Tag Archives: Dwight Howard

NBA Loser Wish List

As 94% or so of the NBA teams are at home, or the beach, and not playing in the NBA Finals.  So the teams that we close, but yet so far away – everyone sing it –  must start to think about what the playoff loser needs to make the leap to the Finals.

Cleveland Cavs

  • Scottie Pippen – or someone to take that role.
  • A mid range jumper and a post game for LeBron James.
  • Someone over 6’5″ who can play perimeter defense.
  • Charles Oakley – see Scottie Pippen.

Denver Nuggets

  • JR Smith to pull his head from his butt.
  • Chauney Billups to stop jacking ill-advised three and get the ball to Carmelo.
  • To stop making stupid plays and fouls.

Boston Celtics

  • Two new knees for KG.
  • Brain Scalabrine in street clothes.
  • For everyone named KG, Paul Pierce and Jesus Shuttlesworth to become younger.
  • Doc Rivers to learn how to coach.

Houston Rockets

  • A really talent doctor.
  • Trade Tracy McGrady.
  • Ron Artest to stop jacking ill-advised three and get the ball to Yao.
  • Good medical insurance.

Atlanta Hawks

  • Decide what kind of team they want to be.
  • A trade for a real post player – get rid of Marvin Williams.
  • Mike Bibby to take less money.
  • Another All-Star level player.

Dallas Mavericks

  • Depth in the post with better rebounding – there is another German in Chris Kaman who is pretty good and may need a new home.
  • Jason Kidd to continue shooting well.
  • Josh Howard to play like Jason Terry.

Miami Heat

  • Say good-bye to Jermaine O’Neal.
  • Find experienced player through in free agency or the draft.
  • Another Dwayne Wade – just 6’11”.

Portland Trailblazers

  • A better point guard or Jerryd Bayless to get sometime.
  • Travis Outlaw to continue evolving.
  • Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!
  • To go back a couple years a pick Kevin Durant instead of Greg Oden.

Philadelphia 76ers

  • Sign Andre Iquodala!  SERIOUSLY!
  • Elton to play some basketball!
  • A consistent shooting guard.

San Antonio Spurs

  • Tim Duncan to reverse his aging.
  • Manu.  More Manu!
  • Another scoring option as unless Duncan can take care of his issue.
  • Gregg Papovich to shave that damned beard!

Chicago Bulls

  • Make a decision on Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordan.  Please!
  • A shooter guard over 6’4″.

New Orleans Hornets

  • Bring back Jeremy Pargo!
  • Some other than Chris Paul to score 20 points a game.
  • Low post toughness.

Detroit Pistons

  • Get younger, quick.
  • Let Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace go.  It’s time boys.
  • Athletic, slashing shooter guard who can get to the rim.

Utah Jazz

  • Sign Carlos Boozer for less money.
  • See last point for the Pistons!
  • A legit 6’11” low post player who only blocks and grab rebounds – Dwight Howard?

NBA Finals Preview: Lakers Vs. Magic

More so than the regular season, the playoffs are all about match-ups and how you take advantage of those situations.  The Orlando Magic have taken this idea to a whole new level and ridden it all the way to the NBA Finals.

As the Magic finished off the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, it only seems natural to look at the Finals and the match-ups that will make or break a teams chance at winning a title.

Point Guard: Laker’s Derek Fischer Vs. Magic’s Rafer AlstonRafer Alston

I will ignore the fact the Hedo Turkoglu handles the ball about 70% of the time, especially after opponents made baskets.

The winner of this match-up will be determined by who shots better and turns the ball over less.

Fischer is most effective as a spot-up shooter, but his shooting numbers late in the season and in the playoffs have been pretty poor.  He has averaged 26.3 minutes a game has shot 12-for-51 from distance (23.5%) and 35-for-118 from the field for 35.6% for a total of 7.1 points a game.

Alston has been scoring more, 12.7 ppg in the playoffs, but is also more prone to turnovers, 1.78 a game.  But his role is very similar to Fischer: “hit open shots”.

Alston is winning the ultimate PG stat assist per game: 4.4 to Fischer’s 2.4.

Advantage: Alston – In the playoffs, Fischer has scored in the double figures, five, in as many games as Alston has not. (Excluding game 5 of the Celtics series when he was suspend.)Kobe Bryant

Shooting Guard: Laker’s Kobe Bryant Vs. Magic’s Courtney Lee

Look for a continuation of a Lee – Mickael Pietrus combo, but Bryant still tops their scoring totals 26.8 to 19.2.  Pietrus has taken on the Brice Bowen role for the Magic as the defensive specialist and guy in the corner hitting threes.  Lee has a nice mid-range jumper and is more of a slasher then Pietrus.  And Kobe is Kobe.

Both Lee (6’5″  and 200 lbs) and Pietrus (6’6″ and 215 lbs) physically match-up well with Bryant (6’6″ and 205), but you are talking about Kobe.

Advantage: Kobe – It’s Kobe.

Small Forward: Laker’s Trevor Arzia Vs. Hedo Turkoglu

hedo-turkogluArzia is long enough and athletic enough to match-up and stay with Turkoglu.  Turkoglu has issues with players that are quicker than he is, not bigger.  But Ariza has size (6’8′) and speed to stay with Turkaglu from the perimeter to the post.

Turkoglu has been inconsistent with his shooting in the playoffs, but he always is willing and able in the clutch.  His scoring is down to 15.2 ppg from 16.8, but his assists are slightly higher and in Orlando’s closet games, the Magic look to Turkaglu to make their offense go.

Arzia is definitely not the first, second, or third option on offense for the Laker’s, but he is averaging 11.4 ppg while shooting 50% from behind the arc.

Even though this match-up will be close, I think Turkoglu will find ways to get his numbers and be the go-to guy in the forth quarter.

Advantage: Turkoglu – To many ways to score.

Power Forward: Laker’s Pau Gaso and Lamar Odom Vs. Magic’s Rashard LewisLamar Odom

Much like the shooting guard situation with the Magic, Lamar Odom very well could start at the four spot and then Gasol would move to the five spot.

Lewis is Orlando’s forgotten man, but the Magic would be forgotten without him.  He has caught fire in the playoffs – 19.4 ppg, 40% shooting from deep and 44% total shooting) and has the best offensive low-post game on the team.

The issue with Lewis is that he is a match-up problem for 99% percent of the teams in the league, the Laker’s are in the 1% and Laker’s coach Phil Jackson has no problem flipping starting line-ups if he feels it betters his team, and while I am not convinced Gasol can or will guard Dwight Howard, he cannot guard Lewis.  But Odom can.

Odom is Lewis, just a couple years older and not as consistent of a shooter.  Odom does have a low post game that is hard to stop and he is a lefty, which is always tricky.  Odom is a better rebounder than Lewis (9.5 rpg vs. Lewis’ 6.1 rpg) and Odom, when on and busting his butt, is the deference on this team.

This match-up comes down to Odom deciding how hard he wants to play.  While Lewis has scored 14 or more points in every playoff game, Odom has only done it six times.  But the Laker’s are 5-1 in those six games.  So if Odom plays like this is his last chance at a title, the match-up goes to the Laker’s, but I am not sure he will.

Advantage: Odom – when he plays well, the Lakers win.

Center: Laker’s Pau Gasol Vs. Magic’s Dwight HowardDwight Howard

Can anyone say polar opposites?  Gasol is finesse and Howard is strength.  Gasol is crafty while Howard is a better athlete.  Gasol can hit from 17 feet, Howard will hit you with an elbow – and then get suspended for it.  Gasol is soft on defense, and Howard is the Defensive Player of the Year.

Howard average 5.33 fouls a game against the Cav’s (we’ll call that the LeBron Effect), and fouled out in half of the last six games.  Howard will be able to keep his counterpart in check mostly by holding his ground, but he can get into foul trouble when flying to the rescue when helping on weak defense.

While Gasol is never considered the defensive power that Howard is, it is interesting that in the playoffs, Gasol is averaging 2 blocks a game and Howard 2.2, but Howard out-rebounds Gasol 15.4 to 11.3.

Gasol has been tougher in the Laker’s last two games, but he will get out worked and physically out matched against Howard.

Advantage: Magic – Gasol can’t stop Howard, but Gasol will be productive and make Howard guard him.

Bench

Both teams have a few players that come in to change the game.  For Orlando it is Pietrus, Marcin Gortat, and Anthony Johnson with Pietrus as the only bench player contributing offensively and getting meaningful minutes (25.3 a game).  The Magic have shorten their bench up in the playoffs unless their is foul trouble, then we may see Tony Battie.

Gortat has been a nice surprise and has stepped-up when Howard gets in foul trouble.  In the game Howard was suspended, Gortait played 40 minutes, grabbed 15 boards and had 11 points.  Jameer Nelson could be a nice spark – he has been a Laker killer this season – or he could also mess up the chemistry the team has found in the playoffs.

The Lakers are deeper than the Magic and typically run with Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmer and Sasha Vujacic.  They also have Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga to bang with Howard and give up their twelve fouls.

Odom should start, so Bynum will come of the bench and add height, skill, and muscle and is the best match-up for the Lakers to play Howard straight up.

Brown has jumped over Farmer as the first guard off the bench and provides a spark of the bench.  Brown is a much better than he was in college, but still has the hops to throw it down.  He is also shooting 44% from the floor and 48% from behind the arc.

Jackson has always relied on his bench, we saw it with in Chicago and he continues to rely on them in crucial moments in the game.

Advantage: Laker’s – too much talent.

Coaching – Laker’s Phil Jackson Vs. Magic’s Stan Van GundyPhil Jackson

Not sure how you can argue against Jackson, so I will not – there is not much argument.  Van Gundy is underrated, but not that underrated.  Jackson has nine rings.

Advantage: Laker’s – he needs one more ring to cover all his fingers.

Grand Total: – Laker’s – 4 and Magic – 3

This series will be a battle, and it always comes down to match-ups.  The game changing match-up is Odom Vs. Lewis.  Both are going to be tough guards for the other, but Odom has been the unreliable.

The Laker’s should win, but the Magic have been proving all the critics wrong.  So I am picking the Magic in six games.

Quick Hits 4/21/09

After a couple of days away with family and other busy times, I think we need to catch-up on the happenings.

Draft Declarers Round 5

This is maybe the most hot and cold group we have seen to date.  Only Mills should really consider the jump, but I think he could do himself more good to stay and wins some more games.  Mitchell had a great year, but needs refining, and Daye needs to stay and evolve into a player.  Sloan, Reynolds and Brown will be solid players in the league and might be heading into the draft because it is considered a weak draft.

Harangody should come back and make up for this poor year at Notre Dame.  Even though I don’t think he will be high than a late first round pick – and that might be generous.

PS – Ricky Rubio has declared.  But he is under contract with his current club.  There is a reported 7.8 Million buyout price tag for a NBA team to pay just to sign him.

Rubio is behind only Blake Griffin on Chad Ford’s Top 100 list.

NBA Awards

Congrats to Cavs Head Coach Mike Brown and Orlando Magic Center, Dwight Howard.  Brown officially winning the Coach of the Year Award after one of the more impressive seasons in the last couple years and Howard pulled in the Defensive Player of the Year – to be annouced today.  Brown had over 200 more points than the next coach and over forty more votes.

Pitno Going to Florida

Not that one.  His son.  26 year old Richard, is leaving the comfort of his Dad’s place to hanging out with Billy Donovan.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  But it does make me wonder, why.  Same job, different team.

Kobe or LeBron? CP3 or Dwight? Which USA player is your franchise player?

From 8/14

Current MVP or the “Kid” almost guaranteed to win 3? The young talented point guard or the young talented center? Present or future?

With the almost “expansion like” feel of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s name contests and jersey submissions, it makes me wonder who is the perfect foundation to build a franchise upon.

So as the Redeem Team rolls through the Olympics and are on center stage of the basketball world, let’s look at Coach K’s crew to find that player, in no particular order.

D-Wade: He is always exceeding expectations, at every level. His run with the Heat to the championship is considered, by many, to be the single greatest playoff performance. He is athletic and smart. He knows his game and when he is “on”, there is little that most can do to stop him. He continues to expand his range on the court and off the court, Wade is as marketable as Kobe and LeBron. The two “issues” are his age and health. He is 3 years older (26) than LeBron and Paul and having battled so many injuries lately, you must wonder if he would be able to get back to his form of 2006 and maintain it. But if the Olympics are a preview, he is on his way.

Kobe: It is very easy to make the case for Kobe. He is a 3-time NBA Champ, MVP, scoring champ, first team all-everything member, and if last year was not a fluke, a real leader. But Kobe will turn 30 on Aug. 23rd. That is not to say he will not be able to carry a team in the short-term, but would need help in the long-term. And typically expansion teams are thin on help. Yet, Kobe has international appeal that few in the game have, so no matter what number he might switch to, people are going to buy the jersey.

LeBron: 23 years old, averages 27 and 7, and has proven very durable. LBJ may be the front runner. He gained “one-name” status straight-out of high school (probably while he was still in high school) and his face is everywhere; Nike, Coke, PowerAde and of course, Bubblicious. He ranks with Tiger as the most recognizable athlete in the US and is certain to sell-out stadiums. Loyalty may be LeBrons down fall. Can he play for team with out talking about future options? Will he see your team through the storm and lead them to the championship?

Dwight Howard: Best center in the league? No question. Only a healthy Yao can affect play like Howard can. With every ounce of muscle he puts on, combined with the vertical and “freak of nature” factor, Howard comes closer to that true ELITE Center Status last achieved by Shaq. His personality and charisma might even be more user-friendly than the Big – Aristotle. Howard, at time, takes control of games on both ends of the court. I believe he is a PG away from completely owning the league; he is not yet able to create on offense the whole game. Imagine Howard and Chris Paul on the same team. I just got chills.

Carmelo: As a NBA player, Melo underachieves. As an international player, he is great. Melo has put up great numbers in the past for the Nuggets and led some so-so teams to the playoffs. He is undoubtedly talented and knows how to score (24.4 pts. avg. for his career). But, going into his 6th NBA season, he is still one dimensional. His attitude and off-the-court problems would to be a huge issue with the new fan base. On-the-court, he is more Scottie Pippen than Michael Jordan. So Melo needs to prove that he can win without LeBron on his side. Remeber, the Bulls did not do too much without that Jordan guy.

Chris Paul: I am still not sure why he did not win MVP. Take him off the Hornets and the team does not make the playoffs. He makes his team better and is a true PG. He is able to see and make passes people thought were only possible by Kidd and Nash. He will become a better shooter than the former and is already a better athlete than both. What makes Paul even a more appealing franchise player is that he is great person (that’s what I have heard) and showed the class and compassion needed in New Orleans. And he is only 23.

Deron Williams: Taken before Chris Paul by a team that has the highest expectations of a point guard in the NBA. Williams broke out in the Playoffs of 2007 and continues to evolve. He is tough, strong, a good shooter and passer, and able to create for himself AND others. He also has the confidence and ability to lead a veteran team. Even though he is not yet a house hold name like some of the others on the team, I think that changes this year, he is still on this team for a reason.

Chris Bosh: He has the potential and talent, just like every other person in the top-5 picks of the 2003 draft NOT named Darco. He is tall (6’10”) and athletic. His careers averages of 19 pts and 9 rebounds are solid. He does not need to add greatly to the points, but needs fill-up the rest of the stat sheet. Having played only one year at Georgia Tech, he is only 24, and should be able to grow into a more dominant big man. Maybe running against Howard everyday for couple months will help.

Not an easy call or maybe it is. For me it comes down to two people; LeBron or Paul. Either way you are setting yourself up nicely for the beginning of your franchise.

Having to pick from this group would be a problem every GM wishes they had.