Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Fast Breaking It Down 12/22/04

I apologize for the lack of articles I've been able to put up recently, it's just that it's a really busy time of year and all, and to further constrain things, I started a new job last week in which I work from sunset to sunrise and have to commute 2 hours each way; I had my car broken into last weekend, vandalized, and left without a stereo and functionable locks; I'm in the process of moving two states away; AND I bent my wookie. So with all that, I'm a little tight on time and am going to have to go on hiatus from my 5 on Five article for at least this week. But I'm not completely shafting my loyal readers (all 4 of them), so I'm bringing back a column I ran way, way back in the day (like a month ago) in which I just delve into the random NBA thoughts I have running through my head. Time to fast break it down, baby!

Fast Breaking It Down

-So Jermaine O'Neal's suspension has been reduced to 15 games; he is now elgible to return Saturday against the Pistons. Think he'll be just a little pumped up about that game?! (By the way, how many fantasy teams received an early Xmas present upon hearing this news? I know I did.)

-I caught the Knicks game last night, and I pray that any Knicks fans out there did not because they played perhaps the most atrocious game I've ever seen. There was Crawford heaving up contested fadeaway 30-footers, Josh Howard totally out-hustling Tim Thomas in every aspect of the game, Nazr Mohammed allowing Shawn Bradley to frustrate him so much that he almost completely lost it, Kurt Thomas making no-look passes to referees, Stephon Marbury showing no desire to lead his team back into the game, and of course a dejected Isiah Thomas slumping over on the sidelines with his hand gripping his cell phone as he waited anxiously for a trade offer to come in. It was nice to see guys like Jerome Williams, Mike Sweetney, and Trevor Ariza come in during garbage time and play there butts off, and that's basically what you get out of these guys every time they come on the court. So why does Lenny Wilkens' rotation feature a leader that's notoriously been labeled as a me-first guy (Marbury), one shooting guard that has the shot selection of someone playing HORSE (Crawford) and the other who looks about as brittle as a gingerbread man (Houston), a 3 that has been an underachiever every year he's been in the league (Tim Thomas), one power forward who turns his intensity on and off quicker than a light switch (Kurt Thomas) and another that takes more shots on the bench than on the floor (Baker) , and a center that has developed Dampieritis by showing up one game and disappearing the next (Mohammed). Bottom line--Isiah doesn't necessarily need to revamp this roster (which he will likely do), but this team is going to keep meddling around mediocrity until a significant change is made. That change? Fire the coach--Lenny Wilkens needs to go; he is just not the right coach for this bunch of misfits. Isiah needs to hire a coach that 1-is going to instill some fire into this ballclub because they are a very talented bunch and 2-will not be hesitant in benching the veterans for the younger guys. I'm not sure who is out there that can be expected to handle this task (Eric Musselman, Doug Collins?), but I firmly believe Isiah needs to address this issue.

-There's been reports that Eduardo Najera is upset with his lack of playing time this season. Apparently he longs for the days of last season when he was playing a healthy 12 minutes per game. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Najera fan, but c'mon...what writer in their right mind bats an eyelash when Eduardo freaking Najera is bitching about PT? Oh right, someone who writes on the Golden State Warriors.

-Another guy publicly whining about his minutes--DeShawn Stevenson. I love guys like this--Stevenson re-signs with Orlando in the off-season to presumably be a bench player behind Cuttino Mobley and Grant Hill. Mobley goes down in the first week of the season so Stevenson is shifted into the starting lineup. And boy does he ever take that opportunity and run with it: 7.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0 3PA in 10 games as the starting SG. So of course when Mobley returns Stevenson is forced to snuggle imbetween Mario Kasun and Michael Bradley on the Orlando bench. Now he wants to be traded. Seriously, what was he thinking? Was he just assuming Grant Hill was going down at some point? I guess that's actually pretty conceivable, regardless, Deshawn Stevenson needs to put a sock in it.

-Everyone probably know that Shaq has the #1 selling jersey in the NBA; I'd actually probably sport it, but anyways, here's a list of 10 jerseys I would definitely rock:

  • Ron Artest, 21, Indiana Pacers (home yellow)
  • Amare Stoudemire, 32, Phoenix Suns (alternate orange)
  • LeBron James, 23, Cleveland Cavaliers (road wine)
  • Manu Ginobili, 20, San Antonio Spurs (home white)
  • Emeka Okafor, 50, Charlotte Bobcats (home white)
  • Bobby Simmons, 21, Los Angeles Clippers (road red)
  • Grant Hill, 33, Orlando Magic (road blue)
  • Nene, 31, Denver Nuggets (road baby blue)
  • Carlos Boozer, 5, Utah Jazz (road blue)
  • Andre Iguodala, 4, Philadelphia 76ers (blue throwback front reads: Phila)

-And here's ten you might catch me vomiting on:

  • Kobe Bryant, 8, Los Angeles Lakers (road purple)
  • Kenyon Martin, 6, Denver Nuggets (home white)
  • Richard Jefferson, 24, New Jersey Nets (road blue)
  • Chris Webber, 4, Sacramento Kings (road purple)
  • Eddy Curry, 2, Chicago Bulls (alternate black)
  • Christian Laettner, 44, Miami Heat (road black)
  • Robert Swift, 31, Seattle SuperSonics (road green)
  • Keith Van Horn, 44, Milwaukee Bucks (road purple)
  • Latrell Sprewell, 8, Minnesota Timberwolves (road blue)
  • Shawn Bradley, 44, Dallas Mavericks (road blue)

-Baron Davis is scheduled to come back at some point this week, and though his impact probably won't be enough to steer the Hornets anywhere near respectability, you can expect some monstruous numbers. The Baron was averaging about 25 PPG, 8 APG and 2SPG before going down, and now without any semblance of a supporting cast, he will likely have the ball in his hands around 99% of the time. You would think his assist numbers might go down, but consider that quality shooters David Wesley, Dan Dickau, and Lee Nailon surround him and chances are his assists probably stay around 7 or 8. Bottom line: Davis is anxious to come back and attempt to salvage his season--evidence of his durability and explosive talent will undoubtedly strike the interest of potential trade suitors. Remember all that take about Jason Kidd being moved? Don't be surprised if the rumors shift towards the Baron within a month or so.

-I've never really looked closely enough to be able to tell, but do the 76ers have a necklace around Kyle Korver's neck that shocks him anytime he crosses the 3-point line?

-Just look at New Jersey's roster outside of Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson--fantasy team names just waiting to happen: 'Brian Scalabrine's Homeboys', 'Nenad's Go-Nads', 'The Kaniel Dickens All-Stars', 'The Rodney Buford Bunch', 'Diagnosed with Zoran Planinic'

-The contestants in the 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Contest should be...

  • LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
  • Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Vince Carter, New Jersey Nets
  • Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers

-The contestants in the 2005 NBA Slam Dunk Contest will be...

  • Fred Jones, Indiana Pacers
  • Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
  • Carlos Delfino, Detroit Pistons
  • Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Trevor Ariza, New York Knicks

-Obviously I have no inside information to base this on, but I do know that the proven guys tend to stay away from the contest while the NBA pushes its younger guys to participate as a means to attract publicity to themselves. I've heard Jones already say he plans on defending his crown and also that Delfino takes great pride in his dunking skills, so I'm writing those two in. Josh Smith can jump out of the freaking building, so I really hope he enters, and Iguodala and Ariza can both get up there too, so it wouldn't surprise me at all to see these guys in the contest. But man, imagine if they raised the stakes of the dunk contest; say the winner got $100,000, wouldn't that entice some of the best dunkers to do it? Who wouldn't want to watch LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Jones, and Vince duke it out?

-How 'bout them Bulls? They've now won 4 in a row (read that again) and are 8-6 since that dreadful 0-9 start (yeah read that again, too). Chicago can attribute the success largely in part to the Baby Bulls, Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler, who have both been outstanding as of late. So allow me to pose this question: should John Paxson still be looking to part with these two, especially now while their stock is high, or should he roll the dice and see how the Bulls hold up before the inevitable collapse that exposes the true value of Eddy Curry? I'm sticking with what I've said all along: get Curry out of Chicago, keep Chandler around. Curry has had spurts like this every year he's been in the league and has continually proved time and time again that this high-level of play cannot be sustained over time. Chandler on the other hand plays with the energy and intensity every single night that a young team like the Bulls needs to build itself around. Jim Paxson has to keep this guy and get rid of Curry for someone like a Michael Redd.

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