Tag:Sacramento Kings
Posted on: July 20, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 8:18 pm
 

Video: Jimmer Fredette drains halfcourt shots

Posted by Ben Golliver.

When you play on a team with Tyreke Evans, John Salmons and DeMarcus Cousins, beggars can't be choosers when it comes to shot selection. 

So it's good news that new Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette, selected with the No. 10 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, is spending his first summer as a pro hitting shots from halfcourt, getting his reps in on the only shots the Kings offense will be able to generate for him next season.

Indeed, in this video shot at "Jimmer Camp", a week-long camp Fredette is hosting in Lehi, Utah, he knocks down three halfcourt shots with ease, much to the amusement of a diverse group of young children.

ABC4.com reports that his halfcourt shooting ability, like the rest of his game, stems from countless hours of hard work.
But after Jimmer sank no less than three 60-footers, the question was asked, is it really possible to teach kids how to Jimmer?

"You just have to teach them to go out there and practice as hard as they can," Jimmer said. "That's what I did. I practiced a lot. They can be just as good a shooter as I am if they go out and work as hard as they can. A lot of these kids could be even better than me if they wanted to."
Here's the video of Fredette's well-honed deep shooting, uploaded to YouTube by byutvsports.



Hat tip: Pro Basketball Talk.
Posted on: July 16, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Some teams are probably missing Summer League

Posted by Royce Young



The NBA's annual Vegas Summer League would be wrapping up right about now. Young players would be finishing up a week of gambling, partying and hopefully, at least for their coach, getting better.

Summer League has always been sort of approached by most as nothing more than a perk of July, just something to sort of help bridge the gap. Nobody really pays attention to it except for the hardest of hardcore fans, general managers, scouts and coaches. And bloggers. Summer League basically is blogger paradise, because it's something to write the crap out of for a couple of weeks in mid-July.

Except this summer, because of the you-know-what, there is no Summer League. No rookies to overhype because of a good, random game against a bunch of D-Leaguers. No second-year fringe players to latch onto and get excited about because of a quality week. And no players to completely write off because of a 2-12, five-turnover game. For shame. For damn shame.

And while most just write off what happens in Vegas as unimportant, any time players take the court and compete, there's something of value there for the players, the organization and the coaches. Basketball is about development. It's about getting better. Summer League is a vehicle for new draft picks to get a feel of pro basketball and a feel of playing with a couple of teammates. It's a place for guys to prove themselves a bit. In reality, it's kind of important, even if it's generally ignored by the general basketballing public.

But I can guarantee you a good number of teams were mighty disappointed when Summer League fell through because of the lockout. There's progress to be made, and a week in Vegas is an excellent place to start, especially for rookies. Some teams and players are going to feel the sting of missing out on the opportunity. Here are the ones I see feeling it most.

Minnesota Timberwolves
No team would've benefited more than Minnesota's young roster. First, it would've been the first look at Ricky Rubio on American soil. He would've played against NBA talent and had a chance to run the show for his new team.

It also would've given all of us a chance to rush to snap judgments about his game and, therefore, his career, based on a couple of Summer League games. It would've been great.

But on top of some run for Rubio, Derrick Williams, Wesley Johnson and a few other youngsters could've put away a week or so of games. Every second those guys play together, the better they'll get. They need time to develop, and Summer League is a place for that. Instead, it's going to have to happen on some private court without any coaches. Not the ideal situation for young players to learn and improve.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Pretty much the same scenario for the Cavs as it is for the Wolves, or any young team with talent. Kyrie Irving could've used the extra time on the floor, but not just because he could get a feel for offense or learn the pace of the NBA game or anything. For Irving, it's more that he just needs to play, period.

He only played in 13 games for Duke last season and after returning from his foot injury, played a couple of games in the NCAA tournament. He has barely played any competitive basketball at all in the last year. For a 19-year-old, that's not a good thing. The more play you get, the farther you move ahead.

Not to mention the No. 4 overall pick, Tristan Thompson, getting some play, too. Obviously, that would be great, but to me, it's more about Irving. It's his franchise now, and the objective in Cleveland now is moving him along. Something small like Summer League is one of the first steps forward in doing that.

Sacramento Kings
The Kings' inclusion really is more of a selfish reason. Because with Summer League, you know that every game with Jimmer Fredette woudl be a total experience. Vegas is close to BYU, and Jimmer has quite the following in the area. But, really, it could be in Maine and The Jimmer would walk in like a rock star.

The Kings do need him and Tyreke Evans, though, to get some experience playing together. Who's running point? Is it Jimmer? Is Reke going to handle those duties too? Are they going to tag-team it like Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry? These are some of the questions you can sort of at least start to find answers for, if only they were actually playing.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Despite reaching the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder really do have a ton of room to grow. The roster is extremely young with some pieces that need developing. Two of the most important being Cole Aldrich and this year's pick, Reggie Jackson.

With Aldrich, he simply needs to play a little. He spent most of his rookie season in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers, and while that's good for development, Summer League gives him a chance to be a focus in a competitive setting as well as a primer for what he needs to work on heading to fall camp. Aldrich is far from a lost cause, and the Thunder are willing to stay patient. But part of that being patient comes because you think a guy is going to improve. And to do that, he's got to play.

With Jackson, Summer League could've helped signal a little where he might fit in. Is he a point guard? Shooting guard? Combo guard? Is he a scorer the Thunder want to use off the bench next season? Is he someone that even will challenge for minutes? The Thunder clearly liked Jackson enough to promise him a spot in the first round, but without him working out for anyone before the draft, he's still largely an unknown for everybody.

Miami Heat
Yes, seriously, the Heat. No doubt that for the most part, the roster is set. LeBron, Wade and Bosh handle pretty much all of the heavy lifting, and veterans Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem pick up the remaining slack.

But the Heat need to develop young talent. Players like Dexter Pittman need an opportunity to grow a bit. Where the Heat lacked most last season was having cheap, young talent to infuse with LeBron, Wade and Bosh. Instead, Pat Riley went with trying to work in guys like Mike Bibby, Juwan Howard, Eddie House and whoever else was willing to take the veterans minimum to chase a title.

A week in Vegas for Miami's youngsters like Pittman and rookie Norris Cole could go a long way to restructuring the role players on the roster. And on top of that, it's a chance to maybe scout three or four other unsigned guys to take a look at later on. Miami needs some young talent, and the Vegas Summer League is one of the best places to look.

Washington Wizards
John Wall is going to be a star. I don't have any doubt. But he's still raw and still has a whole lot to learn about running a team. I remember how much Summer League did for Russell Westbrook a couple of years ago as he was prepping for his second season. It helped Westbrook learn how to slow down a bit, learn when to look for a shot, when to look to set up and when to push. Wall would've been the best player in Vegas, much like Westbrook was always on another level when he was there. But it taught him how to play under control -- to a degree -- while also being able to run around anyone. That would've been a good lesson for Wall.

Then there's Jan Vesely, who is mostly a mystery as he prepares to maybe step in as Washington's new small forward. We know he can jump and dunk, but can he defend? Can he rotate over and help? Can he shoot? If Wall and Vesely are the offensive attack of the future for the Wizards, having them play together, if even for just a week, would be huge.

Utah Jazz
Even more than Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter hasn't played competitive basketball in a long time. He was forced to sit out all of 2010-11 for Kentucky because of a NCAA violation, and while he's had some workouts and a little five-on-five action here and there, he hasn't been in a real game setting since he moved from Turkey to the United States. The Jazz liked him enough to take him fourth and maybe force a re-shuffling up front, so obviously they're invested in the young big man.

And on top of him, don't forget the Jazz had another lottery pick in wing Alec Burks, who could surprise a lot of people as an NBA-ready scorer. He was terrific at Colorado as he sort of came out of nowhere to climb into the lottery. A little burn for both him and Kanter could've gone a long way for the Jazz, who are committed to the youngsters in life after Deron.
Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 6:21 pm
 

Jimmer Fredette: I'm 'similar' to Tim Tebow

Posted by Ben Golliver. jimmer-fredette

It's not that often college athletes ascend to a level of stardom that allows them to be referred to by one name. For former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, it happened practically as soon as he stepped on campus. For former BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, his star really took off during his senior year, when he led the nation in scoring with 28.9 points per game.

Both Fredette and Tebow are highly marketable, polite, devout men who faced a lot of scrutiny when it came time for them to leave college for the professional level.

Would their games translate?

Would they be able to play the position they played in college?

How would they adjust to no longer being the star?

All the possible comparisons are not lost on Fredette. Speaking after a charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, he acknowledged the comparisons in a video posted to YouTube by the CelebrityGolfNetwork.
"I think similar just for the fact that we had really successful college careers but a lot of people didn't think we'd do well in the pros. I think we also are both hard workers, guys that have proven people wrong time and time again and continue to work hard, push through it and not really listen to it. Just go out and play as hard as we possibly can. Whatever happens, happens, but I think we have some similarities that way."
Despite the questions, both Tebow and Fredette were selected high by their respective professional teams. Tebow went to the Broncos with the No. 25 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft; Fredette went No. 10 overall to the Kings last June.

As of yet, Tebow hasn't shown a ton at the pro level, playing in just nine games for the Broncos, throwing five touchdowns and three interceptions. He started early in his rookie year but finished the year as a back-up.  The Broncos went 4-12 in 2010, the first time they had lost that many games in franchise history, and fired their coach midseason.

Fredette is heading into an even more difficult situation. The Kings nearly relocated to Anaheim earlier this year, and they already have a bunch of shoot-first parts in Tyreke Evans, John Salmons and DeMarcus Cousins, have an ownership group that is bleeding money and have been below .500 for the last five seasons.

Perhaps Fredette should spend this golfing weekend picking Tebow's brain.
Posted on: July 14, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 1:40 pm
 

NBA warns Michael Jordan not to golf with players

Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan would reportedly face a $1 million fine for golfing with NBA players. Posted by Ben Golliver.

michael-jordan-golf

Losing seven figures on a golf course. Just another weekend for NBA legend and notorious gambler Michael Jordan, right? 

Not quite. This million dollar hit comes with a twist: the NBA would be pocketing the cash.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, is scheduled to play in the American Century Classic celebrity golf tournament. The only problem? So are a handful of NBA players, and the league has made it clear that team executives are not to have any contact with players during the ongoing lockout unless they're willing to stomach a $1 million fine. 
Jordan, who became the first former player to own an NBA team when he purchased the Charlotte Bobcats outright last year, faces a fine of $1 million if he plays a round of golf at the ACC with a current NBA player.

Jordan called the NBA on Tuesday to check in, and the NBA confirmed he would be fined if he played with a current NBA player.
The tournament's website notes that Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen, Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette, Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Kidd and New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams are all scheduled to participate.

Again, the rule comes off a bit silly and petty, but it's the rule. A round of golf would represent hours of contact and there is sure to be plenty of media in attendance. Two guys yucking it up as they putt out doesn't quite jive with the league's public blackout policy towards its player institute on July 1. 

This warning to Jordan is the latest in a string of potentially fineable situations involving team employees and current players.

Earlier this week, we noted a report that Portland Trail Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan was warned for comments made about Las Vegas Summer League. Also this week, Minnesota Timberwolves president David Kahn called a press conference to fire coach Kurt Rambis and mentioned multiple players during the question-and-answer session with media members. And, on Wednesday night, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban attended the ESPYs with his team, although the league clarified that the contact had been pre-approved on the condition that no league business or CBA discussion would take place.

Since the lockout began on July 1, the NBA has yet to publicly issue a fine to a team executive who violates its gag order policy. 

Hat tip: Ball Don't Lie
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:51 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:24 pm
 

What teams risk in a lockout: Pacific Division

Posted by Matt Moore

Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and, more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division, the Atlantic Division, the Central DivisionSouthwest Division, and Northwest Division.  We finish our series with the Pacific Division.

Los Angeles Lakers

The quick answer here is: it depends. A lost season would remove what could be the final year of this Laker core together. Kobe Bryant will be 34 in the summer of 2012. Bryant will be able to play until he's 40 thanks to conditioning. But his body is already showing significant wear and tear at age 32. Losing another year of Bryant, along with 30+ players Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol guarantees the end of meaningful contention, most likely. That doesn't mean it's not possible. It just becomes more difficult.

But on the other hand, if the team's already moving toward the future, making the requisite good faith effort to keep this core together but planning around Andrew Bynum (as rumors have suggested), then the lockout doesn't affect things much. The question is whether the team believes the run is over. It probably doesn't, but their actions over the last few months haven't exactly spelled confidence. They haven't indicated an "abandon ship" attitude either. Far from it. But there's enough there for it to be confusing.

Some other good news from a lockout for L.A.? Matt Barnes comes off the books, Lamar Odom enters a non-guaranteed year, and Derek Fisher, Luke Walton and Steve Blake enter contract years, so their contracts finally become easily movable. The bad news? Bynum enters a contract year without a fully healthy season in four years. Good times.

Phoenix Suns

The lockout would probably be a good thing for Robert Sarver's organization, based simply on the fact that the Suns' salaries will drop by close to $40 million from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013. (Note: Vince Carter and his bought-out contract make up $18 million of that, so it's kind of a fake $40 million. But still!) They lose the last year of Steve Nash's contract, which is a bummer. But considering most of us think Nash deserves to be freed from a sinking ship like the Suns, it's not that terrible. Plus the Suns manage to clear off Mickael Pietrus and Aaron Brooks (assuming they decline to match him in free agency, which they may not, but it's a nice thought) and Hakim Warrick and Robin Lopez could both enter contract years depending on if the Suns elect to pick up or not pick up various options.

That would leave just Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and Josh Childress as their only long-term contracts. And don't get me wrong, those contracts are horrible. But if the Suns want to rebuild (and they need to rebuild), they'll be in a great position to do so. The Suns are unlikely to improve next season, so there's no big risk in losing next season. Imagine paying no salary for a year plus the money Sarver will make when he sells his 2012 first-rounder! (A joke, and a bad one. Sorry, Suns fans.)

Sarver may actually sabotage the negotiations.

Golden State Warriors

Lacob and Guber spent a pretty penny on this franchise. So you can imagine they'd want to get started early. On the other hand, after spending that much, they need the profit-guaranteeing, value-increasing measures the lockout is geared toward. They're likely to commit to a full-season lockout, especially since it chops off $20 million they'd have to pay David Lee and Andris Biedrins for what will naturally be a losing season.

And hey, it's taken them two years to figure out what to do with Monta Ellis. They could use another twelve months.

But the Warriors still have a lot to fix, and they need to get on it. Time's a wastin'.

L.A. Clippers

The Clippers would see their payroll drop by $20 million dollars if they lost the entire 2011-2012 season. They've already activated Blake Griffin's 2012 option, naturally. Mo Williams would be entering a contract year, taking the sting out of the money they paid to get rid of Baron Davis (now about that draft pick...). Eric Gordon would have to get paid, but the fact remains that the Clippers would only have six players on roster, and two of them would be entering expiring deals.

Thanks to their market, the Clippers make a profit no matter what happens, so this wouldn't harm them tremendously. But for a franchise with so much promise, they need to get started. Because otherwise Griffin could enter restricted free agency in 2014 (if restricted free agency exists) with only one year to convince Griffin to work with them on a reasonable extension. Fun stuff.

Sacramento Kings

It's another year for the Maloofs to figure out how to get out of Sacramento. It's a year to take out the full-blown momentum of the fan uprising. But it's also a year that loses all that young talent, and a small-market team like Sacramento can't really survive losing an entire year of revenue. The Maloofs may have to fake a death to cover debts otherwise.

This could get awkward.



Posted on: July 5, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 2:30 pm
 

2012 NBA Draft: Light at the end of the tunnel

A look at five top 2012 NBA Draft picks and where they might fit best in the NBA. Posted by Ben Golliver.

A confluence of factors made the 2011 NBA Draft one to forget. The one-and-done class was weak to begin with; there were only 3-4 players selected who are believed to possess eventual All-Star talent; the impending NBA lockout scared many top players into returning to school; there wasn’t an American-born center taken in the first round; two of the most talented international players (Enes Kanter and Bismack Biyombo) had very short resumes and another, Jonas Valanciunas, had a tricky contract buyout. On and on the list goes.

In that light, the 2011 NBA Draft was about assessing risk for bad teams. Which incomplete player fits best with our pieces? Which of these diamonds in the rough might pan out in the right circumstances?

The 2012 Draft couldn't be more different. Yes, we're 11 months away, but it's setting up as an evaluating of rewards rather than riches thanks to a crop that should be in the running for best class since 2003 brought LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and company. Considering that the NBA's lockout is now officially underway, the 2012 class serves as the perfect light at the end of the tunnel.

At first glance, there are arguably 10 prospects who could have been top five talents in this year’s draft. Why? Because the one-and-dones that stayed put – big-name stars like Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger – will converge with a very strong high school Class of 2011 – topped by Anthony Davis, James McAdoo, Michael Gilchrist, Austin Rivers and others. 

Here’s an early look at five top prospects and where their impact would be greatest.

harrison-barnes1. Harrison Barnes | Sophomore | UNC | SF | 6-foot-8, 210 pounds   

Barnes should headline the 2012 NBA Draft class and is the early favorite to go No. 1 overall. Despite falling short of preseason All-American expectations and starting slow as a freshman, Barnes came on strong over the second half of the season, averaging 21.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in March. He has all the tools to be an NBA All-Star and an elite scorer. He’s polished, smooth, has a pretty stroke, good size and a scorer’s self-confidence. After he gets a second season under his belt, Barnes should be ready to start from Day 1 and step in as a No. 1 scoring option from the get-go in 2012-2013. He understands the marketing side of the modern game and projects to be a franchise building block.

Best fit: If the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats are as bad as everyone expects them to be next season, Barnes serves as the potential savior.

2. Jared Sullinger| Sophomore | Ohio State | PF | 6-foot-8, 250 pounds

The No. 2 spot in next year’s draft is Sullinger’s to lose, although he’ll certainly have his share of challengers. A traditional low-post power forward, Sullinger shed questions about his weight to become the best freshman in the nation last season, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Sullinger is strong and relentless, overpowering older players at the college level. Physically, he’s a throwback in this age of combo fours and he would be the consensus No. 1 pick next year if he were an inch or two taller and a few inches longer so that he could more comfortably play center. His productivity on the glass – and the offensive efficiency that goes with it -- is his top selling point. The biggest concern: Will he be subject to mismatches on the defensive end (too short to guard fives, too big to stay with combo fours on the perimeter)?

Best fit: Pair him with a lengthy shot-blocker. The Washington Wizards – with JaVale McGee -- or the Detroit Pistons – with Greg Monroe -- would allow Sullinger to do what he does best.

3. Anthony Davis | Freshman | Kentucky | PF | 6-foot-10, 220 pounds

The best word to describe Davis is “tantalizing.” At this point, despite a solid showing on the All-Star circuit, Davis is regarded more for his potential than his current ability. That’s to be expected given a well-documented growth spurt that has made him the most hyped American big man prospect since Greg Oden. While Davis is much skinnier and less overwhelming than Oden, he is significantly more mobile. He's also  extremely long and active around the basket on both ends. Kentucky is an ideal situation for him to develop: surrounded by future pros and not asked to do too much, Davis should have an excellent chance to make a big impact games during March Madness, even if he isn’t putting up overwhelming stat lines. There isn’t a team in the NBA that wouldn’t take him today based on the rarity of his physical package. If he continues to develop his strength and size, he has a very good shot to go No. 1 overall, even if he’s riskier right now than Barnes or Sullinger.

Best fit: Pairing Davis with a wide body, low-post presence would be his best-case scenario: Minnesota, next to Kevin Love, or Sacramento, alongside DeMarcus Cousins.

4. James McAdoo | Freshman | UNC | PF | 6-foot-8, 223 pounds

McAdoo is a supremely talented, although sometimes overlooked, combo forward who will likely play four as a pro. His skill level, comfort with the ball in his hands, nose for rebounds, ability to finish and general intelligence make him a can’t-miss prospect. A (very) distant relative of NBA Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, he raised his profile on the All-Star circuit and declared at the Nike Hoop Summit that he was ready to average 20 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman at Carolina, a feat that would be unprecedented. With UNC returning so much talent, he’s in line for an adjustment of expectations but there’s no question that he was born to play basketball at the NBA level.

Best fit: The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t get the talented combo forward they desired in Derrick Williams in 2011. McAdoo would make a nice consolation prize. Pending a decision on Kris Humphries and a rumored free agency pursuit of David West, McAdoo would fit nicely next to Brook Lopez in New Jersey too.

5. Michael Gilchrist | Freshman | Kentucky | 6-foot-7, 205 pounds

NBA teams haven’t exactly shown a desire to reward elite wing defenders with top draft selections, but Gilchrist deserves it. He really redefines “motor” and “intensity,” making full use of his ideal wing size. He enjoys playing chest-to-chest defense but is comfortable off the ball as well, equally capable of taking a No. 1 scoring option out of the game or breaking plays from the weakside and finishing in transition. Other than an ugly release on his jumper, Gilchrist is a solid offensive prospect too, able to score and make plays, and fully comfortable with the ball in his hands.   

Best fit: Any team in need of an intensity injection. The Raptors, Wizards, Bobcats and Los Angeles Clippers all qualify.

All height and weight figures courtesy of DraftExpress.com.

Posted on: June 30, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 2:21 pm
 

Kings trade Omri Casspi to Cavs for J.J. Hickson

Posted by Matt Moore j-j-hickson

Update 2:14 p.m.: The Kings and Cavs have both announced the deal

Multiple reports surfaced Thursday of a deal being finalized by the Cleveland Cavaliers to send J.J. Hickson to Sacramento for forward Omri Casspi and a conditional first-round pick. 

Both ESPN and Yahoo! are reporting the deal, with ESPN slightly quicker with the news. The Sacramento Bee also confirms the setup of the deal involving the pick, which will allow the Kings to keep the 2012 pick unless they make the playoffs. 

Winner: Cavs. The Cavaliers traded an asset who had never jelled with Byron Scott and hadn't lived up to expectations for a versatile forward on the cheap and a conditional first-rounder. That's a nice haul for Hickson. The Cavs drafted Tristan Thompson who can't play the five but will work well at the four. He'll play next to Anderson Varejao and bring the athleticism Hickson was on board for. Getting the first-rounder is gravy, even if it's unlikely to develop unless the Kings make huge strides. 

Loser: We'll technically say the Kings, only for surrendering the conditional first-rounder. Casspi was caught in a logjam after the acquisition of John Salmons, which just makes the Salmons trade look worse (they could have gotten Jimmer Fredette all the same at their original seven spot). It's not a terrible trade, as they can use Hickson's size and athleticism off the bench, but he and DeMarcus Cousins along with Donte Green makes for a pretty tricky bulge at the four spot. Not a big loss here, though, considering. Pretty good deal for both clubs.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 3:48 pm
 

2010-11 top 10 best moments

Posted by Royce Young



Some are saying the 2010-11 NBA season might've very well been the best in league history. History. What better way to top that off than with a debilitating lockout where players and owners haggle over money? Momentum!

But despite all the depressing lockout stuff, there's no doubt this past season was pretty special. It all started with a wild free agency period that was capped off with a one-hour special and a preseason celebration party in South Beach. It finished in that same place but instead with the Mavericks being the team that took their talents there.

It really was a pretty remarkable season. The NBA grabbed its highest ratings since the Jordan Era, had an amazing All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, saw the rise of a bundle of young players that will carry the league to great places over the next 10 years and had polarizing teams and figures that had people talking constantly. I don't know that 2010-11 was the best ever, but for sure, it was really darn good.

And what better way to send it off than arbitrarily trying to wrap it all together in a list of 10 neato plays? There's no better way, that's what.

There were some pretty difficult omissions. Like Paul Millsap's 11 points in 28 seconds. Or Emeka Okafor's crazy buzzer-beater. Or that one Brian Cardinal thing he did that one time. Like any top 10, there were some tough cuts and I'm sure you'll disagree. Regardless, here are my top 10 moments from the season and 10 really good reasons why a lockout would totally suck.

10. Touchdown, Wade to LeBron
LeBron was a wide receiver in high school at St. Vincent - St. Mary. But I don't think Dwyane Wade was ever a quarterback. This play is pretty much what people were dreaming about the second LeBron announced he was teaming up with Wade. Two incredibly skilled players with stupid amounts of ability hooking up for a ridiculous play. Hate the Heat all you want, but you know you loved this play.

9. Taj has a moment, or two
It started with one of the ultimate posters of the season. Two hands, right over Dwyane Wade. It was so dirty that even Wade's children were giving him grief over it. Then he went ahead and followed that up with a follow-up finish in punctuate Chicago's Game 1 Eastern Finals win. Every time I watch these two dunks it makes me want to scream like I'm Carlos Boozer.

8. Love sees 30-30
Really, the top Kevin Love highlight from this season is probably his failed high five with Wesley Johnson. But I'll just recognize Love here with his second best moment of the season -- the first 30-30 game in, well, about 30 years. Love humliated the Knicks with a 31-point, 31-rebound effort doing something that no one has done since Moses Malone. Just look at that again: 31 points, 31 rebounds. Love was pretty unreal all season but that is just really outlandish.

7. The game that never ends
With the stakes high, the Thunder and Grizzlies needed 63 minutes of basketball to settle Game 4 of the Western Semifinals. Memphis led the series 2-1 after Oklahoma City blew a big fourth quarter lead in Game 3. What's crazy is that Memphis led by 18 in the first half of this game.

But the Thunder held a seven-point fourth quarter lead and finally lost it after Mike Conley hit an impossible 3 over Kendrick Perkins. Then Grievis Vasquez doubled down on the insanity by dropping another game-tying 3 in the first overtime. Eventually Kevin Durant and the Thunder wore down Memphis and took the game 133-123 and used that to top the Grizzlies in seven to move on to the Western Finals.

6. Indiana starts the third 20 for 20
How does 54 points in a half sound? Pretty good, right? Well, what about 54 in a quarter? That sounds like a pretty good number for an entire game if you're the Butler Bulldogs.

The Pacers started the third quarter against Denver 20-20 and would've had a perfect quarter had Mike Dunleavy not missed with a couple seconds remaining. For a team though to hit 20 consecutive shots? An entire team? If I'm George Karl and the Nuggets, at that point I'm not even guarding them just to see how many in a row they can hit.

5. Reke, from pretty far out
It looked like O.J. Mayo had just hit a nasty backbreaker for Memphis against the Kings. The Grizzlies went up one with 1.5 seconds left and Sacramento didn't have any timeouts left. No bother for Tyreke though as he launched from behind the halfcourt line and drilled a game-winner as time expired.

Still though, the most impressive part of this is the sixth sense from Donte Greene. He's entirely on the court already celebrating before the shot dropped. What would he have done if it had missed? I guess he just knew it wouldn't.

4. Coming back is easy to do for Dallas
Worst thing you can do: Put the Mavericks in a double-digit hole in the fourth quarter. Dallas had already pulled off two impressive comebacks against the Thunder and Lakers, but its Game 2 triumph over the Heat is really what won the Mavs an NBA title. Trailing by 15 points late after a Dwyane Wade 3, the Mavs turned it on with Dirk scoring the team's final nine points in the last two minutes to steal a game in Miami and probably a trophy right out from under LeBron and the Heat.

3. I believe that I just saw a man fly
Don't get in J.R. Smith's way. He won't just dunk over you, he'll dunk through you. With two hands.

2. Durant, Haywood and oh my goodness
Magic Johnson said this was the greatest postseason dunk ever. And considering the circumstances -- Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals -- he might have a point. Durant's Thunder were off to a bit of a slow start against the Mavs and faced falling into an 0-2 hole. But Durant woke up the team by throwing down right over Brendan Haywood.

Durant picked up a technical after the dunk for having some words for Haywood, but if I were the officials, I'd have just kicked Durant and everyone else out, because he basically turned out the lights right there.

1. Blake Griffin



Take your pick. Over Mozgov. Over Gallinari. Over a car. Oops from Baron, oops from Bledsoe, oops from Mo. The 2010-11 regular season was really kind of the season of Griffin and how he took over the world with YouTube highlights. No player has made people buzz quite like Griffin. Night to night, you had no idea what might be coming. When Blake Mania was reaching its peak in January, I think we all thought he might dunk over Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol if Gasol was standing on Bynum's shoulders.

I still don't think we've seen the ultimate Blake Griffin highlight. And when it comes next year, that just means we'll have 2011-12's best moment. If there is one. Oh please for the love of James Naismith, let there be one.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com