Posted on: December 16, 2010 1:59 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 2:11 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The first returns for the 2011 All-Star teams are in and really, not a lot of big surprises. Kobe Bryant leads the West, Dwight Howard leads the East and for a 10th consecutive year, Brian Cardinal is nowhere to be found.
Looking over the numbers, obviously the first thing that has to stick out is of course Yao Ming and Andrew Bynum being the top two vote-getters at center in the West. Between the two, they've played a grand total of seven games.
This is what irks so many about letting fans votes, but that's just the way it is. Yao has the most populated country in the world voting for him and Bynum has probably the biggest fanbase voting for him. It's the way it works. I'd love to complain and gripe about it and tell you how Tyson Chandler or Al Jefferson should be getting consideration, but nobody's listening.
(Seriously though, neither Chandler or Jefferson were even on the first returns? Really? Chris Kaman, Andris Biedrins and DeMarcus Cousins are but the two most productive Western centers aren't? And Derek Fisher has 81,000 votes but the league's leading rebounder Kevin Love only has 700 more? I hate people sometimes.)
So if the All-Star Game were today, the starters for each conference would be:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Dwight Howard
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: Pau Gasol
C: Yao Ming
The closest current races are Carmelo behind Gasol and Derrick Rose behind Rondo. Gasol trails Anthony by about 20,000 votes and Rose is behind Rondo by about 75,000 votes.
One mild and pleasant surprise is that Kevin Durant is the second-leading vote-getter in the West behind Kobe. Durant has 470,881 votes to his name right now, still almost 300,000 behind Kobe though. But Durant is well on his way to his second All-Star team and first one as a starter. He's ahead of talented players like Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony and Tim Duncan. Quite a big year for Durant. From a player known only as underrated and hidden in the league's smallest market to the second top star in the West only behind Kobe is a big step up.
The East though is basically the Miami Heat and friends. LeBron and Dwyane Wade are two of the top three vote-getters with Dwight Howard being second, Rajon Rondo fourth and Kevin Garnett fifth. The "other" guy on the Heat, Chris Bosh, is fifth among forwards right now with 161,801 votes. Interesting players that are ahead of Bosh in the East in total votes? Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Shaquille O'Neal. I guess if you really wanted the spotlight Chris, you should've went to Boston.
Talking rookies, Blake Griffin leads all so far with more than 245,000 votes. John Wall checks in with a little over 120,000 and Cousins has 37,000 in a watered down center class in the West.
Of course, these are just the first returns and things can definitely change. You'll see those kids at games with a stack four feet tall of ballots and then may all have only Derek Fisher's name punched. But more than likely, the two starting units will end up close to what they are now.
Posted on: December 13, 2010 8:25 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Finally, it looks like Andrew Bynum is really coming back. The L.A. Times passes along that Bynum told reporters after practice Monday, "I'm definitely playing tomorrow."
Bynum has started practicing the past few weeks, finally moving ahead to five-on-five actual action recently. He had arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason and has been critcized over the way he's handled his rehab.
He scheduled the knee surgery later in the summer because he went to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and also some vacation time in Europe. So instead of rehabbing over the summer, his July 28 surgery putting him coming back right up against the beginning of training camp.
As things go with Bynum, his recovery wasn't swift, meaning he's missed the Lakers' first 24 games. Pau Gasol has picked up the slack moving to center, but he's also averaging a career-high 39.3 minutes per game.
Phil Jackson said Bynum won't be going all-out once he returns and that he might only play around 15 minutes. Jackson had been on record saying multiple times that Bynum would start in his first game, but changed his mind after talking things over with L.A.'s training staff. Bynum will determine whether he starts or comes off the bench, Jackson said.
Bynum averaged 15 points and 8.3 rebounds in 30.4 minutes a game last season. Not to say the Lakers have struggled without him, but obviously they aren't the same team with him sidelined. He's not going to be at full strength early on, but the Lakers are planning for him to get back into shape slowly. They're not concerned with December production from Bynum. More for what he brings in April and May.
Posted on: December 5, 2010 4:01 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:16 pm
Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum completes a five-on-five practice for the first time during his knee rehabilitation. Posted by Ben Golliver. The major milestone to look for in any rehabilitating player's return from injury is simple: when is he allowed to return to full five-on-five practice work? That date usually precedes a return to NBA action by a week or two, and represents the time when the player is deemed healthy enough for the physical pounding that will occur in regular game action. Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum, one of the NBA's premier young big men, has been working his way back gradually from an offseason knee surgery. On Saturday, Lakers coach Phil Jackson told the Los Angeles Times that Bynum went through a five-on-five practice for the first time.
"He said he was tired, which is natural," Jackson said. "That's going to happen."
Bynum, who didn't talk to the media after practice, has said he'd like to be ready to play around Dec. 19 at Toronto, which would be the last of a six-game Lakers trip. "He said there was just one moment where he had a little twinge," Jackson said. "But other than that, he was OK."The fatigue thing isn't a big deal, as rehabbing players, especially big men, are reintroduced into the rotation gradually, allowing them to build up their endurance. Bynum's return is welcome news for the Lakers, who have dealt with injuries to frontline players Pau Gasol (hamstring) and Theo Ratliff (who had surgery on his knee earlier this season). Due in part to the injuries, and a stretch of uncharacteristically poor play that resulted in four straight losses, the Lakers have dropped to 14-6 on the season, good for fourth place in the Western Conference.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 10:19 am
Edited on: December 2, 2010 11:28 am
Rondo has a nickname, Sanders has a bunch of blocks, and oh, yeah, some guy comes back to Ohio today, all in today's Shootaround. Posted by Matt Moore
Posted on: December 1, 2010 11:49 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2010 11:50 pm
Lakers lose fourth in a row, which leads to push-come-to-shove streaks, one of which must end. Posted by Matt Moore
One loss is a laugh-off. Two is an annoyance. Three is concerning. Four? Four losses in a row? That's ominous.
The Los Angeles Lakers lost 109-99 to the Houston Rockets Wednesday night, pardon me, the 5-12-entering Houston Rockets for their fourth consecutive loss. why are four losses, even ones as apoplectic as these, significant whatsoever for a championship-proven team in December?
Because of this, courtesy of Andrew Siciliano of FSN :
So that's pretty ominous. The Lakers aren't struggling because Kobe Bryant's out injured or because Pau Gasol is out injured (though Pau is struggling because of the lack of center depth with Theo Ratliff out and Andrew Bynum Andrew Bynuming). They're struggling because they're having significant lapses at the defensive end (Shane Battier scored 11 straight on them in the final minutes for crying out loud), and on offense, too often a no-longer-29-year-old Kobe Bryant is constantly putting up bad shots. On key possessions Bryant opted for the 40-foot-three-pointer shots instead of using all his knowledge and craft to create easier opportunities, extend the game or work for a quality shot.
The other trend that the 4-game streak omen is up against? Phil Jackson has never failed to complete a 3-peat. Given the fact that LA has five months to get it right, Andrew Bynum returns in a few weeks, and this team could not care less about the regular season and they're still only losing these games by a handful of buckets, we should probably bet on the latter trend holding up.
But it still should be noted that the Lakers right now? They're not very good at all.
Posted on: November 30, 2010 3:35 pm
NBA F&R breaks down the MVP candidates after the first month of the season by dissecting the award down to three parts: Most Valuable, Most Important, and Most Oustanding Player. CP3 is in control.
Posted by Matt Moore with contributions from Ben Golliver and Royce Young
Well, we're a month into the season and the context of this year has begun to take shape. While certainly a long way from the finish line, we've already gotten a glimpse of who's playing well, who's playing average, and who ... not so much. And so it is that we begin our monthly look at awards. On a regular basis we'll take you around the award contenders and give you a look at who is in contention for the NBA's major awards by breaking down what they really mean in our Award-O-Matic. Today we start with the MVP.
The problem, as has been elucidated approximately a million times by various media members, is that the MVP is a nebulous, hard to define award. Its name is Most Valuable, but it most often goes to the Most Outstanding Player on a winning team. If your play is other-worldly but your team doesn't win, you have no shot. If you contribute the most to a winning team but your numbers aren't stellar, again, your chances are slim. It takes a combination of three factors: value, performance, and importance to snag the award. As such, we decided to break the award into those three categories, tally them up with the top player getting 3 points, the second 2, the third 1, then summing to see if we could come up with a list.
Most Valuable Player (To Their Team): Who is most responsible for their team's success? Or, to put it another way, whose team suffers the most without them?
1. Dirk Nowitzki: Without him that offense is anemic and it's been his rebounding that's kept them in games at points.
2. Carmelo Anthony: Seriously, Nuggets. Cliff. Teetering. Melo's the only thing keeping the truck from smashing into pieces.
3. Dwight Howard: Get him in foul trouble and the Magic turn into a Mid-Major college team, just wining it from perimeter to perimeter.
1. Chris Paul: I like Darren Collison as much as the next guy, but CP3's return from injury to lead New Orleans' absurd hot start, despite an unimpressive supporting cast, reveals exactly how valuable the league's best point guard is.
2. Rajon Rondo: Boston would still be good without Rondo, but his game ownership places them on an elite level and makes them the odds on favorite to win the East yet again. 10.6 points, 14.2 assists (what!), 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals through the end of November. Crazy.
3. Kevin Durant: The Thunder have had an up-and-down start but imagining this team with Russell Westbrook at the helm by himself, dragging an ineffective Jeff Green along for the ride, would be a recipe for a guaranteed lottery team. KD will get better -- perhaps much better -- over the course of the season, and he's already easily leading the NBA in scoring again.
1. Chris Paul: Subtract Paul and what do you have. I can promise you it's not an 8-1 team. It's really as simple as that.
2. Dirk Nowitzki: The Mavericks are dangerous in every fourth quarter that they're close in. The reason is because Dirk can score in every situation, at any time. He essentially is the Maverick offense.
3. Steve Nash: Take Nash away and yes, there's Goran Dragic who can dazzle in stretches. But without Nash this Suns team is nothing more than a 35-win club. With Nash, there's potential to push for the playoffs.
Most Important Player: Who is most crucial to their team's success? Ex. Last year I argued that Josh Smith was MIP because when he did Josh Smith-y things, the Hawks were nearly unstoppable, and when he didn't, they were much more beatable.
1. Chris Paul: He does everything and it starts and stops with him. This is even more clearly illustrated by their recent struggles down the stretch where he hasn't been involved.
2. Al Horford: The level of production Horford is creating right now is simply astonishing. More astonishing is how overlooked he is.
3. Pau Gasol: It's him that's carrying the Lakers. Even as Kobe scores all the high points, the most dominant Laker performances this season are from Gasol.
1. Pau Gasol: His virtuoso early season performance has single-handedly made Andrew Bynum an afterthought. What more needs to be said?
2. Deron Williams: Utah's streak of comebacks begins with Williams' tough-minded leadership and ends with his play-making and shot-making.
3. Dirk Nowitzki: Another banner start from Dirk singlehandedly puts a Dallas roster loaded with question marks in the playoff mix.
1. Pau Gasol: Having Gasol as part of the triangle has been like a revelation. He's really what makes the Lakers so darn dangerous.
2. Kevin Garnett: We saw what an impact his has in regard to the Celtic defense two seasons ago when his knee was injured.
3. Nick Collison: He's a classic no-stats All-Star. He's only played for a few weeks so far this season for Oklahoma City but his value is immeasurable and impact immediate. He tips rebounds that become extra possessions, takes charges, sets outstanding screens and makes two or three small (but big) plays a game.
Most Outstanding Player: Who has simply wowed you?
1. Rajon Rondo: Key plays every time he's on the floor and he makes it look easy, There are a lot of moments where he looks like he's just on a different plane from everyone else.. and he's got three Hall of Famers on his team.
2. Russell Westbrook: Westbrook has managed to take over the game down the stretch. His turnovers are down, assists are up, he's got range and that mid-key pull-up jumper is as deadly as it ever has been. He's been simply phenomenal in half-court and full-court sets.
3. Deron Williams: Three point guards? Yup. Check Deron at the end of the clock with the game on the line. Money. And that's after all the assists, rebounds, key plays and floor leadership. Man's a ninja, no joke.
1. Dwight Howard: Lost in the Miami Heat wave, Howard is quietly putting up 22.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks as the defensive and rebounding engine that will make Orlando a title contender for years to come. By the way, Orlando sits atop the Southeast Division -- 3.5 games ahead of the Heat.
2. LeBron James: His numbers are crazy and his highlights are spectacular. It's a wonder he can jump so high and dunk so hard carrying the burden of Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra's corpse on his shoulders.
3. John Wall: Wall doesn't belong in the MVP discussion -- there are too many holes in his game (jumper, turnovers) and his team is terrible -- but for sheer "outstanding-ness" and "wow factor" he merits inclusion here. His assist numbers have been great and his speed is tops in the league; he's a lot further along the NBA readiness scale than even his biggest fans could have imagined.
1. Rajon Rondo: He's been nothing but insanely ridiculous. Manages the game perfectly, understand his place within an offense and runs the show beautifully.
2. Kevin Love: When given the time on the floor, he's a legitimate 20-20 threat every single night. How many players can you really say that about?
3. Russell Westbrook: There's a case to be legitimately made for Westbrook as an MVP contender. Kevin Durant is still leading the league in scoring, but Westbrook is what's kept the team winning games. But his play has been just insane this year (23.8 ppg, 8.4 apg, 5.1 rpg) and he's a super-highlight waiting to happen.
Here are the tallies:
Most Valuable Player:
1. Chris Paul (6)
2. Dirk Nowitzki (5)
Tied for 3rd: Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo (2)
Tied for 4th: Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash (1)
Most Important Player:
1. Pau Gasol (7)
2. Chris Paul (3)
Tied for 3rd: Deron Williams, Al Horford, Kevin Garnett (2)
Tied for 4th: Dirk Nowitzki, Nick Collison (1)
Most Outstanding Player :
1. Rajon Rondo (6)
Tied for 2nd: Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard (3)
Tied for 3rd: Kevin Love, LeBron James (2)
Tied for 4th: John Wall, Deron Williams (1)
Top 5 in Totals:
1. Chris Paul: 9
2. Rajon Rondo (8)
3. Pau Gasol (7)
4. Dirk Nowitzki (6)
5. Dwight Howard (4)
Tags: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Award-O-Matic, awards, Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Celtics, Chris Paul, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jazz, John Wall, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Lakers, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Magic, Mavericks, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, MVP, New Orleans Hornets, Nick Collison, Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Pau Gasol, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Thunder, Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards, Wizards
Posted on: November 24, 2010 10:30 am
Posted by Matt Moore
It won't be the first time people alledge that Kobe Bryant has a heart two sizes too small, but it's the first time he'll look the part. Leaked yesterday were Kobe Bryant's "Grinch edition" shoes which he'll be wearing on Christmas Day against the visiting Miami Heat. They are ... ahem ... Grinch-like:
So that would make LeBron little Cindy Lou Who, that's who.
Can we go ahead and get this out of the way? The Lakers are going to kill the Heat on Christmas. Even if the Heat get it together over the next month, there's simply no way they'll be able to deal with the Lakers' size, cohesiveness and overall talent. The Heat's Big 3 are better than the Lakers' Big 3 (as in, take Kobe, Pau, and any of their other five solid star players), but they also haven't learned to play together and the Lakers' Big 2 seem to be a might bit better.
Stealing this win for LA, in LA, is going to be easier than taking candy from ... you know what? Nevermind.
(HT: Sole Collector via The Basketball Jones )
Posted on: November 22, 2010 12:11 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: IRISH DESCENDENTS UNDONE BY PREHISTORIC ANIMALS
The combination of events that conspired in the Celtics' loss to the Raptors is pretty stunning. First, Rajon Rondo was missing due to injury, meaning the Celtics were without two starters. Then Andrea Bargnani had one of those games where he produces, and continues. with 18 at the half, the smart money says he finishes with 22. He finished with 29. Amir Johnson managed to not foul out. And in spite of all that, the Celtics were still up one with the ball. But instead of fouling Ray Allen, who would obviously drain the free throws, the Raptors managed to knock the ball loose, collect it, and score to take the lead.
And still the Celtics had a shot at it. They first tried inbounding to Ray Allen off a backdoor screen cutting to the corner, but were unable to get the angle, even as Leandro Barbosa slipped behind Allen. The Celtics called timeout and instead returned with Allen inbounding. They chose to go to Paul Pierce. Pierce rotated around to his sweet spot, the right elbow jumper. But take a look at where Pierce wound up instead:
Too deep. Pierce's spot is about two feet to his left. Not to say he can't hit this one, it was good defense and Pierce just missed it. But for him to be in that spot where he almost never misses, he over-drives.
That the Celtics lost this game isn't a huge deal. They were without their best playmaker, on the road, and they're clearly having trouble getting up for games. But they're now a game behind Orlando and only a game and a half in front of Chicago, Miami, and Atlanta. It's early, still, but the problem is that they could be ahead by a comfortable margin if they weren't losing games they have every reason to win.
For the Raps, I'm telling you, this team isn't nearly as bad as it's made out to be.
GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:
Pau Gasol: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists on 10-10 shooting.
Gilbert Arenas, 19 points, 16 assists, 4 rebounds.
MAY YOU NEVER WATCH THAT DEBACLE AGAIN:
The Lakers, when motivated, are really, really good. The end.