Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:37 pm
Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver.
The 2011-2012 NBA season has officially entered 2012. With that comes the third installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.
What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.
1. Too High: Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 1. This week's Power Rankings made it through exactly zero spots before being completely wrong. Both Oklahoma City and Miami have one loss. OKC's loss is to the four-loss Dallas Mavericks, ranked No. 19 this week (No. 29 last week, don't think we forgot about that). Miami's loss was to one-loss Atlanta, ranked No. 4 this week. Sure, Miami lost to the Hawks at home, but they also did exactly what OKC couldn't: beat Dallas in Dallas, thumping the Mavericks on Christmas Day. OKC is dealing with reports of teammate-on-teammate verbal violence while Miami is humming along like a group of really, really athletic Boy Scouts. This one is indefensible. -- BG
2. Too Low: Miami Heat at No. 2. Let's be clear: the Heat are not infallible. A Dwyane Wade foot injury and an awful 4-for-17 shooting night against the Hawks provide some consternation. But the body of work is absolutely there. The Heat are No. 4 in offensive efficiency and No. 9 in defensive efficiency, a ranking sure to rise. As it stands, both rankings are better than the Thunder. Pick an advanced statistic -- rebounding rate, true shooting percentage, turnover percentage and assist rate -- and Miami is better than Oklahoma City. South Florida, stand up. For the first time in years I have your back. -- BG
3. Most Overrated: Atlanta Hawks at No. 4. They beat the Heat. Good for them. No seriously, good for them. But are the Hawks really a top four team? The same Hawks team that did virtually nothing except add Tracy McGrady and lose Jamal Crawford in the offseason. Let's keep our heads here on the Hawks. They're the same old Hawks that are just good enough to keep our attention but not quite good enough to actually be in the conversation. -- RY
4. Most Overlooked: Chicago Bulls at No. 3. The lively debate over the No. 1 spot didn't include Chicago, and it probably should have. It's hard to be overlooked at No. 3 but I'd argue that's the case. Derrrick Rose had about as good of a game as you can have last Friday against Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers, and it barely made waves, lost in the New Year's celebration. Chicago has been winning ugly and they didn't drop jaws throughout their Christmas Day victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the same manner that Miami and Oklahoma City did. They're still smarting from that first impression a bit. With a 3-1 West coast road trip, they had the toughest schedule of the top-3 teams and they handled it in typically professional style. Look for Chicago to remain at No. 3 or higher for the foreseeable future. -- BG
5. Sure Thing: Washington Wizards at No. 30. Holy crap, they are so bad. Monday's game in Boston was finally somewhat competitive, but it's simple: John Wall has to be excellent if the Wizards are going to compete. Right now, he's playing average basketball. With Nick Young, JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and whoever else running with Wall, that roster isn't good enough to win unless Wall takes them to a higher level. They are the NBA's worst and there isn't a doubt about it. -- RY
6. Wild Card: San Antonio Spurs at No. 10. The Spurs came out of the gates working people over like their old selves. They looked to be well on their way to another year of everyone doubting them while they just owned the West. Except after a dominant 2-0 start, the Spurs have dropped games to Houston and the Wolves, while not being all that competitive in either games. Plus, Manu Ginobili broke his hands. The Spurs could be a top five team, but they could also fall way past that. -- RY
Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:34 pm
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Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:27 pm
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Posted on: December 27, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 2:07 pm
Posted by Royce Young
There's a fine line between headcase and immature. Andray Blatche has been pushing those limits for a while now.
He's gotten in fights, said dumb things and played lazy basketball. But now he's calling out his coach.
After the Wizards blew a massive lead to the Nets Monday night, coach Flip Saunders commented on a few things that Blatche took personally. So Blatche volleyed back.
"I said that I need the ball in the paint to be effective. You can't keep having me pick and pop and shooting jump shots. Give me the ball in the paint," Blatche told The Washington Post. "That's what I'm most effective at. I've been saying that since training camp -- I need the ball in the paint. I don't want to be the pick and pop guy that I used to be. Because it's not working for me. I'm not saying the offense has to flow through me, but I prefer to be in the paint."
He reaffirmed those thoughts on Twitter after the game too, tweeting, "I may have had a bad game but that's cause I need the ball in the post not taking jump shots all game."
He also then tried to defend himself and his comments: "Every body need to shut up I didn't call out my coach or team mates I said I had a bad game need it n the post instead of jump shots."
Blatche's opening night output: 11 points, eight rebounds. Kris Humphries, who Blatche was primarily assigned to, had 21 and 16.
It's been one game and Blatche is already spouting off to the media. I bet Flip Saunders is thankful this season is only 66 games.
Nick Young came to Blatche's defense, sort of, saying, "Dray's trying to be a leader this year, and sometimes he lets things get to him. You've got to let things bounce quick and get back in the game. I say he's going to learn from this game."
I think that's a nice way of saying, "I told Andray to zip it after the game."
As Michael Lee of the Washington Post ironically points out, Blatche was actually suspended for two games for complaining about having to play in the low block too much. Guy just doesn't know what he wants.
He also doesn't realize he's wasting a heap of talent. For a time, when he was looking for a new contract, Blatche showed off his ability. The last few months of 2010 he played like an All-Star. He's a good player when it all comes together.
But sometimes that doesn't matter when it's not all clicking between the ears. I think Blatche wants to be good. He wants to win. He just doesn't know how. The Wizards are a dysfunctional mess with raw talent and immature youngsters. Flip Saunders has his hands full.
Posted on: December 19, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 12:44 pm
By Matt Moore
The Washington Post first reported it Sunday night, and on Monday the Wizards made it official, Nick Young will remain a Wizard for another season.
Young signed a one-year qualifying offer with the Wizards in restricted free agency Monday, which will allow him to enter unrestricted free agency in 2012. Young's offer of $3.7 million for the season comes after a disappointing free agency period failed to net the long-term offer sheet Young was no doubt hoping for, due to teams' strong belief the Wizards would match any such offer.
Young is a slightly above-average scorer with few other patented skills, but is only 26 and two-guards are becoming a bit of a premium in this market. He should pull in better offers next summer.
It's surprising that Young didn't receive an offer good enough to sign, but movement in restricted free agency was largely limited this time around, thanks in part to the restructured CBA.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 5:34 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Don't laugh. Because John Wall sounded serious.
He thinks the Wizards will be a playoff team. Via Sports Radio Interviews, he was asked on 106.7 The Fan in D.C. is the Wizards are a playoff team:
“I think so. Last year, we was ahead of Philly at one point and then they went on a 15-game winning streak. The most winning streak we had was two games and that was near the end of the season. … I think, going in, the main thing for us that’s really going to help us, in our first of two road games, we have to win one of those games. If we lose those two games, you start thinking of last year and the guys from last year start thinking, ‘Is this another year of losing a lot of road games?’”I looked it up and the 76ers' longest winning streak was four, not 15. Maybe four kind of seems like 15 when you struggle to win two straight and overall go 23-59 which was 18 games behind Philadelphia.
But whatever. That was last year, this is this year. And the Wizards have a bit of talent headlined of course by Wall. Nick Young, if he returns, is a nice scorer, Andray Blatche, when his head's on straight, is a good player. Same goes for JaVale McGee. Who knows what rookie Jan Vesely is capable of. Rashard Lewis might have a little left in the tank.
And in the East where sometimes being three or four games under .500 is good enough, the Wizards might be able to make a push. Or at least think about a push.
Still, this team is just a step away from being completely dysfunctional. There are headcases, borderline headcases and disgruntled veterans all over the place. Wall has enough talent to make you believe it's somewhat feasible, but just the makeup of the roster does not.
I hate saying a team doesn't have a shot and Wall should absolutely believe they do. Everyone is in first place right now. With just 66 games, a 3-1 start could mean the Wizards can think about it. But I don't see how this team is any better than the one that won 23 games last season. Sure, Wall is set to take a leap this season, but how many wins would that be worth? Five? He still needs help and unless Blatche or McGee is ready to snap out of it or Vesely is something special. the Wizards are still probably a year or two away.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 4:01 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Southeast Division.
1. Miami Heat, 58-24, lost in NBA Finals
2. Orlando Magic, 52-30, lost in first round of Eastern Conference playoffs to Atlanta Hawks
3. Atlanta Hawks, 44-38, lost in second round of Eastern Conference playoffs to Chicago Bulls
4. Charlotte Bobcats, 34-48, NBA Draft Lottery
5. Washington Wizards, 23-59, NBA Draft Lottery
Best team: Miami Heat
The Miami Heat proved they were the best team in the Eastern Conference by a significant margin when they dismantled the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs last year. The 2011-2012 version brings all the key pieces back and features one major upgrade: free agent wing Shane Battier. The Heat retained point guard Mario Chalmers and forward James Jones, avoid using the amnesty clause on forward Mike Miller, and get to enjoy a full year of a healthy Udonis Haslem. Free agent big man Eddy Curry steps in to provide depth behind center Joel Anthony too. Those are all good things, and I haven't even mentioned the Big 3 yet: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. All return with a renewed purpose plus redemption as motivation, and all three spent the lockout getting themselves in top shape to accomplish their goal of winning a title.
Anything less than a ring will be a major disappointment. Now that coach Erik Spoelstra has had the experience of going through the fire once, he should be more ready than ever to guide the Heat to some major regular season and postseason accomplishments. 55+ wins in a 66-game schedule isn't outside the realm of possibility for Miami, although they will surely be careful limiting minutes for James and Wade down the stretch in anticipation of the playoffs.
Worst team: Charlotte Bobcats
This is Year One of what will be a multi-year rebuilding process under new GM Rich Cho, who brings overhauling experience from his days as an assistant GM in Seattle/Oklahoma City. There are some intriguing young pieces -- particularly rookies Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, assuming the latter is finally available -- and one proven veteran in Corey Maggette but this season will be a tossaway for owner Michael Jordan, who will continue to look to cut costs and position the team for a high draft pick in a loaded 2012 lottery.
Biggest surprise: Orlando Magic
The upstart Washington Wizards have the potential to pleasantly surprise, but the looming trade of center Dwight Howard almost guarantees that Orlando's season will be the biggest surprise. And it's already off to a wacky start, with drunk dialing, resignations, layoffs and a major signing of Jason Richardson. Who could have predicted all of that two weeks ago? No one. And the Howard rumors are just beginning. Everything from a total rebuilding effort to a desperate spending spree to appease Howard is currently on the table. The Magic will be a daily surprise.
Three Best Players: LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade
Nowhere is the talent gap between superstars and everybody else more clear than the Southeast Division. The top-heavy Heat boast three of the top-15 players in the league while Howard is a top-3 talent. Nobody controls the action better than James, there isn't a better 2-way force than Howard and Wade is arguably the best crunch-time performer in the game. You can't go wrong with any of those three, and the drop between the trio and Bosh, the next best player in the Division, is steep.
Biggest Question: Will Orlando trade Dwight Howard?
All signs point to yes on the Magic finally parting with Howard. It was surely be a painful process, no matter how long it takes or how many pieces are received in return. The No. 1 overall pick in 2004, Howard has been everything you could hope for from a modern center and a marketing machine, missing just five games in seven seasons and posting ridiculous statlines (at least a double-double every year plus leading the league in blocks twice) along the way. If Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith is able to temporarily mend the fences between himself and Howard, he's likely to find out that slow-playing the trade process will result in some amazing offers for Howard's services. Howard should have been the 2011 NBA MVP and he plays the games' most coveted position. Someone will throw the franchise at Orlando for the rights to acquire him. It's only a matter of who and when.
2012 Projected Standings
1. Miami Heat
2. Atlanta Hawks
3. Orlando Magic
4. Washington Wizards
5. Charlotte Bobcats
Posted on: November 21, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 9:08 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Basketball never stops during the NBA lockout, or so they say, and neither, apparently, do Boston Celtics All-Star forward Kevin Garnett's on-court antics.
Garnett, who has barked like a dog on the court, made his teammate cry on the bench, allegedly called an opponent a "cancer patient" and wasted hundreds of thousands of words nonsensically trash-talking anyone that comes into his vicinity, was up to his same old song and dance during a recent pick-up game in Southern California.
Yahoo Sports reports that Garnett got physical with second-year Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford.
His indoctrination has come against old pros like Billups, yes, but with Kevin Garnett in the gymnasium, too. On this day, everyone was still buzzing over Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford’s mistake of talking too much to Garnett a day earlier. When Boston Celtics teammate Paul Pierce tried to do Crawford a favor and push him away, Crawford urged Pierce to let K.G. go.The Washington Post reports that Crawford and an observer had a slightly different version of events.
When asked about the incident, Crawford wrote back in a text message that nothing happened and added, “Stop believing everything you read.”Normally, I would be the last person to condone Garnett's tired act, but this has karma coming to call written all over it. Crawford, a 23-year-old rookie who averaged 11.7 points and 2.8 assists per game last year, recently had the audacity to suggest that he believes he can be the greatest basketball player of all time.
“I don’t tell nobody, but I feel like I can be better than Michael Jordan,” Crawford said in October.
The NBA universe spends way too much time caring about veterans initiating younger players into the league's culture and history. Yes, dues need to be paid, but they almost always are, and most young guys who don't get in line don't last very long in the league. But Crawford definitely needed a reminder of his place in the pecking order, a clear message that it's OK for an average player to want to be better than Michael Jordan but that it's not OK to say that you can be better than Michael Jordan. It's a subtle difference, sure, but it's one worth standing up to protect.
A vast majority of the basketball world wanted to chin-check Crawford after he made that silly rookie mistake declaration. It sounds like Garnett just beat everyone to the bunch.