Posted on: October 13, 2009 9:15 pm
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
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)
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Allen Iverson, Antonio McDyess, Celtics, Chris Paul, David West, DeJuan Blair, Dirk Nowitzki, Drew Gooden, Emeka Okafor, George Hill, Grizzlies, Hasheem Thabeet, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, James Posey, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Josh Howard, Kings, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Luis Scola, Manu Ginobili, Marc Gasol, Mavericks, Mike Conley, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pistons, Raptors, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Roger Mason Jr., Rudy Gay, Shane Battier, Shawn Marion, Spurs, Suns, Theo Ratliff, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady, Trevor Ariza, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph
Posted on: May 31, 2009 9:54 pm
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: April 12, 2009 10:18 pm
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: 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Feel free to comment and even make your own list if you wish.
Tags: Alonzo Mourning, Ben Wallace, Bill Russell, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, David Robinson, Dennis Rodman, Dikemebe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Garnett, lakers, Michael Jordan, Nate Thurmond, Pistons, Shaquille O'Neal, Sidney Moncrief, Spurs, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Wilt Chamberlain
Posted on: January 6, 2009 7:20 am
When talking about the great defenders in the league, people tend to think of the great post defenders like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, or they might even think about the great help defenders that put up good stats like Marcus Camby or Josh Smith. But the one group of defenders that seem to get the least love is the perimeter defenders. They are the ones that have to cover the best and most dangerous perimeter scorers in the league. They don't put up him great stats like some other defenders, but they always make their defense better by reducing scoring from the opposing team. I think it's about time they get some credit and respect, so I've decided to make my list of Top 10 best perimeter defenders in the league.
Top 10 Perimeter Defenders:
1. Shane Battier
One of the most underrated defenders in all of the NBA. Everyone recognizes him as a good defender, but not as a great one. However, his perimeter is definitely tops in the league and makes him of the Top 5 overall defenders in the entire NBA. He doesn't put up good numbers at all, but that doesn't mean he doesn't play good defense. Bruce Bowen does the same thing, but with dirty tactics, however he has gotten far more credit than Battier; there's something wrong with that. If Battier can do the same (or better) as Bowen without the dirty tactics, then how doesn't he get the same respect? Regardless of how underrated he is, that doesn't change the fact he slow down some of the NBA's best players out on the perimeter better than anyone.
2. Tayshaun Prince
The long armed Prince is a monster defender on the perimeter. Like a lot of other perimeter defenders, he doesn't put up a whole lot of good numbers (until this year), so people don't give him as much credit. He is a big part of the tough Pistons defense that has been so successful over the past few years. He usually has to cover the best perimeter scorer on the opposing team, and has done very well. He's played against Kobe, LeBron, Pierce, etc., and has had games where he slowed them down significantly. He uses his long arms and huge wingspan to block his opponents off from getting easy drives to the basket, and using those long arms to always have a hand in the shooter's face so they get no easy shots.
3. Kobe Bryant
Yes, Kobe can play some good defense and this is key for the Lakers. Not only does Kobe have to be the Laker's primary scorer, but he also has to be their best defender. To go along with scoring points for his team, he also has to prevent the opponent's best perimeter scorer from scoring as well. They don't put Kobe on the worst player either, he has to cover guys like Wade, Joe Johnson, etc. who are all good scorers. Kobe's incredible offense tends to overshadow his defense, but whether you notice it or not, Kobe is actually a very good defender (particularly out on the perimeter).
4. Paul Pierce
He is another guy that is more known for his offense than defense, but still has some very good perimeter defense. He has gotten more recognition for this lately because of how well he played on defense against Kobe in last year's NBA Finals. It may have some to do with Kevin Garnett's influence on defense, but Pierce has always been a good perimeter defender. He knows how to keep his man in front of him, and not get beat to the basket very often.
5. Ron Artest
Now Artest is an all around good defender, and if this were based on overall defense, he might be higher. However, this is only perimeter defense and that isn't his specialty (on ball defense is). He can still play very defense well on the perimeter though. He has tons of strength and uses his big body to stay in front his man, making it very difficult to get by from points in the paint. Artest might not been seen that highly because of his bad attitude in the past, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a very good defender. You can hate him all you want, but you can't deny he has great defense.
6. Caron Butler
Butler has always been a good perimeter defender, but no one knew about it until he started to become a better offensive player on the Wizards. He has the size, speed, and quickness which allow him to stay right with his man and make sure they don't get by him too easily. He is probably a better on ball defender than perimeter defender, but he still has some very good perimeter defense as well.
7. Ronnie Brewer
Probably the second most underrated defender (behind Battier). Like Battier and Prince, he doesn't put up high stat numbers that get him recognition. However, he is able to keep his man from doing a lot of scoring damage. He has tons of speed and athleticism which allow him to stay in front of his man. He has become a very important role player for the Jazz, and that role is slow down the opponent's most dangerous perimeter threat. He is still young and improving, so he could very easily rise higher on this list in a few years.
8. Shawn Marion
Marion, like Artest, is an all around good defender and perimeter defense is just part of his game. He is more of an on ball and help defender, but he can still play some very good perimeter defense. He is one of the most athletic players in the league and uses that to his advantage when playing defense. He may not be putting up the huge numbers he use to on the Suns, but he is still playing very good defense along side Wade which has been a big part of the Heat's success.
9. Andre Iguodala
Iggy is another one of those all around good defenders. He not particularly specialized at anything yet, but he can play any kind of defense very well. He uses his speed and athleticism to stay toe-to-toe with his man and never lets them get an easy shots off. He has kind of regressed this year for the 76ers, but he is still young and will improve (probably being higher on this list in a couple years as well).
10. James Posey
One of the best role players in the game knows how to play good defense. It's not luck that Posey has 2 rings now (from the Heat and Celtics) because he played a big part in both his team's success. Not only does he come off the bench for his 3 point shooting, but he comes in for his great perimeter defense. When they need him to, he will come in and cover the best perimeter scoring threat on the opposing team. He does very well at this, and has been huge for his team's defense and their success.
Honorable Mention (or 11th whatever suits you): Dwyane Wade
He has greatly improved his defense this year and he has the numbers (team stats not just individual stats) to prove it. The reason why I didn't put him on this list is because he's more of an on ball defender. He can cover the perimeter well, but he is more of an on ball defender. He is also a good help defender too, getting lots of steals and blocks to prove that.
Posted on: October 24, 2008 7:40 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2008 9:03 am
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: September 1, 2008 6:44 pm
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.