Tuesday, January 31, 2006

2005-06 NBA Mid-Season Awards

Could he really do it again?

Most Improved Player

1) David West, New Orleans
04-05: 30 games, 18.4 min, 6.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 43.6 FG%
05-06: 43 games, 35.3 min, 16.9 PPG, 7.9 APG, 51.2 FG%

--I’ve been calling for West to get more run for two years now. As a graduate of an A-10 school (St. Joe’s), I saw plenty of the Xavier product up close and personal. Actually, during one game I screamed that Jameer Nelson was a much better candidate for Player of the Year. West looked at me, gave me one of those “haha, oh yeah white boy?” smiles, brought his team back from a double-digit deficit, and single-handedly won it for the Musketeers in overtime. This is why it boggled my mind seeing Byron Scott let him decompose on the bench.

2) Boris Diaw, Phoenix
04-05: 66 games, 18.2 min, 4.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.3 APG, 42.2 FG%
05-06: 43 games, 33.1 min, 11.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.9 APG, 50.1 FG%

--Okay, let’s review. Phoenix miserably lost Joe Johnson this summer and had to replace him with some guy named Boris Diaw-Riffiod—which sounds more like a required 18th century author on your 8th grade summer reading list. Well, it turns out this guy can score, rebound, pass, and oh yeah, play all five positions. Not bad considering he’s not even making a $ million while the aforementioned Hawk is sitting in his living room counting bills 50 Cent-style.

3) Mehmet Okur, Utah
04-05: 82 games, 28.1 min, 12.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 13.9% of offense
05-06: 44 games, 35.6 min, 17.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, 19.8% of offense

--Doesn’t look like much of a basketball player, does he? Actually, he reminds me of that kid in college who always came late to class, had just woken up 13 seconds prior, and always asked for a piece of paper and a pen. But hey, the guy can ball and if Kevin O’Connor stops trying to pull a reverse Texas Western this season, perhaps the Jazz can sneak into the Playoffs.

Just missed: Delonte West (BOS), Smush Parker (LAL)

6th Man of the Year

1) Mike Miller, Memphis –Evidence of how bad this year’s crop of 6th man nominees is: Miller’s FG%, 3-pt FG%, FGA made, and APG are all down from a season ago. I’m dying for someone like Al Jefferson to swoop in and provide some dignity to this race.

2) Mo Williams, Milwaukee –Earlier this season, Williams won two games at the buzzer and has since emerged as a catalyst for this young ball club. Without him, I’m not sure the Bucks hold the 5 seed at this point in the year…

3) Speedy Claxton, New Orleans – Yet another PG who got demoted in favor of a younger player. But like Williams, Speedy has handled the situation with class and kept up his solid play as 6th man for the Hornets.

Just missed: Earl Boykins (DEN), Jamal Crawford (NYK), Donyell Marshall (CLE)

Coach of the Year

1) Flip Saunders, Detroit – 37-5 in his first year as Pistons coach is just unheard of. Obviously it’s nice to inherit a team that reached the Finals their previous season, but that doesn’t take anything away from a .881 winning percentage.

2) Mike D’Antoni, Phoenix – Guiding this team to the 2 seed in the West, after losing Johnson and Q to trades and Amare to injury, is just incredible. If Detroit wasn’t on pace for historical marks, D’Antoni would run away with this honor.

3) Byron Scott, New Orleans – This is where I start to hate the COY award. It’s like the science fair at your elementary school. The relatively poor kid does an above average job with old Coke cans, straws, underwear elastics, Popsicle sticks, etc. But then the spoiled brat whose dad is a stockbroker on Wall Street comes in with like three grand worth of Radio Shack built into his experiment and easily runs away with first prize. We all expected it to happen, but yet we still can’t help but feel bad for the kid left their standing with half a bottle of Elmer’s glue stuck to hands. You see where I’m going with this? Doesn’t the guy who was predicted to have a 14th or 15th seeded team, but now owns the 8th seed in the West, merit any recognition? Probably not…

Just Missed: Nate McMillan (POR), Phil Jackson (LAL), Mike Dunleavy (LAC)

1st Team All-Rookie

Chris Paul, New Orleans – Stephon Marbury-type that actually makes his teammates better and plays defense.

Deron Williams, Utah – We were warned that Jerry Sloan would be extremely patient with his young point guard, but to sit this kid in favor of guys like Keith McLeod is just unheard of.

Charlie Villanueva, Toronto – Hey Charlie, way to not give a damn at UConn and then make 95% of sports writers look like idiots with your solid play. I still say he has a better shot at growing hair than becoming an All-Star.

Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee – It makes me ecstatic when a white guy comes in and continues to play with passion even after breaking his nose 12 times this season. Oh well, it’s not like he looks any better without the mask…

Channing Frye, New York – Another example of a player we were all wrong about. I give Isiah three weeks to deal him away for Theo Ratliff.

Just missed: Raymond Felton (CHA), Nate Robinson (NYK), Jose Calderon (TOR)

Rookie of the Year

Chris Paul, New Orleans – This is like that one answer you know for sure on a test you barely studied for. When’s the last time a PG entered the league and had this much impact? You’d have to go back to the 96-97 season when Allen Iverson averaged 23.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 7.5 APG, & 2.1 SPG. Oh yeah, and props to the Hawks and Jazz for passing on him—really solid move. I think with Paul (rather than Williams), Utah would be three games up in the Northwest rather than gradually slipping into the Lottery. If the Hornets somehow finagle their way into the postseason, don’t be surprised to see Paul in the top-5 or 6 for MVP voting.

1st Team All-Defense

Bruce Bowen, San Antonio – With Kobe putting the majority of his focus on the offensive end, I’ll leave Bowen in the mix.

Gerald Wallace, Charlotte – No one else in the league averages 2+ steals and blocks. Add 7.0 RPG to the mix and GW could challenge these bigger fellas for DPOY.

Andrei Kirilenko, Utah – Many people might call for Marion in this spot, but the Matrix can’t quite change a game defensively the way AK can. Once he gets in cruise control, expect 2+ steals and 3+ blocks every night…

Ben Wallace, Detroit –I always tend to wonder why more teams don’t try and breed a Big Ben of their own. You’ll hear coaches and analysts say he’s a unique talent that can’t be replicated, but I remain skeptical. You’re telling me if I had an athletic big man go out there and put 100% of his effort towards defense and ONLY defense, he couldn’t do what Wallace does? Really?

Marcus Camby, Denver – Too bad Camby got hurt. Not only has it scarred his magnificent first few months, but it’s also put a damper on his team and his chances to nab DPOY honors. Should come down to the wire if he manages to play 60+ games this season.

Defensive Player of the Year

Ben Wallace, Detroit – Say you went away for five years and had no clue of how the NBA was structured, who was good, who was bad, what styles of play were dominating, etc. And then say I asked you if you thought it was possible for a team to be 37-5 with a 6-9 center? Would you honestly say yes? I sure wouldn’t. But that’s the thing, we haven’t had a big man this athletic and dominant on the boards since Dennis Rodman. The difference is, Wallace has about 50 more pounds of muscle on him to help D-up both 4s and 5s. In addition, he gets his team the most second chance opportunities in the league, blocks almost 2.5 shots per game, and gets his paws on nearly 2 steals every night. Anyone doing that much for his team on one end of the floor deserves this honor each and every year.

1st Team All-NBA

Steve Nash, Phoenix – Doing more with less…

Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers – We haven’t seen someone this dominant offensively since you know who…

LeBron James, Cleveland – Finally rounding into form after struggling early. Should be 30-8-8 by year’s end.

Elton Brand, LA Clippers – With Shaq, Yao, and Camby all nursing injuries, Brand has quietly emerged as the game’s most dominant big man.

Ben Wallace, Detroit – With the aforementioned players all missing 10+ games this season, I have to honor Big Ben.


Those with little/no chance:

Elton Brand, LA Clippers – Brand is like that chubby kid in high school who is so nice to everyone and probably deserves the hottest girl out there, but instead ends up with his mother’s best friend’s daughter. In other words, Brand just isn’t the sexy pick…

Chauncey Billups, Detroit – Honoring Billups is like giving the NFL MVP award to an offense linemen. Without the other four the entire unit snaps, so how can you single out one particular guy?

Gerald Wallace, Charlotte – I love when some no name writer from ESPN the Magazine decides to go out on a limb and say that a guy like Wallace deserves the MVP. Seriously, just because you majored in journalism at Harvard doesn’t make it okay to write ridiculous columns. How can a guy win the MVP when he plays for an 11-35 team?

Those with an outside chance:

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas – I feel like this happens every year. The Mavs start out hot, stay on pace with San Antonio, and then everyone starts talking about how valuable Dirk really is. Sure, a versatile 7-footer is always going to be a precious commodity, but what matters most is finally securing that 1 seed so that the entire postseason rolls through your backyard. Until he does so, there are still four guys I like more. Odds: 30: 1

Tracy McGrady, Houston – The Rockets are currently in 15th place in the West. They remain 7 games out of the 8 seed with just 38 games to play. Now, say T-Mac puts up some ridiculous numbers like 35, 7, & 6 the rest of the way and somehow guides this team into the postseason? Could we really count him out of the race altogether? I don’t think so. Odds: 20: 1

LeBron James, Cleveland – He single-handedly brought the Cavs back last Sunday to defeat the Suns. Dunks, rebounds, steals, mid-range jumpers, 3-pointers—he did it all. It’s just a matter of time before LBJ doesn’t have anymore mantle space, and that first big one may come sooner than expected. Odds: 10: 1

The odds on favorites:

Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers – First of all, no, I’m not that stupid. I know there’s no way that the majority of writers are going to side with a man who was once accused of sexual assault. Plus, if this did indeed occur, David Stern would have to live with the fact that many of the common fans might stray from the game forever. That’s a chance he cannot and will not take. So why did I even bother to list Kobe here? Well first of all, I still think there’s an outside shot that he could break Wilt’s mark. And if he does that, holds onto the scoring crown, is recognized as a 1st Team All-Defensive player, and the Lakers somehow get a homecourt series in the Playoffs, he almost has to get the award, doesn’t he? This remains a debate I could take either side on and hopefully one that will begin to surface. Odds: 5: 1

Steve Nash, Phoenix – As the leader of arguably the most overachieving team in the NBA, how can we not consider Nash the front-runner? Last year he garnered the award surrounded by perhaps the most talent in the entire league. But this season, sans Amare, Nash has this ballclub playing just as well if not better than a season ago. It’s like giving Jenna Jameson the award for ‘Best Gangbang of the Year’ while working with Peter North, Lex Steele, and Ron Jeremy, and then a year later making an even better film with a cast of Johnny Whitewater, Barry Wang, and Bob Shurtleff. It’s really unheard of… Odds: 2: 1

2006 Slam Dunk Contest Participants

Josh Smith (ATL) - defending champ

Nate Robinson (NYK)

Andre Iguodala (PHI)

Hakim Warrick (MEM)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Deadline Blockbusters


When is enough, enough?

In my Triple-threat on Tuesday, I mentioned three superstars that could be hearing their names swirl around in trade rumors. Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, and Steve Francis will all probably end up staying in their respective uniforms, but just for the fun of it let’s ship these guys to new locations. Feedback is a must…

Philadelphia Trades: G Allen Iverson

Dallas Trades: G Devin Harris, GF Marquis Daniels, GF Jerry Stackhouse, & 1st Rd pick

Why Philly should it:
Over the last few days, ESPN’s Chris Broussard has relentlessly pushed the Iverson-Webber strife across the World Wide Web. It’s left us all wondering, what does this mean? Do these guys hate each other? Do they pour super glue in each other’s doo rags? Cut the brake lines on each other’s Bentleys? But more importantly, do they dislike each other enough that the team will have no choice but to finally trade Allen Iverson? If so, what would be the requirements in a return package for the Philly guard? I say it’s two-fold, in 1) they’d have to get back some young players able to run with Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert and, 2) they must also gain a significant amount of cap relief for the near future. With this Dallas trade, both requirements are fulfilled. Philly gets their backcourt of the future in Harris and Daniels, plus Stack’s contract comes off the books after next season. That means GM Billy King will have a significant amount of money to throw at a free agent come the summer of 2007. In my opinion, that young core plus cap relief in ’07 is worth the price of an aging Iverson.

Why Dallas should do it:
Why the hell not? They really don’t need Harris with Terry playing so well and Daniels is milking a new injury every other week. Plus, in adding AI to a team that boasts a rather versatile big man in Dirk Nowitzki (rather than a guy with Wilford Brimley’s knees), there’s no reason to think the Mavs couldn’t outscore every team that comes their way. But most importantly, if Mark Cuban doesn’t make a major deal such as this, I’d bet my own reproductive organ that Dallas would be sent home in the 1st or 2nd round (as usual). They can win their 55-60 games in the regular season, but once the Playoffs roll around and the opposition starts double-teaming Dirk (think last year’s 1st round vs. Houston), down go the Mavericks. Adding Iverson to the mix however, changes all of that. Opponents will no longer be able to double Dirk but instead will have to balance their focus on him and #3. If this is the case, there’s no reason to think that Dallas won’t be able to hang with the Spurs and Suns (and perhaps beat them).

Minnesota Trades: PF Kevin Garnett

Boston Trades: PF Raef LaFrentz, SG Ricky Davis, PF Al Jefferson, F Gerald Green

Why Minnesota should do it:
Anyone else catch the Wolves-Grizzlies game last night on ESPN? It was an absolute joke. Minnesota was playing about as well as my old high school girl’s JV team. Can Kevin McHale just do KG the favor of putting him in a place that, A) respects him, B) will do everything to help him win, and C) won’t make him cry? Plus, what can we honestly expect from this team with the way their roster appears today? Perhaps a Playoff birth? Okay, but where do they go from there? The answer is nowhere. So, why not trade Garnett while he’s still in his prime and get back valuable young assets in return? Jefferson is projected as a 20 and 10 guy and Green has been regularly compared to Tracy McGrady. And while those guys are still a few years away from contributing, Davis and LaFrentz can help fill some holes in the meantime. And even if they can’t, this team wasn’t going very far anyway…

Why Boston should do it:
Picture a starting five of Delonte West, Tony Allen, Paul Pierce, Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins. Not only would this deal improve the team’s inside scoring, but it also gives the defense a boost with KG in the middle and Allen on the wing (a much better defender than RD). Plus, a tandem of Garnett and Pierce would rank among the league’s most dominating duos. If you were the Heat or Nets, hanging around as a 2 or 3 seed in the East, would you honestly want to face this team? How about next year or the year after when they’re even better? (That is if they get Doc Rivers the hell out of there). Danny Ainge can’t hold onto all this youth forever, so why not go after The Big Ticket?

Orlando Trades: G Steve Francis

Memphis Trades: C Lorenzen Wright, PG Damon Stoudamire, & GF Dahntay Jones

Why Orlando should do it:
Obviously Otis Smith and the Magic would love to get the three years remaining on Francis’s contract off their books. Orlando has certainly not gotten their worth out of the Maryland product and so the most likely road to take at this point is to build for the future. The team already has two nice young pieces in F Dwight Howard and PG Jameer Nelson and will have a decent amount of cap room this summer and a ton in 2007 when Grant Hill finally dies (err, his contract is up). Thus, go out and get the expiring contract of Lo Wright, take on Stoudamire to help mentor Nelson for the next 2-3 seasons, and see if Jones can be half the player he was at Duke. Whatever the Magic decide to do, it really makes no sense to hold onto Francis any longer. Push him to a contender, tank the season, grab a nice Draft pick, and fill your holes through free agency.

Why Memphis should do it:
The Grizzlies are another one of those teams who can hang with anybody right now, but once the Playoffs roll around they won’t have a shot in hell at advancing past the 2nd round. That’s mainly because they have to rely upon the inconsistencies of Mike Miller, Eddie Jones, Bobby Jackson, Shane Battier, etc. What they desperately need is another scorer to compliment the low-post game of Pau Gasol. Bringing Steve Francis in allows for Gasol to get more one-on-one matchups down low rather than a flurry of double and triple-teams that he’s facing now. Maybe Francis wouldn’t be the perfect fit for Mike Fratello and company, but with the expiring contract of Lo Wright as the only enticing asset the team has (they aren’t dealing Warrick), they have to be realistic. Plus, I can’t see Jerry West failing to make an impact move for the third straight year, can you?

Thursday, January 26, 2006


YES! I'm headed to Beantown..

The following trade has been completed:

Boston will deal Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Marcus Banks, Justin Reed and two 2nd round draft picks to Minnesota for Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi, Dwayne Jones and a conditional future first round draft pick.

The trade is conditional upon the players passing physicals.

More to come...

2005-06 Statistics:

Szczerbiak: 20.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, 49.5 FG%, 40.6 3-FG%

Olowokandi:6.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 44.6 FG%

Davis: 19.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 46.4 FG%, 32.0 3-FG%

Blount: 12.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 51.1 FG%, 3.1 TO+

Babcock to Get the Ax

The Toronto Raptors have reportedly scheduled a 2PM Press Conference to announce the firing of General Manager Rob Babcock. Amazingly enough, I felt the GM did his very best work during this past year's Draft in selecting both Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham (not to mention Jose Calderon). I'm assuming the team just wants to take those surprisingly efficient moves and run for the hills. With the trade deadline just about a month away, that might not be a bad idea. Nevertheless, today is a sad day at the Source as Babcock became the butt of countless jokes in our columns. We'll miss you Babs...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Triple Threat: January 24th

Can we please get Howard more shots?

3 Players on Fire (not named Kobe Bryant)

1. Tracy McGrady, Houston
Do you guys remember Paul? He used to write for this website. He is a nice person. Well, back in the preseason he pegged McGrady as his 2005-06 MVP. Two weeks ago that prediction looked about as good as Britney Spears, with T-Mac leaving the court on a stretcher. But let me be the first to say, if McGrady keeps playing like he has over these last three games and somehow gets the Rockets into the Playoffs, he might just win after all. Oh yeah, in those three contests, 39.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 4.7 APG, & 50.0 FG%.

2. Dwight Howard, Orlando
In order to show you how poorly the Magic are using this kid, let’s take a look at some of the other big name power forwards and compare their shots per minute. Bosh (.40), Brand (.45), Randolph (.47), Webber (.47)….Howard (.29). Okay, in just his second year perhaps he shouldn’t be getting the same shot attempts as Brand or Webber. But there’s no reason he shouldn’t be up there with the Boshs and Randolphs of the league. In fact, DH is only attempting 10.6 shots per game, but somehow still leads the team in PPG. In his last five, Howard averaged 17.0 PPG, 15.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 2.0 BPG, & 55.2 FG%. How on earth can you not get him more touches shooting the ball with such accuracy?

3. Shawn Marion, Phoenix
Over his last three games, the Matrix has put up averages of 29.7 PPG, 14.3RPG, 2.7 SPG, 3.7 BPG, including 19-20 from the charity stripe. I can’t even imagine how good this team will be once (if) Amare returns…

3 Players in the Dumps

1. Tyson Chandler, Chicago
What a chump this guy is. Is he ever going to prove his worth? Kwame Brown, the #1 overall pick in the ’01 Draft, gets so much negativity thrown his way but somehow TC (the 2nd pick that year) avoids it. Get this, Chandler is averaging just 4.7 PPG this season—are you serious? But, is it really his fault that he’s only attempting 3.5 shots per game? Should we attribute that to his lack of aggression, poor guard play, or just putrid coaching? I’ll just blame him for now…

2. Joel Przybilla, Portland
This isn’t really Joel’s fault because for some unknown reason Nate McMillan has chosen to play JP for an average of just 21.0 minutes over his last five. Doesn’t he understand I have a fantasy league to win here? I need more a lot more 19 rebound, 8 block performances and a hell of a lot less Theo Ratliff. I’m praying that the team is merely showcasing Ratliff for a deadline deal.

3. Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia
I don’t know about your league, but the majority of the members in mine pegged Iggy to have a huge sophomore season. But thus far, all of his owners have been left with their hands in the air. Sure his PPG are up 3.0 and FG% up a smidgen, but in averaging 5.1 more minutes per game this season, I think we all expected a lot more. There’s still plenty of time for him to prove me wrong however…

3 Teams on Fire (besides the Pistons)

1. Dallas Mavericks-Won 5 straight, and 8 of 10-Did anyone expect the Spurs to be threatened for the Southwest title? Well here we are at the halfway point and both teams are deadlocked at 31-10. San Antonio needs to step it up…

2. Denver NuggetsWon 6 straight and 8 of 10—All this without Marcus Camby too…Fortunately for George Karl and co., the big man is expected to make his return sometime this week. Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony continues to make a strong case for the Western All-Star team (right Curtis?).

3. Los Angeles LakersWon 7 of 10—Whooping the Raptors at home is no big deal, but wins over Miami, Golden State, Cleveland and the cross-town Clips are rather impressive. Is it any real surprise Phil Jackson has these guys in the thick Playoff race? Didn’t think so…

3 Teams in the Dumps

1. Charlotte BobcatsLost 7 straight—As the winner of the team with the worst luck, the ‘Cats have lost Okafor, Rush, Ely, and now Wallace for significant stretches this season. Oh yeah, and rookie Sean May is likely out for the year with a knee injury. Poor Charlotte, at least they get a boost in their cap number this summer…

2. Indiana PacersSitting on Ron Artest—Has any imminent deal ever taken this long to complete? It took the Lakers less than a month to trade Shaq, the most dominant player of our generation, but Bird and Walsh need 49 freakin’ days (and counting) to move Artest? Now the team sits at 21-20 and Coach Rick Carlisle was quoted after Tuesday's game as saying, "We're just not a good basketball team right now." Some executives he has…

3. Golden State WarriorsLost 7 of 10—Everyone’s bandwagon team this preseason isn’t playing so hot, huh? Oh, they’ll be just like the Suns from last year and put up 110 points every night, right? Funny that everyone forgot that they have Mike Montgomery as a coach, no frontcourt player even reminiscently close to Marion or Amare, and that Mike Dunleavy still hadn’t gotten his first period. It’s going to take a marvelous deadline deal to sneak this squad into the postseason.

3 Stars Bound to be Discussed in Trade Rumors

1. Allen Iverson, Philadelphia
With AI and C-Webb apparently at each other’s throats, the most logical rumor to surface will be the trading of Iverson. No one will be crazy enough to take on Webber’s contract and injury liability, so what choice will that leave the Sixers’ brass? If AI isn’t happy, management has to listen to his trade requests/demands, right? We’ll find out in the coming weeks…

2. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota
The last time I checked the Wolves were in 9th place in the West. And if I recall correctly, only 8 teams make the Playoffs. So say Minny drops back even further, say by losing 5 of their next 6? And one night when the team is down by 20 in the 4th and KG looks over at Kevin McHale laughing it up with some bimbo in the stands, what do you think happens next? Would anyone be remotely surprised if Garnett held Wally World hostage until the team agreed to trade him? Maybe it’s just me, but I really think the league would benefit greatly with the Big Ticket in the Playoffs every year. Doesn’t a move to Boston almost make too much sense? A team desperate to make it back to the Finals matched up with a player whom everyone wants to see there? A couple hasn’t made this much sense since Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski.

3. Steve Francis, Orlando
It’s about freakin’ time that management gives up on Francis and Hill and hands the reigns over to Howard and Jameer Nelson. Tank the rest of the season, draft Rudy Gay, and build around those three studs. How does Otis Smith not see this? And who the hell thought it was a good idea to hire Otis Smith? There was no one better out there? Wouldn’t no one be better?

3 Tidbits from the NBDL

1. Potential stud Gerald Green has looked decent at best through his first five games. The rookie draft pick of the Boston Celtics is currently averaging 11.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, while shooting just 41.8% from the field. While the numbers don’t appear too enticing, this this video should make Celtics’ fans smile for what’s to come.

2. Rookie PG Will Bynum (Georgia Tech) has stole the league scoring lead from G Bracey Wright. The free agent from the Roanoke Dazzle is currently averaging 22.9 PPG through 15 games of action. His teammate F Anthony Grundy (NC State) isn’t far behind with 22.2 PPG. Bynum was a free agent signee of the Celtics this summer, but the team released him just before the start of the regular season. He is free to be signed by any NBA team.

3. Portland Blazers’ guard Martell Webster was sent down to the Fort Worth Flyers last week. Through three games, the 3rd overall pick of last year’s Draft is putting up 10.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, while shooting just 40.7%. As with Green, expect him to go through some early game struggles after rotting on an NBA bench for the last 2+ months.

3 Fantasy Buys

1. Kendrick Perkins, Boston
Not only has the big man started the last six games for the C’s, he’s also been playing with something to prove. After sitting behind both Mark Blount and Raef LaFrentz for the past two seasons, Coach Doc Rivers is finally giving Perk and second year stud Al Jefferson some run. The results? 10.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG, and 62.0 FG%. Keep in mind that Blount is being dangled for three chalupas and a side of guacamole, and that once he’s dealt Perk should be solidifying 30+ minutes per night.

2. Jalen Rose, Toronto
If you haven’t noticed, Rose has started the Rap’s last three games and put up averages of 22.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 49.0 FG%. While JR’s certainly just being showcased for a looming trade to New York, he still may be a nice pick up for the next few weeks. If you need someone to help out long term, I’d look elsewhere…

3. Antonio Daniels, Washington
I know, he’s played about as well as the fat guy in Teen Wolf this season, but with Chucky Atkins moving to Memphis, I think a lot of the pressure will be alleviated. Remember that last season he was playing alongside a 2nd-year player with no one but Flip Murray pushing him for run. This season he’s in a new place, playing behind an elite PG, and up until recently, battling Atkins for minutes. If you don’t believe me, wait it out another week and see for yourself.

3 Fantasy Sells

1. Francisco Elson/Eduardo Najera, Denver
With Camby coming back shortly, these guys will take the biggest hit. Start searching for better options while you still can…

2. Kevin Martin/Francisco Garcia, Sacramento
With Bonzi due back sooner rather than later, and Peja apparently sticking around (for now), these two youngsters are out of luck. So are their owners…

3. Corey Maggette, LA Clippers
I wouldn’t be surprised if half of Maggette’s owners have elected to hold onto him thus far. Hell, you probably wasted a 3rd or 4th round pick on him and all you see in the free agent list are Quinton Ross and Jackson Vroman. But listen, the Artest-to-LA deal died for a legitimate reason. If Maggette was expected back anytime soon, don’t you think the Pacers would rather have him than Peja? Makes you wonder if Corey will be back at all this season.

3 Thoughts from the NFL Playoffs

1. In watching Ben Roethlisberger battle Jake Plummer this weekend, I feel it should be mandatory for players to grow Playoff beards. This especially holds true for the WNBA where we’d redefine the comedic scale watching Lisa Leslie and Tamecka Dixon go over a month without a waxing. Yeesh…

2. Does any team have worse luck with running backs than the Carolina Panthers? Better yet, does anyone have worse luck than DeShaun Foster? The season-ending injury he suffered in Chicago last week marked the third year in a row he failed to complete a full year. Good luck on the free agent market buddy.

3. What’s with all the hiring of the assistant coaches? I just heard that San Fran hired the Patriots’ urinal cleaner to be their offensive coordinator.

3 Thoughts from the NHL

1. It’s about time the New York Rangers turned things around. Isn’t it amazing how a roster filled with superstars fails to make the Playoffs for seven straight years, yet a team with only one legit player of that caliber can be just 3 points back of the division lead? Big game tonight vs. Buffalo (7PM).

2. No surprise that Mario Lemieux retired for the second time this afternoon. Why do these hockey players insist on holding onto their playing days? Are their wives and kids that terrible?

3. Penguins' center Sidney Crosby (1st overall 2005 Draft), at just 18 years of age, currently sits 14th in the league in total points. The player that went 1st overall last season, Washington forward Alexander Ovechkin, is 8th. Looks like the NBA isn’t the only breeding ground for teenagers…

3 Thoughts from Baseball

1. Doesn’t Barry Bonds realize that the only way for him to get all the critics off his back is to play in this year’s World Baseball Classic and bring home a title to the U.S.? Am I the only one who sees this? Is Felipe Alou that conniving?

2. As a Yankee fan, count me among those who are thrilled that most of my team’s players chose not to participate in the WBC. As cool as it would be to see the U.S. win this Classic, I’d much rather have the Yankee players at full strength come April. Bud Selig is going to face much scrutiny as soon as the first impact player goes down with a major injury.

3. Prediction: the Red Sox acquisitions of 2B Mark Loretta, and more importantly, OF Coco Crisp will go down as two of the more underrated moves of the offseason.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Artest Trade OFF

2:45 P.M: The Indiana Pacers have finally awoken from their hibernation and traded Ron Artest to the Sacramento Kings for Peja Stojakovic. This deal, which has been discussed for somewhere around seven years now, should have never taken 49 days to complete. Due to their lengthy deliberation, Indiana sits at a mediocre 21-19 record at the halfway point of the season. The Kings, on the other hand, remain just 3 games back of a Playoff spot with over half a season to play. It will be very interesting to see how this deal plays out for both clubs. Sacramento travels to Indiana on March 17th, most likely "Hatchet Night" at Conseco Fieldhouse.

**UPDATE** 6:45 P.M: According to ESPN's Steven A. Smith and Jim Gray (who first reported the deal), cry baby Artest doesn't want any part of Sacramento. The deal remains on the rocks as we speak. More info coming as I come across it...

**UPDATE** 7:00 P.M: The deal is offically dead. I'm so sick of this I don't even care to discuss. Ron Artest has officially overtaken Kobe as the game's biggest asshole.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Kobe's 81: The Best Ever?

In case you're just rolling out of bed, hungover from Conference Championship Sunday, let me be the first to inform you that Kobe Bryant dropped a Laker record 81 points last night. Here's his final stat line:

28-46 from the floor
7-13 from three
18-20 free throws
26 in the 1st half, 55 for the 2nd

So the obvious question we need to ask this morning, is whether or not this is the greatest single-game performance in league history. We're all aware that Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game in 1962, but do we really know what happened that day? Let’s breakdown three categories of justifying factors to determine which feat we can consider the greatest of all time.

1. Defenders

Keep in mind that Wilt Chamberlain was 7-1, 275 lbs. The men he went up against that day were Cleveland Butler, a 6-9, 210 lbs. rookie (6th round pick), who did happen to net 33 points and 8 rebounds, and Darrall Imhoff, a 6-10, 220 lbs. center who fouled out in just 20 minutes of action. Of the other six players who laced them up for New York that day, no one stood over 6-6. Thus, Wilt’s main defense that afternoon was a rookie 6th round draft pick, whom he had a 4-inch height advantage over, and a man coordinated enough to last just 20 minutes in the paint.

Kobe Bryant wasn’t exactly defended by All-Defensive teamers on Sunday, drawing match-ups of Jalen Rose, Morris Peterson, Joey Graham, and Eric Williams. Rose, an absolutely putrid defender, was only on the court for 42 minutes because the team is currently showcasing him for trades. Mo Pete has to be at least 3 steps slower than Kobe. Joey Graham had the reputation as a solid defender in college, but he’s more apt to guarding small forwards, not lightning quick 2’s. And finally, the 33 year-old Williams played just 5 minutes of action and certainly didn’t do much to help stop the fire.

2. Eras

On that March day in 1962, the Philadelphia Warriors outscored the New York Knicks 169-147 in regulation. To put things in perspective, the Sonics needed two overtimes (10 extra minutes) on Sunday night to defeat the Suns 152-149. But that’s the thing, those high-scoring contests were a regular occurrence back in the 60s. In fact, the Warriors averaged 134.0 PPG that season, compared to the Phoenix Suns’ league high of 106.3 PPG this year. Think about that—that’s a 27.7 point difference in averages. Doesn’t that say something about the variation in defensive intensity between these two eras? If we want to get mathematical here, 100 points in an era where 134.0 was the league high, is equivalent to a 79-point outing in the modern era. Kobe dropped 81, so can’t we argue that his feat is superior?

3. Position Advantage

It doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to know that it’s much easier to score when you’re 7-1 than if you are 6-6. The majority of Chamberlain’s points came on lay-ups and put-backs (his 25 rebounds probably helped a bit too). Bryant scored 81 points using his quickness and deadly jumper, two methods of scoring that get to be rather exhausting. Posting up a guy on the block takes a lot less effort than it does to blow by defenders and shoot countless jump shots. Plus, Chamberlain got to attempt 32 free throws compared to just 20 for Bryant. You’re telling me it’s not easier to have 12 more attempts from the charity stripe? Thus, I think we can say that Wilt the Stilt definitely had it easier in playing the 5.


All in all, I think with the height and position advantages, along with the enormous boost in scoring, Chamberlain definitely had in much easier en route to his 100-game performance. In this era, 81 points from a 2-guard is just more impressive than 100-points from a 7-1 center in 1962. Care to argue?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Random Thoughts: Wednesday's NBA Action

I must admit, I haven’t missed a Cavs-Nuggets game since the birth of the LeBron-‘Melo rivalry in 2003. Who would? These two were supposed to be the modern day Jordan and Bird right? Well last night LBJ and Carmelo reminded me more of Marty Conlon and Joe Wolf. In case you missed it, this was one of the worst Nationally televised games of the season, evidenced by Kenyon Martin somehow pulling down 17 boards with Manute Bol’s knees. The defense wasn’t anything to email home about, yet the final score somehow showed a 90-89 ball game. Oh yeah, and that James-Anthony showdown, well let’s just say if I paid money to attend this game I wouldn’t be pinning the ticket stub on my bulletin board.

See most of you would look at this morning’s boxscore and say, “Dang, LeBron was just one assist shy of a triple-double”. But what I see is much more evident of what truly went down last night: 7-20 FG, 8-15 FT, and 5 personals. And to add to it, one of those bricks from the charity stripe just so happened to come with 0.8 seconds left and a chance to tie the game. Now I know he’s just 21 years old and it may be too early in his career to get on his case, but c’mon man, there’s no way MJ misses that. All these Jordan comparisons make me sick because all I see in common thus far is the #23. Even before that miss the Cavs were down 3 with just under 10 seconds to go. The ball somehow got tip out to James who had a wide-open 3 thanks to an unintentional Eric Snow screen. So what did he do? That’s right, passed it over to Sasha Pavlovic instead. SASHA PAVLOVIC! Nevermind why that guy is even on the court during crunch time, why the hell is LeBron not taking that shot? Doesn’t every superstar want the game-tying/winning shot to be his no matter what? Well, maybe James knew he was just 2-11 in taking those particular attempts this season and wanted to share some of the pressure with his boy Sasha. Whatever the case might have been, there’s absolutely no reason why LeBron shouldn’t have taken that shot and later, missed that game-tying free-throw. MJ never did things like that and until James learns from these crucial mistakes, let cut it out with all the comparisons. Thanks.

After popping a few Tylenol Cold & Sinus pills around 10 PM, let’s just say I wasn’t in any shape to be paying pinpoint attention to anything. So when Antonio Davis mysteriously charged into the stands at the Untied Center, I initially thought I had unknowingly fallen asleep and dreamt the whole thing. Then I did that whole wipe the eyes thing (like that really wakes you up) and realized this was really happening. Was Davis’ wife getting raped in the stands? Was someone stabbing her? Did she pull a Jessie Spano and start ripping all her clothes off unannounced? No. A Bulls’ fan was heckling her because in all likelihood she was being extremely obnoxious in rooting for her husband’s Knicks. So Davis has to be Superman and run to his wife’s rescue because she’s in an argument with another fan? C’mon now, did we not learn anything after last year’s debacle in Detroit? How about just running to the scorer’s table and yelling out, “Are you okay honey?” before you charge into the crowd like a bull in Seville. Since she was in the 6th row, unless she requires two of those massive hearing aids you see 80 year-olds in Wal-Mart wearing, she probably could have shouted back, “Yeah Tony, this guy’s just being a real douche bag.” Now we’re forced to hear Woodie Page and Jay Merriotti discuss this for the next few days until the NFL referees make another abhorrent call this weekend. Thanks a lot.

PS-If Stern gives him anything longer than a 1 or 2 game suspension, he really needs to come down from his power trip. I bet his wife wears the pants in the Stern house and so whenever he gets the chance to prove his masculinity he has no chance but to take it. Stay tuned for the ruling.

UPDATE: Yup, looks like Mrs. Stern went out and bought a new Beamer anyway, even after David strictly told her not to do so. She actually pulled up with it right as Davis was rushing into the stands. What a coincidence, huh?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

NBA All-Star Additions & Lineups

See how these two can spice up All-Star Weekend

That's right everyone, the 2006 NBA All-Star festivities are just 32 days away. Can you believe it? I know, I know, not all of you are as pumped as I am for this. So let me ask you, what would it take for you to really look forward to this event? I decided to come up with a few ideas to appease your viewing pleasure. Let's start with Saturday night and present some more exciting activities to sandwich around the 3-point Shootout and Slam Dunk Competition.

Drinking Contest: Vin Baker vs. Shawn Kemp
Nothing like an old-fashioned case race between two NBA veterans. And to spice it up a little, maybe when they finish chugging Natty Lights, the competition will conclude with each contestant having to nail Ron Artest with a full beer from the 10th row. Imagine the fun? David Stern should reward the winner with a roster spot on the Hawks.

Hot Dog Eating Contest: Takeru Kobayashi vs. Latrell Sprewell's Children
The best hot dog eater in the world vs. the hungriest children on Earth! Refereed by none other than Sally Strothers with hundreds of those flies from Kenya buzzing around her face. (PS-How can Spree turn down a deal with the Clips when he’s so desperate for money? Does he not realize the contradiction here?)

Ebonics Battle: Diana Taurasi vs. Jason Williams
Two people who love to talk like they're fresh out of Compton get to put their skills to the ultimate test. (That is, if Taurasi isn't busy taking part in a gang-bang with half of the Phoenix Suns team. Did you see her flirting with every single player last year? My God, I wonder what she did when she got Geno Auriemma alone at UConn. And how come more people aren't named Geno? I wonder about things like this). The competition will involve people like Rick Carlisle and Marv Albert providing sentences, and Taurasi and Williams translating them into ebonics. Most ghetto words wins.

Frightening of Children Competition: Michael Ruffin vs. Calvin Booth
Simple rules: 1 point for tears, 2 for urinating one’s pants, and 5 for a bowel movement.

And now some more serious options...

Arm Wrestling Tournament: Shaq, Ben Wallace, Kendrick Perkins, Erick Dampier, Kenyon Martin, Theo Ratliff, Alonzo Mourning, and Elton Brand.
The League could air clips of Sly Stallone in Over the Top to fire up the competitors. My money’s on ‘Zo, but Perkins would be my long shot.

Main Event: 1 on 1: LeBron vs. Kobe
Is this long overdue, or is it just me? Wouldn't every sports fan want to check this out? Arguably the best two players in the game duking it out to 11; it's unbelievable that I’m the only one who thinks of these things. (Actually I'm not...Simmons did a piece on this years ago that still remains one of my all-time favorite articles. I tried to find it, but I'm just not seeing it. Look in his archive)

There are thousands of different ideas I could delve through and so I'll try and throw up a few more over the coming weeks. Now, on to my All-Star rosters (subject to change):

Eastern All-Stars

G - Allen Iverson (PHI)
G - Dwyane Wade (MIA)
F - LeBron James (CLE)
F - Chris Bosh (TOR)
C - Shaquille O'Neal (MIA)

G - Chauncey Billups (DET)
G - Vince Carter (NJN)
G - Gilbert Arenas (WAS)
F - Paul Pierce (BOS)
F - Jermaine O'Neal (IND)
C - Ben Wallace (DET)

Close but no cigar: Rip Hamilton (DET), Michael Redd (MIL), Gerald Wallace (CHA)

Notes: I wanted to take Rip, I really did, but Arenas is the only reason Washington remains in the Playoff hunt. While Hamilton is getting a ton of help from Billups, Prince, and the Wallaces, Arenas has to be the go-to guy on a nightly basis, and thus should be awarded appropriately. You also might also be surprised with my selection of Bosh over Jermaine. Sure, O’Neal has held that Pacer team together amidst the Ron Artest saga, but I’m always one to choose the up-and-coming star on a struggling team over an injury-plagued veteran. Plus I’m just sick of Jermaine getting that starting nod by default. Soon, Bosh and Dwight Howard will be neck and neck each year for this honor.

Western All-Stars

G - Steve Nash (PHX)
G - Kobe Bryant (LAL)
F – Tim Duncan (SAS)
F- Elton Brand (LAC)
C- Marcus Camby (DEN)

G - Tony Parker (SAS)
G - Jason Richardson (GSW)
F - Shawn Marion (PHX)
F - Carmelo Anthony (DEN)
F - Dirk Nowitzki (DAL)
F - Kevin Garnett (MIN)
C - Yao Ming (HOU)

Close but no cigar: Tracy McGrady (HOU), Pau Gasol (MEM), Andrei Kirilenko (UTH), Chris Paul (NOR), Baron Davis (GSW)

Notes: It was extremely difficult for me to leave T-Mac off the roster with the game in H-Town, but I’m not one to give a guy the nod based on reputation. McGrady has already missed 12 of his team’s games thus far and doesn’t appear ready to suit up anytime soon. On the other hand, Carmelo, Gasol, and AK-47 are having stellar years and shouldn’t be passed over for a guy that might not even play. Here’s how I broke it down: Gasol has this Grizzly team sitting comfortably in the 3 hole, but has had much more help than Anthony. Kirilenko has been great in the last few weeks (including a trip-dub on Tues), but has missed too many games (10) for me to give him the nod. Thus, I'm taking Carmelo who has done a fantastic job keeping his team around .500 amidst the frequent injuries to Camby and K-Mart. Not to mention his eight 35+ point performances, including that 43 and 11 dominator vs. PHX. Can't wait to see him in his first All-Star game...

The Mark Blount Saga

Where will this bozo end up?

I was shocked when a reader seemed annoyed last night that I hadn’t posted anything on the “imminent” Mark Blount trade. I didn’t realize how dear Stone Hands is to all of you, sorry. Here’s how it breaks out: there are four teams talking to Danny Ainge at this point, Minnesota, Memphis, Cleveland, and Denver (in that order of seriousness). This is what appears to be on the table:

From Minnesota: C Michael Olowokandi (24.0 min, 6.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 45.5 FG%)

--I’m not quite sure why the Wolves would want to do this seeing that Blount still has 5 years and $33 million remaining on his contract which includes a 15% trade kicker. To add to it, Kandi Man’s deal expires after this season…With Minnesota heading into Boston tonight, don’t be surprised if the players are swapped before the opening tip. Man, Kevin McHale is slowly slipping past Rob Babcock on the Isiah Thomas scale…

From Memphis: C Lorenzen Wright (24.8 min, 5.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.7 BPG, 41.1 FG%)

--This is another deal that boggles my mind. Why would Jerry West want to give up an expiring contract for another big man who can’t rebound? Wouldn’t this be like trading your 2002 Kia for a 2002 Kia and giving the guy an extra $10,000? Something tells me Marcus Banks would have to included.

From Cleveland: F Drew Gooden (28.4 min, 11.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG) and PG Damon Jones (25.1 min, 7.4 PPG, 37.1 FG%)

--The Cavs would take back both Blount and Banks in this deal and free up more playing time for Anderson Varejao (fresh off the injured list). The Celtics get a PG who simply launches 3’s all game and a PF who has the I.Q. of a mealworm. Checking out a poll on Celticsblog.com this morning, most of the readers were partial to this deal (out of these 4) for some reason. Why would you want to add another gunner and a PF to impede the growth of Al Jefferson? Plus it doesn’t help the team financially at all, and that should certainly be the goal in ridding themselves of Blount.

From Denver: Earl Watson? (21.6 min, 8.5 PPG, 3.3 APG, 45.6 FG%)

--As much as I think Watson would be perfect for the Celtics, why mess with Delonte West’s progression? The only way this would work is if Boston expanded the deal to include Ricky Davis and then Doc Rivers could play West more at the 2. But again, why try and fix something that isn’t broken?

Oh yeah, Mark Blount: 29.3 min, 13.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.2 TO, 51.1 FG%

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Quote of the Day

Shaquille O'Neal on his decision to mend the differences between him and Kobe Bryant:

"I had orders from the great Bill Russell. Me and him were talking in Seattle the other day, and he was telling me how rivalries should be. I asked him if he ever disliked anybody he played against, and he told me, `No, never,' and he told that I should shake Kobe Bryant's hand and let bygones be bygones and bury the hatchet. Today is a day of peace. Dr. Martin Luther King was an ambassador of peace. So when I talked to Mr. Russell, he told me he said that him and Chamberlain spoke once or twice a week before he passed away. And even though people thought they hated each other, there was nothing but love there."

Ant's Take: I honestly thought there was no other way for Shaq to make himself look any better in the eyes of the media. Seriously, has this guy ever done anything wrong? Even when Andrew Bynum was practically begging him to break his nose last night, all O’Neal did is give him a forearm shiver to the chest. Karma did not prevail however, with the Lakers coming out on top 100-92.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Was it Worth it?

Another season cut short for Manning and co.

At 13-0, the Indianapolis Colts were flying high on their way to Ford Field. In fact, the only other sports figure who looked smoother and more dominant this past season was Lance Armstrong. But nevermind that, football and biking have nothing to do with one another, right? Well, according to Tony Dungy, maybe they do…

Count me among those who were perplexed by Dungy and his staff’s choice to sit down most of their starters for the final two weeks of the regular season. Yes, the injury toll in this league is growing exponentially. No, the Colts did not need another win to lock up home field advantage throughout the Playoffs. And yes, through the first 14 weeks this team looked unstoppable. But let me ask you, was allowing Peyton Manning just 14 pass attempts, Edgerrin James a measly 13 carries (all in Week 16), and Marvin Harrison 2 catches over the final 2 weeks really worth risking a shot at the Super Bowl (especially when a month ago everyone aside from Larry Csonka was labeling them the next ’72 Dolphins)?

It’s funny though, before yesterday’s loss to the Steelers, no one really questioned Dungy’s choice to rest his starters, right? Maybe it’s because we all were banking on the fact that Indy would moonwalk into Detroit and finally get to fling that Belichickian monkey off their back. But now that the unthinkable has occurred, we’re all left wondering what if Dungy let the boys play against Seattle and ‘Zona in Weeks 16 and 17? Would they have still lost yesterday? Remember that before their match-up with Pitt, Manning, James, and Harrison hadn’t played in a full game together since December 18 vs. San Diego. With my calendar telling me that today is January 16th, you don’t need to have a Ph.D. in calculus to figure out that four weeks is much too long to keep these guys out of rhythm. I mean, when I miss one week of work I come back feeling like I’m being ask to find the cure for cancer. Imagine what four weeks is like?

Now I know hindsight is 20-20, but these questions still need to be asked. If you were Dungy would you have made the same decision to sit your guys down? Honestly, I think I would have played my starters for three-quarters or more of those last two weeks to at least make sure they remained on the same page. Because we must not forget that football is no way like riding a bike—you can’t just take a four-week hiatus and then pick up where you left off. This is a game of timing and rhythm and without those two proficiencies, chances are you’re going to fall short of your goals. Unfortunately for Tony Dungy and the Colts, they had to find out the hard way.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Artest for Maggette a Dead Deal?

According to TNT, a Ron Artest for Corey Maggette deal fell apart this evening due to the Clippers' foward's injured left foot. Artest was personally flown to Los Angeles tonight by the Clippers, but the trade fell through after doctors determined that Maggette's injury is far worse than originally believed. Artest is still in LA (actually attending the Lakers-Cavs game), so keep your browser queued up to the Source for more updates.

Western Conference IFs

No surprise that 3 of Golden State's IFs revolve around this guy

IF Manu Ginobili agrees to release the Perfect Strangers DVD set,
IF RC Buford can obtain Kara Wolters to play over Rasho and Nazr
IF Robert Horry still has a few big shots left in the tank
IF Gregg Popovich gets rid of that useless extra ‘g’, and
IF Timmay stops relying on Finley and Van Exel and starts dominating again…

…then the Spurs will win the West

IF Amare really does come back this year (I’m skeptical),
IF Pat Burke gets a sun tan,
IF Leandro Barbosa can stay healthy for a minute or two,
IF Boris Diaw decides how to pronounce his last name, and
IF Steve Nash gets a March crew cut with Dirk…

…then the Suns will win the West

IF Andrei Kirilenko stops eating just barley,
IF Jerry Sloan stops letting R&B legend Keith McLeod steal minutes from Deron,
IF they exceed the understood maximum of 6 white players per team,
IF Greg Ostertag changes his first name to Sloth, and
IF Carlos Boozer cornrows his chest hair…

…then the Jazz will win the West

IF Josh Howard gets those adult braces again,
IF Marquis Daniels gives up on getting Onyx back together,
IF Jason Terry lays off the ‘roids,
IF Keith Van Horn ditches the little kid haircut, and
IF Dirk starts developing an Avery Johnson accent…

…then the Mavs will win the West

IF Pau Gasol gets his ‘L’ back from Pat Sajak,
IF Jerry West obtains Brevin Knight,
IF Fratello wakes up and inserts Hakin Warrick in the starting 5,
IF I find more excuses to use the word ‘inserts’, and
IF Gasol isn’t abducted by the Serengeti…then

…the Grizzlies will win the West

IF this Maggette for Artest deal really goes down,
IF Elton Brand stops trading hips with Estelle Getty,
IF Eliot doesn’t try and hide Sam Cassell in his closet,
IF Chris Kaman bics his head for the love of mankind, and
IF Shaun Livington can continue providing a big spark off the bench…

…then the Clippers will seriously win the West

IF Kobe can make one friend on Earth,
IF the Jeanie Buss porno gets into the wrong hands,
IF Lamar Odom sticks with the prozac,
IF Kwame Brown can average a double-double, and
IF Artest decides to pull a Kobe and snub the Clippers,

…then the Lakers will win the West

IF Carmelo keeps playing with this new-found ferocity,
IF Kenyon Martin can play more than 2 games in a row,
IF Marcus Camby can stay healthy in the 2nd half,
IF they can obtain a shooter (Ben Gordon?), and
IF Earl Boykins (33 points Tuesday) keeps standing on his head…

…then the Nuggets will win the West

IF everyone on the team grows a Baron Davis beard,
IF Mike Dunleavy fully admits he has a vagina,
IF Mike Montgomery benches Dunleavy for Pietrus,
IF Ike Diogu doesn’t turn into Ike Austin, and
IF Adonal Foyle and Dunleavy are forced to give all their money to that bastard from O-Town so I don’t have to see those damn commercials for his new show on MTV…

…then the Warriors still won’t win the West

IF Kevin Garnett finally flips out and knocks out Tyson Chandler,
IF Wally keeps playing Miami (OH) style,
IF Marko Jaric gets a normal PG number,
IF Dwane Casey finally gives up on the Trenton Hassell Experiment (no relation to the Tony Rich Project), and
IF they trade Olowokandi for Mark Blount already…

…then the T’Wolves still aren’t winning the West and KG might be requesting a trade

IF Chris Paul continues his Masters of the Universe-type of play,
IF the team successfully promotes Speedy Claxton teeth night,
IF David West continues his Most Improved Player campaign,
IF PJ Brown doesn’t break a hip, and
IF Byron Scott discovers the magic of Chris Anderson…

…then the Hornets will still be a lottery team

IF Ray Allen keeps tackling scrub players into the first row,
IF Bob Hill realizes the value of Reggie Evans and Damien Wilkins,
IF Luke Ridnour admits he was a backup dancer for N’Sync,
IF Vitaly Potapenko reads Dino Radja’s autobiography, and
IF that 3-ball starts falling again…

…then the Sonics may very well take the Northeast

IF Mike Bibby stops having to use SPF 4,000,
IF Kevin Martin ditches the hi-lo,
IF Bonzi and Abdur-Rahim can hurry back,
IF Rick Adelman doesn’t lose hope on life, and
IF Peja Stojakovic can revisit his 03-04 season…

…then the Kings can steal sneak into the Playoffs

IF Jeff Van Gundy calls Sy Sperling,
IF T-Mac ditches these back problems,
IF Juwan Howard doesn’t have to be their go-to guy,
IF Stro Swift realizes he could be a good basketball player, and
IF we can figure out how Mutombo can stay healthy but Yao can’t…

…then the Rockets still have a shot at the Playoffs…

IF they can stop destroying my fantasy team (I own Przybilla, Miles, and Outlaw)
IF McMillan stops starting Viktor “Be right back, I gotta take a” Khryapa
IF Steve Blake grows pubic hair,
IF they send Martell Webster down to the D-League to battle Gerald Green, and
IF they win 10 more games…

…then Nate the Great should win Coach of the Year honors

BREAKING NEWS: Artest to the Clippers?

Headed to Indy?

No he hasn't been hanging out with Dionne Warwick and Jackie Stallone, but Al Harrington thinks he knows where Ron Artest is headed. The Hawks forward reportedly told the Atlanta Constitution that he has heard that the Indiana Pacers are prepared to ship their troubled forward to LA B for the injured Corey Maggette. He was quoted as saying, "Any team with a sane Ron Artest is going to be tough to deal with. Any team he's on with his mind right is going to the Playoffs and is going to make some noise. So it'll be good for Ron and the Clippers."

Remember that this is NOT a report announcing a done deal, just a player speaking his mind. As always, I will do my best to give you up to the second updates on the Artest saga. Stay tuned...

Fantasy Cup o' Joe

Performance of the Night:

Rashard Lewis (SEA)
45 P, 5 R, 2 S, 1 B, 12-18 FG, 4threes, 17-20 FT
--With Ray Allen tossed in the 1st for fighting Keyon Dooling, the Sonics needed a huge game from Shard. Not a problem in a 113-104 win versus Orlando.

Other Top Performances:


Allen Iverson (PHI)
46 P, 9 A, 4 S, 16-25 FG
--Wow, he actually shot over 50%

Kirk Hinrich (CHI)
17 P, 8 R, 17 A, 1 S, 5-5 FT
--Just about the only consistency on the Bulls

Jameer Nelson (ORL)
32 P, 8 A, 3 S, 9-16 FG, 12-14 FT
--Hopefully you took my advice yesterday and picked him up


Kobe Bryant (LAL)
41 P, 4 S, 12-13 FT
--Ruben Patterson was actually thrilled they held him to just 41

Dwyane Wade (MIA)
32 P, 5 R, 11 A, 2 S, 1 B, 13-19 FG, 6-6 FT
--Is anyone having a bigger fantasy year?


Morris Peterson (TOR)
18 P, 11 R, 4 A, 2 S, 3 threes
--Last year he floated around free-agent pools, now he’s owned in most leagues

Andrei Kirilenko (UTH)
23 P, 6 R, 4 A, 3 S, 4 B, 7-11 FG, 8-8 FT
--When he’s healthy, there’s no all-around better producer

Wally Szczerbiak (MIN)
25 P, 9 R, 5 A, 11-12 FT
--Can Kevin McHale please acquire someone to help him and KG out?


Chris Bosh (TOR)
29 P, 10 R, 3 B, 10-17 FG, 9-10 FT
--The big man just keeps on chuggin’…What a sick Draft that was, huh?

Kevin Garnett (MIN)
28 P, 14 R, 9 A, 10-11 FT
–Hopefully we start to see a lot more of this…

Zach Randolph (POR)
19 P, 14 R, 5 A, 8-22 FG
--Solid all-around game off the pine


Mehmet Okur (UTH)
25 P, 8 R, 8 A, 2 S, 1 B, 8-12 FG, 2 threes
--Remember when he was a 6th man in Detroit?


PG Mike James (TOR)
24 P, 7 A, 1 S, 10-10 FT
--I didn’t mention him yesterday because I assume he’s scooped up in most leagues

PG Steve Blake (POR)
19 P, 9 A, 1 S, 7-10 FG, 3 threes
--Starting and getting bigger minutes for Nate McMillan


They may be the NBA's version of the odd couple, but AK-47 and Okur have the Jazz clinging onto the 3 seed in the West

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fantasy Cup o' Joe

A Recap of Tuesday Night’s Top Performances:

Best Overall Performance

Carmelo Anthony (DEN), 43 P, 11 R, 3 S, 2 B, 15-31 FG, 13-14 FT
Not to mention the game-winning shot with 2.9 ticks left with gauze in his nose after getting a knee to the face from teammate Eduardo Najera. This showing pretty much sealed the deal on his first All-Star selection.

Other solid showings:


Earl Boykins (DEN)
33 P, 8 A, 1 S, 1 B, 3 threes, 8-9 FT
--Don't read too much into this, it was a 3-OT game

Steve Nash (PHX)
26 P, 13 A, 1 S, 47.6 FG%, 5 threes
--See Earl Boykins

Brevin Knight (CHA)
15 P, 18 A, 1 S
--Yet another overtime afair, this one a double

Delonte West (BOS)
15 P, 8 R, 7 A, 2 S, 5-8 FG
--Quietly emerging into an all-around fantasy stud

Rafer Alston (HOU)
20 P, 10 A, 2 S, 4 threes
--Has been excellent since returning from injury

Marko Jaric (MIN)
21 P, 6 A, 2 S, 8-11 FG
--Since KG's not doing much, someone has to


Jamal Crawford (NYK)
26 P, 10 R, 4 A
--Still coming off the bench so be careful

Rip Hamilton (DET)
30 P, 5 R, 12-21 FG, 6-6 FT
--Pretty typical from my boy from UConn

Vince Carter (NJN)
34 P, 6 R, 5 A, 1 B, 3 threes, 9-11 FT
--Has been doing this pretty much every night during their winning streak

Raja Bell (PHX)
30 P, 6 A, 10-19 FG, 8 threes
--3-OT game, but still a promising performance


LeBron James (CLE)
36 P, 7 R, 7 A, 1 B, 0-7 from 3
--First player to achieve 35-7-7 for 5 straight games since Oscar Robertson

Gerald Wallace (CHA)
26 P, 14 R, 3 S, 4 B, 9-15 FG, 8-9 FT
--Best all-around fantasy player?

Mike Miller (MEM)
21 P, 10 R, 10 A, 2 S, 1 B, 4 threes
--Quietly having a really nice year


Juwan Howard (HOU)
28 P, 12 R, 1 S, 13-26 FG
--With Yao and T-Mac out, someone has to step up

Tim Duncan (SAS)
27 P, 12 R, 1 B, 13-15 FT

Shawn Marion (PHX)
28 P, 15 R, 1 S, 1 B, 13-25 FG
--Nice 3-OT showing from the Matrix


Jameer Nelson (ORL)
40 mins, 18 P, 5 A, 1 S, 2-5 from 3, 4-5 FT
--Who knows how long Grant Hill will be out and it looks like Nelson will remain the starter while he is sidelined

Eduardo Najera (DEN)
13 P, 9 R, 2 S, 2 B, 6-8 FG
--With Camby out and Kenyon Martin seemingly missing every other game, Najera has been picking up their slack


Sorry Okafor owners, down went the big man again...Same ankle, too

Let me know if this is helpful to any of you...write me a post either way...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Eastern Conference IFs

Yo Sheed, shudddddddddddup for once

Let’s face it, almost every team in the NBA this season has shown flashes of brilliance at one point or another. So it got me thinking, what if each club did a little bit more of this and a little less of that? What exactly would it take for each squad to go all the way and win its respective conference? Here's a list of IFs that may (or may not) help propel these 15 teams into the Finals...

1. Detroit Pistons
IF they stop losing OT games at home to the hapless Wizards and Jazz,
IF Rasheed Wallace doesn’t break his own technical foul mark (he already has 9),
IF we just all forget that Darko ever existed,
IF Tayshaun Prince stops dieting with Kate Moss, and
IF Dale Davis doesn’t die…

…then the Pistons will win the East

2. New Jersey Nets
IF Vince Carter plays like an elite player every night,
IF Jason Kidd’s knee ligaments prove stronger than yarn,
IF the team re-signs Adam Chubb,
IF management makes a trade for a solid big man, and
IF Cliff Robinson stays out of Trenton…

…then the Nets will win the East

3. Miami Heat
IF Pat Riley’s forehead stays taut,
IF Stan Van Gundy doesn’t reveal Shaq’s porn career,
IF Dwyane Wade stops wearing Converse,
IF Michael Doleac doesn’t clothesline anyone with his ears, and
IF Gary Payton gets larynx cancer…

…then the Heat will win the East

4. Cleveland Cavaliers
IF LeBron stops thinking he’s Eddie Murphy,
IF Ira Newble admits he was part of the original N.W.A.,
IF Larry Hughes doesn’t kill anymore fantasy teams,
IF Big Z stops aging quicker than those twins from Big Daddy, and
IF Damon Jones can make more than 1 shot per night…

…then the Cavs will win the East

5. Indiana Pacers
IF Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird stop playing Jenga and trade Artest already,
IF Danny Granger continues to get big minutes,
IF Sarunas Jasikevicius stops being so ugly,
IF Scot Pollard can act normal, and
IF Jamaal Tinsley and Jonathan Bender morph their usable limbs together,

…then the Pacers will win the East

6. Milwaukee Bucks
IF Andrew Bogut continues to develop,
IF TJ Ford stops playing like a maniac,
IF Mo Williams shaves his shoulder hair,
IF Bobby Simmons stops proving to be a one-year wonder, and
IF Jiri Welsch stops thinking he’s good at basketball…

…then the Bucks will win the East

7. Philadelphia 76ers
IF Chris Webber goes to a chiropractor,
IF another guard can step up so Allen Iverson can maybe rest a little,
IF Dalembert has more games with 22 boards than 4, and
IF Billy King trades for someone so I can make a better joke here,

…then the Sixers will win the East

8. Chicago Bulls
IF Scott Skiles stops having to start Othella the big fella,
IF they can actually pull off that Gordon for Jefferson and Banks deal…
IF Gordon turns back into Mr. 4th Quarter,
IF Luol Deng takes this team on his back, and
IF Randy Holcomb stays on the bench where he belongs…

…then the Bulls still won’t win the East

9. Orlando Magic
IF Jameer Nelson stays in the starting 5,
IF Kelvin Cato can play in more than 0 games,
IF Grant Hill can get one ounce of good karma in his body,
IF Steve Francis stops pretending he has vertigo, and
IF Brian Hill finally stars in a Just For Men commercial…

…then the Magic still won’t win the East

10. Washington Wizards
IF Gilbert Arenas takes every shot for this team…
IF Chucky Atkins and Antonio Daniels kill themselves,
IF Jared Jeffries manages to rid himself of the “worst NBA starter” label
IF Calvin Booth stops scaring the life out of kids, and
IF Eddie Jordan doesn’t jump off the Capital building…

…then the Wizards still won’t win the East

11. Boston Celtics
IF Al Jefferson finds a pair of ankle socks,
IF Delonte West can manage to curl 15 lbs.,
IF Paul Pierce stops hinting at trade requests,
IF Brian Scalabrine vanishes from planet Earth, and
IF Ainge can move Blount and/or LaFrentz…

…then the Celtics still won’t win the East

12. New York Knicks
IF David Lee remains a starter (like I mentioned weeks ago),
IF Eddy Curry stops reading Reggie Lewis’ biography (sorry),
IF NY can keep Isiah in that same drawer as Adrian Brody in The Jacket
IF Quentin Richardson admits he’s dating Laura from Family Matters, and
IF Larry Brown can keep this sense of humor: “I told them we're bowl-eligible. We've got 7 wins."…

…then the Knicks still won’t win the East

13. Toronto Raptors
IF Mikes James keeps playing like Dwyane Wade,
IF Villanueva stops saying things like him and Bosh are a younger version of Tim Duncan and David Robinson,
IF Matt Bonner doesn’t get made fun of anymore,
IF Darrick Martin learns how to spell his own name right, and
IF Mo Pete keeps his slapping to a minimum…

…then the Raptors still won’t win the East

14. Charlotte Bobcats
IF Kevin Burleson plays better than his brother Nate,
IF Brevin Knight doesn’t get any darker,
IF Keith Bogans, Bernard Robinson Jr., and Melvin Ely just start an R&B band already,
IF they all learn that personal fouls are BAD, and
IF some besides Emeka Okafor can rebound the damn ball…

…then the Bobcats still won’t win the East

15. Atlanta Hawks
IF Mike Woodson stops starting Royal Ivey and playing him for 9 minutes every night,
IF Esteban Batista becomes a little less shady,
IF they can play the Celtics every night,
IF Al Harrington stops looking exactly like the guy on Celebrity Fit Club, and
IF they can start transforming athleticism in W’s…

…then the Hawks will still have the worst record in the NBA

Back with the West on Thursday…

Monday, January 09, 2006

Monday's Triple-Threat

"What Ant? I stunk last week?"

3 Players on Fire

1. SG Kobe Bryant (LAL)—Kobe dropping 48 and 50 on successive nights following his 2–game suspension is the equivalent to getting dumped by your girlfriend on Thursday and then going out and scoring with two gorgeous women on Friday and Saturday. We all know Kobe has mastered the latter half of that…

2. PG Jason Kidd (NJN)—19.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 13.0 APG, and 2.0 SPG in the Nets’ two games last week. I think those creaky knees are doing just fine, don’t you?

3. F LeBron James (CLE)—So, what has LBJ done since Hughes got injured? No big deal—just averaging 33.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 7.3 APG, 2.0 SPG, while shooting 56.0% from the floor. I guess that 21st birthday hangover isn’t the same for all of us.

3 Players in the Dumps

1. C Shaquille O’Neal (MIA)—As you may know, in his last three games, Shaq has put up just 13.0 PPG, 0.6 APG, and 0.3 BPG. However, not to fear Diesel owners, two of those games were blowouts: a 111-93 loss at PHX and a 118-89 drubbing of the Blazers. Expect a monster week from a well-rested O’Neal.

2. G/F Marquis Daniels (DAL)—This guy can’t catch a freakin’ break. Miss two games, play one, miss three more, play four, miss the next two weeks with a neck injury. Not exactly Mr. Consistency at this point. You may want to look for help elsewhere…

3. G/F Tracy McGrady (HOU)—The reports said he was screaming in pain last night, left the court on a stretcher, and was transported to a hospital. You don’t need to be Brandon Funston to realize this is not good for your fantasy squad.

3 Teams on Fire

1. New Jersey Nets10 Straight Wins--See what happens when your two best players start playing well? It also helps that six of the victories on their current streak came against teams below .500. Something tells me this run should end either Tuesday @SAS or Friday @MEM.

2. Phoenix Suns8-2 in their last 10 –A streak that includes, most recently, a blowout win over Miami and a victory the very next night vs. San Antonio deserves big time credit. Getting Amare back in February or March is the equivalent to a smoking hot chick getting breast implants. Translation: I can’t wait to see the end result.

3. Toronto RaptorsWon 5 of last 6—Before their 1-point loss versus New Jersey on Sunday, the Raptors were arguably one of the hottest teams in the league. The continued All-Star play of Chris Bosh along with a newfound consistency from Mike James has helped push Toronto into the thick of the Playoff hunt. Crazy, right?

3 Teams in the Dumps

1. Chicago BullsLosers of 8 of 10—They actually lost 8 in a row before their most recent two, so maybe Scott Skiles and co. are getting back on track. I think starting Hinrich, Duhon, and Gordon might not have been the best idea. It’s always good to have at least one of your first 3 over 6-1.

2. Seattle SupersonicsJust plain losers—What a difference a year makes, huh? After 33 games last year, Seattle was 25-8 compared to this season’s 14-19 debacle. Three different head coaches, a starting center rotation of Vitaly Potapenko and Johan Petro, and 19 Reggie Evans promotions/demotions later will do that to a team.

3. Sacramento Kings13-19 on the year—I know I should be softer on them after losing both Bonzi Wells and Shareef Abdur-Rahim, right? But, any team that loses 108-83 at home to a Jamaal Tinsley and Ron Artest-less Indiana squad (not to mention a less than 100% J.O.) deserves to get ripped on. Prediction: Rick Adelman will eventually replace Doc Rivers in Boston.

3 Coaches on the Hotseat

1. Eddie Jordan, Washington—Hey Edward, scoring 100.7 PPG is only good when you don’t give up 102.2. Wasn’t this guy supposed to be a defensive guru when he left New Jersey? The papers are reporting that Jordan’s job is safe right now, but we have to assume that he’ll remain on a very short leash.

2. Rick Adelman, Sacramento—After a while, I think teams who have had the same staff for years just need a change of scenery. It’s doesn’t mean that Adelman’s a bad coach, but maybe the Kings just need some new blood.

3. Doc Rivers, Boston—Everything I read indicates that Doc’s job is safe right now. But would anyone be surprise if Danny Ainge came down from his office to coach his group of handpicked youngsters? This may be just wishful thinking on my part…

3 Tidbits from the NBDL

1. In case you missed it, the Celtics sent their 1st round pick Gerald Green down to the Fayetteville Patriots last Friday. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see this kid dominate. I will certainly keep you updated on his progression.

2. In a bit of shocking news, Toronto Head Coach Sam Mitchell announced that the team has no room for Pape Sow (19.4 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 1.2 BPG) despite continuous poor play from Rafael Araujo and DNP-CDs from Loren Woods. Bring the kid up already.

3. Is it possible that no NBA team is in need of a 6-8, 260 lbs. forward averaging 18.7 PPG and 7.3 RPG in the D-League? Considering that the player I’m hinting at is Marcus Fizer, I wouldn’t expect him without an NBA uniform for too much longer.

3 Fantasy Buys

1. PG Mike James (TOR)—James looked more like another MJ this past week in almost single-handedly guiding Magic Miller’s to a huge victory over my fantasy squad. Although he came up a bit short, 25.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.5 SPG and a 55.0 FG% is quite a nasty week. With Jose Calderon seemingly more focussed on his business relationship with Esteban Batista, it’s safe to say that James is a solid pickup.

2. F Travis Outlaw (POR)—Yes folks, Outlaw is alive. Since putting up monster numbers in the Vegas Summer League, not much has been heard of the Blazer forward. But finally last Wednesday, Coach Nate McMillan gave Outlaw a starting spot and thus far his numbers have been fairly decent. In his last three contests (all starts), T.O. has averaged 9.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and most importantly, 32.0 MPG. As long as the minutes remain steady, expect the production to follow.

3. F Danny Granger (IND)—Since Jermaine O’Neal was sidelined with pneumonia, Granger has started four straight games and put up averages of 12.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 2.8 SPG, while shooting 50.0% from the floor. With Artest on his way out of Indy any day now, DG could conceivably own a permanent spot in Rick Carlisle’s starting 5.

3 Fantasy Sells

1. F Antoine Walker (MIA)—The most you’re going to get from ‘Toine right now is a solid performance once a week when the Heat are up by 15 or more in the fourth. Plus, I just don’t see Walker being a big part of this team down the stretch. His selfishness on the offensive end and lack of any kind of skill on the defensive end make him the perfect player to warm Shaq’s seat on the bench.

2. F Quentin Richardson (NYK)—If you haven’t drop this guy yet you’re crazy. Larry Brown hates him, Brandy told the entire world she thinks he’s gay, and he’s shooting just 34.8% from the floor. Filling his spot with absolutely no one would be better than starting him at this point.

3. F/C Tyson Chandler (CHI)—We’ve been talking about this kid for years and waiting patiently for him to drop 15, 15, with 3+ blocks on a nightly basis. I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Chandler was too frail playing the 4 and now that he’s in charge of manning the middle, there’s no way he’s playing more than 70% of the Bulls’ remaining games. Wait until he comes back from injury, has one nice game, and then trade his ass.

3 Thoughts from the NFL Playoffs

1. Yes, the Patriots looked very good on Saturday night, but I wouldn’t be too quick to count out Denver next weekend. Don’t forget that the Broncos already beat New England earlier this season.

2. I couldn’t be more disappointed in my Giants. Not only did I spend half my life savings on a ticket for yesterday’s game, but I also had the best seats of my life only to watch them get housed. Watch out for Carolina folks.

3. Unfortunate injury for Carson Palmer yesterday. I think the NFL really needs to take a closer look at these vicious hits and start handing out stricter punishments. It seems like officials are more concerned with getting illegal contact calls right than keeping our superstars on the field—quite a shame.