Monday, January 31, 2005

5 Trades That Need to Happen

By Anthony Peretore

As we head into the month of February, one thing will be constantly brewing in our collective minds: the NBA trade deadline. A flurry of transactions will highlight the next 3+ weeks, with teams either giving up on their 2004-05 seasons or making moves to improve their standing for the playoffs. While I have no access to GM’s phone numbers nor do I choose to make up ridiculous trade rumors, I will simply provide you with five trades that I believe make a ton of sense for both teams involved. Here goes…

1. Dallas Mavericks Receive:
PG Gary Payton (33.0 min, 12.2 PPG, 6.2 APG, 1.3 SPG)
PF Tom Gugliotta (10.0 min, 1.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG)

Boston Celtics Receive:
PG Jason Terry (28.4 min, 11.3 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.6 SPG)

It’s been no secret that Gary Payton wants to be shipped to a Western Conference team. It now seems inevitable that his wish will be granted with his mother becoming extremely ill in California. Dallas is one of those teams on the brink of being a legit contender in the West, but there’s no way that Terry’s the PG to get them there. They need experience and leadership, two characteristics that GP has plenty of. Plus, they have Devin Harris for the future and this trade will assure him the starting job next year. The Celtics on the other hand, hopefully have their PG of the future in either Marcus Banks or Delonte West. However, neither is ready to take complete control and give the team 30-35 minutes per night. So, why not bring in Terry for the rest of this season (and possibly next) and see which of the three emerges as the best option for the future? This way here the Celts are guaranteed a legit PG for the next several years rather than being left filling GP’s void at the end of the year. Dallas also frees up cap space for next season with both Payton and Googs’ contracts coming off the books.

2. Washington Wizards Receive:
PF Donyell Marshall (23.3 min, 10.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG)
PG Milt Palacio (18.1 min, 4.9 PPG, 3.3 APG)
1st Round Pick

Toronto Raptors Receive:
F/C Kwame Brown (15.9 min, 5.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG)
G Juan Dixon (16.1 min, 8.8 PPG, 2.0 APG)

Now, on paper this may seem a bit lop-sided for the Raptors. However,
1) Marshall and Palacio both come off the books at the end of the season, freeing up over $5 million in cap space to help re-sign Larry Hughes.
2) The Wizards get a quality ‘4’ in DM allowing Antawn Jamison to go back to playing his natural ‘3’ position and they can replace the erratic Jared Jeffries in the starting 5.
3) The first-round pick should be in the lottery, giving the team back a top-14 pick they lost to Dallas last season.
4) The Wiz get rid of Kwame who has turned into more of a burden then an asset.
5) Washington also gets a true point guard to back up Gilbert Arenas so he is not forced to play 38-40 minutes a night.

For Toronto, they not only get a young center to play alongside Chris Bosh for the next 10 seasons or so, but they also get a budding star in Dixon. A core of Rafer Alston, Dixon, Mo Pete, Bosh and Brown should give people in Canada something to look forward to.

3. New Jersey Nets Receive:
PG Sam Cassell (28.8 min, 15.1 PPG, 5.8 APG)
GF Latrell Sprewell (30.1 min, 12.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG)
SF Ndudi Ebi (1.9 min, 0.8 PPG, 0.2 RPG)
1st Round Pick

Minnesota Timberwolves Receive:
PG Jason Kidd (34.4 min, 12.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 7.1 APG)
SG Ron Mercer (3 games, 35.3 min, 9.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG)
C Elden Campbell (10.8 min, 4.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG)

Well, we all know the T’Wolves have to do something, so why not go all out and grab Kidd? There’s no telling how good KG and Kidd could be. That’s a team that could legitimately defeat the Spurs if Zerb can fill the void of Spree. On the other hand, the Nets get Sprewell’s expiring contract, freeing up over $14 million in cap space for this summer. Also, they get Cassell to play the point for another year and a half as they breed someone else (draft pick) along. The throw in is the promising 20 year-old Ebi, a first round pick two years ago. With Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson as the core of this team’s future, NJ will no doubt be an enticing place to play for a free agent big man (Tyson Chandler, Stro Swift, Shareef Abdur-Rahim?).

4. L.A. Clippers Receive:
PG Damon Stoudamire
2nd Round Pick

Portland Trailblazers Receive:
SG Kerry Kittles
C Zelijko Rebracca

We have all heard the rumors of a possible Baron Davis to the Clips trade, but that really makes no sense for this team. Shaun Livingston promises to be the next great point guard in the NBA and blocking his path to stardom is just foolish. With Stoudamire they get a veteran with playoff experience, leadership ability and most importantly, an expiring contract. With “Mighty Mouse,” the Clips could most certainly sneak into the playoffs without hurting Livingston’s learning process along the way. Portland gets Kittles’ expiring contract as well as the promising Rebracca. Big Z had 19 and 16 the other night in just 30 minutes. With Theo Ratliff battling injuries all season and Joel Przybilla well, Joel Przybilla, the Blazers get a quality young center that won’t be running from the law.

5. Philadelphia 76ers Receive:
F Antoine Walker

Atlanta Hawks Receive:
C Samuel Dalembert
F Glenn Robinson

It makes sense for the Hawks to get rid of Walker as all he is doing is impeding the growth of players like Josh Childress and Josh Smith. Jim O’Brien gets back his former captain from Boston and a scorer to help shoulder Allen Iverson’s load. Philly needs a player with playoff experience, mental toughness and leadership ability and Walker fills all those traits. In return, the Hawks get their big man of the future in Dalembert as well as the “Big Dog’s” expiring contract. While they won’t save as much money as they would if Walker stayed, nabbing Dalembert is most definitely worth it. A future with Sammie, Childress, Smith and Al Harrington looks bright.

Rasheed is Bush-Whacked

The Detroit Pistons were in the White House today to meet President Bush, but Rasheed Wallace wanted nothing to do with it. When asked what he would say to the President, Wallace said: "I don't have sh*t to say to him. I didn't vote for him. It's just something we have to do." And from the likes of the picture, 'Sheed was either swallowing his pride or contemplating vomiting his White House lunch all over Bush's mug. (Note: look at all the faces in the photo--Joe Dumars looks terrified that 'Sheed is about to throw a haymaker in Bush's direction; Tayshaun Prince appears either really uncomfortable or really heart-stricken by the Prez; Lindsay Hunter may or may not be playing a game of craps in the background; and though you can't see his face, Darko still manages to look completely befuddled.

Monday's NBA Picks

January 31, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks

Last Night: (1-0), Week: (0-0)

  • BOSTON -2 over Houston
  • NEW ORLEANS +6 over Memphis
  • San Antonio -5 over SEATTLE
  • CLIPPERS -5.5 over New York

Might be too many games to choose on a Monday, but whatever. Boston is great at home and just had a stellar win at Chicago. Sura is out for the Rockets and Andre Barrett takes over at the point. Celts 102, Rockets 93. Memphis is hurting without Gasol and Posey and that trend should continue tonight. Also, Bonzi wells is questionable and the Hornets have been solid at home. Memphis 95, N.O 91. Ray Allen has the flu. Spurs 103, Sonics 88. The Knicks stink. Houston, T. Thomas, Ariza, Penny all out and only a 6 point spread? Clips 95, Knicks 85. GLTA

Paul's Picks

Last Night: (0-2), Week: (0-0)

  • Indiana [17-10-2] +1.5 over PHILADELPHIA [21-11-1]
  • CLIPPERS [13-17] -5.5 over New York [21-10-1]

Indiana needs a win after four straight losses, and I think after a bad loss at home against the Nuggets on Sunday, that they'll be hungry tonight and actually more focused away from Conseco. The Sixers welcome back a still ailing Iverson, but I'm a feeling a let-down game after that monstruous upset win in Dallas on Saturday. I'm sticking with Ant on the Clips call--the Knicks absolutely stink and are beat up as it is, and though they aren't as good without Maggette, they won't need him tonight. And I was going to take the Celts, but then I saw Ant grabbed them and I quickly reconsidered--it's always a good sign to bet against the Celtics when Anthony gets his hopes up. Game of the Night: Spurs vs. Sonics (obviously). Sonics have crapped all over San Antone twice, and while I highly doubt Popovich, Duncan, and co. let that happen again, the Sonics are quietly becoming a team you shouldn't bet against.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Chad's Boy Has Huge Night

Even Darko Milicic had a say in the Pistons' 91-61 annihilation of the Knicks on Saturday night, scoring a season-high 4 points.

Sunday's NBA Picks

January 30, 2004

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (2-1), Week: (10-7-2)
  • Sacramento +3.5 over MINNESOTA

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (1-3), Week: (8-9-1)
  • Houston [12-18-3] +6 over MIAMI [16-13-2]
  • Charlotte [10-16-3] +8 over LAKERS [11-13-2]

Wow I've really sh*t the bed these past couple days. Not to make excuses, but I did completely rush my picks both days. Anyways, today's lines are gross and if I had my choice, I would not be picking any games. Nevertheless, I'm going with Houston because they're playing well right now and Miami is just so-so against the West. And I'm taking Charlotte because the Lakers are beginning to suck really bad without Kobe.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A Knickel for Your Penny

Despite returning from a 6-week stint on the injured list, looking noticeably hobbled the entire game, and even pulling up lame on his ankle in the 2nd quarter, Herb Williams played Penny freaking Hardaway 28 minutes last night against the Cavs. Indeed, the Knicks have fallen on hard times.

Saturday's NBA Picks

January 29, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks

Last Night (1-3), Week: (8-6-2)

  • DETROIT -9.5 over New York
  • Orlando +5.5 over WASHINGTON
  • DALLAS -12 over Philadelphia

NYC for the night, hopefully I come back alive. If I don't give me Sactown over Minny tomorrow, no matter the spread. PEACE

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (1-3), Week: (7-6-1)

  • MEMPHIS [14-19] -13 over Atlanta [18-12]
  • UTAH [16-17] -6.5 over New Jersey [13-14]
  • DETROIT [19-10-1] -9.5 over New York [20-10-1]
  • WASHINGTON [11-17-3] -5.5 over Orlando [22-7-1]

Home favorites tonight--hopefully Ant and I will have some stories for you tomorrow. Enjoy your Saturday night..

Friday, January 28, 2005

Friday's NBA Picks

January 28, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks

Last Night: (1-1), Week: (7-3-2)

  • Phoenix -5.5 over BOSTON
  • Utah +7 over MINNESOTA
  • MILWAUKEE -3.5 over Denver
  • Clippers +3 over PORTLAND

Sorry C's, I love you but you can't run with Phoenix. Suns 119, Celts 109. I'm definately not sold on the T'Wolves yet. The other night they were actually trailing the Hawks in the third at one point. I think Utah is going to get a lot better very quickly and I'm going to ride them a lot in the coming week. AK-47 changes games. Utah 99, Minny 95. I'm taking Milwaukee just because people will be anxious to take the Nugs with Karl behind the bench. Not me. Nuggets stink. Plus, the Bucks have been playing really well lately especially staying close with the Suns for4 quarters the other night. Bucks 98, Nuggets 91. Miles is suspended for an argument with Cheeks. Not good for this team. Clips win 94-89. GLTA

Paul's Picks

Last Night: (0-2), Week: (6-3-1)
  • Miami [15-13-2] -9.5 over ATLANTA [17-12]
  • MILWAUKEE [20-8-1] -2 over Denver [16-15]
  • HOUSTON [12-17-3] -4 over Sacramento [12-13-2]
  • Seattle [17-12] -6 over GOLDEN STATE [13-16-2]

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Origins of The NBA Source

By Anthony Peretore

As some of you may know, Paul took the time to write an article back on December 2, 2004 that discussed, among other things, his interests in life, why he was pursuing a career in sports, and what lead him to creating this very website. So, I thought it was about time that I wrote a piece along those same lines, but instead focus primarily on how we got "The NBA Source" up and running. In the mean time, if my readers (all 10 of them) can grasp a better idea of who I am outside of the website, then all the better. Now, if your sole interest in visiting our site is to strictly gather information on the NBA, please stop and don’t waste your time reading any more of this. If you’re actually curious as to how the site came about and what kind of person I am (and that I’m not a serial killer on the weekends), well, read until you get bored.

My name is Anthony Peretore and I am originally from Connecticut. I graduated from Saint Joe’s last spring (during a great bball run) and moved back home to "save some money." Actually the only job offer I had was back home and that’s the real reason I’m here, but it has actually worked out for the better. With both of us back home and with seemingly enough free time on our hands, Paul and I collectively decided to put our sports knowledge to good use and try and spark up a website. Usually we would discuss this on a Friday or Saturday night, you know, at 3 A.M. saying stuff like: "we should definitely get started on this, it would be great, we could include this and that, man this could be sweet." Then the following day we would wake up wondering what the hell happened the night before. Eventually, these chats turned serious and we started discussing the site when we were sober (always good). Before we knew it, the preliminary stages of The NBA Source had begun.

Before I go any further, you have to understand that the majority of 23 year-old males discuss one of four things and nothing else: girls, partying, entertainment and sports, with literally no exceptions. I mean, I’m not interested in how Paul’s day went. Do I care what time he woke up or that he’s a bit cranky from constipation? No. Now, him and I do discuss the first three of the "Big 4" quite often, but most of the time it’s strictly sports. What’s important to know is that when we are talking sports it is not like your basic conversation in assessing a game or how good a player is, but more like an episode of The Sports Reporters. We’re pulling out stats left and right, Oliver Miller’s weight in grammar school, where Doug Christie met Jackie at Pepperdine, etc.—it’s insane. I honestly think we could talk sports for a month straight, if it wasn’t for that whole sleep thing. So based solely on roughly 1.4 billion sports conversations we had throughout the years, we felt confident that our knowledge of the NBA was good enough to produce (between the two of us) at least 4-5 articles a week. The problem was, how were we going to structure this whole thing?

Instead of coming up with some elaborate plan, blue prints, paper mache models, dioramas, etc., we quickly decided that the site should be exactly like our conversations, or more simply, a NBA site about nothing—not to bite off Larry David or anything. The premise was going to be to use whatever came into our heads concerning the NBA, as outrageous as it may be, and put it down on paper. If we wanted to make fun of guys like Brian Scalabrine and Robert Swift, we were going to do just that. Heck, we’re not part of the real media; we don’t have to actually see these guys ever, so we’ll say whatever we want. But even more so than just being bold and saying what was exactly on our minds, we knew we had to focus on a particular audience. So who would that audience be? That was the easy part: us. Who better to appeal to than guys (and you too Hannah) just like us? We knew that the majority of our fans were going to be our friends anyway, so why not set our sites directly on them and hope to gain other readers with similar appeal along the way. So there it was, post almost everything going on in the NBA (that only we would want to read), while simultaneously attempting to integrate a decent amount of humor. Over the last three months, we’ve done our very best to try and do just this and let you, the reader, decide how we have done. Which leads me to…

When Paul and I write that your comments are greatly appreciated, as amazing as it may seem, we actually mean it. If you truly enjoyed/hated an article, or even just a piece of it, please, PLEASE take 30-45 seconds and write, "Yo Ant, great article. Can you come out with something next week on how badly the Nuggets stink? Thanks—Rocky Mountain Raymond." We are not looking for you to kiss our butts or tell us we should be on a major website writing about the NBA (although that would be much appreciated). We simply want to know that we are connecting to some of you and that our goal, to fill your minds with NBA info while not straying from being our humorous selves, is working, and better yet, appealing. A great example is when I read Bill Simmons. Not only do I learn something about sports whenever I sit down with one of his articles, but I also get a sense of who he is outside of his job. The great thing about him that I really believe his main intention is to give his readers the sense that they are his friends. He allows them to decide if they not only like his writing style, but also if they can relate to the person behind the keyboard. Fortunately for him, 99.9% of his audience just can’t get enough. Now I don’t want to emulate Simmons and "be him when I grow up," I just want to be myself and not stray away from that when I write. All I’m really trying to say here is that Paul and I work really hard on this site (even if it’s just Blogger) and if we were assured once and a while that people were enjoying our work, it would be that much more rewarding.

Quick story before I wrap this up. About a month ago a reader posted a comment saying that because of a statement I made about Jason Williams, I had lost her as a reader. Now first of all, I had no idea I had "readers." Part of me thought I just posted these articles and Paul and his brother were the only ones taking them in. But much to my surprise (and satisfaction), I did have other readers, and now I wrote some bonehead comment and lost one or all of these loyal fans. I felt terrible and wanted nothing more than to have her back reading our material. However, I was not about to write a post kissing up to her just so she would remain loyal to our site. Whatever I said about J-Will, well, that’s how I felt and that’s what I wanted to write. Sure, sometimes my attempts at humor will offend more than amuse, but hey, those kinds of things are going to happen. I wasn’t about to change who I was to appeal to one person, and I hope she has realized that. Now, I did do my best to apologize for offending her, but more so, I was really curious to why I had lost her. It turns out she’s just a die-hard Grizzlies and Williams fan and was fed up with reading all the negativity surrounding her team—very understandable. I apologized, she apologized and it appears I still have her as a loyal fan. Thank you Hannah.

Because of situations just like this, Paul and I always endorse our comment sections. If you don’t agree with what we have to say, please write it down and even more importantly, explain why you disagree. This way here, we can both learn a little more about the sport as well as get to know each other a little better. Yes, this may sound cheesy to a lot of you, but oh well. I’d love to refer to my readers by their first names, as I have here with Hannah. I’d like to know that when my articles go up, some one gets excited to sit down and read it. These are my long-term goals and please do not take any of this as a complaint. I know we have readers out there, I just want to make sure of it and improve on what we’ve done wrong and continue with what we’ve done right. All and all, Paul and I just want to know that we are succeeding with our original plans. Thank you and I hope you have all enjoyed the site thus far. Changes and improvements are on the way.

Thursday's Picks

January 27, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

  • Detroit +2 over INDIANA
  • CHICAGO -10 over Charlotte

I like Detroit, starting 5 is back, and Arroyo adds a nice punch to that bench. Tinsley's had the flu all week, so he will most definately be sluggish against Billups. I dunno, I just think the basketball Gods will be against Stephen Jackson too. Chitown all the way. The best thing about them is they have no reason to take a night off. Charlotte stinks. GLTA

Paul's Picks:

  • INDIANA [17-9-2] -2 over Detroit [19-10-1]--LOCK
  • CHICAGO [17-14] -10 over Charlotte [10-15-3]

Before I delve into the reasoning behind my picks, I have a couple of links for you guys to check out. The first was given to me from a friend in Thailand who found out John Basedow, yes the one who looks eerily like Peter North and has his own fitness commericals, who had been vacationing in Phuket, Thailand when the Tsunami hit, has been missing ever since and is presumably deceased. Sad story--here's the link:

The second link is one that I know many of you will appreciate, most notably Gawker, who loves to stick it to the media any chance he gets. Mark Cuban recently wrote on his Mavs' blog about certain NBA beat writers who he vehemently dislikes and one in which I think we've all always enjoyed (and not so coincidentally works for TNT now):

Now, the picks--Indiana still hasn't quite picked it up and now brings back Stephen Jackson into the mix. Regardless, I like them to win this game at home. Detroit took the last one, and I have a feeling the Pacers know at this point they need this game more than Detroit--the Pistons will take a 2-1 lead in the season series with a win tonight with the last meeting coming in the Palace in March. The second game--I'm going to keep going against the crappy East teams on the road and sticking with the Bulls when they're favorites. (Can you believe the Bulls--these Bulls--are 10 point favorites? Who saw that coming 3 months ago?!). Good luck everyone...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

He's Baaaack

Unfortunately, GF Stephen Jackson returns from his 30-game suspension tonight as the Indiana Pacers face the Boston Celtics. It's a real disgrace that he is allowed back and Ron Artest is not.

Courtside: Here Comes the Sun (Again)

By Anthony Peretore

The Recent Buzz Surrounding the NBA

New Faces in New Places

1. Jim Jackson, Phoenix Suns
After refusing to report to New Orleans following his trade from the Rockets, JJ finally got his wish and was shipped to the Pacific-leading Suns last Friday. Jackson did look a bit rusty in his first game with just 2 points and 5 fouls in 17 minutes. But last night in MSG, the former Ohio State Buckeye was on point with the rest of his teammates, totaling 17 points on 6-8 shooting in a 133-118 victory. Seems like a beneficial deal for both parties with the Suns receiving a quality veteran to come off their bench (Walter McCarty’s next) and JJ getting to play for a contender down the stretch.

2. Carlos Arroyo, Detroit Pistons
In one of the more eye-opening deals of the season, the Jazz gave up on their disgruntled point guard and sent him to the World Champs for 63 year-old Elden Campbell and a future first rounder. A few weeks ago, Arroyo allegedly swore at Utah Coach Jerry Sloan and the two were unable to amend their differences. After a spectacular run with his native Puerto Rico in the Olympics, Carlos was expected to have a great season in ‘04-05. Now he’ll be counted on to provide a spark off the rather dismal Pistons’ bench.

3. Tony Allen, Boston Celtics
In a surprising move for both parties, Coach Doc Rivers inserted his rookie into the starting lineup last Saturday with the results far exceeding his expectations. As reported by Steve Bulpett in Tuesday’s Boston Herald, Doc couldn’t have been happier with Allen’s play: “Defensively he was phenomenal in that game. He single-handedly led the charge at the beginning of the game and in the third quarter. He took them out of cuts. They couldn't run their offense. It was pretty cool to watch.” Needless to say, Allen will be starting over both Jiri Welsch and Ricky Davis for the near future, if not the rest of the season. Look for Danny Ainge’s cellphone bill to go up just a bit this month.

4. Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers
That’s right folks, Ronnie’s back practicing with the Pacers but don’t get ahead of yourself, he’s still done for the year. After numerous complaints from Indiana’s front office, the NBA granted Artest permission to practice citing the fact that he is indeed still part of the team. While efforts to reduce the former St. John’s star’s suspension continue, we should assume that Commissioner David Stern will uphold his initial ruling of the season-long ban. It’s too considering what a weak crop of elite teams there are in the Eastern Conference race this season.

Fantasy Watch:
Players to Keep an Eye on in Coming Weeks

Go Get ‘Em:
1. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

Pierce is actually having one of his more efficient shooting seasons (43.5 FG%) of recent past, but his scoring numbers still remain down. On a Celtics team that is significantly better than their 19-21 record shows, Pierce is undoubtedly primed to carry Boston into the playoffs for a fourth straight year. With more youngsters seeing increases in their playing time, look for them to get the ball to their captain more often down the stretch of games than the veterans have. Over his last five Pierce is averaging: 24.2 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 4.8 APG, 2.0 SPG, a sure sign he is poised for a big second half.

2. Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
Welcome the next up-and-coming ‘4’ to your fantasy leagues. In the month of January, Bosh has absolutely dominated the competition with averages of 19.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG, and 2.0 BPG. If the former Georgia Tech star has a few down games, look to quickly make a deal for him. If you’re in a keeper league and have yet to inquire about Bosh, you’re really missing out. He’s a 10-time All-Star in the making. GM Rob Babcock has made it no secret that Bosh is the team’s centerpiece for the future.

3. Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards
With backcourt mate Larry Hughes on the shelf for 4-6 weeks, Arenas should (and already has) put up some rather gaudy numbers. At times he may neglect his teammates and look only for his own shot, but his assist numbers should eventually come around. Since Hughes’ injury, Arenas has put up averages of 32.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 1.0 SPG (excluding his dreadful 3 point performance against the Spurs). If you need scoring from your point guard position, Arenas is your man.

4. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
Okay, ready for the real ‘Melo to break out? C’mon now, as long as we’ve known this guy he’s been nothing short of spectacular, so we have to expect him to turn things around. Ankle injuries have nagged him all season, but the former ‘Cuse star should be coming into true form following the All-Star break. Not hearing his name called at the game, especially with it being played on his own home court, will undoubtedly stir up some fire in Anthony. Take a look at last year’s numbers before and after All-Star Weekend:

Pre-All-Star Break: 18.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 41.1 FG%
Post All-Star Break: 24.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, and 52.0 FG%

Get Rid of ‘Em:
1. Reggie Miller, Indiana Pacers
With Stephen Jackson slated to return on Wednesday at Boston, it all but assures that Reggie’s minutes will be cut significantly. If there are any decent GFs left in your free-agent crop, go get them now before it’s too late. Miller’s numbers could drop off so dramatically that he may no longer even hold a roster spot in your league. Don’t be that guy that holds onto him until it’s too late. The Knicks’ Trevor Ariza may be a good replacement.

2. Damon Jones, Miami Heat
There has to be someone to blame for Miami’s recent 3-5 skid, right? Coach Stan Van Gundy publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with Jones’ play of late and even went as far to say he may replace him in the starting lineup. PG Keyon Dooling or F Rasual Butler could get the nod if Jones is indeed demoted. I personally think this notion will pass however and once Miami gets back on track, the heat (no pun intended) will gradually come off of Jones. However, just to be safe, try and acquire someone with a bit more job security.

3. Grant Hill, Orlando Magic
MRIs are never good and always extremely bad when they are coupled with Grant Hill. Yes, I know this time the injury is with his wrist, but do you really want to risk anything with this guy? Those of you who did take a gamble in drafting Hill have most definitely gotten your worth. If there is anyone in your league with significant interest in the former Dukey take the safe route and deal him now.

4. Chris Webber, Sacramento Kings
Hmm, yet another random DNP for Webber Tuesday night against the Nets. C-Webb has missed just four games this season, but this should be considered a warning sign for fantasy owners to deal the oft-injured power forward. Remember that Webber missed 59 games last season and 15 the year before. There is no reason to think he isn’t due for a significant stretch in street clothes, so trade him now while his stock is still at its peak.

Worth the Risk:
1. Ron Mercer, New Jersey Nets
Yes, that’s right, Mercer is slated to return some time in the next week or so after resuming practice late last week. With veteran Rodney Buford starting right now and well, being Rodney Buford, it’s feasible to assume Mercer could be getting big minutes by mid-February. Do not be foolish and grab him now, just keep an eye on his return and how he looks in his first three to five games or so.

2. Tony Allen, Boston Celtics
This summer Allen attended Michael Jordan’s basketball camp in Chicago and quickly earned the nickname Ron Artest Jr. The former OK State star was shutting down every man he d’ed up and even managed to throw down some highlight reel dunks. Well, this same type of play has earned Allen the starting 2-guard spot in Doc Rivers rotation and the team seems thrilled about it. With Jiri Welsch and/or Ricky Davis undoubtedly on the trading block, this starting slot should remain Allen’s for the rest of the year (and years to come for that matter).

3. Brent Barry, San Antonio Spurs
Finally the so-called “X-factor” to San Antonio’s championship run is warranting useful minutes in Coach Gregg Popovich’s rotation. In the team’s four games last week, Barry averaged 12.8 PPG and 3.0 APG in 28.0 minutes. I know, not eye-popping numbers, but give him time to shed off the 52 layers of rust he’s accumulated over the past few weeks. With Beno Udrih the type of player seemingly destined for at least one stint on the IL, Barry should be getting 28-30 every night come February.

4. Keith McLeod/Raul Lopez, Utah Jazz
With Arroyo being shipped off to Detroit, the starting point guard spot in Utah is now in the hands of both McLeod and Lopez. Now there is the possibility these guys will spilt time the rest of the season ala Jason Williams and Earl Watson in Memphis, but there seems to be a hint of favoritism on the part of Sloan towards McLeod. If you need a back-up point and are willing to take a bit of a risk, grab McLeod now and maybe Lopez later.

Movin’ on Up
Teams on the rise

1. Chicago Bulls (21-19)

Still don’t believe the Baby Bulls are for real? After their victory over the Nuggets on Tuesday night, Chicago stood at a jaw dropping 12-2 for the month of January. Now granted, they’ve only beaten two teams over .500 during this stretch (Orlando and Detroit), but still, 12-2 is still remarkable especially for this team. This recent run of victories has allowed the Bulls to leapfrog the Pacers into third place in the Central Division, just 3 games back of the Cavaliers for first. While it is a bit early for playoff speculation, da Bulls currently hold the 7 seed in the East and seem poised to make their first postseason appearance since a guy named Jordan was on the roster.

2. Toronto Raptors (18-24)
Do me a favor and go look at the Atlantic Division standings. Now after your stomach settles look again at how the Raptors have progressed since the Vince Carter trade. Since December 17, the Dinosaurs are respectable 10-7, including 9-1 at home. For the season Toronto is a remarkable 15-5 at the Air Canada Centre but a dreadful 3-19 anywhere else. Just two games back of the division-leading Sixers and 3.5 back of the 8th seed in the East, it is not too far-fetched to think this team could squeak into the playoffs. Remember, the team that wins the Atlantic is guaranteed at least a 3 seed which would give the Raptors home court advantage in at least the first round. Amazing.

3. Memphis Grizzles (24-19)
Since Coach Mike Fratello took over for the “ill” Hubie Brown, the Grizzlies have gone 19-9 compared to just 11-13 before his tenure. The main difference has been the team’s ability to shut down their opponents’ offense. Before the coaching change, Memphis was holding their foes to an unimpressive 93.8 PPG. Since “The Czar” took over, that number has plummeted to 80.6 PPG over his first 28 games, an improvement that has helped the team rise to third overall in the NBA at 90.7. The Grizz have climbed all the way up to the 7th seed in the West and have critics once again believing they can do some serious damage come playoff time. The only worry is that some players may get sick of the whole 10-man rotation with egos starting to arise. However, with Fratello steering the boat, there have been no signs of a let down, so we have no reason to expect anything different in the near future.

4. Phoenix Suns (33-10)
Yes I know, the Suns can’t rise too much more when they already own the league’s second best record. But, losing an astonishing six games in a row last week gave fans reason for concern. However, since Steve Nash has returned from his rash of injuries, the Canadian PG has been able to right the ship with the team averaging 123.0 points in their last two. With the addition of Jim Jackson and possibly Walter McCarty in coming days, this Suns team will most definitely be one to reckon with come May and June.

5. Washington Wizards (25-15)
After getting blown out in their first two games without Larry Hughes, the Wizards appear back on track with three straight wins. In wrapping up their western road trip after hearing that Hughes would miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb, the Wiz were walloped by the Spurs and Mavs 101-73 and 137-120, respectively. Since then, they have defeated the Raptors at home and more impressively, the Pacers and Cavaliers on the road. PG Gilbert Arenas has stepped up in Hughes’ absence averaging (as mentioned above) 32.3 PPG and 4.5 APG over his last four. Once Juan Dixon is able to return from his flu symptoms, look for him to take over where he left off in averaging 18.3 PPG, 4.7 APG and 2.7 steals starting two games for Hughes.

Free Falling
Teams in Big Trouble

1. New York Knicks (17-24)

The Knickerbockers are currently in the midst of a 7-game losing skid and have also dropped 11 of their last 12. To make matters worse, Isiah Thomas replaced the legendary Lenny Wilkens with Herb Williams (of all people) instead of going after someone with experience. I mean Herb Williams? No one took this guy seriously when he played for the Knicks, now he’s their coach? If it’s me, I do my very best to trade the Thomas boys (Tim and Kurt), which is damn near impossible, and start giving big time minutes to Michael Sweetney. Also, keep Trevor Ariza in the starting five (21 points, 11 boards and 2 steals last night in 37 minutes). These two, along with Nazr Mohammed, could provide a formidable frontcourt for New York. With Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford rounding out the first five and Allan Houston, Jerome Williams and whatever they can get back for the Thomas’ off the bench, there would seemingly be no reason this team couldn’t win the Atlantic. Is this so hard to figure out? Maybe Isiah should be calling me? Oh yeah, the Raptors just jumped them in the standings too.

2. Charlotte Bobcats (8-30)
Well, we kind of expected this at the beginning of the year didn’t we? The fact that the ‘Cats are going to break the 10-win mark has to be an achievement in itself. Losers of nine in a row and 15 of their last 16, Charlotte dropped another home game on Tuesday night to the Celtics who had lost their previous 9 on the road. During this string of consecutive defeats, the Bobcats have surrendered 103.8 PPG, while shooting a dreadful 62.3% from the free-throw line. The team currently ranks 29th in the NBA in this category at 66.6%. 11 of their 30 losses have come by 6 points or less. Imagine if they shot better from the line and won those six? We’d be praising this team with a 14-24 record, instead we look forward to the date our team plays these guys, home or away.

3. Golden State Warriors (12-29)
As mentioned before, when the Warriors have managed to start Speedy Claxton, Jason Richardson, Mike Dunleavy Jr. Troy Murphy and Cliff Robinson, the team is a respectable 7-7. However, with the constant influx of injuries on this team, first year Head Coach Mike Montgomery has not been able to remain consistent with this first five. The Warriors are truly cursed and it does no good that a huge chunk of their money is tied up in players like Adonal Foyle. On the bright side they have rusty assets such as Robinson and Dale Davis to deal. Maybe Chris Mullin could get a couple basketballs and a new headband for Derek Fisher in exchange for these two.

4. New Jersey Nets (15-26)
Well, you can’t blame the front office for trying. Upon their trade for Vince Carter, the Nets appeared poised to make a run at the Atlantic crown. Jason Kidd was rounding into form and Richard Jefferson was performing at All-Star levels. Then, RJ announced he would have to have season-ending surgery on his wrist and now trading Kidd is just a matter of time. If it’s me, I deal him to say, Memphis, and get back Earl Watson, Stro Swift and a first rounder. Those two plus VC and Jefferson could form a nice young core for years to come.

5. Portland Trailblazers (16-24)
In a week’s span Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Darius Miles and Zach Randolph all went down with injuries. These three have missed a combined 33 games this season leaving the team with very little hope of making the playoffs. Before Monday’s shocking win over the visiting Spurs, the Blazers had lost their previous 6 games and 10 of their last 11. They were relying on veterans Damon Stoudamire and Nick Van Exel for points every night and even inserted the undrafted James Thomas into their starting lineup. One positive note is the recent play of Joel Przybilla who has averaged 13.0 PPG and 13.5 RPG over his last four. With Randolph perhaps returning on Wednesday, maybe the Blazers can capitalize on their recent win over the Spurs. My guess is probably not.

Wednesday's NBA Picks

January 26, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony Picks:

Last Night: (3-0), Week: (4-1-1)
  • Denver [22-0] +6 over DETROIT [21-1]
  • Phoenix [19-2] -6 over MILWAUKEE [23-0]
  • Dallas [20-1] -5 over PORTLAND [18-3]
  • CLIPPERS [17-2] -3 over Lakers [21-2]

Note: Yes I am mocking Paul with my team records in parentheses.

1. I like the way the Nugs played last night. Chicago is becoming a tough place to play. Plus Rip is questionable as is Prince.

2. Phoenix is back on track and Vegas is still being generous with their lines.

3. Dallas hasn't covered in three games, and that Portland win over San Antone was a fluke.

4. And like Paul, I love the Clips tonight. Maggette is back also as the they look to avenge their early season loss to their Staples Center foes. GLTA

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (2-0), Week: (3-1)

  • WASHINGTON [10-17-3] -4.5 over Philadelphia [20-11-1]
  • Phoenix [18-15-2] -6 over MILWAUKEE [19-8-1]
  • Dallas [17-12-1] -5 over PORTLAND [13-16]
  • CLIPPERS [12-17] -3 over Lakers [10-13-2]--LOCK

It Sure Ain't Pretty

Brian "The Janitor" Cardinal might not mind mopping floors, but he apparently has a distaste for giving piggy-back rides as Dwight Howard attempts to jump aboard the foolhardy veteran.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Tuesday's NBA Picks

January 25, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks

Last Night: (1-1-1), Week: (1-1-1)

  • Phoenix -6 over NEW YORK
  • SACRAMENTO -9.5 over New Jersey
  • Seattle -3 over LAKERS

Paul's Picks

Last Night: (1-1), Week: (1-1)

  • Phoenix [17-15-2] -6 over NEW YORK [19-10-1]
  • Seattle [16-12] -3 over LAKERS [9-13-2]

I apologize for getting the picks up after the games already happened--but Blogger wasn't working before--if you check the picks under the Message Board, that's where mine are. And since it's me posting it, you can trust that Ant didn't cheat on his picks.

Monday, January 24, 2005

5 on Five 1/24-1/30

5 on Five

Week of 1/24-1/30
By Paul Benedict

5 Faces to Watch
Theme: Slow-Starters Rising

1. Chris Kaman, C Los Angeles Clippers
Kaman started the season on the injured list, so it's understandable why the big fella with the worst haircut in the NBA got off to a rugged start (November/December: 3.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG in 18.5 MPG). But since the ball dropped on 2005 (and Chris Wilcox went out with a leg injury), Kaman has shown that he has what it takes to be a legitimate center in the L (12.o PPG, 7.8 RPG in 29.4 MPG). With 4 of the Clips' next 5 at home before taking off for the East Coast on a 20 day, 9 game swing, it's not a bad time for Kaman to really make a statement and help keep the Clippers' fading playoff hopes alive.

2. Chucky Atkins, PG Los Angeles Lakers
Everyone talked about how Lamar Odom and Caron Butler needed to step up their play in the wake of Kobe Bryant't absence in order for the Lakers to stay afloat in the Western Conference. Nobody expected the 30 year-old Atkins to assume a major role for the Lakers, and perhaps he's the reason why the club is 3-1 since Kobe went down. In the last 4 games, Chucky is going off for 22.3 PPG on 49.3 FG%, 6.8 APG, and 3 3PTPG. With Kobe still at least a week away from returning, the Lakers can definitely use this kind of play from Atkins.

3. Tracy McGrady, SF Houston Rockets
It took McGrady the month of November before he became comfortable in his new surroundings (20.2 PPG, 40.7 FG%, 27.9 3PT%, 5.1 RPG, 5.4 APG), and since then the slinger's game has kicked in and the Rockets are showing signs of taking off. Since the beginning of December, T-Mac is averaging 28.1 PPG, shooting 44% from the floor--36% from beyond the arc, pulling down 6.8 RPG, dishing out 5.7 APG, and most importantly--Houston is 16-9.

4. Morris Peterson, SF Toronto Raptors
Vince Carter's trade to New Jersey really opened the door for Mo Pete, but nobody expected this kind of production from the former Michigan State Spartan. Over his last 10 games, Peterson is averaging 19.0 PPG, on 47.3% shooting overall, 47.4% from 3-point land, nailing 2.7 3s a game, and also grabbing 5.5 RPG, and dealing out 2.8 APG. Vince Carter's numbers as a Raptor this season--15.9 PPG, 41.1 FG%, 32.2 3PT%, 1.0 3PTPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.1 APG. And people wonder why the Raptors are 10-8 in the post-Vince Carter era when they were just 8-16 before the trade?

5. Kenny Thomas, PF Philadelphia 76ers
Thomas got off to a rough start to the season, even losing his starter's spot at one point as Jim O'Brien juggled with the Sixers' rotation. But since OB has settled down with his lineup shuffling and Thomas has seen consistent minutes, the power forward has been in a nice groove. Over the last 11 games, KT is averaging 16.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 49.3 FG%, and an impressive 89.7% (35-39) from the line. With Thomas and AI always a sure thing for the Sixers, look for the club to pick up its play as Samuel Dalembert and Andre Iguodala continue to improve on the offensive end.

5 Fascinating Factoids

1. The Toronto Raptors are 11-2 when Chris Bosh attempts 14+ field goals and just 4-15 when he takes less than 11 shots in a game. This makes it a little more understandable as to why GM Rob Babcock is building his franchise around the 2nd-year stud. Bosh still has some work to do as far as becoming more assertive as the team's go-to-guy, but these numbers just go to show that the Raps' future looks like its in good hands.

2. came out with another fascinating statistical list this past week--foul drawing by player. The stats themselves aren't too surprising--Danny Fortson is far and away the leader (36% of his shots he's fouled on) and that's his game--offensive rebound, draw the defense, pump fake, get hacked, free throws. Other guys at the top that aren't too shocking--Sweetney, Shaq, Amare. The highest ranked backcourt players are Corey Maggette and Dwyane Wade who are known for taking it to the hole with authority. At the bottom end of the list is mostly guards with the exception of one mildly surprising name--Kurt Thomas (2.6%). Now I understand that most of Kurt's shots are 18-footers off of Marbury penetration, but regardless, you're telling me a PF that plays about 37 MPG, averages awfully close to a double-double (11.7 PPG, 9.7 RPG), and shoots a shade below 80% from the line (79.5%) HAS TAKEN JUST 44 FREE THROWS ALL SEASON?! Why doesn't Isiah bring in Charles Oakley to coach these guys?

3. Speaking of Danny Fortson, there's nobody in the NBA that the leads the league in as many categories as he does. Aside from topping the L in fouls drawn per player, he's also the league leader in total fouls (167) , fouls per game (4.6), fouls per 48 minutes (11.9), flagrant fouls (3), technical fouls (14), and tied for first in ejections (2). Somebody has to come up with a nickname for this guy--please send in suggestions.

4. Can anyone guess who the NBA's team leader in FG% defense is? Spurs? Nope, they're 2nd at 41.4%. Detroit? 8th--43.4%. Indiana? Eww, no way--18th at 44.8%. Hmm--Houston? 3rd at 42.3%. Give up? THE CHICAGO FREAKING BULLS ARE #1 IN FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE DEFENSE AT 41.0%! Wow. The Bulls actually finished 12th a season ago, not too shabby for a team that finished with 23 wins. What's so interesting about this statistic is that people constantly criticize younger guys for coming into the league not knowing how to play defense, yet the Chicago Bulls (Average Age: 25) are getting the job done with a starting center who can't rebound or block shots (Eddy Curry), a point guard that everyone thought was a lock for lottery-bust because he wouldn't be quick enough to guard opposing points (Kirk Hinrich), and 4 rookies who aren't supposed to play solid defense in the NBA for a couple of years (Gordon, Deng, Duhon, and Nocioni). Of course a great deal of credit goes to Marcus Camby, Jr. (Tyson Chandler) and the host of veterans who seem to be playing for their lives (Davis, Piatkowski, Griffin, and Harrington). Man, in any other year Scott Skiles would be getting a tremendous amount of attention for Coach of the Year.

5. I was checking out ESPN's RPI rankings for the NBA, and one glaring statistic stood out to me--the Cleveland Cavaliers have played (according to a computer) the easiest schedule in the league (.469, next lowest .478-New York, highest .534-Denver). Now the Cavs still sit atop the Central Division standings, but keep in mind that only two teams have played less home games and the only decent Western team the Cavs haven't played yet is Dallas. Wait, what? My point is that computer rankings are useless and a total waste of my time.

5 Fretful Thoughts

1. After surprising many pundits by playing some competitive basketball early on and even winning 7 games before Christmas, the Charlotte Bobcats are discovering that gutsy efforts and hard work can only get you so far in this league. Now losers in 14 of their last 15, it's starting to look like Bernie Bickerstaff will be sitting front right at the NBA Draft Lottery. Now obviously to finish with the worst record in the NBA isn't such a terrible thing for the Bobcats--but when you consider how weak this year's draft looks, it's not exactly a blessing.

2. The Boston Celtics have now lost 9 straight games on the road, the last three at Toronto, New Jersey, and Atlanta. In all 9 of these losses, they've allowed over 100 points and they've dropped 7 of these by 8 or more points. Yet miraculously, the Celtics are just a half game back of the 76ers for the Atlantic Division lead. Luckily for the Cs, they travel to Charlotte on Tuesday to take on the Bobcats--now if they can't pull this one out, I'm terribly frightened that Anthony might fly out to Chicago on January 29th and go Jeff Gillooly on the Bulls roster to ensure his Celtics end this skid.

3. The latest in the Darko Milicic debacle--the Detroit Pistons acquire Carlos Arroyo for some backcourt depth in exchange for Elden Campbell and a future first-round pick. At first glance, it seems that the move would also push Darko up on the depth chart. And now with the Jazz wasting no time in waiving Elden Campbell, despite their frontline including Curtis Borchardt and Jarron Collins, Elden Campbell is ripe for the picking--and the Pistons are reportedly on their knees hoping and praying that the 36 year-old is available for them. In the pantheon of 'spitting your drink out of your mouth' moments, this is right up there with Joe Dumars drafting Darko ahead of Carmelo Anthony.

4. The Denver Nuggets just can't seem to avoid the injury bug and aside from Mr. Injury-Prone himself, Marcus Camby, it seems they've just been having a tremendous amount of bad fortune this season. It began with Voshon Lenard's season-ending achilles injury on opening night and since, the Nuggets have entered a game featuring their Big 4 upfront ('Melo, Martin, Camby, Nene) just 13 times in 40 games. Kiki placed some blame on Jeff Bdzelik, many critics are going after Michael Cooper now, but how can anyone expect the Nuggets to be playing playoff-type basketball when they're missing a key player about 3 out of every 4 games?

5. A couple weeks ago during a Rockets broadcast on ESPN, Jm Gray reported that according to Houston's Strength & Conditioning Coach, Yao Ming's body fat is down by 5% and his conditioning is up 20% from a year ago. Yeah, ok. If this is true, then that 7-5 Chinese guy playing for the Rockets last year wasn't Yao Ming. Have you seen him this year? I indulge you to watch Yao the next time the Rockets are on--he can't stay on the court for more than 5 minutes at a time without wheezing, bending over to catch his breathe, being the last player to make it down court on every single possession, getting burned at least a handful of times on defense, causing ill-advised fouls because he's slower laterally on defense than a brick, or tossing up a 22-foot baby hook because he's too exhausted to muscle for position on the block. I'm not saying it's entirely Yao's fault--the guy hasn't had a vacation from basketball in years, and, well he is 7-5 and that just can't be easy on the body. But Jeff Van Gundy needs to evaluate this situation. Maybe give Yao some time on the injured list, maybe bring his minutes down to 30 a game, I don't know. I do know that Yao brings very little to the table when he's as out of breathe as a fat stoner walking up a flight of stairs.

5 Fantastic Matchups

1. Boston at Charlotte, Tuesday at 7:00
Just a terrible game--the Celtics have lost 9 straight road games and the Bobcats have dropped 14 of 15 overall. I highly recommend you avoid watching this basketball game unless you want to see an abomination of a basketball game. But for me--I'm going to be all eyes for the sheer satisfaction of watching my partner Anthony pull a Michael Douglas in "Falling Down" after they lose their 10th in a row away from the Fleet Center.

2. Lakers at Clippers, Wednesday at 10:30
The Clippers have suffered a string of tough losses recently, but this is one they HAVE to win, especially when considering that the Lakers, who still apparently own Staples, will be without Kobe Bryant. Now if I'm Elton Brand or Corey Maggette, playing for a franchise that's lucky to have one must-win game a season, I am not letting my team lose this behemoth of a battle.

3. Detroit at Indiana, Thursday at 7:00--TNT
The last time these teams met, it was the first rematch post-"Malice in the Palce". The next time they play, it will be the first time they face off in Detroit post-"Motor City Melee". So while this game doesn't quite carry the presidence of the other two, it's still Pistons/Pacers and you have to watch.

4. Sacramento at San Antonio, Thursday at 9:30--TNT
After getting completely humiliated in their own house on Sunday night, the Kings have got to show us something in this one if they want anyone to take them seriously as a contender. Luckily for them that game was only on locally, all eyes will be watching this one.

5. Cleveland at New York, Friday at 7:00--ESPN
On January 8, ABC kicked off its 2005 NBA coverage in Cleveland with a good 'ole butt-kicking as the Cavs absolutely man-handled the Knicks. With the Knicks now losing their head coach as well as 6 straight games and only a date with the Suns before this nationally-televised game, well...gulp.

5 Fearless Forecasts

1. It seems to be everyone's favorite topic of conversation--who is going to be sent packing by the February 24th trade deadline? Truth is, many of the names you hear being discussed probably will end up staying put, but allow me to clue you in on some guys whose names you aren't hearing that could easily have a new zip code within the next month: Tim Thomas, Derek Anderson, Jeff McInnis, Marko Jaric, Earl Watson, Bonzi Wells, Rodney Rogers, Damon Stoudamire, Jerome James, Vladamir Radmanovic, Juan Dixon, and Kwame Brown.

2. The Minnesota Timberwolves will make the playoffs--as an 8 seed. It's time for people to face up to the fact that the 'Wolves are simply not that good. They don't spread the ball well enough on offense, they rely too much on their perimeter shooting, and their defense is among the worst in the entire league. Luckily, they have Kevin Garnett, who will force a trade to the Hawks before he lets his team miss the playoffs. But one player can only take you so far in this league and when you have guys surrounding him that just don't complement his game well enough, then you run into some trouble. I still think Cassell, when healthy, is an ideal point guard for KG because he runs the pick-and-roll as well as any floor general in the league. At the 2/3, the 'Wolves need a sharpshooter who can comfortably guard the perimeter (because Sammy can't) and look to distribute the ball some--Wally Szczerbiak, Troy Hudson, Latrell Sprewell, and Trenton Hassell--none of them fit this bill and so now you can understand why there's been whispers that the team is considering trading for Eddie Jones, who I still don't think gains you much. If I'm Kevin McHale, I'm either ready to unload anyone on my roster not named Kevin Garnett for Michael Redd to try and salvage this season, or crossing my fingers that the Sonics continue to blow it with Ray Allen and maxing him out this summer. Garnett and Allen? Would that not instantly put the Wolves up there with anyone?!

3. I haven't gotten the chance to see many college basketball games this season, but I did check out the UConn/Pitt game Saturday night and kept a close eye on Chris Taft who's being lauded by many as the potential #1 pick in this year's draft. Are you kidding me? Chris Taft will not be the #1 pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. He reminded me a lot of Chris Wilcox with less explosiveness, but tougher on defense. If he goes first, I mean yikes--is the draft class this year that bad? One guy I do like, and always have, is Chevon Troutman who had a monster game (29 and 12). I've been hearing that there's a better chance he'll be picked higher in this year's NFL Draft than in the NBA Draft given the success of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. He's big, but lean, very agile, has awesome hands, and is a gifted athlete. Chevy could end up being a great tight end, but I can also see him creating a niche for himself in the NBA a la Jerome Williams or Brian Cardinal--definitely a name to track in the future.

4. There's been all this talk about who will and who won't make the All-Star game and obviously that's a great debate every year and this season is certainly no exception. But how about the Rookie/Sophomore game? Believe it or not, there's a bunch of guys that in any other year would make either of these squads, but with the plethora of productive young players the past two seasons, a bunch of deserving names will likely be stuck at home during All-Star Weekend. So allow me to initiate the topic right here, and remember--9 guys to a team. The 2005 Rookie Team: Ben Gordon, Andre Iguodala, Luol Deng, Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Josh Smith, Beno Udrih, Andres Nocioni, and Al Jefferson. The 2005 Sophomore Team: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh, Kirk Hinrich, Josh Howard, Chris Kaman, and Luke Ridnour. Apologies to Nenad Kristic, Tony Allen, Chris Duhon, Matt Bonner, and Anderson Varejao for the rooks, and Marquis Daniels, Jarvis Hayes, Kyle Korver, Mike Sweetney, and Maurice Williams for the sophs.

5. Don't get your hopes up Knick fans, Phil Jackson is not going to coach the New York Knicks. C'mon now, does the Zen Master really want to get involved with that mess of a team? The Knicks are at least a few years away from being elgible to contend, with their slew of hefty contracts and a franchise player that is a far cry from a franchise-level player. I really believe that Jackson admitting he would listen to the Knicks if they offered him the position is just a way of him saying that he does miss the game and will indeed coach again. But for him to take a project position--no. You're confusing him with Larry Brown. Jackson will pick the right job when it comes along--if I had to pick three locations I could see him ending up at in the next couple years, I would say Minnesota, Miami, and Cleveland.

Monday's NBA Picks

January 24, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks

Last Night: (0-2), Last Week: (9-11)

  • Miami -4 over PHILADELPHIA
  • Chicago -3.5 over ATLANTA
  • Detroit +3 over MINNESOTA

Roadies tonight...Sorry about the tail off last week. I was going strong then screwed around on my birthday, making my picks in .7 seconds. I predict a big week for myself. Sorry about not updating the standings recently. I asked Paul to do it since he does very little already and he agreed. As you can see he got right on it. Now you see what a jerk I have to work with. GLTA this week

Paul's Picks

Last Night: (1-1), Last Week: (11-9)

  • CLEVELAND [15-14-1] -6 over Washington [10-16-3]
  • Chicago [16-14] -3.5 over ATLANTA [16-12]

I hope Anthony choked on his birthday cake and the candles lit him on fire. I try to do as much as I can in the time I have--I've finally settled down in my new home and will fully devote myself to this site once again. You have my word. See it's easy for Anthony when his colleagues actually encourage him to keep himself busy by working on our site so he doesnt pick his bellybutton lint all day. I will say this--Ant did ask me to put up the "Picks Standings" and I may or may not have said I'd do it, I can't remember. But at no point did I have any intention of putting the Picks Standings up. Had to clear that up. Anyways, I'll have a 5 on 5 up by tonight, and hopefully my next Draft Look-Back in the next couple days. We are still working on turning this blog into a site as well, it's been a slow process, but if you were to compare it to sex--I'd say we're still in the middle of foreplay--with big plans to ya know, do it up all the way. Anyways--picks for tonight: sticking with my "Home East over Home Road"--Cavs and Wiz fit that theory nicely anyhow. Of course my second game would also go by this, but Atlanta's a train wreck and the Bulls are dope. G'luck

Ant's Mid-Season Awards

By Anthony Peretore

After Paul provided us with his NBA mid-season awards last week, it seems necessary for me to offer my opinions, if for anything, reader comparison. Instead of just making my selections and jotting down how great so and so is (which I will do several times), I will also challenge Paul’s selections, if different from mine. Hopefully this will stir enough controversy that some of our readers (in addition to Slack) will chime in with their thoughts. Enjoy…

Most Improved Player:
Bobby Simmons, Los Angeles Clippers
Paul: Chris Mihm, Los Angeles Lakers

In my opinion (which is biased since Simmons is on my fantasy team), this isn’t even close. Now, Mihm is having a very productive season and seems to be settling in nicely now that the early season pressure is removed and the center position is his for keeps. But, once again the numbers do not lie and Simmons clearly takes the cake. Take a look:

2003-04: 17.5 min, 6.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 0.9 BPG
2004-05: 26.2 min, 10.9 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.7 BPG
Change: 8.7 min, 4.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.8 BPG

2003-04: 24.6 min, 7.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 0.9 SPG, 39.4 FG%
2004-05: 37.6 min, 15.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 48.2 FG%
Change: 13.0 min, 8.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 8.8 FG%

Now, Simmons increase in PT is 4.3 minutes greater than Mihm, but that difference is hardly worth mentioning. Simmons has also stepped up as a leader on this young Clippers team and has even emerged as their primary defensive stopper. In addition, the Clips are fighting for a playoff spot, something they do only once every five to six years. Mihm on the other hand, is merely a role player for the Lakers and you could even make the argument that he is the least valuable of their starting five. Simmons is the third most important player on his team and the Clippers would be figuring out whom to select with their top 3 pick if it wasn’t for his improved play. Finally, as Paul said, Mihm was supposed to be a stud out of college, but now that he’s finally putting up decent numbers does that mean we should immediately praise him and hand him this award? If anything Simmons should get the nod just because he wasn't taken 7th overall in the draft but slightly lower as the 13th selection of the 2nd Round! Go Bobby, go Clips!

Runner Up:
Ant: Nazr Mohammed, New York Knicks
Paul: Larry Hughes, Washington Wizards

Nazr (12.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.1 BPG) has really stepped up this season after many anticipated he wouldn’t survive playing big minutes. He has really been the rock of the Knicks’ front court as PF Kurt Thomas and SF Tim Thomas have struggled. Hughes has been great, but his inevitable 4-6 week injury scratches him write off my list.

6th Man of the Year:
Ant: Jerry Stackhouse, Dallas Mavericks
Paul: Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls

I do like Paul’s selection of Gordon, I just like Stack a little better for this award. Sure the former Tar Heel gets more minutes than Gordon (30.6 to 22.6) but there’s a reason for that. As many games as Fishsticks has won for the Bulls lately (what 2 or 3?), there’s a reason his minutes aren’t higher. Earlier in the season he was a liability, particularly in November when he was shooting a dreadful 35.6% from the floor. Now in Dallas, starting SG Michael Finley has missed 15 games for the Mavs this season and the team’s other GFs, Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels, have been in street clothes for a combined 12. So who was there shouldering the load in their absence? That’s right, Stackhouse, who remained the sixth man in all but 2 of these contests and managed to average a steady 15.5 PPG off the pine. Bottomline is, there is more pressure in the Western Conference playoff race than there is on a Bulls team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since Jordan left. Stack’s my guy.

Runner Up:
Ant: Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls
Paul: Antonio Daniels, Seattle Supersonics

Gordon’s been the unmistakable catalyst for the Bulls in their recent 10-2 stretch for the month of January. Daniels is a solid choice, but the same could be said for Fortson and Radmonovic. You cannot single out one guy from this Sonics team as they have all been equally important to Seattle’s surprising start.

Coach of the Year:
Nate McMillan, Seattle SuperSonics
Paul: Nate McMillan, Seattle SuperSonics

This is an absolute no-brainer in my book. Do me a favor, 1) Go back and see how many people, including ESPN’s “experts,” picked the Sonics not only to miss the playoffs, but also to be the worst team in the West. Then, 2) Take a look at their roster, and also, 3) Glance over their brutal schedule thus far. Finally 4) Add up all of your conclusions and tell me how on Earth this team is 28-11. The only explanation is that Nate McMillan is secretly Jesus or more practically, the NBA Coach of the Year. We’ll go with the latter. (Note: The Sonics are also the only team to beat the Spurs in San Antonio this season)

Runner Up:
Ant: Mike D'Antoni, Phoenix Suns
Paul: Mike D’Antoni, Phoenix Suns

As Paul mentioned, Mike D’Antoni has the obvious weapons, while McMillan certainly does not.

1st Team All-Rookie:

  • Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats
  • Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls
  • Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
  • Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
  • Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers

2nd Team All-Rookie:

  • Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
  • Chris Duhon, Chicago Bulls (Paul: Beno Udrih)
  • Trevor Ariza, New York Knicks (Paul: Anderson Varejao)
  • Andres Nocioni, Chicago Bulls
  • Al Jefferson, Boston Celtics

As Paul stated, “the first team is pretty cut and dry” and these guys are All-Stars in the making. The second team was a little tougher to draw up just because of the large crop of talent this year’s draft produced. Paul liked Udrih, but how hard is it to look good once every three games playing on the best team in the league? What about Duhon? His numbers are not stellar by any means, but doesn’t it mean something to start the last 29 games for the up-and-coming Bulls? It just so happens that Chicago got their first win of the season when the ex-Dukey made his initial start and the team has gone 19-10 ever since. As for Varejao, I agree he’s going to be a stud, but he hasn’t done too much this season (4.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG in 13.0 min) to merit a spot on this 2nd team. I believe Ariza (2nd round pick), a guy who busts his hump every night on a laxidazical Knicks team, deserves it a bit more. It doesn’t really matter because my boy Tony Allen will put this entire debate to rest by March, as will Shaun Livingston.

Rookie of the Year:
Ant: Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats
Paul: Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats

Anyone who debates this is nuts. Howard has been solid on Orlando and Gordon has won countless games (according to Paul) for the Bulls, but Okafor is a potential All-Star reserve in his rookie campaign. If this was baseball and each team got to send a player to the All-Star game who do you think would go for Team BET? The UConn grad has been phenomenal on both ends of the court all season: 15.2 PPG, 11.2 RPG, and 1.3 BPG. Name me a rookie in recent past with numbers like that. The number 1 pick, Howard, doesn’t score and is extremely inconsistent on D which frequently leads Coach Johnny Davis to sit him in the fourth quarter in favor of Tony Battie. If you had to start a team with one player from this year’s draft, who would it be? While Howard may end up averaging KG-type numbers, Okafor is of that invaluable Kirilenko mold, a guy whose team would undoubtedly do a 180 without him. Mek put up 18-19-1-3-3 in a game last week, a line that Howard seems in no way capable of producing at this stage. As for Gordon as ROY, give me a break. There’s hardly any pressure on the kid and he gets to shoot 15 shots every night without any repercussions. It’d be a shame if Okafor didn’t sweep the first place votes.

Runner Up:
Ant: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Paul: Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls

1st Team All-Defensive:

  • Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs
  • Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Shawn Marion, Phoenix Suns
  • Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

2nd Team All-Defensive:

  • Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Larry Hughes, Washington Wizards
  • Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz
  • Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat

Not sure how Shaq got Paul’s nod over Duncan since TD has better rebounding and block numbers playing alongside the 7-1 Rasho Nesterovic. Paul would then come back and argue that Udonis Haslem has better rebounding numbers than Nesto and then I would just say, “who cares.” Bowen and Wallace are staples on the first team, as is KG. Hughes, the NBA steal leader at 2.8, can be argued since he actually plays rather soft D, floating around the wings just going for steals. He’s like that NFL cornerback who has 8 or 9 interceptions but gets burned for TD’s twice as much. If you call that defense, fine, but 20 ticks left and Kobe’s got the ball in his hands, is Larry really going to stop him? I bet Marion’s got a shot.

Defensive Player of the Year:
Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs
Paul: Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs

The guy got NBA Player of the Week for playing sound defense. Isn’t that saying enough? Plus he’s the only player in the NBA named Bruce.

Ben Wallace and Kevin Garnett
Paul: Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

1st Team All-NBA

  • Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat
  • Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
  • LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

2nd Team All-NBA

  • Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
  • Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
  • Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns

3rd Team All-NBA

  • Chris Webber, Sacramento Kings
  • Shawn Marion, Phoenix Suns
  • Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
  • Ray Allen, Seattle SuperSonics
  • Tracy McGrady, Houston Rockets

As you can see, my most notable change from Paul’s first five is Dwyane Wade replacing Steve Nash. How could Paul have Wade all the way down on the third team you ask? Well, if you knew what Paul did in his free time you would understand. Wade has put up spectacular numbers across the board and should be considered just as valuable to that Heat team as Shaq is. Since when are 23.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 7.6 APG, 1.6 SPG, 1.0 BPG not first team numbers? The counter argument of course is that without Shaq, Wade would be putting up far worse numbers, which is crap. Nash has been great offensively, but until he does it on both ends of the floor I’ll leave him on the second team. My only other notable change was removing Jermaine O’Neal from the list completely partially because I don’t like him and also because of his suspension. Marion is quietly is having one of his best (if not the best) seasons as a pro: 19.3 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.1 SPG and 1.5 BPG. Besides that, I agree with Paul’s selections completely. As for the other guys worth mentioning: either 1) Injuries (Kidd, Kirilenko, B. Davis), 2) Pouting (V. Carter, Pierce), 3) Drop off in play (Peja, Yao), or 4) Just missed out (S. Francis, Marbury, G. Arenas, L. Hughes), are the factors that kept these guys off the list.

Ant: ????????????????????
Paul: Shaquille O’Neal, Miami Heat

Honestly, I have no clue right now. I started writing my case for LeBron, but then everything Paul said about Shaq started to make sense. Then I thought, wait a minute, what about Wade? If Odom and Butler were back on the Heat I bet he’d still have similar numbers and the Heat would remain the team to beat in the East. Then I went back to LeBron because I have his shoes and they’re pretty sweet. Then I looked at Shaq’s numbers lately and decided I agreed with Paul again. Then I thought, nah, I’ll go with the underdog and write about Wade. Then I wrote this garbage paragraph that got me nowhere. Bottomline is, right now it’s a shear toss-up. The most amazing thing is that KG, Duncan and Kobe aren’t even being mentioned by the media right now. This in itself leads me to believe that whomever we decide on today will change tomorrow and most certainly change come June. The second half of the season should be one of the more exciting 41 games in recent memory.

Paul: LeBron James

Hottest Retro-Jerseys
Washington Wizards

I can’t believe I’m about to write this sentence, but that burnt orange uni looks fabulous. Arenas #0 may be the best jersey out there right now.

Indiana Pacers

I saw this dude at my gym with the J. O’Neal royal blue and gold the other day and it looked great. Speaking of seeing kids with jerseys on, I saw a 6’2” white kid with glasses (DORK) with an orange Amare jersey, baggy sweatpants and Tims on. Please stop doing this—you know who you are.

Most Underestimated NBA clothing:

Those big heads t-shirts from the 80s and early-90s. I had the Team USA one with Jordan, Bird, Magic, etc. and lost it. I’ve haven't been the same since.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

What a Dickau

Apparently, Hornets' point guard Dan Dickau did not like Chris Kaman making fun of his hair products last night. Both Dickau and Kaman had to be seperated after this play with the collision clearly over more than just basketball. Dickau was heard screaming "Vidal Sasoon is way better" all the way to the bench. The Hornets went on for a 88-85 win.

Sunday's NBA Picks

January 23, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:

Last Night: (2-1), Week: (9-9)
  • Utah +8.5 over SEATTLE
  • SACRAMENTO +2 over San Antonio

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (1-1), Week: (10-8)
  • San Antonio [14-16-2] -2 over SACRAMENTO [11-13-2]
  • PHOENIX [17-14-2] -11.5 over New Jersey [13-13]

If I had my way, I wouldn't be picking any games today-- but, I have to pick two, so these are the ones I'm going with. I took the Spurs simply because when in doubt, they're the one team you may as well bet on. I'm hoping they bring the same intensity tonight as they did Friday in Phoenix. As for the Suns, I think with Nash back they're going to start rolling over everyone once again. Good luck tonight--GO BIRDS

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Wilkens "Canned"

That's right, Lenny. Take a good, hard look at Mike Sweetney's badunkadunk--because it's going to be the last time you EVER get such a good view.

Saturday's NBA Picks

January 22, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks

Last Night: (1-4) gross, Week: (7-8)

  • Chicago +7.5 over DETROIT
  • Memphis +2 over UTAH
  • GOLDEN STATE +3.5 over Cleveland

Paul's Picks

Last Night (6-1) holla!, Week: (9-7)

  • ORLANDO [22-6-1] -5.5 over Philadelphia [20-10-1]
  • Cleveland [14-14-1] -3.5 over GOLDEN STATE [12-16-2]


Manu Ginobili goes up for 2 of his career-high 48 points in the Spurs' inspired victory at the Desert against the Suns.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Friday's NBA Picks

January 21, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks:
  • Toronto +3.5 over WASHINGTON
  • Boston PK over NEW JERSEY
  • Detroit -5 over MILWAUKEE
  • San Antonio -2 over PHOENIX
  • SEATTLE -6 over Minnesota

It's my birthday, YAY!

Paul's Picks:
  • CHARLOTTE [9-15-3] +9 over Dallas [16-12-1]
  • Houston [11-17-3] +2.5 over NEW YORK [18-10-1]
  • NEW JERSEY [12-13] PK over Boston [12-16-1]
  • Indiana [16-9-2] +7 over MIAMI [14-13-2]
  • CHICAGO [15-14] -8.5 over Atlanta [15-12]
  • San Antonio [13-16-2] -2 over PHOENIX [16-14-2]
  • Memphis [14-18] -4 over DENVER [16-14]

Yeah, so obviously I'm putting up the picks tonight for once. Happy Birthday to Anthony--may he get all his picks right. Most games I've picked in quite awhile and I'm going to bet against the reeling teams with confidence--New York, Phoenix, and Denver. (Yeah Denver had a big win the other day--still, 'Melo and KMart are questionable). I also like the Bobcats to cover at home (9-4 as home dog); Jersey to add to the Celtics' road woes (6 straight losses against the line); Indiana to play Miami tight; and Chicago to continue to take care of business in games they should win. Good luck tonight, and get out there and get your drink on tonight--looks like the East Coast is snowed in for the weekend.

It's Not a Rumah

Here are some NBA rumors I have come across in the past few days and being the kind individual I am, I thought I'd share them with you:

  • Jazz PG Carlos Arroyo should be dealt to Detroit today for Elden Campbell and a future first-round pick.

  • Look for the Celtics to most definately move PG Gary Payton by the trade deadline. Payton's mother has just been diagnosed with cancer and she will be receiving treatment on the west coast. With GP's heart already back home in Cali, a trade to the Clippers (my opinion) makes the most sense. Payton's expiring contract will no doubt be very tempting for a handul of teams in the coming weeks. Also, rookie PG Delonte West is expected to be activated from the injured list today. If his play in the next few weeks is encouraging, moving GP would be in the best interest of the team.

  • It appears Boston, despite their frequent denial, are indeed still interested in Hawks' F Antoine Walker, the ex-Celt. With rookie Al Jefferson playing much better of late, it seems odd the C's would add another foward. The only logical reasoning behind this deal would have Paul Pierce moving to the '2' and 'Toine taking over at small forward. Thus, Ricky Davis would most certainly be involved in any deal, sending Jiri Welsch to the pine.

  • A key fantasy pickup next week may be New Jersey SG Ron Mercer. Rodney Buford is currently starting for the injured Richard Jefferson and has played well of late, but we cannot expect this to continue. Mercer, who should return next week, is definately someone to keep an eye on.

  • Finally, rumors out of Cleveland suggest that the Cavaliers are interested in both F/C Jamaal Magloire and/or PG Baron Davis. They are currently searching for a third team to enter negotiations. Look for C Zydrunas Ilgauskas to be the centerpiece to any deal.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


After passing three marble-sized kidney stones in a game for his Houston rec team "China," Yao is primed to take care of the Magic tonight on TNT.

Thursday's NBA Picks

January 20, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Anthony's Picks

Last Night: (3-0), Week: (5-3)

  • Houston +4 over ORLANDO
  • Clippers +12.5 over DALLAS

Road dawgs baby. T-Mac will no doubt turn in a solid performance back in Orlando. Rockets are due for a win and Hill's injury should effect the Magic a bit. I like the Clips again tonight, although this game could go any way. I'll ride them with these big spreads for now. GLTA

Paul's Picks

Last Night: (1-1), Week: (3-5)

  • ORLANDO [22-5-1] -4 over Houston [11-16-3]

Houston is terrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrible!

And the Envelope, Please...

January 19, 2005

By Paul Benedict

-It's almost to the halfway point of the season, and before everyone else comes out with their mid-season awards, here are mine:

Most Improved Player--Chris Mihm, Los Angeles Lakers
I'm a firm believer that this award should not simply go to a young star who made the inevitable leap when given hefty minutes a la Zach Randolph, Gilbert Arenas, and Jermaine O'Neal recently. Chris Mihm was a throw-in by the Celtics in that Payton trade and he was expected to merely backup Vlade once he was ready to assume the starter's role. Well, Vlade never did get healthy and it wouldn't have mattered if he did--Rudy T was set on keeping Mihm in the starting lineup. Now even though his numbers don't jump out at you (11.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 BPG), nobody anticipated that 4 years after being mentioned as a possible top draft choice, Mihm would shed the bust label.
Runner Up--Larry Hughes, Washington Wizards
Shame on Larry for waiting until a contract year to show his true stardom--there's no way he's getting this award from me for this simple reason.

6th Man of the Year--Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls
If Gordon were to keep coming off the bench for the remainder of the year, which is a distinct possibility given how much he's excelled in the role, he would become the first rookie to win the award in NBA history. Right now, I'm not sure who's even close to Gordon. Since Scott Skiles has settled on a rotation after this team's miserable start, the Bulls have charged up the East standings and now seem firmly intent on making the playoffs. And though the Bulls have received some terrific team play, Ben Gordon has single-handedly been taking over in the 4th quarter.
Runner Up--Antonio Daniels, Seattle SuperSonics
One of three Sonics who could make a case for the award--Fortson and Radmanovic being the others. And people wonder why the Sonics are so good.

Coach of the Year--Nate McMillan, Seattle SuperSonics
I'm sure at this rate, most people will say Mike D'Antoni is the choice here, but we have to remember that the Suns added Steve Nash and Q Richardson. Not to say that D'Antoni isn't an awesome candidate--nobody has done a better job of utilizing their assets as he has. But, Nate McMillan did not have the luxury of adding an All-Star point guard and a potential All-Star in the near future. And Nate McMillan was not given the comfort of knowing his job was safe when the season started either. AND, Nate McMillan was told time and time again that this team would struggle to win 30 games. Has there been a better Coach of the Year candidate?
Runner Up--Mike D'Antoni, Phoenix Suns

1st Team All-Rookie:

  • Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats
  • Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls
  • Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
  • Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
  • Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers

    2nd Team All-Rookie:
  • Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
  • Beno Udrih, San Antonio Spurs
  • Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Andres Nocioni, Chicago Bulls
  • Al Jefferson, Boston Celtics

I think the first team is pretty cut and dry and I'm not seeing anyone suddenly vaulting their way up with the possible exception of Josh Smith, who will likely need the summer off to work on his offensive game. I think the second team is exceptional and in the long run could end up having just as strong an impact as the first team. Smith and Jefferson look like stars in the making; Varejao is going to be a face we better get used to seeing once the Cavs are in the finals every year; reports out of San Antone already are suggesting that Popovich likes the long-term potential of Udrih, who's a more under-control, playmaking point guard, more than Tony Parker, and Nocioni seems like he'll be a solid role player throughout his career. Some rooks to keep an eye on in the second half that aren't listed above: Shaun Livingston, Nenad Krstic, JR Smith, and Tony Allen.

Rookie of the Year--Emeka Okafor, Charlotte Bobcats
Even though he's tailed off as of late, he's still currently entrenched as the rookie of the year in my eyes. And for anyone that's going to give me that, "Well, I'd give it to Dwight Howard because he's helping his team into the playoffs," I have two responses for you: 1-It's not Emeka Okafor's fault he's doing every thing in his power to win games for an expansion team while Howard is enjoying the luxury of playing for a playoff team, with better players around him mind you. 2-And for all those who would hand the award to Howard, who's maybe been the 3rd or 4th most valuable player on the playoff-bound Magic, why not give it to Ben Gordon, who has single-handedly won a number of games for the playoff-bound Bulls?
Runner Up--Ben Gordon, Chicago Bulls

1st Team All-Defensive:

  • Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs
  • Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
  • Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat
  • Larry Hughes, Washington Wizards
  • Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves

2nd Team All-Defensive:

  • Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Shawn Marion, Phoenix Suns
  • Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Andrei Kirilenko, Utah Jazz

Wallace, Bowen, Garnett, and Shaq are all obvious first-team selections. Hughes makes it because he leads the league in steals by a lot, and even though his on-the-ball defense is nothing to speak of, his ability to create turnovers is integral to Washington's success. Garnett is my last choice on the first team largely because Minnesota's team defense has been atrocious, and since he's the catalyst, he has to take some credit for the fall. Still, 15 rebounds per game, and almost 2 steals and blocks a game makes it almost impossible to punish the Big Ticket. Duncan is awfully close to the first team, but I'm giving the nod to Shaq, who is having arguably his best defensive season in a long time. Kirilenko would certainly merit first team consideration had he stayed healthy--regardless, he still deserves to be on the second team at this point. Kobe hasn't had to guard as many star players this season, so it's understandable that he may slip to the second team this season after making the first the past 3 seasons. Iverson still has the quickest hands of any point guard, and Marion's 'jack-of-all-trade' antics certainly earn him this honor.

Defensive Player of the Year--Bruce Bowen, San Antonio Spurs

Take a look at some of the shut-down performances by Bowen this year:

  • On Tracy McGrady: 10-28 FGs, 4 TOs
  • On Carmelo Anthony: 4-15 FGs, 4 TOs
  • On Kobe Bryant: 5-16 FGs, 3 TOs
  • On Corey Maggette: 4-12 FGs, 2 TOs
  • On Quentin Richardson: 0-7 FGs, 0-4 3PTs
  • On Vince Carter: 2-9 FGs, 4 Pts
  • On Peja Stojakovic: 5-14 FGs

Bowen's ability to take out an opposing team's best scorer makes him invaluable to the Spurs--and a prime reason why they are far and away the best defensive basketball team in basketball right now and everyone's favorite to go all the way.

Runner-Up--Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons

You could easily give the nod to Wallace as well who's still the same beast he's always been.

1st Team All-NBA

  • Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
  • Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat
  • Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
  • LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

2nd Team All-NBA

  • Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
  • Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
  • Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Ray Allen, Seattle SuperSonics

3rd Team All-NBA

  • Chris Webber, Sacramento Kings
  • Jermaine O'Neal, Indiana Pacers
  • Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
  • Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
  • Tracy McGrady, Houston Rockets

KG, Duncan, and Shaq are no-brainers for the first team pretty much every year they play 70+games--this season is no exception. Nash runs the show for the best offensive team in the league and is the main reason in the team's incredible turnaround--hard not to include him on the 1st team. The final spot is where it gets tricky--LeBron over Dirk? Over Kobe? Over Amare? Dirk misses the cut largely because the All-NBA teams are chosen by possession and he just doesn't quite make the cut over KG, Tim, and Shaq. I like LeBron over Kobe because he's exceeded expectations, put up better numbers (see much better FG% and less TOs), and he does a far better job of making his teammates look better. And Ray Allen--being the best player on one of the best teams just isn't enough to get you merit ahead of LeBron. The 2nd team is just awesome and any one of these guys could make a push for the 1st team before the season's over. The 3rd team isn't too shabby either--Webber's steady play this season earns him a spot; Jermaine's stellar play if only in 20 odd games certainly earns him a slot; Wallace is hands-down the best center-elgible player not on one of the first two teams; Wade certainly belongs here and McGrady, though he hasn't been spectacular all season, has looked more comfortable as of late and any time McGrady is within his own element, he's going to earn All-NBA honors.

MVP--Shaquille O'Neal, Miami Heat

Ok, ok. I'm sure this is going to stir some debate, so feel free to chime in with your opinion. A lot of people are going to say Nash--c'mon now. Nash is not the MVP--a great story to what's been a remarkable season thus far for Phoenix, but you could argue that Nash is the 2nd-most, maybe even 3rd-most valuable player on that team this season. A lot of people are going to say, "hey look at how bad they've done since Nash went down", but that probably would have been the case if ANY of the starters went down. That starting five works as a unit, and when you tinker with it, bad things are bound to happen. You're telling me Steven Hunter is going to fill in comfortably for Amare if he goes down? Casey Jacobsen for Marion? Please. Tim Duncan? The best player on the best team argument goes here, but let's be honest, it's now easily apparent that TD has more help than we gave his supporting cast credit for in the past what with Parker, Ginobili, Bowen, etc. KG? Not even close--sure the numbers are there, but when there's whispers from Minnesota saying that KG has not been the locker room leader the team needs him to be this season, then you have to place at least some of the blame on KG for the team's abyssmal start. LeBron? Not quite, not yet. He still plays in the East and he's given easier matchups on defense with Newble guarding the opposing team's first options. Still, it's close. Shaq gets the nod from me and not because I'm one of those guys that thinks, "well if statistics didn't count, Shaq would get it every year." Shaq has single-handedly tilted the East towards Miami, making the Heat far and away the best team this side of the Western Conference. His conditioning in the off-season has also allowed him to be a bigger presence on the defensive end, eliminating any sort of post game opposing teams bring in to his house. And for all you number crunchers, chew on this--28.6 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 62.9 FG% since January 1st--way up from his modest early-season numbers. Shaq knows how and when to turn it on and I fully expect him to perform at this level for the remainder of the season and be on course to receive his 2nd MVP Award.

Runner-Up--LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers