Tag:Rockets
Posted on: September 28, 2009 8:24 am
Edited on: September 28, 2009 5:59 pm
 

NBA Southwest Division Preview - 2009/2010

The Southwest division has become the best division in the NBA. There seems to be a lot of rivalry games and tough competition mainly to due the fact that 3 of the teams are located in Texas (San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston). They've had four of their teams making the playoffs for the last couple years now, all four of those teams constantly flirting or reaching 50 wins in a season. The division is filled with some of the best players in the game with Duncan, Nowitzki, and Paul. For the last three years, at two of the top three seeds in the West have come from this division. The division is filled with legends like Timmy D, J-Kidd, and AI, but it also has young stars that will be among the best players in the NBA for years to come in CP3, Tony Longoria, and possible Mayo. There are also three MVP candidates (two of which have won the award before) in Paul, Dirk, and Duncan.

The division is always very competitive and only Memphis has been a team that doesn't contend in the playoffs.   There won't be a team that dominates this division because of much talent each team has and how competitive each team is. Following will be my analysis of this division and how I see each team turning out this season.

1. San Antonio Spurs

Since Duncan has been here, this team has always been among the best teams in the league, and has always been a contender for the title. Duncan is the kind of player that has the greatness to lead his team to victory no matter what the talent around him. However, he does have a good amount of talent around him and that just gives this team an even better chance at success.

Starting at the point we have Tony Parker , a.k.a. "Eva's husband." A Top 5 PG who is lightning quick and has improved his scoring each year. He is one of the best players at penetrating to the basket, and that proves very valuable to his team. Then you have the other guard in Manu Ginobili , a.k.a. "The Argentinean Flopper." He is one of the best shooters in the game and makes it harder on defenses with his ability to take it up with his left hand or right hand (being naturally left handed). He is a good team player that has won championships at both the NBA and Olympic level.

We move to the forwards with the newly acquired Richard Jefferson . He is a very gifted scorer that can shoot or penetrate the lane. However, he has been known as one of the weaker defenders in the league. Then we have the also newly acquired (damn Joe D, why didn't you resign him?) Antonio McDyess . An aging big man that can do whatever you need him to. He can hit that mid-range jumper, he can rebound, and he can play good post defense.

Then at center we go to "Mr. Fundamental" himself, Tim Duncan . Getting older now, but still one of the best big men in the game and guy who just knows how to win. To quote Ricky Bobby, "he wakes up in the morning and pisses excellence." He has the best post moves in the league on offense, and is still one of the best post defenders and shot blockers in the NBA.

They have very good, young bench players in George Hill , Roger Mason Jr. , and their rookie DeJuan Blair . I might be higher on most about Blair, but I think he was a huge steal in the 2nd round for the Spurs, and they've had a couple other 2nd round draft picks turn out very well (Parker and Ginobili). Not to mention that he'll have one of the greatest big men in NBA history teaching in Timmy D. The only concern about him seems to be his injuries in the past (but they were both in high school, not in college and didn't slow him down in college). They also have veteran big men defender Theo Ratliff , and veteran scorer Michael Finely to add some more depth off the bench.

My prediction: 57-25 (1st or 2nd seed in the West)

Timmy D doesn't have much time left to get another title before he retires, but this is probably the best chance he'll get. Parker is improving to the point where he can take over any game with his scoring and playmaking skills, Ginobili should be at full health this year, and the additions of Jefferson and McDyess should prove very valuable to this team. The only weakness I can see for this team is the loss of Bruce Bowen. He never contributed a lot in terms of offense or stats, but he was their best perimeter defenders and one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Now that he has retired, they don't have any great perimeter defender to rely on. Ginobili can look good at times with his flopping, but that won't be enough when playing against some of the best perimeter players in the league.

I don't think that will keep them from being one of the best teams this year and making to the Western Conference Finals, but if they have to play the Lakers to go to the NBA Finals, there is no one to stop Kobe Bryant and that could prove costly. But Timmy D and the interior defense will really have to step it up if they want to make up for Kobe beating them on the perimeter. However, that interior defense has proved to be very valuable in the past and can get them to the Finals if it's at it's best with Duncan and McDyess. If they play the Lakers, I think it goes to 7 games without question and it's going to come down to Duncan and Kobe, who can will their team to victory. It's a toss up for me, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Spurs won or the Lakers won.

2. Dallas Mavericks

This is the team I will enjoying watching the most out of the West this year (of course I won't favor them over my Pistons though). They have two of my favorite players of this past decade, Kidd and Marion, who were teammates earlier in their careers for the Phoenix Suns and will now be teammates on the Mavs.

This is a team of aging veterans who have a small window of time for winning a title before their careers are over. However, they are still very good players that can contribute a lot to a successful team. Also, the amount of talent doesn't always equal the amount of success you have. A factor that comes into play in their advantage with these older veterans are, ironically, their age. With their age comes years of valuable NBA experience. They know how to play the game just as well as anyone, but it depends if their bodies can keep up with their brains.

We start with the floor general Jason Kidd . He's not the same player he use to be, but he's still among the best playmakers and passers in the game. Also, he's still one of the best defending PGs in the game as well. He knows how to run the team and is unselfish as they come, looking to find his teammates for open shots. Then we move to Josh Howard , the perimeter scoring threat. He has plenty of talent, but it's his attitude that hurts him at times. If he can keep his attitude in check and play team basketball, this guy can score very well and prove very valuable to this team.

At forward, the Mavs have newly acquired Shawn Marion . He has struggles the last two years, but that is due to him not being with a true PG. Other than the one year between Kidd leaving Phoenix and Steve Nash joining the Suns (with Stephon Marbury at PG), he's always had a true PG to play along side with him until he joined the Heat . However, he stepped up his game quite a bit after being traded to the Raptors last season (coincidence that he was playing with another true PG again in Jose Calderon ?). Marion is not a guy that can make plays for himself and be one of your main scoring threats. However, now with the Mavs he won't have to do that since they have Howard and Dirk. He can spread the defense with Kidd being able to find him for open shots, and he can use his athleticism to cut to the basket for easy buckets and alley oops being set up to him from Kidd. But this biggest value is his defense, which has not gotten worse regardless of his struggles. He is still a very good perimeter defender that can cover anyone from the 1 to the 4.

Of course we can't forget the team's best player, Dirk Nowitzki . Dirk is still one of the best scorers and most difficult players to defend because of his size and shooting abilities. With Marion being able to defend the team's best perimeter scorer and Dampier or the newly acquired Gooden being able to cover the post threat, Dirk will be able to focus more on offense this year than ever; which should provide some very good results (possibly MVP again?). Then their other post player will be either Erick Dampier or Drew Gooden . Dampier has become old, slow, and pretty much just a guy to clog the lane now. However, Gooden is still relatively young and could be valuable to them as a starter. He is not a great defender, but he's is not a bad one either. He's a very capable post defender and very good rebounder as well.

They also have possibly the best 6th man in the game in Jason Terry . "The Jet" should get lots of playing time again this season being able to fill in at either guard spot and provide lots of scoring. He will prove to be very valuable to this team coming off the bench, especially to give the old J-Kidd a breather and keep his legs fresh.

My prediction: 54-28 (3rd or 4th seed in the West)

I think the Mavs are going to have a very good season this year and will be a Top 4 seed. Marion should be able to find lots of success and chemistry with his former teammate in Kidd, and also contribute a lot of defense thus taking the pressure off Dirk and Howard that will allow them to score better and more efficiently. The only issue with this team of course is their post defense, and that should prove to be costly when going against the Lakers and Spurs who both have post-scoring threats.

I'll root for them to make a huge upset and somehow win the West, but I just don't seem the being able to overcome Duncan with the Spurs and Pau Gasol and Kobe with the Lakers. Who knows though, miracles can happen.

3. New Orleans Hornets

After CP3 had his breakout season in 07/08 leading his team the 2nd seed in the West and being the runner-up to the MVP Kobe Bryant, the Hornets were not able to repeat their success in 08/09 (although they still came within 1 game from having another 50 win season). However, Tyson Chandler missing 37 games seems to be at the root of their problems. After getting rid of Chandler this off-season, they replace him with athletic center in Okafor. The question is will he be able to provide a better center for them than Chandler> Well let's take a look

At the point they have the best PG in the game and one of the best players in the NBA in Chris Paul . He's become an amazing playmaker that can score, pass, and defend all at a high level. He is a very good leader at such a young age, and that can only improve with more experience. After losing last year's starting SG Rasual Butler , they will now have to turn to Morris Peterson to start. But we've seen his minutes drastically decrease each year since '06 so I expect him to share time with Devin Brown and even Posey at times here. Really doesn't matter who's there because Paul has the playmaking capabilities to get his players open shots.

At forward you have the 3pt specialist in Peja Stojakovic . He's as good as he was in his Kings days, but he's still a very good outside shooter that Paul can find on plenty of open shots. James Posey should see some time here as well as (seeing time at both wing positions) because of his valuable defense, outside shooting, and clutch play. Posey has contributed quite a bit to two previous NBA champions ('06 Heat and '08 Celtics ). At the other forward is David West . He has developed a very good chemistry with Paul, best two-man PNR game in the league, which provides the main source of offense for this Hornets team.

Then at center you have the newly acquired Emeka Okafor . He's not as tall as Chandler but he's younger, just as athletic, just good of a rebounder, and even better defender. We might not see the alley-oops like Paul did with Chandler so often, but he is solid post scorer and can do more in one-on-one situations instead of having to be set up by Paul every time (like Chandler did). He won't need to be a main post scoring threat for them with West, but mainly their post presence on defense. He's been among the league's best shot blockers and rebounders, and his post defense is very good as well. It may take him a little while to get some chemistry with Paul and his other teammates, but he can be just as valuable or even more valuable than Chandler was. Plus he's not an injury risk like Chandler has become since getting older.

My prediction: 50-32 (5th seed in the West)

A team led by Paul will always make the playoffs and no matter whom the other four players are he's going to be at the top of his game and win this team games. The system and style they run fits perfectly into his game, and he has players that compliment him very well. That's key for your best player to have all those things working for him. They only issue for this team is a lack of a perimeter scorer. They have Paul at point, they have West down low, but Peja is no longer that legitimate perimeter scoring threat that they can rely on. That's the only thing standing in the way of them making it to the WCFs and having a good shot at beating the Lakers or Spurs. However, they should still have plenty of success and get around the 5th seed in the West this year. I just don't see them as being a contender with the two favorites, but Paul has already shocked the world once in 07/08, so he could always shock the world again (and prove me wrong) and take his team to the WCFs and give either the Lakers or Spurs a run for their money.

4. Houston Rockets

After finding out Yao Ming will miss the entire year for 09/10 and T-Mac will likely be out until after the All Star Break, the Rockets are really going to have rely on their young players to step up and keep this team competitive and successful. The Rockets have had success before when Yao was out with an injury for extended time, and they've had success when T-Mac was out with an injury for extended time. However, they've never had to deal with them both being injured at the same time for this long. How will they fair this season because of it? Well.....

At the point they will have the young Aaron Brooks . He became a big scoring threat for the Rockets towards the end of the season and the playoffs last year, and he should only improve on that this year. To start out, Shane Battier should look to get the start at the other guard position until Tracy McGrady returns from his injury. He is still arguably the best perimeter defender in the game, and that is valuable to this team's success.

At forward is the newly acquired Trevor Ariza . Ariza is a good defender and good shooter with lots of athleticism who contributed to a title with the Lakers last season. However, with T-Mac out for the first half and Yao out for the year, he will look at to be their main scoring option. Can he take his game to another level and step up to fill that role? At the other forward is young big man Luis Scola . Scola is not athletically gifted nor does have any unique and special abilities. What makes him a good player is his hard work, hustle, and toughness that makes him successful. He works hard on the boards to get rebounds and he uses smart, precise moves in the post on offense to score. Like Ariza, he's going to have to step it up even more this year with the loss of Yao.

Now that Yao is out for the season and Mutombo has realized, what we all have known a couple years now, that he is to old to play anymore the Rockets had to scramble to find someone to play center for them. All they could find was David Anderson. Anderson was drafted by the Hawks in 2002 but has spent his career playing for Australian and Europe leagues. He's big and has size, but so was Shawn Bradley and that guy was horrible. I don't know much about this guy so I can't really say how good he will be for them, but I can tell you that he will not come close to filling Yao's shoes.

My prediction: 46-36 (8th seed in the West, or barely missing playoffs)

I think Brooks, Battier, Ariza, and Scola can keep this team from completely falling apart until T-Mac returns. When he returns, he will be rusty and still getting over that micro fracture surgery so he won't be at the top of his game. However, despite having injury problems every year the Rockets some how always find a way to make the playoffs. This year is a little different though with both their stars out until at least the All Star break. It all depends on how T-Mac heals from his surgery. If he is able to come back at 100% shortly after the All Star break, this team should be able to make the playoffs, but if he struggles to get healthy at all this season they could be barely missing out on the playoffs this year.

5. Memphis Grizzlies

When you have a team with lots of young talent in players like Mayo, Gay, Conley, Arthur, and the #2 overall pick in Thabeet what do you think the best acquisitions would be to make in the off-season? Would you get two notorious "me first" players in Randolph and Iverson? I know I wouldn't if I was the GM. However, a bigger concern for this team is their financial issues and the need to sell more tickets and merchandise. So from a business standpoint, it was something that had to be done regardless of what it does to your actual team.

However, I think AI has gotten a bad rap for being too much of a ball hog when frankly until he joined the Nuggets , he had no one else to do the scoring when he was on the 76ers . However, that has made it more difficult on him to fit into a different role than the one he has been use to his entire career. We seen last year with the Pistons that he couldn't fit into that team player/role player and not the star role. With the Grizzlies it should be different because they don't need him to be a set up guy and a role player; they need him to be one of their stars.

Allen Iverson will have to play the point position for the Grizzlies this year because of his size and the fact that they won't bench their star in the making in Mayo. Despite getting the reputation as a ball hog and selfish player, he is a very capable passer and playmaker. He has shown that with his assist numbers, and for anyone that has actually watched a lot of him you'd see he is able to penetrate the lane so well that defenses collapse on him and give other players open shots. I'm not saying he will be Jason Kidd or anything, but he's not going to be jacking up 30-40 shots and never passing the ball. He will draw the defense to himself and pass it to the open man if he can't find a shot for himself.

At the other guard is O.J. Mayo . Then 2nd year guard out of USC has shown he was worth the hype. He is a very good scorer who is a capable passer himself. He has a very bright future in the NBA, but he may see his numbers dip this year with AI and Randolph on the team now. At the other wing position is Rudy Gay . Gay is a very athletic forward who can score very well and loves to play above the rim. Like Mayo and the other young players on the team, his numbers might see a dip because of the scoring veteran additions, but that doesn't mean he is declining at all.

The newly acquired Zach Randolph should see most of his time at power forward for Memphis. I can see the Grizzlies rotating Gasol here at times to give their first round draft pick Thabeet more time at center. Randolph is a very good scorer and rebounder. He's a weak defender, but he doesn’t have many weaknesses outside of that as far as his talents are concerned. The problem with his is that he can become what is known as a "black hole" on offense. He will rarely give the ball back to his teammates after he gets the ball. He's going to put up good numbers, but that's going to affect the overall team negatively.

At center they have the young Marc Gasol , a.k.a. "The Other Gasol." He showed that he is a very good big man in the NBA and has benefited from his time overseas. He is not an athletic or physical gifted player, but he is a very fundamental player that knows how to play the game well. He has good post moves on offense, is capable rebounder and defender, and knows how to play team basketball. The problem is, not many other players on this team know how to play team basketball as well. Expect Hasheem Thabeet to steal some minutes from Gasol this year to provide rebounder and post defense off the bench. Thabeet has tons of talent and potential, and they won't let their No. 2 overall pick go to waste on the bench.

They also have two young talented players in Mike Conley and Darell Arthur who will most likely see limited playing time this year. Those players are young and need time to improve, but they might not get many chances this year to do that.

My prediction: 36-46

From a business standpoint, this team will have achieved it's goal of making more money than they have in the past with Iverson and Randolph putting up numbers, selling jersey and other merchandise, and winning this team a few more games. However, this will hurt their young players and not give them as much chances to improve and develop like they should be. So while the Grizzlies will be happy with this decision now, they will regret a few years down the road. They don't have a shot at making the playoffs, and I'd be surprised to see this team win 40 games.



So that's it for my preview of the Southwest division. Look out for the other 5 division previews on the blogs of other posters (Feanor, ignorepeter, HurricaneDij39, GoHornets21, and kmvenne)

Posted on: September 22, 2009 7:18 pm
 

The Mavericks: Old Stars bring new success?

What do Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and Dirk Nowitzki all have in common? Other than being teammates on the Dallas Mavericks of course Tongue out

They are all over 30 years old (Nowitzki & Marion are 31 and Kidd is 36), all have had great careers and are seen as one of the top players at their position in their best days, and (most importantly) none of them have a championship ring. I bring this up of course because they are now going to be all teammates with the Mavs in the upcoming 09-10 NBA season. We all remember the Kidd/Devin Harris trade between the Mavs and Nets a couple years back, and now this summer Marion was involved in a 4 way trade between the Mavs, Raptors, Magic, and Grizzlies  that sent Marion to Dallas. Kidd and Marion spent two years together with the Suns (99/00 - 00/01), but that was Marion's first two years in the league and when Kidd was in the prime of his career. Both are now "over the hill" (with Kidd WAY over the hill) and are not quite the players they were once. Kidd is still one of the best defensive PGs and a good passer, but he is much slower, can't jump to get tons of rebounds like he use to, and doesn't look as sharp on his passes or drives as he use to. Marion is still a good defender (not great anymore) and rebounder, but he hasn't been able to his scoring (shooting percentages) have went down and his athleticism isn't as "freakish" as it use to be.

Now neither one is a bad player at all, and both can still contribute a lot to a team. Kidd is still one of the best floor generals and leaders at the point, and Marion is still the "Matrix" who can defend anyone from the 1 to the 4 (even some 5's). They just are not at the top of their game anymore. This is more true for Kidd than Marion who may just have been missing an offense that allowed him to contribute a lot of offense. When he had Kidd in his prime, Kidd would set him up with lots of alley oop chances, and when he left the Suns 3 years (in which he still put up really good numbers) until they started the "D'Antoni Run n Gun" with the Anti-Christ. The all offense no defense style provided some very entertaining seasons and boosted Marion's stats. But once he left the Suns in 07 for the Heat, he didn't have an offense or a PG who could set him up and give him the scoring chances. He showed some flashes of returning to his glory days with the Raptors, but it was short lived.

However, this team isn't just about Kidd and Marion, but there is still a player I've yet to talk about who is the best of all of them: Dirk Nowitzki. Even though he is 31 years old, he is still playing as well as he ever has. He averaged 25.9 ppg last  year (3rd highest of his career, 4th in the league) and got the Mavs to another 50 win season. His rebounds have went down, but that is not because he is declining but due to the fact he doesn't need to rebound as much with the improved rebounding of the team (Kidd adding some to that). Dirk is a former MVP that is one of the most difficult players to guard in the league because of his size and ability to shoot the long ball. His biggest weakness, and the reason he hasn't been able to win a title yet (losing to the Miami Heat in 06 season NBA Finals), is his defense. But with Marion being able to cover 3's and 4's, that may not be as big of a problem as it once was.

All 3 of these players have had plenty of recognition and success for their individual success (Kidd making 9 All Star teams, 6 All NBA teams, 9 All NBA Defensive teams, being regarded as one of the best PGs ever, and having 2 NBA Finals appearances; Marion has made 4 All Star teams and was regarded as one of best defenders in his day; Nowitzki has made 9 All Star teams, 8 All NBA teams, made an NBA Finals appearance, and won an MVP), but they have yet to win NBA's greatest achievement: the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. Their time is running out on a chance to win one (especially Kidd), and I'm sure they are hoping this is the year they can do it. They have other good teammates in Josh Howard, Jason Terry, and Drew Gooden.

The West is tough, but there are only 9 teams that have a shot at the playoffs (Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets, Mavs, Hornets, Trail Blazers, Jazz, Rockets, and maybe the Suns but really probably just the other 8). There are a lot of the games top PGs on these teams (Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, and Andre Miller) so it's a good thing the Mavs have Kidd. However, the teams that look to be favored (Lakers, Spurs) and the some of the other top teams (Hornets, Jazz) have a big post prescense. Will Marion being able to help mask Dirk's bad defense? Is Erik Dampier just a waste of space that can't rebound and defend well enough anymore? Can Drew Gooden be the new defensive presence for the Mavs down low? Can this team of old stars band together and pull out a surprising title run? These are some important questions when judging the Mavs and they should be one of the interesting teams to watch this year.

Posted on: May 31, 2009 9:54 pm
 

Will history continue to repeat itself?

History tends to repeat itself a lot; not only in sports but in all of life. However, here we're only interested in the sports history. One such thing that has been consistent in NBA history is defense winning championships. Almost every time, one of the best defensive teams will win the championship. Now of course there are a few exceptions here and there, but you have to look at the overall picture. This, however, is not about defense in NBA history, but instead great big men winning championships. The majority of NBA championships have been won by teams who are lead by a great big man (almost always one who has very good defense, if not great defense). You can go all the way back to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain to see that great big men have always been able to win championships with their great post play on both offense and defense (mainly defense though).

I only bring this up of course because of this year's NBA Finals matchup: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Orlando Magic . Now Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are both very good big men, but neither one could come close to being consider one of the best big men in the game (on both ends of the court). Of course I am talking about Dwight Howard , who most would agree is the best big man in the NBA right now. Howard has proved very worthy of that title thus far leading his Magic to the 3rd seed in the East, being a Top 5 defense in the NBA, winning the DPOY (well deserved), and getting his team past the favorites, the Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James . Without a shadow of a doubt he has been the main reason for what has got the Magic into this year's NBA Finals. Of course there are always very important role players for every great team, so Rashard Lewis , Hedo Turkoglu , Rafer Alston , Courtney Lee , Mickael Pietrus , etc. have all contributed to the team's success as well.

The last 10 years in the NBA has been dominated by big men - as far as championships go. Shaquille O'Neal has four NBA titles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), Tim Duncan has four titles (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007), Ben Wallace has a championship ((2004), and Kevin Garnett has a championships (2008). You can argue the Pistons were led by Chauncey Billups (but he couldn't get them one after Big Ben left) and Paul Pierce led the Celtics (although he couldn't get the Celtics one without KG), but regardless the last ten years of NBA champions have been dominated by big men (Shaq & Duncan combine for 8). Will Dwight Howard be next on the list of great big men to lead his team to a championship? Or will Kobe Bryant and the Lakers break the cycle?

There are some things to point toward a break in the dominance of big men. Howard is still very young and has never been in a situation like this before. Can he step up and rise above the pressure to prove he has what it takes at this young age to win his team a title? Kobe Bryant has contributed to three championships himself (although Shaq was with him too), and is the best player in the game. He has always been a great closer and clutch player that has gotten his teams deep into the playoffs almost every year. Phil Jackson is one of the all-time great coaches who knows them game just as good as anyone. Also, even when Shaq was young and first with the Magic, he led them to the only other Finals appearance for the Magic. He was swept 4-0 by the Rockets . However, they also had one of the best big men in the game with Hakeem Olajuwon (so Hakeem was just a better big man at that point in their careers).

There have been two all-time great players who have risen above dominate big men and led their team to championships: Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. Yes, both did have very good defensive big men who contributed to their teams' success, but it goes without saying that MJ and Bird were the ones who led the teams to the championships. Now Kobe has been an all time great player, but he is not in the class yet of MJ and Bird. However, if he can led his team this year and win a championships without any dominate big man (like Shaq), then I believe he could be entered into that group of the NBA's greatest wingmen (although it doesn't mean he is just as good or better). He might need to win another one to really solidify that, but I would be satisfied with just this year (but that's just me).

So this is definitely something to think about when watching this year's NBA Finals. Will we see history repeat itself again? Or will we see one of those exceptions when a great player rises above it? Will Dwight Howard be able to handle the pressure and be good enough to lead his team to the championship, or is he still too young and not enough developed offensive game? Can Kobe finally win a championship without Shaq and thus solidify his name on the list of the NBA's greatest wingmen? For me, I've always been a fan of defense and will always root for defense to come out on top. I'm a big Howard fan, but I also remain in a pact between Pistons and Lakers so I cannot officially root against the Lakers. I will be happy with who ever wins the championship this year to be honest, so I will just sit back and enjoy the NBA Finals while the rest of you argue over who is better and who will win. I just figured I'd give you all something more to add to your discussions.


Posted on: October 24, 2008 7:40 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2008 9:03 am
 

NBA 2008-2009 Season: 1st Half Games to Watch

Here are 10 games to watch for in the first half of the season:


Tuesday, October 28th: Cleveland Cavaliers at. Boston Celtics

Boston and Cleveland's opening game of the season. Both teams should be looking to the start the season off on a good note. We should get our first good look at how Mo Williams will be able to contribute to the Cavs against the top teams.



Sunday, November 9th: Boston Celtics at Detroit Pistons

First rematch of last year's two ECF teams. The rivalry has been reborn, anyone that saw any of last year's games has noticed this. All the games are so intense and all the players are playing physical. The games should always come down to the final minutes, and making it a great game to watch.



Sunday, November 9th: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers

Our first look at the Rockets with new addition Ron Artest. It will be against the defending WCF champion Lakers. We should always get a good look at Bynum as well. Should be a great game to watch and get some early analysis on these teams and some of their players.



Wednesday, November 12th: Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Hornets

 Should be exciting to see if the Chris Paul and the Hornets will try to show everyone that they are going to be a top team again this year. Kobe vs. Paul, last year's top two MVP vote getters (with Kobe actually winning MVP).



Friday, November 14th: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Lakers

These games have become a lot more fun to watch after the Pistons beat them in the 04 Finals. Both teams are top teams in their conference, and will be looking to get a big win here. Detroit has one of the best records against the West in recent years.



Friday, November 14th: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

As my good friend Chrisper would say: "TEXAS FIGHT!" Always a great battle between two Texas teams. Should be even better with the improvements the Rockets made in the off season.



Wednesday, November 19th : Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons

This has become a great rivalry over recent years. Especially when the LeBron James.......I mean the Cavs beat them in the 07 ECFs (only to get swept by the Spurs in the Finals though). Even people who are not fans of either team has to enjoy these games because they always are a great divisional battle.



Friday, November 28th: Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

The new and improved 76ers look to show they are going to be a threat in the East this year. Newly acquired PF Elton Brand vs. 2008 DPOY winner Kevin Garnett should be great to watch. I can't wait to see how Philly plays against the defending champs. Should be a great game here.



Thursday, December 25th : Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers

Rematch of the 08 Finals. The Lakers will look to try and get some revenge here, and the Celtics will look to show them who's boss again. You better believe if the Lakers win big, they will remind us how they didn't have Andrew Bynum last year and they would have won the championship if they had him.



Wednesday, January 14th
: Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs


Rematch between last year's WCF teams. Lakers vs. Spurs is always a great game to watch. The Spurs better hope Manu Ginobili is healthy enough for this game, or they could have a tough time keeping up with the Spurs. Then again, you can never count out Tim Duncan in big games. I think he has shown that time after time. Remember the 3-point buzzer beater in the playoffs last year?
Posted on: October 18, 2008 4:38 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2008 6:40 pm
 

2009 NBA Mock Draft: Big B's Bad Boys

PG - Chris Paul:

The best point guard in the leauge; he can do it all. He can pass, he can shoot, he can defend, and he can lead his team. He makes whatever team he is on better, and is always a big time threat on both sides of the ball. He showed that is no one of the best playres in the league, and he can take any team deep into the playoffs.

Derek Fisher: A perfect back up for Paul. He has tons of veteran experience especially in the playoffs and getting to many NBA Finals with the Lakers. He has great leadership, good defense, and is a clutch player when it matters. He can mentor Paul, and give my team lots of leadership and clutch play to get me to the Finals and possibly even the championship.

SG - Manu Ginobili:

A top 5 shooting guard, no question. You can love him or hate him, but in the end you can't deny how great he is. He can drive the lane and make unbelieveable lay ups, and he can hit the outside shot. He isn't a great defender, but he isn't a bad one. He does flop a lot, but hey, he gets away with it and gets a lot of calls his way. If you think Bowen is a good defender with all his dirty play, then you have admit Ginobli can play some good D to. He is just great player that contributes a lot to championship team. He has won 3 rings with the Spurs, a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics with Argentina, and many international titles as well. Combined with Chris Paul, he makes my backcourt the best.

Bruce Bowen: Bowen is a great guy to have, especially off the bench. He has good perimeter defense and can get a little rough if need be. You might not like him (I don't), but he gets the job done when you ask him to. He can come off the bench and provide great defense when I need it.

SF- John Salmons:

He is a great role player off the bench for me. He isn't great at any specific thing, but he is solid all around. He is a good slasher on offense as well as being able to hit the outside shot from time to time. He is also a good passer as well. He can play some good defense. The Kings had him guard the opposing teams best players at times even with they still had Ron Artest. He can come off the bench and play good amount of minutes for me.

Jamario Moon: Moon is the perfect back up player off the bench for my team. Like Marion, he has tons of athleticism and can be huge for my team on the fast break. He is also a good defender, and uses his great athleticism to get lots of blocked shots and rebounds. He provides lots of energy off the bench for us on offense and defense.

PF - Yao Ming:

Yao? At power forward? His height causes so much mismatches when he plays center, imaging how much more he can causes as a power forward. He his that unstoppable hook shot, the short jumper, and many other post scoring moves (not to mention he is a great free throw shooter). He is so difficult to cover for anyone, and with Paul giving him the rock, it should make it even harder on the opponents. He can play either post position for us, and play great at either one.

Paul Millsap: This is another one of my energy players off the bench. Millsap is very atheltic for a big man. He can crash the boards and gets lots of rebounds on defense and even offense as well. He is a very good defender and uses his big body to keep the post player from getting too deep on the block and getting easy shots. He is coming off the bench for the Jazz, but that's only because Boozer is there. He could be a starter for a lot of teams. He is pefect off the bench for me because he provides lots of energy and good defense as well as some offense.

C - Chris Kaman:

Kaman showed last year why has been the most underrated big man. He is very good rebounder and defender. He also can score well in the paint as well. He is a big guy that just works hard and contributes a lot to his team. He can hold his own against all the other great centers in the league, and knows how to help his team. Good offense, and great defense makes him a perfect player for my team.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas:

He is a great player to have. He can rebound, play solid defense, and give you some good post scoring as well. Big Z is a perfect big man to come off the bench for me. He can come in and give us that good defense, good rebounding (especially offensive rebounding/ tip backs), and post scoring with his turn around shot and tip backs.

Good luck to everyone with the tourney, and don't forget to keep track of the schedule so you know when to turn your gameplans in.

Posted on: September 1, 2008 6:44 pm
 

Manu Ginobili's injury

Anyone who watched the Olympic game with USA vs. Argentina in the semi-finals saw Manu Ginobili's injury. If you saw it, you would know it was a lot more than just a minor injury. He know will have to arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle. He should be having it sometime later this week and as of right now there is no timetable for when he will recover. The best guess would be somewhere around 6-8 weeks, but it could be longer or it could be shorter. Then again, if the doctors say he will recover in a certain amount of time, that doesn't always mean he will actually be recovered by then. Remember Andrew Bynum last year? He was suppose to recover from his injury within 6-8 weeks, but he never returned all of last season.

Best case scenario let's say he's back just in time to get a few practices in and be ready for the next season. That is his left ankle and he is a left handed player and he goes to his left more than his right. The point is that that injury could always reoccur and come back, and/or it just bother him for the rest of the season. The ankle is a key joint for a basketball player like Ginobili because he will need it to be okay for him to make quick cuts and turns on it as well as using it to lift him high into the air to make those crazy layups.

Worst case scenario he is out for around half the season or maybe the whole season. He isn't able to do much at all for the Spurs thus leaving everything up to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Bruce Bowen. With how good the Lakers are, how good the Rockets could be now with Ron Artest, how much the Deron Williams and Chris Paul are improving the Jazz and Hornets, the Spurs would find it very hard to have success in the West.

Most likely scenario is that he is able to play within the first two weeks of the next season. He probably won't re injure himself but that ankle injury should linger with him most of next season. He won't be as good as he normally is, Timmy is getting a little older and can't carry the whole team on shoulders all the way to the Finals anymore, and Tony Parker is too busy with Eva Longoria to having a monster year for the Spurs. The Spurs will make the playoffs around the 3-6 seed and possibly make it out of the first round but not likely any farther than that.

No matter which scenario it is, this injury is not good for the Spurs and will impact them negatively in a big way. Ginobili won't be able to be at 100% all season for the Spurs and won't be able to do enough to get them deep into the playoffs. With how much the Rockets have improved, how much better than Laker will be with a healthy Bynum than they were last year (scary) I just don't see the Spurs making themselves a contender this year with Ginobili's banged up ankle.
Posted on: August 2, 2008 2:11 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2008 2:09 pm
 

All Time NBA Defensive Teams: 1st Team

I decided that it would interested to gather up the greatest defenders in history and make teams of them like they do each year for the best players in the NBA. So I will find the greatest defenders at put them at their respective positions. Forgive me though, if I don't put them at their primary position, but there is too many great defenders that played center, and I couldn't fit them all onto 3 teams (I'm only going to a 1st team, 2nd team, and 3rd team). So you will some a PF instead of center. Also, players that played multiple positions will be put at whatever position I feel like. If you don't like it, than too bad.

1st All Time NBA Defensive Team:


PG- Gary Payton

1 Defensive Player of the Year and 9 time All NBA Defensive 1st team selections

"The Glove" was the greatest defensive PG of all time. He could lock down the best PGs when he played them. He had to guard some of the best including Isiah Thomas, Jason Kidd, Kevin Johnson, and even Michael Jordan in his time. He was always knows for being a tenacious, in your face defender and used his trash talking arrogant personality to get into the heads of his opponents. He is one of only 4 guards to ever win the DPOY in its entire history.

SG- Michael Jordan


1 Defensive Player of the Year and 9 time All NBA Defensive 1st team selections

Most know that MJ is one of the greatest scorers, if not the greatest, in history. He ranks up there in almost all offensive categories on the all time lists, but what truly made him the greatest player ever was that he could also play defense. He was just as good of a defender as he was on offensive player. Not many knew this because he didn't put up the numbers to prove it, but in the 1987-1988 season he put up great defensive numbers and won the Defensive Player of the Year award. He is 3rd all time in steals per game average with 2.35 spg and 2nd all time in total steals with 2,514. He is not just one of the best guard defenders ever, but one of the greatest defenders in NBA history.

SF- Dennis Rodman

2 Defensive Player of the Years and 7 time All NBA Defensive 1st team selections and 1 All NBA Defensive 2nd team selection

Dennis Rodman was a monster defensive player. He started at the Pistons, but continued his defensive greatness on the Bulls as well adn was huge part in both the Pistons titles in 89 and 90, as well as the 3 Bulls titles he was part of in 96, 97, and 98. He was only 6'8" 210 lbs, but he was a monster on the boards. He is 11th all time in rebounds per game with 13.1 rpg, and at the small forward spot when he was on the Pistons. He will probably be more known for how crazy he was in his personal life, but when he was on the court he was a defensive beast and a great rebounder.

PF- Bill Russell

1 All NBA Defensive 1st team selection

Don't let the fact that he only was selected to 1 All NBA Defensive team and no DPOYs fool you. They didn't start recording all defensive teams until the 1968-1969 season and he was on of the 1st to be selected. The Defensive Player of the Year award didn't start being handed out until the 1982-1983 season. Trust me, if they would have been keeping track of that stuff in his day, he would have more DPOYs and All defensive teams than anyone. His defense is what anchored the Celtics to their 11 championships in his days. They didn't record blocks back then either, but some have studied old tapes of his games and say he would have averaged around 7 blocks. Also, they said at least 5 out of the 7 times he would block the ball his teams would get the ball instead of it going right back to the opponent. He is seen by most as the greatest defensive player of all time and rightly so with how well he played.

C- Hakeem Olajuwon

2 Defensive Player of the Years and 5 All NBA Defensive 1st Teams and 4 All NBA Defensive 2nd teams

Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon was an unbelievably versatile defender. Not only could he lock down the paint, but he could guard players on the perimeter and use his quick hands to grab lots of steals. His defense was a huge factor in winning the Rockets 2 back-to-back NBA championships in the 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 season. Hakeem is the all time leader in total blocks with 3,830, 7th all time total steals with 2,162, and 11th all time total rebounds with 13,748. He also one of only 4 players in NBA to ever record a quadruple double, which is just more proof of how versatile a player he was. Other than Michael Jordan, he is probably the best defender in history that was great on offense as well. He is one of the greatest defenders of all time, and possible the most versatile defender of all time.


Coming up in a few days: 2nd All Time Defensive Team.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com