Category Archives: NBA

DTP: NBA Trade Reactions

The NBA deadline has come and past with a few major moves and plenty that don’t really matter other than money.  So while everyone and their dog are ranking/grading the trades, I thought I better do the same – or something close to that.

Instead of giving an A or something I will try to determine why the move made sense or not.  And if you disagree, please feel free to tell me why.

The Big Deals

1.  Antawn Jamison to the Cleveland

There are more players involved, but this is the only one that matters.  With Zydrunas Ilgauskas more than likely getting bought out and returning to Cleveland, the trade ends up like this.

  • Cleveland receives: Jamison.  From the Clippers – Sebastian Telfair - don’t forget the Clippers are involved here.
  • Washington receives: From the Cavs -  2010 first-round pick and the rights to Emir Preldzic.  From the Clippers – Al Thornton from the Clippers.
  • Los Angles receives:  Drew Gooden from the Wizards.

Why does this make sense for the Cavs?  They get Jamison for a first-round pick that would likely be no higher than 30, and some guy named Emir Preldzic who was the Cavs second round pick last year.  The Cavs make this trade for one reason that leads into more reasons.  The main reason – To keep LeBron James, and hopefully win a few rings.  This trade also makes way more sense then the Amar’e trade – Jamison just seems like the right type of player, but also the right personality to fit in with this group.

Why does this make sense for the Wizards?  If you are going to blow things up – do it big and fast.  This team was going no where and while this is horrible for the 15 fans in Washington, it makes financial sense for front-office.

Side Note – I watch the Wolves vs. Wizards game the other night.  There we more people on the floor and benches then there were in the stands – sad.

I also wonder if this a little jab at Gilbert Arenas and forcing him to seek a trade – look out New York.  I mean, the guy cripples you with his contract AND his behavior.  Destroys the team and I doubt he will want to come back , and I can not blame him.

Why does this make sense for the Clippers? It does not for this season.  But what about next season?  The only way this works is if the Clippers really think they can get a max-level player in this summer.  And it is an appealing option for a talented free agent.  Baron Davis, Blake Griffin, Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Travis Oulaw, Steve Blake, and  Drew Gooden provide a pretty solid team to lead.  I am not saying LeBron is coming, but maybe Joe Johnson.

2. Tracy McGrady to Sacramento New York

We knew McGrady had no future in Houston. What we did not know was where he would land and what Houston would get in return.  And by most accounts, Houston walked away with more than the brought to the party.

  • Houston receives: From New York – Jared Jefferies, Jordan Hill, and a protected 2012 first-round pick and the right to exchange first-round picks in 2011.  From Sacramento – Kevin martin and Hilton Armstrong.
  • Sacramento receives:  From Houston – Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey.  From New York – Larry Hughes.
  • New York receives: From Houston – Tracy McGrady.  From Sacramento – Sergio Rodriquez.

Why does this make sense for the Rockets? Really?  There can’t be much question as to why this works.  You trade a player who wasn’t playing and has the largest salary this season.  You get a lottery pick in Hill, and good player in Jefferies, two picks from NY – which could be high picks AND Kevin Martin.  Upgrade!

Why does this make sense for the Kings? The Kings leadership must have seen enough of Tyreke Evans to make him the franchise and unload their best player in Martin for Landry, Dorsey, and Hughes expiring contract.  But this moves clears a lot of cap space to allow for signing a top tier player to a max deal, or couple of really good pieces.  I guess this years team will have time to gel, and play into a top-five pick.

Why does this make sense for the Knicks?  Next season, the Knicks only have $18.6M in salaries.  Meaning more space to make offers to LeBron and another max player – i.e. Chris Bosh.  But they also need to fill a roster that would not include David Lee, Eddie House, Al Harrington or McGrady or any first round picks for three years.  No matter what, the Knicks needed to cut salary for a team that had a $80M+ payroll.

3.  Caron Butler to Dallas

This was the first big move and was the first example of how the Wizards are very giving and want to help solidify other teams as prime playoff contenders.

  • Dallas receives: Caron Butler, Brendon Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson and cash.
  • Washington receives: Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross.

Why does this make sense for the Mavs?  Dallas has never been mistaking for a team with an attitude or chip on their shoulder.  And a lot of times, teams with an attitude, win championships.  As the Mavs roll into the last few years of the Dirk era, owner Mark Cuben knows that time is running out on this team.

Howard was not the player he once was, and didn’t seem to care, and the Mavs really had no need for Gooden.  With this trade, the Mavs get some grit and a much more capable team.  Plus with Erik Dampier’s outrageous contract coming to a team options for $13M, the team can let him go and resign Haywood for much less money.

Why does this make sense for the Wizards?  Just like the deal with the Cavs, this trade has nothing to do with the players involved, only their contracts.  And this has even less to do with this season.  I am not sure what the Wizards leadership is going to do, but supposedly they want to KEEP Arenas.   I understand that he is not what you would call a hot name, but but he will be if the Wizards are able to void his contract.

Other Deals

1.  The only other deal that matter at was the Knicks sending Nate Robinson to the Celtics for Eddie House.   Here is the deal:  Traded G Nate Robinson and F Marcus Landry to Boston for G Eddie House, G J.R. Giddens, G-F Bill Walker and a future conditional second-round pick. ?  It will be interesting.

2.  Homer side-Note:  The Wolves were active again, sending Brain Cardinal’s expiring contract to New York for Darko Milicic’s expiring contract and cash.  Stupid – but no harm, no foul.

3.  The last deal that is one worth mentioning is Chicago trading Tyrus Thomas for a future first-round draft pick, G Flip Murray and G Acie Law from Charlotte.  Again, this move is not about players, but Chicago’s ability to offer Dwayne Wade and another max level player – i.e. Chris Bosh – a contract.  But I like Thomas and Larry Brown should break him down and maybe make an actual NBA player out of him.

What A Sports Weekend!

Busy Basketball Weekend

The college basketball teams ranked No. 3-6 and 8, 10-14, 16-18, 19-21 and 23 are all playing on Saturday.  Then on Sunday the No. 1, 7, 9, 15, 19, 22, 24, and 25 teams have games.   And there are match-ups on ranked teams all over the place - some on television.

Saturday

  • Colorado at No. 2 Texas
  • Georgia at No. 3 Kentucky
  • No. 4 Purdue at No. 20 Wisconsin
  • No. 5 Duke at No. 17 Georgia Tech on ESPN
  • Marquette at No. 6 Villanova
  • No. 8 West Virginia at Notre Dame
  • No. 10 Kansas State at Missouri
  • No. 11 Michigan State at Iowa
  • No. 13 Connecticut at No. 12 Georgetown on ESPN
  • UNLV at No. 14 New Mexico
  • Miss. St at No. 16 Mississippi
  • No. 18 Gonzaga at Portland
  • Boston College at No. 21 Clemson
  • No. 23 BYU at UTEP

Sunday

  • No. 1 Kansas at No. 15 Tenn on CBS
  • South Florida at No. 7 Syracuse
  • Virginia Tech at No. 9 UNC
  • No. 19 Florida State at Maryland
  • No. 22 Washington at Arizona
  • No. 24 Butler at Detroit
  • No. 25 Temple at Rhode Island

That is every-single-team ranked in the USA Today Top 25 playing this weekend.  That is nuts.  But here are my picks of the bunch.

Duke at GT – GT had one of the best recruiting classes this year, headlined by the want to see GT’s super-freshmen Derrick Favors play.  Favors was the No. 2 recruit in the nation last year and while he is not getting the headlines like other freshmen (John Wall and Xavier Henry), Favors is averaging 12.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 2.2 blocks per game.

Kansas at Tennessee – Does anyone know what is happening or going to happen to the players arrested?  I think they are suspend indefinitely, so this match-up may not be as close as it would be with Tyler Smith in the line-up.  Still these are both talented teams, but Kansas is just bigger than Tennessee.  Update – Smith has been dismissed from the team.

Purdue at Wisconsin – I know that Big Ten basketball can be very painful to watch, but this is the Boilmakers first real road test at the toughest place to play in the Big Ten - i.e. Duke in ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

UNLV at New Mexico – I know nothing about either of these teams, but there is buzz surrounding both teams.  Should be a tough conference game.

NFL Playoffs Getting Started

The first round of the playoffs are also happening this weekend.  And there are two rematch from last week with Philly and Dallas and Green Bay at Arizona.  A lot people are picking upsets and home teams losing.  Here are match-ups:

Saturday

  • NY Jets at Cincinnati
  • Philadelphia at Dallas

Sunday

  • Baltimore at New England
  • Green Bay at Arizona

Every match-up really could go either way, but here are my quick thoughts.

  • New York beats Cincinnati, I have no real thoughts about this game.
  • But the Philly/Dallas game is very interesting.  Was what we saw last week real with Philly?  I am not sure.  But I think The Eagles go back to Dallas and upset the Cowboys.
  • New England could struggle without Wes Welker, but I am not confident in the Ravens offense.  So, I am picking New England.
  • Green Bay rolled over Arizona – or did the Cardinals roll-over when they knew there was nothing to play for?  I think Green Bay wins again.

The Vikings will play either Dallas, Arizona or Green Bay next Sunday.  I fear only the Cowboys – but the Cardinals beat the crap of the Vikings and it is very hard to beat a team three times in a season.  But the Purple are playing at home.

Minnesota Timberwolve GM David Kahn Podcast

I listen to a lot of podcasts – ESPN has a ton – and one that I listen to is the NBA Today with Ryan Rusillo.  He however is not the reason that I listen.  Rusillo just thinks to much of himself and kind of drives me nuts, but he gets a lot of good guests on the podcast.

he latest podcast features an interview with T’Wolve GM David Kahn and they discussed the team and his thoughts on the future of the team.  Click here to get to the NBA Today podcast page.

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.

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.

Michael Jordan’s Hall Of Fame Speech Was Uncomfortable

That might not be totally fair, but I did not like it.  To summarize the main theme of the speech – “I am really competitive, I took things personally, but you all motivated me….but I am still better than you”

michael-jodran-scottie-pippen

I did not hear David Robinson’s speech, but I am sure it was much more articulate and humble.  Not that Jordan’s speech was horrible, but it was completely filled with his ego and the fact that he felt that he was more important than the organization.  If going on to say that the players win games, not the organization.

He rambled, did not articulate his feelings well and seemed to want to remind everyone in the room how and why he is the best NBA player of all time.

Jordan was emotional from the beginning of his speech.  I am sure he was thinking about his father, he had a room filled with teammates and other familiar people.  And whenever you watch a your own career retrospective, and I sure it brings back a lot feelings.

Congrats to Micheal Jordan, John Stockton, David Robinson, Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer.  You all deserved it.

Apparently, I am not the only who dislike Jordan’s speech - here is the article from yahoo.com: “Jordan’s night to remember turns petty” by Adrian Wojnarowski.

Scottie Pippen Will Be In The HOF Soon

It was great to see Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr and even Dennis Rodman at the ceremony – I was not there, I just watched.  I will be happy when Pippen gets elected – he is eligible in 2010.   I think people are starting to forget how good he was.  How important he was to Jordan’s success and the Bulls six championships.

Pippen’s career stat line was 16.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg,  5.2 apg, and 2.0 steals a game.  He also shot 47.3% from the field and 70% from the foul line.  Pippen was a seven time All-Star, and in the 1993-94 All-Star game, he won the MVP Award.

Pippen and Jordan were they only two players for the Bulls for all six titles.  And Pippen was the perfect balance to Jordan.  While Jordan dominated the ball, Pippen was good open shooter, could finish in traffic and at the rim.  But Pippen was even more dominate as a defender.  He was able to guard point guards to power forwards.  With a combination of speed, anticipation and long arms; Pippen was a defensive threat anywhere on the court.

Career Honors

1990-91 NBA All-Defensive (2nd)
1991-92 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1991-92 NBA All-NBA (2nd)
1992-93 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1992-93 NBA All-NBA (3rd)
1993-94 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1993-94 NBA All-NBA (1st)
1994-95 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1994-95 NBA All-NBA (1st)
1995-96 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1995-96 NBA All-NBA (1st)
1996-97 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1996-97 NBA All-NBA (2nd)
1997-98 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1997-98 NBA All-NBA (3rd)
1998-99 NBA All-Defensive (1st)
1999-00 NBA All-Defensive (2nd)

Stats taken from www.basketball-reference.com

Ricky Rubio

Ricky RubioI have stayed away from really discussing Ricky Rubio.  I don’t know why, but I have.  Maybe for me it was a one of those situations that,  if you don’t talk about it, it will take care of itself.  And as of this week, it did not take care of itself….or did it?

Rubio is just eighteen years old.  While he has been playing in Spanish professional league’s, he is still only eighteen and has a lot that he can learn before coming over to the NBA.  If that is what he really wants to do.

With his former team, DKV Joventut, Rubio was making around $70K a year.  Not that much for a board line international phenomenon who showed just what kind of player he can be by holding his own against the US Men’s Team which feature Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Understatement of the day: The Minnesota Timberwolves picked a lot of point guards in June’s draft.

Four in all.

Jonny FlynnAfter making a Rubio the fifth selection, the T’Wolves picked Jonny Flynn at No. 6, Ty Lawson at No. 18 – Lawson was later traded to the Denver Nuggets.  Then finally with No. 45, MN choose Nick Calathes and traded his rights to the Dallas Mavericks.  Since then Calathes signed a contract to play in Greece with Panathinaikos.

The only non-point guard the Timberwolves picked was UNC Star Shooting Guard Wayne Ellington at No. 28.

So, the main question everyone would like to pose to new GM David Kahn is this: Why choose Rubio and Flynn is you actually thought Rubio was going to come to the NBA?  And a completely legit follow-up would be:  If Flynn was the player you wanted, why not pick Flynn and Steph Curry or DeMar DeRozan?

Kahn has responded to like question saying that he fully believed that Flynn and Rubio could play int he same back court.  But everyone who knows anything about those two players knows they are almost the same player.  Rubio and Flynn are both pass-first point guards.  Neither one is dominant scorer and is at their best when others players get easy buckets.

That being said, Flynn did average 17.8 point a game in during the 2008-09 season – his last at Syracuse.  Flynn also average 6.7 assist per game while shooting 45 percent from the field.  While last season Rubio averaged 9.8 points per game and 5.8 assists and he has never had a season where he has been a double figure scorer.

One major difference is that Flynn has been the leader of his team the past couple years, while Rubio has not.  But the confidence to lead and the ability to be a leader can come with age and experince.

So after all that, what do you do?  Put yourself in Kahn’s shoes.  The answer is easy.

Start Flynn, Ellington, Love, Jefferson and Corey Brewer and let them grow.  Let them struggle to win.  Let them make their mistakes and let them lose.  And through that they will acquire more lottery picks and then when the time comes to reevaluate “if” the Timberwolves want Rubio, they will.

In two or three years, Rubio will only be 20-21.  And by that time the Timberwolves, if they can keep the pieces of the puzzle together, you have the potential to add an exciting-young player or you could also trade his rights and get a couple other pieces.  Either would be a solid move to cement a team that should have come together and be a playoff contender.

To summarize. I would not have picked Rubio if Flynn is “your guy”.  I would have gone with Flynn and DeRozan or Curry.  But after the fact, Rubio staying in Spain is th ebest option.  It is like a piece of relaestate that will only go up in value. – or something like that.