Posted on: May 20, 2012 9:36 pm
 

Top 10 Big Men Under 25 Years Old

The league has quite a bit of young big men, and even it's best one in Dwight Howard is still relatively young himself. However, I'd like to talk about the ones that still have plenty of room to grow and a chance to get even better and progress into something special. This list is the ten best post players in 25 years old, at least in my opinion. And just in case I didn't make it clear enough, this list is going forward and not based on just this season or past performances.


1. Kevin Love (4 years pro; 23 years old):

2011/2012: 26.0 ppg 13.3 rpg 2.0 apg 44.8% FG 37.2% 3pt FG 82.4% FT 39 min./game

Just a flat out amazing big man with a versatile arsenal of scoring as well as a great rebounder; only guy in the league that can challenge Dwight Howard in rebounds. Like most other power forwards, his defense is lacking and that doesn't look to be getting better. However, rebounding is a big part of defense so his dominance on the boards factors in and can't be ignored. He broke out in 2010/2011 season and took another leap forward this year. What's in store for next year? 30 and 15 perhaps?


2. Andrew Bynum (7 years pro; 24 years old):

18.7 ppg 11.8 rpg 1.4 apg 1.9 bpg 55.8% FG 69.2% FT 35.2 min./game

Drew has so much talent, but so small of a brain. He could be even better than Howard if he just quit pretending like he already is, and having serious attitude issues without showing signs of maturity. Still, despite being a man-child he can score in the post as well or better than anyone and can own the boards. If just puts a little more consistent effort on defense, he could top the list and possibly surpase Howard for best center in the league.


3. Blake Griffin (2 years pro; 23 years old):

2011/2012: 20.7 ppg 10.9 rpg 3.2 apg 54.9% FG 52.1% FT 36.2 min./game

Blake Show has become one of the most hated players in the league because of his consistent highlight dunks on ESPN and him making sure you knew he just dunked on you. Call it arrogance, hate him for his flopping, call him a punk, but none of it takes away the fact that he has already had two 20 ppg 10 rpg and 3 rpg seasons in the the FIRST TWO seasons of his career. He doesn't have a jumper, and doesn't have a bunch of post moves, but he still scores 20+ ppg on 50+ FG%. He's a strong rebounder on both ends of the court and uses his strong leaping abilities to give him an advantage against alot of players. The most impressive thing to me is his passing; he has averaged over 3.0 apg in his first two seasons and the only big men who I could find that averaged 3.0+ apg in their first two years were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. Yes, not even Tim DuncanKevin Garnett, Bill Russell, or any of the best passing bigs ever have achieved that feat. Not saying Griffin will be that good, but he's been very impressive so far in his young career.


4. Greg Monroe (2 years pro; 21 years old): 

2011/2012: 15.4 ppg 9.7 rpg 2.3 apg 1.3 spg 52.1% FG 73.9% FT 31.5 min./game

The Moose had his breakout year for the Pistons in his sophmore campaign. I've seen Monroe more than most, so I'm sure there isn't many as high on him as I am, but I think that will change in the next year or two. After watching him play as the starter for an entire year, I watched him display very strong post play with the ability to use mutliple different moves in the post to get the bucket, and as the year progressed his jumper did as well. He also showed the strong passing he was known for in college and was a versatile anchor for the Pistons. He has strong rebounding abilities and quick hands on defense, but does need to improve his help D and ability to protect the paint. I think he takes another jump next year and gets close to, if not reaching, 20 points 10 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Along with Brandon Knight, he will help lead this Pistons team back to glory!


5. Al Horford (5 years pro; 25 years old):

2010/2011: 15.3 ppg 9.3 rpg 3.5 apg 1.0 bpg 55.7% FG 79.8% FT 35.1 min./game

Despite getting hurt for most of this year on a freak injury, he still showed in the couple playoff games he played in that he's a strong post player especially on defense. He still has a well-rounded game that allows him to score, pass, and defend and a high level. I fully expect him to get back his regular form next season and remind everyone why he was talked about as a Top 5 center heading into this season.


6. Serge Ibaka (3 years pro; 22 years old):

9.1 ppg 7.5 rpg 3.7 bpg 53.5% FG 66.1% FT 27.2 min./game

Leading the league in blocks as well as giving the Thunder a defensive presence in the paint proved to be huge for his team this year that allowed them to nearly get the #1 seed in the West. He doesn't have a ton of offensive talent, but doesn't hurt them either on offense. His athleticism is just the beginning of makes him such a strong rebounder and shot blocker. It surprises me that he still plays under 30 minutes a game; hopefully he takes the next step next year and becomes an even bigger presence for the Thunder in the paint.


7. DeMarcus Cousins (2 years pro; 21 years old):

2011/2012: 18.1 ppg 11.0 rpg 1.6 apg 1.5 spg 1.2 bpg 44.8% FG 70.2% FT 30.5 min./game

It seems like he watched Bynum play and thought that was the standard way to act for a young, talented NBA big man. Everyone knew he had attitude problems coming into the league, but the also knew he had immense talent as well. So far, he's proven both to be very true. The problem is, which will end up coming out the most? His talent or his attitude? Hopefully he wisens up quicker than Bynum and focuses on improving his game. He's already a strong rebounder and pretty shot blocker, but like a young Howard and Bynum, he's been way too over-agressive on defense and gotten himself into consisten foul trouble. He led the league in fouls and fouls per game by quite a bit; not to mention he was 2nd in the league in technical fouls and first in disqualifications. And while scoring 18.1 ppg looks nice, the 44.8% FG makes it look a little worse.


8. Roy Hibbert (4 years pro; 25 years old):

2011/2012: 12.8 ppg 8.8 rpg 1.7 apg 2.0 bpg 49.7% FG 71.1% FT 29.8 min./game

He was able to help anchor the Pacers in the paint on defense get them into the playoffs as the 5th seed in the East. The Pacers had one of the league's tougher defenses this year, and it's quite obvious he's a big part of it. He's never going to be looked to do a lot of scoring, but standing at 7'2", all he needs to do is rebound and protect the paint and anything else is just gravy for the Pacers.


9. Kenneth Faried (1 year pro; 22 years old):

10.2 ppg 7.7 rpg 1.0 bpg 58.6% FG 66.5% FT 22.5 min./game

Coming out of college, everyone knew he could rebound (after breaking Tim Duncan's college record for most career rebounds in Division 1), but with concerns about the rest of his game he dropped to 22nd in the draft. Early on in the season, he didn't get alot of playing time with Nene anchor the Nuggets, but once he was traded Faried (and even shortly before when Nene and other bigs got injured) shown his talent. He was not just a strong rebounder, but also a good defender and shot blocker as well as showing the ability to use his athleticism and hustle to get points in the paint. 


10. Bismack Biyombo (1 year pro; 19 years old):

5.2 ppg 5.8 rpg 1.8 bpg 46.4% FG 48.3% FT 23.1 min./game

Yes, another one of my personal favorites, Biyombo did not have the kind of season I expected him to. Then again, I should have known not to trust the Bobcats to be smart and them having the worst season ever speaks for itself. However, despite the Bobcats being horrible, Biyombo's strong rookie season kind of gets lost in the shuffle. Early in the season, he rarely got any playing time. Despite that, he still averaged nearly 1.8 blocks per game on the year which put him in the Top 10 in blocks for his rookie year; only Serge Ibaka had more blocks per 36 minutes than Biyombo this season. Also, as he began to get playing time increased, he started to show his strong rebound as well and even added 5 double-doubles. I watched him a few games and he definitely has some strong defense and rebounding abilities; once he gets more playing time he will breakout and make believers out of more people than myself.


Honorable Mention: 

JaVale McGee (4 years pro; 24 years old):

2011/2012: 11.3 ppg 7.8 rpg 2.2 bpg 55.6% FG 46.1% FT 25.2 min./game

Everyone expected McGee to improve on his breakout year last year, and while starting well McGee faded towards the All-Star break as well as after it. Then he switched teams and was traded to the Nuggets in the Nene deal. He lost playing time and didn't have the kind of season people expected. Still, he's very young and has strong shot blocking and rebounding skills with loads of athleticism. Hopefully, he can earn a starting role with the Nuggets next year and fit in with their young team going forward.


Well that's my list. Feel free to make your own, discuss, and somehow find away to bring in LeBron James or Kobe Bryant!
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:55 pm
 

Bismack Biyombo has arrived

Before the season started I was very high on Bismack Biyombo. I'm sure there was plenty of people who thought I was even too high on him and had some kind of crazy man love. I said he was one of the Top 3 best players from the draft and predicted him to be a Rookie of the Year candidate at the beginning of the year. I predicted a 8 ppg 10 rpg and 2.5 bpg from him for his rookie season. Well needless to say, earlier on in the season my predictions looked way off base. Bismack was getting 4-10 minutes a game and just doing very little statistically. It could have been influenced by him joining the team late as he had to get his contract overseas bought out, but the Bobcats were content with B.J. Mullens getting all the minutes at the time. 

However, as the Bobcats continued to lose and be one of the worst teams this year, they finally decided to start giving Bismack more minutes as they had nothing else to lose. He steadily has gained momentum and more minutes and starting in February he started to 30+ minutes a few times and even began to start a few games. He's shown why I was so high on him early in the season and the potential for great things in the future. Every game he's had over 30 minutes, he's gotten 10+ rebounds; in 5 games he's gotten more than 30 minutes he's averaged 32.4 minutes per game and 12 rebounds in those games

Now, it was just his rebounding that he was known for or why I was high on him; the biggest thing was his shot blocking. Despite playing very litting minutes he's kept his blocks per game average around 1.5 the entire year. It's been in his recent increase in minutes that he's really exploded with his blocking. He has had 4 games this year where he has had 5 or more blocks: 5 blocks against the Pistons back in January, 7 blocks against the Raptors and 6 blocks against the Pacers in February, and 7 blocks tonight against Dwight Howard and the Magic (only with 10 points and 15 boards as well as a Bobcats win). After tonight he will be averaging 1.85 blocks per game on the year while only averaging about 17 minutes per game.

Biyombo is not likely to achieve those lofting numbers I predicted at the beginning of the season (although he might come close the blocks prediction if he keeps it up), but since finally getting a bigger role and more minutes he has shown the talent and bright future that he has ahead of him as he is still just a rookie. He may never be amoung the best overall big men in the game, but he could very easily develop into the one of the best defensive big men in the game.
Posted on: February 5, 2012 10:56 am
 

Paul Millsap: I'll say it again.........

He's a Top 10 PF in the league and maybe a Top 5 PF by next year. Everyone called me crazy in the off-season threads for saying Millsap would be this good, but each game he plays he is proving me more and more right. People thought I was crazy for saying he's better than Carlos Boozer, but that's looking more and more spot on as each game is played. Paul Millsap started out the season almost splitting minutes exactly with Derrick Favors, but since he's started to get the majority of the minutes at PF, he's exploded into the player I've always said he's capable of being. He's been averaging nearly 20 ppg and 10 rpg over his last 13 games (19.7 ppg  10.6 rpg). Here is Millsap's numbers on the year: 

Millsap: 16.8 ppg (13.2 shots/game) 52.6% FG  78.9% FT  9.5 rpg (3.3 offensive) 1.9 apg  1.5 TO/game  1.5 spg  31.3 min/game


The most impressive thing is that he's doing this while sharing time and touches with 3 other big men in Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter. Big Al is getting 33 min./game and taking 16.6 shots/game, and Favors is getting 20.8 min./game and taking 6.3 shots/game (Kanter gets 14.5 min./game and taking 4.1 shots/game). When you look at all the other top PFs in the game, they don't have share as much as Millsap has had to with their big men. For example: 

Dirk Nowitzki shares with Brendan Haywood and Lamar Odom. Haywood takes nothing away from Dirk on offense and Odom has had a down year where he's not doing a ton to take away from Dirk either. 

Kevin Love shares with Darko Milicic and Derrick Williams. Milic does very little outside of playing defense and Williams hasn't lived up to his hype yet. 

Blake Griffin shares with DeAndre Jordan and Reggie Evans. Jordan isn't usually an offensive threat and Evans is only playing 15 minutes a game this year

LaMarcus Aldridge shares with Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas. Camby might be the reason he doesn't average alot of rebounds, but neither takes away offense from Aldridge. 

Chris Bosh shares with Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem. Rebounds? Maybe, but they do nothing else to take away from Bosh.

Amar'e Stoudemire shares with Tyson Chandler and that's pretty much it. 

Carlos Boozer shares with Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Noah has had a down year, and Gibson is not doing nearly as well as he's down in previous years.


All of these top PFs, other than Dirk and Boozer, are getting alot more minutes and taking alot more shots per game/getting alot more overall touches. 

Dirk Nowitzki - 31.8 min./game 14.1 shots/game (19.5 ppg 6.9 rpg - Per 36 min.)
Kevin Love - 39 min./game 17.8 shots/game (22.9 ppg 12.5 rpg - Per 36 min.)
Blake Griffin - 36 min./game 16.5 shots/game (21.1 ppg 10.7 rpg - Per 36 min.)
LaMarcus Aldridge - 36.4 min./game 18.3 shots/game (22.8 ppg 8.6 rpg - Per 36 min.)
Chris Bosh - 36.2 min./game 14.8 shots/game (19.9 ppg 7.7 rpg - Per 36 min.)
Amar'e Stoudemire - 34.4 min./game 15.5 shots/game (19.1 ppg 8.5 rpg - Per 36 min.)
Carlos Boozer - 30.4 min./game  12.7 shots/game  (17.4 ppg 10.1 rpg - Per 36 min.)

Millsap averages 19.4 ppg and 10.9 rpg per 36 minutes, and as you can see, that's comparable with most of these guys (with Love the only one standing way out on stats). I don't think anyone can doubt anymore that Millsap is the real deal and is a Top 10 PF in the NBA. If he were the go-to guy like alot of these PFs, he could very well be putting up 20 and 10 + numbers and be getting alot more credit. I also think it's hilarious that I heard some people before the season saying Derrick Favors is a better big man and should start over Millsap. Not only was that laughable, but has looked like a very foolish statement to this point.

People seem to forget Millsap is only 26 years old and just in his 2nd year as starter for the Jazz. He could very well get even better than this and should be able to develop into the 20 ppg and 10 rpg player I said he was capable of way back in his 3rd year in the league.
Posted on: January 1, 2012 12:28 am
 

Cam Newton's Future

Everyone knows Cam Newton is a special player, has plenty of talent, and will win the ROY this year. Everyone knows he's got plenty of talent with his feet piling up over 600 rushing yards and a record setting 14 TDs rushing TDS (most for a QB ever). Now that we've got all the obvious out of the way, let's get to what everyone doesn't know (or at least doesn't believe in): Cam Newton has the ability and will most likely become an elite passer. 

I know everyone is always saying he still isn't a great passer and has just racked up lots of yards by being down so far on a crappy team getting beat by other teams. They call him "Stats Newton" as they think he's only a guy that pads his stats on a bad team and his numbers are empty as he can't win; although he might be changing some people's perception by winning 4 out of his last 5 games. I don't think others realize either that he's lost 5 other games by a TD or less and couple of those were against the top teams in the playoffs for the NFC (Saints and Packers). The biggest thing I find strange is why this doesn't to be a problem when talking about other great QBs when they were young and/or rookie QBs in the NFL. They all started on bad teams and none of them led their team to a championship right of the gate or even the playoffs. The biggest example to me seems to be Peyton Manning

Just for a little clarification, Peyton Manning was picked 1st overall in the 1998 NFL draft by the 3-13 Colts. He then went on to have one of the best seasons for a rookie QB (probably the best until Cam this season). Here are his stats:

Peyton Manning: 3739 yards 26 TDs 29 INTs 56.7% completion (326-575) 71.2 passer rating

However, despite having the great Manning (as well as Marshall Faulk) and him having a great season, the Colts still finish 3-13 and didn't improve a single game his rookie year. Now I was too young then to hear how he was talked about, but highly doubt anyone called him "Stats Manning" or ripped him for only racking up stats on a crappy team. 

Yet Cam Newton was picked 1st overall in the 2011 draft by the 2-14 Panthers. Despite starting off slow, the Panthers are currently at a 6-9 record, which is at least a 4 game improvement for the Panthers despite losing their best defender (Jon Beason), being banged up overall on defense and having one of the league's worst defenses this year. And for further clarification, here are Newton's passing stats so far this year: 

Cam Newton: 3893 yards 20 TDs 16 INTs 60.0% completion (295-492) 85% passer rating

So he's already eclipsed Mannings yardage (despite Manning having quite a bit more attempts) and will likely go over 4000 passing yards as a rookie. Also, despite having less TDs, he also has far less INTs and at least doesn't have more INTs than TDs and has a better completion % and passer rating. Now that's JUST his passing numbers; when you throw the 600+ (likely to be 700+ after his last game as he's at 674 rushing yards) and 14 (or more) TDs on top of it, then he really looks impressive. 

Don't put words in my mouth or try to take things out of context; I'm not saying Newton will be better than Peyton Manning or even as good as him. You're missing the point if you think that. The point is simply that he has shown the ability and has a great chance to be an elite passer and great overall QB in this league. He's not just putting up stats on a bad team; he's improved his team despite having an even worse defense than last year. He has had the best season of any rookie QB ever and is on track to being a great QB in this league.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:54 pm
 

2011-2012 NBA Awards Predictions

With only a few days until the NBA season starts, I felt like getting my predictions out now. So instead of wasting time trying to talk them up, here they are: 

- MVP -


Kevin Durant

Durant is primed to have his best season yet and I think everyone seen it coming as early as watching him light up the summer leagues. No, I'm not naive enough to say that is the reason why he's going to win the MVP, but if you can't tell his best overall scorer in the game, you just haven't been paying attention. KD can score from anywhere on the court and just continues to improve on defense each year. This should be the year he explodes for well over 30+ ppg 8+ rpg 1.5+ spg 1.5+ bpg and finally over 3 apg this year (improving his passing, which has really been the weakest part of his game). He's going to put up the stats and he's likely going to lead his Thunder to a top seed in the West and contend for a title. 

Runner Up - LeBron James

I hate him, you hate him, everyone hates him. Doesn't change the fact that he's got more talent than anyone in the game. If you put a brain of a smarter player in his body (yes, we can play ChiTownCliff's game for a minute here) he would have won a couple titles on top of his two MVPs already. What makes him even more likely to be an MVP is that he's got the talent to dominant on the defensive end as well, and juding by last season, he's starting to focus on that end quite a bit more. If he does that as well as continuing to be a threat on offense, he's going to make another MVP run without question. Only thing holding him back is his other superstar teammate in Dwyane Wade and star big man in Chris Bosh. But even those guys can only slow him to 27 ppg 6 apg and 8.4 rpg, which is still MVP stuff. Heat will obviously be one of the top teams again and contending for the title, so there is no reason to think LBJ can't win another title unless he defers to Wade and Bosh more than he did last year. 

Dark Horse - Dwight Howard

I don't care what team this guy plays for, he's still the best big man in the game, the best defender in the game, and the most dominant presence the paint on both ends of the floor. His offensive game continues to improve (although a little slower than you'd hope for) and he's always going to own the boards and swat shots. He has the ability to impact a team even more than perimeter players like LBJ and Durant because he can control the paint, and it's been proven on many occasions if you can control the paint, you have an inside track to winning lots of games. If he developed any time of a passing game, he would take his game to the next level and be a real threat to win the MVP. 


- Defense Player of the Year -


Dwight Howard

See above. No one can impact a defense like Howard can. Sure, there hasn't been any other real great defenders in awhile to challenge Howard, but that doesn't change the fact that he is still a 3 time DPOY and could tie Big Ben Wallaceand Dikembe Mutombo for the most all time this season.

Runner Up - Andrew Bogut

He's a great rebounder, strong post defender, and a top notch shot blocker. He's got the skills, but his health has kept him from being looked at very highly, and rightfully so. I think he will be able to stay healthy in this shortened season and put up the strong play on defense all year long and get the Bucks into the playoffs. Maybe I'm being too optimistic for an injury prone guy like Bogut, but he's got be healthy at least one full season, especially when it's only 66 games instead of 82 right?

Dark Horse - Gerald Wallace

When he was with the Bobcats he was a DPOY contender a couple years as he's a strong rebounder and excellent help defender. He didn't get as much time and action with the Trail Blazers last year as LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicholas Batum didn't leave tons of minutes for him. However, this year without Roy, I expect Wallace to take an increased role with the team. Aldridge can lead this team on offense, but not on defense and that's where Wallace will have to step up. If he gets back to 8-10 rpg and 2+ spg and bpg like he was with the Bobcats and the Blazers have a good season behind Aldridge and Wallace, he could be a DPOY candidate.


- Rookie of the Year -


Kemba Walker

He didn't win a national title by accident; he's the real deal. Kemba has alot of thigs going in his favor this year that easily point to him as the ROY. First of all, who the hell else do the Bobcats have? D.J. AugustinBoris Diaw? Yeah, not like Kemba is going to have a tough time taking over this team. He's going to be thrown into the fire as the leader right out of the gate and after watching him play at UConn, I think he's up for the task. This guy just seems like a natural born leader and winner. Excellent scorer and a pretty good passer as well. He may not put up Blake Griffin rookie numbers, but they will still be impressive nonetheless and earn him the DPOY.

Runner Up - Brandon Knight

Biased Pistons pick? Maybe, but let me at least make a case before you call me a homer right off the bat. I know the easy way to discount him right off the bat: "The Pistons have too many other guards. He has to fight Rodney StuckeyBen Gordon, and Will Bynum for minutes." Ah, but it's not that simple. Gordon is a 6th man and no matter how much money is thrown at him by the stupidity of Joe D, it doesn't change that. He is able to put up some points off the bench and light up the scoreboard at times, but you can't trust him on defense or to be consistent and fit well with his teammates on offense. Stuckey is no longer a PG, he's an SG and that's how new coach Frank will use him. He doesn't have a shot, but has a great slashing ability to get to the rim and has the size to play the spot and not be a weak spot on defense. 

Bynum and Knight will be the PGs this season and while I love Bynum and he has spurts of great play, both I and coach Frank know he's not the future. Knight may start on the bench, but it won't be long before he gets the starting job and takes over as the PG of this team. He's already shown to be a willing passer and does well at getting his team involved and finding open shooters (which the Pistons have plenty in Gordon, Daye, and Charlie V). He's also shown the willingness to give effort on defense and pick off passes and turn them into transistion offense. Then there is the obvious that everyone knows: he's a strong shooter and can beat his man to the paint. Knight and Monroe will provide a great inside-outside core to this young team for many years to come and show glimses this season of a team on the rise and on it's way to getting back to the playoffs.

Dark Horse - Bismack Biyombo

This was the guy I was begging for the Pistons to get. However, that was before I knew Knight would drop all the way to the Pistons. Still, I would love to have this guy next to Monroe. He's the best defensive prospect since Howard and has rare explosiveness, wingspan, and leaping ability. He's going to get time with the thin front court of the Bobcats and as long as he's not completely incompetent on offense, he'll get enough time to put up some impressive numbers on defense. I wouldn't be surprised to see 8-10 rpg and 2-3 bpg. Future DPOY is in Biyombo's future.


- 6th Man of the Year -


Lamar Odom

From what I've heard and understand, despite him being traded from the Lakers to the Mavericks, he's still going to be used in the 6th man role off the bench (with Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki starting at the two forward spots). With his role not changing much and going to a team that needs rebounding and bench scoring (after losing Tyson Chandler on the boards and Juan Jose Barea for the bench scoring), I don't see any reason for him to not win the 6th man award again this season.

Runner Up - Jason Terry

Yes, the 6th man will come from the Mavericks. Terry is still going to put up points and with Kidd gettin ga year older and no more Barea, he'll have to run the point at times for the Mavs and play an important role in the Mavs having another shot at the Finals.

Dark Horse - Austin Daye

Another Pistons player? Yes, I can't help myself. Daye wasn't very good last year; he looked very uncoordinated and horrible on defense. If he couldn't shoot the ball so well, he wouldn't have gotten any time at all. However, this year under a smarter coach and one that is actually teaching the young players and giving them direction, Daye looks to be responding well to coach Frank. What's most impressive is he looks focused especially on the defensive end. He got 5 blocks in the first preseason game and 2 more in the second game. He's got lots of length at 6'11" and can shoot the ball very well. He looks to take a big step this year and the only thing that might keep him out of contention for this is that he gets moved to the starting lineup. 


Most Improved Player of the Year


Andre Iguodala

I don't believe Iggy was as bad as he played last season. I know he's never been a great #1 option for a team and I would expect his numbers to drop off some when he got other good players around him in Philly, but I never thought he'd be that bad. It wasn't just on offense either. He use to be a strong defender, but last year lost alot of that strong play as well. He was banged up quite a bit last season as well, and is reportedly in much better shape this season dropping 10 pounds and not having any lingering injuries. I expect him to bounce back closer to his old self; maybe not as many assists this time around as he's Jrue Holiday looks ready to take over as PG, but I expect to be scoring well and back to his strong defensive play.

Runner Up - Andrew Bogut

All he has to do is stay healthy, that's it and he will be a contender to win this award. 

Dark Horse - Richard Hamilton

Giving the best attacking PG in the game a shooter like Billups is dangerous for the Bulls and makes it so much more diffcult to defend them. After the big MVP season Rose had last season, I can't see teams just inviting him to score and dominant. Thus, Rip will get plenty of open looks and chances to knock down shots like he was with the Pistons. I don't expect him to score anywhere near 20 ppg, but scoring about 15-16 ppg on a lot higher FG% than he did last year is a big improvement from what he was doing last season for the Pistons.

- Coach of the Year -


Lionel Hollins

The Grizzlies seem to come out of nowhere at the end of last season and making a strong playoff performance. This year there will be no "surprise factor" for the Grizz and there are big expectations out of them from alot of people. In order for them to deliver, it will be coach Hollins job to make sure they can duplicate that late season success and even improve on it. The tricky part will be doing it this time with Rudy Gay in the lineup as he was hurt when the Grizz made the late season run. Chemistry is a huge part of teams and he's got to make Gay and Randolph able to work well with each other as well as the rest of their teammates. If he can do that, this team will be in the playoffs again and maybe even make a run at a Top 4 seed.

Runner Up - Tom Thibodeau

The Bulls had a great season under coach TT last season, so it's kind of hard for them to get any better right? Wrong, they were without Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah for big chunks of the season last year, and also had no respectable shooter to take pressure off Rose. They have the shooter in Rip now and Noah and Boozer (at least for now) are healthy. If they stay together all season long, the Bulls will not only be one of the best regular season teams, they could get to the Finals this time around.

Dark Horse - Nate McMillan

He no longer has Roy as his franchise player and now has Aldridge as his go-to player. However, that doesn't seem to be a huge deal for the Blazers and Coach McMillan as they still made the playoffs. Aldridge will big improved with another season under his wing, Wallace should be even better in a full season with the Blazers, Batum should improve in a bigger role, and they have couple new guards in Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton to make the loss of Roy not sting as much. Blazers should again be the playoffs and maybe have a shot at being a dark-horse team in the West.


- All NBA Teams - 


All NBA First Team:

G - Chris Paul
G - Dwyane Wade
F - Kevin Durant
F - Blake Griffin
C  - Dwight Howard

All NBA Second Team:

G - Derrick Rose
G - Kobe Bryant
F - LeBron James
F - Dirk Nowitzki 
C  - Al Horford 

All NBA Third Team:

G - Rajon Rondo
G - Eric Gordon
F - Paul Millsap
F - Kevin Love
C  - Andrew Bogut 


All NBA Defensive First Team: 

G - Rajon Rondo
G - Dwyane Wade
F - LeBron James
F - Gerald Wallace
C - Dwight Howard 

All NBa Defensive Second Team:

G - Chris Paul
G - Russell Westbrook
F - Josh Smith
F - Bismack Biyombo
C - Andrew Bogut 


All NBA Rookie First Team:

G - Kemba Walker
G - Brandon Knight
F - Derrick Williams
F - Marcus Morris
C - Bismack Biyombo 

All NBA Rookie Second Team:

G - Kyrie Irving
G - Darius Morris
F - Jan Vesley
F - Tristan Thompson
C -  Enes Kanter


That's all folks! Discuss, make your own predictions, or just rip mine if you can't think of anything better to do.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 7:28 pm
 

Heisman: Montee Ball over Trent Richardson

I'm finding it very hard to understand why I see Alabama's Trent Richardson always put among the top Heisman candidates and Wisconsin's Montee Ball never mentioned. I know Alabama has been a better team and I know Richardson has been a big time NFL prospect since he was a freshman, but I don't see how you can argue with the production they've put up so far this year. I unds erstand Alabama has only lost to the #1 team in LSU, but while it's not debatable that Alabama is better than Wisconsin, it's not like they are some scrub team or face easy opponents all the time. Both of their losses have also come in last minute comeback TDs from Ohio St. and MSU and neither has been a scrub team this year either. 

For those that don't know the stats, here they are (games include today's games stats): 

Montee Ball: 223 att. 1466 yards (6.6 avg) 25 TDs 16 receptions  233 yards (14.6 avg) 5 TDs  (1699 total yards & 30 total TDs)

Trent Richardson: 236 att. 1380 yards (5.8 avg) 20 TDs 26 receptions 322 yards (12.4 avg) 2 TDs (1702 total yards & 22 total TDs)

Ball has more rushing yards, rushing TDs, receiving TDs, total TDs, and better rushing and receiving averages per carry & catch. Richardson has 3 more total yards and 89 more receiving yards. Going by the overall, I don't see anyway you can argue Richardson has been better. There is also no way you can argue Richardson has done more for his team as his team only has one less loss and their biggest strength has been their defense this year, which easily trumps the defense Wisconsin has. 

I know before I even post this I will hear about the strength of schedule and the SEC bias crap about how much better their opponents are, but I'm not buying that. Maybe it's because I'm a Michigan fan and watch the Big Ten more often but I'm not buying that Alabama's opponents have been far and away better than Wisconsin's. Sure, it's not a debate they've faced the best team of either buy playing LSU and losing in a close, defensive game. However, other than that the only other tough teams they've faced are Penn St. and Arkansas. Wisconsin has played Michigan St., Nebraska, and will soon be playing Penn St. in the last game of the year. The rest of their opponents balance out at the very least. So because Alabama has played LSU, you could say they have had the SLIGHTLY better SOS, but not by a huge margin as some would like to believe. The Big Ten has been tough this year and with Michigan getting back to playing tough football (instead of that crap RR had them playing), their division is back to one of the best in the nation. 

I'm not saying Montee Ball should win the Heisman (although I think he has a case), but I'm just saying he is higher on the list than Trent Richardson and he shouldn't be overlooked. He's having a great season on a good team, in a tough conference and deserves his credit. Richardson's name shouldn't get him automatic love over anyone that you don't know about as well.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall,......

..........Brandon Knight? Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably, but with how bad the Pistons have been the last couple years, I haven't had much to be happy about lately so I'm going to live in the moment with this one. Calipari has been a point guard guru and has produced some of the best young point guards in the NBA right now (looks even better with Derrick Rose winning the MVP this past season and leading his Bulls to a #1 seed). They all left their freshman year after just one year under Coach Calipari and Knight has done the same after just one season with the Wildcats. Everyone expected Knight to go in the Top 5 picks but somehow by sheer luck he dropped all the way to the Pistons at the 8th.

While Knight did struggle in the beginning of the NCAA season, Calipari's coaching of him started to pay off as the season went on as he got better and better. He started making better decisions with the ball, was able to run the pick n roll well, was hitting shots off the dribble or off the ball, and got Kentucky into the tourney after leading them to an SEC title. No one was expecting them to do a whole lot, but Knight ended up leading them all the way to the Final Four. They went on to lose BY ONE POINT to the eventual NCAA national champs in UConn. Even as just a freshman Knight was already progressing fast and showing his potential to be another star PG from the Calipari tree.

So will Knight follow in the footsteps of Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and John Wall? Will he prove why so many teams passed up on him? Or will he just be a solid player but nothing to the levels of Rose, Evans, or Wall? For the Pistons sake, I hope he's the next Calipari star PG as we could use it right now. I can't wait to see him running pick n rolls with Greg Monroe as that should cause nightmares for opposing teams (might be the only thing that they can do against opponents but at least it's something!). I did like what I heard from him in interview after he was picked; he said he modeled his game after Chauncey Billups and they things he wants to bring to the Pistons is shooting, defense, and wins.

The Pistons might finally be headed back to the playoffs soon as it's been a hard past couple years. They've finally got their ownership issues solved, and will soon be getting a new head coach (hopefully one that stays more than a year or two this time). Things are looking up in Motown with the Blue Knight (yes, a cheesy Dark Knight reference)!

Posted on: May 22, 2011 1:46 am
 

Detroit Pistons Draft Outlook

Well I was hoping to see the Pistons get lucky and move up in the draft from their originally slotted 7th spot, but instead it was the Cavaliers that got the lucky draw and the Pistons went the opposite direction and moved down one spot. With this draft lacking alot of potential huge stars, it's likely the Pistons won't be getting any player that is going to be able to be a future leading star for them. So the most important thing will be to draft a guy that not only has talent, but also can impact their team and be a great role player right off the bat. There are a few options, but I think it clearly comes down to two guys: Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo.

When Chauncey Billups was at the PG helm for the Pistons leading their offense, they were contending for the East title each year and always at least in the ECFs. The won a title and went to back to back Finals appearances in the Billups era, but since trading him to the Nuggets they have dropped off significantly and that's really an understatement. Allen Iverson was one of my favorite players of all time, but that experiment failed miserably. They had picked Rodney Stuckey in the 2007 draft and had hoped he was going to be able to step up and be Billups understudy and eventually take the starting job once Billups got too old and had to step down. He showed flashes of amazing talent and ability to get to the lane and create offense; even in the 2008 NBA playoffs where he was penetrating the Celtics defense very well at time (and I remind you this was the #1 defense at the time that went on to win the title).

This is what gave Dumars the thought that he could trade Billups now, get Iverson and use his expiring contract to free up cap space in the 2010 super FA market to get players to go along with Stuckey and the other younger Pistons players to start the transition from the older 2004 championship players to a new Pistons team. Well as we have seen since, Stuckey hasn't stepped up and Joe D decided to use his extra money on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, which has also proven to be disappointing. Stuckey has still shown those flashes, but has to be consistent enough to be that PG they need to lead the offense. Now he has shown horrible attitude problems and refuses to play for the team at the end of the year because of arguments with the coach. Well I say good riddance to him as he has obviously failed to live up to expectations and is now being a whiney baby that has no business being our point guard.

So now the question will be who will fill that spot? I love Will Bynum as he is a tenacious defender with quickness and lots of athletic ability (dude can throw down for a little guy), and I like how unselfish he is on offense always looking to pass first and creating open players by being able to penetrate the lane well. But I know he is never a guy that is going to be able to lead their team, so they will need to get someone he can. A guy that could do that is Kemba Walker. He has proven to be a strong leader and able to take a team on his shoulders and win them games. He has amazing scoring ability as well as some good passing skills (didn't use it a whole lot in college but he does have it when I watched him play games at UConn). He has the ability to get into the lane, stop-n-pop for jumpers, and get them big shots. Sound familiar? The next Mr. Big Shot maybe? Of course if they do this they need to try and trade Stuckey, and he still has talent and with some teams needing PGs I'm sure someone would bite. They would have a good two-man, inside-outside tandem with Kemba and Greg Monroe that could be the future of the new Pistons squad and possible start turning things around back to at least making the playoffs.


The other option is to look down low, which is most likely the bigger concern at the time. They got Greg Monroe last year and I really liked what I seen from him. He should be the main big for the Pistons for years to come. He's got size, good rebounding, good passing, and a developing offensive game that will get better each year. He can anchor them in the post on offense for sure, but while he's a solid post defender he's not the best help defender and is not great and helping on driving players. Ben Wallace was the doing this for the Pistons in his prime years (being the best defensive player in the league) and is doing it now at the twilight stage of his career. But he's not the young athlete he once was and is close to hanging it up and focusing on becoming a defense attorney upon his retirement (fitting isn't it?), and the question is now who is going to do that? The Pistons have turn things around on defense because that had been their identity for years and always what was the backbone of their success. A guy that could fill that role is Bismack Biyombo.

The young (or old depending whether you think he's 18 or 30) kid from Congo is not someone that was a big time draft prospect all year. He hasn't been playing in any big time college basketball, and has only recently been playing big time professional Euro basketball for Spain. However, what he lacks in experience at high levels, he makes up for freakish talent and athleticism. He can jump out of the jump, has energy galore, and a monstrous 7 foot 7 inch wing span. When I looked at his size, 6'9" 240 lbs, I thought to myself: "That looks familiar; I think that was Big Ben's size." Then I watched tape on him and I got a chill up my spine as Big Ben flashbacks went through my mind.

He is a very strong defender, with strong rebounding, great leaping ability, a long wing span, and lots of energy and hustle that just makes him a carbon copy of a young Ben Wallace in terms of physical attributes and abilities. I even watched a few highlights where he was playing up and pressing the ball handler after the ball was in-bounded, and the only other big man I ever seen do that was Big Ben. I'd love to put Bismack alongside Monroe and give them an excellent post duo for their future. Monroe can lead them on offense while focusing on man defense and Biyombo can do the dirty work, clean up the boards, swat shots left and right, and just straight out hustle. While I'm tired of watching the Pistons drafting European players and them failing to pan out (Darko ruined Euro players for me to be honest), the potential ability Bismack has to be the next "Big B" just has me hoping they get him at the 8th spot.

Either way it's time to end the transition phase and move onto to the new generation of players. Tayshaun Prince's contract is up and while I wish they would have been smart enough to get something out of him (someone would have wanted an expiring contract), it's time to cut ties with him and move on. Richard Hamilton will always be remembered and loved for what he did with the Pistons and is probably their best pure shooter in history and I think one of the best shooters running off screens of all time, his time has passed as well and they need to trade him along with Stuckey. Guys like Monroe, Bynum, Jonas Jerebko, Gordon, and Austin Daye are their future now and they can add another young gun to that group in a couple months with their 8th overall pick. Whether they choose to get a guy that can lead their offense in Kemba or a guy that can impact and improve immensely their post defense in Bismack, it's time to get the new era of Pistons basketball started. We finally have a new owner, Flint's own Tom Gores, and we can finally move past this phase of unbearable to watch basketball.

I want to be proud again to say............

DEEEEEEETROIT BAAAAAAAAAAAAASKETBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com