Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:53 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:00 pm
Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver.
The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the sixth weekly 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: Memphis Grizzlies at No. 6. I was as impressed as anyone by the Grizzlies comeback over the Warriors. But not by Memphis. I was impressed at the complete unraveling the Warriors pulled off. Playing that terrible and blowing a 20-point fourth quarter lead isn't easy to do. The Grizzlies have endured injury and have stayed afloat in the West winning seven straight, but without Zach Randolph, that team is not six material. Their toughness is nice and it's a good story that they're fighting, but six of those seven wins are against sub .500 teams and the Bulls without Derrick Rose. So let's pump those brakes. -- RY
2. Too Low: Orlando Magic at No. 10. Look up the term "recency bias" in an encyclopedia and you will find this headshot of Matt Moore accompanying the explanation. Yes, the Magic were historically awful on Monday night but if we've learned one lesson over the last month, it's that there will be the occasional super-ugly shooting night where great teams look terrible. This team has posted exceptional offensive efficiency numbers through the first month of the season; their body of work on that end is beyond reproach. They clocked the Lakers, dumped the Knicks and handled the Bobcats last week too. There's no way there are nine teams in the NBA better than the Magic. -- BG
3. Most Overrated: Toronto Raptors at No. 27. OK, so they're 27th in the rankings. But that's too high. See, that's the challenge of power rankings. There has to be a hierarchy, when in reality, it might just be better to have five teams tied at 29. Because right now, the Wizards are the clear worst team with about five others stacked up right together for the honor of second worst. The Raptors have lost eight straight and look rather hopeless. To give them the credit of saying they are any better than 29, or even 28, is giving them far too much reward. -- RY
4. Most Overlooked: Los Angeles Clippers at No. 11. The No. 3 seed in the league's premier conference ranks No. 11 out of 30 teams here. That definitely makes sense. Come on, the Clippers are still benefitting from having a home-loaded schedule and a slow ramp up to the season but they were above .500 last week and within a buzzerbeater of going 4-1. They have premier wins over the likes of Los Angeles and Miami and have weathered an extended Chris Paul injury better than anyone could have reasonably expected. They could slip as the 10 home games vs. four road games disparity tightens up, but give them some credit now. -- BG
5. Sure Thing: Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2. Catastrophic injury or apathy seems to be the only ways OKC will drop from the top-3 spots in the Power Rankings all season. They've won at home and on the road, they've beaten good teams and bad, and they've dominated in conference play. Russell Westbrook's contract status is settled. All that's left to do is nitpick the play of the lower rotation players until the playoffs finally arrive. A postseason rematch versus Denver at some point sounds like a mighty appetizing idea, doesn't it? -- BG
6. Wild Card: Houston Rockets at No. 14. I hate it when people do this, but if the playoffs started today (why would they, it's January?) the Rockets would be the eight-seed. That's right, the Rockets, who everyone thought was terrible and underachieving to start the year. Now that they've moved past a killer start to their schedule, they've won games they should and are two games up on .500. It's hard to know if they're good or if this is just a product of beating teams you should, but the Rockets likely will figure into the Western playoff race down the stretch in some regard. -- RY
Posted on: January 24, 2012 12:23 pm
Posted by Royce Young
There's just something about the Orlando Magic and playing defense from the bench, I guess. Maybe it's part of a new defensive system Stan Van Gundy's put in place.
Monday against the Celtics, the Magic were pretty much asleep though. They scored only 56 points, hit 24 percent from the field and made 16 total baskets. So Jason Richardson forgetting he was supposed to be on the floor shouldn't be that surprising. Wth the way that game went though, it would make sense if Orlando were playing with four the entire game. Unfortunately, that's not an excuse.
Posted on: January 23, 2012 12:46 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 7:22 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Not all trade rumors are created equal, so with this one, I don't think much setup is needed. Via Stephen A. Smith on his ESPN Radio show in New York:
"As I told you a little bit earlier in the hour, I have some news to report about your New York Knicks. The Orlando Magic, I will preface my statement by telling you that they have categorically denied this, but my sources tell me that they have inquired about Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire going to Orlando for Dwight Howard.Forget the part about how Howard isn't seven feet tall and that he kind of sort of defends and rebounds. The question is, is this really a possibility?
This isn't exactly new news though. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com wrote a couple weeks ago multiple GMs had already floated this trade idea. Now all that's happening is evidently the two sides have actually discussed it to some degree.
Here's the thing with trade talks: I wouldn't doubt that this has been "discussed." Because a lot of GMs gauge the market by dangling trade ideas to other GMs. Kind of an effort to feel another guy out, see how much he values a player and sees if maybe eventually there could be a deal put together. Or to just see what maybe the state of a trade is to know what a competitor might have to give up.
That's my feeling of this supposed inquiry by the Knicks for Dwight Howard. I also suspect 28 other teams have "inquired" about Howard's availability too. That's kind of the thing that happens when the big big man in basketball apparently is available for the right price.
Would a Howard and Carmelo Anthony tandem do any better than an Amar'e - Melo duo? Maybe, probably, but there's really no way to know. The Knicks have bigger issues than just in adding starpower. The Knicks need depth, a point guard than can control and offense and for Carmelo Anthony to play better.
The Dwight Howard discussion is fun, but it's not realistic. And quite honestly, I think Magic GM Otis Smith is gaining confidence that Howard might just want to stick around in Orlando. I think that's the best shot to take for the Magic anyway. Discussing trades is one thing. I wouldn't be surprised if a team "inquired" about Derrick Rose last week too. Doesn't mean a deal is happening.
Posted on: January 22, 2012 6:22 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Just by judging the standings, the noise around Dwight Howard hasn't really affected the Magic's play on the floor. Orlando is 11-4 and third in the East.
But just because they are winning doesn't mean some of the players on the roster have completely tuned out the chatter. For example, Jameer Nelson hasn't forgotten when Howard said a few months ago that he'd like to play with star point guards like Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Via the Orlando Sentinel:
"I'm here to play basketball and I can't worry about what anybody says. I'm here because I'm a winner and they want me here. I know if they didn't want me, I wouldn't be here," Nelson said. "I'm human and a lot of things affect you. We're basketball players, but we're also human. A lot of the stuff that came out about other point guards being here was basically months ago, so if I was hurt, I'm over it."General manager Otis Smith agrees with Nelson and doesn't blame him for feeling a bit jilted saying that Nelson hasn't played well this season because Howard "indirectly threw him under the bus."
Nelson's numbers are pretty much down across the board, but regardless, the team is winning. But that's never really been a major problem with the Magic in the regular season. Where things have unraveled is in the postseason, where players like Nelson haven't supplemented Howard quite well enough.
But you can't blame Nelson for feeling it a bit from Howard's comments. Everyone is human and everyone wants to be wanted. So when Howard basically says openly he'd rather have another point guard rather than the guy he has, you know Nelson hears and feels that. How could you not? Yeah, everyone knows what Howard means and wants, but still, the so-called right thing to say would've been, "I'm here and these are my teammates and I'm happy to play with them." Or something like that.
Instead, Nelson has to play knowing that deep down -- or maybe not even that deep -- Howard would happily ship Nelson out of town in exchange for a point man like Paul or Williams. Has to at least be something that's in his mind.
The fact the team is winning says that the trade stuff isn't a distraction, but it has to weigh on the team to some degree. Some have to be wondering if their time in Orlando is about to be up or if their franchise cornerstone is about to be exchanged for draft picks and some new faces.
Posted on: January 20, 2012 2:23 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 2:30 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver
The Los Angeles Lakers are in Orlando to face the Magic for a nationally-televised game on Friday night, and the future Hall of Fame center who bolted Disney World for Disney Land back in the 1990s is stirring things up between his two former teams.
TNT commentator Shaquille O'Neal said recently that Lakers center Andrew Bynum -- and not Magic center Dwight Howard -- is the "best big man" in the NBA.
"Andrew Bynum is a true big man," O'Neal said. "He can back you down, jump hook. Dwight Howard has one or two moves on the block. His one move is the running jump hook and the other move is a pick and roll and get inside. Andrew Bynum has the right jump hook and the left jump hook."
O'Neal and Howard have had an ongoing back-and-forth for some time now, and Howard responded to the criticism in comments made to reporters and posted to NBA.com on Friday morning.
"He's mad about Superman," Howard said, in reference to a nickname once used by O'Neal and co-opted by Howard for the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest. "I didn't know he made it up. I didn't know Superman came from Shaquille O'Neal... He's still mad about it. I would suggest he just sit down and get on with his life. He don't play no more so what's the point of talking trash. It's not like we're wrestlers and we can battle it out. Who cares?"
Barkley called out O'Neal for picking Bynum over O'Neal based on the "Superman" nickname beef.
"That ain't got nothing to do with it," O'Neal claimed.
Of course, there's no contest. Howard, 26, averages more points, grabs more rebounds, dishes more assists, gets more steals, blocks more shots and shoots a better field goal percentage than Bynum. Howard has missed seven games in 7+ NBA seasons while Bynum has repeatedly been sidelined with injuries. Here's a statistical side-by-side if you need convincing. Howard is a 5-time All-Star, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, 4-time All-NBA first team. Bynum, 24, is having a career year and will make his first All-Star game, but his best individual achievement to this point was making the 2005 McDonald's All-American game. He's probably the league's second-best big man, but he's a distant second.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy dismissed O'Neal's comments.
"I don't really watch those guys very much. Not that I don't have tremendous respect for what they say," Van Gundy joked, "not that I'm not trying to learn from them at every opportunity, but I just don't have time really... Shaq can say whatever he wants. He has a forum where he's supposed to talk and give his opinions."
Posted on: January 20, 2012 10:10 am
Edited on: January 20, 2012 11:16 am
There are various rules and regulations that prohibit NBA teams and players from talking to one another in regards to recruiting for a trade. But when that player has been given permission to talk to other teams, that all goes out the window. Such is the case with Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, who have apparently become like teenage girls gabbing on the phone with Howard weighing where he wants to be traded to, if at all. Unfortuntely for Lakers fans, it doesn't sound like Bryant's doing a great job as a pitch man. From the Los Angeles Times:
Kobe Bryant has had at least one in-depth phone conversation with Howard recently, even discussing how Howard might fit in with the Lakers' scheme.via Lakers-Magic center swap might be on back burner - latimes.com.
It's slightly bizarre that two stars on different teams playing Friday night have been chatting casually about their prospective dynamic should one of them join the other. But that's the new NBA.
Bryant scaring off Howard is pretty much the most Kobe thing ever. Yes, the Lakers are 10-5, but they've also looked very beatable this season, more like a "good team that isn't winning a title" than a true contender, never more so than against the Heat (without Dwyane Wade) Thursday night. And yet Bryant has to make sure Howard knows the pecking order. It's his team, and no Defensive Player of the Year, MVP candidate, most dominant center in the league is going to come in and take touches away from him. Bryant feels he's earned the right to determine his order in the pecking order, what with the rings and the Hall of Fame eventually and everything.
But this isn't how you bring a talent like Howard in. That's not how his makeup is geared. You have to try and get him excited. But if Bryant is good with his guys, this is a great effort to sabotage a trade, which the Times says is on the back burner, with both teams not having talked for weeks.
At least if Howard does push for and agree to a trade to the Lakers, he'll know for sure what he's getting into. It won't be Dwight's team. It will be Bryant's.
Posted on: January 19, 2012 2:51 pm
Posted by Royce Young
I've always wondered what goes on when players take corner 3s right in front of the opposing bench. How do they concentrate with the other team yelling who knows what as they try and focus on a big shot? What are they yelling?
Whatever happens, we can be sure that Quentin Richardson of the Orlando Magic is one of the best at doing whatever they do. With Danny Green lining up an open 3, Richardson springs off the bench to run behind him and yell directly at him. And when Green misses? Richardson celebrates like he just came up with a big defensive stop.
I guess this is just a "doing the little things" type of play. We need a new advanced stat in basketball for bench production while not playing. Because Richardson would have a pretty good CSOTBR (Contested Shot On The Bench Rating).
Posted on: January 18, 2012 10:58 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 11:01 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver
Big Baby took off his pants during an NBA game. Yes, you read that correctly.
Orlando Magic reserve forward Glen Davis was issued a technical foul for stripping off his shorts while protesting a foul call during a Wednesday night game against the San Antonio Spurs.
"Glen Davis just got a tech for pulling his shorts down," CBSSports.com's Ken Berger tweeted from the arena. "I'm sorry to have to report this."
With the score tied at 50 with 2:40 to play in the third quarter, Davis was called for a foul while contesting an alley-oop dunk attempt by Spurs forward Richard Jefferson. Davis moved to the corner near the Magic bench to protest the call, tugging on the bottom of his shorts as he bent over at the waist to argue the call. Video replay caught brief glimpses of Davis' shorts falling to the court, revealing black under shorts.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy also protested the call to no avail. He did not remove any of his clothing.
The Magic went on to lose to the Spurs in overtime, 85-83. Davis finished with 4 points and 7 rebounds on 2-for-8 shooting in 17 minutes.
Here's the video of Glen Davis taking off his shorts during a game via YouTube user EliminatorUnderstand. Hat tip: RantSports.com.