Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Conspiracy Theory


In analyzing the business-laden world of professional sports, I find it difficult to disregard my skepticism over certain matters. For instance, if you’ve ever made sports gambling a hobby (not recommended), then I’m almost certain you’ve entertained the notion that certain lines may be “fixed”. For about a year of my college life, I honestly believed that Vegas was paying off certain NFL teams to make me lose. I pictured some guy named Ronnie calling Bill Cowher and saying, “Hey pal, that Peretore kid threw another fifty down on you guys, so try not to cover 10, ok?” I was absolutely convinced this was happening (don’t do drugs). But after a while, I realized that it’s damn near impossible to predict who’s going to win week in and week out when betting on human beings. How many guys were out partying the night before, who has diarrhea, who is in the middle of a divorce, etc. And while it took me a while to logically conclude that Vegas and the pro sports leagues were not conspiring against me, my cynicism regarding other issues still remains.

Besides Vegas scheming to make millions off of college students’ Olive Garden tips, what else am I skeptical about? Well, I can’t help but wonder if the NHL (after a yearlong lockout) would go out of their way to assure that a big market team hoists the Stanley Cup this June (Rangers?). Wouldn’t that be the best way to get the league back on track? And what about the NBA? Was that whole Shaq and Kobe subplot a ploy to get more fans to tune in? Also, did Stan Van Gundy really have the urge to go from the NBA sidelines to dealing with his daughter’s first bout with PMS? And what about Phil Jackson, ten rings and all the pot he could smoke wasn’t enough? He really wanted to come back for round 25 with Kobe? See what I mean? The list goes on and on.

And while for the most part those topics remain insignificant in the grand scheme of things, there are a few subjects out there that might not be. Foremost, I wonder how long this saddening destruction of the New York Knicks can continue. Once regarded as one of the most respected teams in all of sports, the Knicks have emerged as the laughing stock of the NBA. In addition, I also question when Michael Jordan expects to make his return to the league. Can a man of his stature (and ego) really sit on the sidelines for that much longer? Is designing sweat suits and sneakers really keeping him that busy? Thus, in an effort to get your brains churning and your imaginations running wild, I present to you my conspiracy theory regarding MJ and the New York Knicks.

Not a day goes by without some NBA website or blog making a crack at Isiah Thomas and/or the Knicks franchise. And while we continue to make these two the butt of our NBA jokes, haven’t any of us stopped to think what is really going on here? How can a league that continues to makes successful strides towards gaining global popularity let the team from its capital city just crumble? When the New York Rangers were employing similar financial habits, few of us blinked an eye; but this is different. This is the NBA, a league run by one of the most powerful men in sports, who makes it his duty to eliminate any corrosion from his 30 NBA courts (just ask Ron Artest). And that’s a perfect example. How can the commish have no toleration for those misbehaved players, yet at the same time allow his most prized franchise to rot away right under his nose? It just doesn’t make sense. That’s like Hugh Heffner letting his Playmate of the Year announce that she’s a heroin addict and partaking in an avid sexual relationship with Puck from The Real World. Would he ever allow such a thing?

And what about MJ? Here’s a guy so competitive that he’d bet his college roomates at UNC who could complete a full load of laundry faster. And yet today, at 43 years of age, he’s content with just swinging 9 irons, playing poker with Bo Kimble, and shortening the gap between him and Wilt Chamberlain? I seriously doubt it. Jordan desperately needs competition in his life and analyzing TPS reports that show he sold more ankle socks than Reebok just isn’t enough. So what will his next move be? We all know that his failure in Washington cannot be his final stamp on the NBA, no way. Thus, perhaps Michael could put on his Good Samaritan hat and help resurrect the city of New Orleans? Or what about getting Stern to award him an expansion team in Las Vegas? Wouldn’t any of those two projects fulfill Jordan’s competitive cravings? C’mon now, that’s like giving your dog one of those morsel treats when he knows damn well there’s a 2 lb. rawhide sitting in the cabinet with his name on it. So for Michael, what represents that mouth-watering bone? Very simply, it has to be the challenge of resurrecting the New York Knicks.

I can picture it now. The 2006-07 season ends with the Knicks owning the worst record in the league. Francis and Marbury will have had more spats than Al and Peg Bundy. Jerome James will end the season tallying more weight (50 lbs.) than points (20). Jamal Crawford will start showing up to games high. Larry Brown will go through more of Sally Jesse Raphael’s frames than Sally herself. And watching the Bulls use consecutive #1 draft picks of theirs while Eddy Curry fouls out every other night will be icing on the cake. Translation: New York will hit absolute rock bottom as an NBA franchise (if they haven’t already). But wait a minute. Just when you think Stern has become as careless as an abusive stepfather to his redheaded stepson, he shocks us all by presenting his initial step in fixing the Knicks and further popularizing the NBA. And if you’re thinking of this as a mere flipping of the keys to MJ, trust me, the plan goes far deeper than that.

Ever since I got my braces off, the media has been making relentless attempts at anointing the “next Air Jordan” (of course to no avail). Harold Minor, Isaiah Rider, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, I think even Jud Buechler was mentioned at one point. Essentially, once that sixth title was won, the urgency to find the next #23 became unyielding. One of these days, we as NBA fans need to realize that finding the next MJ may never come to fruition. Unless of course, Jordan himself somehow gets involved. Confused? Read on. Right now, the chances of LeBron James coming to New York are about as good as Tim Allen’s shot at winning an Oscar for The Shaggy Dog. With all of the dead weight currently on the Knicks roster, why would a player of James’ stature ever want to jeopardize his career? Obviously, he wouldn’t. However, luckily for the Knicks they have over two years before LBJ comes off the books in Cleveland. That should give them plenty of time to clean house and clear out the master bedroom for Mr. James’ extended stay.

Here’s a quick sketch of the plan. Sometime in 2007, Dolan hires Jordan to come and clean Isiah’s mess. By that time, Jalen Rose and Mo Taylor will be gone, as will the never-ending contract of Allan Houston. Crawford and Richardson should be fairly easy to deal and getting rid of either Marbury or Francis won’t be impossible. Okay, now where do they go from there? Well, obviously Jordan would have to bring in some reputable names to fill in the holes around Starbury/Francis, Channing Frye and Eddy Curry (assuming they remain). Off the top of my head, perhaps a Rashard Lewis or Al Harrington (this summer) along with a few role players should serve as a nice fit. Thus, when the summer of 2008 rolls around and LeBron takes a look at an ever-improving Knicks roster, headed by the man he one day hopes to emulate (not to mention the biggest stage in sports and probably double the endorsement money), could he really re-sign with Cleveland? Could he really pass up the chance to become Jordan’s heir apparent, return the Knicks to glory, and subsequently carry the NBA to the pinnacle of the sporting world?

Somewhere under that shag of gray hair, David Stern is asking himself these very same questions, with an obvious “no” pending for each of them. A clever smile creases his lips as he gazes down at his Rolodex with the page turned to ‘J’. He reaches for the phone to make the call, but decides to wait. He’ll wait until this thing in the Big Apple gets a little worse, perhaps this summer or the next. In the meantime, he can spend the majority of his free time endorsing all of those checks from Ronnie.

Friday, February 24, 2006

What If Rosters: Central Division

Hill: a big reason behind Detroit's succes


You ever run into an old acquaintance from high school or college and he/she brainlessly decides to fill you in on how happy your ex-girlfriend is with “Glen”? Well that “shot-in-the-nuts” feeling one receives in those joyful encounters is very similar to my sentiments regarding the last ten years of Boston Celtics basketball. Poor management, poor coaching, the Bias/Lewis curse, Antoine Walker, etc. But even more traumatic is seeing those players that used to play for my C’s lighting it up in other cities (ala my ex looking smoking hot after I dumped her for someone with syphilis). So it got me thinking, I’m sure I’m not the only fan out there that imagines these “what if” scenarios. I bet Hornets fans wonder where they would be with Kobe, Raptors fans with T-Mac, and Warriors faithful with Arenas. Thus, for the next few weeks I’m going to be taking a look back over the last ten years and showing you what each team’s 15-man roster could look like today. It might make you smile, it might my you laugh, but in all likelihood, you’ll end up as pissed as I am. Should be a lot of fun…

RULES:

1) Trades. I have just completed a useless, hour-long search in hopes of finding a site that provided a season-by-season log of all the trades that have gone down. To save you the time, one does not exist. Thus, I need to make trade details irrelevant. In other words, some final rosters may not be possible because some of the players may have been dealt for one another (e.g., Ricky Davis and Wally Szczerbiak in Boston). And while I certainly know the details of that BOS-MIN trade, I may not have the same facts behind a deal that occurred in say, 1997. So rather than throw in the facets of one trade and not the other, I thought it best to be consistent. Thus, if you know damn well that Player A was in fact dealt for Player B, use your wonderful imagination to filter the former/latter off of that roster. The only exception is if a player was traded on Draft day without ever playing for that team (e.g. Vince for Jamison in ’98)

2) Free Agency. A team not having enough money to sign a free agent (e.g. Toronto and T-Mac), will not factor in here. I’m imagining as if each team had the checkbook of Isiah Thomas.

3) Contracts. I’m ignoring contracts altogether, so if three max players end up on one team then so be it. That’s pretty much the fun of this whole exercise, isn’t it?

4) Active Players. Players who are retired, in AA, or looking for other work to feed their children will not be factored in.


CHICAGO BULLS

Current Roster
Malik Allen
Eddie Basden
Tyson Chandler
Luol Deng
Chris Duhon
Ben Gordon
Othella Harrington
Kirk Hinrich
Andres Nocioni
Jannero Pargo
Erik Piatkowski
Darius Songaila
Michael Sweetney
Tim Thomas


Come & Gone
Elton Brand
Ron Artest
Jamal Crawford
Brad Miller
Fred Hoiberg
Jake Voskuhl
Eddy Curry
Trenton Hassell
Jalen Rose
Donyell Marshall
Lonny Baxter
Matt Bonner
Antonio Davis
Adrian Griffin


What If 15-Man Roster
PG—Hinrich, Duhon, Pargo
SG—Gordon, Crawford, Rose
SF—Artest, Deng, Nocioni
PF—Brand, Marshall, Bonner
C—Miller, Chandler, Curry


Analysis:
Rather lethal frontcourt, no? But can you really blame Chicago for dealing Artest and Miller to the Pacers for Rose? In hindsight, wasn’t that a stellar deal? And what about Brand for Chandler, that was in the best interest of the team right? And boy, Eddy Curry and John Q’s son’s heart really worked out too, huh? At this rate, if there was an award for worst front office of the previous decade, shouldn’t Chicago take it hands down? I mean, until last year this team hadn’t made the Playoffs once since MJ left. And yes, it is hard to rebuild a franchise after the greatest player to ever lace ‘em up retires, but give me a break, look at the 1st round draft positions Chicago’s had from 1999-2004:

'99: 1 & 16
'00: 4, 7, & 24
'01: 4
'02: 2
'03: 7
'04: 3 & 7.

And despite owning those high draft picks, the best players the Bulls have today are a white PG (Hinrich), a 6-1 SG (Gordon), Deng (couldn’t think of a joke), and a former #2 overall pick who’s 6-11 yet all he can do consistently is rebound (Chandler). That’s it, that’s all the Bulls have to show for themselves. Despicable…


CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Current Roster
Martynas Andriuskevicius
Drew Gooden
Stephen Graham
Alan Henderson
Larry Hughes
Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Luke Jackson
LeBron James
Damon Jones
Donyell Marshall
Ronald Murray
Lee Nailon
Ira Newble
Sasha Pavlovic
Eric Snow
Anderson Varejao


Come & Gone
Bob Sura
Derek Anderson
Brevin Knight
Earl Boykins
Vitaly Potapenko
Andre Miller
Chris Mihm
Matt Harpring
Jim Jackson
Robert Traylor
Anthony Johnson
Ricky Davis
Michael Doleac
Brian Skinner
Desagana Diop
Carlos Boozer
Darius Miles
Milt Palacio
Jeff McInnis
Lee Nailon
Tony Battie


What If 15-Man Roster
PG-Miller, Knight, Boykins
SG-Hughes, Davis, Harpring
SF-James, Miles, Marshall
PF-Gooden, Boozer, Varejao
C-Ilgauskas, Mihm, Battie

Analysis:
Whenever three of the current starters remain on these rosters, we can assume one of two things: 1) the team has made excellent trades/free agency decisions over the last 10 years, or 2) they have absolutely sucked for at least 5 of the last 10 years. Well, in the six years leading up to the 2004-05 season, the Cavs averaged just 30 wins per season—not exactly dynasty material. But at the same time the front office has also done a fine job, particularly in clearing out the “baggage guys” like Davis and Miles, as well as the chest hair of Boozer (clogs up the drains). And besides Andre Miller, is there any player you would kill to have from that Come & Gone list? Na, me neither. But to offer one suggestion, Cleveland really needs to fire the guy in charge of scouting big men. When Ilgauskas and Mihm are the best two low post players this team has had in the last 10 years, something needs to change.


DETROIT PISTONS

Current Roster
Alex Acker
Chauncey Billups
Kelvin Cato
Dale Davis
Carlos Defino
Maurice Evans
Richard Hamilton
Lindsey Hunter
Amir Johnson
Jason Maxiell
Antonio McDyess
Tayshaun Prince
Ben Wallace
Rasheed Wallace


Come & Gone
Grant Hill
Theo Ratliff
Jerry Stackhouse
Scot Pollard
Bonzi Wells
Brian Cardinal
Joe Smith
Chucky Atkins
Cliff Robinson
Damon Jones
Mehmet Okur
Corliss Williamson
Jon Barry
Mike James
Darko Milicic
Smush Parker


What If 15-Man Roster
PG—Billups, James, Atkins
SG—Hamilton, Stackhouse, Wells
SF—Prince, Hill, Barry
PF—R. Wallace, Okur, J. Smith
C—B. Wallace, Ratliff, Robinson

Analysis:
How can I swap anyone out of that starting five? I contemplated giving Grant Hill the nod, but he’s been more banged up than Peter North’s “supporting actresses”. And with the other four positions, it’s not even close. And so what can we attribute this to? Well check out these critical deals the Pistons’ front office has made over the last few years:

2000: Grant Hill for Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins

2002: Jerry Stackhouse, Brian Cardinal, and Ratko Varda (Rod Farva?) for Rip Hamilton, Bobby Simmons, and Hubert Davis

2004: In a 3-team deal, traded Zeljko Rebraca, Bob Sura, Lindsey Hunter, and two 1st round picks (1 from MIL) and received Rasheed Wallace and Mike James (while also putting the team $10 under the cap for the ‘04-05 season)

Notice a trend with the first two? It’s like Detroit knew that Stack and Hill would never be the same after those particular seasons. Remember that Hamilton was heavily criticized in Washington and that Ben Wallace was an absolute no name down in Florida. To predict that these would be impact players by 2004 would have just been insane. But here they are on the brink of their third Finals appearance in three years. I guess that’s what sound decisions from your management team will do for you…


INDIANA PACERS

Current Roster
Austin Croshere
Jeff Foster
Eddie Gill
Danny Granger
David Harrison
Stephen Jackson
Sarunas Jasikevicius
Anthony Johnson
Fred Jones
Jermaine O’Neal
Scot Pollard
Peja Stojakovic
Jamaal Tinsley


Come & Gone
Antonio Davis
Erick Dampier
Jalen Rose
Al Harrington
Primoz Brezec
Brad Miller
Ron Artest
James Jones

What If 15-Man Roster
PG—Tinsley, Johnson, Jasikevicius
SG—Jackson, Rose, Jones
SF—Artest, Stojakovic, Granger
PF—O’Neal, Harrington, Croshere
C—Miller, Dampier, Davis

Analysis:
Of course the majority dilemma here is whether to start Artest or Stojakovic. I personally always prefer the superior defender, especially when he has the ability to drop 20+ on any given night. As for the rest of the team, obviously Miller is a huge upgrade from the Foster/Pollard tandem in place today. Also, having Harrington, Rose, and Dampier coming off the bench is a huge asset to any coach. But like today’s team, the main weakness remains at the PG position. Has Indy always had this problem? Looking back, I guess they have. Maybe Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh should think about addressing this in the offseason…




MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Current Roster
Charlie Bell
Andrew Bogut
T.J. Ford
Dan Gadzuric
Reece Gaines
Ersan Ilyasova
Jermaine Jackson
Ervin Johnson
Toni Kukoc
Jamaal Magloire
Michael Redd
Bobby Simmons
Joe Smith
Jiri Welsch
Mo Williams


Come & Gone
Eric Snow
Ray Allen
Moochie Norris
Sam Cassell
Tim Thomas
Robert Traylor
Rafer Alston
Joel Przybilla
Jason Hart
Gary Payton
Desmond Mason
Keith Van Horn
Brian Skinner
Damon Jones
Brevin Knight
Mike James
Zaza Pachulia
Eddie House


What If 15-Man Roster
PG—Cassell, Payton, Ford
SG—Allen, Redd, Mason
SF—Simmons, Van Horn, Thomas
PF—Bogut, Smith, Skinner
C—Magloire, Przybilla, Pachulia

Analysis:
My God, has every point guard in the league played for the Bucks at one point? When I’m finished with this series of articles, we may very well find that Milwaukee has the best backcourt depth in the league. Seriously, how many teams could have Michael Redd and a profusion of PGs coming off the pine? It seems insane to leave James, Knight, and Alston off of this roster, but do I honestly have a choice? Perhaps the Bucks should have put some more effort into bolstering their frontcourt rather than having a point guard carousel every year. Any time I have to put Tim Thomas and/or Brian Skinner on one of these rosters, we have to assume the team hasn’t had much success.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

2006 Deadline Trade Log

"Yeeeeah BOY, I'm outta here!"


Post-Deadline deals:

Note: These are NOT completed deals, just the main players involved. I will post more info as I come across it.


Miami receives: SG Derek Anderson

Houston receives: G Gerald Fitch



Cleveland receives: PG Flip Murray

Seattle receives: G Mike Wilks, 2nd round pick, & cash



A few more on the way...


2/23 at 3:10 PM

New Jersey receives: SF Bostjan Nachbar

New Orleans receives: F/C Marc Jackson and Linton Johnson



2/23 at 11:56 AM (edited post deadline)

Seattle receives: PG Earl Watson, SF Bryon Russell, and a future 2nd Round pick (DEN)

Denver receives: PF Reggie Evans, SF Ruben Patterson, and F Charles Smith

Portland receives: SG Voshon Lenard (exp. contract) and F/C Brian Skinner

Sacramento receives: C Vitaly Potapenko and G/F Sergei Monia



2/22/06 at 2:00 PM

New York receives: PG Steve Francis

Orlando receives: SG Penny Hardaway (exp. contract) and SF Trevor Ariza.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Five Realistic Deadline Deals

BG heading west?


With the trade deadline just over 24 hours away, I thought it best to show up these fools at ESPN and provide a handful of realistic deadline swaps. Those not included are: Steve Francis, Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, and Adam Chubb. If you were looking for any proposals involving those players, I suggest you go pull up Chris Sheridan's blog. Enjoy...



TRADE #1

Atlanta Trades
F Al Harrington
SG Donta Smith


Houston Trades
SG David Wesley
SG Derek Anderson
PG Luther Head
2006 1st Round Pick


Why Atlanta does it:
At this point, why not just let Harrington go? With Josh Smith and Marvin Williams as the forwards of the future, re-signing Al to a lucrative deal this summer simply makes no sense. Thus, if the team can get back a potential lottery pick (Houston is currently 13th in the West), a quality young PG (Head), and an expiring contract (Wesley) all for a player who will be gone after this season anyway, then why the heck not?


Why Houston does it:
Despite owning that 13th seed, the Rockets remain just 4.5 games back of the Lakers for the 8th and final Playoff spot. To add to it, the team has been on a roll by winning 7 of their last 9, and Yao and McGrady seem poised for huge second halves. The problem is, say they somehow sneak into the postseason as a 7th or 8th seed, would they really have a chance of downing the Spurs, Mavs, or Suns in the 1st round? Probably not. So why not push all the chips to the center and make an acquisition that could net a 5 or 6 seed instead? After all, throwing Harrington into the mix might end up being enough to get past one of those aforementioned teams.


TRADE #2

Charlotte Trades
PG Brevin Knight
F Bernard Robinson


Philadelphia Trades
SF Kyle Korver
SG John Salmons


Why Charlotte does it:
At this point, Raymond Felton appears more than capable of leading this team into the future. That being the case, it makes the veteran Knight expendable. So what does this team need more than anything? That’s right, shooting. And how many guys can light it up as well as Korver? Not many. Plus the ‘Cats get the underused Salmons, who could turn out to be a pretty decent throw in.


Why Philadelphia does it:
At this point in his career, if they’re not going to trade Iverson, they have to do something to limit his wear and tear. My solution is to move him to the 2, let Knight run the show, and see what happens from there. Then AI can focus primarily on scoring and perhaps Knight will be able to get the most out of thus underachieving squad. Seems worth the gamble to me…


TRADE #3

Utah Trades
PF Carlos Boozer


LA Lakers Trade
F/C Kwame Brown
F Stanislav Medvedenko
SG Devin Green


Why Utah does it:
By now, the only person in Utah who still likes Boozer is the stylist who perms his chest hair. He needs a change of scenery, and bad. Acquiring whatever’s left of Brown’s potential as well as the expiring contract of Medvedenko seems like an even exchange.


Why Los Angeles does it:
I told myself before the season started that by the All-Star break we would know for sure if Kwame was fitting in. Well, here we are and no he isn’t. He couldn’t live up to the pressure in D.C., what did we think would happen in Los Angeles? So the Lakers could do one of two things, 1) keep him and hope he one day evolves into a 12 and 10 type of player, or B) trade him now why he still has some value left. I think it’s a safe bet that Phil would prefer the latter. Oh yeah, and Boozer could take some of the rebounding pressure off Odom and allow the SF to focus primarily on complimenting Kobe on the offensive end.


TRADE #4

Denver Trades
PG Earl Watson
F DerMarr Johnson


New York Trades
G Jamal Crawford


Why Denver does it:
I firmly believe that Denver’s best bet in advancing deep into the Playoffs is to load up on offense. It will then allow them to keep pace with Phoenix and Dallas and also force a player like Manu Ginobili to play hard on both ends by guarding Crawford rather than Greg Buckner. Thus, if ‘Melo has one of his disappearing acts against a Bruce Bowen or Raja Bell, perhaps JC can pick up the slack.


Why New York does it:
Is there anyone besides Isiah who thinks that pairing Steve Francis with Marbury in the same backcourt is a good idea? (Sound of crickets chirping) Well, how about if they acquired Watson instead and moved Steph over to the 2? Wouldn’t that be a wiser (and less expensive) gamble? Plus they’d be ridding themselves of Crawford who clearly doesn’t mesh well with this Marbury-led offense. C’mon Isiah, make the smarter/safer deal for once in your life.

Note: Apparently my theory is starting to spread...


TRADE #5: The Monster

Chicago Trades
SG Ben Gordon
SF Tim Thomas
SF Eric Piatkowski

Chicago Receives
SG Ray Allen
SF Ruben Paterson
C Joel Przybilla


Golden State Trades
SF Mike Dunleavy
PG Derek Fisher
F/C Andris Biedrins

Golden State Receives
F/C Theo Ratliff
PF Reggie Evans


Seattle Trades
SG Ray Allen
PF Reggie Evans

Seattle Receives
SG Ben Gordon
SF Mike Dunleavy
G Juan Dixon
SF Eric Piatkowski


Portland Trades
F/C Theo Ratliff
SF Ruben Patterson
C Joel Przybilla
G Juan Dixon

Portland Receives
SF Tim Thomas
PG Derek Fisher
F/C Andris Biedrins


Why Chicago does it:
It’s pretty clear that this team needs a shakeup. And while trading Gordon may be a huge risk, getting back the sharp-shooting and veteran savvy Allen is well worth it. Plus, in acquiring Przybilla, Tyson Chandler can slide back to the 4 where he’s much more efficient. Lastly, the Bulls would add Patterson, a guy that will provide much-needed toughness to the bench. More leadership, rebounding, and grit could sneak this team past Milwaukee and Indiana in the race for the 5 seed.


Why Golden State does it:
Obviously Dunleavy and Foyle just aren’t going to cut it. And if this team still has any chance at the Playoffs, they have no choice but to make a significant move and this certainly qualifies. And while taking on Ratliff’s inflated contract isn’t a priority, getting back the center they dreadfully need is. Plus, the Warriors get Evans, a guy who can also help out the worn down Troy Murphy on the glass. In addition to drastically fortifying their frontcourt, trading away Dunleavy allows Mickael Pietrus to maintain his 35 minutes a night, two improvements that could nudge this team into the Playoff hunt.


Why Seattle does it:
I think it’s time for this team to completely revamp to the rebuilding process. Lewis is only 26, Ridnour 25, Collison 25, Swift 20, Petro 20, and Wilcox 23. So in adding Gordon (22), Dunleavy (25), and Dixon (27) for the 30 year-old Allen, it brings them further along in that transition. Plus, they eliminate Allen’s massive contract and the unhappy Evans, as well as allowing the team to maintain it’s 3-point friendly offense.


Why Portland does it:
Hmm, let’s see they eliminate Ratliff’s huge contract for Thomas’s expiring one. They bring in a veteran point guard to help with Sebastian Telfair’s brutal maturation process, and they get a quality young center to throw to the fire. All that for two guys that probably wouldn’t factor into the future anyway. Plus with all the cap space they clear, they can go after a big time free agent this summer.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Readers' Top 10

After tallying the votes, here is your Top 10 of the Real-Life Fantasy Draft...

10. Tracy McGrady
9. Chris Paul
8. Tim Duncan
7. Kobe Bryant
6. Kevin Garnett
5. Chris Bosh
4. Amare Stoudemire
3. Dwyane Wade
2. Dwight Howard
1. LeBron James

Others Receiving Top-10 Votes: Carmelo (3), Nowitzki (2), Yao (1), Arenas (1), OJ Mayo (1)

My Take: As I repeatedly said in my article, I think it's important to remember to play it safe with a few of these guys. While Chris Paul looks incredible thus far, would I really take him over McGrady, Dirk, or Carmelo at this point? As for your Bosh selection, I may have to agree. I guess what it really boils down to is whether you want a 29 year-old TD or KG or a 21 year-old Bosh. I guess the wiser option at this point is CB. I'm glad this piece drew so much opinion and feedback. Hopefully I can come up with another that sparks even further debate.

Monday, February 20, 2006

What If Rosters: Atlantic Division

How good would Toronto be with T-Mac?


You ever run into an old acquaintance from high school or college and he/she brainlessly decides to fill you in on how happy your ex-girlfriend is with “Glen”? Well that same “shot-in-the-nuts” feeling is very similar to my sentiments regarding the last ten years of Boston Celtics basketball. Poor management, poor coaching, the Bias/Lewis curse, Antoine Walker, etc. But even more traumatic is seeing those players that used to play in Beantown lighting it up in other cities (ala my ex turning smoking hot after I unknowingly dumped her for someone with the clap). So it got me thinking, I’m sure I’m not the only fan out there that imagines these “what if” scenarios. I bet Hornets fans wonder where they would be with Kobe, Raptors fans with T-Mac, Warriors faithful with Arenas, and all of the "what if " questions that follow. What if the team had more money to spend? What if this guy didn't get that huge offer from that other team? What if they didn't give up on this guy and trade him away? Thus, for the next few weeks I’m going to be taking a look back over the last ten years and show you what each team’s 15-man roster could have looked like today if things were handled differently. It might make you smile, it might my you laugh, but in all likelihood, you’ll end up as pissed as I am. Should be a lot of fun…

RULES:

1) Trades: I have just completed a useless, hour-long search in hopes of finding a site that provided a season-by-season log of all the trades that have gone down. To save you the time, one does not exist. Thus, I need to make trade details irrelevant. In other words, some final rosters may be impossible because some of the players may have been dealt for one another (e.g., Ricky Davis and Wally Szczerbiak in Boston). And while I certainly know the details of that BOS-MIN trade, I may not have the same facts behind a deal that occurred in say, 1997. So rather than throw in the facets of one trade and not the other, I thought it best to be consistent. Thus, if you know damn well that Player A was in fact dealt for Player B, use your wonderful imagination to filter the former/latter off of that roster.

2) Free Agency: A team not having enough money to sign a free agent (e.g. Toronto and T-Mac), will not factor in here. I’m imagining as if each team had the checkbook of Isiah Thomas.

3) Contracts: I’m ignoring contracts altogether, so if three max players end up on one team then so be it. That’s pretty much the fun of this whole exercise, isn’t it?

4) Active Players: Players who are retired, in AA, or looking for other work to feed their children will not be considered.

I'm pretty much ignoring everything here and just letting you, the fan, take a look at all of the players your teams got rid of. At least it will help me feel better...


BOSTON CELTICS

Current Roster
Tony Allen
Dan Dickau
Ryan Gomes
Gerald Green
Orien Greene
Al Jefferson
Dwayne Jones
Raef LaFrentz
Michael Olowokandi
Kendrick Perkins
Paul Pierce
Brian Scalabrine
Wally Szczerbiak
Delonte West


Come & Gone
Antoine Walker
David Wesley
Chauncey Billups
Bruce Bowen
Damon Jones
Mike James
Danny Fortson
Adrian Griffin
Milt Palacio
Joe Johnson
Darius Songaila
Tony Battie
Dahntay Jones
Ricky Davis
Gary Payton



What If 15-Man Roster
PG-Billups, Payton, West, James
SG-Johnson, Davis, Wesley
SF-Pierce, Bowen, Szczerbiak
PF-Walker, Fortson, Jefferson
C-Perkins, Battie


Analysis: It’s difficult to really bitch about the team trading Billups for Kenny Anderson because at that time, the C’s were in desperate need for a veteran PG. And after all, Anderson did lead them to the Conference Finals, while Chauncey was bouncing around the league faster than Danny Schayes. In a similar move for veteran leadership, Boston dealt the rookie Johnson to Phoenix for Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers. I could be wrong, but at the time I don’t recall many Celtics fans being very upset with this trade. Looking back it may seem like a terrible deal, but don’t forget that Delk and Rogers were huge assets on that ECF team. Finally, it would have been really nice for the defensively challenged Celtics to hold onto Bowen. Imagine if Pierce didn’t have to guard the best 2 or 3 but instead could focus primarily on his offense? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? (They would have at least probably won that 2-OT game vs. Cleveland last week)


NEW JERSEY NETS

Current Roster
Vince Carter
Jason Collins
Marc Jackson
Richard Jefferson
Linton Johnson
Jason Kidd
Nenad Krstic
Jeff McInnis
Lamond Murray
Scott Padgett
Zoran Planinic
Clifford Robinson
Jacque Vaughn
Antoine Wright


Come & Gone
P.J. Brown
Sam Cassell
Jim Jackson
Kerry Kittles
Tim Thomas
Keith Van Horn
Stephon Marbury
Earl Boykins
Kenyon Martin
Aaron Williams
Stephen Jackson
Brian Scalabrine
Dikembe Mutombo
Alonzo Mourning


What If 15-Man Roster
PG-Kidd, Cassell, Boykins
SG-Carter, Marbury, J. Jackson
SF-Jefferson, S. Jackson, Van Horn
PF-Martin, Brown, Scalabrine
C-Krstic, Mourning, Mutombo


Analysis: That Kidd/Marbury trade must make Nets’ management smile every single day. It’s amazing to see the other PGs this team went through before landing #32 (I honestly have no recollection of Boykins in New Jersey, do you?) In analyzing this dream squad, I’m not sure how many teams could keep up with their inexhaustible fast-break and physically dominating frontcourt. Plus, could a bench with Cassell, Marbury, S. Jackson, PJ, and ‘Zo be any better? That team could probably be a 6 seed in the East this season.




NEW YORK KNICKS

Current Roster
Trevor Ariza
Jackie Butler
Jamal Crawford
Eddy Curry
Channing Frye
Anfernee Hardaway
Jerome James
David Lee
Stephon Marbury
Quentin Richardson
Nate Robinson
Jalen Rose
Malik Rose
Maurice Taylor
Qyntel Woods


Come & Gone
Marcus Camby
Kurt Thomas
Othella Harrington
Nene Hilario
Shandon Anderson
Michael Sweetney
Keith Van Horn
Tim Thomas
Nazr Mohammed
Antonio McDyess
Dikembe Mutombo


What If 15-Man Roster
PG--Marbury, N. Robinson
SG--Crawford, J. Rose, Richardson
SF--Van Horn, Ariza, S. Anderson
PF--K. Thomas, Frye, McDyess, Nene
C--Camby, Curry, Mohammed

Analysis: Hmm, we might be on to something here. One thing I failed to consider is that this might be an accurate way of determining how a team has been run over the past ten years. Here is cold hard proof of how badly the Knicks have been managed, Isiah or no Isiah. Look at this roster, only two of the starters would be from the “Come & Gone” bin, and that Thomas/Frye swap might not even be fair. Camby can’t stay on the court for more than 65 games a year, Van Horn becomes a liability after playing more than 15 minutess (same for McDyess), and who knows what to expect now from Nene. All in all a rather poor team, but keep in mind that many of the marquee players NY owned in the mid-90’s are now retired: Ewing, LJ, Oakley, Starks, etc.



PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Current Roster
Matt Barnes
Michael Bradley
Samuel Dalembert
Zendon Hamilton
Steven Hunter
Andre Iguodala
Allen Iverson
Kyle Korver
Jamal Mashburn
Lee Nailon
Kevin Ollie
Shavlik Randolph
John Salmons
Chris Webber
Louis Williams


Come & Gone
Jerry Stackhouse
Keith Van Horn
Jim Jackson
Theo Ratliff
Tim Thomas
Joe Smith
Eric Snow
Larry Hughes
Nazr Mohammed
Bruce Bowen
Speedy Claxton
Raja Bell
Matt Harpring
Kenny Thomas
Greg Buckner
Brian Skinner
Marc Jackson
Corliss Williamson


What If 15-Man Roster
PG—Iverson, Claxton
SG—Hughes, Bell, Stackhouse
SF—Iguodala, Bowen, Korver, Van Horn
PF—Webber, K. Thomas, J. Smith
C—Dalembert, Ratliff, Mohammed



Analysis: I don’t know about you, but I love the make-up of this team. There’s an excellent mix of scorers: Iverson, Webber, Hughes, & Stackhouse, and defenders: Bell, Bowen, Dalembert, & Ratliff. Mo Cheeks could almost set his squad up like a hockey team and have shifts of offense and defense to keep their opponents honest. Imagine a 2 and 3 of Bell and Bowen? Who would be able to score? Which begs the question, why wouldn’t an NBA team get two guys like Bell and Bowen, load up their frontcourt and acquire/Draft a playmaking PG? Isn’t this a surefire way to win today?




TORONTO RAPTORS

Current Roster
Rafael Aruajo
Matt Bonner
Chris Bosh
Jose Calderon
Antonio Davis
Joey Graham
Mike James
Darrick Martin
Morris Peterson
Pape Sow
Charlie Villanueva
Alvin Williams
Eric Williams
Loren Woods


Come & Gone
Damon Stoudamire
Marcus Camby
Tracy McGrady
Chauncey Billups
Vince Carter
Corliss Williamson
Carlos Arroyo
Voshon Lenard
Rafer Alston
Kareem Rush
Jalen Rose
Donyell Marshall


What If 15-Man Roster
PG—Billups, Stoudamire, Alston, James
SG—V. Carter, Lenard, Rush
SF—McGrady, Peterson, Rose
PF—Bosh, Marshall, Villanueva
C—Camby, Davis

Analysis: Wow, what the hell have the Raptors done to themselves? Looking at their current roster, has Toronto received even 30% of the returns from their fictional one? Okay, perhaps the Carter picks will someday amount to something, but as far as I can see the Nets are a likely Playoff team for the next three years. On top of that, management let McGrady walk in order to keep Vince. If that isn’t a slap in the face then I dunno what is. On the other hand, letting Stoudamire go wasn’t the end of the world, and the same could probably be said of Camby. But not giving Chauncey more than 29 games to prove himself will go down as one of the worse decisions in franchise history. You know, along with those choices they made regarding Carter and McGrady. Let’s just hope they don’t make the same mistake with Bosh.


Friday, February 17, 2006

East 2nd Half Predictions

"Hello Bobcats"


Atlantic Division

NEW JERSEY NETS (28-23)
--One of the Big 3 will go down with a significant injury (2 weeks+)
--They will acquire a solid power forward of the Reggie Evans type
--Linton Johnson will announce that he will only go by “Lint” from now on
Final Record: 45-37 (3rd East)


PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (25-27)
--Allen Iverson will almost get traded
--Kyle Korver will pose for a Jockey ad
--Andre Iguodala will stop screwing around
Final Record: 38-44 (9th East)


BOSTON CELTICS (20-32)
--Doc Rivers will not get fired
--Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins will make Boston fans smile
--Brian Scalabrine will spend more time at the Boston School of Pasty Red Head Children than on the basketball court
Final Record: 32-50 (11th East)


TORONTO RAPTORS (20-33)
--Mike James will con management into giving him a rich 3-year deal
--Eric Williams will get traded and you won’t even know/care
--Chris Bosh will agree to a sponsorship with John Ashford turtlenecks
Final Record: 33-49 (10th East)


NEW YORK KNICKS (15-37)
--Nate Robinson will win the Slam Dunk Contest, develop an ego, and somehow make this Knicks team even worse
--Larry Brown will cry at least once, either on the bench or at a press conference
--Isiah will acquire Keith Van Horn, Raef Lafrentz, Kenyon Martin, Adonal Foyle, Theo Ratliff, and Carlos Boozer and finally admit he’s being paid by George Steinbrenner to make the Yankees’ boss look good
Final Record: 20-62 (14th East)


Central Division

DETROIT PISTONS (42-9)
--One of their starters will go down with a severe injury
--Chauncey Billups will win the MVP, once again displaying the incompetence of the media
--Carlos Delfino will develop into an impact bench player
Final Record: 67-15 (1st East)


CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (31-21)
--LeBron will turn in a performance that forces us to debate the best game of the year with Kobe’s 81
--Danny Ferry will surprise us by making an impact deal
--Someone will punch Damon Jones’ lights out (my dream)
Final Record: 49-33 (4th East)


INDIANA PACERS (26-23)
--Jamaal Tinsley will be injured
--They will defeat New Jersey in the 1st Round of the Playoffs
--Larry Bird will discuss trading Jermaine O’Neal this summer
Final Record: 45-37 (6th East)


MILWAUKEE BUCKS (27-25)
--We’ll start to see more of the ‘04-05 Bobby Simmons
--Andrew Bogut will break his nose…again
--Toni Kukoc will file for AARP
Final Record: 46-36 (5th East)


CHICAGO BULLS (23-29)
--Jon Paxson will make an eye-pooping move this week (Ray Allen?)
--Ben Gordon will be foolishly dealt away
--Luol Deng will make a run at Most Improved Player
Final Record: 41-41 (8th East)


Southeast Division

MIAMI HEAT (33-20)
--Dwyane Wade and Shaq will be virtually unstoppable
--But, the team will get slaughtered in the Eastern Conference Finals
--Shaq will heavily contemplate retirement
Final Record: 53-29 (2nd East)


WASHINGTON WIZARDS (26-25)
--Gilbert Arenas will drop 50 points at least twice
--Caron Butler will make them forget about Larry Hughes
--Michael Ruffin will be fined for bribing Bill Walton to say this last Wednesday during the Wiz-Mavs game: “A fade-away 20-footer! And Dirk did that against one of the league’s most prolific defenders in Michael Ruffin.” (ESPN needs to be careful; people could actually die of laughter)
Final Record: 42-40 (7th East)


ORLANDO MAGIC (19-32)
--Dwight Howard will get scary good seemingly over night
--Darko will average 12 and 6 the rest of the way
--The Magic will draft Adam Morrison, giving the team the best young frontcourt in the NBA
Final Record: 25-57 (13th East)


ATLANTA HAWKS (16-34)
--Marvin Williams will start to open your eyes (you know who you are)
--Al Harrington will be traded
--Josh Childress will sneak into the 6th Man of the Year race
Final Record: 25-57 (12th East)


CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (14-40)
--Emeka Okafor will not return this season
--Brevin Knight will not be traded
--The team will obviously draft Rudy Gay
Final Record: 19-63 (15th East)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Real-Life NBA Fantasy Draft



Now that the Artest saga is finally through and Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale are finished making their teams even worse (you hope), we’re going to start seeing a flurry of big names surfacing in trades rumors. In fact, Mr. Trade Rumor himself, Chris Sheridan, recently posted an article discussing the likelihood of a handful of superstars being shipped to new locations. But before we get into that ordeal (I’ll wait until after the ASB), this appetizer of trades got me thinking—just what is each player in the NBA worth? Say you were a GM and David Stern had every team draft a whole new roster (fantasy-style), who would you take first, second, third, etc.? It’s a topic that will undoubtedly spring a ton of debate and one that I can’t wait to share with each of you. So without further delay, here are the picks (in descending order) of my real life 2006 NBA Fantasy Draft.

(Keep in mind that age does play a huge factor. While Shaq is still a valuable asset in this league, there’s no way I’m taking an injury-riddled 34 year-old over a young kid with tons of promise. On the other hand, I’m not factoring contracts at all. Think of all of these players’ values as equal. Thus, only age, talent, and the ability to handle being the centerpiece of a franchise are the only factors I’m considering)



30. Andrew Bogut (F/C, 21 years old, 7-0, 245 lbs.)This Aussie went #1 overall for a reason. It’s not every day that 7-footer comes along with three years of college experience, scoring touch inside and out, and a ton of room to improve. He’s not as raw as Marvin Williams, nor as polished as Chris Paul, but I think when he career is over and done with he’ll still be recognized as a solid #1 pick. Look at Bogut’s junior season at Utah: 20.4 PPG, 12.2 RPG, 62.0 FG%, 36.0 3-pt FG%, and 1.9 BPG. Imagine if his numbers came even remotely close to these in the pros? A player with that type of potential, who can drastically stretch a defense, and can rebound with the best of the best, certainly deserves a first round nod.


29. Michael Redd (G/F, 26 years old, 6-6, 215 lbs.)
I know one of you wise asses is going to chime in with, “Ant you’re such a MORON! Redd wasn’t even a 1st rounder in the ’00 Draft, why should he be here?” Well, that would be a very fair argument. The thing is, how many shooters in this league have steadily improved in each of their first six seasons? Redd is one of the few—check out the progression in his scoring (beginning in ‘00-01 through today): 2.2 PPG, 11.5, 15.1, 21.7, 23.0, and 25.1. And on top of that, the OSU product just got his max deal this summer and yet the majority of his numbers are still up from a year ago. This shows that Redd’s interest runs a lot deeper than his paycheck.


28. Steve Nash (PG, 32 years old, 6-3, 195 lbs.)
It was rather difficult to delve through all of these 30+ year olds and determine who belongs and who doesn’t. Ultimately what it came down to for me was that Nash is the reigning MVP of the league, remains in the thick of the running this year, and is still carrying his team like a 20 year-old rookie. I think any team selecting him in this Draft would certainly have to cross their fingers, but if they also got their hands on a raw, young PG later on, I’m sure Nash would serve as the perfect mentor. In my opinion, shaping any offense around the speed and savvy of Steve Nash is worth a first round pick any day of the week.


27. Ron Artest (SF, 26 years old, 6-7, 260 lbs.)
Ah yes, the most controversial selection of all. Half of me said no way, he’s too crazy to be the centerpiece of any team, and this will end up being a wasted pick. But the other part of me thought, “Well, what if a GM made him the focal point of the team and there wasn’t a Jermaine O’Neal or Reggie Miller in his way? And what if that team gave him 17-18 shots per night and allowed him to run wild on defense alongside a couple other nut jobs? Isn’t there some chance that it could work?” In the end, I decided that it was certainly worth the chance, especially seeing that Artest is still only 26 years young.


26. Allen Iverson (G, 30 years old, 6-0, 165 lbs.)
Yet another player creeping over the hill that was just impossible to leave off. Let me tell you, if I were Billy King right now, I’d go out and get a serviceable PG to help shoulder the load and let Iverson go off and exclusively play the wing. Relying on A.I. to get 8+ assists every night and score 30+ points is just asking too much of a 30 year-old with the body of Minkus on Boy Meets World. Thus, in drafting A.I. here with the intent of grabbing a playmaking PG with a second or third pick, one would still be able to get 5-6 more highly productive years from the G’Town product.


25. Chauncey Billups (PG, 29 years old, 6-3, 202 lbs.)
Despite nearing the big 3-0, I absolutely had to grant a first round pick to the most clutch player in the game. C’mon now, Billups throws up more daggers in big spots than Rafael in the Shredder’s lair level of TMNT 2. Whether he’s at the charity stripe (88.2% career) or beyond the arc (42.8% in ‘05-06), Chauncey knows how to finish opponents off in crunch time. In addition, what team wouldn’t want a guy who has lead his team to back-to-back Finals and now has them on pace for 70 wins? I bet the Celtics sleep well at night knowing they got Kenny Anderson for him. I sure would.


24. Baron Davis (PG, 26 years old, 6-3, 215 lbs.)
With that “I just got back from a 3-week plane crash expedition in the Andes Mountains” beard going, Davis looks a lot more like 36 than 26, doesn’t he? But fortunately for him, his game reflects that of an elite 26 year-old who can beat you with offense, superior passing, and lightning quick defense. What more could you ask from your point guard, right? So why do I have him going so low? Well something tells me that those creaky knees and Lee Trevino back of his could cause some problems down the road. Let’s hope not…


23. Gilbert Arenas (PG, 24 years old, 6-4, 210 lbs.)
I went back and forth between Arenas and Baron for about 20 minutes. On the one hand, I think Baron is a much better team-first guy—he’d enjoy getting the crunch time assist just as much as the game-winning jumper. Arenas on the other hand, would probably keep shooting even after he switched right arms with Jim Abbott. Seriously, besides Kobe and Iverson, who’s a bigger gunner? However, I ultimately decided that Arenas is still a tad more valuable because, A) he’s got two years on Baron, and B) if need be, a team could conceivably move him over to the 2. That type of versatility is invaluable.



22. Tony Parker (PG, 23 years old, 6-2, 177 lbs.)
I feel like I might get some hell for this placement, but hear me out before you fire up the comments box. Give it some thought…Parker has played with the NBA’s elite team for the first four and a half years of his young career. He’s been coached by the best, played with the best, and taught to make each of his teammates that much better. Sure, maybe Baron and Arenas might be the sexier picks with their gaudier numbers, but the digits in the win column are always superior to those in the boxscore. Plus, how can you doubt a dude who’s cool enough to land perhaps the hottest woman on television (who just so happens to be 7 years older)? He can play for my team any day…(you know what I mean)


21. Pau Gasol (F/C, 25 years old, 7-0, 240 lbs.), w/ beard
Don’t think Gasol is good enough for #21? Take a look at his team: they’re currently 26-21, 6th in the West, and own no big name players besides Pau. Eddie Jones played on Temple when Jon Chaney didn’t need Viagra. Shane Battier is the most over-hyped defensive player in the league. Bobby Jackson hasn’t played more than 49 games in almost five years. Mike Miller is hideous. And Lorenzen Wright hasn’t grabbed a rebound since Mark Blount did. Still don’t believe me? Of all people, Chucky Atkins led this team in shot attempts on Tuesday night. So how are the Grizzlies still a top-10 team in the NBA right now? Whoever nabs this guy at 21 will quickly find out.



20. Shawn Marion (F, 27 years old, 6-7, 228 lbs.)
It seems crazy to throw a guy on this list that uses my mom’s jumper, but there’s no denying The Matrix’s all-around talent. Overshadowed much of the time by his teammates, Marion does much of the dirty work that helps make Nash and Stoudemire the superstars that they are. His prowess on the defensive end, 11.9 RPG (3rd in NBA), 2.0 SPG (3rd), and 1.9 BPG (14th), clearly reflect why he’s a perennial All-Defensive Team member. Thus, who better to build your squad around than a defensive-first forward who can play both the 3 and the 4 and fill up the basket with the best of them? There are only 19 players more worthy…


19. Jermaine O’Neal (F/C, 27 years old, 6-11, 260 lbs.)
Many of us have our fingers crossed that O’Neal’s proneness to injury over the past two years isn’t a sign of what’s to come. After all, in his first four seasons in Indiana, the Pacers’ big man missed only 20 games out of a possible 328. But with his recent absence on the court, coupled with the fact that he’s never eclipsed the 20 PPG mark in his career (save last year’s 24.3 effort in 44 games), give me cause for worry that he’ll never be able to carry a team without a flashy counterpart. Thus, I’ll play it safe with JO and keep him here at 19.


18. Marvin Williams (F, 19 years old, 6-9, 228 lbs.)
Williams holds the record, along with Rudy Gay, for a player described with/by the words upside, raw, and promising. He’s like that girl who was in 8th grade when you were a senior and you just knew she was gonna be scorching hot so you wanted to be like, “hey bebe, give me a call when you turn 20”. Wow, sorry. Let’s put it this way, there was a reason (at least Atlanta hopes so) why he was taken ahead of Chris Paul in last summer’s Draft. Marv certainly has the talent to be a perennial All-Star, but at the same time, I can also see him flopping into that group of second tier players. Still, at 18 he’s certainly worth the risk.


17. Andrei Kirlenko (F, 25 years old, 6-9, 225 lbs.)
Do the Jazz have any sort of weight lifting facility in Salt Lake? If so, have they showed Kirilenko where it is? I mean, you don’t have to be Bill Gates to figure out that AK would be ten times less prone to these nagging injuries if he added fifteen pounds. However, even with the arms of a daddy-long-legs, Andrei is still one of the few players who can completely change a game on the defensive end. It’s obvious when you look at a Jazz boxscore and see him with like 7 steals and 8 blocks and don’t even blink an eye. If he packs on the pounds this summer, I’d almost consider him a top-ten player.


16. Vince Carter (G/F, 29 years old, 6-6, 220 lbs.)
Though VC still has the habit of packing it in faster than a 7 year-old losing in Candy Land, there’s no denying that he remains one of the league’s most prolific scorers. We cannot forget that he has Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson to help shoulder the load, hence the lack of 40 and 50+ point games. And while it would be extremely risky to build the core of any team around a guy with such emotional letdowns, passing him by might be even riskier. You be the judge…


15. Paul Pierce (G/F, 28 years old, 6-6, 230 lbs.)
I had the liberty of attended the Celts-Blazers game last week and let me be the first to say that if Pierce has lost a step, I’d hate to be a defender going against him three years ago. The Truth did anything he wanted on both ends of the floor, evident in his 35 points and 6 steals in just three quarters of action. And while he hasn’t been the best leader on the hardwood in recent past, no one can deny his tenacity and will to win on a nightly basis. Those are the characteristics I want in my franchise player. The problem is that his age and attitude are two things weighing heavily upon him. Thus, 15 is as high as it gets for the Celtics’ star.


14. Yao Ming (C, 25 years old, 7-6, 310 lbs.)
This placement could very well end up being a huge mistake on my part. But, as of right now I just can’t allow myself to bump Yao any higher. Yes, he’s had his share of dominant performances and has even done a nice job of raising his PPG in each of his first four seasons (13.5, 17.5, 18.3, 20.2). But, the problem I have with his game is that I just don’t see him as a player with the ability to carry his team in the postseason. He’s constantly in foul trouble and has the reputation of completely disappearing in big situations—not someone you want to be counting on. Thus, I’d rather not take a chance on a player who seems liable to hitting his peak sooner rather than later.


13. Dirk Nowitzki (F, 27 years old, 7-0, 245 lbs.)
Has there ever been a more versatile 7-footer? How many guys are lights out from 15-feet, can drain the 3 with the best of ‘em (41.9% in ‘05-06), and can also post up anyone down low? And so you must be asking how I can leave a player of Dirk’s caliber so low? Well my only problem with #41 is that I don’t like how much basketball he insists on playing. This past summer Dirk was averaging 30+ minutes a game for Germany in the European Championships and now he’s totaling 37.5 for the Mavs. Honestly, how much ball can one guy play without either getting hurt or rapidly deteriorating? Maybe I’m crazy here (I’m sure some of you will confirm this), but wouldn’t you rather nab a guy with a little less mileage and/or a more padded resume?


Addition: It's been brought to my attention that maybe I need to elaborate on the reasoning behind this placement. The fact that Dirk plays too much ball is not the only reason. We also have to consider the fact that Dallas has had a formidable team for years now and has never even reached the Finals once. That has to say something about their superstar, right? It's not like he's in a situation like KG where there is just no talent around him. He has weapons, and plenty of them. So there, that's reason #2 for you.


12. Chris Paul (PG, 20 years old, 6-0, 175 lbs.)
If I told you in November that the Hornets would own the six seed just days before the All-Star Break, wouldn’t you consider me as crazy as Scot Pollard looks? And while a fair amount of credit certainly belongs to Byron Scott, has anyone wrapped up Rookie of the Year honors faster than Chris Paul? Could he honestly be any better at this point? 16.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 7.7 APG, & 2.2 SPG are hardly freshman numbers in this league, yet a nagging rib injury has been the only thing able to slow the Wake Forest product. And honestly, I should probably bump him even higher than this, but as a first year player I’ll play it safe here at 12. Plus with only 175 lbs. of meat, he could be fairly injury-prone as the years wear on.


11. Carmelo Anthony (SF, 21 years old, 6-8, 230 lbs.)
If I was making this list last summer, there’s no way ‘Melo would be this close to the top-10. But in his third season, the former Orangeman has shown me a great deal of mettle as the rest of his teammates continue to nurse their nagging injuries. With Nene, Camby, and Martin all missing a ton of games thus far, Anthony has relentlessly taken this Nuggets squad on his back (ala ‘03 at Syracuse) and somehow kept them atop the Northwest. His PPG are up over 5 a game, FG% nearly 3.0%, and steals by 0.4. In addition, he’s not taking plays off anymore, has lost that remaining baby fat, and seems primed to show this league why he was once mentioned in the same sentences as LeBron. Plus, we already know he’s good enough to take a team all the way, so really what else is there to ask for? Well, more defense, an All-Star appearance, and a trip out of the first round of the Playoffs would work. Until then, I’m taking ten other guys ahead of him.


10. Elton Brand (PF, 26 years old, 6-8, 254 lbs.)
I’m going to take a different approach with Brand here. Let’s look at his first year in the pros with Chicago: 20.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. If I was drawing this list up back in 2000, I might have penciled him in even higher than I am right now. But the fact is that since his freshman year in the League, Brand has surpassed that 20.1 PPG mark just once—this season. And sure, it certainly has something to do with the fact that he’s hoisting up a career-high 18.4 FGA and shooting a career-best 53.1% from the floor. But even more so, I attribute his MVP-type season to the players surrounding him. This is the first season he’s had a true point guard on his side, along with a center who can help protect him down low. In addition, it’s tough for defenders to double-team him now with Cassell and Mobley reigning on the perimeter. Thus, I feel that unless a team surrounds Brand with the right PG and a hard-nosed center, the best we can expect from him is that 20 and 10.


9. Chris Bosh (PF, 21 years old, 6-10, 230 lbs.)
Many NBA aficionados strongly consider Dwyane Wade the steal of the 2003 Draft. But isn’t it easy to grant someone that title that plays in the same city as Shaq? How much easier does that make it on D-Wade? All Bosh has for protection is his collection of turtlenecks, yet he’s still managed to increase his PPG in each of his first three seasons. On top of that, he has extremely polished low-post skills and a refined jumper for a big man of his age. Most power forwards take years to develop, but Bosh is well on his way to being a perennial All-Star (anyone thinking he wasn’t deserving of the honor this year needs to have his head examined). The only problem I see in him is that he’s played for arguably the worst team in basketball over the last three years (although one could strongly argue this now). And so we cannot be certain that if given the opportunity to shine in the Playoffs (or in another city when his contract is up) that CB can be counted on to perform at a high level. Plus, can I honestly put him ahead of these other eight guys?


8. Tracy McGrady (G/F, 26 years old, 6-8, 223 lbs.)
That creaky back of his demanded that I keep him here at 8. But let me tell you, if Mac was 100% healthy this season and guiding his Rockets to a top-4 seed in the West, he may have been top-5. What sticks in my head however, is that Sunday night his back started to really act up. Remember that? McGrady had to leave on a stretcher for God’s sake. Any player with chronic back pain that may force him to be air lifted out of arenas shouldn’t even set foot in the top-10, right? But c’mon now, this is T-Mac. Besides Kobe, I’m not sure if there’s another wing player I’d rather have with the ball in their hands. Did you see his Playoff performance last May? 30.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 6.7 APG, 1.6 SPG, & 1.4 BPG—numbers that scream desire, teamwork, and hustle. There are some players you can just envision taking their team all the way and for me, McGrady is certainly one of them. Man, if it wasn’t for that damn back…


7. Kevin Garnett (PF, 29 years old, 6-11, 220 lbs.)
Remember KG posing on that cover of SI back in ’95, while the rest of sporting world patiently waited to see if he was truly the next big thing? Well, here we are almost eleven years later and I can honestly say that there isn’t a better all-around player in the game today. So why the hate for KG here at 7? Well, we have to face the reality that he is about to turn 30 and that this is his 11th years at the pro level. Plus, The Big Ticket seems one Kevin McHale phone call away from mailing it in this season and every one thereafter as long as he remains a Wolf. These are not exactly the characteristics you want in a player who you’re banking on starting fresh with. But still, his undeniable talent, work ethic, and drive for success still make him a dependable centerpiece for any NBA team.


6. Tim Duncan (PF, 29 years, 6-11, 260 lbs.)
The truth is, if TD and KG were both in their mid-20s, they would be no-brainers at 1 and 2. But right now, even a 3-time NBA Finals MVP, a poster child for fundamental low-post basketball, and a man that wouldn’t curse even if he stubbed his toe on the metal portion of his bed three seconds after waking up, cannot go any higher when pushing 30. Even if he still has 4-5 great years left in the tank, how could you not take a player who is 24 or younger who has three times the career left? The answer is, you can’t.


5. Amare Stoudemire (F/C, 23 years old, 6-10, 245 lbs.)
You know when you’re in the car and you mistakenly make that wrong turn onto a block you definitely shouldn’t be on? Well that same worrisome emotion that fires through my body during those mishaps, is the same feeling I get thinking about Amare. No comprende? What I mean is that when we think of Stoudemire’s game, we usually picture him soaring through the air, throwing down monster jams, and running ‘n gunning with Nash and co. But now, can we really expect that same explosive player after undergoing knee surgery? I’m really worried that we can’t. You see? I’m anxious for Amare’s return to greatness the same way I worry that I won’t be able to reach the lock button in my Saab while cruising through Bridgeport. Let’s just hope that the 30, 10, and 2-block performer we watched during last year’s Playoffs makes it home safely—if you know what I mean.


4. Kobe Bryant (SG, 27 years old, 6-6, 220 lbs.)
The classic argument here is whether or not Kobe can carry his team to greatness without that dominant center? And better still, can he really bring another title to LA playing this “selfishly”? Well, it’s all in how you perceive Kobe’s game. Either you, A) think he’s an egotistical maniac who is more concerned with healing his reputation than leading his team to the Playoffs. Or, B) feel he’s playing off of Phil Jackson’s whispers telling him not to trust his teammates and to just somehow get this team to the postseason. For me, I choose B. Kobe’s not one of those guys who takes a play off, let’s his man blow by him on defense, or gives up when his team faces a hefty deficit. In fact, his enduring dedication probably makes him one of the model players in this league (on the court, of course). Seriously, how many players can we truly consider candidates for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year every season? Well, Kobe’s one of them and the only reason I don’t have him pegged any higher is that part of me worries that he may in fact be more of A than B. Because after all, we all used to think the world of him until he broke our trust—who’s to say he won’t do it again?


3. Dwyane Wade (G, 24 years old, 6-4, 212 lbs.)
Choosing between Wade and Howard was almost as hard as deciding which of those blondes I like best in the new Swimsuit Edition. On the one hand, Wade is everything you want in a player. He’s got guts, heart, and a natural knack for winning. He can beat you on the perimeter, by slashing through the lane, or by leaving the ball on a dime for a teammate. To add to it, D-Wade’s the type of man who will turn down an invitation to the Playboy Mansion to volunteer down at the local soup kitchen. Like MJ, it’s impossible to dislike him. If any of you saw his performance in the 4th quarter vs. Detroit last Sunday, it completely defined who he is as a player. Man, I’m getting emotional here. I feel like I’m writing a letter of recommendation for my best friend. How the hell can I not have this guy top 2? Scroll down and find out.


2. Dwight Howard (PF, 20 years old, 6-11, 240 lbs.)
As of 30 seconds ago I thought about going the safe route and swapping Wade for Howard. But something in my head wouldn’t let me. Call me crazy, but part of me believes that 20 years from now we’ll look back and see Howard with more championships than Wade and James combined. There’s something to be said of a 21 year-old leading the NBA in rebounding, scoring 15.4 PPG on just 10.7 FGA, and shooting over 50% from the floor. Honestly, what’s a realistic prediction for this kid by 2008, 25, 17, and 3 blocks? Could he one day average 20 and 20? I sure think so. And let’s not forget too that in six of the last seven years, a dominant big man was the centerpiece of each of those championship teams. But the main reason I chose Howard for #2, is that I honestly think he will one day be able to combine the fundamentals of Duncan, the determination of KG, the rebounding prowess of Big Ben, and the success of Shaq. And when that day comes, remember who told you so…


1. LeBron James (G/F, 21 years old, 6-8, 240 lbs.)
Hey, it was either him, Marvin Williams, or Baron Davis. I chose the guy who will be 35-10-10 by the time he’s 25.

Readers' Top 10

Well congratulations everyone, I think we may have broken the record for most comments on one article. Which got me thinking, since the readers have so much to say, why don't you all sit down and come up with your own top 10 list (top 30 would take too long). Then on Monday I'll post the results and we can compare it to mine. Think of this as a homework assignment for All-Star Weekend. Thanks guys

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cassell Spits on Ref


Clippers point guard Sam Cassell could be looking at a hefty suspension after spitting on official Eli Roe late in the 3rd Quarter of the Clippers 128-97 loss to the Houston Rockets. Cassell went irate after being called for a foul with 37.8 seconds left in the 3rd and was immediately hit with a tech by Roe. Cassell then continued to argue and go after Roe before being tossed and then with Roe's back turned, Cassell proceeded to hock a loogie on the official's back. The league will have to review the incident first thing tomorrow before the Clippers collide with the Golden State Warriors and I would fully expect them to come down hard on Cassell for his Alomarization of Roe. If you'll remember, Roberto Alomar was suspended five games by Major League Baseball in 1997 for spitting on umpire John Hirshbeck. My guess is that Cassell's wad of spit costs him a minimum of 5 games.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Carnival #24

For those of you who have never heard of the Carnival before, it's a compilation of work from the various NBA blogs across the web. Some poor sap (this week it's me) is put in charge of emailing everyone for an article, getting a 30% response, then having to delve through a dozen or so blogs for a noteworthy piece. Typically the end result is a monster paragraph that has links to each site.

But, rather than keep with tradition, I decided instead to share with you the emails I got from these various bloggers. Some were lazy, some funny, some really bizarre. Here they are along with my initial reactions (of course).


Email #1:

"Hope it's not too late here. I'd like to throw my 2006 mock draft in there, if possible
--Dave from the city"


My take: Thanks for clarifying because it would have been a nightmare trying to figure out if this was Dave from the city or the town.




Email #2:

"Hi Anthony,

I sent you an email earlier this week about the Carnival but I'm hoping you can use these two posts instead. If you can't no worries, but I thought I'd at least try. The main post is [on Street Ball] and if you have room for a second post I'd love to help you get the word out that I'm looking for writers

Thanks Anthony!

Ryan, HoopsAddict.com"


My take: Ryan should make a lot of you feel like crap since he went out of to scrounge up his best work and send me not one, but two articles. Those of you who lazily ignored my emails to go watch figure skating on NBC should be ashamed of yourselves.




Email #3:

"Hi Anthony,

Thanks for taking on this thankless task! Here's my contribution"


My take: Jesus, you got that right. I feel as mistreated as those parents on the Sweet Sixteen show on MTV. And if you’re pretending that you haven’t seen it, just give it up already.




Email #4:

"Hey, Use any of my All-Star 1-on-1 posts

Thanks, Brian"

My take: See, how hard was that? This probably took Brian 13 seconds, max.



Email #5:

"Anthony --
Sorry it's so late, but here's my entry for the Carnival. It's on The Kevin Martin Experience

Take care, and good luck,

Tom

My take: This article sounds like something that may have been the inspiration behind Brokeback Mountain. But it's not, so make sure to go check out Tom's hard work.



Email #6:

"sorry i know this is wicked late, but in case you're still working on it, here is my article. it's about the hawks only having josh smith in the all star weekend and how the hawks suck so we can't send anyone else. it's wonderful. good luck with the carnival bud

Chase Kuech
Most Valuable Network,

My take: I thought only Bostonians use the word ‘wicked’? And at least Chase isn’t bashful about the quality of his writing, huh? I’m just busting your balls buddy, thanks for the submission.



Emails #7 & 8:
"For the Carnival...On 2/3/06, Sportsbiz wrote:
Nels,
Since you stepped up to take it, I have a couple of posts for you (choose whichever one you want):

Hornets Playing in OKC Next Year
or

Does 81 Return Kobe to Hero Status?

Thanks for taking it on. If you have any questions, let me know.

Mark"


"For the Carnival...On 2/6/06, Michael Deuser wrote:

Nels, my man, what's up. Can I put a SportingNews blog on the Carnival? I don't see why not. I keep it real. Here's a link to a blog about Mike Montgomery and the Warriors

Let me know if that's kosher.

Thanks, Mike"



My Take: Umm, am I doing this Carnival or is Nels? Can this task get anymore tedious and confusing? This certainly is not ‘kosher’.




Email #9:

"Anthony,

Thanks for putting this together. Here's my submission. It's just a recap of a good Spurs game against TOR, but I manage to incorporate a merkin. That's something.

Matthew"


My take: Am I the only one who has no clue what a merkin is? I’m assuming it has something to do with Sean Marks? Guess you’ll have to find out for yourselves. And is it just me or were you worried too that this could be a bad porn site about the former WWE star turned atrocious actor? Well, it’s not.




Email #10:

"just take whatever is posted on [my site], New York Knicks Most Valuable Network

thanks"


My take: Translation: "I’m not as lazy as those guys who didn’t send anything, but I’m still pretty damn lazy."




Email #11:

"anthony, never sent in for the carnival before...do you just need a url? sorry i'm responding so late. these e-mails went to my bulk bin. let me know if you need anything else. thanks.

Aloneconformist

My take: See how confused I was about the email list? I’m somehow managed to get a piece on Michelle Kwan...Just kidding, this is an article discussing T-Mac's unfortunate shooting slump. And on a side note, am I alone in being totally spooked out by this guy's pseudonym? Aloneconformist? Sounds like some 1980s Harrison Ford movie.


The Best of the Rest:

As for those of you who sent me nothing at all, I went onto your sites and attempted to find your worst article, ever. Unfortunately, all of your sites are very well organized and contain excellent material. Here’s a list of works you should all check out:


Celticsblog.com: up-to-the-second Boston Celtics info with excellent forum discussion

Perkolators: affiliated with Celtics Blog, and formerly The Get Buckets Brigade, a site solely dedicated to Ricky Davis. But now that RD has packed his bags for Minnesota, Matt and co. have now turned their attention to Kendrick Perkins. A very entertaining site, especially for those die-hard C’s fans.

Fantasy Basketblog: Go there for your weekly dose of who to start/bench to take advantage of all your fantasy match-ups. Here’s this week’s Head-to-Head’s Up

120 Proof Ball: Get your latest reasons why to stay in school…


Golden State Warriors Blog: Has moved to Golden State of Mind. Keep the faith fellas…


Blog a Bull: Addicted to the Bulls? Then make this site a daily read.


Pistons Coverage at Most Valuable Network: Get the latest on Darko’s potential relocation


The Bball Blog: A very entertaining site that almost had me believing that Scope really signed Vin Baker to be a spokesman. A must read…

One more late addition from Zach at Sportszilla, enjoy

Thursday, February 09, 2006

2006 All-Star Reserves

Count 'Melo among those who were snubbed


Announced later today, but read here first...

West Reserves

F- Kevin Garnett
F- Dirk Nowitzki
C- Pau Gasol
G- Tony Parker
G- Ray Allen
WC- Shawn Marion
WC- Elton Brand

**UPDATE** It seems that Gasol has made the team afterall. Perhaps there was a change of heart among the coaches whether or not Pau should be considered a center. Or, maybe someone important read my displeasure with the Okur selection and promptly changed it. I'll go with the latter until I hear otherwise.


Snubs: Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Andrei Kirilenko, Chris Paul, Baron Davis


East Reserves (As announced this morning by Peter Vecsey)

F-Vince Carter
F-Rasheed Wallace - will most likely replace Jermaine as a starter
C-Ben Wallace
G-Chauncey Billups
G-Richard Hamilton
WC-Paul Pierce
WC-Chris Bosh

Snubs: Gilbert Arenas (may be selected to fill Jermaine's spot), Michael Redd, Jason Kidd