Yes, these NBA players’ gems are uncut

These NBA players have depth, danger, flaws and hidden values. The Safdie brothers would definitely describe them as uncut gems.

There’s a really good interview with the Safdie brothers about Uncut Gems. All interviews with the Safdie brothers are good because of the general disorderliness of their train of thought, but this one with Vulture is especially good because Josh Safdie insists multiple times, as if with a dependency on saying this specific phrase six times in under a minute, that, yes, his gems are uncut. The actual uncut gem in the film, an ultra-rare black opal from Ethiopia, is in most scenes more just a pretty and expensive rock than a literal representation of the metaphor. Kevin Garnett really likes this rock, and, in an Uncut Gems retcon of the 2012 NBA playoffs, he gives buckets to Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen because of the rock.

This is how Josh Safdie describes uncut gems: “Am I non-judgmental? Yes, that means my gems are uncut. Am I on edge? Yes, my gems are uncut. Do I have depth in underneath the surface? Yes, my gems are uncut. If my gems are cut, I’m like naked, ready to be seen. I’m potentially dangerous. Uncut is very dangerous, but cut is extra dangerous, because it can have a sharp point. My value is hidden if my gems are uncut, so I have a deeper, bigger value. I might be a little flawed, but I’m worth it. That’s gems uncut.”

Benny Safdie adds, helpfully, “It’s also, like, ‘Who are you to cut my gems?’”

You could get whiplash from the way the Safdies’ minds move. There’s some meaning to their interpretation, but this is anxiety-inducing use of the English language to make the point. Like the film itself, they fling themselves headfirst at passing thoughts, so what if you leave others unresolved, all the while picking up excess for maybe no point other than the excess itself. Uncut Gems features one scene with cocaine and an overarching cocaine aesthetic. The film is unhinged, sometimes abrasive and really endearing.

Not many things possess uncut gems energy, but you know it when you see it. Howard Ratner, obviously, has uncut gems energy, and the events of Uncut Gems progress at an uncut gems tempo. Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” has uncut gems energy, and so does Chief Keef. The author Don Delillo, whose writing I sort of resent, has uncut gems energy. KG has uncut gems energy, and far more of it than Amar’e Stoudemire, Joel Embiid or Kobe Bryant. (We are so lucky to get the Kevin Garnett version of this film, instead of any of those other potential NBA leads.)

Since watching Uncut Gems, I have felt this deep compulsion to view all things in the world through a singular perspective — Are their gems uncut? — and through this synthesis of all things into a pop-culture sludge until my brain finally collapses in on itself, I have decided that, yes, these NBA players’ gems are uncut.

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart has one objective in basketball, which is to be perfectly parallel to the ground as he flies in for an offensive rebound. You could soundtrack his defensive highlights to Daniel Lopatin’s (great) score for the film, or like, Deafheaven. If we’re keeping things within the Celtics, Smart might be the only player whose gems are uncut on the current roster. Maybe Daniel Theis or Robert Williams. I don’t know.

Draymond Green

Draymond Green may have graduated out of uncut gem status, with all of those championships he’s won. By their very nature, championships cut gems. What it comes down to is, is there such a thing as a gem that’s impossible to cut?

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving may have graduated into uncut gem status. Everyone keeps talking about, oh, he’s a poor leader and, oh, he takes too many bad shots and, oh, he hijacked the development of the young guys on his last team to smoke tons of weed and get more third-eye tattoos probably, but all he really wants to do is go crossover-behind the back-spin move on a guy, and to me, that’s beautiful.

Donte DiVincenzo

Did you guys see that play this year where Donte DiVincenzo flew in from the weak side to blow up a Lakers lob to Anthony Davis crashing down the middle? That’s actually crazy. I’m as surprised as anyone, but Donte DiVincenzo is a short king.

Terence Davis II

Sort of like Pat McCaw, but if Pat McCaw was a gem. (Pat McCaw might be a scammer. Does he pass the basketball for healthy ball movement reasons, or does he pass the basketball to just get it out of his hands?) Going undrafted because you didn’t want to sign a two-way contract screams MY GEMS ARE UNCUT. Going undrafted is how Terence Davis wins.

Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic plays irreverent basketball, but unlike with other irreverent point guards — Russell Westbrook, peak Isaiah Thomas, probably Ja Morant — the world just never developed a taste for Goran Dragic. (It could be because of his bad facial hair.) These days, he might be a total afterthought in the NBA. Goran, I’m thinking about you. I have always thought about you.

De’Anthony Melton

The Phoenix Suns traded him with Josh Jackson for Jevon Carter and Kyle Korver. What a joke!

Marco Belinelli

Marco Belinelli on a basketball court inspires two thoughts: How? and Why? This is also true of his longevity in the NBA. The answer, of course, is that he’s an uncut gem.

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard is obviously a cut gem, but among cut gems, he’s also obviously the most uncut gem.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

I still believe.

With respect to: Terrence Ross, Jared Dudley, Andre Drummond, Dzanan Musa, Aron Baynes, Brandon Clarke, Dion Waiters, Derrick Jones Jr., Jabari Parker and Evan Turner. Popular thought would consider Patrick Beverley as an uncut gem under the Marcus Smart corollary, but Patrick Beverley has lowkey gone mainstream. Then again, so has Marcus Smart. Somebody should sign Joakim Noah, or like, Marcin Gortat.

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