All posts by Daniel Damico

This is a place of sports. I write about a couple sports, mostly college basketball and soccer. I will eventually get into the NBA, but there are enough people that get paid to do that. I also write on a great sports writing community called Bleacher Report and have had a couple articles featured on CBS Sportsline and am writing a weekly article for Fox Sports all season long recapping Tuesday college basketball. I’ve had another blog for awhile that I did everything on, but now it is for things not sports related. Mostly music, politics, religion. All topics of a “lighter” nature. It is called: My Ramblings. As for me, I live in a land called Fargo with my beautiful family. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Quick Hits: 12/08/09

Happy Holidays everyone.  I apologize for my lack of posting – I find it tough during the holidays – but this year I have an even more legit “excuse”.  My daughter was born on Nov. 24th.  So my wife and I have been busy with that, along with trying to get everything ready for Christmas.

That being said, here is a very Mini-Quick Hits.

1. Allen Iverson returns to Philly – I will have more on this later.  Here is ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridans view on it.

2. The US Men’s National Team will play England in the first round of the Group Stage of the 2010 World Cup.  I have said this before, but the US Soccer site is pretty sweet.  Here is the article from www.ussoccer.com.

3. Speaking of soccer (that was my well thought-out transition) – Everton, a mid-table club in the English Premier League - also the team of US National Team goalie Tim Howard, is reportedly interested in Landon Donavon.

4. Injury Update

  • Ohio State’s Evan Turner broke 2 vertebrae and will be out up to eight weeks.  Here is the AP article.  I am a big fan of Turner and feel bad for the kid.  I hope he comes back ath the same level, with even more drive!
  • Vikings middle linebacker and Captain E.J. Henderson broke his leg in the game on Sunday night.  After playing in only 4 games last season because of an injury with dislocated toes, the Henderson will be out the reminder of the season.
  • On the other end of the healing spectrum – The Timberwolves welcomed back Kevin Love from a broken wrist. In the three games back, Love has played 24, 26, and 30 minutes and is averaging 15.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg and two steals a game.

5. North Dakota State’s All-Time leading scorer, Ben Woodside, is set to play in the Pro A League All-Star game in France.  Woodside was selected as the member of the best non-French team that will compete against the best French players in the league.  Woodside is averaging 16.6 ppg in 31 minutes a game. 

Woodside also has a blog that he keeps rather up-to-date at http://benwoodside.blogspot.com.

6. The Heisman Trophy finalist have been announced.  They are: Toby Gerhart - RB from Stanford, Mark Ingram – RB from Alabama, Colt McCoy – QB from Texas, Ndamukong Suh - DT from Nebraska , and some guy named Tim Tebow . 

7. It is Really no Surprise, but Joe Mauer was Announced as the Winner of Most Valuable Player in the American League of Major League Baseball.  I wanted that sentence to feel grand and important - so I capitalized a lot!

The following info is from ESPN.com.

AL MVP Voting

Joe Mauer received 27 of 28 first-place votes to win his first AL MVP award. The only other player to get a first-place vote was the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, who finished fourth. A breakdown of the voting:

Player, team Total
Joe Mauer, Twins 387
Mark Teixeira, Yankees 225
Derek Jeter, Yankees 193

Here is the link for the full article by the AP on ESPN.com. Plus you get some video.

Mauer is only the second catcher, Ivan Rodriguez in ’99, to win the award.  And is the second Twin on the current roster to win the AVP Award.  Justin Morneau won the award in 2006 – that announcement was not as accepted as this one.  Mauer was the best candidate, and it would have been fun, if Morneau would have been healthy, to see them both as top five finisher.

Twins MVPS

  • Mauer
  • Morneau
  • Rod Carew (’77)
  • Harmon Killebrew (’69)
  • Zoilo Versalles (’65)

The Brawl at The Palace

YahooSports.com has an article that looks into the Indiana Pacers and what has happened since the brawl in Detroit in 2004 with the Pistons and their fans.  Click Here for the article by Peter May.

I remember watching this game live.  I turned to it very late.  Literally as Ron Artest committed a stupid foul on Ben Wallace.  Needlessly hitting him in the afro-covered-head.  I actually remember saying “that was stupid, you’re up by fifteen (points)” to no-one in the room.

When Wallace went at Artest, I was not surprised by his reaction or did I feel that he was completely out of line.  I would have been pissed.  Look at it from Wallace’s position.  You’re down fifteen, there are 45 seconds left in the game, you have been embarrassed by the Pacers, and now you have to shoot two meaningless free throws which is not your strong suit and you’ll probably miss.  I may not have pushed Artest – he is much bigger than I am – but I would have said something.  “What the @#%& is your problem” comes to mind.

I will not go any further into it, we all know what happened.  The whole thing was ugly and disgraceful, but I remember it.  I remember thinking that I could not believe it was happening and that I actually got to see it, I was stunned.

Quick Hits: 11/20/09

New Look Twins

The Minnesota Twins are heading to a new Stadium in the 2010 season.  And what do you do when you make a  majorchange?  You make another change, but not-so major.

The Twins showcased their new uniforms for the first season in the new pad.  Here is a gallery of photos from the Star Tribune.

At first look, I didn’t really see any major differences to the home jerseys, but I like the road jerseys.  Both are semi-retro jerseys that are a tribute to the 1961 uniforms.

That is outfielder Denard Span in the home white and pitcher Scott Baker in the road uniform.

I love the colors of the Twins.  Dark blue and red with white or gray.  My favorite colors of any Minnesota team.

College Basketball

I am watching an ESPN Classic game from Nov. 9th, 2000.  Kansas vs. UCLA played at MSG with lineups filled with future NBA players.

  • For Kansas: Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison,  and Drew Gooden,
  • For UCLA:  Earl Watson, Jason Kapoano, Matt Barnes, and Dan Gadzuric.

Watching just a part of that game got me thinking about the depth of the those teams and of the top teams of this season.  Look at the top eight teams in this seasons ESPN/USA Today poll.  What do you see?  Teams that can easily go eight or nine deep.

  1. Kansas – We all know about Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry.  But in the Morris twins, Brady Morningstar and Tyshawn Taylor ( and others), this team has a lot of players who played meaning minutes.
  2. Michigan State - This years Spartans exemplify the saying: “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”   But they still have a go-to guy in Kalin Lucas – the Big Ten player of the year.
  3. Texas - The Longhorns not only have depth, but they have senior leadership.  In Justin Mason, Damion James, and Dexter Pittman – who is set for a breakout season.  Plus they have a killer freshmen class highlighted by Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton.
  4. UNC - The Champs have six players 6’8″ or taller and all of them should see playing time.  Plus they have Will Graves, Larry Drew, and Marcus Ginyard.
  5. Kentucky – Some guy named John Wall.
  6. Villanova – They are guard heavy led by Scottie Reynolds, and the Corey’s – stoke and Fischer.  Plus Duke transfer Taylor King adds fire power.
  7. Purdue - Do not forget about the Boilermakers.  Robbie Hummel, E’Twuan Moore , Chris Kramer, JuJuan Jackson, Keaton Grant, Lewis Jackson, plus a talented freshmen class.  PS – Out of all the players on the Purdue roster, only 3 are not from Indiana.
  8. Duke – Lead by Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer, and Nolan Smith.  This years Blue Devils has more height in the Plumlee brothers, both are 6’10″, Brian Zoubek at 7’1″, and Ryan Kelly at 6’10″ and they have freshmen Andre Dawkins.

Most every team would survive an injury to a major player (minus the backcourts of UNC and Duke and the frontcourt with Villanova), and that is what has separated the good teams from the great teams.

My early season Final Four: Texas, MSU, Kansas and Purdue.

Quick Hits: 11/16/09

I have not posted lately, and there are a couple of reasons for that.  The main reason is that my wife and I are expecting a baby any day.  Not that I have blocked sports out completely – I am reading Bill Simmons The Book of Basketball - and have of course watched The Vikings and as much soccer and basketball as allowed.

Here are some quick and thoughts.

1.  The Vikings look like a legit team.  I know what most of are thinking, of course they do, they are 8-1.  But some of the Vikings faithful will remember that the purple also had a 6-0 start in 2003 and pooped all over themselves and did not make playoffs.  So yeah, I held out judgment until now.

2.  I watched the Texas Longhorns Men’s Basketball team play the other night.  I am having an internal struggle as to which team is deeper, Texas or Michigan State.  Both have experienced leaders, but Texas has a killer freshmen class.  Good thing they play each other in Texas on Dec. 22nd.

Warriors Bucks Basketball

3.  Who has Brandon Jennings on his fantasy basketball team?  That would be me.  I have also received a ton of hits on this site because of this post, when I said the following about Jennings prior to the draft:

“I have not seen much of him after the high school all-star games, but I do not like what I have heard.  The word is that he reminds people of Iverson, and I am not a fan of Iverson.  Jennings is quick, picks the flashy over fundamental, and looks to prompt himself.  Sounds like Sebsastian Telfair all over again.  But he could do very well playing for Golden State.”

We do not get a lot of Bucks games, but what I have seen you can sense a level of maturity that and respect for the game that was not there before.  Teammates respect him, he carries himself very well in interviews, and he plays within the offense.  None of which were said about him before he went to Italy.

4.  The other night I had trouble sleeping because I did not get to see the end of the LA Galaxy - Houston Dynamo match-up.  I am old and need sleepy-time.  Now, I am not a David Beckham rub – I prefer Mr. Donovan – but I was thinking about what it would mean to soccer in the US if the Galaxy win the MLS Cup with Beckham.  Everyone would forget Grant Wahl’s book – Yes, that is the second sports book reference at Barnes and Noble. I have a membership.  Everyone would forgive the trip to Italy, and all the other Beckham mess.  Everyone would ignore the response he got from his own fans when he came back.  All because he made it about the team, and they won.

Side – note:  I am not sure which is worse,  three different links to www.bn.com or the fact that I struggled sleeping thinking about the outcome of the game.

Stephen Jackson

Breaking News: The Golden State Warriors sent Stephen Jackson to the Charlotte Bobcats. “In a deal that NBA front-office sources said came together quickly Sunday night and received the needed league approval Monday morning, Golden State sent Jackson and guard Acie Law to the Bobcats in exchange for veteran swingmen Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic.”  from ESPN.com.

This may not seem like a big deal, but Jackson will fit in well with the Bobcats, while Charlotte did not give much up to get him.  Larry Brown got a player with offensive fire power, who still works on defense.  Now he has a starting line-up of Raymond Felton, Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw and Tyson Chandler with D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson, Derrick Brown coming off the bench.  Can you say “Up-Grade”.

And Jackson will be on his best behavior with Brown on the bench and the Greatest of All-Time - Michael Jordan in case you were wondering – not too far away.

Side – Note:  I bet that is the first ever blog post that has been interrupted by breaking news.  Well, at least on this blog.

5.  I watched all of ten minutes of the Kentucky Blue-White game, and I already love John Wall. In that ten minutes he had two dunks, at least four assist – two lobs – and was all over the place.  Kentucky coach John Calipari has done it again with another one-hit-wonder.  See: Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.  I have heard rumors that Wall is even quicker than Rose.  That is unfair.

North Dakota State Basketball In Running for Top 100 Player

I saw this on ESPN.com the other night and I heard he was visiting this week.  Jay Harris is ranked as the No. 15 point guard in the nation and No. 64 overall.

The 6’0″ guard from Oswego, IL, is looking at NDSU as well as the University of Northern Iowa and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

recruit_e_harris01_200

Harris has a great feel for the game with his ball handing, passing, the ability to finish in transition and making plays one on one. Harris can also score in a variety of ways in addition to his ability to get his own shot. He can spot up behind the arc on the side of dribble penetration, come off screens and attack the basket in transition. Harris is terrific at scoring over or around taller defenders although his must get stronger in order to be as successful on the next level. Playing with Boatright really allowed Harris to be very productive at the shooting guard position although he is a true point. Harris also displayed the ability to defend both guard positions and he came up with a couple on ball and cover down post steals with his quick hands. Harris has the talent and basketball IQ to be a terrific college lead guard but he must make the weight room a priority”  From ESPN.com.

If Harris signs, he would be the first Top 100 player to commit to the play in Fargo starting in the 2010 season, and the single biggest signing in NDSU basketball history.

Trayvonn Wirght, the 6’7″ 175 pound power forward from Waterloo, IA, has already signed to play for coach Saul Phillips and is rated as the 77th best power forward in the country.

“Wright excels in open court situations where he can use his athleticism to his benefit. He has the ability to score the ball in the paint with different finishes and uses the rim wisely to protect himself. Trayvonn was able to rebound the ball outside of his area and grab the ball at its highest point. However, he was uncomfortable with physical play and needs to learn how to take advantage of his quickness to combat opponent’s strength. Wright has limitations with his ball handling skills; he has no lateral movement in his dribble and cannot easily shift positions; when cut off on drives, he will spin. He has made tremendous strides since the end of the high school season and has a lot of upside.”  From ESPN.com.

Landing those two players would be another substantial building block to the foundation that was laid with the plan to; sit the four seniors, Ben Woodside, Brent Winkelmen, Mike Nelson, Lucas Moormann, win the conference, and play in the NCAA tourney the first year eligible.  We could not imgaine the extra hype of Woodside dropping 60 and getting Sportcenter shout-outs.  But it helped.

The 2009-10 season may not be as successful in terms of wins, trophies and accolades, but it is necessary in building this program to the next level.

College Basketball Rankings

Were are getting closer to the college basketball season kicking off and Kansas is the No.1 team in the country.  It is going to be a more competitive season than last season.

Anyway, previews are coming, but here are the preseason rankings for 2009-10 Men’s College Basketball.

AP Top 25
1. Kansas (55) 0-0 1,612
2. Michigan State (5) 0-0 1,515
3. Texas (1) 0-0 1,397
4. Kentucky (3) 0-0 1,372
5. Villanova 0-0 1,347
6. North Carolina (1) 0-0 1,320
7. Purdue 0-0 1,284
8. West Virginia 0-0 1,115
9. Duke 0-0 1,064
10. Tennessee 0-0 897
11. Butler 0-0 864
12. Connecticut 0-0 844
13. California 0-0 800
14. Washington 0-0 776
15. Michigan 0-0 578
16. Ohio State 0-0 465
17. Oklahoma 0-0 410
18. Mississippi State 0-0 393
19. Louisville 0-0 335
20. Georgetown 0-0 326
21. Dayton 0-0 318
22. Georgia Tech 0-0 301
23. Illinois 0-0 282
24. Clemson 0-0 217
25. Minnesota 0-0 172
Others Receiving Votes

Maryland 171, Siena 112, Notre Dame 107, Florida State 92, Vanderbilt 90, Syracuse 83, Oklahoma State 65, UCLA 63, Florida 53, Wake Forest 50, Xavier 42, Gonzaga 37, South Carolina 28, Kansas State 24, Brigham Young 21, Northern Iowa 16, Tulsa 16, Mississippi 15, Texas A&M 10, Missouri 8, Boston College 6, Pittsburgh 4, Western Kentucky 2, Utah State 2, Virginia Commonwealth 2, Old Dominion 1, Holy Cross 1.

Complete Rankings
ESPN/USA Today Poll
1. Kansas (27) 0-0 770
2. Michigan State (3) 0-0 732
3. Texas 0-0 676
4. North Carolina (1) 0-0 653
5. Kentucky 0-0 635
6. Villanova 0-0 620
7. Purdue 0-0 586
8. Duke 0-0 528
9. West Virginia 0-0 501
10. Butler 0-0 408
11. Tennessee 0-0 406
12. California 0-0 370
13. Washington 0-0 364
14. Connecticut 0-0 361
15. Michigan 0-0 279
16. Oklahoma 0-0 244
17. Ohio State 0-0 241
18. Minnesota 0-0 151
19. Mississippi State 0-0 149
20. Georgia Tech 0-0 136
21. Georgetown 0-0 134
22. Dayton 0-0 130
23. Louisville 0-0 123
24. Clemson 0-0 114
25. Syracuse 0-0 111
Others Receiving Votes

Maryland 100, Illinois 83, Siena 72, UCLA 59, Vanderbilt 38, Oklahoma State 29, Missouri 28, Xavier 25, Gonzaga 24, Notre Dame 22, USC 22, Pittsburgh 19, Tulsa 17, Kansas State 16, Brigham Young 16, Florida State 15, Florida 13, Wake Forest 13, San Diego State 8, Creighton 7, Boston College 4, Texas A&M 4, Southern Illinois 3, Utah State 3, Cornell 3, Memphis 3, Mississippi 3, UNLV 2, South Carolina 1, Northern Iowa 1.

Complete Rankings

2009-10 NBA Preview: Part 2

Here is part of my “preview” for the NBA – only four game into the season.  I decided to highlight about half of the teams after I wanted to do all the teams, but then I remembered I have a life outside of this blog.  I know, crazy right?

What I have put together are my “Points of Interest” – I know, great name – of teams, players, situations, that may be a little under that radar – or not – but are worth giving more attention and will give another layer of intrigue to the NBA.

Shawn MarionDallas Gets All Maverik-y with Marion

The Mavericks have been lacking the old-school Charles Oakley type power forward.  While, Mark Cuban may not have gotten the toughness, they did get Shawn Marion who is a life time 17.8 ppg and 9.9 rpg player.  Marion’s scoring average has gone down since a career high of 21.8 ppg in ’05-’06 in Phoenix, but I would expect Marion to get plenty of east basket from Jason Kidd like Marion did from Steve Nash.

Here is there stating line-up: PG – Kidd, SG – Josh Howard, SF – Shawn Marion, PF – Dirk Nowitzki, and C – Erick Damiper.  And then off the bench you the have Sixth Man of the Year, Jason Terry.  Not too shabby.

The Heat In Miami

Going into the fourth season removed from winning the Championship, the Heat are not as bad as I remember , having won 43 games last season.  But the heat did not add much to the roster, minus the often traded Quentin Richardson, and lost Jamario Moon and traded away Mark Blount.

Dwayne Wade must be tired, seriously!  Not only has he played an average of 37.9 minutes a game and over 38 minutes in four out of the six seasons, he averaged 30.2 last season which was 31% of the points per game.  Wade turns 28 and you have to wonder how much longer his body can perform and continue to endure the beating he gets every game.

Mr. Michael Beasley’s 13.9 ppg and 5.5 rebounds must creep closer to a 15 ppg and 10 rpg average for him to be consider a legit No. 2 option.  And with his recent trip to rehab will only add to already intense lens that will be on his every move.

Daequan Cook is the wild-card for the Heat.  While his scoring average did not increase much – 8.8 to 9.1 ppg -  his shooting improved from behind the three-point line – 33% to 39%.  Along with Cook, the Heat brought Carlos Arroyo over from Orlando and those two will be key in providing scoring and steady guard play off the bench.

Houston, We Have A Problem

The Rockets lost Ron Artest to the Lakers and Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady to injury.  This is a major hit to Houston and it’s attempt to make the playoffs for a fourth straight season.  Those three players totaled 52.4 ppg and 19.5 rpg, and were the three best players in a Rocket uniform.

This season could be a season similar to the Spurs of 1997, when David Robinson was out for the season with back issues.  The Spurs had a 20-62 record and the ended-up with the No. 1 pick, which turned out to be Tim Duncan.

I am not sure there is a Duncan type players in next years draft, but with the Rockets lacking quality veteran leadership, this team will end up with a lottery pick.  This could add some quality next season when Yao will be healthy.

Aaron Brooks, Trevor Ariza and the crew will get plenty of playing time as this team must look past the McGrady era and plan on a rough road this season.

Cleveland RocksLeBron and Shaq

The elephant in the room is  Shaq.  Shaq has won titles as Batman and as Robin, and was committed to his role as Robin to Dwayne Wades Batman.  But is seems that everywhere else (i.e. LA and Phoenix) Shaq still considered himself the headliner.

Well in Cleveland, there all ready is a headliner.  Without question – the Cavs were called “the LeBrons” for crying out loud.  So Shaq buying into his role and his new team should lead to at least one appearance in the Finals.  Cleveland was close without him before running into the Orlando Magic.

Three Other Points of Interest

  1. Delonte West – Apparently wants to play the Antonio Banderas role in Desperado.  Hopefully, that was a onetime deal.
  2. Jemario Moon – Can get easy baskets and guard players that only LeBron could guard before.
  3. Can Mo Williams have another All-Star caliber season?

San Antonio Spurs – Just One More Time

Tim Duncan (19.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, and 1.7 blocks – 33 years old) + Tony Parker in his prime + Manu Ginoblli (playing time >44 games at 32 years old) + Richard Jefferson (17.7 career scoring average and playoff experience) + better than advertised bench (George Hill, Roger Mason, Matt Booner, Theo Ratliff, Keith Bogans and DeJuan Blair) = at the very least, a trip to the Western Conference Finals.

Chicago Bulls

There are two major questions facing the Chicago Bulls.

  1. Is Derrick Rose able to continue to improve from his performance last season.
  2. Can Luol Deng get back to his ’06-’08 form?

Let’s start with Deng.  After playing 78 and 82 games in the ’05-’07 season, the following two seasons had been cut short to 63 and 49 games.  Deng had a career year in ’06-’07, scoring 18.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg and 2.5 apg and for the Bulls to take the next step, Deng will need to stay healthy (he is the only true SF on the roster).

Now to Mr. Rose.  Rose had a good rookie season and an even better playoff with his epic battle with Bostons Rajon Rondo.  Rose is an amazing athletic, but has room to grow as a basketball player.  In his rookie season, Rose shot 79% from the foul line.  His biggest weakness is his shooting – he shot 22% from deep – that’s sad.  But like I said, he has room to grow.

Minnesota Brand New Roster

Name the three Timberwolves who have been on the Minnesota roster the longest.  I will give you five seconds to think about it.  5…4…3…(quick)…2…1…0.

Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes and Al Jefferson.

Al Jefferson and Kevin Love

Since new GM David Kahn was hired on May 23rd, Kahn has destroyed the roster.  Here is a list of transactions from CBSSports.com.

  • 9/22 Chucky Atkins PG Waived
  • 9/17 Sasha Pavlovic G/F Signed as Free Agent
  • 9/11 Ramon Sessions G Signed as Free Agent, Four-year contract
  • 9/9  Antonio Daniels  PG Traded, Part of three-player deal
  • 8/13 Mark Blount F/C Traded, for Quentin Richardson
  • 8/10 Ryan Hollins F/C Signed as Free Agent
  • 7/27 Chucky Atkins PG Traded, Part of three-player deal
  • 7/27 Damien Wilkins G/F Traded, Part of three-player deal
  • 7/20 Quentin Richardson G/F Traded, Part of four player deal
  • 7/10 Wayne Ellington G Signed as Draft Pick
  • 7/10 Jonny Flynn G Signed as Draft Pick
  • 6/24 Darius Songaila F/C Traded, Part of 6 player deal
  • 6/24 Etan Thomas F/C Traded, Part of 6 player deal
  • 6/24 Oleksiy Pecherov C Traded, Part of 6 player deal

The Timberwolves  have no one on their potential starting line-up that has played in the league longer than 5 years.  If Rammon Sessions starts over Johnny Flynn, you would have Brewer and Session with two years in the league, Kevin Love with one year, Ryan Gomes with four years, and Jefferson with five years.  The player with the most NBA experience – Antonio Daniels with 12 years in the league.

This season may be long and ugly at times, but it is necessary for this team to grow.  They will be a lottery team in next years draft, but if they can keep this core of young talent and add a few more pieces through the draft and free agency, this team should be fighting for the playoffs in 3-4 years.

Take Me To Your Leader

The Warrior’s draft Steph Curry to add even more fire offensive power to a team that is not lacking points, but is lacking leadership.  When the best player on the team demands a trade, that is not a good start to the season.

Golden State seems like a train wreck waiting to happen.  Wait, that is every moment when Stephen Jackson is on your team.

Every single moment.

Don Nelson can reload with players after player who can fill the box score but I am not sure they have any player who can provide more leadership then the rookie star Curry.  That is a sad state of affairs.

Look up and down the roster and try to find a relevant player – other than Speedy Claxton – who has any leadership skills or experience that would make other players look to them for guidance.

Golden State Side Note:  Look for break out years from Anthony Randolph and Kelenna Azubuike (who averaged 14.4 ppg last season).

Elton BrandRe-Branding

Do you want to know why the Clippers let Elton Brand go?

After a career high in scoring of 24.7 ppg in 2005-’06, Brands scoring dropped to 20.5 ppg in the following season, to 17.6 ppg in ’07-’08, then to a career low last season with 13.8 ppg and his second lowest in rebounding with 8.8 rpg.

The Clippers were “rewarded” with the Mr. Griffin, but the 76ers are still looking for a return in their investment and get more value in the $14M of Brand contract this season.

The silver lining in this whole ordeal is that the 76ers made the playoffs last season without Brand.   Even with the loss of PG Andre Miller, Philly has talent and a full roster, so managing Brand’s minutes should be easier.

Don’t forget that Thaddeus Young – he is in line for a break out season.  His scoring jumped from 8.8 ppg to 15.4 ppg and his rebounds per game jumped from 4.2 to 5.1.  I am just saying.

Indiana Pacers

Did you that Duke has a campus in Indiana?  With three former Blue Devils on the roster, the Pacers have more than the league quota with Mike Dunleavy, Josh McRoberts and Dahntay Jones.  The also may have the most white players 6’9″ and taller on a single roster in the NBA over with five.

Here we go; Jeff Foster, Tyler Hansbrough, Troy Murphy, Dunleavy and McRoberts.  Travis Diener is only 6’1″.

Oh bye the way, that Danny Granger guy is pretty good.  One must wonder how high the ceiling is for Granger.  Since his rookie year, 2005-’06, he has improved his scoring every year.  From 7.5 ppg his first season, to 25.8ppg last season.  But he has also become a better shooter from distance and the foul line.  Granger shot 23% his rookie to 40% from beyond the arc and 77% from the foul line to 88% in the same time.

The biggest question mark is Mike Dunleavy.  He played in only 18 games last season, missing the time due to a serious knee injury.  And reports have him out because of the same knee  at least the next month.

Side note: Before playing in only 18 games – which was a career low - Dunleavy had averaged 80 games a season.

Laker’s Repeat?

Congrats Laker’s, you won the NBA Championship.  Not only are you going to resign Lamar Odom (aka Mr Khloe Kardashian), but you also get Ron Artest – and all the crazy that comes with this rapper player.

I have no idea why the Lakers brass let Trevor Ariza leave – besides money.  As the player that made crucial plays during the Lakers playoff run, Ariza was the perfect counter part to Kobe.  A defensive hound that makes big plays and can hit the open shot, but did not demand the ball or force bad shots – both are traits that come with Artest.

All that said, you still have Kobe and Pau and one of the deeper benches in the league.  And of course there is the “Zen Master” in Phil Jackson.  But major concern for the 2009-10 Lakers is that is does not turn into the 2003-04 Lakers with Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, who lost in the Finals to a better “team” in the Pistons.  But a line-up of Derek Fischer, Kobe, Artest, Odom/Andrew Bynum and Gasol; is the best starting five in the league.

Next Trick, Please

After a playoff run that exceed all expectations, the Orlando Magic thought they had a good thing going.  Well, they did.  But they did not know it was going to Toronto.  After Hedu Turkoglu signed in Canada, the Magic needed to add offense, and since Hedu didn’t really play defense, there was nothing to worry about when trading for Vince Carter.

Even though signing Carter was important, the added value that came with the signings of Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes will give the Magic even more toughness.  Bass will start at PF and will pull down his share of rebounds, while Barnes will come off the bench with Mikael Pietrus to add grit and even more match-up problems.

Having Jameer Nelson back to be the spark plug for the Magic offense.  His skill and scoring ability was missed in the playoffs.  Plus, a pick and roll combo of Nelson and Dwight Howard is more feared than the 2009 playoff model (i.e. Rafer Alston).  Add Carter and Rashard Lewis – my secret favorite player in the NBA – and the Magic is going to be exciting and do have enough talent to make another run deep in the playoffs.

The New Boston Celtics 3.0boston-celtics-big-three

If the Celtics in the championship, everyone will point to the fact the Kevin Garnett is healthy.  But there are more reasons than “The Big Ticket”.  While the Celtics took a hit losing Leon Powe to the Cavs, Boston added much-needed depth.

  • SG: Marguis Daniels
  • PF: Rasheed Wallace
  • C: Sheldon Williams

Also off the bench you have Eddie House at point,  but Daniels can, and will, handle the ball when needed.  Tony Allen and Glen Davis are young players, but have played in big games.  And Bill Walker adds athleticism and a spark that no one else on this team can.

While Wallace is the biggest name that the team picked-up, there were other players who may prove to be more important to the teams overall success.

Is Toronto Turning Into Phoenix Lite?

Well, look at the line-up.

  • PG: Jose Caldoron
  • SG: Marco Belinelli
  • SF: Hedu Trukoglu
  • PF: Chris Bosh
  • C: Andrew Bargnani

Not only is the line-up very offensive minded, it is very European – which would lead to a more offensive game.  But this team will be able to give you multiple looks that will keep opponents are their heels.  You have Turkoglu and Bosh who can score from the post, but every single player can run and shoot a solid jumper.  Bargnani had the best percentage from 3-point range with 40.9% – he attempted 209 last season.

The Raptors also have some talent off the bench in DeMar DeRozan, Jarrett Jack and a few players who can give the team a lift: Sonny Weems, Quincy Douby, and Amir Johnson.

This team is young, but should fun to watch and could give some of the big boys with match-up issues.

Rose City

How quickly we have forgotten the “Jail Blazers” and now this team is the favorite young team that everyone expects to break through and make a run deep in the playoffs and shock a contender.  Baby steps.

This team is stacked with talent, but I am not sure of what kind of playing time is going to be available for some players. Example: Point Guard – Steve Blake is the starter, Andre Miller is the back-up and Jerrod Bayless is the star in waiting at third string.  Just take a look at the project depth chart from ESPN.com.

POS STARTER 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Point Guard Steve Blake Andre Miller Jerryd Bayless    
Shooting Guard Brandon Roy Rudy Fernandez      
Small Forward Nicolas Batum Travis Outlaw Martell Webster    
Power Forward LaMarcus Aldridge Juwan Howard Dante Cunningham Jeff Pendergraph  
Center Greg Oden Joel Przybilla    

I guess that is a great problem to have.  Finding time for so many good players – and Juwan Howard.  I want to see Greg Oden turn into a force, but this team is lead by Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, and has some many players that some of the pieces are interchangeable, especially at center and small forward.

Side-Note: Brandon Roy is the 7th highest paid player on the roster behind: Oden, Przybilla, Aldrige, Blake, Miller, and Martell “I am the third string small forward” Webster.  That will not last past this season!

Atlanta = Joe JohnsonAtlanta Hawks

Let me first state that this team has talent.  But without Joe Johnson, the Hawks would not sniff a playoff berth.

While Johnson does not get the marquee billing that certain superstars get, his production is defiantly worthy of being mentioned in the class of LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade, etc.

His scoring averaged dipped, mostly due to other Hawks stepping-up, but his stat for last seasons: 21.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.8 apg, 1.1 steals a game.  Johnson also shot 44% from the floor, 33% from distance and 83% from the foul line.  He also played 39.5 minutes a game.  Johnson is skilled, tough, and can perform in the clutch.  He has also proved durable as player – playing an average of 78 games a season.

For the Hawks to improve and go further in the playoffs,  Josh Smith must show that he is reliable option.  Smith’s scoring has decreased over the last three season, but his shooting has gone up – from 44% to 49%.  But Smith’s free-throw percentage gone down faster that the Titanic.  After floating in the 69% to 72% range in his first four-year, last season it sank to 59% – and I am rounding up.  Smith is a crazy athlete who adds another dimension to the Hawks, but he can not yet be trusted at end of games.

   

2009-10 NBA Preview: Part 1

It seems like only yesterday that I was watching the Lakers win the NBA championship in Orlando.  Actually, it may have been yesterday, ESPN Classics probably showed it again.

There have been a ton of off-season moves, but we will get to that in part 2.  For now, take a look at some of the young players to watch.

Rookies – 10 SpotBlake Griffin

  1. Blake Griffin -  As the No. 1 pick, expectations with him and the Clippers are going to be on different levels.  But there should be plenty of chance for improvement for both.  PS – He may be out for six weeks.  Clippers curse!
  2. Brandon Jennings – After an up and down year in Italy, many are hoping that a return to the States will mean the return of his game.  I thought Jennings might be a good chance of pace off the bench, but word is that he will be starting.
  3. Earl Clark - Is anyone more Jekyll and Hyde than the former Louisville star?  He is on the end of the bench, but Clark is a building block for the post-Steve-Nash era.
  4. Eric Maynor - Jerry Sloan found the perfect point guard in Maynor and he should grow with some tough-Sloan-love.  He will be the perfect back-up for Deron Williams.
  5. James Johnson – Like Clark, Johnson had lottery-like talent.  And like Clark, he had the ability to disappear on occasion.  Johnson will also be low on the depth chart, could add the element of running the offense through him when he is on the court.
  6. Derrick Brown - The Bobcats are piecing together a nice team and Brown could pan out to be the steal of the draft at the 4oth pick.
  7. Chase Budinger - One of my favorite college players has landed on a team with Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier.  But Budinger is skilled and athletic enough to add offense off the bench.
  8. Danny Green - There were a few picks that made sense for the Cavs.  But the perfect pick was Green.  A 6’7″ defensive hound, who will not need to be handled with kids gloves and will bust his butt regardless of the amount of playing time he gets.
  9. Toney Douglas - Poor man’s Ben Gordon plus defense, Douglas derserves to get meaningful playing time.  But on a roster with Chris Duhon, Nate Robinson, Wilson Chandler, Larry Hughes and Cuttino Mobley, there are not going to be enough balls to around.
  10. Jonny Flynn - Flynn was the only reason I watched the Orangemen last season and he will be the man running the show in Minnesota this season.  But he will also play with one of the best big men in Al Jefferson.

Sophomore Sensations?

Joe Alexander – This guy was the epitome of explosive at West Virginia.  Athletically and emotionally, Alexander was able take games over in a flash.  But his rookie was not much more than spark (4.7 ppg and 1.9 rpg in a total of 12.1 minutes a game).  Alexander struggled to find playing time, but the Bucks higher-ups must have seen something in Alexander they liked by letting Charlie Villanueva sign in Detroit.  Looking for more than just a spark this season with some more playing time.O.J. Mayo

O.J. Mayo - I was not a fan of Mayo until I watched a bunch of games of USC and I was excited when Minnesota drafted him with the No. 4 pick two drafts ago.  But then I woke up the next morning and Mayo was in Memphis.  A quick look at his stats you will see 18.5 ppg, 3.8 ppg, and more assists than turnover (barely).  But what is really impressive is 44% shooting from the field, 38% from distance and 88% from the foul line.  After finishing runner-up in the ROY voting, Mayo is posed to do more in Memphis.  The only question, is the Answer – Allen Iverson.  And how Iverson’s need to have the play in his hand will effective Mayo.  Because Mayo has the same need.

D.J. Augustin – When the Bobcats drafted Augustin, I think everyone was surprised.  You had a strong starting point guard in Raymond Felton, but maybe Charlotte was looking for another option off the bench.  In 26.1 minutes a game, Augustin added 11.8 ppg and 3.5 apg.  All while shooting 43% from the field, 44% from three-point range and 89% from the charity stripe.  Side-note: In twelve starts last season, Augustin averaged 17.8 points and 5.6 assists.  Expect to see more minutes for this tiny, yet talented guard.

Eric Gordon – In his one season at Indiana, he was involved Kelvin Sampson scandal.  So going to the Clippers was probably not as shocking as it would have been for other players.  Many people under-rated him as a player coming out of college.  But the LA choose home and he did not disappoint, and the Clippers needed him to take on a large load of he offensive.  16.1 ppg, 46% from the field, 39% from the floor and 85% from the foul line.  I would expect him to turn into more of a spot-up shooter who will live off the double teams of Blake Griffin.

Danilo Gallinari - To say that the Knicks faithful were shocked by the pick Gallinari, would be an understatement.  While limited to on 28 games by a back injury, there were hints of ability in his limited time on the court.  He can score from the perimeter, shooting 45% from the field and 44% from distance.  Gallinari is not a great athlete and can be a below-par defender, but has the ideal head coach in Mike D’Antoni’s run and gun offense.

Mario Chalmers - When the Heat trade for Chalmers, it probably was not in the plan to have him start all 82 games. But this quick, defensive guard could prove to be exactly what the Heat need.  A pass first point guard (4.9 apg), who can put constant pressure on the ball (2.0 steal per game), shoot a good percentage from the field (42%), and score when need (10 ppg).  Going into his second season, Chalmers should continue to put impressive numbers in regards to his assists and steals.  But needs to improve from distance, as he only shot 37% from distance.

Kosta Koufos - After a less than impressive freshmen season at Ohio State, Koufas declared for the draft.  Being drafted by the Jazz was an ideal situation as he was not needed to start from day one, and had time to learn under some talented players.  But Koufas is talented and has a good offensive game for a player his size (7’0″) and his age (20 years old).  Look for more playing time, and in that, a more appealing stat line.

Update

Hey DTP viewers, or people who landed here by accident.

I am working on a couple of large pieces previewing the NBA and College Basketball.  So, I am sorry that I have been a slightly delinquent poster, but I will return!

Quick Bits For You:

1.  I am pulling for the Phillies.

2.  The Vikings looked amazing in the first half against the Raven and then the defense was awful.

3.  The US Soccer team draw against Costa Rica, but should have won by 3 goals, at least!

4.  The NBA Preseason is going along, and the Timberwolves made another trade.

5.  The NBA refs are close to signing.

6.   FIFA 2010 was released and I have not played it.

7.  I won two out three fantasy football games.

8.  Bill Simmon’s book, The Book of Basketball, comes out next week and ESPN is pimping Simmons out to everyone.

9.  Jordan’s son wants to wear dads shoes.

10. Landon Donovan wins 6th US Player of the Year Award.

11.  ESPN’s Steve Phillips has got some issues. Amazingly, not on the front page of ESPN.com.  Crazy!

12.  Mike Sando’s MVP Watch has Brett Favre ranked third and Adrian Peterson tenth.

OK, that is all I have for now.  See you soon.

US Striker Davies in Car Accident

US striker Charlie Davies is in serious condition after being involved in a one car accident that killed another person.

Here is a clip from the AP article from Yahoo Sports:Charlie Davies

The tibia and femur in Davies’ right leg were broken. He also sustained facial fractures and a fracture in his left elbow in the accident, which took place at about 3:15 a.m. in the suburbs of the nation’s capital.

Davies will be hospitalized for at least a week and additional operations will be required to stabilize his broken elbow and possibly the facial fractures.

“Injuries of this nature usually require a recovery period of six to 12 months and extensive rehabilitation,” said Dr. Dan Kalbac, a U.S. team doctor who collaborated with the doctors at the hospital. “Due to Charlie’s fitness level, his prognosis for recovery and his ability to resume high-level competition is substantially improved.”

Here is the link from yahoo.com for the entire article by AP Sports Writer Joesph White.