Just because the NBA has shut down for a long summer (and fall, and winter, and ...) doesn't mean that we aren't allowed to have serious opinions about who is the best and who stinks like a stale loch. Our NBA Lockout Power Rankings rate the important and not important personalities that have remained in our consciousness during the lockout.
Without further lollygagging ...
1. Besiktas Black Eagles. There's no disputing that this has been the SUMMER OF BESIKTAS. No one would be taking the Kobe or Durant talk seriously if Besiktas hadn't first landed Deron Williams against all odds. But they did! Somehow. Eurocup competition will never be more intriguing.
2. Brandon Jennings. Hey, now I remember why I liked Brandon Jennings so much! After a rough season in which the Bucks struggled and Jennings fought a bad injury, Young Buck has made the streetball circuit his own and, outside from No. 8 in these rankings, has been the most buzzed-about player. Welcome back, BJ.
3. David Aldridge's Anonymous Source. A reminder:
The source said owners frequently speak of "being tired of making these guys rich" [...]
If Jay-Z invented swag, this bro perfected it. My God.
4. Seattle Mariners. The Mariners are not being good at baseball right now, but they are being fantastic at honoring the SuperSonics. The Sonics' move is still outrageous, and good on the Mariners for stepping up and bringing out the legends. Lord knows the NBA won't do it any time soon.
6. Delonte West. Forget about Gil: Delonte was the greatest addition to Twitter of 2011, by far. Even though he's only got five tweets in. The promise is superlative. Plus, there's the unstoppable Lockout mixtape.
7. Europe. Not only are more European teams beginning to pick up NBA players for next season, but China is shooting itself in the foot and next month's EuroBasket is going to be catnip for American basketball fans. We'll see how many games NBA TV televises; if the number is few or none, FIBA's online TV package should do killer sales.
8. Kevin Durant. Dominating at Rucker is a good way to head off any misplaced "soft" criticisms that could come KD's way in the future. Shutting up hecklers with your game instead of your open hand is also a preferred method of conflict resolution.
9. Jay-Z. Most owners don't need the NBA to hold a season to stay fresh in the pockets. Jay-Z is the only owner proving that in a very public fashion. And rapping about how little he needs to make money off of the Nets.
10. Deron Williams. D-Will remains the only All-Star to sign overseas. History could look favorably on that.
11. Ron Artest. Ron-Ron remains the only NBA player to choose a primarily English-speaking country to sign with overseas. History could look favorably on that.
12. Anthony Tolliver and Spencer Hawes. Twitter should be the great equalizer in the P.R. war that is the lockout. Few are using the tool better than the very agitated Tolliver and the outright angry Hawes (who, strangely enough, is a pretty right-wing Republican; thank goodness he has found the value of organized labor).
13. Atlanta Hawks Fans. Success! It's over! Atlanta should throw a parade to celebrate the end of the Atlanta Spirit group.
14. David Stern. Don't sleep on Stern dropping a federal lawsuit the morning after a fruitless bargaining session. That's some Don stuff there.
15. D.C. Basketball. Capital Punishment is still a few weeks away, but D.C. has really taken over as the summer basketball mecca this year. Durant, John Wall and of course Donte Greene deserve credit, along with Goodman's organizers.
16. David Kahn. Yep, #KAAAAHN found a way to get fined within the first month of the lockout. (That makes it two straight summers of hefty fines because of things that come out of David Kahn's mouth.)
17. Jordan Farmar. Only one player under NBA contract has signed with a team that can do real damage in Euroleague next season, and that's Farmar, who signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He'll only be overshadowed if Omri Casspi rejoins the team, too.
28. Michael Beasley. Beasley has really reinforced his brand this summer.
37. Matt Barnes. SUSPENDED BY THE SAN FRANCISCO PRO-AM LEAGUE.
52. China. This should be China's basketball moment, post-Yao edition. Instead, government officials are planning to block the opt-out clauses NBA players under contract need in order to play in China next season. Those who have followed the slow rise of Chinese basketball will notice that this quasi-isolation is a familiar theme. The idea that the sanctity of the Chinese Basketball Association could be threatened by some serious talent spending a few months there is bizarre.
The Hook is a daily NBA column written by Tom Ziller that runs on SBNation.com Monday through Friday. See the archives.