JumpBall

January 24, 2010

5 Ways to Fix the NBA All Star Ballot

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 6:49 AM

Let’s face it. The NBA All Star game starters were announced last week and it was a huge let down. Allen Iverson made the team after despite forcing his way out of the Memphis Grizzlies. Kevin Garnett made the team despite missing games and being a shell of himself when he did play. Tracey McGrady almost made the team despite not even really playing at all. For what its worth, the only reason Yi Jianlian (the freaking role player on a 3 win team) didn’t make it was because he was purposefully left off the ballot. Basically, the casual NBA fan has for the most part no idea how to properly vote on those who deserve to be in the All Star Game. Here are five ways to fix the NBA All Star Game voting process:

1. Set a Numbers Standard:

Players with good name recognition will always get more votes than lesser-known guys with better stats. The best way to change that would be to the make the greatest offenders ineligible by putting in rules that state that a certain player must play a certain amount of games and accumulate a certain amount of stats. The stats limits don’t even have to be high. Just say that you have to meet the minimum standards of at least one of the following stats: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, or steals. Doesn’t sound like too much, but those limits would have kept McGrady from almost starting for the West this year and would have avoided the embarrassment that it caused when Grant Hill who hadn’t played all year made the all star team a few years back. This is probably the easiest and least controversial change.

2. Change the Positions:

Let’s face it point guard is gaining importance as a position and the center spot is losing it. With all the new rules in place that favor guard play and hamper big men (hand checking and zone defenses for example,) why is the east starting two shooting guards and why is the west pretending Amar’e’ Stoudamire is a center (especially considering the starting power forward on the west—Tim Duncan—is a better center than Stoudamire anyway?) Besides, All Star games are much better when there is a true point guard on the floor anyway. So, why not just change the positions that fans can vote on in order to acknowledge that the game has changed? Let’s have fans vote on one point guard, two swingmen, and two big men. That way only good centers are rewarded rather than the current situation where someone like Chris Kaman may sneak on; there will always be a true point guard voted in and the change isn’t so drastic that one team will be made up of completely different types of players than the other one.

3.  Have Fan voting count only for part of the selection:

This is the way the NFL handles the Probowl. All fan votes only count for a third of the roster while player votes and coach votes account for the other two. This allows fans to still vote for starters while covering up for their mistakes as well.

4. Take Away the Fan Vote:

Let’s be honest here. Fan voting doesn’t really make that much sense anymore. They keep messing up. 40 percent of the eastern conference all star starters have no business receiving that honor, and the fans are directly to blame for this. Plus, these days the vote has become international which sounds great, but in reality has resulted in all sorts of votes coming in for a player simply because he either is from the home country or because he plays with someone from their home country. Clearly, fans are no longer voting for players who are most deserving and as a result should lose their right to vote for at all.

5. Let fans vote on different roster spots:

Alright, the above was pretty harsh, and it has no chance of happening. Still, what about a compromise? Let the players pick the starters, let the coaches pick the first 5 reserves, and let the fans vote for the final two players. This allows fans not only to still be involved in the process, but even makes it more ok for them to pick guys who are perhaps not as deserving because at the end of the day it is still only for the last two roster spots on the team anyway.

Any of these solutions would be a step in the right direction. Make it happen David Stern!

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May 18, 2009

Ziller vs Gladwell

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ankur @ 12:52 AM

There’s been a recent spate of interest in basketball and risk that seems to be confusing a fair number of people.  Malcolm Gladwell, noted author of  books like Blink and The Tipping Point, wrote an article in the New Yorker recently arguing that underdogs need to use unconventional strategies to have a chance to win.  In it, he talks about the way in which a full-court press might be one of those strategies.  Gladwell also engaged in a lively back-and-forth with ESPN’s Bill Simmons, in which he mentions the way in which the current NBA draft setup creates a “moral hazard” – in other words, there’s an incentive for lottery teams to lose, since losing makes it more likely you’ll win the lottery.

There are a number of objections you can make to Gladwell’s theories.  For instance, longtime readers of this blog will remember that I debunked the “there’s value in tanking” myth, indicating a rational team would NOT try to lose.  Some people, however, have chosen to make less reasonable criticisms.  This includes the usually-sensible Tom Ziller, who recently argued on FanHouse that these stances were contradictory. Basically, Ziller says that the first theory says “teams should try to increase risk,” while the second theory says “we should penalize risky behavior from teams.”  To use his words,

“The draft structure rewards risk. This is bad, says Gladwell. A lack of innovative strategy — seen as risky — is a problem, says Gladwell. Do you want risk, or not?”

Those of you so interested can read my immediate reaction as the second comment on the FanHouse post cited.  I reproduce it here in somewhat lengthier format, so that the point is a little clearer.

There are two basic problems with Ziller’s argument.  First, he doesn’t understand what Gladwell means by risk.  Second, he mixes up a claim about how a team ought to work within the rules with one that’s about how the rules should look, creating a contradiction where none exists.

First, Gladwell isn’t talking about the same kind of risk in each situation.  When talking about pressing teams, Gladwell’s making a really simple argument – let’s say that if both teams play normally, we know that my team will lose.  Why on earth would we play normally?  If the goal of the game is to win, and playing normally guarantees that you lose, playing normally is a really strange decision to make.  Sure, pressing is risky in that it could take us from a close loss to a blowout – on the flip side, it could take us from a close loss to a win.  If you’ve got nothing to lose, give yourself a puncher’s chance!

I don’t think this claim is controversial at all – people who disagree with Gladwell are saying that the press is a bad tool for this objective, not that he’s wrong about the objective.  When Gladwell talks about risk in this context, therefore, he’s talking about a risk that is it’s own reward – a chance to win that you didn’t have before, that comes at the cost of possibly increasing your margin of defeat.

In the argument about the draft, Gladwell is talking about the way in which there’s an incentive to lose more games so that you get a higher draft pick.  Risk isn’t actually a part of his argument at all – it’s mentioned when he makes an analogy to banks, NOT as part of the conversation about teams.  The argument Gladwell is actually making here, if Ziller had bothered to actually pay attention, is about the incentives that teams have.  Gladwell’s point is pretty simple here – we should want teams to try to win as many games as they can.  Therefore, creating a system that makes teams want to lose games is bad.  The current system makes teams want to tank, so they can get a better draft pick…so the current system is bad.  Again, I don’t think this point is very controversial – I think the alternatives he suggests are ridiculous, but the idea that the lottery needs reform isn’t new, and the moral hazard idea is straight out of Economics 101.

Notice, therefore, that risk doesn’t mean the same thing in either example, so trying to strawman Gladwell’s arguments into “risk is good” and “risk is bad” is all kinds of silly.  Even more interestingly, these arguments are operating at completely different levels – one is about a team’s decisions given a set of incentives, and the other is about the incentive structure that team works within.  The first one says that if teams are trying to win, they should take risks like pressing, while the second says that we should encourage teams to try to win.

Let’s use a different example to make this point clearer.  Suppose that Gladwell made the argument “teams that have a lot of money should use as much as they can to make themselves better,” and also the argument “the league should impose an overall cap on how much a team can spend to make itself better.”  In Ziller’s eyes, these would be contradictory – after all, the first one says “teams should spend money,” and the second says “teams shouldn’t spend money,” right?  Any reasonable person can see, however, that this is not the case – the first is talking about what a team should do given the current rules, and the second is about what those rules should look like.  Put another way, the first argument is about strategy, and the second is about fairness.  Since they have completely different goals, any attempt to compare those two is inevitably doomed to fail.

Look, Gladwell’s arguments have a bunch of problems with them, and other people have done a thorough job of exposing them.  Let’s not create some where none exist, yeah?

May 4, 2009

Boston Celtics vs Orlando Magic

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 4:31 AM

This is a second round series hampered by injuries as the Celtics are missing Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe while the Magic are missing their starting backcourt in Jameer Nelson and Courtney Lee.

Big Men: As great as that Chicago-Boston Series was, let’s be honest. It was largely close because Kevin Garnett wasn’t in it. With him, the Celtics suddenly have a great defense again and Derrick Rose and the Bulls aren’t able to wreck havoc by driving in and stretching the aforementioned Celtic defense.

Instead, the Celtics have to start Glen “Big Baby” Davis alongside Kendrick Perkins against Orland’s Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis.

Perkins certainly has improved by leaps and bounds since he first entered the league. He will have his hands full in this series trying to keep the energetic Howard off the boards, but for what it is worth, I am pretty sure he will greatly hinder Howard’s scoring opportunities. To be fair, that’s not all that hard to do. Perkins has the size and length to stay with Howard and keep him from just spinning and dunking outright, and he is a good enough defender that he will prevent Howard from just throwing up that mechanical right hook shot over and over again.

The new starter Glen Davis is not going to be nearly as impressive this series on defense. His generally mediocre defense will get exposed more often by the quicker Lewis who by the way will most likely get more rebounds a game than Davis as well. Still, if it is any consolation, Lewis probably will be too undersized to do anything against Davis when the “Big Baby” sets himself up at any part of the post. So do they cancel out? No, Lewis will get the ball more and make Davis cry at least once this series as he is quickly sent to the bench. Ok, that was probably a low blow so let’s just move on.

Swing Men: Paul Pierce and Ray Allen start and lead Boston against Orlando’s Hedo Turkoglu and new starter JJ Redick.

For all the fuss being made about Rajon Rondo becoming one of the best point guards in the NBA (and he probably has,) the Celtics will continue to live and die based on the contributions of Allen and Pierce. This series is no difference as both are matched up against two very mediocre defenders at best.

As long as JJ Redick is in the game to space the floor on offense, look for Ray Allen to dominate him on the other end. It isn’t out of the question to expect the future hall of famer to drop 40 on his Magic counterpart as many as three times this series.

Meanwhile Paul Pierce probably won’t have quite as easy a time against Turkoglu. The Turkish small forward is smart and has long enough arms to make things tricky for Pierce when the Celtics have the ball by backing off of him and daring him to shoot from the outside. Pierce is at his most effective when he is able to get to the right block and act from there. If Turkoglu can back off far enough to bait Pierce into shooting from beyond that block, he will have him right where he wants him. Furthermore, he is a good enough playmaker to force Pierce to work on the other end as well. That being said, the guy doesn’t have the greatest foot speed so look for Pierce to be able to get his fair share of open looks and make the Magic pay.

Neither team really has a significant advantage at the end of the game though. While Pierce and Allen have had their late game heroics highlighted by the media and their recent series with the Chicago Bulls, both Turkoglu and Redick have proven that they can also make big shots when it matters most. Redick of course made most of these in college so it is somewhat questionable if he can do so in the NBA, but it says here that he will be fine. There should be no question of Turkoglu’s clutchness, however. On a team with three other all stars (Howard, Lewis, and the injured Jameer Nelson,) Stan Van Gundy generally designs his crunch time plays for his small forward. Turkoglu hits them too as he did against the Sixers during the first round and multiple times last year against the Celtics in the regular season.

Still, if it is imperative that the Celtics keep it close in their big men match up (and it is,) it is equally imperative that the Magic swing men keep it close against their own counterparts. They have to be willing to attack them at any time and often to tire them out for offense.

Point Guard: Rafer Alston of the Orlando Magic will attempt to slow down the red hot Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics. Rondo who ultimately came out on top in his battle against the highly touted rookie, Derrick Rose, has certainly added a pretty feather to his cap of accomplishments. Still, he has to stay grounded because it is this match up that should swing the tide in favor of the Celtics for good.

Rafer Alston might not make anyone forget about Jameer Nelson, but he also isn’t going to be one to fear Rondo or not make him earn his points. Alston is supremely confident, fairly quick, and a solid enough playmaker. If Rondo sleeps on defense, Alston will be able to easily get into the lane and make the Celtics defense panic. Davis will probably be too slow to help out on Alston, and Perkins helping on Alston frees up the alley-oop loving Dwight Howard so Rondo has to stay in front of him at all times.

Not that Rafer “Skip To My Lou” Alston is going to have all that much energy on offense. Rondo has the ability to run the Magic point guard ragged. He will explode into the lane early and often and force the Magic defenders to scramble in response. His jumper is streaky at best, but he is so quick that it rarely is that big a deal. You cannot play too far off of him because by the time he meets you when that is the case, he will have too much momentum to stop without fouling. When he does pass, it should be noted that his decision making has been impeccable in the playoffs which is highlighted by his recent game 6 performance when he registered 19 assists against 0 turnovers in 57 minutes.

Coaching +Bench: Doc Rivers who actually once coached the Orlando Magic now returns once more as the ever improving coach of the Boston Celtics.

 At his disposal off the bench will be Stephon Marbury, Tony Allen, Eddie House, Brian Scalabrine, and Mikki Moore. These guys know their roles and stick to them, which is good because none are really talented enough to contribute much more than they currently do except for Marbury who randomly has developed a fear of shooting.

If you thought that Rivers over used his starters in the last series, read the list of guys I gave as primary backups and expect him to repeat his tactics from the first round.

Despite being shorthanded in terms of big men, I think Rivers should single-team Howard and play him largely straight up with Kendrick Perkins. Challenge Howard to beat you via his offense, because quite simply put he probably cannot do that for four games.

On the other team’s side, sits the hard working Stan Van Gundy. He will count on Mickael Pietrus, Anthony Johnson, Tony Battie, and Marcin Gortat to produce off the Magic bench.

Johnson is going to have a tough time keeping Rondo in front of him, but will make the Celtics pay if they leave him open to double someone else. Pietrus can somewhat effectively guard Pierce, Allen, and even Rondo, but is also very likely to shoot a host of idiotic three pointers too quickly in the offense and commit dumb fouls. How well he keeps his play in check will go a long way to deciding how much the Magic will miss the young Courtney Lee. Gortat and Battie are both solid big men who play passable help defense and will not make it significantly easier for the Celtics to hit shots in the lane when Howard rests.

Van Gundy has to make sure that any screens for Ray Allen not involving Howard are switched on to prevent Allen from dominating early and often with his quick release and deadly accurate jumper. At the same time, he has to get his team to be as physical as possible. The Celtic are running on adrenalin at this point after their exhausting series with the Bulls. If the Magic can be physical and lay down hard (but fair) fouls early and often, the Celtics could fold early and concede large opening leads.

Regardless, being physical is the only way the Magic have a chance at containing the lightning quick Rajon Rondo. Turning him into a jump shooter largely curtails his overall effectiveness.

 In addition, Van Gundy has to create ways for the Magic to stay balanced on offense if the Celtics do indeed decide to play Howard straight up. They should feed their big man whenever a dunk opportunity presents itself, but when it doesn’t, they must work it around to their playmakers: Turkoglu, Lewis, and Alston and allow them to create.

To be fair, the Celtics can also counter all of this by playing with the same poise they had when they beat the Bulls in seven games.

Final Verdict: This series will certainly be an interesting one. The Magic had just as tough a time beating the Sixers as the Celtics did with the Bulls so both teams just escaped elimination even if it took the Celtics one more game (and a plethora of overtimes) to do so. In the end, I think the Magic might suffer more from just being happy to be in the second round.

Boston Celtics in 7

May 2, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers vs Houston Rockets

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 11:35 AM

This might actually be the match up between the two best teams in the western conference. 

Big men: Los Angeles Lakers start Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom against Yao Ming and Luis Scola who start for the Houston Rocket. This is going to end up being a match up of speed (Lakers) against power (Rockets.) As a result, the Lakers need to abandon any thought of playing Yao Ming straight up and should instead front him at all times and double him after he starts dribbling. Yao Ming isn’t much of a passer off the dribble and this should be a great way for the Lakers to generate some turnovers. At the same time, the Lakers have to either stay at home on Luis Scola or close out on him quickly. The moment you leave him for too long, bad things happen as he will either hit an open jumper, cut to the basket, or simply crash the boards. Speaking of rebounds, the Lakers have to commit as a team to boxing out. During their first round match up, the Utah Jazz averaged 13 offensive rebounds a game which led to numerous second chance opportunities. The Rocket big men have to understand that if they don’t give up on a play then there is a good chance they will be able to score 10-15 points a game just on put backs. When the Lakers are on offense, Scola has to gauge Lamar Odom’s mood. If Odom is playing passive, don’t be aggressive on defense because you risk waking him up and having him do something. Meanwhile, Yao has no chance at keeping up with the much faster Gasol, but he can be physical enough with him to try and intimidate the Spaniard. Honestly, if I was working for the Rockets all I would do is keep showing Yao Ming the picture of Gasol and the rest of the Spanish national team’s offensive Olympic picture. That should motivate him to shut down Gasol. In any case, both sets of big men have their work cut out for them if they want to gain a significant advantage.

 

Swing Men: Kobe Bryant and Trevor Ariza start for the Lakers against the Rocket’s Ron Artest and Shane Battier. For all the talk about the Rockets having two guys who can potentially stop Kobe Bryant, Bryant did average 28.3 points, 5 assists, and 53 percent shooting against both of them during the regular season. Basically, it doesn’t matter who decides to guard the most skilled player in the NBA; Kobe knows he can get his. Honestly, the best way to guard Kobe Bryant in my opinion is to let him score early and get into a rhythm by the first quarter. You want to turn his teammates like Trevor Ariza into spectators. Once the game does head into the fourth quarter, none of the other Lakers will be in rhythm and Kobe should be exhausted. The Lakers are simply not a disciplined team at times and thus are vulnerable to a strategy like this. Don’t fret Laker fans because thanks to Ron Artest, so are the Rockets. If the Lakers allow Ron Artest to take all the dumb shots that he wants to take, this is going to be a short series as Artest attempts to go 1 on 5 and lose a whole bunch of times. At least when Kobe Bryant decides to take on the world by himself there is a slight chance he goes nuts and pulls it off. Ron Artest has zero percent chance to win a game by himself on the offensive end. Both Trevor Ariza and Shane Battier are guys who will do all the little things on both ends of the floor, be capable of guarding the opposing team’s best wing scorer (Kobe and Artest,) and knock down open jumpers. Both will have at least one game that they will alter greatly without any regular fan knowing.

 

Point Guards: Los Angeles’s Derek Fisher vs. Houston’s Aaron Brooks will finally answer the question: who is faster, a rock or something traveling at the speed of light? Not only is Derek Fisher quite possibly the slowest starting point guard in the league (bottom five for sure,) but Aaron Brooks is probably the fastest/quickest north-south point guard in the league. Look for Aaron Brooks to beat Fisher over and over again and quicken the overall pace of the game…which incidentally plays right into the Lakers hands. The faster the pace is, the harder it is for Yao Ming and Luis Scola to keep up with the Laker big men. Thus, Brooks has to keep his composure against Fisher and pick his spots to beat him off the dribble (generally by either waiting for his entire team to get over the timeline or by having one or two man fast breaks.) Fisher on the other hand should be given a handful of plays where he takes Brooks down low into the post and absolutely hammers him.

 

Coaches/Bench: Phil Jackson and the Lakers bench vs. Rick Adelman and the Rockets bench. Off the bench, the Lakers will play Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, Andrew Bynum, Shannon Brown and maybe Jordan Farmar and Josh Powell. The Rockets on the flip side can count on Kyle Lowry, Von Wafer, Carl Landry, and Chuck Hayes to play some minutes with possibly some cameos from Brent Barry and Brian Cook. No offense to Rick Adelman who is a nice regular season coach, but Phil Jackson completely destroys him. Phil Jackson and Adelman have met many times in the playoffs, but Jackson has never once lost a series in their head to head match up. In any case Adelman has to figure out how to be more creative in how he uses Yao Ming. Against Portland he either received the ball down at the left block or was too busy setting screens to receive the ball. That can’t happen against the Lakers, because Yao Ming is the most consistent scorer on the Rockets who can’t allow themselves to go on as many scoring droughts as they did against the Blazers and thus they must take advantage of the fact that the high scoring Lakers have even less size than the Blazers at the moment. At the same time, Phil Jackson has to figure out a way for the Lakers to provide help on both Yao Ming and a penetrating Brooks without giving up too many open jumpers to the snipers on the Rockets. That is really where this chess match begins. I will suggest one thing for the Rockets: that they play Von Wafer alongside both Battier and Artest while resting either Ming or Scola for significant stretches of the game. This allows Artest to shut down Odom which he is capable of doing and Battier to face Bryant. This also allows for a maximum spreading of the floor if Yao is the center as he now has four three point shooters he can pass to. The one risk here is that this line up is probably easier to convince to run, and the Lakers have ran all season which gives them the huge advantage if the pace does quicken. Still, this lineup could be the perfect antidote and something Adelman should tinker with, because the Rockets need all the offense they can get. As for a suggestion for Phil Jackson, the Lakers should make sure that they aren’t substituting too many players in at once, because the Rockets will be able to pick that as a perfect time to make a run against cold players.

 

Final Verdict: In the end, despite the Rockets playing good defense, having the best offensive center in the game, and having a point guard that should give the Lakers fits on defense, they simply cannot keep up with the Lakers. The Los Angeles Lakers when clicking have the best offense in the game, and should be able to run away with the score in most cases. Lakers in 5

May 1, 2009

Denver vs Dallas

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 1:21 PM

Finally, after about two weeks, we have reached the second round of the playoffs! Let’s break down the first match up of the second round which pits the Dallas Mavericks against the Denver Nuggets.

Big Men: Denver starts Kenyon Martin and Nene Hilario (I guess now he just goes by Nene) while Dallas begins their games with Dirk Nowitzki and Erik Dampier. Dampier and Nene basically cancel each other out. They do their best to rebound and protect the basket on defense, and not much else. Nene is probably more talented, but that’s not going to make too much of a difference in this series. On the flip side, the other match up has the potential to decide the series. Dirk Nowitzki is just two seasons removed from his MVP and he has been phenomenal this season playing with Kidd. Martin is a player who after both of his knees being repaired by micro-fracture surgery has reinvented himself as a defensive ace. The reason Denver beat New Orleans so easily is probably because Martin shut down David West by himself. Without West creating double teams, the Hornets role players had to take much tougher shots and could never get into a rhythm. Can Nowitzki be bullied like that? Absolutely, he can. Ask him what happened when the Warriors put Stephen Jackson on him two years ago and see how happily he answers that. If Dirk can’t score on Martin, the Mavs could get swept; so as I said before, this is probably the key match up that decides the whole series.

Swingmen: Dallas has a finally healthy Josh Howard and Jason Terry vs. Denver’s Carmelo Anthony and Dahntay Jones.  (Author’s note: Antoine Wright and Jose Juan Barea have both taken turns starting for the Mavs in these playoffs, but since Terry gets more important minutes than either of them, we’ll pretend he’s the starter.) Melo has to shake off his bruises and go right at Howard. Meanwhile, Howard basically has to do the same thing in an effort to slow down Denver’s best scorer by making him work on defense. He also has to push the envelope even more if Dirk is getting killed by Martin. Meanwhile, Terry isn’t going to be able to get Jones off of him on defense. This guy just helped hinder the great Chris Paul all series long, and should do the same to The Jet. Honestly, that’s probably a big storyline here. The Mavs were able to score on the Spur’s overrated defense (overrated for this season) all day long. However, in Kenyon Martin and Dahntay Jones you have two guys who are actually capable of shutting down Terry and Dirk. Stay tuned.

Point Guards: Denver’s Chauncey Billups vs. Dallas’s Jason Kidd: Both of these guys have seen better days, but both of these guys have also clearly rejuvenated their teams this season and led to them to play better than expected. Billups is the perfect match up for Kidd because even if he does occasionally blow by him, Kidd’s help defense will have time to rotate onto him. Expect both to have their clutch moments and get their teammates involved. This is going to be a match up for the ages as these two old timers fight for one last hurrah against each other. There actually is some old history here too. Back when Kidd played for the Nets and Billups for the Pistons, their teams met in 2003 and 2004. In the first series Kidd averaged 24, 10 and 6 while holding Billups to less than 30 percent shooting. In 2004, Billups outscored Kidd 22-0 in game 7. So with both guys getting older, this is probably their last chance to settle their old scores. Either way, NBA fans are going to win.

Coaching + Bench: George Karl and the Nuggets Bench vs. Rick Carlisle and the Maverick Bench: Unless Martin absolutely shuts Dirk down the entire series, this is what will decide the series. Chris Anderson will come off the Nuggets bench to give the Mavericks fits whenever they try to score inside. He’s not a great defender by any stretch, but his blocks have the ability to completely change the momentum of a game. On the flip side, I’m not even sure if JR Smith understands what defense is. There is a 50 percent chance he just thinks that it is his chance to rest in between offensive possessions. As a result, Terry has to attack Smith and make the rest of the Nuggets rotate. I’d tell you what Smith has to do, but I’m not sure it will matter, because there is a 100 percent chance that the only thing going through his head is, “I am JR Smith Mother Fu(I think you get the point; we’ll move on with the same  blank facial expression on George Karl’s face after Smith jacks up another 3.) Another scorer that the Nuggets can utilize is Linas Kleiza who is secretly is the best back up small forward in the NBA. If it wasn’t for Melo, Kleiza would be a household name by now. Anthony Carter will make smart passes, not shoot much, and generally play well enough to give Billups a small rest here and there.

            On the Mavericks side, Jose Juan Barea has to give his team a boost whenever he is in the game and score in bunches. He is this year’s version of Jannero Pargo (who played for the Hornets last year.) That is to say when he scores and is on, his team probably isn’t going to lose. Against a team that has the potential to shut down both Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki, that is exactly what Barea has to do. There actually isn’t that much help from the Mavericks bench. Brandon Bass is basically the only other player with a good chance to alter this series by basically being a poor man’s version of Chris Anderson for the Mavs. Rick Carlisle can also count on Antoine Wright to play acceptable defense for 15 minutes a game. Basically that means Carlisle has to hope that his starters have one last great series in them for the year, because Denver has the decided advantage in the depth department.

Final Verdict: Denver can shut down Dallas’s top two scorers in Nowitzki and Terry and is deeper as well. Billups has turned this Denver team into quite the well oiled machine. That being said, I think Dallas puts up a better fight than people expect. Look for Kidd and the Mavs to push Denver to 6 games before losing.  

April 3, 2009

Stumping for Wade

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 12:27 PM

          What is an MVP? Merriam-Webster defines MVP as an abbreviation for most valuable player or “a heart problem in which the valve that separates the left upper and lower chambers of the heart does not close properly,” which is not helpful at all. When typing in ‘most valuable player,’ the dictionary defined it as, “error, no suggestion, try again with a different word.” Well, now we know why Steve Nash almost won the award three times in a row.
           Basically, there are no fixed or real rules for the MVP award, which is why it is normally so hotly contested in the media. This year is clearly different though. Everyone has already decided that the award should go to Lebron James this year. Hell, almost everyone had decided this before the all star break. It is hard to blame the voters too. All James has done this season is average 28 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.8 spg, and 1.2 bpg. In addition, his Cavs have the best record in the NBA largely due to his contributions and leadership. In many years he would be a shoe in. Plus, it isn’t like he has a lot of competition this year. Dwight Howard remains offensively challenged whenever he can’t dunk, Kobe Bryant cannot shake a late season shooting slump or the fact that his team in general is wildly inconsistent, and Chris Paul’s Hornets have taken a step back under his watch. If you take it a step further, there are more players who can’t even really be candidates this year, but either were or probably will be:
                     • Yao Ming, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Brandon Roy aren’t currently considered talented enough by most people to win the award (and thus cannot be possibly as valuable as the incredibly talented James.)
                     • Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Tim Duncan, and Al Jefferson have missed too many games.
                     • Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups have canceled each other out.
                     • The same actually can be said for Tony Parker and the aforementioned Duncan.
                     • Dirk Nowitzki will never win another MVP award because of the way he so effortlessly choked away his last one.
           However, there is one player who cannot be discounted like all the others this season. He is someone who deserves to be considered at the same level as Lebron James, someone who has delivered game winning threes one game and game winning blocks the next, someone who was probably the best player for Team USA over the summer yet rather than appear fatigued this season has been remarkably consistent, and someone who inexplicably found a way to get up eight times even after only falling down seven.
          Why not Dwyane Wade? The most common argument against Wade and for James is that the Cavs have the best record in the NBA while the Heat are 15th out of 30 NBA teams. The Cavs are on pace for a near perfect home record (40-1) while the Heat have a lower overall record than the Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Phoenix Suns. However, it is ridiculous to point to a team’s greater record as proof of one player’s having a greater value than another. While it is true that a great basketball player will generally be able to have a greater impact towards his team’s overall success than a great baseball or football player, this is not the case here. Wade’s team has a worse record because the Heat are considerably worse than the Cavaliers in almost every aspect of the game of basketball.
           Take a look, it is true. Despite being constantly disparaged over the years as being a random hodgepodge of below average talent, the Cavs are actually a perfect blend of complimentary role players for Lebron James. Mo Williams for one is a great side kick. Meanwhile, Zydrunas Ilgauskas (aside from being a top ten center in this league today,) Delonte West, Daniel Gibson, Wally Szczerbiak, and Sasha Pavlovic are all dead eye shooters who can hit an open jumper created by a driving Lebron James or be involved in screen and roles with him. Then finally you have Anderson Varejao, Joe Smith, JJ Hickson, and when healthy Ben Wallace to rebound the hell out of the ball at both ends to create numerous opportunities for Lebron James and his collection of shooters to score. Everyone has well defined roles on offense, and more importantly these guys when put together play great team defense. As I write this column on Thursday night, the Cavs are allowing a league low 90.9 points per game.
           Now take a look at the Heat. This team actually averages fewer points (98.1) than they give up (98.2.) While the Cavs are a team with well defined roles and constant defensive intensity, the Heat are…not quite the opposite of that, but not particularly far from the opposite either. Once you look past Wade, there really isn’t too much to see. In the front court, Michael Beasley has the potential to be better than anyone that Lebron currently shares a locker room with, but he sure as hell isn’t now. Beasley is constantly making mistakes (something rookies are prone to do) and cannot be trusted this season with starter’s minutes. In his place are Udonis Haslem and Jermaine O’Neal. Haslem actually is the type of role player who would fit in with the Cavs. O’Neal is the type of gimp who would fit in at a rest home for the elderly. The starting small forward for this team is Jamario Moon. He is a jack of all trades that should be coming off the bench and providing a spark, but instead he plays 27 minutes a game for this team. In the back court you have (other than Wade) Mario Chalmers and Daequan Cook. Both of them actually have the potential to be fantastic role players someday, but like many of these Heat players, they were simply not there yet this season. The rest of the roster is some sort of collection of D-League All Stars and Mark Blount. I think that’s enough said.
           So clearly, Lebron James benefits from a much better supporting cast than Dwyane Wade. Yet, Wade’s team is still going to make the playoffs and if they can pass the 76ers, be favored to get into the second round of the playoffs (sorry Atlanta.) Hell, even if they do not, Orlando sure as hell isn’t looking forward to playing the Heat and the only reason they aren’t is because they are terrified of the prospect of playing against D-Wade. That isn’t to say that Lebron James isn’t also feared, it’s just that when you play the Cleveland Cavaliers you have to watch out for Lebron James, leaving any of their shooters open, and boxing out all their voracious rebounders. Plus, even if you are lucky enough to stifle all of the above, you still have to deal with their constant, hounding defense. That’s an incredible amount to worry about. With the Miami Heat, all you have to worry about is stopping Wade. Yet the Heat are still a plus 500 team because Wade has been so lights out this season.
           Sure, the discussion becomes hazier (and includes Kobe Bryant) when you are talking about the best player in basketball, but that’s not what the award is called. It is the most valuable player award, and in terms of value for just this season, Wade has been worth more to the Miami Heat than Lebron James has been to the Cleveland Cavaliers. A large part of that is because the Heat are much worse than the Cavaliers and thus much more in need of a superstar of their skill set. In many ways it is unfair to penalize Lebron for playing for a better team, but if situation didn’t matter, the award would be given to the best player and not the most valuable one. In terms of value for his team, no team owes more to its success than Dwyane Wade. That isn’t to say that Lebron James isn’t valuable. He is. In fact I have him at number two. However, that’s as a clear number two this season to number eight.
           At this point, you either get it or you don’t.

March 25, 2009

Tuesday Ramblings

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 9:32 AM

Welcome to another edition of the Tuesday Ramblings. Let’s begin:

• It’s been a very subdued year for March Madness. There haven’t been any huge upsets worth discussing this year and in fact every 1, 2, and 3 seed is still alive. I want to say that I like it more as a result, but in reality my greater interest is simply that I have had the best bracket of my life so far (even then it’s really just an above average 38 out of 48 picks chosen correctly.) • In the end, I still don’t really care about college basketball. So let’s focus on the NBA angle from the tournament. I really, really like what I see out of Blake Griffin. I think that if you want to win a championship, he can be your second best player or even tied as your best player if your team is deep enough. I think pairing him up with Kevin Martin in Sacramento, OJ Mayo/Rudy Gay in Memphis, or Caron Butler, Antwan Jamison, and Gilbert Arenas in Washington could potentially create a team that never missed the second round of the playoffs or even the conference finals in the case of the Wizards. If he went to the Knicks somehow, I do not see how Lebron wouldn’t jump ship and sign with New York. However, I think the best fit for him is Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant is still growing into a future hall of famer so long as he stays healthy, and they have a lot of great young pieces. With a very good GM in Sam Presti and an excellent, young head coach in Scott Brooks, this team even without Griffin has a bright future, but with him? I think, as long as everyone’s ego doesn’t get too big, that it will result in a team like the Spurs in that they will be a contender every single year and even win two or three championships. That’s certainly a lot of hype for such an unproven (in the NBA) player, but I was really impressed by his play. We will see.

• The Detroit Pistons have to be the most disappointing team in the entire league. Yes, Toronto and Washington have been bad, but neither of them had even the slightest chance to win it all like Detroit did. Yes, they didn’t have the greatest chance to win, but with all that championship experience still there with Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace, you still expected them to be there in the second round of the playoffs. Now, the only reason they will make it at all is because the bottom of the East is full of records even further below 500 then the Pistons. So the question then becomes why has this happened? My belief is not that it’s really Allen Iverson’s fault. Simply that the Pistons were trying to do too much all at the same time. They were trying to get Stuckey to blossom into a point guard, get Iverson to acclimate into the offense, hide their lack of depth at the swing positions defensively, and try to figure out which of their mediocre big men would step up. Ultimately, the main reason that this team isn’t as good is intensity. They simply lack someone who energizes this team and gets them to play good defense consistently. Rasheed Wallace can do that here and there, but he’s simply unable to do it on a night in, night out basis. I think that’s where the loss of Chauncey Billups hurts them, because he was their leader and consistency guy whenever Wallace was being Wallace and spacing out. Allen Iverson is not that guy, because Iverson isn’t the type of guy who helps out in practice (or hell even shows up to some.) He’s not someone that you want young players emulating, because he’s not going to teach them much off the court and on the court he’s too much of a one of a kind player. I’m not trying to knock Iverson by the way. He’s the type of guy that can do whatever the hell he wants the night before or even the morning of a game, and still drop 50 points on the opposing team that night despite a myriad of injuries. Listen, that’s amazing and certainly respectable in its own right, but that’s not something 99.9 percent of NBA players can do. Regardless, the mighty Pistons are no more.

• I was reading ESPN the other day when I came across an opinion piece that consulted some current/former NBA players that concluded by saying that the dregs of the East will be harder in the first round of the playoffs than those who make the playoffs in the West. I know that they’re the experts and all that, but that’s a huge bunch of BS. What I will agree with, however, is that the middle rounds will be much easier in the west than in the eastern conference. That’s because there is no one in the west who seems like they can play evenly or even match up with the Lakers while Boston and Cleveland will not only have to probably play each other to get to the finals, one of them will have to play Orlando, while the other (sorry, Atlanta fans) will have to play D-Wade and the Heat. Meanwhile the Lakers will have to play some collection of: the hobbling Spurs, the too-green Blazers, the imploding Hornets, the Nuggets/Jazz/Mavericks who match up terribly against the Lakers, and the Rockets. The Rockets could potentially make some noise if they play the Lakers because they actually match up well against them, but I honestly doubt, even with home court advantage, that they make it out of the first round. The rest of the west will probably be too tough for them to even make it to the Lakers.

• So is this an advantage for the Lakers? Certainly, they will be less beaten up than either the Cavs or Celtics should some combination of those teams meet in the playoffs, right? The truth is that it probably will not be an advantage unless there is some shocking injury to any of the Cavs or Celtics’ key players. Playing against the brutal defense presented by either of those teams in the conference finals should toughen up the victor enough to actually give THEM an edge over whoever makes it out of the west. If you want an example, just look no further than last year. The Lakers didn’t have a bad defense in the regular season, and in fact had the number one defense overall based on per possession. However, after facing the Cavs smothering defense and the Pistons brutal, physical defense, the Celtics felt that, against the Lakers in the finals, every shot they took was wide open. On the flip side, after facing the cream puff defenses of the Nuggets and the Jazz (who were physical, but actually a poor defensive team, which they still are actually) as well as the battered Spurs (who are battered once again by the way,) The Lakers simply didn’t have the physical, game experience against such mighty defenses and faltered as a result. Again, it’s a different year, so, we will see, come June.

• Moving to baseball, the WBC is over and Japan was crowned champions. It was interesting the way they simply toyed with their opponents throughout the tournament before being supremely tested by South Korea in the final. Personally, I felt the ending was the perfect way to crown a champion and generate the appropriate amount of press and hopefully interest into this international event. For those who missed it, Korea valiantly rallied in the bottom of the ninth to force a tenth inning, before Ichiro with a full count singled home two runners to finally put the game away. It was a great ending to a very interesting tournament.

• More importantly for most of America, the WBC is over, which means that regular season baseball is about 2 tantalizingly close weeks away! With that I thought I would pick my division winners and wild card for even conference. In the American league, I believe the playoffs will consist of the New York Yankees (after a year off,) the Boston Redsox (too much talent to miss the playoffs altogether, but I feel like they’re going to implode just a little and actually settle for the wild card,) the Chicago Whitesox (I just think this team has a great lineup when healthy,) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim filling out the AL west spot (the AL west is largely terrible although the As will be frisky. I also will go ahead and predict that the Cleveland Indians, Oakland As, and Tampa Bay Rays will all fall short in the final two weeks of the season, but will otherwise be in the hunt the entire year.

• As for the National League, I think that the NY Mets, Chicago Cubs, and Arizona Diamondbacks all win their divisions while the Philadelphia Phillies scrape by with the wild card. I think both the Mets and the Cubs have dealt with their late/post season meltdowns and have actually become stronger as a result. As a big San Francisco Giants fan I want to pencil them in as the division winner, but even I know it will be a huge (and awesome) shock if they pull that off. Instead, the Diamondbacks, whose rotation is either as good or almost as good as the Giants in terms of 1-5, will most likely win, because their hitting is better. Still, I think the Giants as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Atlanta Braves will still have a chance to make the playoffs with two weeks left in the regular season.

• Moving to football, the NFL safety commission passed four safety proposals, but none were larger than the elimination of the wedge formation in football. The wedge occurs only during special teams—specifically kickoffs—and is when three blockers stand close together (less than 2 yards apart) and essentially form a ‘wedge’ for the kickoff returner. That might not be the best description in the world, but John Madden doesn’t really describe it much in his video games that I play, so is that really my fault? Anyway, the wedge has been around since forever, and eliminating it seems like quite the stretch. There have been a rash of injuries resulting from it over time, but that can be said with virtually any football play. By removing this key strategy from the kickoff team, I simply wonder how often, if at all, it will be possible to get the return for a touchdown. Just something to ponder in the long months until football season.

• Another rule change that has not been voted upon yet was the ability to review fumbles like the famous Jay Cutler one last year that cost the Chargers a game. This seems like an obvious rule change, but there are some people who might actually vote it down, because they believe it slows down the game. It does in fact slow down the game as the referees take their time to review the call, but if the alternative is to screw a team out of a win like in the case for the Chargers, then I say, by all means, slow down the game. Even if you do, it’s not like you are tacking on three hours to a 15 minute game with this. Instead, you’re adding 10 minutes to a 3 hour game, which most people won’t even notice. Sometimes, it’s best to just chill out a little more.

• That’s all for the Tuesday Ramblings. Stay tuned for next week.

February 13, 2009

All Star Preview

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 10:27 AM

            The NBA’s All Star game is coming up this weekend, and what type of basketball website would this be if I didn’t give my own two cents on the break at hand (an amazing one regardless of course…right?)

Top 10 things to ponder coming into All Star Weekend:

  1. It’s tough to be underrated in this league, because generally if you’re really good in this league then you’re probably properly rated or overrated at this point. Still, I think there are two people that are being randomly underrated: Žydrūnas Ilgauskas and Hedo Turkoglu—partially because looking up the spelling of their names is a pain in the ass. Both are more deserving and more vital to their teams than Mo Williams and Rashard Lewis.
  2. Speaking of big men, the East has all of…two on their roster in Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett. Expect Lebron James and Rashard Lewis to play a lot of power forward. Also expect there to be even less defense as usual as I don’t see either player trying to guard a Duncan or Stoudamire anytime soon.
  3. Speaking of poorly created rosters, at least there are two big men on the East roster. There are zero small forwards on the West roster. The starter is Amar’e Stoudamire, which means that Phil Jackson will probably have to make a substitution about two minutes in the game after Lebron gets passed Stoudamire for the third time for yet another dunk. My guess is that Kobe Bryant, David West, and even Dirk Nowitzki will get to try their hand at it.
  4. Ok, last comment on the game’s rosters. The West has a huge advantage with the point guards because Chris Paul is going to get everyone involved. Every other point guard on both rosters is closer to shoot first.
  5. My prediction? The West wins 122-114 with the MVP being Kobe. Was that off the top of my head or can I tell the future? Let’s find out!
  6. The three point shootout is kind of boring. It’s impossible to predict, and you’re guaranteed to get at least two separate times of players just firing blanks for a full 30 seconds. Now that Horse is in the game, I think its time to move the shootout even further away from the public consciousness.
  7. The dunk contest should be a good one. Dwight Howard is under pressure to try and top last year’s bonanza, Nate Robinson is under pressure to not miss the same dunk for 30 minutes, Rudy Fernandez is under pressure to not speak because his English is ridiculous, and JR Smith is under pressure because no one watching the contest has any idea who he is and the few that do want him to dunk over George Karl. Speaking of which, if he does try to dunk over George Karl, what are the odds that Karl knocks him down and yells “THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T LISTEN TO ME!” I’m going to say 60.
  8. The All Star game needs to reintroduce prop betting like they have at the super bowl. Are you telling me people won’t lay down good money because they believe so and so will win the tip or get the first dunk? Personally, I want to bet 100 dollars on Amar’e Stoudamire having the most dunks and that the total dunks in the game will be over 25, but no one will give me odds on either. It’s a shame.
  9. One thing that needs to get hyped up is today’s Rookie-Sophomore challenge. I think the rookies have won exactly once since the beginning of that format and the Sophomores have won six years in a row. However, I think this is the year the Sophomores get their second loss. Sure they have Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, but the Rookies have better size with Greg Oden, Brook Lopez, and Marc Gasol compared to the Sophomores Al Horford, Luis Scola, and…kind of Wilson Chandler? Speaking of prop bets, I would love to bet that this game has more dunks than the All Star game, but can I? Noooo. FIX THIS Centsports.com!
  10. I think that either the talent level of the league is at an all time high or at an all time low, because I think I can assemble a team of non-all stars to challenge either group. I’m not saying they will for sure win, but I bet it would be close:

·         Points Guards: Deron Williams and Steve Nash: Deron Williams has averaged something like 35 and 9 since coming back from his latest injury. Steve Nash is mired in the longest season of his career, but I bet he can match up well enough against any of the opposing point guards he’ll face. Besides, someone who passes like Nash is a must for All Star games. You want a bunch of alley-oop dunks? Nash is your man.

·         Shooting Guards: Caron Butler and Kevin Martin: Both of these guys are great players on lousy teams. Martin is someone who should get more recognition, but everyone in Sacramento is too busy trying (and failing) to fix California budget. Butler should get more press as well, but everyone in DC is too busy trying (and failing) to pretend the Wizards don’t exist, because the Wizards really, really suck. Oh, uh, and I guess they are trying to fix the nation’s economy as well.

·         Small Forwards: Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant: Wow, these guys are playing amazing. I am shocked by how they managed to miss the all star game. Both amazing scorers, but it’s also important to note that both have improved the other facets of their game as well.

·         Power Forwards: Hedo Turkoglu and Antwan Jamison: Turkoglu initiates the offense and takes all the big shots for a top five team in the league. His reward for making his teammates better was to have those teammates (Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis) be voted in over him. I understand that he was better last year and is struggling with his shot, but if his shot is good enough to allow Van Gundy to put the ball in his hands in crunch time, its good enough for me. Jamison plays for the terrible Wizards, but does average nearly 20 and 10. That’s good enough for me, especially considering how few big men are on the roster as it is.

·         Center: Žydrunas Ilgauskas and David Lee: Are these guys the exact opposite of each other? Ilgauskas can post up, shoot the jumper, and make the majority off his defensive rotations. David Lee has very raw offensive skills, rebounds like a mad man, and apparently considers defense an act of treason because he doesn’t play it. The interesting thing to consider is that if it wasn’t for injuries Al Jefferson (above both of these guys) and Andrew Bynum (on this team over Lee) would find a spot on this team.

·         The, uh, other two spots: Jose Calderon and Andre Iguodala: Calderon has battled injuries, but he distributes the ball without getting turnovers better than anyone else in the league and would be another Nash like choice in that he would get everyone involved. Iguodala is going to be the reason why the Sixers get and hold on to the fifth seed in the east. Remember, you heard it here first…unless I’m wrong in which case you can blame Jumpball’s co-writer Ankur. I don’t think he’ll mind, because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read this site. Zing!

·         This team has enough big men to bother the East, and enough swing men to give the West fits. Do they win either game? I think they would have a better chance if Al Jefferson was healthy, but I don’t think its out of the question. 

And with that, I am out. Enjoy the All Star game and expect another power rankings some time on Thursday of next week.  

February 11, 2009

Tuesday Ramblings

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 8:42 AM
  • I’m glad Michael Phelps took a hit off of that bong; I was getting tired of reading or hearing about real issues.
  • Also, what the hell is with all the numerous arrests at the Michael Phelps? The police do know the item in question at the party is spelled B O N G and not B O M B, right?
  • So Alex Rodriguez took steroids… Who cares? If you’re so worried about the game being tainted, please by all means look at some of the people that you have already elected into the Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb actually admitted to fixing games at one point. If that isn’t enough for you, Gaylord Perry would throw his illegal spitballs. However, most people instead seem to fixate on only the last twenty or so years being tainted. I have news for you. Steroids have been around in the major leagues since the 1960s. So, for all of those people who want to toss out any and all records that may have even the slightest hint of suspicion, they should know that’s when they should start.
  • By the way, it now seems that a majority of players juiced, but also keep in mind that more pitchers juiced than batters. With that said, why wouldn’t Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez get inducted into the hall? If the majority or a large amount of players juiced, doesn’t it remain amazing that just two players will end up with as many home runs as they did and will?
  • Please, Congress, do not get involved. Go fix the economy or vote yes on the stimulus package (or don’t; what do I know?) Still, there are way more pressing matters than steroids being used 5 years ago in baseball.
  • Also for what its worth, who would have guessed five years ago that the NBA would have the best image out of all three sports right now? Baseball is battling steroid allegations and football is battling knuckleheads like Pacman Jones.
  • Speaking of football, am I the only fan of the Probowl left? Just kidding, nobody likes or watches that thing. If you want to fix it, or make it watchable, then you have to raise the incentives to win like crazy. Something around a million each to the winning team, and 10k for the losing team. I guarantee that there will be much more fierce competition if that happens.
  • Remember when Peyton Manning almost accidentally murdered Jay Cutler?
  • How depressed must Raymond Felton be? He is currently being linked to trade rumors with Jamaal Tinsley who hasn’t even played in a few years. When your own team considers you worse than the guy another team sent home because he was poisonous, it might be time to realize you’re a bust.
  • I’m among the people glad that Horse is now an All Star Event, but I think they got the participants wrong. Mayo and Durant are both good players, but Bill Simmons brings up a good point that they are too young to be comfortable trash talking on live TV. Joe Johnson is probably a decent choice normally, except I don’t think he will trash talk too much either because with he’s going to come off as a huge asshole since, like I said, Durant and Mayo won’t talk much. So the solution? Bring back the veterans. Wouldn’t it be great if the contestants were Magic, Dr. J, Bird, and Jordan? Who wouldn’t trash talk among those guys? By the way, if any of those guys competed (especially Jordan) you can bet that Kobe Bryant and a few starts would love to play against them. In any case, this competition has a lot of potential for future years plus who knows, maybe Mayo and Durant get feisty enough to make this years almost as fun.
  • Lebron James being angry that he didn’t get star treatment from the refs when he clearly fouled Granger on that last play and was given just as ticky tacky a call on the other side is dumb. Same goes for Mike Brown. There are going to be a few bad calls that decide games in the regular season—hell even the playoffs. I suggest you save your anger for those and not Lebron James not getting the respect he deserves for once. Stuff happens, move on.
  • How bizarre is the Dwayne Wade story? It involves sex parties and weed, and yet that’s no the bizarre part. The bizarre part is that no one seems to care. Michael Phelps loses his endorsements, but Wade gets to keep on touting Gatorade? I smell a double standard.
  • I’m not going to bother with a full trade review of the Adam Morrison trade. It wasn’t really a basketball move is the main reason. Vladimir Radmanovic made more money than Morrison, and his trade frees up some cash for the Lakers. The Bobcats needed to distance themselves from Adam Morrison, because Adam Morrison sucks as a player. It really is as simple as that.
  • Speaking of trades, the Suns fans have to be freaking out. Apparently, Robert Sarver, better known as the owner who doesn’t like to spend money, is handling the trades personally. Um, now expect 40 cents on the dollar for Amar’e Stoudamire.
  • Alright, I’m out for today. Peace dudes.

December 8, 2008

Stephon Marbury Makes Me Do a Power Ranking

Filed under: Uncategorized — siddhant2001us @ 11:47 PM

At some point this season, Stephon Marbury will be a free agent. I’m not sure why to be honest. If he won’t take a pay cut for his reported buy out, why not just keep him on your inactive list and refuse to allow him anywhere near the team? I don’t understand why you actively seek to release a player who is good enough to hurt you if he chooses to sign with a division rival. I know the Knicks have basically thrown up the white flag for this year and the next, but why risk it? Listen, don’t stomp all over tradition. No real New York fan wants to see Boston, Chicago, or Philadelphia do well. Actually, they probably hate Pat Reilly teams like the Heat too.

As for people who find him a distraction, I still ask how that is a bad thing—especially now that Marbury doesn’t travel with the team. Every question asked to the team about Marbury after practice or a game is a game not asked about how many holes the team now has (and trust me when they have seven guys suiting up, they have plenty of holes.) Now, if this was a team that had a great chance to make the playoffs or contend for the championship, then sure get rid of Marbury so that the media can focus on how good this team is and hype up their average players which will make more free agents sign when they can. This team sucks, however; That five hundred record won’t last very long when you have a seven man rotation and at least four of those guys are terrible (sorry Al Harrington, Quentin Richardson, Anthony Roberson, and Tim Thomas, but your stats are from playing so much that you have to get them. That is it.) My point again being that every Marbury question they have to answer is one that doesn’t have to do with them. Quentin Richardson who recently threw Marbury under the bus is going to be much worse off without Starbury around. Richardson, would you rather get to joke around with the media about how much Marbury is crazy or would you not have him around and get grilled about how much you suck? Eddy Curry, would you rather talk about Marbury or your big, fat ass? Let’s not kid around about this; basketball means a ridiculous amount for the people of New York, and if you suck, even if you’re not Isaiah Thomas, hundreds of thousands of people are going to hate you. It is really that simple. Isn’t it better to have all their anger (and the Knicks haven’t been good for a while, so there is a lot of anger out there) directed toward a player not involved with your team rather than the terrible team that you are a part of?

Still, for whatever reason, Marbury will be gone. So let’s take a look at every single team out there and see how likely it is that they’ll sign him. One thing to keep in mind is that a sturdy back up point guard will cause teams to shy away from signing Marbury, because even if he is worse than the Starbury, at least he knows the offense, which is huge for point guards. By the way, if you notice the order, it is also my power rankings so far:

30. Oklahoma City Thunder: record of 2-19: This team needs NBA players. Stephon Marbury is an NBA player. So yeah, there is a fit here, but ultimately I see them avoiding him, because they’re afraid Marbury could have a negative influence on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. So instead the only influences those two will have are: lots of losing, the whole Seattle hates this team factor, and a whole new home crowd to be alienated by all kinds of losing. So uh, good luck guys.

29. Golden State Warriors: record of 5-15: Would Stephon Marbury fit here? No, this team has too many guards. However, they do need a power forward, and according to Don Nelson, Stephon Marbury might just be that power forward. Hidden in this team’s awfulness is how good Andris Biedrins has looked.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves: record of 4-15: You know if Kevin McHale gets really desperate, he’ll hire Marbury to be his player-coach.

27. Los Angeles Clippers: record of 4-16: I’m still not sure why Mike Dunleavy signed off on the Baron Davis experiment. He probably didn’t, but now that he has full control of the front office, there is no way that Marbury becomes a Clipper. Personally, I don’t think Marbury minds that very much, even if it means he loses a chance to star in one of Baron Davis’s funny viral videos. Yeah, I’m a pretty big fan of Baron Davis still even though the Clippers being so terrible is partly his fault. Here he is making Chris Bosh his bitch.

26. Sacramento Kings: records of 5-16: If Marbury came over here, he would have to play one of the swing positions, because the Kings are so weak in that area that Donte Green an uberly raw rookie is getting heavy minutes for them. Who is Donte Green? Exactly. Anyway, Marbury probably avoids this team as well because quite frankly (yeah Steven A. Smith isn’t the only one who says it) this team has such little hope on the horizon. This team needs a point guard like Stephon Marbury during his all star years to run the break constantly and get up and down the floor while utilizing the talents of Kevin Martin, John Salmons, and maybe even Jason Thompson. Unfortunately, like I said, this team has so many injuries that the only people running the break with Marbury if he joined now are Beno Udrih, the aforementioned Greene and Spencer Hawes.

25. Washington Wizards: record of 3-15: Stephon Marbury would be a nice fit here. This team won 2 games in its last 7, which would is only good because they went 1-10 before that. No one has anyway idea if Gilbert Arenas is ever going to recover from his injury (which would be a huge shame by the way.) Antonio Daniels is hobbled by an injury as well. So why not take a chance with Stephon Marbury? The team is focusing

24. Charlotte Bobcats: record of 7-13: You have to give Larry Brown some credit here. This team is so low on talent that Adam Morrison is getting a fair amount of minutes. Speaking of Larry Brown, the only way Stephon Marbury gets on this team is if Michael Jordon executes Brown like Michael Corleone killed Captain McCluskey in the Godfather. Any other way, and its just not happening.

23. Memphis Grizzlies: record of 5-15: That OJ Mayo is something isn’t he? No rookie has averaged this many points since Allen Iverson 11 freaking years ago. That means he’s outscoring Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, Bosh, Durant, and everyone else during that period of time. To top it off, he is only going to get better. So yeah, rest of the league, this team might not be so low forever. As for Marbury, no he has no chance here.

22. Philadelphia 76ers: record of 9-12: This team needs and outside shooter. Stephon Marbury can shoot from the outside. They also have a trading piece in Andre Miller. Should they trade Andre Miller for a shooting guard who can shoot? Then suddenly you have Stephon Marbury, and another shooter to space the floor for Elton Brand. This isn’t going to happen by the way because Andre Miller is too well liked and the fans would hate it at first. So instead these Sixers are going to suck because no one Elton Brand kicks it out to out of a double team can hit a shot outside of 15 feet. Oh, but its ok, because Elton Brand is now hurt.

21. New York Knicks: record of 9-11: Hmm, now that the Knicks are officially pissing away the next two seasons. What the hell are Knicks fans supposed to do in the mean time? I would recomend jumping on to the Giant’s band wagon, and after that uh learning how to sew or something. It is going to be a long two years.

20. Toronto Raptors: record of 8-11: This is where Marbury goes if he is truly serious about Italy and wants to be apart of the closest thing to European ball in the NBA. By the way, I showed a video of Chris Bosh looking foolish against Baron Davis. Here is a clip of Chris Bosh getting revenge.

19. Chicago Bulls: record of 9-11: Well this all depends on Derek Rose. Kirk Hinrich is done being effective for the Bulls. If Derrick Rose keeps needing 10 stitches every time he eats an apple in bed, then Marbury might be a good replacement. However, if Rose can keep it together and stop cutting him self with kitchen knives and win the rookie of the year award (looks almost guaranteed,) then Marbury should look elsewhere for more minutes and wins (because this supporting cast is awful. In fact, this is where Ben Wallace went to die…or retire…well he came here to do something, but it sure wasn’t to play well.)

18. Milwaukee Bucks: record of 9-13: Scott Skiles is amazing isn’t he? He takes teams with zero chance to do anything before they get him to become respectable. This team has a nice core to build around. Marbury won’t come here as long as Ramon Sessions is doing so well. At least that’s what I hope, because I really like Ramon Sessions.

17. Indiana Pacers: record of 7-13: Stephon Marbury is better than Travis Diener and Jarret Jack. This team is looking for a spark because it knows it can beat the elite (wins over Houston, LA, and Boston) and lose to the dregs of the league as well (Memphis and Charlotte.) Stephon Marbury should be that spark but he won’t be because the people of Indiana are scared of black people (just kidding! Maybe)

16. Miami Heat: record of 11-9: Many people cross this off as a destination because Mario Chalmers is playing so well as a rookie, but what people forget is that Mario Chalmers is backed up by Chris Quinn, and Chris Quinn is as reliable as a uh…ok I can’t think of a good metaphor here so I’m going to be blunt. Chris Quinn is terrible and belongs in the D-league. He is so bad he makes Kenyon Dooling (see below paragraph) look good and that is really, really, really saying something.

15. New Jersey Nets: record of 11-8: Devin Harris, who has solidly reached all star status this year, is backed up by Kenyon Dooling. That’s like getting your car fixed and then vowing to protect it with…fire? Dooling is awful, and Marbury would be a huge upgrade.

14. Atlanta Hawks: record of 12-7: They started off 6-0, and then limped to their current record. This team can’t use Marbury though. They need a forward perhaps, now that Josh Smith is out with an injury, but Marbury would only steal minutes from Acie Law who is young and needs the playing time behind Mike Bibby.

13. Phoenix Suns: record of 12-9: Yes, this would be a great fit. Nash needs a back up who can run the point. Besides any worries of Marbury acting out are nil, because Shaq scares the crap out of NBA players. Amare is unhappy with his touches right now, but he can’t come out and say that because he is so scared of Shaq. So instead he kind of mumbles about how he would prefer a fast breaking team, which makes no sense, because then Nash would have more of an opportunity to get everyone involved and Stoudamire would get less shot then he does in the half court game. Stoudamire probably knows this too, but the fear of Shaq keeps him from saying anything real. The only play to date that I can re call not being afraid of Shaq when he is on Shaq’s team is Kobe Bryant. One player out of like 100. Stephon Marbury is not that player.

12. Detroit Pistons: record of 11-8: Nope. No need to get a poor man’s Allen Iverson (Stephon Marbury) when you’re too busy struggling to integrate a regular man’s Allen Iverson (Allen Iverson.)

11. Dallas Mavericks: record of 11-8: This team is on a run right now, but honestly has no back up for Jason Kidd and is reportedly very interested in Marbury. If I had to bet money on any team actually getting him, I would bet money on Mark Cuban’s. Stephon would be a great edition to the second unit. In fact, if they do sign Marbury, I am going to guarantee that they will be a top six seed in the west and not only make the playoffs but the second round.

10. San Antonio Spurs: record of 11-8: This is a no. With Parker and Ginobili back, part-time starters Roger Mason and George Hill return to the bench. That means Stephon Marbury is relegated to 5th guard status. Besides even if he was the third guard initially, Marbury will stay away from this situation after what happened to another similar guard from last year (Damon Stoudamire was left off the playoff roster for a team that could have used a good back up guard.)

9. New Orleans Hornets: record of 11-6: This is a case of a team letting expectations freak them out. This is the same record the Hornets had last year, and yet everyone is freaking out. They could really use a distraction to loosen them up, and stop them and their fans from over thinking everything. So yeah, Marbury would be perfect for this team as he takes over the role that Jannero Pargo vacated. Nothing says harmless distraction like a man and his 15 dollar shoes.

8. Houston Rockets: record of 12-7: So TMac is out, and lets be honest, Yao Ming is sure to follow at some point. Marbury is definitely better than Aaron Brooks and Luther Head, but really is it even worth it? Even if he is really good, a core of Stephon Marbury, Ron Artest, and Shane Battier (which could happen if TMac never fully recovers and Yao Ming does in fact go down,) won’t get anywhere in the west. Actually, on a slight tangent, how are Houston sports fans not being considered as very tortured? The Rockets always look great on paper before getting injured and losing in the first round, the Astros are terrible, and the Texans were a hot sleeper this year before going down in flames. I will say this. There is an outside chance that Marbury is a huge morale booster as Yao and TMac perk up at the signing of another star player who has played less games then either of them the past three years.

7. Portland Trailblazers: record of 14-6: This is definitely a fifty-fifty coin flip whether the team would even be interested. They do have many decent young point guard prospects on their roster, have the dependable Steven Blake who can easily slide into a back up role should any of those prospects break out, and have Brandon Roy handling the ball late in the fourth quarter. Marbury would be great to have curtail Sergio Rodriguez’s minutes, but remember that the Trailblazers also traded away any malcontents before Greg Oden arrived to make sure they didn’t ruin his work ethic. This is actually pretty debatable, but I’m just going to come out and say they ultimately ignore Marbury and focus on who they do have. By the way, this team is a 7-1 at home, but just 7-6 against the western conference, so it is too early to say this team is actually playoff bound just yet, but things definitely look good.

6. Denver Nuggets: record of 13-6: How happy is Chauncey Billups right now? He went from being in a situation in Detroit where anything short of a championship would have been taken as a monumental disappointment even though that team lost its competitive fire and edge two seasons ago. Now, he’s on a Denver team that has a great chance to win its division, have home court in the first round, and really anything other than a sweep in the first round will be seen by many as a huge improvement. Oh, as for Marbury, as long as Anthony Carter is on the squad, Marbury won’t see minutes, and thus won’t see a contract offer.

5. Orlando Magic: record of 14-5: This team is really patient and just waits for an open three pointer if they cannot get Dwight Howard the ball in position to score. Marbury might mess that up, but honestly, this team is starting JJ Reddick. So, I’m pretty sure this team is very, very interested in signing Marbury even if only as a stop gap until Jameer Nelson returns. Still, this team keeps winning somehow. If they don’t stop, Hedo Turkoglu really deserves to be an all star. He is the glue that keeps that offense chugging along.

4. Utah Jazz: record of 12-8: This is the last one hundred percent no. Marbury probably wants no part of having to play in Utah, and Jerry Sloan wants no part of someone who would play too often outside his system. Plus, the fact that this team has played so well without their best player who happens to be a point guard (Deron Williams) probably further cements the lack of chance of getting Marbury.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: record of 15-3: If it wasn’t for Mo Williams being added in the off season, this would be a no-brainer. Say what you want about Marbury, but if you give him some freedom with the ball, he is a true playmaker, which is something this team still lacks. Still, this team wants to please Lebron James more than anything else, and I doubt James would be thrilled if they added the guy he feuded with over shoe prices during last summer.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: record of 17-2: The only way that Marbury comes here is if he is so desperate/lazy for a ring that he wants to be a third point guard (and not in the rotation) on the best team in the west. He would definitely fit right in with the whole we can turn it on whenever we want mentality plaguing the Lakers right now. Still, if Marbury does agree to be a third point guard anywhere, it is here in Tinsel town where he has a good chance to get a ring before he goes to Europe.

1. Boston Celtics: record of 20-2: They have no one behind Rondo. Paul Pierce is their best bet behind Rondo right now. No offense Gabe Pruitt and Eddie House, but you guys are terrible point guards. Stephon Marbury would be a great fit here, because the club house atmosphere would keep him in line off the court, and his wanting to repair his image would mostly keep him in line on the court. Besides, is there any chance that this conversation doesn’t happen at some point during the season?

    • Doc Rivers: Marbury we’re going to need you to stop forcing the issue so much early on in the offense. Let the game come to you.
    • Stephon Marbury: Coach I need the ball even more.
    • Rivers: Are you even listening to me?
    • Marbury: Want a pair of my new 15 dollar shoes?
    • Rivers: Ugh, another player who completely ignores me…Kevin come over here and fix this.
    • Kevin Garnett: C’mon Steph. This isn’t Minnesota; this is your chance to win a championship.
    • Marbury: I’m the best point guard on the planet.
    • Garnett and Rivers: …
    • Garnett: Don’t worry coach I got this. Hey Steph, Ubuntu!
    • Marbury: Ubuntu?
    • Garnett: Ubuntu
    • Marbury: Ubuntu!
    • Garnett: There you go, coach; we brainwashed him just like we brainwashed everyone else.
    • Cue Celtics at least reaching the finals again.
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