Kerr put a unit on the floor that utilized Glenn Robinson III at the shooting guard position. GR3 also has been a quietly strong defender this season for the Warriors, and if he were able to effectively slide into a role in which he defends smaller guards, the team defense could benefit greatly.

The return of Looney in the next few weeks should fix a small portion of the defensive woes. He is a subtly impressive defender, using his length and strength to disrupt opponents in the paint. He also is the Warriors' best pick and roll defender, as he can do the best job of staying in front of quicker opponents when switched on to them.

When Looney returns, Kerr could hypothetically put a lineup on the court that has D'Angelo Russell, the team's best offensive weapon but weakest defender, at the point position, then Robinson at the "two," Paschall at the "three," Green playing the "four," and Looney holding down the fort at the "five."

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The length and switch-ability of the four defenders (not named Russell) could be greatly effective on the defensive end. All four have the ability to play pick and roll coverage, and as a needed bonus, are all capable defensive rebounders.

It is not a pretty sight watching the Warriors play defense right now, but perhaps the coaching staff's new lineup experiments, as well as the return of Looney, could spell some reason for optimism in the near future.