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Tag:Spurs
Posted on: October 13, 2009 9:15 pm
 

DeJuan Blair: The Next Spurs Star?

I know what you're thinking: "Blair? Seriously? This guy was drafted in the second round of the draft for a reason." However, maybe we should take a closer look before completely dismissing this guy just because he dropped to the 2nd round, is undersized (in terms of height), and has had "injury problems" (I put that in quotations for a reason).

Let's start with his so called "injury problems." Everyone's first response to dismiss Blair is his previous injury past with him tearing both ACLs in high school and having them both surgically repaired. However, that was back in high school and he played two full season for Pittsburgh in college and did very well (winning the Big East Player of the Year last year and getting Pitt a #1 seed in the NCCA tourney). Now sure, he could possibly having some problems 5-10 years down the road but why judge him before you see him play? Just because he might have injury problems as he gets older doesn't mean he can't have a successful start to his NBA career does it?

Now to him being under-sized. I hate this term because people only use it in terms of height. Now in basketball, height is important and can be very helpful in making a player better. However, shouldn't the word "size" also include a player's weight? Blair may only be 6'7", but he is a strong 265 lbs. Much like other big but short players in NBA history who turned out to be very good (Ben Wallace, Charles Barkley, Wes Unseld, etc.) he knows how to use his body and strength to his advantage and make up for his lack of height. He was one of the best rebounders in college and has already proven he is could be a good rebounder in the NBA as well (19 rebounds in 22 min. in his first preseason game).

The most important thing that should influence how he turns out as a player is the team he was drafted for: the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have a history lately of getting players late in the draft and turning them into stars. First it was Manu Ginobili in 1999 as the 57th overall pick in the draft (2nd to last pick in draft). Since Manu is now considered by most as one of the best SGs in the NBA (most would say at least Top 10 and some would even say Top 5). Then there was Tony Parker who was drafted in 2001 as the 28th overall pick in the draft (last pick of 1st round). He is now considered one of the best PGs in the league (most would say Top 5). Now we have Blair who was drafted as the 37th overall pick pick in the 2009 draft (7th pick in the 2nd round). So will we be seeing Blair as star in the next few years to come?

Blair won't be starting this year, but he will get to play behind one of the greatest big men in all of NBA history: Tim Duncan. Right now Blair has a lot of talent and is a very explosive player, but like most rookies (and other NBA players) he could learn more about the fundamentals of the game. What better than to learn from Mr. Fundamental himself. Blair said right after he was drafted to the Spurs that he would stick himself close to Duncan so he could learn as much as possible from him. Learning and playing without one of the best can only make you a better player.

I'm a fan of the NBA and I'm also somewhat of a history buff, so I like to look at things in the history of the NBA that tends to repeat itself. One thing is there is always a sleeper late in every draft, no matter which one you look at. Now the Spurs have had 2 of them this decade, so would another one be so crazy to think about happening? I'm not guaranteeing Blair will be a star or claiming he will be the next great big men for the Spurs (David Robinson, then Tim Duncan, then......), but I'm saying that he is definitely a big sleeper and could turn out a lot better than most expect. No, I don't expect him to put up eye popping numbers this year or win ROTY, but I do expect him to contribute well off the bench to spell Timmy D, Antonio McDyess, and the veteran big men. Then maybe a few years down the road, he might be something special. However, if Timmy D retired soon maybe all is lost for the Spurs; maybe the only reason Parker and Ginobili turned out so well was because of Duncan. Who knows, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.


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: April 12, 2009 10:18 pm
 

Big B's Top 5 DPOY Candidates

Here are my Top 5 Defensive Player of the Year candidates. I don't really think anyone else could be in consideration for the award other than these five guys, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong:

1. Dwight Howard : 13.9 rpg (1st) 2.9 bpg (1st) Team Defense: 2nd

Howard has been a complete monster on defense this year for the Magic . He has owned the paint on defense and made it very difficult for any team to score there. He has made this team rise to the top of the NBA defensive rankings currently sitting at 2nd in total defense for the year. Considering they don't have much other good defense and Van Gundy isn't some defensive genius strategizer like Popovich, you know Howard has really been a huge impact on their defense. Anytime you have a big man that can own the paint and make the other team shoot jumpers, you have yourself a great defensive player. Howard is leading the league in rebounds with 13.9 rpg and also leading the league in blocks with 2.9 bpg. Hard to argue with his stats or the way he impacts his team; can't find any weakness to his case as the 2008-2009 DPOY.

2. Dwyane Wade : 2.2 spg (2nd)  1.35 bpg (1st for all guards) 5.0 rpg (8th amoung guards) Team Defense: 13th

Dwyane Wade has been unbelievably great this year on defense and it shouldn't go unnoticed. He has not only been effect on guarding ball handlers, but has also contributed in shot blocking and rebouding. Considering the Heat don't have any dominating big men defenders in the paint, Wade knew he had to step for this Heat on defense this year. However, no one would have expect him to be this great on defense. He knows how to stay in front his man and keep his hands up making the ball handling have a difficult time getting a shot off or passing it away. However the key for Wade's defense has been his help defense and his timing abilities. He has great awareness and is always watching the ball like a hawk ready to swoop down on it's prey. He read's the passes and can pick off the passes getting plenty of steals. He also has shown the ablility to get a good timing on when opponents will put up the shot being able to time his jump and block the ball. There's no question he has stepped up big time for the Heat on defense, but the problem is that hasn't made them a dominating defense or even one of the Top 10 defense. Wade is 2nd in the league steals with 2.2 spg, he is 1st amound all guards in blocked shots with 1.35 bpg, and is 8th amoung all guards in rebounds per game with 5.0 rpg. The Heat can't rely on Wade to anchor the defense like a big men could (like Howard) because a guard can only do so much for your defense.

3. LeBron James : 1.71 spg (7th) Team Defense: 3rd

LeBron doens't have a lot of impressive defensive statistics other than his team's overall defense. The Cavaliers have been one of the best defenses in the NBA, and it's no doubt LeBron is a big part of that. However, like Wade, he can't do it alone and can't be the anchor do a defense because he is a wingman. The only difference between Wade and LeBron is that LeBron's teammates and system make their overall team defense better. You switch Wade and LeBron and I don't the Cavaliers get worse or the Heat get better. But the biggest thing I've noticed about LeBron's defense this year is his man defense on the perimeter. He has done a very good job of staying in front of his man and keeping them out of the paint, but even if they do get in the paint the Cavs have good post defenders who make it very hard to score. LeBron has stepped up his D and done a good job on defending some of the league's best wingmen scorers (Carmelo Anthony , Paul Pierce , etc.). LeBron is one of the best defenders this year and has really stepped up, but like Wade, he isn't an anchor for his defense so you can't really make an argument for him being #1.

4. Tim Duncan : 10.5 rpg (4th) 1.71 bpg (13th) Team Defense: 4th

Timmy is still one of the best defenders in the game, and that is without question. However, his age is working against him and he is no longer the domianting post defender he once was. He is still great, but not great enough to make the Spurs defense at the top of the league anymore. But he is still anchoring his defense which is still one of the best in league, which still makes the Spurs one of the best teams in the league. He doesn't have the huge numbers of Howard, but has respectable numbers as well as making his defense and all the players on defense around him great. He is 4th in the league in rebounds with 10.5 and 13th in the league on blocked shots with 1.7 bpg. No doubt Timmy is still one of the best (one of the all time great defenders), but I don't think even he has outmatched Howard this year.

5. Chris Paul : 2.83 spg (1st)  5.5 rpg (4th amoung all guards) Team Defense: 11th

Paul, like Howard and Duncan, is the Hornets anchor on defense. The only difference is, it's much more difficult for a PG to do it than a big man. You'd have to be one of the best PG defenders in history to anchor your defense enough to make them one of the best (Gary Payton, Walt Frazier). Paul is great, and the best PG defender in the league, but he isn't at the level where he can make his defense one of the best. He still needs guys like Tyson Chandler in the paint and James Posey on the perimeter. Paul is 1st in the league in steals with 2.83 spg, and 4th amoung all guards in rebounds with 5.5 rpg. He has been great, no doubt, but you can't really argue him at #1 or even in the Top 3 for that matter.

 

Well there you guys have it. That's how I see this year's best defenders of the year. I believe Howard should get this award easily because he has had a combination of the best numbers and easily the most impact on his team's overall defense. Wade and LeBron are interchangeable at runner-up, and Timmy and Paul arenot just not quite good enough be this year's winner. Feel free to comment, critize, or make your own judgments if you wish.

 

Posted on: March 18, 2009 11:48 pm
 

NBA's Greatest Defenders in History

Here is my list of the Top 10 Greatest Defenders in NBA History:

 1) Bill Russell - This only needs one explanation: 11 championship rings. It was his defense that anchored every last one of those 11 titles he won with the Boston Celtics. They didn't keep track of blocks, steals, or even All NBA Defensive teams in his days, until the end of his career where he was on the very first NBA All Defensive First Team in history. He is the proof that defense is what wins championships, and he will always be remembered for that. He will go down as the greatest defender in history.

2) Hakeem Olajuwon
- "The Dream" was so good on offense that it made you forget how great his defense was. He was such a good offensive player that people tend to forget the best part of his game was his defense. He was the most athletic center in NBA history and used this too his advantage; most notably being one of only 4 players to record a quadruple-double. He is the 7th all time leader in steals, the highest of any center in history. His defense contributed to two titles for the Rockets. He won the DPOY twice, made 5 NBA All Defensive First teams, and is the only player in history to make the Top 10 in blocks, steals, rebounds, and scoring.

3) Ben Wallace - There has never been a better reason to "Fear the Fro" when Big B was anchoring the great Pistons defense. He made everyone fear coming into the lane and trying to score. He was small in height (6'7"-6'9" not counting the fro), but made up for it with his athleticism and leaping ability. He is probably the 2nd most athletic center in history behind the Dream. He made it to 6 All-NBA Defensive Teams, and won 4 DPOYs (should have been 5, he was robbed by Ron Artest), tied for the most in NBA history. His great defense allowed the Pistons to make 5 straight ECFs, 2 straight NBA Finals, and winning the NBA title in 2004. His defense presence made the Pistons D the best in the league (one of the best all time defense). He is the only player in NBA history to record 1,000 rebounds, 100 blocks, and 100 steals in 4 consecutive seasons. He is also the only player to be able to slow down the great Shaquille O'Neal on a regular basis. If you need proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWo-VA1mf6Y

4) Michael Jordan - MJ was not just one of the great scorers of all time; his defense is what made him into the greatest player of all time. We all see the highlights on ESPN of his great dunks, his flashy layups, his great jump shooting, etc., but what you never see is his great defense. For awhile, his haters tried to say he was only a scorer and not a good defender. What does his Airness do in response? Goes and wins the 1988 DPOY that's what. He has made 9 NBA All-Defensive Teams over his career. If you know you're history, the Bulls great defense was their main contribution to their 6 titles and you know MJ was their leader on D as well as on offense.

5) Tim Duncan - Timmy D is truly one of the best post players we've ever seen. His inside presence in the post is not only seen on offense, but on defense as well. He has anchored 4 championship teams now with the Spurs and his post defense is every much a part of it as anything. He doesn't have to put up the flashy defensive stats that many other good defenders do, but if you ever have seen the great defense the Spurs play you will see that it all comes down to Timmy's D. Without him down low, their defense wouldn't be special at all. He has made 11 All-Defensive Teams. The Big Fundamental is a perfect nickname for him because he is better at the fundamentals of basketball than anyone.

6) Dennis Rodman - The dude may have been crazy, possibly even needing to be institutionalized, off the court, but on the court he was one of the greatest defenders this league has ever seen. He started out on the great defensive Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys." He won both is DPOYs with them and helped them achieve two NBA titles with his great defense. He also won 3 titles with Chicago Bulls (along side MJ) playing a huge part in their strong defense. He became known over the entire league as a great defense player, and some even said he "could shut down any opposing player, from point guard to center." He wasn't very tall, but made up for that with athleticism, strength, and leaping ability. For his size, he is one of the best rebounders in history. He was able to average over 18 rpg in back to back season (91-92 to 92-93) as well as averaging over 17 rpg the following year. He finished with 13.1 rpg over his entire career which puts him in the Top 10 all time rebounders per average. He may have been a psycho, but he was a great NBA defensive psycho.

7) Kevin Garnett - KG is the perfect player you'd want to anchor your defense. This wasn't as evident when he was on the Timberwolves (although he was great with them as well), but became even more noticeable when he joined the Boston Celtics last year. Their defense went from an average (middle of the league) defense to the NBA's best defense in 2007-2008. He is such an athletic player that he can be everywhere in the paint playing help defense as well as stopping the toughest post threat for his opponents. His leadership is the key to his game because he is able to motivate and lead his teammates to play much better defense than they would without him. He has so much passion and love for this game, and uses that to motivate himself and his team on defense (as well as offense). He has made 5 All-NBA-Defensive Teams as well as winning his first and only DPOY last season.

8) Kareem Abul-Jabbar - Like Jordan, he is known for being one of the greatest scorers in history, but also like Mike his defense was just as important in helping his team succeed. His made his presence felt in the post on defense making it very hard for teams to get points at the rim. He knew how to use his size to his advantage by using his height and long arms to keep a hand in players’ faces and swat their shot if they dared going up against him. His defense was more noticeable when he was younger (with the Milwaukee Bucks), but he still maintained his great D for his entire career helping to be the anchor of 6 NBA titles. He made 11 NBA All-Defensive First Teams over his career.

9) David Robinson - The Admiral was truly a force to be reckoned with on defense. He was a dominating presence in the post making it very difficult for opposing teams to scoring in the paint. He was great at all aspects of defense: rebounding, blocking, stealing, post defense, etc. You name it, Robinson could do it all. His great defensive efforts won him 8 All-NBA-Defensive Teams, a DPOY, and 2 NBA championships. He wasn't flashy or super athletic, but he commanded respect in the post, and lead his team on defense.

10) Nate Thurmond - The famous "Wilt Stopper" was known throughout history as a great defender. Anyone that could stop the dominating force known as Wilt Chamberlain had to be great. He was tall and used his height advantage over many smaller players to become a great rebounder and defender. Again, most of his career he played in the times before blocks and steals so who knows how many of those he had, but later in his career they counted the stats and he averaged 2.1 bpg in his final 6 seasons. He never won championships or tons of awards (always being left as the odd guy out behind Russell and Wilt), but he was still a great defender that was able to do toe-to-toe with two of the greatest big men the NBA has ever seen.

Honorable Mention: Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, and Sidney Moncreif

Feel free to comment and even make your own list if you wish.

 

Posted on: February 3, 2009 7:39 am
Edited on: February 3, 2009 7:42 am
 

Don't Stop Believing..............

..................... in the Pistons (Pistons fans). This is mainly addressed to Pistons fans because in all honestly, I could careless what the rest of the league thinks. In fact, the Pistons have shown in the past they do better when they are the underdog and don't have a lot of people supporting them. So I doubt I will change any minds of other fans that have completely given up on the Pistons (and I don't intend to), but I just want to make sure my fellow Detroit fans keep the faith and don't lose hope.

The first thing to remember is we haven't even made it to the All Star break yet. The Pistons always play better in the 2nd half of the year, and in their most successful seasons (i.e. the 2004 championship season) they catch fire shortly after the All Star break and carry that into the playoffs. The Pistons can still get things together and star clicking after they have time to figure things out during the break. It's not like the Pistons are a below .500 team struggling for a playoff spot. They will make the playoffs, but the only thing that is questionable is what seed they will get. It doesn't matter if the Cavaliers do win the division because back 2004, the Pacers finished ahead of the Pistons to win the division, yet Detroit still went on to win the championship.

The next thing to consider is look closely and compare this year to the 2004 championship season. They go out and make a trade for a superstar player, they start out slow and everyone doubts them (and continues to do so all the way until they win the championship), a little while after the All Star break they catch fire and finish the season strong, and they carry their success all the way through the playoffs and win the championship against a team no one thought could be beat. Ever since then things have changed; everyone started supporting the Pistons and putting them amongst the contenders every year. The only problem was they couldn't seem to get past the ECFs (other than the following year in 2005). This was because they had gotten overconfident and didn't have that same "hunger" factor as they did in 2004.

This year, they made the trade for Allen Iverson , and while they might be doing better right now with Chauncey Billups , they would still fall short with him again in the playoffs. Billups is still one of the best PGs in the game (IMO 2nd behind Chris Paul ) and he contributed just as much (or more) as everyone else to our success and in helping us win the championship (he deserved that Finals MVP). But he, along with the rest of the team, and had gotten arrogant, cocky, and overly confident and felt that they had enough talent and skill that they could take games off and relax and only play when they needed to. He had lost his hunger to win another championship, and that in turn rubbed off on the entire team. I'm not saying it was his fault entirely, because Rasheed Wallace and the rest of the team had a lot to do with as well (also losing Larry Brown didn't help any either).

AI is one of the league's oldest veterans and an all time great player. His years are numbered now and he doesn't have much time left. He has had so much individual success and accomplishments throughout his career, but has yet to win the ultimate prize: a title. You can say he isn't a team player and is a cancer, but he wants to win just as bad as anyone. He hasn't been on any great teams (Carmelo Anthony is not a complimenting player for him) and every team he has joined has gotten better with him. He wants to win a championship, and has that "hunger" factor in him. He has shown that he is willing to sacrifice his high stats in order for the team to play better. I'm sure if Curry had the guts to bench him and make him their 6th man (but still get big minutes like the Spurs would do with Manu Ginobili ) he would have accepted his role if it would help the team have more success. He is still one of the league's best scorers, he can pass very well, and has been making an effort on defense (though his size will always work against him).

Curry is only in his first year as head coach (not just with the Pistons, but first head coach job in his career; he's a rookie), and he still has lots to learn. However, I can tell just by listening to his comments and post game reports that he is trying his best to make the team have more success. Now we can't expect him to be the next Red Auerbach in his first year of head coaching, so it's not like he's going to make all the right moves right off the bat. I have faith that during the break, he'll be able to sit back and evaluate things and make better decisions on what to do. He will realize that he needs to get the team to focus more on defense and playing the whole through. He needs to find the right rotation that works, and use it for the rest of the season. He needs to start running more plays for Stuckey and let him get to the hoop like we know he can do so well. He even needs to consider benching AI instead of Richard Hamilton (because Rip works better with the starters and AI would be huge off the bench).

The one thing that needs to be done, that I'm not so sure is possible, is to get Rasheed to stop jacking up so many 3 point shots. No Pistons coach has been able to do this since Larry Brown, and it has been a major problem for Detroit. He is a great post player, and without him the Pistons don't have any inside presence on offense. Sure AI, Stuckey, and Prince can get to the rim but they don't have any post player who can score inside without Sheed. That's why teams can just sit back and pack the paint preventing the drives and turning us into a jump shooting team (which we are not). When he's hot he's unstoppable, but when he's cold he's terrible. Curry needs to man up and realize he runs this team, and not the players. He needs to stand up to Sheed and tell him to get back down in the paint where he belongs. I have no problem with him shooting about 5 shots per game from outside (maybe a little more if he's shooting well that game) because it helps stretch the defense, but shooting 10+ and leading the league in 3pt attempts is not something we want from Sheed. I don't know if Curry will have the courage to step up to him and do this, but this is the ONLY thing that I'm not confident Curry will be able to do after the All Star break.

We also can't forget that even if we don't win it all this year we have an even better future ahead of us. Rodney Stuckey is only in his 2nd year and is already starting to become a very good point guard capable of running the point for us. He is only going to get better, and the best is yet to come from him. He has shown a lot of improvement on defense this year (a concern last year), and now I'm completely sold on him being our next floor general who can lead us to a championship. Jason Maxiell , Arron Afflalo , Amir Johnson , and Tayshaun Prince all have lots of years left in them and will become keys to our success. Also, if Sheed retires and/or leaves the Pistons at the end of this year, and  AI is not able to get us a championship and decides to either call it quits or go to a new in 2010, we will have tons of money to use in that star studded FA class in the summer of 2010.

So don't lose hope Pistons fans because there is light at the end of this dark tunnel we are in right now. It may be hard to see right now, but keep the faith. Don't worry about what all the haters say, because we don't need the support of the rest of the league. All that matters is what we know about our team, and that we keep our faith in them. We still have a shot at the championship this year (whether anyone realizes it or not), and we definitely have a very good future ahead of us with Stuckey and the 2010 FA class. Remember the 2004 championship season. So say it with me my Pistons brothers:

DEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTRROOOOOOOOOOIITT BAAAAAAAAAASSSSKKEEETTBAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted on: December 1, 2008 2:09 pm
 

A Familiar Feeling

For some reason this season feels very familiar to this Pistons fan; it's almost like deja vu. It's kind of like the Pistons traded for aging superstar early in the season before. It feels so familiar like the Pistons struggled at first before and then caught fire around the all star break. Wait, now I remember, that was back in 2004 when the Pistons traded for Rasheed Wallace. Didn't the Pistons win the title that year too? Wasn't that the last time when no one (outside of Detroit) believed in the Pistons and gave them no chance against the Lakers? Yes, now it all seems so clear to me.

Please everyone, don't start having faith in the Pistons. It's that type of thinking that has kept them out of the NBA Finals since 2005 against the Spurs. They are a blue collar team that strives off of the hate from everyone else. They can't perform well when everyone believes in the Pistons. They need everyone to doubt them and hate on them so the they can prove everyone wrong. The Pistons know they can win it all, but when they hear everyone else saying and believe in them, they get cocky and overconfident. They no longer have anything prove and work for because they are already seen as great.

The Pistons have been stuck in the ECFs for the last few years because they become too cocky, arrogant, and overconfident (most of which started with Chauncey Billups; not a shot at him but it's the truth). Since the Pistons won the title back in 2004 and went back into the NBA Finals in 2005 everyone believed in the Pistons and expected them to be one of the front runners for the title every year. However, they continued to disappoint us by losing in the Eastern Conference Finals year after year.

Up until now, the Pistons were seen as one of best teams in the East (Top 2) and one of the league (Top 5), but after the Allen Iverson trade people have lost their faith in the Pistons. After the Pistons haven't had too much success since and the Nuggets have with Billups, people are doubting the trade. After both beatings by the Celtics, people no longer believe the Pistons will be able to beat them in the playoffs if they were too meet. Most people will even say the Cavaliers are a better team (despite the Pistons beating them this year), and you might hear a few crazies saying the Magic are better too.

Now I for one love this. Don't get me wrong, I don't like it that the Pistons are losing, but I do enjoy everyone doubting them and not seeing them as such a great team anymore. This is the exact type of things the Pistons need to win the title this year. They need the media and the fans (not Pistons fans, but other NBA fans) to doubt them. That will give them something to work for, something to try to prove. That's the type of team the Pistons are; if they're not hungry enough for a title they won't win it, but if they are then watch out. Allen Iverson really helps with that too. He is an all time great player who is running out of time in his career. He has yet to win a ring, and is really hungry for one. It's just like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen last year with the Celtics. Both are HoF players who wanted to win a ring before their career is over. It will be the same thing AI this year because he wants to add a championship ring to his list of great accomplishments over his career.

Mark my words: Around the all star break (February) the Pistons will start to click. AI will be fully worked into their offense and things will start to run smoothly. Their defense will be great (as usual) and they will continue to play their great style of teamwork. They will get hot all the way through the end of the season and go into the playoffs ready. They will take care of their first two opponents (in the first two rounds), and go into the ECFs. They will most likely face the Celtics who will give them a run for their money. But in the end, the Pistons will be hungry for another title and defeat the Celtics going on to the NBA Finals. And if they make the NBA Finals, I guarantee they win it all and bring a 4th title to Motown!

Now I'm not gonna lie, the money situation helps too. Even if the Pistons some how don't win the title, they will still have lots of option in 2010. Once AI's contract runs out, that leaves them tons of money to sign one (or two) of the numerous superstars who will be free agents in the summer of 2010. They also still have Rodney Stuckey, and anyone who has watched him play knows this guy is a future star. The Pistons will be able to start him within the next few years.

So in summary, haters can continue to hate because it can only be good for the Pistons. They will get things together and once again bring a title to Detroit. I can see the parade already.
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?
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com