Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 3:45 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Thursday Dwight Howard was a guest host on BET's 106 & Park and in between being his usual wacky self, Howard was asked to bust out a few impressions. He did LL Cool J, Biggie Smalls, Arnold Schwarzenegger and then busted out what I thought was a pretty terrific Charles Barkley.
And while doing his best Chuck (points for not going the tired "That's turrible! Just turrible!" route), Howard made sure to make fun of LeBron's slowly retreating hairline.
"Listen. LeBronnnnn James, listen. Listen. Everybody listen. LeBronnn James... is the best player... without a hairline." This of course is the second time Howard has made it a point to make fun of LeBron's hairline.
Howard, while laughing, then said he loves LeBron and that he's his "boy" and that they like to joke sometimes. You don't got to explain it to me Dwight. It's cool.
And for good measure, Howard then tried his hand at a LeBron impression. Underbite and all. "My name's LeBron James," he said. "I'm gonna go get my powder and throw it up." Clever.
Dwight Howard, lockout comedian. Good heavens let this thing end.
Via I Am A GM
Posted on: August 12, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 2:40 pm
Posted by Royce Young
We've all been taking in some pretty spectacular performances from pro-ams and pickup games this summer. Kevin Durant's 66 at Rucker is the highlight, but there's Dwight Howard's coast-to-coast dunk, John Wall's multiple standout games, Brandon Jennings humiliating opponents and more.
But not everything at these events has been all good. In fact, as Inside Hoops called it, this might be the worst shooting performance ever. And I'm having a hard time disagreeing.
Now obviously this wasn't an NBA player but instead some regular dude trying to win a shooting contest. I feel bad piling on, but my tally has him going 0-8 from something like one foot away. Not excellent. It's the anti-Durant video. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Well, we now have KD's Rucker video's opposite.
It's impressive in a "Wow that was an incredible car crash" way. It makes you laugh, it makes you feel bad for laughing and then it makes you laugh some more. It looks like the guy was a good sport about it though. Which is good, because now my laughing is a little more guilt-free.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 5:55 pm
Posted by Royce Young
This is the sixth segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA.
Once you break the top 50, you start getting good players. Former All-Stars, solid veterans and some up-and-comers. But the top 40, that's when you start breaking into some legit talent. The all-time 3-point king. A superbeard. An overpaid "star." A blossoming star point guard and a scoring savant. There are frustrating talents, disappointing stars, aging vets and a couple young studs that could jump 20 spots by next year.As such, we march on towards No. 1 with 50-41.
50. Tyreke Evans, SG, age 21, Sacramento Kings
2011 stats: 17.8 ppg, 5.6 apg, 4.8 rpg, 40.9 FG%, 14.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 69, 49, 45
After winning Rookie of the Year in 2009-10, big things were expected from Tyreke Evans. Sure, he didn't quite have a position and the Kings weren't exactly committing either way in that regard, but he was a super-talented player that could score, pass and create.
One problem for him though in 2010-11: his foot. Evans suffered through plantar fasciitis for most of the season which caused him to miss a bundle of games -- 25, in fact -- while hampering him in the 57 he did play. He was never entirely totally himself. He'd have nights where he looked like the guy that tore teams up as he walked to the Rookie of the Year, but then you could just see how the injury nagged him. A good 2010-11 and Evans is probably in our top 40, maybe even top 30. Next season will be a big chance to bounce back for him. He's likely locked into a position as Jimmer Fredette will take over point guard duties and if he gets healthy, he'll settle right back in to a scorer/creator role for the Kings. And maybe a top 40 spot.
49. Ray Allen, SG, age 36, Boston Celtics
2011 stats: 16.5 ppg, 2.7 apg, 3.4 rpg, 49.1 FG%, 44.4 3P%, 16.42 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 49, 41, 63
It feels a little funny to have the NBA's all-time 3-point shooter sitting on the back end of the top 50. But that's what tends to happen when you get to the twilight of your career.
Funny thing about Ray Allen though: He might've had one of his best seasons last year at the age of 36. He shot a career-high 44 percent from 3, averaged an extremely efficient 16.5 points a game and did his usual thing of nailing big shots and backbreaking 3s. His game changed when he went to Boston. He wasn't the gunning shooting guard going for 25 a night anymore. But that was by design. He fits into a role and a system and he's reaped the rewards of that. He doesn't have a ton of time left, but if last season was any indication, he's going to put some serious distance between himself and No. 2 on the all-time 3s list before he's done.
48. Luis Scola, PF, age 31, Houston Rockets
2011 stats: 18.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 50.4 FG%, 18.43 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 44, 51, 57
Did you know Luis Scola has finished in the top 12 in scoring for power forward each of the last two seasons? I realize that's kind of a specific measure, but here's my point: Scola is really a pretty solid power forward.
He's easy to forget because he doesn't do a lot of anything that's flashy. He scores with tremendous touch and footwork. Nothing is really above the rim and nothing is really that eye-catching. It's a simple game, but it's ridiculously difficult to defend. He is a routine threat to go for 20 and when that soft little midrange jumper is happening, he's a serious problem.
47. Luol Deng, SF, age 26, Chicago Bulls
2011 stats: 17.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.8 apg, 46.0 FG%, 34.5 3P%, 15.58 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 42, 64, 44
The second best player on a team that just finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference should be higher than 48th, right? Seems so, but really, this is exactly where Deng fits. He scores just enough, is a premier defender, rebounds well and just kind of fills his spot.
But the Bulls needed more from him to advance past Miami in the Eastern Finals last year. Derrick Rose was often forced into being The Option for Chicago and it was always expected of Deng to do a bit more than just wait for an open look. On some nights, he would. Others, it was a quiet 14 points on 10 shots. It's probably not fair to expect more from him because that's not who he is. Instead, he's a quality role player that can give you points on a given night, but isn't that second option. Or at least he shouldn't be.
46. James Harden, SG, age 21, Oklahoma City Thunder
2011 stats: 12.2 ppg, 2.1 apg, 3.1 rpg, 1.1 spg, 43.6 FG%, 34.9 3P%, 16.42 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 45, 63, 41
If only these were beard power rankings. Because Harden would be the cream of the crop.
But 47th isn't a bad spot for him. He just wrapped up his second season and to some, he's was a disappointment for about three-fourths of his two years, mainly because he was selected third overall. But you've got to realize what Harden walked into. He was an All-American scorer from Arizona State that stepped on to a team that went on to win 50 games in his first season. He has come off the bench virtually every game for these two seasons. He has had to figure out where he stands alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
And as he showcased after Jeff Green was dealt to Boston and in the postseason, he's definitely Oklahoma City's third member of a potentially evolving new Big 3. The idea of him is that he's a Manu Ginobili type player and really, that's pretty accurate. He passes, handles and can score. He fits into a role instead of trying to force his way into every offensive conversation. He's a wonderful compliment to Westbrook in the backcourt and with Durant on the wing. Next season he should start from day one, which could mean Harden rockets up this board 10 or 15 spots. He's trending upward and catching attention and it finally has a lot more to do with his game than the outstanding beard.
45. Josh Smith, PF, age 25, Atlanta Hawks
2011 stats: 16.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.6 bpg, 1.3 spg, 47.7 FG%, 19.31 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 32, 37, 69
Talk about an infuriating talent. Josh Smith is 6-11. He runs the floor like a guard. He leaps like he's LeBron. He has long arms, a great build and by all appearances, should be one of the most uniquely gifted players in the league.
And yet as we saw last playoffs, he loves to hover outside and launch jumpers. The audible noise from Philips Arena every time he did said it all. It was one giant collective sigh as Smith pulled the ball up to fire from 20.
Thing is, he got it under control to some degree during the 2009-10 season. He went from shooting over a 3 a game to just 0.1. The official tally was 87 attempts to seven. That's a real effort to get shot selection under control. But then last season, he took 154 3s. So much for that.
In terms of straight numbers, he had a good 2010-11, because he really did. But it's about operating efficiently and in a way that helps your team win. I'm not sure Smith did that consistently last year. He's a top 20 talent that plays like a top 60 guy. Hence the 46th overall ranking I suppose.
Here's something that might blow your mind though: Smith is still just 25.
44. Joe Johnson, SG, age 30, Atlanta Hawks
2011 stats: 18.2 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.0 rpg, 44.3 FG%, 29.7 3P%, 16.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 43, 39, 54
Not too many guys making $120 million a year -- more than Dwyane Wade or LeBron James got last summer -- should find themselves on the fringes of the top 50. And I can't decide whose fault that really is. It isn't Joe Johnson's fault the Hawks overpaid drastically for him. What was he supposed to say? No thanks, I'm not worth that much?
But it's also not the Hawks fault that Johnson has never really realized his talent. Johnson seems to play his way or the highway. When he wants to isolate in the post, he's doing it. When he wants to launch a questionable 3, he's doing it. When he wants to stand harmlessly on the wing and fade into oblivion for an entire second half, he's doing it. It's a reason Johnson has always frustrated fans which led him to being booed by Hawk fans during the 2010 playoffs. Some worried if that would scare him away from Atlanta as he was to be a free agent that summer.
Nope. Because the Hawks offered him $120 million. Not too hard to endure a few boos when you're making that kind of paper.
43. Stephen Curry, G, age 23, Golden State Warriors
2011 stats: 18.6 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.9 rpg, 48.0 FG%, 44.2 3P%, 19.46 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 38, 46, 46
I want to see Curry play a season without Monta Ellis in the backcourt next to him. I really want to see what Curry's completely capable of as a featured player. Because right now in Golden State, it's hard to figure where he fits or what his job is. I think he's the team's point guard, but I'm not really sure. Some nights he plays like he is, other nights he's the go-to scorer. Maybe that's by design or maybe it's a flaw within the roster structure.
Regardless, Curry has one of the most seamless strokes in basketball. It's just so very, very pure. When he lets a jumper fly, he's one of those guys you're convinced it's dropping through. It feels like he doesn't miss. He's undersized, sure, but that's never held him back in terms of ripping up defenses.
He's pretty overwhelmed defensively, which is one big reason he's not higher up. But in terms of offense, he's a borderline savant. He was born to score and that's exactly what he does.
42. David West, PF, age 30, New Orleans Hornets
2011 stats: 18.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.3 apg, 50.8 FG%, 20.51 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 37, 42, 51
I don't know if West's seemingly low ranking even has as much to do with last season's injury as you might be guessing. Yes, he suffered a devastating knee injury that could affect his career going forward. But that probably only dropped him 7-10 spots or so. West's a very good player, no doubt. But really when you start getting into the top 40 players, it's hard to really justify West being in front of a lot of those guys. Is he better than Lamar Odom? Better than Marc Gasol? Better than Rudy Gay?
I've always kind of had to wonder too if West simply rode the good fortune of having Chris Paul get him the ball too. How much better did Paul make West? All those 18-footers West has drilled -- how many came as a result of Paul drawing the defense and making it happen for him? Not to take anything away from West because he's a top power forward for sure, but I get the feeling people will say, "Forty-three!?! That's WAY too low!" Maybe it's the injury stuff or maybe it's just that West isn't a truly elite player.
41. John Wall, PG, age 20, Washington Wizards
2011 stats: 16.4 ppg, 8.3 apg, 4.6 rpg, 40.9 FG%, 15.85 PER
Composite rankings (random order): 50, 45, 34
I don't get the sense Wall will be staying anywhere near the 40s for long. His rookie season would've grabbed a lot more attention if it weren't for that mammoth dunking over cars out in Los Angeles. Looking at his year -- 16.4 points and 8.3 assists per game -- that's pretty darn good for a rookie point guard. Especially considering he was dealing with a mostly dysfunctional roster and teammates that may or may not have been told they were playing in the NBA.
Wall's place is temporary so really, it's more of a question of where he's going to eventually end up rather than where he sits currently. Is he going to be on the level of Rose and Westbrook? I absolutely think so. And if that's the case, in another year or two Wall will likely have carved out a spot at the table in the top 15. Point guards are making big jumps in their third seasons nowadays. And that's still another to go for Wall. Somehow he found himself overlooked a bit last year but as he progresses and trends more toward the top 20 and maybe top 10, he'll have plenty of attention.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 4:15 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 4:16 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Ron Artest sort of, kind of officially signed to play in England with the Cheshire Jets. But as you might expect, there could be some complications involved in the deal. The most important being money. Via ESPN.com:
What's the solution? Soap operas. Yes, soap operas. According to the report, one possibility is trying to find Artest a role in a British soap opera.
I mean, where do you even begin? I can't even tell you how exicted I'd be for All My Children: UK Edition starring Metta WorldPeace. I wonder what kind of role Artest would be cast in. I don't even know what to guess. Estranged father looking for his two adopted sons? Strange hobo on his death bed? Overzealous banker tied up in a vicious love triangle? All sounds like excellent options to me.
Oh, oh, I've got it actually: He should just play himself. Nothing more interesting than that.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 3:21 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 3:24 pm
Posted by Royce Young
I guess Dwight Howard's been working out with Stan Van Gundy a little lately. Because somebody's got some handles.
At an event recently, Howard, being the character he is, found himself playing point guard. And instead of just dribbling up and dishing off, Howard decided to go all Derrick Rose on everyone and fly coast-to-coast for a furious dunk. Howard's been spending quite a bit of time practicing in the post, specifically working with Hakeem Olajuwon. Well, maybe he's had it wrong all along. Maybe he should've been working with Magic Johnson.
But here's the thing about Howard's move: It was pretty stinking good. A little dribble hesitation, stutter-step and a good bolt to the basket. I'm not going to sit here and say that Howard needs to actually explore this part of his game in the NBA, but then again, why not? It's sort of a gag thing for big men to bring the ball up and pretend to be John Stockton, but if Erick Dampier or Roy Hibbert is on him at the top of the key, couldn't Howard use his handle and first step to get to the bucket? Or is that totally unreasonable?
Clearly the defense in this specific situation wasn't near as intense as it would be in an NBA game, but if a 6-11 guy with the power and leaping ability of Howard can put the ball on the floor effectively, shouldn't that be something the Magic take advantage of? He wants to be a complete player? Keep working that post stuff and after that, polish up the point skills too.
Then you'll have a real Superman.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:28 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The 2013 host for the All-Star Game will be Houston, according to reports. Not necessarily the most glitzy locale, especially considering the Dallas (with 100,000 spectators in attendance), Los Angeles and Orlando this year (in a brand new building), just recently hosted before it.
So in 2014, the NBA might be trying to bring back a little more of the lights to the game. (No disrespect to Houston of course. Just stating the obvious that it's not L.A. or a football stadium.) And as the New York Post mentions, a top candidate will be the newly renovated Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have reportedly applied to host and with the three-year renovation set to be entirely complete then, it makes all the sense in the world. (Also mentioned as a candidate -- the Nets' new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.)
The World Most Famous Arena has hosted the game four time -- second most to the Boston Garden(s) -- and last hosted in 1998. Before that, it was 30 years since the arena had hosted in 1968. So with it being 16 years between, MSG is due. Especially with it being all re-done with new seats, features, paint, video boards and whatever else.
Now again, the Nets' new Brooklyn arena makes a ton of sense as well. I would definitely say the selection is going to be between those two. No one else has a new arena on the horizon to look at and there's really not any brighter light situation than New York. Maybe a dark horse could be the United Center in Chicago as that city hasn't hosted since 1988.
Maybe a better question will be what the rosters will look like. Imagine the top players in 2014. Kobe Bryant will likely be moving on, Tim Duncan will likely be retired, Dirk as well and who knows what stars will have risen to the top. New faces, new superstars, a new MSG -- sounds like a plan to me.
Posted on: August 10, 2011 3:24 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 3:30 pm
Posted by Royce Young
There hasn't exactly been a mass exodux overseas for NBA players, especially those currently under contract. The biggest name of course has been Deron Williams signing with Besiktas, but names like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant have been dangling lately as well. Not to mention Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and a few other big names that have expressed serious interest in competiting in European leagues if the lockout causes the NBA to miss games.
There could be a small problem with that though. As told to SI.com, Euroleague president Jordi Bertomeu does not anticipate Euroleague teams signing NBA players currently under contract.
"Our clubs need to have stable rosters," Bertomeu said via a translator. "They need to know how long they will be able to employ the player. No team will sign a player for only two or three months, or for an uncertain period of time. This is our forecast."
FIBA, who is basically the international basketball governing entity, recently ruled NBA players under contract could compete overseas and then return to their respective team if the lockout is resolved midseason. Bertomeu, however, wasn't exactly thrilled with that ruling.
"When FIBA decided to say that the transfer [of NBA players] will be valid only until the lockout will be over, it was strange," Bertomeu said. "Never in the FIBA history has there been any condition like this. This is very strange.
"We were asking FIBA for their position since the month of May, pending the official announcement of a definitive lockout," he continued said. "The day after the NBA lockout announcement, FIBA should have stated their position. And it took a month. Obviously, since May until now, [the delay] could have been because they were talking with the NBA."
Obviously just because Bertomeu is opposed or doesn't see something happening, doesn't mean NBA players actually won't play in Europe. But with a lot of sketicism following all of these star rumors, it does lean toward a major NBA name playing in Europe during the lockout. What a Euro team would get from it more than anything is just a little marketing. People have already been chattering about Besiktas a bunch in the past couple weeks and that's just because big names have been attached to them. It sounds good for the club, its fans and its sponsors.
But is it actually good for a European club to sign an NBA player for a two months? Probably not. As Bertomeu notes, roster stablility is key as well as organic growth of players. Signing Deron Williams for a few games doesn't exactly encourage growth in terms of talent. Bertomeu's job is to ensure the league stays healthy for the next 20 years, not the next couple months.
NBA players want to keep that steady income though and if that's only available in Europe, that's where they're going to go. It might not be ideal for the league, but that's not going to stop anything. China's pro league recently made a decision to not allow NBA players to return midseason for exactly what Bertomeu is saying.
All of this is contingent on the negotiations though. I've got a plan: Settle a new CBA so we can forget all this extracurricular Euro will-he, won't-he junk. Sound good?
Posted on: August 10, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 3:31 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The Nets have always kind of played little brother to the bright and big franchise across the Hudson River. The Knicks have had more success, more starpower, the more famous arena and on and on.
But things started to kind of roll toward the Nets when world-famous rapper Jay-Z became a minority owner in the club. Just that name alone connected with the franchise gave it a boost. Then Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the team, the Brooklyn arena project actually got underway, the team traded for Deron Williams and things started looking up.
Having Jay-Z as an "owner" -- his stake is something like 1.4 percent, a $4.5 million annual stake -- has been huge in credibility. NBA players are impressionable, whether we think so or not. The thought of getting to be part of Jay-Z's business and be closely connected to him is appealing. The Nets have a certain cache because of him, even though he's a small part of the business.
He's involved a decent amount, at least in the public eye. He went to the groundbreaking of the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, attends games and had a formal meet and greet with Prokhorov when he bought the team. He cares about the team. I think.
But on his new super album "Watch the Throne," Jay-Z raps on the song "Ni--as in Paris" that he's cool with whatever happens with the Nets. He says, "Ya'll don't know that sh-- don't faze me. The Nets could go 0-for-82 and I look at you like this sh--'s gravy."
Now CLEARLY, this is just a song and it doesn't ACTUALLY mean anything. Jay-Z's just saying he rolls with stuff. That's the point. Still, you're cool with your team going 0-82? Maybe he's just desensitized to the idea of it since it almost happened two years ago when the Nets started 0-18.
I guess he probably doesn't care about the supposed major financial losses of the team either. So I guess what I'm saying is, why can't all owners be like Jay-Z right now?