Wednesday, November 30, 2005

2005-06 NBA Hardwood Classics

NEW YORK, December 1, 2005 – The NBA and its teams will celebrate the past with a series of retro games titled NBA Hardwood Classics Nights for the fifth consecutive season. As part of their celebration, 11 teams will honor their history by commemorating specific historical events and milestones, the history of basketball in their city, or legendary teams and players by wearing uniforms from each decade of the NBA’s history, as well as having special ceremonies, in-arena entertainment and promotions.

NBA Hardwood Classics Nights will tip-off December 4. There will be a total of 52 games scheduled; 16 of the 52 games will feature both teams wearing their HWCN uniforms; 16 of the 52 games will be televised on either ABC, ESPN, TNT or NBATV.

During the 2005-2006 regular NBA season, the following 11 teams will participate in NBA Hardwood Classic Nights:

New York Knicks - Road 1952-53. Debuts on 12/4 (NBATV)
Chicago Bulls - Chicago Stags Road 1946-47. Debuts on 12/5
Los Angeles Clippers - Road 1970-71. Debuts on 12/5
Seattle SuperSonics - Home 1967-68. Debuts on 12/6
Memphis Grizzlies - Road 1970-71. Debuts on 12/9
Phoenix Suns - Road 1975-76. Debuts on 12/9 (ESPN)
New Jersey Nets - Home 1975-76. Debuts on 12/10
Orlando Magic - Home 1989-90. Debuts on 12/10
Washington Wizards - Home 1971-72. Debuts on 12/10 (NBATV)
Miami Heat - Road 1971-72. Debuts on 12/11.
Houston Rockets Home 1993-95. Debuts on 2/22.

Last season’s Hardwood Classics Night highlights included the Philadelphia 76ers honoring the 50th Anniversary of its 1954-55 NBA Champion Syracuse Nationals and the Sacramento Kings celebrating 20 years in the city of Sacramento. Reebok is the exclusive supplier of the HWCN on-court merchandise providing the teams with uniforms, classic inspired warm-ups, shooting shirts, headbands and wristbands. Last season, fourteen teams hosted NBA Hardwood Classics Nights games.

(Much thanks to Jim M. from UMass for helping us find these pics. Also thanks for taking Steve Lappas off of Villanova's hands as I'm sure you thoroughly enjoyed that tenure).

Wednesday's Picks

Baron Davis and the Warriors will be amped tonight for a big showdown with the Kings at The Arena.

November 30, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks:

Last Night: (4-3-1); Week: (5-7); Season: (112-91)
  • WASHINGTON -10 over Portland
  • ATLANTA +5.5 over Miami
  • Memphis -5 over TORONTO
  • CLEVELAND -8 over Clippers
  • BOSTON -1.5 over Philadelphia
  • NEW JERSEY +4 over Detroit
  • NEW YORK -1.5 over Chicago
  • New Orleans +8.5 over DENVER
  • Indiana +2.5 over PHOENIX
  • Charlotte +7 over SEATTLE
  • Sacramento +5.5 over GOLDEN STATE

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (6-1-1); Week: (8-4); Season: (106-97)

  • WASHINGTON -10 over Portland
  • Miami -5.5 over ATLANTA
  • Memphis -5 over TORONTO
  • CLEVELAND -8 over Clippers
  • Philadelphia +1.5 over BOSTON
  • Detroit -4 over NEW JERSEY
  • NEW YORK -1.5 over Chicago
  • New Orleans/OKC +8.5 over DENVER
  • Indiana +2.5 over PHOENIX
  • SEATTLE -7 over Charlotte
  • GOLDEN STATE -5.5 over Sacramento

--The Blazers are just about ready to pack it up and get back home after last night's drubbing in Philly. This will be their 7th game in 11 days on this brutal East Coast road trip. Wiz, much like the Sixers last night, are feasting their eyes on opponent like this to help get them back on track. WAS 101-90

--Miami has struggled away from home so this is their chance to gain a little confidence away from American Airlines Arena. The Hawks won't be ready for the energy Dwyane Wade and Alonzo Mourning have been bringing after having played last night in Houston. MIA 95-87

--Memphis has won each of the last five games that they haven't been outrebounded in-- that's been a consistent trend for them over the last 2+ seasons. Toronto is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. I also trust this experienced and well-coached Memphis team to take care of its business on most occasions. MEM 98-90

--The Cavs should bounce back after having a couple of days to figure out what went wrong in an ugly home loss to the Wolves on Saturday. Clippers will likely come in happy knowing they were able to take 1 of 2 in a back-to-back at Minnesota and Cleveland. CLE 104-90

--Even as sketchy as the Celtics are, it's still a little difficult to picture them losing consecutive games at home. Nevertheless, these Celtics couldn't cover the Eagles wide receivers right now let alone Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, and co. PHI 111-107

--Could it be a trap game for the Pistons with their much-anticipated meeting with Larry Brown and the Knicks on Friday? Nah. Detroit has had plenty of time to prepare for this game, they'll be primed. And I'll be there to watch 'em! Bo-yah! DET 99-94

--The Bulls enter MSG riding a very impressive 4-game winning streak, yet they're favored to lose to the lowly Knicks? I can't think of a reason to bank on the Knicks tonight, except for the fact that Chicago did play last night. You're slick, Vegas. NYK 88-86

--The Nuggets have covered in every game after coming off a loss since they dropped their first two of the season, but they'll be without Carmelo Anthony tonight. Who's going to score against an underrated defensive ball club? Hornets should keep it close. DEN 89-85

--Indiana has owned the Suns over the last 3 years with the exception of a fluke blowout loss last January in a game in which Jermaine O'Neal had just returned from his suspension and Rick Carlisle actually started Michael Curry. I think the Pacers defense will be too much for a Phoenix attack that is both predictable and stoppable. IND 94-89

--Charlotte has covered 4 of 5 while Seattle hasn't covered in any of their last 4. Charlotte should be able to keep it within 7 after getting smoked last night, right? Wrong. SEA 105-97

--Don't be fooled by Sacramento's mini hot streak-- all 3 wins came at home against lesser competition. The Warriors will be all fired up knowing they're actually hosting a meaningful game against a division rival. They should do no less than beat the Kings handily, just as they did twice in March last season. GS 106-94

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tuesday's Picks

November 29, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks:

Last Night: (1-4); Week: (1-4); Season: (108-88)
  • PHILADELPHIA -9.5 over Portland
  • Clippers +3.5 over MINNESOTA
  • MILWAUKEE -2 over Dallas
  • CHICAGO -7.5 over Orlando
  • SAN ANTONIO -12.5 over Lakers
  • HOUSTON -8.5 over Atlanta
  • UTAH +3.5 over Indiana
  • Charlotte +7.5 over SACRAMENTO

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (2-3); Week: (2-3); Season: (100-96)

  • PHILADELPHIA -9.5 over Portland
  • Clippers +3.5 over MINNESOTA
  • MILWAUKEE -2 over Dallas
  • CHICAGO -7.5 over Orlando
  • Lakers +12.5 over SAN ANTONIO
  • HOUSTON -8.5 over Atlanta
  • Indiana -3.5 over UTAH
  • Charlotte +7.5 over SACRAMENTO

Monday, November 28, 2005

5 on Five (Special Edition)

With the Lakers struggling and Kobe not trusting any of his teammates, it's just a matter of time before he starts pointing fingers.

5 on Five (Special Edition)
Week of 11/28 - 12/4

By Paul Benedict

We're now 4 weeks into the season and so it's time for me to throw you a curveball. With this week's version of 5 on Five, I'm going to mix things up a little bit. Instead of the usual breakdown of five topics in the same five specified categories, let's take a look at what we know so far after observing this first month of play. And since 5 x Five comes out to 25, here's 25 things we now know about this NBA season that we might not have before the season kicked off on November 1st.

1. Kobe Bryant still does not trust any of his teammates.
--Kobe is firing up 29.2 shots per game, which is four more than the NBA's other notorious Allen Iverson who comes in at #2, and 9 more than the league's third most frequent shooter, Gilbert Arenas at 20.4 And if you've watched Kobe play at all this season, he's taking at least 5-10 ill-advised shots per game. The question is-- can you really blame him with an even worse supporting cast this year?

2. Dwight Howard is not going to let us down.
--Subtract Wednesday's game against Washington in which he got into foul trouble, and Howard is posting jaw-dropping numbers of 17.3 PPG, 17.0 RPG, and 2.0 BPG over his last 6...and he's not even 20 yet. Furthermore, he's the catalyst behind the undermanned Magic's respectable 6-6 record.

3. The Dallas Mavericks are not taking a step back.
--Sometimes we overlook the importance of continuity by getting caught up in the potential improvements we assume teams will make simply by adding productive 'names' to their roster. The Mavericks are the prime counterexample to this train of thought, just as they were last year, by seemingly using their cohesion and experience to fend off clubs still learning how to put it all together.

4. The Toronto Raptors loss to Maccabi Tel-Aviv was no fluke.
--The Raps currently hold the NBA's worst record at 1-13 after coming off an excruciating West Coast trip that saw them blow three consecutive games in the 4th Quarter. Sam Mitchell has his guys playing hard night in, night out, but they really are that bad and it's not going to get any better assuming he starts giving the younger guys more burn.

5. Isiah Thomas might make for a horrible GM, but he sure as hell can draft well.
--Larry Brown hates to hand over hefty minutes to younger, inexperienced players, but there's simply no way he's going to deny Trevor Ariza, Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, and possibly even David Lee of considerable playing time given the way that they have contributed to the Knicks thus far. I've taken plenty of shots at Isiah, but I'm not afraid to admit that he apparently has a keen eye for young talent.

6. TNT still blows ESPN out of the building with their NBA television coverage.
--More on this to come in an upcoming article, but for now, just take a critical approach to this week's Thursday night TNT doubleheader and Friday's ESPN doubleheader. Somebody needs to tackle this topic and I believe it will make for better discussion if you guys are well-prepared.

7. The San Antonio Spurs are not a 70-win basketball team.
--They're a fantastic ball club, but Gregg Popovich is going to continue to monitor his players' minutes, take it slow with his players recovering from injuries, and save the majority of his intensity for when the Spurs really need it. 70 wins over 5+ months don't win you a championship, but 16 wins over the final 2 months always will-- Pop knows this as well as anybody.

8. The Bobcats are further along than almost anyone could have imagined.
--A 5-9 record does not exactly jump out at you, but consider this-- the Bobcats are one unimaginable 4th Quarter choke, one Brevin Knight floater, and one Brian Scalabrine screen away from being an 8-6 team. Furthermore, they're 4-4 when their newly-annointed best player Gerald Wallace is in the lineup. And to take things one step further-- Charlotte has beaten 4 teams that were in the Playoffs a year ago; the 9-4 Clippers have defeated only 2.

9. Brian Hill can actually coach...
--...contrary to what Penny Hardaway once told everybody. The Magic are giving up 88.5 PPG (lowest in the NBA) compared to 101.8 last season (28th in the NBA) and allowing opponents to shoot only 43.0% from the floor (7th in NBA). Though Orlando stands at a modest 6-6, Hill deserves a lot of credit for keeping the team competitive thanks to their defense, and things should only improve with Dwight Howard developing at an exponential pace and Grant Hill due to return shortly.

10. Chris Paul is going to be a superstar.
--Who would have guessed the Hornets would sit at 6-6 after trading away their All-Star center? I don't think fellow newcomers Kirk Snyder, Rasual Butler, and Arvydas Macijauskas have that much to do with NO/OKC's either. And if you want to credit the success of the team to David West, you better look at Chris Paul first because there might not be another player in the league right now who's benefitting more from the play of his point guard than West.

11. Physical halfcourt basketball no longer defines the Eastern Conference.
--Take a closer look at the 15 teams in the East. Count the clubs that prefer a slower-paced, halfcourt game. Right now, I see 4-- New York, Indiana, Chicago, and Orlando (I'll give you Detroit if you really want it). The game is changing my friends, and we're the ones who are going to benefit the most.

12. Yao Ming is never going to be an effective 35+ MPG player.
--As I just mentioned, NBA basketball has changed and no longer can a 7'6" guy keep up with the pace for 3/4 of a game. The Rockets are 3-11 right now partially because Tracy McGrady has been sidelined, but also due to Yao's inability to play like a star for the amount necessary to carry a team to victory. The time is now for Jeff Van Gundy to turn the pace up significantly and to play his best athletes major minutes (Swift, Anderson, Head), to sit his aging veterans considerably (Howard, Wesley, Barry), and to get the very best out of Yao in short spurts that will likely come out to 25-30 minutes per game.

Dude, SHUT UP!! Nobody even likes your ass.

13. It's time for Jim Gray to shut his mouth.
--Does anyone actually like this guy? Sometimes I'm so shocked ESPN is able to capture his stand-ups with that huge f*cking head of his. Did you ever notice that he ALWAYS sneaks in 3 questions during halftime interviews, exactly one more than any other sideline reporter? Or that he HAS to interview at least two or three celebrities or executives during each game, even if they have don't have anything significant to say or add nothing substantial to the telecast? It's downright maddening, and I think it's time for him to be placed on the inactive list.

14. Lawrence Frank's job is not secure.
--Jason Kidd and Vince Carter aren't getting any better, and Richard Jefferson is really starting to come into his own, so the time is now for the Nets if they're going to cause any sort of damage in the Eastern Conference. I'm not sure anyone had them going too far from the outset of the season, but we all kept them on the radar because they might have been a trade away from being considered a serious contender. That's not the case with the way they've played. When did they all forget how to play defense? Nobody to blame a lax defensive effort on but the coach.

15. That Boris Diaw guy can really play.
--Contrary to Anthony's mind-boggling belief, Diaw is not only the 3rd best player on this year's team right now, he's also more valuable to the Suns than the guy they decided not to spend 70 million on and swapped him for with the Hawks. His play might not jump out at you, but take consideration of what Diaw has brought to Phoenix-- the ability to step in and play any position, to pass the ball better than anyone on the team that's not the reigning MVP, and to defend big guys, little guys, and make plays on the defensive end. Diaw is really one of a kind player who is worthy of your attention if you haven't taken a look at his play yet.

16. Bonzi Wells knows it's a contract year.
--How else do you explain 14.1 PPG (highest since 2002-03), 8.5 RPG (previous high 6.0 in 2001-02), 3.0 APG (highest since 2002-03), and 1.9 SPG (career-high)?

17. Jerry West has not lost his mind.
--There was hardly a person out there who wasn't at least a little skeptical about what The Logo had done with the Grizz this offseason, exchanging youth and talent for experience and maturity. Now looking back it seems pretty clear that West decided it was time to build the team around Gasol, reward some supporting players from the past few years with more playing time, and to build team chemistry with the hope that the Grizzlies would be able to persevere when the odds were against them. So far, so good.

18. Marcus Camby is an All-Star when healthy.
--16.9 PPG (2nd among centers) on 56.3% FGs (6th in NBA), 13.9 RPG (1st in NBA), 1.5 SPG (2nd among centers), 3.3 BPG (3rd in NBA)-- need I say more?

19. Mark Blount is a complete moron.
--Blount has been a consistent offensive threat thus far for the Celtics this season (13.6 PPG, 53.0% FGs), but he still is clueless when it comes to contributing on the defensive end of the court (3.6 RPG in 30.3 MPG) and that is where the Celtics have been having their biggest problems. So what does Blount do? He opens his mouth on multiple occasions to the media, bitching about his role in the offense. And how does Doc Rivers respond to his starting center's actions? Be benching him on Friday...for the entire game. Big-ups, Doc.

20. Ron Artest is still completely and utterly insane.
--Anyone get a look at his new haircut? He's got "Tru Warrior" shaved into the back of his head. Yikes. But in the words of Happy Gilmore, "At least he hasn't punched anyone."

21. The Golden State Warriors are for real.
--What has impressed me most about this team so far has been their ability to pull it together in crucial situations down the stretch. The Warriors are 4-2 in games decided by 5 or less points which is impressive considering only two players in their rotation have any experience playing in important games. Golden State has also played some rather stingy defense (93.2 PPG, 29.4% Opp. 3-PT FGs-- tops in the league), a concern coming into the season. With an easy stretch at home coming up, look for the Warriors to position themselves well to stay in the thick of the Playoff race for the duration of the season.

22. The Cleveland Cavaliers still have their problems on the road.
--While an exciting win in Philadelphia was a step in the right direction, the Cavs looked like a D-League team as they took a beating from the Pacers on Thanksgiving night. If there's one thing we know heading into every NBA season, it's that no team can be considered a contender until they learn how to win big games on the road. A 3-game West Coast trip beginning on Friday in Seattle and continuing on Saturday at Staples against the Clippers and Tuesday at Sacramento could be very telling of where LeBron's team is headed.

23. Carlos Boozer has some bad karma.
--After stabbing a blind man in the back last summer when he reneged his verbal promise to re-sign with the Cavaliers, instead accepting a more lucrative offer to play with Utah, we all knew Boozer was due for some serious repercussions. Now between having missed 45 games since the beginning of last season and being despised by the entire state of Utah, including the organization, Boozer finds himself the topic of many trade discussions. My question is-- if Boozer is traded, is he back to even-par in karma? Or should he prepare for another tumultuous stint with his new team?

24. The Detroit Pistons are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
--I don't care if Shaq comes back 100% and Ron Artest stays on the court the entire season, the Eastern Conference Title is still Detroit's to lose. With a more potent offensive attack, a starting five that only continues to play better together, and a steadily improving bench, the Pistons are better than they have been the last two seasons and right now appear to be the team with the best shot at knocking off the Spurs.

25. The San Antonio Spurs are still the team to beat in the Western Conference (but maybe not by as much as we initially thought).
--Both the Mavericks and Suns seem poised to give the Spurs a legitimate run in the Playoffs, although nobody in their right mind would bet on an upset with the way things stand right now. The Mavs are going to have to take the Southwest Division and secure homecourt throughout to have a real chance at knocking off the Spurs. They could also help themselves by acquiring another big body to help them match up better with San Antonio's superior frontline. Phoenix needs Amare Stoudemire to return to the lineup at 100% and for the current roster to continue to develop chemistry and to remain healthy. If Dallas and Phoenix play their cards right and run into a little bit of luck, the Western Conference Playoffs could be interesting. I still wouldn't bet on this though.

Monday's Picks

Al Albert: "And what's this? Haha, check this out Clark, Ron Artest has shaved 'Tru Warrior' into the back of his head! What will he do next?"

David Stern: (sound of a grown man choking on Matzah ball soup)

November 28, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks:

Last Night: (2-1); Last Week: (23-23); Season: (107-84)
  • Dallas -8 over TORONTO
  • BOSTON -5.5 over Orlando
  • MIAMI -7.5 over New York
  • DENVER -8 over New Jersey
  • New Orleans +8 over GOLDEN STATE

--Dallas will wipe the floor with the Dinosaurs tonight. DAL 111-97

--In my eyes, Boston couldn't cover 6 points against Worcester Polytechnical Institute. So take the Magic, right? Wait a second. Orlando has won 3 in a row--most recently a 80-77 thriller vs. the Heat--and look to be establishing themselves as a contender for the 8th seed. On the other hand, the C's just gave the Hawks their first win of the year and needed a buzzer-beater by Paul Pierce to down the Bobcats. So why is Boston favored by 6? No clue, but the Celts absolutely owned the Magic, sweeping the season series 3-0. Look for more of the same tonight. BOS 105-96

--If the Knicks can't build on their thrilling win over the Sixers in Saturday, they should all be shot. Get the rifles ready because the Heat are going to cruise tonight after losing their last 2 and 3 of 4. Sorry Knicks fans. MIA 109-96

--After the Nuggets home-opening loss to the Lakers, they have outscored opponents at the Pepsi Center by an average of 16.8 PPG. Add to it that NJ just played an overtime contest in LA last night and those 8 points should be no problem. DEN 106-94

--Um, since when are the Hornets allowed to be 6-6? Shouldn't they be like -2-14 right now? I think Chris Paul and David West missed the memo. Look for a nail-biter tonight with the Warriors barely escaping this scrappy N.O. squad. (Note: every time GS has won by 10 points or more they've followed that up with a loss. Thus, take the Hornets.) GS 97-95


Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-3); Last Week: (26-20); Season: (98-93)

  • TORONTO +8 over Dallas - *Josh Howard Out*
  • MIAMI -7.5 over New York - *Eddy Curry Doubtful*
  • BOSTON -5.5 over Orlando
  • DENVER -8 over New Jersey - *Marcus Camby Probable*
  • New Orleans +8 over GOLDEN STATE

--The Raptors had played competitive basketball in each of their previous 8 games before getting stampeded by the Warriors in the final contest of a 4-game, 5-day West Coast trip-- can you really blame them? And while they won't be entirely rested after having only a day of rest, maybe the best thing that could have happened was getting blown out what with all of their starters getting plenty of rest on Saturday. Mavs may be hurt without Josh Howard as well. DAL 104-100

--The Heat have to be feasting their eyes on the Knicks tonight after dropping their last two. Knicks still aren't ready to consistently perform at the level they did in the second half against Philly on Saturday. MIA 98-86

--5.5 points seems a bit high for a shaky Celtics team and an Orlando club that has strung together 3 consecutive solid wins. Celts have owned the Magic in Boston-- I don't see that changing tonight. BOS 93-86

--New Jersey is screwed after playing overtime in L.A. tonight. Nobody likes going into Denver on the back-end of consecutive road games. DEN 101-83

--I'm still big on the Warriors and think they're only in the beginning of a hot streak that could lead them to the top of the Pacific, but don't underestimate the Hornets. This team is actually legit and matches up very well with the Warriors (quick guards and a tougher frontline). Warriors in a squeeker. GS 93-92

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday's Picks

November 27, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks:

Last Night: (4-4); Week: (21-22); Season: (105-83)

  • ATLANTA -3.5 over Portland
  • Indiana -2 over LA CLIPPERS
  • New Jersey +1.5 over LA LAKERS

--It's still the Clippers guys, c'mon. Indiana got embaressed the other night and will bounce back. Good teams always do. IND 97-94

--Perhaps the only team with a worse front court than NJ is LA. That's good for the Nets who finally get a win on this western trip. NJN 96-90

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (5-3); Week: (26-17); Season: (98-90)

  • ATLANTA -3.5 over Portland
  • CLIPPERS -2 over Indiana - *Ron Artest Probable*
  • LAKERS -1.5 over New Jersey

--Can Atlanta actually win 3 in a row? When you consider that Portland (of all teams) spent last night in every NBA players' favorite city, I think the answer is yes. ATL 93-88

--The Clippers should be favored by 3.5 or 4, which has me a little concerned, especially since Artest is expected to play. But the Clippers have bounced back from their first two losses with solid games and have literally been unbeatable at home. LAC 98-95

--The Nets are really struggling right now. I give the hometown the Lakers the edge with Lamar Odom beginning to show signs of stepping up. LAL 110-105

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Saturday's Picks

KG and the Wolves will look to slow down the Cavaliers at the 'Q' tonight.

November 26, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks:

Last Night: (3-9); Week: (17-18); Season: (101-79)
  • Missed the 76ers/Knicks pick. Damn.
  • New Orleans +7.5 over SEATTLE
  • Miami -3 over ORLANDO
  • CLEVELAND -10 over Minnesota - *Larry Hughes Questionable*
  • CHARLOTTE -2 over Washington
  • HOUSTON -2 over Chicago - *Tracy McGrady Doubtful*
  • DALLAS -7.5 over Memphis
  • Detroit -4.5 over MILWAUKEE
  • GOLDEN STATE -9 over Toronto

No analysis after last night...

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (8-4); Week: (21-14); Season: (93-87)

  • Missed the 76ers/Knicks pick. Damn.
  • New Orleans +7.5 over SEATTLE
  • Miami -3 over ORLANDO
  • Minnesota +10 over CLEVELAND - *Larry Hughes Questionable*
  • CHARLOTTE -2 over Washington
  • HOUSTON -2 over Chicago - *Tracy McGrady Doubtful*
  • Memphis +7.5 over DALLAS
  • MILWAUKEE +4.5 over Detroit
  • GOLDEN STATE -9 over Toronto

--The Hornets, just like last season, are playing everyone tough. Seattle isn't good enough to put anyone away easily. SEA 98-93

--The Heat have won 8 straight against the Magic, and it's not like traveling to Orlando is a tough haul for them. MIA 90-82

--If you're a Cavs fan, you must absolutely hate me. They'll win tonight, I don't doubt that. But Minnesota will give them a game. And oh yeah, they'll be wearing the new blues tonight. CLE 100-97

--Bobcats due for a pick-me-up after last night's stomach-punch loss. Wiz do for a let-down after last night's inspiring double OT win in Detroit. CHA 103-98

--There's absolutely no way Houston should be favored against Chicago tonight. I'll go the shady route. HOU 86-83

--The Mavs have struggled in back-to-backs. DAL 105-104

--Something tells me the Pistons are going to be FURIOUS tonight after that brutal loss to Washington, but the Bucks are a great home team. I think they steal this one. MIL 101-100

--4th in 5 nights for Toronto, and they've battled hard each game. Not tonight-- Warriors are coming off the type of win that gets a team confident and rolling. Blowout city, baby!! GS 119-101

Friday, November 25, 2005

Friday's Picks

How bad is Houston? Even Yao's ready to blow chunks...

November 25, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks:

Last Night: (2-0); Week: (14-9); Season: (98-70)
  • Portland +3 over ORLANDO - *Steve Francis Starting*
  • BOSTON -5.5 over Charlotte
  • Atlanta +12 over INDIANA
  • Dallas Pk over MIAMI
  • MEMPHIS -6 over Houston - *Tracy McGrady Questionable*
  • Milwaukee +6.5 over MINNESOTA
  • DETROIT -10.5 over Washington
  • SAN ANTONIO -11 over Chicago
  • Golden State -2.5 over UTAH - *Andrei Kirilenko Questionable*
  • Clippers +5 over DENVER - *Marcus Camby OUT*
  • SACRAMENTO -8 over Toronto - *Peja Stojakovic Questionable*
  • New Jersey +6 over PHOENIX - *Vince Carter Doubtful*

Some quick notes:

--POR 8-1-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 10 vs. ORL.

--BOS has beaten CHA by an average of 18.5 points at home in their last two games

--In their last 10 contests, IND has never beaten the ATL by more than 11

--DAL is 8-2 in their last 10 vs. MIA

--MIN is due for a tight one at home, going 4-1 ATS at home over their last 5

--DET is 9-1 ATS vs. WAS in their last 10 meetings

--SAS has won their last 9 meetings vs. CHI. They are 5-0 at home, CHI 1-4 away

--With Kirilenko due back, that line is too shady

--DEN is without Camby which is like Peter North without his penis

--SAC has won their last 4 meetings vs. TOR by 9+

--PHX is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 at home. NJ is 4-1 in their last 5 @ PHX

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (2-0); Week: (13-10); Season: (85-83)

  • ORLANDO -3 over Portland - *Steve Francis Starting*
  • BOSTON -5.5 over Charlotte
  • Atlanta +12 over INDIANA
  • Dallas Pk over MIAMI
  • Houston +6 over MEMPHIS - *Tracy McGrady Questionable*
  • Milwaukee +6.5 over MINNESOTA
  • DETROIT -10.5 over Washington
  • Chicago +11 over SAN ANTONIO
  • Golden State -2.5 over UTAH - *Andrei Kirilenko Questionable*
  • Clippers +5 over DENVER - *Marcus Camby OUT*
  • Toronto +8 over SACRAMENTO - *Peja Stojakovic Questionable*
  • PHOENIX -6 over New Jersey - *Vince Carter Doubtful*

--Stevie Franchise IS in the lineup so I'm switching my pick to Orlando. ORL 83-79

--The young Celts are a much better home team and have proved trustworthy against inferior teams this season. Bobcats have been dreadful on the road. Plus for some reason I'm banking on the Celts having a little extra motivation as they rock their new unis tonight. BOS 102-92

--The Pacers haven't beaten the Hawks by 12+ in any of their last 10 meetings. Atlanta is also steadily putting things together. IND 96-89

--Miami is 6-3 without Shaq, but they have been anything but impressive. The experienced Mavericks meanwhile are rolling right now and should be able to overwhelm a Heat team riding a 6-game home winning streak. DAL 104-102

--There's no reason why the Rockets should only be getting 6 in Memphis against a Grizzlies team that's sure to be ferocious after two consecutive ugly losses. This line should be closer t0 8, thus I'm taking the Rockets. MEM 88-83

--Both the Bucks and Wolves would LOVE to play every single game at home as their respective home/away records indicate. These two always seem to play each other tough and I see that trend sticking in tonight's game. I'm not sure the Wolves have the firepower to comfortably put away a more explosive Bucks team. MIN 99-96

--The Wiz are reeling right now as Eddie Jordan continues to juggle the rotation in order to fix this 5-game slide. The Pistons, specifically Chancey Billups (who always gets worked up to play against All-Star Gilbert Arenas) and Rip Hamilton (who was traded by Washington a few years ago) love ramming it down the Wizards throat. Pistons will rock the Wiz at The Palace. DET 109-88

--The Spurs have followed up all 3 of their 20+ blowout wins this year with less-than-stellar performances, including 2 losses and a squeeker against Houston. Bulls have been off since Sunday giving them plenty of time to prepare for a team that they took to overtime earlier this month. Expect a close game. SAN 98-95

--Let's see...Utah clobbered the Warriors the first time they met in Oakland; Andrei Kirilenko is expected to give it a go tonight; the Jazz are coming off two impressive victories; and Utah is at the Delta Center where they're a MUCH better team, yet the Warriors are favored tonight? Vegas wants you to take Utah, but I'm taking their side and going with the revenge factor. Warriors live up to the challenge tonight. GS 91-87

--Camby's out man, sheeeeeeeeeeeet LAC 102-93

--The Kings have blown away four of the last five teams they've played at Arco while the Raps have hung tough in the first two games of their four-in-five-night West Coast trip. Shouldn't this line be over 10? Raps will make this a battle tonight, the blowout loss will come tomorrow night at Golden State. SAC 119-114

--The Nets can't defend Hickory High right now let alone the run 'n gun Suns. They'll stick with the Suns for awhile before watching Phoenix slip away in the 2nd half. PHX 109-100

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Day Picks

The Cavs will be rocking their new secondary road uniforms tonight in Indiana for a Thanksgiving Day battle with the Pacers.

November 24, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks:

Last Night: (8-3); Week: (12-9); Season: (96-70)

  • INDIANA -3 over Cleveland
  • LAKERS -3.5 over Seattle

I'm hurting today, big time. Read Paul's analysis.

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (8-3); Week: (11-10); Season: (83-83)

  • INDIANA -3 over Cleveland - *LOCK*
  • LAKERS -3.5 over Seattle

--I LOVE the Pacers to beat the Cavs tonight. Cleveland is getting too much hype right now for their win streak-- the only game that they maybe shouldn't have won was in Philly. I'm still going against them on the road, especially against strong home teams like Indy. Pacers have also played on Thanksgiving Day every year since 1994, so they'll be ready for the big stage tonight. Whatever that means. Artest contains LeBron, Jermaine goes for 25 and 12, and Sarunas Jasikevicius hits some key free throws late to lift the Pacers. IND 96-91

--No idea what's going to happen in the second game. The Lakers and the Sonics have been two of the most inconsistent teams this season, so expect the unexpected. I'm taking the Lakers based on the fact that they're at home coming off two consecutive losses at Staples, and the Sonics really have no defensive answer for Kobe Bryant. High-scoring game with Kobe's 40 to Allen's 30 being the difference. LAL 110-103

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wednesday's Picks

Amare Stoudemire (new 'doo and all) made his first appearance at a Phoenix game last night as he enjoyed watching the Suns defeat the Raptors at America West. The Suns will really wish they had Amare in uniform tonight as they travel to Houston to take on a desperate Rockets team. Ant and Paul both like Houston this evening.

November 23, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks:

Last Night: (3-3); Week: (4-6); Season: (88-67)

  • BOSTON -3 over Atlanta
  • Washington -2 over ORLANDO **LOCK**
  • DETROIT -10 over Denver
  • CHARLOTTE -2.5 over New York
  • HOUSTON pk over Phoenix
  • MIAMI -10 over Portland
  • NEW ORLEANS +4 over Minnesota
  • MILWAUKEE -2 over Philadelphia--Iverson Questionable
  • SACRAMENTO -3.5 over New Jersey--Carter/Peja Questionable
  • San Antonio -4 over GOLDEN STATE
  • Toronto +12 over LA CLIPPERS

Today is a pretty tough day, so bare with me. One of my best friends from college passed away early Tuesday. If you find it in your heart, please say a prayer for the Wicks family. Thanks.

--Celtics are not that great of a team this year but they're definately good enough to down the Hawks. I don't see the Hawks winning for a few more weeks. BOS 104-97

--The Wizards have lost four in a row and have to be reeling after blowing a solid lead in the 4th quarter last night. Orlando is rested, but Washington is hungry. WAS 102-95

--Common sense tells you that Denver just won a tough game last night and Detroit just got smoked by Dallas, so take the Nugs, right? Wrong. Denver still struggles on the road and especially against elite teams. Take the Pistons. DET 104-89

--I feel sorry for Knicks fans. CHA 99-93

--The easy pick is Phoenix who beat a fired up Toronto team last night. The Rockets on the other hand, lost in Big D last night and should again be without T-Mac and Alston. There is absolutely no reason to take the Rockets and that's why they'll cover. HOU 95-94

--Wow, nice win for the Blazers last night. Think they'll carry that over into Miami tonight? I don't. MIA 106-92

--Minny is 0-3 on the road while New Orleans plays their competition rather tough at home. Plus the Wolves are due for a let down game. NOR 103-101, OT

--With Iverson sick I'll go with the Bucks. Milwaukee was able to down the Sixers on opening night and I see no reason why they won't do the same tonight. They have a huge edge defensively and on the glass. MIL 104-98

--I don't think the Nets can do much of anything without Vince tonight. While RJ is a dependable scorer, I don't think Kidd has 25 points in him to keep up with Sacto. SAC 103-95

--Don't let the Spurs' failure to cover the other night fool you. They'll take care of the Warriors tonight. SAS 103-93

--Word from Paul is that the Raptors were fired up last night, but just fell short in the desert. I see that optimistic approach carrying over on this road trip, starting tonight in LA. LAC 99-96


Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (3-3); Week: (3-7); Season: (75-80)

  • ATLANTA +3 over Boston
  • Washington -2 over ORLANDO - *Steve Francis Questionable*
  • DETROIT -10 over Denver - *Kenyon Martin Probable*
  • CHARLOTTE -2.5 over New York - *Eddy Curry Doubtful*
  • HOUSTON PK over Phoenix
  • MIAMI -10 over Portland
  • Minnesota -4 over NEW ORLEANS/OKLAHOMA CITY
  • MILWAUKEE -2.5 over Philadelphia
  • SACRAMENTO -3.5 over New Jersey - *Vince Carter, Peja Stojakovic Questionable*
  • San Antonio -4 over GOLDEN STATE
  • Toronto +12 over CLIPPERS

-No in-depth analysis today, just a few notes...

-Phoenix arrived in Houston at 4 AM this morning. If anything, take the under (189?) for this game. I think the Rockets are also a safe bet to win assuming the game is played at a sloth-like pace.

-The Warriors have been winning, but have really played only one very good game all season (against the Bucks at home). I don't think they're ready to take down the Spurs.

-Minnesota is fired up tonight as they look for their first road win of the season. They should take down the Hornets.

-Charlotte's quick guards will be able to swarm the Knicks' perimeter with Eddy Curry likely sidelines. This means either Stephon steps up big or the Bobcats blow away the Knicks. I'm going with the latter.

-And finally, Milwaukee can score, especially at home, while Philly is still shaky at best on defense. This might be the best game of the night, so if you get a chance to tune in, feel lucky. Bucks are winning this baby though.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

TWOsDays Picks

November 22, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks:

Last Night: (1-3); Week: (1-3); Season: (85-64)

  • CLEVELAND -9 over Boston
  • WASHINGTON -3.5 over Denver
  • Portland +10 over MEMPHIS
  • Houston +10 over DALLAS
  • PHOENIX -9 over Toronto
  • SEATTLE -9.5 over Utah

--Last night was pretty sweet. I think I'm figuring out what's going on though, so bare with me.

--Cleveland is winning by an average of 20+ at home. Boston STINKS on the road. LeBron hates the Celtics and makes it his job to piss on them. Cavs in a romp. CLE 118-102

--Washington is currently 3-1 at home including a blowout victory over San Antone. Denver on the other hand, is jusy 1-4 on the road. Also, expect the Wizards to be hungry after their abysmal road trip (0-3). WAS 102-95

--Memphis just had a "what the fuck just happened" game at Denver and who better to beat up on than the Blazers? Too bad Nate McMillan doesn't allow too many teams to walk all over him. I see the Blazers getting back on track tonight after their let down game in New York. MEM 91-89

--Okay, Dallas just DESTROYED the Pistons. Houston is without T-Mac, again, so the easy pick here is the Mavs, right. Well that's what I think is going on with these lines this week. See the easy pick, take the opposite.

--Here's another case of the flip-flop theory. Phoenix has been playing some of their worst basketball in over a year and the Raptors are coming off their emotional 1st win of the year. All signs point to Toronto covering, that's why I'm sticking with the Suns. PHX 109-96

--Finally, the easiest pick of the night. Seattle has been playing decent basketball, but we couldn't really say that with confidence until they beat Sacto on Sunday. Utah just smoked the Bucks, so 10 points seems pretty outrageous, right? Wrong. Sonics will blow the Jazz out of the water, even though the game is scheduled to be played on land. You get the point. SEA 104-87


Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-4); Week: (0-4); Season: (72-77)
  • CLEVELAND -9 over Boston
  • MEMPHIS -10 over Portland
  • Toronto +9.5 over PHOENIX - Boris Diaw Questionable
  • WASHINGTON -3.5 over Denver - *LOCK*
  • Houston +10 over DALLAS - Tracy McGrady Doubtful
  • SEATTLE -9.5 over Utah

--I've lost my analysis rights once again. I'll be back tomorrow after a 5-1 performance tonight though...

Calling All Fantasy Addicts

Even Emeka wants to knock "that guy" out

By Anthony Peretore

Let me ask a question, is it possible anymore to watch a game in public without some goon rejoicing over his fantasy team? You know who I’m talking about, the “Nice, he’s on my fantasy team!” guy? The one who honestly believes that someone besides him really cares who his starting power forward is in his 12-team league from college? Is it just me or is “that guy” everywhere? He’s right behind you at the bar; sits one office down from you at work; yaps your ear off at family parties; hell, he’s even in the TV section at Circuit City. But the problem is that this guy has absolutely no idea how obnoxious he is—until now. Today I will provide the first step in eliminating the “obnoxious fantasy addict” from society with my “ Top 10 Rules on Fantasy Etiquette.” Enjoy…

RULE #1: Know who to talk to

You must realize that no male gives two shits about your team unless they are, A) in your league, B) your father, or C) gay and hitting on you. There are no exceptions here. If it’s someone you hardly know they may stand there and toot your whistle, but trust me they'd much rather shove the straw in their drink in your eye socket.

RULE #2: Do not blurt things out that sound ridiculous/obnoxious

Examples include,

--“YES dude, I just need 5 more rebounds from Peja and Dampier and I’ll sweep Cleft de Handlogten this week!”

--“Yo, is it possible for any fantasy team to be THIS good? I’m DOMINATING”

--“You asshole, I knew I should have picked up Kasib Powell with Sweetney out nursing that sore groin. Thanks a lot.”

Stop and think about what you’re saying before people think your either a complete loser, a total asshole, or both.

RULE #3: Fantasy can wait

In other words, stop sidestepping conversations with beautiful babes to check on how many assists Filiberto Rivera has in place of an injured Eric Snow. Remember that the stats aren't going anywhere.

RULE #4: Teams come first

I’m sick of hearing things like, “Ah shit, the Jets lost again but I think those two Jerricho Cottchery touchdowns should seal the deal for me in fantasy. That’s all that matters…” No that’s not all that matters. Back in the day, around like 1600, people actually rooted for sports teams. They watched every game not worrying about the individual, but rather the results of the entire team. I know this sounds crazy, but those were good times. I swear.

RULE #5: Limit Yourself

I went on Paul’s Yahoo! Fantasy account one day and I swear he was in not one, but TWO fantasy golf leagues. Is that absolutely insane or what? To imagine a human being sitting on his couch praying to God that Rocco Mediate bury a putt so that he can face his co-workers the next day is just unfathomable. Stick to major sports please (and as of this moment, hockey still does not count).

RULE #6: No Fantasy after 3 AM

Ever wake up and see some ridiculous transaction on your league page? There’s only one explanation for dropping Tim Duncan for Boniface N’Dong: alcohol. Remember that if you happen to be awake at 3AM, you’re either, A) drunk, B) an airline pilot, or C) insane. Go to bed man, you can make that same move in the morning.

RULE #7: Stop getting perfectly sane individuals to join your league

Remember back in like 1998 when a total of 11 people even knew what fantasy sports were? A time when all of the stats had to be compiled manually because those at Yahoo! and ESPN had actual teams and games to cover? Well something happened right around the year 2000 and it gave useless individuals like Eric Karabell and James Quintong something to do besides masturbate. It also made most of the sane sports fans slowly start to creep over to the dark side. What is the dark side you ask? The dark side is what I like to call the place where all the former sports fans go who are now completely absorbed by the fantasy world—you know who you are. And while it may be impossible for those individuals to come back to reality at this point, all that I ask is that you please stop trying to expand your population. Leave those of us alone who actually care about who wins rather than how many field goals Rod Bironas nailed last week.

RULE #8: Respect the real sports fans

Ever go to a bar to watch your team play in a big game? And there’s that guy next to you (or close enough so you can hear him) who is not rooting for your team or for the other team, but just for those select individuals on his fantasy team? Is there anything more annoying? Here’s an example,

Announcer: “Celtics down by 5, just over 6 minutes to play, and there’s ANOTHER steal by Artest…”

That Guy: “Holy shit, how INCREDIBLE is Artest? What’s that like 7 steals? I wonder how many I’m up on Hal right now? I wonder if he’s seen how many steals Artest has. It’s 7 right? I thought that play when Pierce fumbled the ball under the hoop when he blew that WIDE-OPEN layup was number 7? I guess I was wrong. But still, 7 steals? That’s gotta be some kind of record!”

Me: (Aiming my best death stare at his temple)

Announcer: “Davis for 3, YES! Celtics down just 3. And Pierce steals it from Artest, gives it to West, back to Pierce for the MONSTER SLAM! Timeout Pacers!”

Me (in That Guy’s face): YES! Did you see that? Where was Artest there asshole??? Huh? How many fantasy points did you get on that play? Call Hal and tell him to check that one out on SportsCenter, dick!

Some ridiculously hot girl: “Wow, what an asshole. What’s his problem?

For the love of God, before I kill one of you, please understand where I’m coming from and give me a break.

RULE #9: The GAP parallel

I went out for a few beverages last week with our buddy Brodeur. Quick background on him: he has a great deal of sports knowledge, seemingly always makes our fantasy league playoffs, but has yet to take home a title. Perhaps the reason why is that he constantly overvalues his free agent pickups (as we all do, I’m just making Brodeur the guinea pig). As soon as he nabs a semi-decent player and they turn around to have a relatively solid night, they receive the immediate label of “dope”. For instance a few weeks ago, in need of a backup solid SF, he turned around and nabbed Boris Diaw. And while the Suns’ swingman may have had a few nice games, to go as far as labeling him “dope” is just ridiculous. It’s a nice pick up yeah, but bragging about it is the equivalent to finding a nice button-down at the GAP for like $10 and immediately calling all your friends to let them in on the good news. Eventually I’m going to see the nice pickup (shirt) and see it’s effects on your team (the ladies) and it won’t even have to be discussed. In other words, just be happy you found a bargain.

RULE #10: Never try and teach someone about fantasy when you know damn well they won’t understand and/or never join a league of their own

Can you think of a bigger waste of time than trying to teach someone how a rotisserie league works when you know damn well that they’re just trying to make small talk? Like this Thursday when Uncle Lenny asks you how that fantasy baseball thing is going and you try to dance around the topic but he fires back with, “How does that stuff works anyway? I could never figure that out.” And your Aunt Betty chimes in with, “Go ahead, tell your Uncle Lenny all about it.” At that point rather than waste the energy of your mind and larynx, just pretend to have a bad stomach ache and in 20 minutes when you get back he’ll either be asleep or wolfing down his 4th slice of pumpkin pie. Trust me, people like this don’t need to know about fantasy and if and when they do, they’ll just create and even bigger mess for the rest of us.

Tuesday's Picks

November 22, 2005

Home Team in CAPS

Ant's Picks

Last Night: (1-3); Week: (1-3); Season: (85-64)

Up in a bit...

Paul's Picks:

Last Night: (0-4); Week: (0-4); Season: (72-77)
  • CLEVELAND -9.5 over Boston
  • MEMPHIS -10 over Portland
  • Toronto +9.5 over PHOENIX - Boris Diaw Questionable
  • WASHINGTON -4.5 over Denver - *LOCK*
  • Houston +9.5 over DALLAS - Tracy McGrady Doubtful
  • SEATTLE -9.5 over Utah

--I've lost my analysis rights once again. I'll be back tomorrow after a 5-1 performance tonight though...

Blogosphere Poll Rankings

Chauncey and the Pistons have risen to #1 in the BPR's after a blazing 8-1 start to the season.

This week's Blogosphere Power Rankings are in with Detroit plowing into the top spot just ahead of San Antonio. I personally voted the Spurs #1 largely because I honestly don't believe they've necessarily been outperformed by Detroit. Why isn't anyone mentioning the fact that the Pistons have beaten just one team with a winning record (the 76ers at home)? You can access our personal rankings this time around, but you won't notice much difference in ours from the main poll itself. As always, feel free to provide some feedback or thoughts.

Monday, November 21, 2005

5 on Five

Even Larry Brown is showing some love for Channing Frye, already New York's best rookie in almost 20 years.

5 on Five
Week of 11/21 - 11/27

By Paul Benedict

5 Faces to Watch
Theme: Fading Fantasy Players

1. Erick Dampier, C Dallas
-It was an utterly embarrassing week for 'The 2nd Best Center in the World' (Tue/Thu: 31 Mins, 0 Pts, 8 Rebs, 10 TOs, 10 Fouls, 0 Blks) up until he inexplicably dominated the Pistons on Saturday (16 Pts, 14 Rebs, 2 Blks). Dampier has always been a model of inconsistency, but has never been pushed for playing time with a dearth of centers backing him up. That's not exactly the case anymore with DeSagana Diop (of all people) playing some inspiring basketball for Dallas off the bench. Avery Johnson reportedly isn't at all pleased with Dampier and won't hesitate to bench him if he continues to disappear. Perhaps he lit a fire under his ass Saturday that will stay hot for the rest of the season-- we'll just have to wait and see.

2. Jalen Rose, G/F Toronto
-The rim has not been too kind to Jalen thus far (13.5 PPG, 36.6 FG%, 17.4 3PT%), but much like Dampier, he finished the week on a high note after dropping 22 on Sunday in the Raptors 1st win of the season. What might be more worrisome for Rose owners is his dwindling playing time (31.4 MPG down from 33.5 last year and 39.4 in '03-04) and increasing age (33 in January), especially considering his team is inevitably entrenchng itself in an all-out rebuilding mode. Considering Rose is signed through next season, the Raptors will definitely look to deal him while they can still get something in return. But whether he's traded or not, Jalen Rose's best fantasy days are a distant memory.

3. Kurt Thomas, PF/C Phoenix
-I'm not sure there has been another healthy fantasy player that's been as disappointing as Thomas has this season (22.7 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG). Expected to inherit the rebounds and some of the scoring left in the void of Amare Stoudemire, Thomas has struggled mightily while guarding bigger and quicker players. Bryan Colangelo and Mike D'Antoni brought him in to help the team in halfcourt sets, but without Amare, the Suns have been relegated to playing a frenetic pace that Thomas clearly isn't suited for. Even if you wasted a relatively high pick on Kurt, it might be time to consider dropping him.

4. Kenyon Martin, PF Denver
-K-Mart has dealt with knee issues his entire career and not surprisingly, had surgery once again this summer to help relieve his troubles. Unfortunately for fantasy owners that drafted Martin, he's still experiencing pain in his knee and might be day-to-day for the remainder of the season. Even if he is able to suit up regularly again, there's no guarantee that an explosive player like Martin will be able to rekindle his emphatically aggressive style of play.

5. Andrew Bogut, PF/C Milwaukee
-Joe Smith is back in the lineup for the Bucks with Terry Stotts firmly stating that the former #1 pick was, is, and will be the team's starting power forward for the foreseeable future. Thus the minutes of Bogut have taken a serious hit and parallel with his diminished playing time are his dwindling numbers (last 3 games-- 4.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.0 BPG). Bogut is still a work-in-progress with some significant upside, so it's probably a stretch to waive him at this point. But if you can reel in a steadier, more productive big man (P.J. Brown, Krstic?), you may want to consider it.

5 Fascinating Factoids

1. The Minnesota Timberwolves currently rank second-to-last in the NBA in home attendance to none other than the Atlanta Hawks. That's with 'The Big Ticket'. What happens if/when they trade Garnett? This could lessen the chances of KG being dealt.

2. The Denver Nuggets are just 23-123 from 3-point range this season, an incredibly pathetic 18.7%. The 2.1 3-pointers per game is significantly lower than the next lowest, Portland at 2.9, and the 18.7% is also a weighty difference from the 26.7% shooting of Portland. If the Nuggets hope to give any sort of fight in the Western Conference this season, a trade for a top-notch perimeter shooter is an absolute necessity.

3. Entering Sunday night's game against the Lakers, the Bulls were on pace to become the first team since the ABA merger to shoulder more of their scoring load off the bench (48.7 PPG) than from the starting lineup (45.1 PPG). And then the starters went on to score 76 of the team's 96 points in Sunday's win at Staples and suddenly this unusual statisic seems bound to cease its existence-- at least as long as Mike Sweetney (20-12-3-2-3 on Sunday) remains a fixture in the starting lineup.

4. Sarunas Jasikevicius finally missed a free throw on Sunday, after previously sinking all 22 of his attempts including 10 straight clutch makes in the Pacers win over Charlotte on Friday night. If you think this had anything to do with why Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh targeted Saras this summer, kudos. The Pacers desperately needed a go-to free throw shooter to help close out games after Reggie Miller retired, and Jasikevicius appears to have the clutch touch. By the way, why isn't anyone discussing Steve Nash's phenomenal 36-36 streak from the line this season?

5. After leading the Knicks with 21 points in Wednesday night's loss at Staples to the Lakers, Channing Frye became the first Knick since Mark Jackson in the 1987-88 season to lead the team in scoring in more than one game the entire year. Sounds pretty unbelievable, huh? A quick glance at Knicks rookies through the years should make this factoid fathomable...

*Never played a game for the Knicks

  • 1988-89: Rod Strickland, Greg Butler
  • 1989-90: Brian Quinnett
  • 1990-91: Jerrod Mustaf
  • 1991-92: Greg Anthony, Patrick Eddie
  • 1992-93: Hubert Davis, Eric Anderson
  • 1993-94: None
  • 1994-95: Charlie Ward, Monty Williams
  • 1995-96: None
  • 1996-97: John Wallace, Walter McCarty, *Dontae Jones
  • 1997-98: *John Thomas
  • 1998-99: *Frederic Weis, *J.R. Koch
  • 1999-00: Mirsad Turckan, DeMarco Johnson
  • 2000-01: Lavor Postell
  • 2001-02: *Michael Wright, *Eric Chenowith
  • 2002-03: Frank Williams, *Milos Vujanic
  • 2003-04: Mike Sweetney, *Maciej Lampe, *Slavko Vranes

2004-05: Trevor Ariza, Jackie Butler

As much as we all love Grant Hill, it's essential that you leave him off your All-Star ballot this season.

5 Fretful Thoughts

1. Slowly but surely, a somewhat surprising name is beginning to pop up in the weekly 'coaches on the hot seat' discussion-- that of Jeff Van Gundy. At first thought, it seems ridiculous, largely because Rockets Owner Les Alexander inked him to a one-year contract extension this summer through 2007-08, but you have to begin to wonder where the organization will stand on JVG if the Rockets continue to falter. I realize it's very early in the season and that a 3-7 record can easily be turned around, but if you really think about, what has Van Gundy done since arriving in Houston? For all the progress they made during the second half of last season largely because JVG opened up the offense more for T-Mac and Yao, they appear to have relegated to the stop-and-go offense that held this club back during the early stages of last year. Have you watched the Rockets this season? Even with T-Mac in the lineup, this team hardly resembles the squad that was dropping 100+ every game last spring. Truth be told, there's no way Van Gundy is losing his job unless the season turns into an utter disaster, and it's nearly impossible to foresee that with the talent he has. However, a closer evaluation after the season may be in store if the season doesn't end up where the organization expects it to.

2. It's time for the Lakers to utilize Lamar Odom differently. What sense does it make exhausting your second-best player by having him continually dribble the ball up the floor, run the offense, and then still do his usual damage on the glass? Kobe Bryant shot 50% from the floor in dropping 43 points on the Bulls Sunday night, yet the Lakers still lost-- that can't happen! Somebody else has to be able to shoulder some of the scoring load on a consistent basis and Odom is the only realistic option on the team. While he does an admirable job of getting everyone involved and cleaning up the boards, this team can't survive with him scoring less than 14 PPG (13.9). If you want proof that Odom is wearing down because of all his responsibilities, check out his percentages-- 42.9 FG%, 28.6 3PT%, 63.5 FT%, all on pace for career-lows. Phil Jackson has got to give either Vujacic or Smush Parker a fair shot at running the point, if only to give Lamar a chance to focus on scoring and to relieve some pressure off Kobe. Perhaps the calf injury to Kwame Brown will allow Phil Jackson to tinker with the lineup a bit (it did Sunday with Odom starting at the 4, but he got into foul trouble and played lousy).

3. The All-Star ballots came out this week and I vehemently urge voters to choose the best players, not their favorite players even though the ballot clearly says at the top, "Choose Your Favorite NBA Players". Look, I just don't want Grant Hill starting in this year's game. As much as I love the guy, a spot that deserves to go to someone else is taken when Hill is elected to start and that's just ridiculous. When someone who hasn't yet played in a game is voted as a starter yet deserving players like Richard Hamilton or Paul Pierce are left off the team, it flat-out pisses me off. So heed my advice and vote for LeBron James and either Ron Artest, Paul Pierce, or Jermaine O'Neal as the Eastern Conference's starting forwards.

4. I'm getting a little tired of waiting for Mike Dunleavy to "live up to his potential". He played well towards the end of last season, but you could argue that his Pops would be doing a better job at the 3 for the Warriors right now than Junior(29.5 MPG, 7.9 PPG, 32.0 FG%, 19.5 3PT%, 3.6 RPG). How much leeway do you give a guy that you just signed to a hefty long-term contract extension? Quite honestly, I have no idea what Chris Mullin was thinking in setting up this deal. Why pay big bucks for Dun-nuthin when you could just as easily get the same production from a Rodney Buford or Andre Emmett at a fraction of the price? I can't see the Warriors giving Junior more than a handful more games to try and turn his disastrous start around. Hello, Mickael Pietrus!

5. Does anyone else find the ESPN announcing tandem of Brent Musburger and Tom Tolbert just excruciatingly difficult to listen to? Musburger spends more time talking about college football and basketball, and screwing up the foreign players' names than he actually does calling the game on hand. Meanwhile, Tolbert gets so caught up in hearing himself talk that he actually laughs at some of his own lame jokes. I can't wait until the college football season is over so Mike Tirico can limit Musburger's appearances, and cover up Tolbert's blemishes. Until then, I'm terrified of what I might do the next time I have to listen to this horrifying Musburger/Tolbert duo.

5 Fascinating Match-Ups

1. San Antonio at Golden State, Wednesday at 10:30 ET
-An opportunity for the Warriors to make a statement out West. Business as usual for the Spurs.

2. Cleveland at Indiana, Thursday at 8:00 ET on TNT
-Nothing like a little LeBron James to help settle down that full stomach after a MONSTER Thanksgiving feast.

3. Dallas at Miami, Friday at 8:00 ET on ESPN
-Miami can't afford to let home games slip away with Shaq out. Dallas, one of the NBA's best road teams over the past couple years, should provide a tough test for the Diesel-less Heat.

4. Detroit at Milwaukee, Saturday at 9:00 ET
-This could be numero dos for the Pissed-ons. With a home contest against Washington the night before, Detroit might have its hands full with a Milwaukee team that has been money-in-the-bank at home this season.

5. Indiana at Clippers, Sunday at 3:30 ET on NBA TV
- The Pacers kick off a rugged 5-game, 8-day road trip at Staples against the Pacific-leading Clippers on Sunday afternoon. Keep an eye on the Jermaine O'Neal/Elton Brand matchup, who are both playing as well as any power forwards in the league right now.

One thing's for certain-- Paul won't be eating any turked on Thanksgiving, or any other day for that matter.

5 Fearless Forecasts

1. Now that Toronto has chalked up a W on the board, the Atlanta Hawks are the lone team without a victory. Fortunately for the the hapless Hawks, they have an appetizing menu this week with Boston (Wed.) and Portland (Sun.) both coming to town. They will win one of these games-- actually, let's get fearless-- the Hawks will notch their first win Wednesday against the Celtics.

    2. I feel like I'm one of the few NBA fans that actually gets excited for the Thanksgiving Day NBA double-header. I realize that football is the traditional sport of Turkey Day and that this year actually features a great NFL game (Denver at Dallas), but I still leave plenty of room for the NBA once I've loosened my belt and just want to kick back and relax. That said, I fully expect all of our readers to be at the bar by the time the Seattle/Lakers game tips off at 10:45 ET, because quite frankly, that game totally blows.

    3. Like pretty much everyone else out there, I had the Hornets finishing with by far the worst record in the Western Conference and not even piling up 20 wins this season. But from what we've seen so far, it doesn't appear that the Hornets are going to be too terrible. At 4-5 with just one lopsided loss, the Hornets might even be respectable this season (Respectable = Over 30 Wins). Byron Scott has them playing hard every night just as he did last year, and the team appears to be more talented with the likes of Chris Paul, Speedy Claxton, David West, Kirk Snyder, and Desmond Mason either being added to the club or staying healthy thus far. So with that, my forecast-- The New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets will not finish at the bottom of the Western Conference. I'm not exactly sure who will, probably a team that gets bombarded by injuries, but it's not going to be Byron Scott's crew.

    4. As I mentioned above, the NBA All-Star ballots were released last week meaning it's time to start the debate of who deserved to be selected and who should be snubbed. For now, allow me to pick out the starters I think will be voted in. For the East, Vince Carter and Allen Iverson as guards; LeBron James and Jermaine O'Neal as forwards; and Shaquille O'Neal as center. For the West, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash as guards; Kevin Garnett and Tracy McGrady as forwards; and Yao Ming as center.

    5. Since I don't have any other fearless predictions to make this week, here's one you can take to the bank-- I will not eat any turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Aside from having to work all day and night on Thursday, I'm also one of a handful of people on this planet that happens to be allergic to poultry. So before the rest of you are enjoying the meal of your lives alongside your loving families, think of me when you say grace before digging in since I'll be plugging away at the office trying to bide time so I can heat up my Mama Celeste deluxe frozen pizza. Happy Thanksgiving!!

    Monday's Picks

    November 21, 2005

    Home Team in CAPS

    Ant's Picks:

    Last Night: (5-2); Last Week: (26-25); Season: (84-61)

    • PHILADELPHIA -10 over New Orleans
    • Milwaukee -4.5 over UTAH
    • San Antonio -5 over SACRAMENTO - *Peja Stojakovic questionable*
    • New Jersey +1.5 over GOLDEN STATE

    Paul's Picks:

    Last Night: (2-5); Week: (28-23); Season: (72-73)

    • New Orleans +10 over PHILADELPHIA - *P.J. Brown playing; Speedy Claxton probably; J.R. Smith doubtful*
    • Milwaukee -4.5 over UTAH
    • San Antonio -5 over SACRAMENTO - *Peja Stojakovic questionable*
    • New Jersey +1.5 over GOLDEN STATE

    --The Hornets ALWAYS play the 76ers tough no matter where the game is. That's usually because the Hornets have guards quick enough to keep AI in check-- the case is no different tonight. PHI 99-94

    --The MIL/UTA line is awfully shady, yet there's no way I'm taking the Jazz tonight. This team flat-out sucks. If I screw this one up, then Vegas has really got my number. MIL 95-89

    --Sacramento played to the wire last night in Seattle before losing. The Spurs took 3 of 4 from Sacto last year by doing a number on them defensively-- the Kings managed only 81 PPG last year against San Antonio. Look for the Spurs to wreak havoc again tonight. SAN 100-86

    --This NJ/GS line is also quite a bit disconcerting-- feels like the Warriors should be favored by at least 3. The Nets have taken 5 in a row from the Warriors (4 by double-digits) and Golden State played yesterday in L.A., yet it's still difficult to envision them slipping up at The Arena against a team that hasn't traveled further than Indiana this season. I'll take New Jersey by a smidge. GS 101-100

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    West Fantasy Report

    What's Melo's problem?

    By Anthony Peretore

    As done with the East earlier in the week...

    15. New Orleans/OKC (4-5)

    Bronze: G J.R. Smith (5 games, 12.0 PPG, 38.8 FG%, 2.8 TO, 1.0 SPG)
    A lot of people had this guy pegged as a big time sleeper. Unfortunately, the sophomore has come out of the gates cold this year and now is dealing with a sprained ankle on top of it. I still think JR will turn his year around and average in the 14-16 PPG range, but for now I’d search for a better option.

    Silver: PF David West (14.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 54.3 FG%)
    I contemplated discussing Speedy Claxton here, but I figure once Smith starts to get it going and Chris Paul settles into his groove, Speedy’s minutes could take a hit. West on the other hand, has started all seven games for the Hornets and put up some rather nice stats to boast. What’s most impressive to me are the steals, a category most big men struggle to fill. Don’t forget that DW was in serious contention for the 2003 Naismith Award and that Byron Scott is most likely to give him all the opportunity in the world to shine. Really a nice pick up.

    Gold: It’s more so a matter of when than if PG Chris Paul will reach this level. For now however, I remain very concerned with the profusion of minutes (36.4) Byron Scott is giving to his rook through the team’s first 8 games. While CP seems to be a nice fantasy option right now, if this type of run continues I’d definitely look to trade him before he hits that proverbial rookie wall.

    P.S. Remind me why Chris Andersen (10 points, 18 boards, 3 blocks Fri. vs. ATL) doesn’t get more than 20 minutes a night?

    14. Seattle Supersonics (4-5)

    Bronze: PF Vladimir Radmanovic (18.7 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 35.5 FG%)
    After receiving over 29 minutes of PT the last two seasons, new coach Bob Weiss has seemingly fallen out of love with his sixth man. Radmon, a key component to that 52-win team from a season ago, has seen his shooting as well as his attitude drastically slip off. Keep a close eye on him because if his minutes do in fact stay under 20, you may want to begin your search for a new PF.

    Silver: PF Nick Collison (9.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 63.8 FG%)
    While these numbers don’t look too impressive, it’s the 11.3 PPG and 9.3 RPG over his last four (games in which he’s started) that make me optimistic for the near future. Now that Reggie Evans has been ushered to the Weiss Doghouse, it’s time for the former first round pick out of Kansas to show his worth. Double-digit rebounds don’t seem out of the question, especially playing alongside Johan Petro and Vitaly Potastanko.

    Gold: SG Ray Allen (24.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.9 APG, 2.0 SPG, 2.8 3PM)
    I’m not completely sold on giving Allen the Golden honor (nothing to do with a golden shower, get your mind out of the gutter), but his consistent play thus far definitely warrants such. On top of it, he’s playing at All-Star levels despite signing a long-term contract this past summer. Usually after players get their big bucks they pull a Mark Blount and drop a huge dump on their team the following season. Allen, on the contrary, has been a stud thus far.

    13. Portland Trailblazers (3-4)

    Bronze: PG Sebastian Telfair (10.6 PPG, 3.6 APG, 0.4 SPG, 3.9 PF)
    What happened to the kid that tore it up for Lincoln High two years ago? What happened to the kid we saw this summer throwing up double-doubles almost every day? Stephon Marbury Jr. needs to step up soon before he loses his job to Juan Dixon or Jarrett Jack (semi-prediction here).

    Silver: SF Darius Miles (19.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.9 SPG, 1.6 BPG, 49.1 FG%)
    Despite chronic knee troubles, Miles is having quite a nice season thus far. He’s one of the few 5th or 6th round picks currently filling four out of five categories. What worries me however, is the fact that he had to get his knee drained on Friday following a team-ordered x-ray on the joint. How many joint problems can one guy have?

    Gold: Coach Nate McMillan
    Think he has nothing to do with how your fantasy team is faring? Well then you must not be a proud owner of either Miles or Zach Randolph. Finally, a coach who can get the most out of these two…

    12. Utah Jazz (4-7)

    Bronze: PF Carlos Boozer (0 games, 1.6 chest hair braidings, 2.5 trips to Alaska)
    Hey Boozer owners, want a little salt rubbed into your wound? Check this out: “After feeling a pop in his left hamstring on Monday, Boozer underwent an MRI, which has revealed a strain worse than the one that has kept him sidelined since early in training camp. According to Dr. Lyle Mason, the Jazz' team orthopedist, the forward will be sidelined for at least another month.” On the bight side, Kris Humphries (16 and 10) played really well in his place on Friday and could be a nice pick up.

    Silver: PG Deron Williams (13.1 PPG, 3.7 APG, 0.6 SPG, 2.5 TO)
    For most of you, Williams was one of those late-round picks you took a chance on, hoping he could put up half the numbers he did at Illinois. But so far Williams seems to be growing by leaps and bounds, even getting Coach Jerry Sloan to warrant him the majority of the team’s 4th quarter minutes. In addition, by averaging just 27.8 minutes per night, perhaps D-Will can avoid hitting that rookie wall. Knock on wood…

    Gold: Those owners who passed on F Andrei Kirilenko in the first round. AK-47 is now reportedly out a month another month. Is it just me or is this season eerily reminiscent of 2004?

    11. Los Angeles Lakers (4-5)

    Bronze: FC Kwame Brown (5.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.4 TO, 3.9 PG, 40.7 FG%)
    Count me amongst those who believed that he could turn it around in his first year under Phil Jackson. Also count me amongst those now debating whether or not to send this guy an anthrax letter. Seriously, what is his problem? If Chris Mihm can throw up nice games, why can’t he? The big reason, despite getting nearly 28 minutes a night, is that he can’t stay out of foul trouble. Still, I expect Jackson to get this kid’s attention at some point this season—at least I hope so.

    Silver: F Lamar Odom (14.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 5.1 APG, 2.0 SPG)
    Even though he looks about as comfortable with the triangle offense as Paul would be at the Harlem premier of “Get Rich or Die Trying”, he’s still one of the best all-around fantasy players in the league. I actually expect his points and rebounds to keep rising since Kwame is losing minutes to guys like Brian Cook. Yeesh

    Gold: SG Kobe Bryant (31.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.4 RPG, 8.3 3-pt FG%)
    My preseason MVP selection would look pretty solid right now if this team could win some more games. On top of it, Phil Jackson doesn’t even seem to care which really starts to make me wonder why he returned. Are we sure Kobe is safe in LA right now? Makes me wonder…

    10. Houston Rockets (3-6)

    Bronze: F Stromile Swift (22.2 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 3.7 PF)
    When you’re the second overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft and you can’t manage to start over a rapidly deteriorating Juwan Howard, you should kill yourself. I don’t know what this guy’s problem is but someone in Houston better get him and Yao some testosterone injections.

    Silver: C Yao Ming (18.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 52.0 FG%)
    Looking at these numbers, no one can say they’re bad by any means. But this is Yao Ming were talking about. They guy was supposed to be like a Chinese Jesus (assuming JC wasn’t Chinese to begin with) and thus far, he’s just been okay. Perhaps if Swift can step up to the plate we can see the Yao we all expected.

    Gold: I refuse to put T-Mac up here right now, sorry. Not only did he miss three games with a back injury, but he’s only shooting 38.9% from the floor and aside from that nasty 4th quarter in New Jersey, just hasn’t looked like the McGrady we know and love. Eventually he’ll be here, but he needs to take care of that back first.

    9. Sacramento Kings (4-5)

    Bronze: PF Kenny Thomas (14.9 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 40.9 FG%)
    Wait, what happened to Thomas starting at the 4? Didn’t Abdur-Rahim announce that he didn’t mind coming off the bench like two days before the start of the season? Was he high when he said that? Well due to SAR’s solid play thus far, Thomas’s minutes have been cut in half from a year ago and with it, his production as well. While a nice option for Sacto off the bench, the same can’t be said for fantasy owners…

    Silver: F Shareef Abdur-Rahim (15.2 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 55.0 FG%)
    Think New Jersey is kicking themselves right now? Right now, opting for Marc Jackson (5.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG) over SAR this summer is like giving up on that semi-hot chick the summer right before she absolutely blows up and then you come to school the first day of ninth grade and see her with the “new guy” while you’re strolling around with an enormous white head on your chin. In a nutshell, that’s how New Jersey feels right now.

    Gold: While there are currently no Gold calibers on this squad, let me ask you how the hell Sacto is 4-5 with all five starters averaging double figures? Oh yeah, they don’t play any defense. Fortunately for us, that doesn’t really matter much in fantasy.

    8. Phoenix Suns (4-5)

    Bronze: FC Kurt Thomas (23.5 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 44.1 FG%)
    This comes as a bit of a shock to me. Going from that dreadful NY offense to the best in the biz, I pegged Thomas to have a big year. It seems like Mike D’Antoni wants to go with a quicker, more versatile lineup, thus guys like Boris Diaw have been getting more run. I wouldn’t be too concerned with Kurt right now, but if this limited run continues into December, you may want to unload the big fella.

    Silver: PG Leandro Barbosa (15.9 PPG, 2.4 APG, 53.3 FG%, 43.5 3-pt FG%)
    Anyone who is suddenly starting for Phoenix has to be mentioned in any fantasy article. Barbosa’s stellar play off the bench has allowed him to supplant James Jones/Boris Diaw in the first five for the honor of playing alongside Stevie Nash. But while his 18.0 PPG in those three games make him a solid pickup for the week, going forward I’d remain a bit skeptical. It looks like D’Antoni is playing musical chairs with this starting five…

    Gold: F Shawn Marion (18.3 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 1.9 BPG, 47.3 FG%)
    With Kurt Thomas losing his scrotum sometime in the last two weeks, Marion has been the focus of countless double-teams in the paint. However, when KT does in fact regain his manhood, I fully expect the Matrix to bump up his scoring into the 20s. (Important note: If you haven’t constructed a plan to trade Marion before February rolls around I would get on that as soon as possible).

    7. Minnesota Timberwolves (5-4)

    Bronze: F Eddie Griffin (19.0 MPG, 4.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.0 BPG, 31.8 FG%)
    It still boggles my mind why he doesn’t get more run…But whether it’s due to coaching or just poor play, EG has still been a dud (aside from those blocks). But be patient with Griffin as I definitely see his numbers getting better as the season progresses. After all, remember who is playing in front of him…

    Silver: PG Troy Hudson (21.6 MPG, 11.6 PPG, 3.6 APG, 94.1 FT%)
    I know, not outstanding numbers by any means, but look at the run he’s getting. If you’re in a fairly deep league, Hudson might be a nice option on a deep bench. Although, I still don’t understand why he chooses to rock the same hairdo as that lady on Mad TV, do you?

    Gold: F Kevin Garnett (21.8 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.4 BPG, 58.4 FG%)
    Minutes are up from a year ago, yet his points and rebounds are down? Doesn’t make much sense to me, but nothing a 42 and 22 game can’t fix. However, as good as KG might be, in hindsight I think LeBron may have been the better choice with the 1st overall pick.

    6. Denver Nuggets (5-5)

    Bronze: PF Kenyon Martin (12.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 3.3 PF)
    Uh, what happened to the K-Mart we saw in New Jersey? Remember that guy? The one who clothes lined Karl Malone, instantly making him the most feared player (aside from Shaq) in the league? All I see him doing now is icing his knees and waving towels around whenever Linas Kleiza throws down a dunk in garbage time. Get healthy dude, the Nuggets need your ass.

    Silver: F Carmelo Anthony (20.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.5 SPG)
    I’m finally convinced that ‘Melo is never going to be a superstar. Furthermore, I figured out the definitive reason why this is the case: Anthony is a tweener. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a player stuck between two positions. In other words, he’s too slow to keep up with today’s 3’s and way to small to bang with the 4’s. But when he’s averaging 24, 6, & 5 in January, ignore everything I just said.

    Gold: **READERS' PICK: C Marcus Camby (15.9 PPG, 13.6 PPG, 1.7 SPG, 3.3 BPG, 55.3 FG%) My bad fellas, I totally shit the bed on Camby. But this comment, "Do you watch Basketball? I realize that you're a fan of the game b/c you think that guys like Kwame Brown and Sto are going to be good, but seroiusly dude you don't know a whole lot about the NBA for some guy who covers it." Man, one mistake and I'm a complete moron when it comes to my knowledge of the league? Yeesh. I guess I should just burn the rest of this 7-page article and the other 6-page East piece I put up earlier this week. That's it Paul, let's take down the site. See ya guys, thanks for coming out...

    5. Golden State Warriors (6-4)

    Bronze: SF Mike Dunleavy Jr. (7.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 29.1 FG%, 2.0 TO)
    If you currently own Dunleavy and Mickael Pietrus is still available, that swap is coming sooner than you think. I don’t care that Dumpleavy got that big extension this summer, Chris Mullin isn’t going to let this team miss the Playoffs again just to get his money’s worth. And honestly, is there a better fit for this team at the 3 right now than Pietrus? Just do it already…

    Silver: SG Jason Richardson (22.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.9 BPG)
    Want to hear something crazy? J-Rich is just 24 years old. Is it just me or didn’t you think he was like 28? Anyway, stardom is no longer around the corner for this kid, it’s here now and growing with each and every game. If he starts to develop a knack for passing he’ll be a first rounder next year, guaranteed.

    Gold: Who else hates the fact that Baron Davis is a walking insurance policy? I need those 35 point, 15 assist, 6 steal type of nights more often. Until that back/knee/groin/neck/ankle/ear lobe get better, it’s silver status for B Diddy.

    4. Memphis Grizzlies (6-3)

    Bronze: C Lorenzen Wright (5.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 39.2 FG%)
    Let me get this straight, Stro Swift has moved on to Houston, Jake Tsakalidis is your backup, and these are the best numbers you can put up? I was definitely expecting a double-double from him with at least a block and a half, weren’t you? The good news is that he’s had a bum hammy over the last few games, thus perhaps his production will improve as his injury does the same.

    Silver: F Shane Battier (12.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 62.3 FG%)
    For years now, Battier has been that one player tossed around from team to team via free agency because of that inconsistent 10-man rotation in Memphis. This season however, Shane finally has the chance to start and for the most part, he is making the best of it. Keep an eye on him especially if he keeps on receiving 34.0 minutes per game.

    Gold: Again, that 10-man rotation kills any chance of a Gold player representing the Grizz. Although PF Pau Gasol (19.6 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 2.2 BPG) is pretty damn close…

    3. Los Angeles Clippers (7-2)

    Bronze: C Chris Kaman (6.4 PPG, 6.4 PPG, 2.0 BPG, 43.8 FG%, 3.4 PF)
    My God, have any of you checked out his Yahoo! mug shot? ( He looks like an albino WWE star. Anyway, a player with the last name Kaman was bound to be a dud anyway, right? I wonder how many Clippers fans have unconsciously altered his name to “Come ONNNNNNNNNNN!!!!” I bet a lot.

    Silver: PG Sam Cassell (15.7 PPG, 7.8 APG, 1.0 SPG, 40.1 FG%)
    Even further proof that he threw in the towel last season…At this point would anyone object to KG drilling him in the face the next time those two face-off? Seriously, who wouldn’t go for that?

    Gold: If there was a border between Silver land and Gold land, Elton Brand’s fat ass would be straddling it. 23.2 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.6 BPG, & 57.4 FG%...I wonder how the Bulls feel about this trade now. Think about it, would you rather have Brand (still just 26) or Tyson Chandler at this point? Didn’t Chicago have Ron Artest too? Wow.

    2. Dallas Mavericks (7-2)

    Bronze: C Erick Dampier (4.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 4.1 PF)
    Choosing to give Dampier all that money rather than Steve Nash really worked out, huh? How can you start every game for a top-4 team in the West and have such atrocious numbers? Furthermore, how can you lose minutes to DeSagana Diop? Has Dampier lost the will to live?

    Silver: GF Marquis Daniels (10.1 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.0, 1.1 SPG)
    I realize that these numbers don’t look very appealing, but now that Doug Christie’s body is completely eroding, Daniels has gotten the starting nod in his place. Trust me, this is like getting stock in Google when it first came out (just a slight exaggeration).

    Gold: F Dirk Nowitzki (25.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.3 BPG, 2.4 3PM)
    Not exceptional numbers by any means, but just a hair off of last year’s totals. What scares me is the fact that he played so much in the World Championships this summer. It seemed like every day I saw him playing some type of basketball. I mean, does he ever take a break? Can’t you see the Mavs at like 40-7, cruising towards the 2 seed in the West, and then BAM, out goes Dirk with a devastating injury? Man, I hope I don’t jinx him…

    1. San Antonio Spurs (8-2)

    Bronze: SG Manu Ginobili (29.9 MPG, 14.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.8 SPG)
    I know, not bad numbers at all seeing he only averages 30 minutes, but that’s the thing, why just 30? Maybe it’s because the Spurs are incredible and usually up by 55 heading into the 4th, but maybe it’s because Manu just can’t play through minor nagging injuries (e.g., bruised quad). After amazing the world last summer with his display in the Finals, I’m sure a ton of managers took him in the 3rd or 4th round hoping for similar type numbers. Way to disappoint Manu… (Can you tell I’m not the biggest Ginobili supporter?)

    Silver: PG Tony Parker (21.6 PPG, 6.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 55.7 FG%)
    Hey, if I were dating Eva Longoria I think my game would improve ten-fold too. I bet she’s like, “Okay T-Bone, if you score 25 and dish out 8 assists tonight, I’ll wear that red dental floss thong to bed.” Talk about motivation…

    Gold: PF Tim Duncan (21.4 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.2 BPG, 53.0 FG%)
    Although not a top-3 pick any longer, Timmay still defines consistency as well as anyone in the game. I love the new ‘fro too, makes him look like he hung out with Ricky Williams all summer. His game on the other hand, assures us he did not.