Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day Games Afterthoughts: Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks

(click here for recap)
The first of five games on the NBA schedule on Christmas Day. It was a pretty close game for the first half, but the Heat managed to create some separation late in the second quarter. The Heat's 10 point cushion lasted until the final minutes of the fourth quarter, when the Knicks came rumbling back to get within three.
  • Dwayne Wade put up another signature monster stat-line: 30points (11-21), 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. He had was hitting from all over the floor in the fourth quarter, effectively neutralizing the Knicks final rally. And did you see that dunk in the last frame? Ridiculous.
  • Michael Beasley is playing with so much more confidence than last year, and proving his worth as last year's #2 draft pick. The Knicks just could not figure out how to stop his lefty drives today, and Beasley capitalized on his opportunities with drives to the hoop and some mid-range jumpers. Beasley finished the game with 19 points, but not much else (2 rebounds, 0 assists/steals/blocks).
  • David Lee, you have to love the guy. On a night when the entire team was struggling to put the ball in the rim, Lee was the only consistent source of buckets. His awareness of the ball, excellent hands, and touch around the rim make up for any lack of athleticism he might have. Lee finished with 19points and 16 rebounds.
  • Nasty. That's all I can really say about Al Harrington's outing. He (and the rest of the Knicks) spent much of the night bombing away from behind the arc. When he did decide to attack the rim, good things happened... it's too bad he didn't figure that out til the final two minutes. 12 points on 5-20 shooting...blehh
  • I can't decide whether I like Danilo Gallinari or not. He's got a real smooth stroke from long range, and when the threes weren't falling, he hit the lane. At 6'10" with a shooting guard's game, he can pretty much shoot over whoever's manning him up. But this guy's craftiness reminds me of Ginobilli. His little number on Q-rich at the end of the 4th was shady- smart? yes... but still shady. Danilo had a pretty good outing with 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.
  • D'Antoni - I think Nate's learned his lesson. Let Kryptonate play!
All in all, the game wasn't much excitement until the last couple of minutes. For a game featuring D'Antoni's "uptemo" offense, the game felt pretty slow.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nike Hyperize TV Spot

I have been eyein' these shoes for the longest time.

Rashard has some nice flow on the mic.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Tape

Here's a pretty clear version of "The Dunk on Lebron"

Check it out, see what you think. I'd say that a pretty good poster.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

NBA In Flux: Part II

You won't be seeing this next season... hopefully...

And the player movement continues
For Part 1, click here

Atlanta Hawks trade Acie Law and Speedy Claxton to the Golden State Warriors for Jamal Crawford.

The Hawks managed to give away two guys they never really use for a proven and deadly scorer. Since his days on the Bulls, I have been a fan of Jamal Crawford. At 29, he's currently ballin' in his prime, and will provide Atlanta with some extra firepower from beyond the arc. The only thing I'm wondering about is how he's going to fit into the rotation; the Hawks just inked Bibby to a four-year deal, clearly making him the starting PG for the foreseeable future. Even though Joe Johnson has gotten flak over his ability to lead a team, he's still the Hawks most well rounded player and top dog. The way I see it, Jamal is going to have to come off the bench.

Fantasy Relevance: The player that will take the biggest hit with Crawford in town is Flip Murray. Flip played well as 6th man last season, but with the way the rotation is rounding out, he'll be the first man out. Aside from that, don't expect Crawford to be as consistent as he was last season. 15 shots with 19 points a game are going to be hard to come by when you've got as many weapons as Atlanta.

Toronto trades Shawn Marion, Kris Humphries, and Nathan Jawai to Dallas for Devean George and Antoine Wright. Toronto also acquires Hedo Turkoglu from Orlando for cash and a future pick from Memphis.

Too many parties involved with too many irrelevant players changing places. The only two people that matter here are obviously Shawn Marion and Hedo Turkoglu.

It seems like it's been forever since the Matrix was running and gunning next to Steve Nash and the Suns. Since then, Marion has fallen a bit into obscurity. He's failed to make favorable impressions during his stops in Miami and Toronto. And now a few years removed from the last season he's played more than 70 games, he seems to be but a shell of his former slam-dunking self. But looks can be deceiving. Despite his struggles over the last few years, Dallas is raving about this acquisition. Marion gives the Mavs that extra versatility they haven't had in a long time; he scores from inside and out, rebounds extremely well for a man of 6'7", and can defend four positions. Take a look at the Mav's lineup for next season: Kidd, Josh Howard, Marion, Dirk, and Dampier (...ok so Dampier isn't really that impressive). Jason "The Jet" Terry remains their sixth man, and they've got Barea/rookie summer league standout Rodrigue Beaubois to back up Kidd's aging legs. A pretty solid rotation if you ask me.

The Raptors weren't half bad either; Turkoglu opens up a number of more options for the Raptors' offensive attack. He's a crafty guy that can light it up from downtown, and can also take it to the rim. The Raptors also have a pretty nice looking rotation heading into next season. They've got a nice combination of scoring and assists in their two headed point guard of Jose Calderon and newly signed Jarret Jack. At the two, they've got human highlight machine Demar Derozan. Hedo comes in to fill the three. And they've got twin towers in Bosh and Bargnani to anchor the paint. In the wackness that is the Eastern Conference, this team definitely has a legit chance at making some noise in the playoffs next season.

Fantasy Relevance: Marion isn't going to become Matrix circa 2005, but I'm pretty sure he's going to put up a better all-around statline than the ones posted in the last two years. He's never been a guy that's needed plays run for him to be effective, and I expect that to remain the case. He's going to find ways to contribute on both ends of the floor without getting in his teammates way. Things are looking up for this guy. I'm not entirely sure if he'll be worth a 2nd round pick, but if he's available in the third, his potential makes him worth taking a risk on.

The same can be said for Hedo. He was brought into Toronto to score down the stretch, and that's exactly what he's going to do. His inside-outside abilities will compliment Bosh and Bargnani very well, seeing how they both can also stretch defenses away from the paint. Expect him to maintain his 16-5-5 averages from last season without screwing over anyone else. You can draft Raptors with peace of mind.

Detroit Pistons sign Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva...

... these are my hometown heroes and they deserve an article of their own. More on this action later...

Ron Artest Agrees to a five-year deal with the L.A. Lakers


The NBA's top team just got better. Relatively speaking, his antics have cooled off a bit (but that Michael Jackson tribute was real creepy). And the fact of the matter is that Artest is an offensively capable SF that defends with a tenacity that most other players can't, or choose not to do. On offense, he's another guy that the Lakers can toss the ball to when Kobe gets doubled. Artest's jumper is sufficient, and also does a good job of getting to the rim. On defense, he's going to be the guy that sticks the opposing team's best man. This allows Kobe to save his own energy for the offensive end. If he manages to assimilate into the Lakers chemistry-wise (a big if), I don't see any other team being able to take the title from them in summer 2010.

Fantasy Relevance: Artest is NOT going to get the 15 shots he got last year in Houston. LA is Kobe's team, and Ron Ron better be ready to play 3rd or 4th fiddle in terms of offense. Expect his 17ppg to drop to somewhere around 13ppg. He'll get his minutes, just don't expect the stats. Houston is now a tossup. Guys like Brooks, Wafer, and Ariza will be looked to for points. Keep an eye on all of them in the latter rounds of your draft.

...and a little bit about the smaller moves...

Amir Johnson in Milwuakee
It's too bad he never panned out in Detroit. Tall and athletic, he just couldn't stay out of foul trouble. Hopefully he gets some serious minutes with Jennings over there in Milwaukee. I wish him the best.

Darko in New York
I can see it now: all of Madison Garden chanting "Darko! Darko! Darko!..." I can't wait. In all seriousness though, he's got a chance at getting a good 15 minutes at the center position each night. He's only competition is a slimmed down Eddy Curry and unknown Mouhamed Sene.

Brandon Bass in Orlando
Otis Thorpe pulled a nice one on Dallas. And now he's got a legitimate power forward to help Dwight Howard out on the boards. Bass is one of those guys any coach would want on their team. He works hard and puts the team first.

Antonio McDyess to San Antonio
Dyess and newly drafted DeJuan Blair add some muscle to San Antonio's thin front line. Can you believe Matt "Red Rocket" Bonner actually started last season? Neither can I...

Clippers swap away Zach Randolph for Quentin Richardson
The Clippers do something right for once. Z-Bo can go get his 20-10 in some other town.

Cleveland Cavaliers sign Jamario Moon
Someone on the Cavs not named Lebron has a chance to be in some SportsCenter Highlights.
...ok I actually really like this move. Moon gives some depth behind Lebron at the SF slot. Though he's raw on offense, he's still long, freakishly athletic, and a capable defender. He's no Artest or Bowen, but he's a great addition.

Artistry of Michael Jordan

Came across this video today on Youtube - a must see for any Jordan fan.

Coming from a fanatic, trust me when I say it's worth your time to watch. There's a lot of good footage that you don't come across in most Jordan highlight clips.

I am convinced no one does the up-and-under better than MJ

Friday, July 3, 2009

NBA In Flux: Part I

Absolute Craziness

It seems like every other time I check a new trade just went down, or a free agent has switched teams. All this player movement means shifts in the NBA Power Totem-Pole. Almost as nearly important, transactions means shifts in player fantasy basketball valuation. In an attempt to prepare you for your league next year, this is my 2 cents on what's happened so far.

San Antonio trades Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto to Milwaukee for Richard Jefferson

As much as I hate them, I have to respect the Spurs. They've managed to acquire an athletic, offensively gifted forward while only giving up three veterans in the waning stages of their careers. Riddled with injuries last season, San Antonio recognized that they had a hard time scoring when one of Duncan/Ginobili/Parker were out. Given Manu's penchant for injuring himself and Duncan's gradual decline into middle-age, upper management reached out to nab some very talented insurance. If Duncan stays healthy, this is a very deadly squad in the wild west.

The Bucks? They did this purely for financial reasons.

Fantasy Relevance: Though Jefferson's stats will most likely drop from last year's levels, I expect him to hover around 16ppg with 4 rebs a game. RJ is capable enough on both ends of the floor, and will still get his 30+ mins a night. Additionally, his production depends much on the health of Duncan/Ginibili/Parker. If one of them go down, his numbers will be the first to go up. Because of age, I also think Duncan will be relied upon a little less on the offensive end now that RJ is in town, but I still expect Duncan to put up 18-10 consistently.

Minnesota T-Wolves send Randy Foye and Mike Miller to Washington for #5 draft pick (aka Ricky Rubio), Etan Thomas, Darius Songaila, and Oleksly Pecherov.

Oleksly who? Minnesota's moves continue to baffle me; basketball-wise, this move doesn't seem to get them anywhere, but at least they probably cleared out some cap-space...

The Wizards on the other hand got a nice deal here, and addressed one of their weaknesses for the past many years: depth. Foye, cursed with having a shooting guard's mentality in a point guard's body, now has a chance to play protege to one of the league's best shoot-first point guards in Gilbert Arenas. Mike Miller, known for his long-ball, put in one of his worst statistical seasons in 08-09. If the change of scenery (and maybe some wins) can motivate him into playing the high quality basketball that earned him a spot on the USA Basketball Team in 2007, he will provide the Wizards with some offensive firepower outside their Big Three.

Fantasy Relevance: Rubio is the only player that has a remote chance of having fantasy value out of the players the T-Wolves received, and he might not even play in the US this year... so don't bother with those guys. On Washington's side, Foye and Miller might have some highlights throughout the year, but Washington has too many offensive weapons for them to consistently put up any more than ten points a night. Foye and Miller are going to be on and off the waiver wire this year.

New Jersey trades Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson to Orlando for Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie.

So far, this is my favorite trade of the off-season.

With Hedo Turkoglu's inevitable leave approaching, Orlando went out and brought back the original Half-Man, Half-Amazing. Though he's nowhere near what he used to be, VC is still an upgrade over Hedo. Vince can do everything Hedo did, and he can do it better. Now in the latter half of his career, he has a legitimate opportunity to add a championship ring to his trophy case. Though Alston played well in the playoffs, he was expendable with the return of Jameer Nelson's return - and Anthony Johnson is adequate as a backup point guard. Orlando is reloaded and ready for another run at the title.

...And now for the other side. It's clear that New Jersey is now rebuilding from the ground up, and they've got a great backcourt to build around. Devin Harris proved last year that he's a star-caliber player. Newly acquired Courtney Lee, now entering his 2nd season, played with the poise of a veteran at multiple points throughout the season. He's athletic, commits to defense, shoots well, and plays smart. Though they might not win many games next year, Harris and Lee make Net's games more than worth it to watch.

Fantasy Relevance: I see Vince's numbers dipping ever so slightly; Orlando is a loaded team. However, I think the one that will be affected most is Rashard Lewis. You know Dwight Howard will continue to get his touches, given his Superstar status. Jameer is also still young and on the rise. Thus, it's Rashard's touches that will decrease. In NJ, you can expect Courtney's 8.4ppg, 2.3rpg, and 1.2apg to all at least double. He's bound to struggle a bit with a lot more responsibility on his plate, but I expect him to rise above all that. Keep an eye on Lee in the mid to late rounds of your draft.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Big Shaqtus to Join the Lebronnaires

The Big Diesel just could not let Kobe hold the limelight any longer...

The Phoenix Suns have agreed to send Shaq to Cleveland in exchange for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a second-round draft pick, and cash.

On paper, this trade would seem to benefit both teams. The Shaq experiment in Phoenix resulted in missing the playoffs last season, and sending him to the Cavs allow them to save a ton of money (Shaq is on the books for 20 million next season). Shaq has always been somewhat of an awkward fit in the Sun's up-tempo offense. Now at an age when running the floor looks evermore burdensome, Shaq's diminishing athleticism has been highlighted that much more by the freakish play of the man across the paint, Amare Stoudemire. Though they're not back at square one, ridding themselves of O'neal was a necessary deal Phoenix needed to pull in order to move on. Nash isn't getting any younger; Amare isn't getting any happier. Steve Kerr and his buddies up top because the door of opportunity is almost completely closed.

Now in Cleveland, Shaq will settle more comfortably into Mike Brown's plethora of half-court sets. From the Cav's point of view, Shaq provides the muscle they didn't have to contend with Dwight Howard during this past conference finals. As if Lebron weren't enough, O'neal adds another dimension to the marketability of the team, and also gives Cleveland fans a new hope - a hope for a championship next season, and a hope that Lebron will stick around in 2010. With Shaq on board, I expect the Cavs' traveling camera show to only get kookier. I'm genuinely excited to see what sort of pre-game routines LBJ and the Diesel will pull out next year. But if all fails, this is only a one-year experiment. Nice move Danny Fe...

...wait. Let's be real; Lebron and Shaq holding the Larry O'Brien trophy together next June is far from a sure thing. There are plenty of potential negatives to this deal for Cleveland. Shaq's size and lack of speed might hinder Lebron's attack-the-basket game. If Brown positions Shaq low on block (and we expect him to), some of Lebron's cutting lanes and precious space are bound to be chocked up. As a result, Lebron defers to shooting jumpers. While his mid-range game isn't bad, 16 footers are not what you want LBJ throwing up. Defensively, Shaq can muscle people around in the paint, but will have trouble defending quick guards at the basket. Shaq's outgoing personality, while fun to be around, may end up distracting the rest of the scrubs in Cleveland from the one thing that matters - basketball. It'll be up to Lebron to keep his team in check, but we've still yet to see if Lebron can do that.

So let's say the Cav's make the playoffs again next season, but fall in the 1st or 2nd rounds. Lebron has the bitter taste of defeat once again, encouraging him to bolt during free agency. Shaq's contract is up, and upper management is sure not to sign him again. Where does that leave the Cav's? screwed. Acquiring Shaq is one of Danny Ferry's last attempt to persuade Lebron to stay in Cleveland. Miami didn't want him a couple of years back; Phoenix didn't want him after last year. Cavs fans, are you okay with tossing 20 million at a post-prime big man as your last move to keep one of history's best players?

Fantasy Implications

The Suns can now return to their running and gunning ways without the gigantic hole in the middle. I expect Nash's numbers to rebound a little, and more contributions from Barbosa, Hill, and Barnes. Amare put up some ridiculous numbers with Shaq on the court last season, and his production might dip a bit if he's forced to play the five. However, he's in his prime so I expect him to continue to put up fantasy monster stats.

The Cavs weren't abundant of fantasy-roster-worthy players beyond Lebron to begin with. Lebron will continue to be the stat beast he is, but everyone else will be a question mark. Shaq is simply too old and injury prone. I know he surprised many last season, but do you think he can do it again? Ilgauskus's role is also unknown. Is Cavs' Management planning to ship him out? Or have him come off the bench. Any fantasy relevance he once had is now gone.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

NBA Finals 2009: Game 5 Afterthoughts

Congratulations L.A. Lakers on becoming the 2009 NBA Champions!

Kobe's quest for his first post-Shaq championship and Phil Jackson's mission to put a ring on each one of his fingers - both were fulfilled in the Lakers' 99-86 dismantling of the Magic. The Magic fought admirably, and kept it up right until the closing minutes of the game, despite the double-digit hole they were in. But their fight was not enough, and the Lakers showed the world the difference between a good team and a great team...
  • Let's start from the top. Kobe Bryant played brilliantly tonight: 30pts, 6 rebs, 5 assists, 4 blocks, and 10-23 from the floor. From getting teammates involved and playing tough-nosed defense, to leading vocally and getting buckets, Kobe did everything the superstar/leader of a team is supposed to do...
  • ...including creating some SportsCenter highlights. That blow-by drive past Pietrus for the dunk in the first half was nice. And that falling-sideways-show-right-shoot-left shot on Howard was insane.
  • The rest of the Lake show wasn't too shaby either. Ariza hit a couple of momentum swinging threes to help the Lakers gain the lead in the first half, while also hounding Turkoglu for most of the night. Odom came off the bench for 17 and 10, plus a pretty cool reverse layup on a fast break opportunity with Gasol. Gasol chipped in with 14pts, 15 rebs, and 4 blks. Fisher had 13 of his own. Lakers came out with an all-team attack on both ends of the floor...simply too much for the Magic to handle.
  • And now onto the Magic...the experience and pressure of the moment caught up, and overwhelmed them tonight. They came out fast, and even had the lead in the 2nd quarter. But as things started to shift in the Lakers' favor, they got frustrated and ended up choking.
  • Dwight Howard - where were you this whole game? 11pts, 10 rebs, and 3 blks might be okay for any average center in the league, but it is NOT okay for the superstar/next-gen Shaq, ESPECIALLY not in the biggest game of your career. You played the entire second half like you were expecting to lose... simply not the mentality for the NBA Finals.
  • Rashard Lewis is another guy who did not step up to the plate. I know he loves that 3pt shot, but when you've missed more 3pt shots than you've shot from inside the arc, then you know something is wrong.
  • Hedo Turkoglu's stat line looks thin, but not horrendously ugly (8pts, 3 assists, 4-8 FG). However, Ariza made this guy's night a living hell. Hedo had trouble getting to the rim much of the night. When he did manage to get past Trevor, he couldn't get the ball past Gasol and Bynum. Tonight his average-athleticism was exposed and exploited - something I'm sure teams will consider when making offers for him this offseason.
  • Can you imagine how much better a player Rafer Alston would be if he could finish better around the rim? Skip-to-my-Lou does a decent job of getting past his man, but can't seem to get the ball to roll into the basket... reminds me of myself.
  • I love the energy and quickness that Jameer Nelson brings to the floor, but am I the only one who's holding my breath every time this guy makes a pass? I'm scared Van Gundy is going to have a heart-attack on the sidelines after watching one of those risky things.
  • Courtney Lee and J.J. Redick are going to have great careers. Okay maybe not Redick, although he's still got a beautiful jump-shot... but this trip through the playoffs has given Lee some amazing experience. He's had the chance to play under the brightest of lights, while guarding the greatest of players. I'm looking forward to seeing him mature in the league.
To be honest, this ending was expected. Up until this year, the Magic haven't made it past the first round of the playoffs in over a decade. If you're an Orlando fan, there's no reason to hang your heads low; your team is young, and I'm sure they'll be a goliath next year.

As for Lakers' fans, enjoy the moment and prepare for next year. LA has all the same pieces to go for a repeat.

Me? I'm ready to start reading all the Kobe vs. Jordan articles that are about to come out now that he's won his ring without Shaq.

And from Shaq to Kobe via Twitter:
"Congratualtions kobe, u deserve it. You played great . Enjoy it my man enjoy it. And I know what yur sayin rt now 'Shaq how my ass taste ' "

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lil Wayne - Kobe Bryant

The link between hip-hop/rap and the NBA is an intriguing one... but I'll leave that topic to another day.

I know I'm a bit late on posting on this, but in an attempt to take a discrete stab at Michael Jordan, my buddy led me to this song yesterday. Lil Wayne recently came out with a new track, which clearly shows which side of the Kobe vs. Lebron debate he's on. Take a listen:

My response?
Michael Jordan had his own song long before Kobe ever did... it just isn't as long.


Fantasy Radar: Chris Bosh Setting Up for Big Things

Image from

In an expected move, Chris Bosh - one of the NBA's elite power forwards - has decided against signing an extension with the Toronto Raptors, which in turn makes him a free agent in the summer of 2010.

Bosh has made it more than clear that he is expecting a max deal next summer from whichever teams decide to pursue him, including the Raptors. Being a contract year, we can expect Bosh to come out hard this next year. The Toronto Sun also reports that CB4 is bulking up this offseason. Bosh has started early on a training regiment with strength trainer Ken Roberson of Dallas, along with a strict diet that calls for more than the standard 3 meals a day.

From a fantasy basketball perspective, this news is music to an owner's ears. Bosh finished the 08-09 season ranked 13th in per game averages, and 15th in total stats on yahoo sports. Already an exceptionally well rounded fantasy player - he scores, rebounds, blocks shots, and shoots decent percentages for a big man - the added bulk and money motivator may just push Bosh to the next level, both skill-wise and statistically.

Normally a player drafted on the 1st/2nd round borderline, you may want to consider Bosh a little earlier this season. Guys like Garnett, Duncan, Camby, and Marion are playing out the latter phases of their career, and clearly are not capable of putting up stats like they did three years ago. Elton Brand (drafted 5 spots ahead of Bosh last season) has completely fallen off the map in Philadelphia, and goes into 09-10 as a question mark with his shoulder issues. With these guys shifting down, Bosh is now arguably one of fantasy basketball's top big men with Amare and Dirk.

Everyone knows that quality bigs are hard to come by in fantasy basketball. And everyone also knows how crucial quality bigs are to a strong fantasy title. If you find yourself drafting with picks 7-10 this coming Fall, do yourself a favor and at least strongly consider taking Chris Bosh.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

NBA Finals 2009 Predictions

Kind of ironic how two series that started with games decided by less than five points both ended up being won in blowouts.

Good basketball nonetheless. Moving on...

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Orlando Magic

Both clubs caught their stride at the end of their respective conference finals. Each snowballing with momentum, we're bound to have a colossal collision between these two giants.

After dismantling the Nuggets, the Lakers are back in the championship round, but staring into the eyes of new adversaries. Though questioned and criticized by critics in their series against Houston and Denver, Phil Jackson and Kobe pulled out victories, telling everyone in the basketball world, "we know we're doing".

Dwight Howard, sick of the media hyping the Kobe/Lebron NBA finals showdown, took it upon himself to erase the Cavaliers from the playoff picture in game six. 40 points and 14 rebounds later, he and the Magic find themselves somewhere the team hasn't been in over a decade. Here in new territory, Superman and crew get to prove to the world just how hungry they are.

Many people out there won't give Orlando much of a chance at winning this series, and for good reason; the Lakers are battle tested, more experienced, and have pieces that the Cavs didn't have to take down the Magic.

Bynum and Pau Gasol are very capable on both ends of the court. While on defense, Stan Van Gundy won't be able to cheat off of them to focus on Kobe without paying a price. The Cavaliers did not make the Magic pay for doubling Lebron, but if SVG implements a similar strategy for Kobe, don't expect the same outcome. One glaring problem for the Magic is the Lakers' size down on the block. With Pau and Bynum are on the floor at the same time, I doubt Lewis playing power forward will suffice defensively speaking. Additionally, if Phil runs plays for his big men early and often, Howard is in danger of getting into early foul trouble. It'll be interesting to see whether or not SVG decides to play Gortat and Howard together more often for matchup purposes.

That being said, the Magic can also impose their will on offense if they take the initiative. Playing Rashard at PF allows them to stretch the floor (with Turkoglu, Howard, Lee, and Alston filling the other four spots), drawing Gasol out of the paint. This gives Dwight some room in the middle to execute some post moves, and get Bynum in foul trouble. When the double team comes, Howard knows the kick out to one of his open shooters. If the Magic can consistently hit from behind the arc, then they've got a shot at winning this thing.

For this reason, I think Phil Jackson will choose not to play Gasol and Bynum at the same time, instead opting to have Odom play big minutes at the 4. Kobe, Ariza, and Odom are going to give Orlando's wing-men lots of trouble on defense, and have more than enough offense ability between the three of them keep Orlando defenders honest while the Lakers have the ball.

Much of this battle will be dependent on the coaches. Both teams have multiple options, and it really comes down to how the coaches choose to adjust based on what's happening.

Who do I want to win? 60% of me wants Orlando and Dwight to see success; the other 40% wants to see Phil Jackson attain his 10th ring.

Who do I think will win? The Lakers in 6.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Good Debate: Carmelo Anthony vs. Dwight Howard

I call it a "good" debate because neither of the players involved are in the discussion for being the NBA's best player; in no way will this approach the level of Kobe vs. Lebron. However, with Cleveland down 1-2 against Orlando, and the Lakers having just had their asses blown out of the water by the Nuggets in game 4, the chances of a Denver and Orlando finals matchup is becoming more and more probable.

And here is where the debate emerges. Carmelo and Dwight are superstars of the NBA, each in their own respect. Both competed on the gold medal winning 2008 Olympic basketball team, and both have their clubs very much in the hunt for the Larry O'Brien championship trophy. So who is better? Let's dive right in...

Statistically speaking...(stats from

Career Averages
Carmelo Anthony: 24.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 3.09 TO, 0.460 FG%, 0.796 FT%
Dwight Howard: 17.3 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 2.0 BPG, 2.95 TO, 0.568 FG%, 0.601 FT%

Taking these 8 categories into account, Carmelo and Dwight are even at 4-4. Melo's scoring average, FT% and APG are noticeably superior to Dwight's, but he can't touch Dwight's RPG, FG%, and BPG. It's also important to note that Howard is steadily improving is offensive post-game, as evidenced by his increasing annual PPG (20.6 in 08-09). In terms of PER, more differences can be observed. Over the 08-09 regular season, Howard was ranked 4th (25.44), while Anthony was ranked 33rd (19.09) amongst all NBA athletes. However, Melo has made up ground in the post-season; Howard (26.26) and Anthony (26.10) are ranked 7th and 8th respectively in the playoffs.

Advantage: Neither.

On the defensive end...

Carmelo Anthony has made his efforts to improve his defensive play public. And in the current series against the Lakers, it's evident that he's taken this goal to heart. Melo has very active hands while guarding around the player, constantly slapping at the ball or waving around his man's face. In the post, Melo also has the size to play physical defense, and give the opposing player a tough time.

Dwight Howard, on the other hand, is current NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He's sent numerous shots into the next area code (a good number of which are documented on youtube). For the shots that he can't get to, Dwight's sheer size and vertical are usually enough to alter the opposing player's shot. In the post, Dwight is quick enough to keep up with any move executed against him, and strong enough to prevent opposing centers from getting too close to the basket. As for his tendency to challenge players attacking the rim, playing this highlight reel friendly type of defense has its downside: foul trouble. Luckily, the Magic have an adequate back-up center in Martin Gortat.

Advantage: Dwight Howard. Having this guy guarding the rim screws over positions 1 through 5 on the opposing team. He's not Defensive Player of the Year for no reason.

On the offensive end...

Carmelo Anthony is an extremely versatile player when trying to put the ball into the bucket. At 6'8", 230 lbs he is strong enough to post up many opposing power forwards, and almost all opposing small forwards. At the same time, his above average foot-speed and athleticism allow him to take defenders off the dribble to attack the rim. His size and strength also come into play here by helping him finish after contact.

Melo's offensive arsenal encompasses post-ups, fadeaways, and spins, just to name a few. He's got great touch around the rim, and has the ability to hit from beyond the arc. A couple areas he could improve in are passing and decision making. When the Nuggets are playing well, and momentum is on their side (as in game 4), we get to see Melo make some crisp passes to cutting big men for easy dunks. But when the game slows down, and the options aren't so clear, Melo many times makes the wrong move (partially evidenced by his 3.09 turnovers per game).

Dwight Howard's offensive game is comparatively rather limited. Over the last year or two, he's developed a couple moves under the mentoring of former Knicks' superstar Patrick Ewing. If you see Howard get the ball in the post (outside of dunking range), he does one of two moves: a running right-handed hook shot, and a spin-move to the right. Though limited, Howard is becoming increasingly effective; the hook shot is almost unguardable, and falling at a fairly consistent rate. The spin move is Dwight's way of getting off a shot on the left-side, and works well when he's matched up with guys close to him in size. However, taller centers like Yao and Ilgauskus can neutralize the spin with their length.

I would write more about his poor free throw shooting... but there's not that much to say about it than this; it's often a liability in the 4th quarter. I hope he improves it for the sake of all of us; I'd hate to see the last 5 minutes of a game be reduced down to a game of Hack-a-Howard.

Let's not overlook the one offensive aspect Dwight is unparalleled in: dunking. Dwight attempts this high-percentage shot at every opportunity he gets. With intimidating size and strength, he dares anyone to even try stopping him when he goes up. Those who do almost always end up on a shiny new Dwight Howard poster. When passing to Howard, you can pretty much throw it anywhere and he'll catch it; if the ball is 3 ft above the rim, he'll go get it and cram it for an easy two.

Advantage: Carmelo Anthony. Dwight Howard is improving, but at this point, Melo has a much deeper and more refined offensive arsenal to draw from.

and the winner is...

Dwight Howard

Scoring gets you recognition, but defense wins you championships. And no one plays defense better than Dwight.

The other deciding factor for me was room for improvement. I see Howard's ceiling being much higher than Melo's. If Howard can hone his offensive skills (and free throw shooting), add a handful of more moves, then I don't know who would be able to stop him down-low. Couple that with his highlight blocks and ridiculous athleticism, and you've got someone that could potentially be better than Shaq.

Who do you think is better?

...and just in case you were wondering, I am all for Dwight and Melo crashing the NBA Finals party.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

L.A. Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets Game 3: Afterthoughts

This series does not fail to deliver. Though there were no last second theatrics, the game was close down to the last minute.
  • That intro-music in the arena before the start of the game? Whatever it was, I loved it.
  • J.R. Smith came up huge for the Nuggets today. He defended Kobe admirably, and did a good job of making plays on the offensive end by picking up 6 assists throughout the course of the game. That 3-pointer he stuck at the end of the 3rd quarter was pretty ridiculous too... if only he didn't pick up the technical foul for taunting afterwards.
  • I love Chris Andersen; this guys is about 30 years old, but jumps like he's still 25. Blocking, dunking, rebounding... he did everything today. And you gotta love that mohawk thing he's got going on.
  • George Karl has to be nervous about how the game ran its course today. Despite leading the majority of the game, the ruckus home crowd, and the Laker's off-night, the Nuggets still lost. This is in large due to the relative poor play of his two stars: Anthony and Billups. Though Carmelo managed to get to the line (12-14 FT), he only shot 4-13 from the field, and wound up fouling out during the critical moments of the game. And Billups...
  • ... played a subpar game as well. Chauncey went 5-15 from the field, and turned the ball over four times - uncharacteristic for a former Finals MVP known for his discipline. Billups also loves pulling up for a long 3-ball while in transition early in the shot clock: a play that works wonders in getting the crowd to go crazy, but only when you make it. However, Billups hasn't been able to hit this shot - a problem that goes back to his last couple of seasons in Detroit. These bricks are huge momentum killers...
  • Did anyone see the half-time footage of the Laker's locker-room? It looked like the entire team was asleep while Phil Jackson was giving a barely-audible speech. Funny stuff.
  • Andrew Bynum is by far the most frustrating player in L.A. For all the hype for his crazy workouts and training with Kareem, he's not playing remotely close to the level he can be. Early in the 3rd quarter, he showed a flash of his potential by aggressively posting up, executing a beautiful spin and baby hook. But other than that, he was pretty much invisible during the game.
  • Trevor Ariza is L.A.'s X-factor. This is the second game in this series where he's come up with a steal in the final minute. His also did a relatively good job of containing Melo, and hitting open shots today.
  • The Lakers need to keep feeding Gasol. Neither Martin nor Nene is tall enough to defend Pau, and his turn around jumper from 5ft is money.
  • 41pts, 6rebs, 5 assists, 15-17 from the line - Kobe Bryant did his best to show us that, even considering Lebron's historic buzzer-beater last night, Black Mamba is still the game's best clutch player (13 pts in the third quarter and a monumental 3 for the lead with 1:08 left in the game).
Things to take away from Game 3:

Denver Nuggets: It's critical that Denver doesn't wilt after this defeat. They're a highly emotional team that just lost their first home game in 16 games. Their complimentary players came up big today, so that's something they should try to carry over to game 4. Billups needs to go back to playing more disciplined ball, and give his offense time to set-up instead of launching ill-advised threes. Carmelo also cannot let himself get too discouraged after a disappointing night. He's gotta hit the remember to hit the glass (zero O-rebs tonight compared to 5 O-Rebs in Game 2), and continue to attack the Lakers bigs.

L.A. Lakers: The pressure is still very much on the Lakers. They have not played up to their potential for a good while now, and sooner or later this poor play is going to catch up to them. Phil Jackson needs to figure out a way to get better PG play out of Fisher/Farmar/Brown. Getting Lamar Odom more involved on the offensive end should also be another priority; the Lakers desperately need another reliable source of offense to get Kobe some rest (he looked exhausted during his post-game interview). Bynum could take a page out of Pau's book in exploiting his match-up. This team looks much better on paper than they're showing on the court.

This was Denver's game to win, but they just couldn't hang on in the end...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cavaliers vs Magic Game 2: Afterthoughts

Holy crap that game was insane.
(AP Photo/David Richard)
  • Magic down by 23pts at one point in the first half...12 by halftime...and 6 by the end of the third quarter. The Cavaliers are going to have to learn how to protect their leads if they want to win it all.
  • Courtney Lee's stat line does not do him justice (11pts, 1 assist). This guy has a beautiful jumpshot, range from beyond the arc, and is fearless when attacking the rim.
  • Mo Williams is overrated. Sure he came up with a couple of big shots down the stretch, but I mean he's just playing the role of an undersized 2 that only has to hit jump shots.
  • Anderson Varejao...I hate that guy.
  • Gortat had a right to be angry after the refs called that blocking foul on him. I swear he was planted for an eternity before (whoever it was) made his move. It's calls like these that make you wonder if the refs are rigging these games...
  • Dwight Howard - where was he the entire fourth quarter? I don't think he shot the ball once. I can understand SVG wanting the ball in Hedo's and Lewis's hands...but not to go to your beast down low at all during the most critical moments of the game? That just doesn't seem right.
  • a quote from a friend: "have you noticed how much better Hedo is in the fourth quarter than the rest of the game?" And to answer that, yes I have. Hedo made so many huge plays down the stretch. It's too bad that...
  • ...Lebron hit that game winning three-pointer. That shot was a thing of beauty; a huge rainbow right as the clock expired. It may have also saved the Cavs from losing the series. Imagine how they would feel being down 0-2 after not having lost a single game in the first two rounds...
Things to take away from games 1 & 2:

Orlando Magic: SVG needs to get his players ready to play right from the get-go, as opposed to 8 minutes into the second quarter. Instead of playing catch-up in the 3rd quarter, they could be building on a lead. However, as heartbreaking as game 2's loss was, Orlando shouldn't feel too bad about it. Hedo guarded Lebron as well as anyone could without fouling James. Leaving Cleveland with a 1-1 split ain't bad either.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Mo Williams needs to step up. Shooting 33% in times as crucial as these is simply unacceptable. He is supposed to be the Robin to Lebron's Batman, but right now he's barely passing as Alfred. The Cavs need someone else to put the ball in the bucket so Lebron can get some rest. James might be able to single-handedly will his team past the Magic, but he's going to be exhausted for the finals if he does.

I must say that these conference finals, both in the East and the West, are giving us fans some amazing basketball to watch.

Billups Off Kobe's Back

Billups was my favorite player on those Pistons teams a few years back; here's why.

Straight from that scene in Like Mike...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lebron vs. Kobe

With the predicted Lakers-Cavaliers matchup drawing closer and closer, the debate regarding who's the better player between Kobe and Lebron has reached an all-time high. And while the next few weeks will add much more substantial bullets to both their resumes, there's already more than enough material available to compare the two.

...on the defensive end...

Lebron has gone a long ways this season in improving his defense. Youtube is stuffed full with highlight clips of James sprinting the length of the floor to spike down a layup attempt by the opposing team. But outside these highlight reel plays, Lebron is learning to utilize his physical gifts to play sound defense, and shut down opponents. Mike Brown has also said that Lebron is now much more vocal, and taken to initiative to direct Cleveland's defensive stand. With season averages of 1.7stls and 1.1 bpg, Lebron earned a spot on the NBA All-Defensive First Team.

Kobe is no defensive flake either; a fellow All-Defensive First Teamer (6th time too), Kobe has been known to play swarming man-to-man defense. Starting during last summer's olympic tournament, "the Doberman" showed a side of his game that he doesn't always get praised for. Though not as athletic as James, Kobe plays equally (if not more) suffocating defense when he tries. He's also picked up a number of veteran tricks that Lebron has not yet. Statistically speaking, Kobe trails James with season averages of 1.5spg and 0.4bpg.

... if they were D-ing you up...
  • Lebron is the guy that frustrates you because he's quick enough to beat you to your spots, and also blocks everything you toss up.
  • Kobe is the guy that frustrates you by stripping the ball from behind when you drive, or by poking it up as you bring it up for the shot.
It's hard to say who's "better". But if I had to pick, I'd give Lebron the slight edge because of his superior athleticism and improving defensive mind.

...on the offensive end...

While both are extremely effective scorers, they play with a completely different mentality.

Kobe's got the mind-set of an assassin; his natural tendency is to find his own shot - for better or for worse. If you watch any Lakers' game, pay attention to Bryant's extensive offensive repertoire. Kobe is a visual display of every offensive move in the books, refined to near perfection. Spin-moves, fade-aways, floaters, hesitation dribbles...any and every move you've learned since the 5th grade, he's perfected. Kobe's arsenal makes him an extremely versatile player; if his jumper isn't falling, he'll back you down in the post. If you start doubling him, he's a good enough passer to find the open man.

Lebron's playbook isn't nearly as deep as Kobe's, and that's expected given that he's spent less time in the league. But it doesn't need to be because Lebron is an offensive play-maker; he looks to help his teammates get buckets. This keeps everyone involved and happy, something Kobe hasn't always been able to do. Another superior aspect of James's offensive game is getting to the basket. As cliche as it is, the best way to describe Lebron coming down the lane is a runaway freight-train. The only defense against him is either a triple-team, or a foul. And sometimes even that isn't enough to stop him; Lebron is strong enough to finish after contact, and his free throw shooting has also dramatically improved from his past years' percentages. While they're improving, Lebron's biggest weaknesses are his +15ft jump shots and his post game.

... if you were guarding them...
  • Lebron beats you because he's naturally stronger, jumps higher, and runs faster than you. He put's his head down, runs at the rim, and there's nothing you can do about it...other than hope to God that your help-defense is watching your back.
  • Kobe is that guy who catches you off guard. You go left, and he crossed right. You jump for the block, but he just pump faked...and now you just fouled him. You never know what he's going to do, or how he's going to release that ball. All you can do is try your best to stay between him and the bucket.
Here's where the tricky part comes in; on what basis do we judge the "better" offensive player? Kobe's got enough moves and tricks to make Lebron's head spin. But Lebron's relatively limited offensive options are just as, if not more effective than Kobe's. If we just look at ability to score, Kobe is better at this point in time. However, Lebron's superior athleticism, court-vision, and playmaking abilities make him the more effective offensive player.

the intangibles...

So far, Lebron has been a perfect citizen on and off the court. On the court, Lebron is the ideal teammate; he makes those around him better - something that Kobe isn't always able to do. Off the court, James has managed to maintain a positive public image free of controversy. He also leads by example by eating, training, and acting wisely during both the season and offseason.

One intangible Lebron could learn a bit about from Kobe is the mentality to take over games (when it's necessary). He's got the physical ability to do it, but sometimes lacks the inner desire to do so. His willingness to pass and keep teammates involved prevents him from taking too many shots in a row. While I can't really say this is a total negative, this intangible should be a requirement for any superstar being considered to be the NBA's best player.

Though Bryant's behaved admirably for last two seasons, his past holds numerous examples of times when he's rubbed coaches and teammates the wrong way. Kobe's score-first mentality is good only when he's on his game. If not, he sometimes shoots the Lakers into a loss.

But let's be real; Kobe usually succeeds when he decides to take over a game. When that happens, you can count on some new records for the NBA history books. Remember his 62pt-in-3-quarters outing against the Mavs? Or how about that ridiculous string of 40+ point games two seasons ago? And of course, there's the 81 point decimation of the Raptors. This killer instinct is what separates Kobe from the rest of the league. It's what motivates him to hone his skills every offseason, what drives him to take over in the 4th quarter, and what gives him the ability to rise to the occasion during those waning moments of close games. Whatever you want to call it, this "clutch-factor" cannot be taught.

This category isn't as close as the other two. Kobe's got better intangibles than LBJ at this point in time.

And the winner is...

Lebron James.

Kobe is great, but Lebron is the better player. If I had to start a franchise, I'd take Lebron. If I was down one point with 4 seconds left, I'd rather have Lebron attack the lane than Kobe launch a jumper. I won't even get into the statistics because those clearly point to Lebron being the winner. Keep in mind I'm not comparing who's had a better career; though Kobe is currently ahead in that respect, Lebron has plenty of time to rack up the championship rings and personal awards.

If you'd like some more material on this debate, check out these articles on ESPN:

Monday, May 18, 2009

NBA Playoffs: Conference Finals Predictions

Eastern Conference

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (3) Orlando Magic
I must first say that I am overjoyed that the Magic blew the Celtics out of their green socks Sunday night. As good as they are, I'm pretty sure everyone across America was sick of watching Paul Pierce's flops, Kevin Garnett's goofy faces from the sidelines, and Glen Davis trying to run the court. Now done with the previous NBA champs, DHo and the Magic get to take on (arguably) the best player in the league, and the #1 ranked Cavs.

Looking at the matchups, Cleveland has the pieces to give Orlando trouble all over the court. While Perkins wasn't much of an offensive threat, Ilgauskus has the size to rough Dwight up in the post, and enough range to lure Dwight away from the basket. If Howard isn't playing defense near the basket, or not on the court at all due to foul trouble, no one else on the Magic can stop Lebron from barreling down the lane.

For Orlando to win, they're going to need to keep Howard on the court long enough to deter Lebron away from the rim. SVG should keep alternating Courtney Lee and Hedo on Lebron, with Howard waiting in the post. Make Lebron beat you with his jumpshot or make him pass; I'd rather have Mo Will, Delonte, or Big Z (as hot as they are) launch jumpers than Lebron getting layups and getting to the free throw line. On top of all this, they're going to need a superhuman effort from their Superman on both ends of the court. The Cavs' stifling defense will be able to keep Orlando's slashers away from the rim, so DHo must wreck some havoc in the middle or be ready to dish to his shooters around the arc.

For the Cavs to win, they just have to keep playing the same game they've been playing for the last few weeks. Keep the defense tight, play physically, and let Lebron make plays. They've had a while to rest, so hopefully rust won't be too much of a factor( I doubt it will). And as long as they don't get overconfident, they should be able to take care of business. Cavs in 6.

Western Conference

(1) L.A. Lakers vs. (2) Denver Nuggets

With all the skepticism surrounding L.A.'s recent play and Phil Jackson's coaching tactics, the Lakers' biggest obstacle to the ring is themselves. With no injuries and a roster overloaded with talent, there is no excuse for coming up short this year... so what happens if they don't win it all in June? I'm not sure, but it won't be pretty.

Having said that, the Nuggets have a very good chance at taking down the reigning Western Conference champs. Though haters call them a bunch of thugs, thugs might just be what the Nuggets need to beat L.A. The Lakers have always had trouble playing against physical teams, and Denver has the personnel to give them just that. Gasol and Bynum are going to have their hands full trying to bang with Nene, Kmart, and Chris Andersen for a whole series. To win, Karl has to take the rest of the Lakers out of the equation; if Kobe shoots 30+ shots every game, you've got a great chance at winning. Billups, who's playing amazing ball this postseason, will also most likely have the size and skill advantage on whoever ends up guarding him.

Naturally, the Lakers have to keep the whole team involved to come out on top. Kobe can only try to take over when it's absolutely necessary. Bynum and Gasol have to keep attacking the rim on the offensive end, and be ready to get rough on defense. Phil Jackson should also consider putting Shannon Brown on Billups to negate Chauncey's blatant size advantage on Fisher and Farmar. Ariza and Odom have the pleasure of manning up Carmelo (I didn't forget him); the best way to neutralize Melo's offensive game is to attack him when he's on defense. To top it off, Phil Jackson should probably start coaching like he actually cares about whether or not his team wins.

I don't think L.A. will be able to pull it together in time, and the Nuggets are playing too well for me to overlook them. Billups has also always been one of my favorites: Denver in 7.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

NBA Playoffs: Conference Semifinals Predictions

Relative to the rest of the series, game 7 in Bulls vs. Celtics was a bit of a let-down. That being said, that was some of the most exciting basketball we will see in a long time; there were simply too many clutch moments to count.

But here at doubledribbling, we don't like spending too much time reveling in the past. Though round 1 hasn't finished, here's a look at round 2 of the playoffs:

Eastern Conference

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (Winner of Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks)
Honestly it doesn't even matter who wins between Miami and Atlanta. Lebron and the Cavs are on a mission this year, and neither the Heat or the Hawks have the firepower to beat them. If the Hawks can get Horford and Williams healthy, they along with Johnson, Smith, and Bibby will be able to give Lebron a tougher time than Wade will by himself. Either way, the Cavs will come out on top. Cavs in 5 if against the Heat; Cavs in 6 if against the Hawks.

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (3) Orlando Magic
Boston's fatigue is going to be the major factor in this matchup. Pierce, and Allen both logged huge minutes in their series against the Bulls, exhausting both physically and mentally. Orlando ,on the other hand, has had ample time to rest. It would be unwise for me to rule out the Green, but they beat the Bulls because of the Bulls' playoff inexperience. For the Celtics to win, they're going to either need some real hot shooting from behind the arc all series, or for KG to come back. Orlando has weapons both inside and outside, but they are going to need to keep Dwight Howard out of foul trouble (or trouble in general). I think they'll be able to do that much; Magic in 6.

Western Conference

(1) L.A. Lakers vs. (5) Houston Rockets
The Rockets, fresh off their breakthrough series against Portland, are gearing up to face the West's #1 team. Outside of Tmac, both teams are pretty much completely healthy. Bynum has already publicly stated that he wanted the matchup against Yao, but I don't think he's actually ready for China's big-man. Yao's offensive arsenal is simply too much for the Bynum to handle. However, let's not forget Kobe. Kobe has given Artest and Battier buckets in the past, and I expect him to continue doing so. Fueled by Artest's comments praising Brandon Roy, Kobe is going to lift the Lakers over the Rockets. LA in 6.

(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Dallas Mavericks
It's safe to say that the Nuggets are no Championship contender wannabes after their first round destruction of CP3 and the Hornets. Chauncey Billups has regained his old swagger, and is leading the Nuggets in some great basketball. Dallas's dismantling of the Spurs was no joke either; they've got the offensive abilities to score with any team in the league. Composure and consistency are going to win this matchup. Nuggets in 6.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm Back

Finals are officially over and I am back from my blogging hiatus.

Unfortunately, I have not had the time to watch most of the first round... and as a result I've missed some of the greatest basketball in a long time. Denver owned the Hornets like I expected. The Pistons were a joke. Orlando beat Philly in surprising fashion...without Superman. Mavs over the Spurs - I didn't predict, but understandable given the Ginobili situation. And of course, Bulls and Celtics are taking their historic series to game 7.

I promise more will come later. For now, I leave you with Gortat on Philly.

Friday, April 17, 2009

NBA Playoffs: A Look at the First Round

I'll spare you the narration. Here's my take on the first round of the playoffs.

Eastern Conference

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (8) Detroit Pistons
Here are two teams going in the complete opposite direction; the Cavs are a young, energetic team on the rise with a player who's arguably the best basketball player to take the court since MJ last laced up. Detroit on the other hand, are a group of wily old vets that are still trying to maintain their gritty swagger despite having just experienced one of their worst regular seasons. As much as I hate voting against the home team, the Cavs will come out on top. Cleveland in 6.

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (7) Chicago Bulls
This is going to be a dangerous round for the defending champs; the Celtics are forced to begin their title defense without the anchor: Kevin Garnett. Though they've already played over a month without him, I'm not convinced that they're a sure thing. Chicago, winner of 5 of their last 6, are rapidly gaining confidence, and news of Garnett's injury is only more fuel to their fire. Looking at their matchups, I see Tyrus, Joakim, and Brad Miller giving Perkins, Mikki, and Big Baby Davis a tough time in the middle. However, Celts have the clear edge on the wings with Pierce and Allen. The point guard matchup is an interesting one; Rondo has had a breakout season, and also had the advantage in terms of playoff experience. Rose is a question mark, nobody knows how the rookie will handle the playoff pressure, but there's no question that he has the physical skills/tools to outplay Rondo. Rose and Tyrus Thomas are going to be the determining factors of whether or not the Bulls win, and I think it's their year to shine: Bulls in 7.

(3) Orlando Magic vs. (6) Philadelphia 76ers 
Both these teams fumbled past the finish line. Orlando, losers in 4 of their last 6, is still without Jameer Nelson,  and Rashard Lewis is dealing with lingering leg injuries. Philly, losers in 6 of their last 7, does not have significant injuries other than Brand,but simply doesn't match up well against he Magic. This series is going to be Dwight Howard playing "bull in a china shop" with the 76er's frontcourt. The Magic also have the advantage from behind the arc; Hedo, Lewis, Lee, and Alston will all have their turn lighting up the Sixers. Magic in 5.

(4) Atlanta Hawks vs. (5) Miami Heat  Dwayne Wade
Dwayne Wade has taken the Heat a long ways. But for them to win this series, someone else from the Heat needs to step up. Jermaine O'neal, Michael Beasley, and Mario Chalmers immediately come to mind. The Hawks (aka Blazers of the East) are ready to prove that they're ready to take the next step as an NBA team. With Marvin Williams returning this past week from back issues, the Hawks also have a healthy lineup. Horford and Smith are going to give Wade a hard time around the rim, and despite monumental efforts, Wade isn't going to beat the Hawks all by himself from the perimeter. Hawks in 6.

Western Conference

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Utah Jazz
Other than Deron Williams, I would take the Lakers at every other position, and that's inclusive of the bench. Bynum is back from injury, Kobe wants that first post-Shaq title, and Phil Jackson's 10th finger has been missing a ring for too long (he's also got a pretty good track record against Jerry Sloan too). Lakers sweep.

(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (7)New Orleans Hornets
The stars have somewhat aligned for the Nuggets this season. Hometown hero Billups was shipped in via trade, Nene became one of the west's better centers in his first healthy season, Chris Andersen returned from suspension to be one of the league's top shot blockers, and J.R. Smith is maturing into a deadly assassin from beyond the arc. And let's also not forget that they've got Carmelo Anthony. Even with CP3, the Hornets do not have enough firepower to take down the Nuggets, and a non-existent bench. Nuggets in 6.

(3) San Antonio Spurs vs. (6) Dallas Mavericks
As much as I hate the Spurs, I'm hesitant to bet against them in the first round. On paper, the Mavs seem to have a chance; Kidd, Dirk, Josh Howard, and the Jet give them more than enough firepower to take down the Black and White. The Spurs will also be without the services of Manu Ginobili for the rest of the year. That being said, they've played fairly well without Manu for the majority of the season. Roger Mason can, and will come up big for the Spurs, And you know you can count on Greg Pop, Duncan, and Parker to pull some thing crazy out of their sleeves; they always do. Spurs in 7.

(4) Portland Trailblazers vs. (5) Houston Rockets
By far, this will be the most exciting matchup in the first round. The young blazers have finally grown up. Brandoy Roy, fresh out of the best season of his career, has matured into the go-to-guy and team leader. Przybilla and Oden, while both offensively unreliable, do all the things that the team needs from them on the defensive end. The Rockets have also been playing good ball; though T-mac is out(this may be a good thing), Yao has completed a whole season without any serious injuries. What this series comes down to is Roy vs. Artest/Battier. If Roy can overcome these two defensive hounds, then the Blazers will win. But seeing how the Rockets have not gotten past the first round for the past couple of years (with T-mac as the common denominator), I think they're going to come with some extra fire. Rockets in 7.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Final Countdown

The day has finally arrived. Fantasy Basketball 2008-2009 ends in mere hours, ushering in the start of the real stuff: playoff basketball.

To generate some fan excitement, the NBA has released TV spots every year featuring some famous musician. Black Eyed Peas - Let's Get it Started made the Pistons' title in 2004 that much more memorable. After that, my memory isn't as clear. I believe Rob Thomas and the Pussycat Dolls each had their turn...but those spots didn't strike me as anything special.

For this year, the NBA has teamed up with one of Hip-Hop's hottest artists Kanye West. Frankly put, this is exactly what the NBA needed. The beat, the autotune, and the lyrics all work to put some edge back into a league that's recently been accused of getting soft.

Check it out

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cinderella Story

Every year, I participate in a fantasy basketball league with some of my high school alum. We play H2H, standard 9 cats, 10 positions (PG,SG,G,SF,PF,F,C,C,Util,Util) with 4 bench spots. While normally pretty competitive, this league was especially competitive this year. This year also happened to be the first year we transitioned into a keeper league.

Following the draft, I was pretty satisfied with my team; being 12th pick, I took Deron Williams knowing that his ankle injury would keep him out for a while. I never could have imagined how large an impact his injury would have on my fantasy season. Here's a weekly look at my team's (T3Oriental) record:
Don't be fooled by all the wins you see. I started the season in the worst possible fashion; four huge losses to four eventual playoff teams. At the start of week 5, I was dead last. Deron's ankle was still messed up, Al Harrington gave me zeroes across the board for weeks, and Joakim Noah was a dud. The string of wins following the horrendous start weren't all that great either; I could only win 6-3 or 5-4, never really gaining ground on the front of the pack.

The season continued as an uphill struggle. Bogut was up and down (and eventually completely out) with his back issues, Rip Hamilton was out for a while, and Marvin Williams went down during the final stretch of the season. The week before the playoffs, I was still sitting out in 7th (or 8th) place. Luckily for me, I squeaked into the playoff race thanks to some huge free agent contributions, and losses by the other teams competing for the last few spots. Here's how the standings looked at the end of the season:
Spots 4-10 were separated by just 4.5 games (also note my league high 66 moves...I was streaming like it was my job). The fight for the playoffs was long and gruesome. And the time since hasn't been that much easier.

That being said, my team has trucked it to the championship match. From last place to (almost) the top, this season has been one crazy journey. The championship week matchup is going to be tough; though I'm facing the 6 seed, he's got a stacked lineup (Kobe, Durant, Dwight Howard, Boozer, etc) and is also rolling. But win or lose, I'm chalking this year up as an accomplishment.

Wish me luck

Monday, April 6, 2009

Michael Jordan Day

I'm not going to miss any opportunity to sing praises about Air Jordan.

Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame oday. I propose we all allot Apr 6 as National Michael Jordan day, and take it to remember the greatest athlete in the modern era of sports. To MJ, I say thanks for all the highlights, records, and memories he's blessed us with throughout his career. It's a serious shame that future generations will never truly understand how Jordan transcended the game of basketball; they will never comprehend the full extent of his greatness. I would write more about how great Air23 was, but I'm going to leave that to the professional (and more eloquent) writers around the net.

Scoop Jackson of ESPN:
"True, Wilt Chamberlain was just as great in his day, and he didn't go into the Hall alone. Same for baseball and Babe Ruth. (And soon enough, golf is going to have this problem with Tiger Woods.) But even among those legends, MJ is different. And that needs to be recognized. Because as much as Jordan's getting inducted to the Hall of Fame is about basketball, his total contribution to the game and to the entire sports world is so much more than that. So much more than any other athlete can claim."

Randy Hill of
"We can begin this examination of MJ's impact on the hoop revolution by underscoring his vast influence in marketing. The poster-ization process of Jordan's game quickly was seized upon by an extremely savvy sneaker and apparel company, embraced by a league that put its marketing emphasis on the back of its jerseys, and uplifted by the rise of the sports-highlight reality show.

And, falling into lock step, we all pretty much whiffed on understanding the anti-gravity of MJ's greatness."

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
"Michael Jordan goes into Springfield in September, and maybe they shouldn’t just give him a plaque – or even a wing. They should turn the whole building over to him. For one night, anyway, that should’ve been the plan. No shrine could ever do justice to his genius. You just had to be there."

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
"For all the attention paid to Jordan's scoring, he's still the Bulls' all-time assist leader with 5,012.
It's not easy for a shooting guard to control an NBA game. Point guard (because he establishes tempo) and center (because he controls the lane) are considered the crucial positions. But Jordan's skill set was so spectral, it defied labeling."

Mitch Lawrence of
" 'We had the Bird and Magic era and they were wonderful to watch, with that great rivalry of theirs,' Jackson said. 'But Michael Jordan ...'
The former Bulls coach paused, looking for the right words to sum it all up. Finally, he smiled and said, 'When Michael Jordan played the game, you couldn't take your eyes off him.' "

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Next Pair of Shoes...Hopefully

I'm not a sneakerhead, but these caught my eye.

If you've been on the courts recently, I'm sure you've seen someone rocking the Nike Hyperdunks. Released last summer, these kicks have received much praise for their lightweight and excellent on-court performance. For this summer, Nike improved their design, resulting in the Nike Hyperize. Like the Hyperdunks, the Hyperize also implement Nike's Flywire Technology. These are supposedly even lighter than the Hyperdunks.

Personally, I love how these look. I contemplated purchasing the Hyperdunks for a long time, but after seeing these I think I can refrain. The black/red colorway pictured appear much cleaner and more refined than its predecessor. Of course, I'll be waiting for some performance reviews before actually making the purchase. Hopefully these don't let me down.

For more details, check out Or just google it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Waiver Wire Watch (3/26/09): Streaming

Fantasy playoffs have officially started for those of us in Yahoo leagues. I am sure many managers (including myself) have suffered late-season injuries, and thus are in dire need of replacements or a miracle.

So really, now (actually maybe last week) is the time to buckle down and decide on who you still want on your team. There's no room for continual zeroes when a steal or rebound could be the difference between a first round failure and a championship. Today I want to look at a practice that could potentially win you your league: streaming.

1.) the act of adding/dropping players daily in order to attain higher totals stats across various categories...

I know there are many opposed to streaming
; at initial glance, it appears like a convenient way of accumulating more stats. Honestly, I used to get annoyed when I looked down at the recent transactions section only to see that the "DETROIT BALLAZ" exchanged half their team for free agents every single day.

That being said, streaming is still a legitimate option as long as it's practiced with care and caution. If you're going to stream, make sure you put in your due research before arbitrarily picking up a player. Nothing annoys me more than when I see a manager pick up a player, and drop him three minutes later because he decided that another free agent was better. Meanwhile, the rest of the league is now stuck with a free agent that can't be acquired until the waiver-period ends. Careless streaming will hinder other managers from streaming, thus creating negative feelings get the point.

Anyways, if you are one of those managers that's had your team destroyed by injuries
, you have to play to the strengths of the players you have left. Look at your matchup; if your opponent has Kobe, Durant, Dwight Howard, and averages 800+ points a week, then don't go looking for free agent scorers if your team barely reaches 600pts a week. Also look at the actual NBA matchups; anytime you see a team playing against NY, GS, LAC, or PHX, know that that free agent might be a good pickup. Likewise, if Player X scored 22 pts and went 5/6 from beyond the arc in his last game against Golden State, understand that he probably won't do that again against the Celtics.

Below I've listed some of the players that are on my "stream list"
. Again remember to be thorough (give it more than 4 seconds thought) in your research of free agents. Hopefully these guys can help you on your way to a fantasy championship.

Courtney Lee (10% owned): Courtney Lee has received much praise from his teammates, coaches, and critics as of late. Despite being a rookie, he plays both ends of the court with the composure of a veteran, and because of that, Stan Van Gundy gets him his minutes. In his last five games, he's averaged around 33 minutes and 15 pts a game, has 9 steals, 9 3's, and shot very well from the line and field. Another good sign is that he's doing this even though Orlando has no significant injuries (other than Jameer, who won't be coming back soon). If you need threes or steals, stream him (maybe even consider making him a permanent fixture).

Steve Novak (11% owned): Novak is a guy that frustrates me. In 6 of his last 8 games, he's made 3 or more 3pters. In those other two games, he's had zero points. I've streamed him into my line-up twice, and both those occasions just happened to be the nights where he's scored zilch. However, from an objective point of view, chances are they he'll light it up from 3pt land if you add him into your line-up. Again, if you need threes, look into picking him up.

Will Bynum (5% owned): Taking full advantage of a golden opportunity, Bynum has played himself into relevance in the absence of AI and Rip. In his last 5 games, he's averaged 16pts, 4.4 assists, and 1.4 steals whil shooting .500 from the floor and 83% from the line. If Hamilton is out for an extended amount of time, Bynum is a great option to stream.
It seems like Curry is trusting Bynum more and more as each game goes by. Will plays like a poor man's Allen Iverson (and kind of reminds me of a chubbier Lyndsey Hunter); he's not scared of contact, but is also unselfish.

Anderson Varejao (36% owned): Here's another guy that might deserve to be a permanent member of your team. Ben Wallace is out with a broken leg, giving Anderson the starting PF gig. Other than his questionable FT%, Varejao has been putting together some solid numbers. He's had two games in a row of 16-11, and has shot 22/39 in his last five. I don't see any reason for him to stop his current production anytime soon. As much as I don't like him in real life, I've been streaming him consistently.

Chris Andersen (39% owned): I've given plenty of praise to Andersen in the past. And even though he's not producing as consistently as he was last month, he's still a great source for blocks. With Nene, Kenyon, and the recent emergence of Balkman, Denver's front court is stacked pretty deep. However, Kenyon is known for being injury prone, and Nene is about to serve the 2nd game of his suspension tomorrow night. If you don't have him, at least add him for tomorrow's game.

Flip Murray (15% owned): Murray is a scoring machine. Since Marvin Williams went down with back issues, Murray has seen a boost in minutes and production. He's averaging 19.6ppg in his last five games, and has also made 10 threes. Marvin Williams isn't due back for at least a couple more weeks, so you can count on Murray being a solid plug in any given night. I must warn you that his FT% is very inconsistent; if you can't take a risk with that category, I wouldn't risk it with him.

Others to be streamed: Kyle Korver, Rodney Carney, Anthony Randolph, Quentin Richardson, Craig Smith, Eddie House

Before I end, I'd like to leave you with a video I found from BDL's Bedlam Tournament

He is the only Celtic I like