May 31, 2007

Fixing the Bulls - the Backcourt

Tuesday, we started with an introduction of what the Bulls needed to do this off-season to make a jump to the upper echelon of NBA teams. Yesterday, we dealt with the frontcourt. Today, I address the backcourt.

The Bulls backcourt is truly the nucleus of the team. Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, and Luol Deng (I consider him backcourt because he isn’t a real banger) are three guys who form a solid core that is, at times, spectacular. Hinrich is a tenacious defender with a solid jumper and he knows how to run a team. Gordon definitely has scoring ability and I think that it’s pretty obvious that he’s a clutch player. Deng is on the verge of becoming a superstar. Right now, however, only Deng has the potential to be a cornerstone player. Neither Gordon nor Hinrich is a true lead guard who can always be counted on to get a shot; and in a perfect world, they’d be able to work off of a dominant big man who can find them either cutting to the basket or spotting up for three (this brings us back to our first problem). Furthermore, you can’t seriously expect to contend for a title when it’s a necessity that these 3 each score around 20 to have a chance to win.

Defensively, Hinrich is great, Deng is adequate, and Gordon is generally atrocious. Against teams with big guards (like the Pistons), the Bulls are at a distinct disadvantage. Gordon’s struggles force Hinrich to stick the bigger guard, which in turn can wear Hinrich out to the point where he is a non-factor offensively. Thabo Sefolosha has the ability to be a shut-down defender (and contribute some on offense), but his spotty playing time this past season didn’t do a whole lot for his development. I can see Thabo developing a game akin to a better Doug Christie – a tough defender who can score if needed. Ultimately, Sefolosha might not be a starter but his development will be important if the Bulls hope to contend.

For the Bulls to be successful next season, Sefolosha’s development is key. He provides a defender that can man up on bigger guards, which allows Hinrich or Gordon to focus their energies on chasing point guards rather than physically confronting twos. And while I like Gordon, I think he’s the most tradable of the bunch. He’s a proven scorer, but not much else. If there are any serious trade talks that call for Gordon (without Deng), I think Paxson has to seriously consider it.

May 30, 2007

Making the Bulls Better - The Frontcourt

Yesterday, we started with an introduction of what the Bulls needed to do this off-season to make a jump to the upper echelon of NBA teams. Today, I address the frontcourt.

During the Pistons series it became painfully obvious that the Bulls’ lack of inside scoring was a major problem that needs to be addressed, and soon. Signing Ben Wallace is a move that shows that the Bulls are committed to winning now. Otherwise, they would have kept the younger, cheaper Tyson Chandler (who is basically a weaker Ben Wallace). And while I would have liked to see the Bulls keep Chandler, they are forced to play with what they have. Though his skills are clearly deteriorating, Wallace is still a force on the defensive end and I think he will have an even greater impact after a season and a whole summer of playing with the team. Unfortunately, having Wallace means that you’re accepting that you’ll be getting no offense from your center. Ideally, you’d make up the scoring at the 4 spot. But for the majority of this past season, the Bulls played PJ Brown, another non-factor on offense.

I know I’m not alone in thinking that PJ Brown was a stopgap and that his expiring contract would be moved for “the last piece,” but when an opportunity arose (Pau Gasol) nothing was done. I’m not convinced that Gasol would have made the Bulls an elite team. Furthermore, I agree with Paxson not wanting to give up Deng, but anyone who watched the Bulls knew that their roster wasn’t one that could seriously contend. Parting with, Gordon, and Tyrus Thomas or Thabo Sefolosha was a risk I feel that the Bulls should have taken. However, all that is in the past and the Bulls need to take steps to remedy this hole with their first round pick.

Based on most of the mock drafts I’ve seen thus far, the Bulls likely will have a shot at Washington’s Spencer Hawes or Florida’s Joakim Noah. I’m firmly in the Hawes camp. As a skilled post-up center, Hawes is an uncommon find at the 9th pick. And while I’d be a little nervous about actually having Hawes on the Bulls (I think a great deal of this anxiety comes from his being named Spencer, but that’s beside the point); he fits what they need far better than Noah. Noah would provide energy and defense off the bench, but his offensive game is unrefined and the Bulls aren’t in a position to wait for someone to develop a post game. Hawes enters the league with an array of post moves that will allow him to contribute immediately. Furthermore, the possible addition of Hawes to the young Bulls nucleus (Hinrich, Deng, Gordon, Thomas) would set the Bulls up as one of the top teams in the East for the next few years.

Another option that the Bulls could explore is a trade for Portland’s Zach Randolph. After winning the first pick in the draft (and the opportunity to draft Greg Oden), the Blazers are now said to be shopping Randolph. He is just what the Bulls need offensively – an unstoppable inside scorer. Furthermore, he attended Michigan State, just like Scott Skiles. However, Randolph couldn’t care less about defense (Skiles will hate that) and he can’t stay out of trouble (Paxson will hate that). It is likely that Wallace will be able to compensate for Randolph’s defensive inadequacies, but the Bulls don’t have anyone to keep Randolph in check like Jordan used to do with Rodman. Paxson and Skiles refuse to deal with malcontents (Eddy Curry, JR Smith, Tim Thomas), but the chance to add an elite post scorer might be worth the risk.

Whether it is through the draft, a trade, or free agency it is essential that the Bulls address this need of an inside scoring threat as it is the basis of all their offensive woes. Teams like the Spurs, Pistons, and Jazz know that if their jumpers aren’t falling, they can pound the ball inside to get a good look, but this isn’t the case for the Bulls. The addition of someone who can get easy baskets and command double teams will open up everything else that they try to do offensively and will take a lot of pressure off of Hinrich, Deng, and Gordon to produce every night. It’s often said that the NBA is big man’s league and adding a solid inside scorer to the Bulls could make them the class of the Eastern Conference.

May 29, 2007

What to Do, Chicago Bulls

The 2007 playoffs exposed a few needs for the Chicago Bulls. First and foremost is the total lack of any sort of inside game. When Skiles resorted to playing Fat Michael Sweetney during the Pistons series, I took it as a sign of defeat. It was essentially a white flag, with Skiles admitting he had nothing to throw back at Detroit. This goes hand in hand with the Bulls’ second major flaw. The Bulls commitment to their drive-and-kick offense leaves the Bulls at a huge disadvantage if they aren’t hitting their jumpers. Furthermore, if you aren’t getting the expected production from Gordon and Hinrich, their defensive inadequacies become magnified. Hinrich is a tenacious defender, no doubt about that, but due to Gordon’s height (and defensive failures) he is often forced to guard the opposing team’s big guard. And no matter how good of a defender Kirk Hinrich is, he can’t do anything to grow taller. Lastly, I feel that this year’s rookies (Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha) were unfortunately stunted during the season. As we will see, these two players’ development is of the utmost importance if the Bulls are to truly contend for the NBA Championship. In the days ahead, I’ll address what I think needs to be done if the Bulls want to win next year.

Mock Draft, 1.1

With the announcement that Brandon Rush was returning to college and the Hawks seem intent on drafting Mike Conley, I had to make a couple of minor updates:

1. Portland - Greg Oden
2. Seattle - Kevin Durant
3. Atlanta - Mike Conley, Jr.
4. Memphis - Brandan Wright
5. Boston - Corey Brewer
6. Milwaukee - Julian Wright
7. Minnesota - Jeff Green
8. Charlotte - Nick Young
9. Chicago - Al Horford
10. Sacramento - Joakim Noah
11. Atlanta - Spencer Hawes
12. Philadelphia - Yi Jianlian
13. New Orleans - Al Thornton
14. L.A. Clippers - Acie Law IV
15. Detroit - Javaris Crittenton
16. Washington - Jason Smith
17. New Jersey - Thaddeus Young
18. Golden State - Tiago Splitter
19. L.A. Lakers - Gabe Pruitt
20. Miami - Sean Williams
21. Philadelphia - Josh McRoberts
22. Charlotte - Rodney Stuckey
23. New York - Daequan Cook
24. Phoenix - Marco Bellinelli
25. Utah - Derrick Byars
26. Houston - Ante Tomic
27. Detroit - Alando Tucker
28. San Antonio - Rudy Fernandez
29. Phoenix - Marc Gasol
30. Philadelphia - Glen Davis

May 25, 2007

I'm Surrounded By Frickin' Idiots

Well, he shot it. Not a great look but it was a strong move to the hoop, plus he probably got fouled. I guess that answers that question.

However, there is far bigger question for the Cleveland Cavaliers – what are they going to do to win while they still have LeBron James? Currently he’s surrounded by a mismatched group of underperformers and an awful coach. I really don’t like Larry Hughes at all and if he’s signed as a “shooter” to complement LeBron then he should be able to hit an open 8-footer to win a game. Daniel Gibson might eventually be the answer at point, but he’s still too raw to be counted on. Ilgauskas isn’t suited for this team, and Pavlovic isn’t anything more than a bit player. Varejao has really been impressive this series, but he’s the only Cav (including LeBron) that has.

LeBron is a top 5 talent, but he’s handcuffed by having to play with these guys. The Cavaliers need to do everything they can to get someone who can give LeBron some consistent help. If not, I can’t see James wanting to stay around Cleveland for too long. He’s stated that he wants to become a global icon, but that’ll only happen if he wins something. And if he isn’t winning in Cleveland, what’s the point of staying?

May 24, 2007

Thoughts on LeBron

With game 2 rapidly approaching, there is talk all over the place about LeBron James’ performance on the last play of game 1. Driving to the hole, Bron Bron kicked it out to a wide open Donyell Marshall for the game winning three. Of course, being a former Chicago Horri-Bull, Marshall clanked the three and now LeBron is taking tons of heat for his crunch-time decisions.

If you’ll remember, this same time last year, LeBron was being questioned left and right about how he’d never hit a game-winning shot and his peculiar habit of chewing his fingernails during a close game. However, James seemingly answered all those questions during last year’s playoffs when he owned the Wizards and almost pulled off an upset of the Detroit Pistons.

That was LeBron at his best, but now TrueHoop has addressed the problem that everyone is having, why’d LeBron pass? Henry proposes that it’s not so much a matter of LeBron being meek, but rather that James, being only 22, is just trying to find himself as a player. I find a lot of credibility in this line of thinking and am also reminded that when he was coming in to the league, the thing that people raved about was LeBron’s court vision and passing ability. Though he chose to wear 23, most envisioned him as the second coming of Magic Johnson (which begs the question, why doesn’t LeBron run point?). Unfortunately for him, any and all lead guards will be measured against Jordan’s success.

I find it hard to reconcile the fact that if Marshall had hit that shot, we’d be praising LeBron for making such a good pass; but if he’d missed the shot, people would be complaining that he didn’t hit Donyell in the corner. It’s impossible to expect LeBron (or anyone) to compare to Michael Jordan, but I think LeBron can become his own kind of crunch-time killer. Last year’s playoffs showed that he has the ability to finish games, but right now he just needs to figure out the best way.

Quick Links

Here are a few quick links about the draft:

May 23, 2007

Mock Draft, 1.0

1. Portland – Greg Oden, c, Ohio State
There is definitely going to be talk of how great Durant would fit for the Blazers, but I don’t think you can pass up an opportunity to pair Oden and Aldridge for the next 10 years. That’s a young Duncan and Robinson to build around. Furthermore, no matter how much impact Oden will have, he likely won’t be a title-winning big man for a couple of years. That means the Blazers will still get a couple of decent draft picks where they can pick up a wing or move Zach Randolph for one.

2. Seattle – Kevin Durant, sf, Texas
Seattle was the real winner of the draft (just ask Shanoff). There is no way they can mess up their pick. If Portland takes Oden, Seattle takes Durant. If Portland takes Durant, Seattle snatches Oden. Regardless of what happens, the Sonics are getting a marketable, cornerstone player from this draft.

3. Atlanta – Brandan Wright, pf, North Carolina
Chad Ford has the Hawks taking Conley here, but I think he’s too much of a reach for the number 3 pick. There are a few decent pgs in this draft, so I think Atlanta knows they can wait to pick one up with their second lottery pick. Not to mention the Hawks have an infatuation with versatile wing players.

4. Memphis – Al Horford, pf, Florida
Sorry about being the big loser in the Oden-Durant sweepstakes. That’s what you get for tanking the season. Nonetheless, Horford is a stud and he’ll pair nicely with Gasol, or if they trade Pau he can be a part of the nucleus there with Lowry, Warrick, and Miller.

5. Boston – Corey Brewer, sg, Florida
Another team that blatantly tanked the season, and I’m glad they didn’t get what they wanted from it. Fortunately for them, this is such a deep draft that they can still get a quality player in the 5 slot. Brewer is crazy talented and might end up as a more offensive-minded Josh Howard.

6. Milwaukee – Julian Wright, sf, Kansas
Milwaukee is such a going nowhere franchise right now. They have a couple of good, young pieces (Bogut, Villanueva) and an All-Star (Michael Redd) but it doesn’t seem like they have a real plan about what they’re trying to do. Wright fits here though since he can give the Bucks a lot of different options on the floor. He’s got a weird shaped head though.

7. Minnesota – Jeff Green, sf, Georgetown
There are so many similar players in this year’s draft; it’s kind of hard to keep them straight. I see similar skill sets in Green, Brewer, the Wrights, and Thaddeus Young, but they’ll all end up as solid players. The Wolves are in such a predicament between trying to get younger and trying to win for KG (FREE GARNETT. Jeff Green isn’t the missing piece (and I don’t really think the Wolves will ever win for Garnett), but he’s good.

8. Charlotte – Nick Young, sg, USC
This is the first reach of my mock draft, but the Bobcats are pretty set at both forward spots, center, and point guard. It seems like they need a shooting guard since Morrison is too slow to stick opposing 2s. Young is talented, but I think this is too high for him, but I can definitely see Charlotte picking him.

9. Chicago (via New York) – Spencer Hawes, c, Washington
I don’t know how I feel about this (Chad Ford has him going to Chicago too). The Bulls desperately need inside scoring, but I don’t love Hawes. Hopefully he doesn’t turn out to be a stiff.

10. Sacramento – Joakim Noah, pf, Florida
Should have came out last year and been top 5. He’ll do well in Sacramento, assuming Ron Artest doesn’t try to eat him.

11. Atlanta (via Indiana) – Mike Conley Jr., pg, Ohio State
See. I told you the Hawks could get a point with their second pick. If the Hawks do end up with Conley here it almost makes up for them passing on Chris Paul AND Deron Williams two years ago.

12. Philadelphia – Yi Jianlian, pf, China
I saw him on SportsCenter. People think he’s good. I hope Philadelphia doesn’t tear him apart.

13. New Orleans –Al Thornton, sf, FSU
Scoring machine. He’ll replace Desmond Mason (probably leaving) and Peja Stojakovic (made of paper mache).

14. L.A. Clippers –Acie Law IV, pg, Texas A&M
Sam Cassell is as old as the original Acie Law. The Clips also need a point after Shaun Livingston’s knee exploded last year.

15. Detroit (via Orlando) – Tiago Splitter, pf, Brazil
Why not? Because the last time Detroit drafted a foreign big man he ended up being Darko Milicic. Why? Because they can take a chance. Why else? He has the best name in the draft.

16. Washington – Jason Smith, pf, Colorado State
I don’t know anything about this guy except that he’s big, has a boring name, and the Wizards need someone decent inside.

17. New Jersey – Thaddeus Young, sf, Ga. Tech
Carter and/or Kidd are gone after this year, but the Nets drafter his replacement last year. Young will help alleviate the scoring loss of Vince.

18. Golden State – Ante Tomic, C, Croatia
I don’t know him either, but I think the Warriors like foreigners.

19. L.A. Lakers – Javaris Crittenton, pg, Ga. Tech
Jordan Farmar is not the answer at point. Crittenton is solid.

20. Miami – Sean Williams, c, Boston College
Shaq is old. Udonis Haslem is Udonis Haslem. Eventually the Heat are going to need a big man to fill those voids.

21. Philadelphia (via Denver) – Brandon Rush, sg, Kansas
A moody, head-case, shooting guard in Philly. Seems about right.

22. Charlotte (via Toronto through Cleveland) – Josh McRoberts, pf, Duke
This gives them some depth behind Okafor and May. Plus the Bobcats love drafting established players from North Carolina colleges.

23. New York (via Chicago) –Rodney Stuckey, sg, Eastern Washington
I’m not familiar with Rodney Stuckey, but he’s an undersized shooting guard. The Knicks LOVE those guys.

24. Phoenix (via Cleveland through Boston) – Daequan Cook, sg, Ohio State
Daequan Cook can shoot. I hear Phoenix is pretty big on that. Gives them another option behind Raja.

25. Utah – Marco Belinelli, sg, Italy
Another pick I made simply because it seems like the Jazz enjoy foreign players.

26. Houston – Gabe Pruitt, pg, USC
Houston needs a point guard (sorry Luther and Rafer), and Pruitt’s the best one left.

27. Detroit – Derrick Byars, sf, Vanderbilt
I’d imagine Detroit gets rid of this pick, but they can take a chance since they’re already getting a top 15 player earlier.

28. San Antonio – Rudy Fernandez, sg, Spain
Once again, San Antonio is good at foreign players (Ginobili, Parker, Oberto).

29. Phoenix – Marc Gasol, c, Spain
Pau’s brother is supposed to be worse at defense. He should fit right in in Phoenix.

30. Philadelphia (via Dallas through Denver and Golden State) – Glen Davis, pf, LSU
I think they need a fat guy since Derrick Coleman isn’t there anymore.

May 21, 2007

Fight the Power

It’s strange to say, but this post-season really feels like Tim Duncan’s coming out party. No matter where you turn, people are trying to assess how Duncan should be rated, which seems pretty bizarre since he’s been in the league for 10 years now. Between Bill Simmons fawning over him in a recent column, or the discussion on Mike and Mike this morning about where Timmy stands on the historical list of power forwards, this is the first time that I can remember that the media has recognized how good Duncan really is. And, seriously, he’s amazing. Like best ever at his position amazing.

When you think about it, the other possible candidates for GPFOAT fall short of TD in one category or another. The main competitors are usually Elgin Baylor, Karl Malone, Kevin McHale, and to a lesser extent, Charles Barkley. Let’s examine each of their cases individually.

First, for comparison’s sake, here are Duncan’s stats:

Regular Season
PPG: 21.8
RPG: 11.9
BPG: 2.4
APG: 3.2

PPG: 24.1
RPG: 12.6
BPG: 2.8
APG: 3.6
Championships: 3

Stellar stats, not to mention that he clearly steps his game up when it really matters. Now on to the competition.

Elgin Baylor:
Regular Season
PPG: 27.4
RPG: 13.5
BPG: --- (not available)
APG: 4.3

PPG: 27.0
RPG: 12.9
BPG: --- (not available)
APG: 4.0
Championships: 0

Obviously, these are out-of-this-world statistics, but I think it’s very obvious the one area that Baylor falls short of Duncan: titles. I don’t think it’s fair to totally disregard a player simply because they are one of the hundreds of players to never win a championship, but when you’re trying to decide who is the best power forward of all time it certainly is an important variable (and one that will continue to come up).

Karl Malone:
Regular Season
PPG: 25.0
RPG: 10.1
BPG: 0.8
APG: 3.6

PPG: 24.7
RPG: 10.7
BPG: 0.7
APG: 3.2
Championships: 0

Once again, wonderful stats but no rings (although it should be noted that Duncan is a significantly better defender). Until recently, the case for Karl Malone for best power forward ever was pretty strong. However, because of Michael Jordan, he couldn’t break through to become a championship player. And while losing out on titles to The GOAT isn’t anything to be ashamed of, he still couldn’t win one while he was chasing a title with the Kobe and Shaq led Lakers. However, Karl Malone’s Rogaine commercials are legendary.

Kevin McHale:
Regular Season
PPG: 17.9
RPG: 7.3
BPG: 1.7
APG: 1.7

PPG: 18.8
RPG: 7.4
BPG: 1.7
APG: 1.6
Championships: 3

Of the 4 top contenders, McHale is the only one with any championships to his name. However, his statistics don’t even come close to touching Duncan’s. Clearly this is a product of playing on the best frontline ever (Bird, McHale, and Parrish), but it’s still a fact. Just as you can’t discount the fact that Malone, Baylor, and Barkley don’t have any rings, it is impossible to ignore that McHale has definitely inferior stats to Tim Duncan. Also, he’s a terrible GM (FREE GARNETT), but that’s another story for another day.

Charles Barkley:
Regular Season
PPG: 22.1
RPG: 11.7
BPG: 0.8
APG: 3.9

PPG: 23.0
RPG: 12.9
BPG: 0.9
APG: 3.9
Championships: 0

Another of the no championships club, Barkley is a once-in-a-lifetime player. Listed at a generous 6’6” (more like 6’4”), Barkley was an absolute terror. Unfortunately for him, Barkley also was continually thwarted by Michael Jordan in his quest for a title (maybe this disproves the theory that basketball is a big man’s game, but we can figure that out later). I don’t really think Barkley is in the upper echelon of power forwards, partly because I’m not sure if you can actually consider him a power forward. Nonetheless, for the purposes of this discussion, he’s still not close to Duncan.

Between his stats and his titles (not to mention the fact that he’s got probably 5 more good years in the league), I think it’s an easy argument for Tim Duncan as the best power forward of all time. And for that matter, I can’t really see anyone displacing him. The “next” big mean, Dwight Howard and Greg Oden, will certainly be considered centers; and most seven-footers these days are more perimeter focused than Duncan. Amare’s talent and athleticism could allow him to challenge Duncan for the throne, but I think it’s almost impossible to truly evaluate him as an individual until Nash’s back finally gives out and Stoudemire is forced to create rather than react to Nash’s playmaking.

It’s nice to see that people are finally taking notice of how fantastic Tim Duncan really is, and it’s unfortunate that some people might see his (possible) fourth title as tainted due to the Stoudemire-Diaw suspensions in round 2. Ultimately, we have the pleasure of watching one of the NBA’s 20 greatest players ever in action all this month. Enjoy it while you can.

May 16, 2007

Throw Some Bows

Back when I enjoyed watching the New Jersey Nets (Kerry Kittles!), they played the Lake Show in the Finals a couple of times. With the monster duo of Jason Collins and Todd McCullough “patrolling” the paint, they stood no chance of beating the Shaq-led Lakers. I figured their only way of putting up a fight was to literally put up a fight, so I devised the following strategy:

Early in Game 1, sub in some terrible bench player (probably Brian Scalabrine) to punch Shaq in the face as hard as possible.

At the very least, Shaq is severely impaired and rendered largely ineffective, and it’s likely that he wouldn’t play in the series again. Plus New Jersey would only be losing a Scalabrine caliber player. It seems like a can’t-miss strategy, like not eating before an extravagant meal.

Well, going in to tonight’s game 5, that’s sort of happened in a round-about sort of way. As has been discussed for way too long, Robert Horry tried to decapitate Steve Nash, which led to Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw both idiotically leaving the bench. It’s a hard and fast rule that if a player leaves the bench during an altercation, they are to be suspended for at least a game. Every player in the NBA knows this rule, and while it may need some tweaking, for now it’s what they have to abide by. This means that Stoudemire and Diaw are gone for tonight’s game (Horry will be out for 5 and 6), which sucks for fans. This is the marquee match-up of this year’s playoffs and it’s unfortunate that people that aren’t players might be affecting the game. However, I don’t see how Stoudemire and Diaw can’t be suspended with the rule being what it is.

Unfortunately for the Suns, not only do they have to deal with the suspensions. The suspensions that they have to deal with are catastrophic. It would be bad enough to lose Stoudemire, but to also lose his versatile backup Diaw is probably worse. Last year, the Suns game the Spurs all they could handle with Diaw running the 4 and Stoudemire injured. But now their big man rotation is shortened. Kurt Thomas will start on Duncan, but if he struggles or gets in to foul trouble, who comes in? It’s likely that Marion will drop down on Duncan to see what he can do, but that creates a mismatch in the Spurs favor somewhere else. I would bet that the Suns are really regretting doing nothing in the draft the last two years.

It really worked out wonderfully for the Spurs that Horry dropped Nash. He’s so clutch.

(Check out TrueHoop and Dan Shanoff for the best takes on this so far)

May 10, 2007

Somewhere, Nick Anderson is Smiling

During my senior year, my buddy Clinton and I sat and watched one of the games at our Christmas tourney. Thorughout the game there was this old lady who would repeat this mantra during every free throw attempt:

“What do free throws do? They win games.”

Mind you, she wasn’t asking anyone. Just constantly repeating that as her team shot free throws. Since we were 16 we were cracking up. But after last night, I can’t stop thinking about that lady.

May 9, 2007

Golden Steezy

Tonight, I’m a Warriors fan. And judging by the Bulls results in the second round, I might be adopting them as my primary rooting interest very soon. Hopefully the Warriors can come up with some sort of plan to stop the Booze, likely involving this guy:

Nonetheless, watching the Warriors is like watching the most entertaining pick-up game you’ve ever seen. Their tireless. Furthermore, they’re the most conflicted team I’ve ever seen. Aside from Richardson, every single player is out to prove themselves and that makes them special. I wouldn’t necessarily consider it an underdog mentality (and it is certainly more than a chip on their collective shoulders); it’s more cathartic than that. The Warriors represent every discarded part of everyone’s lives, a real-life Island of Misfit Toys. That’s why a guy like Baron Davis won’t come out with a cramp while Vince Carter convulses by the bench. The Warriors and that their redemption isn’t predicated just on winning, but winning the way they do.
Ch-Check It Out: Golden State of Mind

On Point

A couple of mornings ago, I was listening to some sports show and the hosts declared that point guard was the marquee position in the NBA. And while I can’t buy in to that (how many superstars are point guards?), most people would agree that point guard is the most important position on the court. Furthermore, the remaining 8 teams provide us a chance to examine just how integral a point guard is to a team. Here’s how I see them ranked.

1. Steve Nash – Phoenix Suns: Easy choice. Nash is the reason anything on the Suns works. He sets the tempo for the whole game within the first 5 minutes and his effect carries on even when he’s replaced by Barbosa (who is better than half the players on this list). D’Antoni couldn’t have found a better guard to lead his attack.
2. Jason Kidd – New Jersey Nets: It’s kind of weird to think that it was 5 years ago that people were talking about Jason Kidd being the best point in the league. He’s just as good now as he was then. He’s still got an UGLY jumper, but not as bad as New Jersey’s red unis.
3. Chauncey Billups – Detroit Pistons: Originally I had Billups and Parker tied for the number three slot, but Billups means a lot more to the Pistons than Parker does to the Spurs. They’re both more lead guards than pure points, but that’s what their coach needs from them. I don’t know of a more clutch guy than Chauncey who isn’t named Robert Horry.
4. Tony Parker – San Antonio Spurs: Like I said, I see him just about equal to Billups, but playing with Tim Duncan is a definite upgrade from Wallace/Webber. Dude does have a few chips though. But when the Spurs need a basket, they aren’t running their offense through Parker. Lastly, it’s hard for me to rank Tony Parker too high because his brother, T.J., is the worst smelling person I’ve ever played against.
5. (tie) Deron Williams – Utah Jazz: I’m a big Deron Williams guy. Even though the dudes at The Basketball Jones disagree, I see a lot of Jason Kidd in his game. He’s a solid playmaker, he’s deceptively quick, and he’s a decent rebounder for a guard. However, after today’s podcast (click that link to hear Skeets and Tas mildly ridicule me), I’ll retract my statement that Deron Williams is tubby. He just has a short neck. But he does kind of look like this:

5. (tie) Baron Davis – Golden State Warriors: I was a big Baron Davis fan when he came out of UCLA, but the injuries caused him to fall off for a minute. I’m glad he’s back to playing out of his mind. However, 7 games does not a star make. Baron might be a terrific guard but I want to see more of him, his beard, and the Warriors.
7. Kirk Hinrich – Chicago Bulls: Being a Bulls fan, I wish I were higher on Hinrich. He’s a tough defender, can hit some shots, and is a good leader. But there is just too much about him that isn’t complete. I think he can run a championship contending team, but I’m not too sure the combination of him and Gordon will take them over the top.
8. Larry Hughes – Cleveland Cavaliers: I despise Larry Hughes.

May 8, 2007

Get Off of My TV, Michael Sweetney

This is getting depressing.

Are you kidding me with Michael Sweetney? The only decent analogy I can find for his “unique” build is that of my fambly cat Falulah Delores, Foo Foo for short. Typically we describe her as a raccoon with a kitten head on top because she’s so fat. Not a good look.

Seriously though, why did Sweetney get any tick last night? Dude comes in and throws up two ugly Georgetown hooks. Works for Mourning, Ewing, and (occasionally) Mutumbo but certainly not for Fats Sweetney. I can’t fathom a world where an Eastern Conference champion features the services of Michael Sweetney, let alone contending for the NBA title. I mean, the Knicks gave up on him (possibly because they cornered the market on fat guys with tiny heads after drafting Michael Wright) and the Knicks are garbage.

It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that the Bulls won’t win anything with Skiles as the head coach. Call it the Carlisle Corollary, but sometimes a coach is perfect for rebuilding but they can’t take the team to the next level. His refusal to deal with psychos (Tim Thomas, J.R. Smith, etc.), while good for team character, has left the team devoid of any real offensive forces. Deng and Gordon (ENGLAND NATIONAL TEAM?) are tough but if their shots aren’t falling the team strrrrrrrugles. I’d just love to have some cat who can take his man to the whole hard anytime he wants. Or a consistent post scorer. Or pretty much anyone but Michael Sweetney.