Posted on: May 8, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 12:45 pm
I can't hold my tongue, what Andrew Bynum just did sickens me. I haven't bothered posting here or reading much of anything during the playoffs but this is just plain out disgusting. I know it's shocking to watch the Lakers get swept in the 2nd round by the Mavericks and this 30+ (currently) beatdown is just a bad way for the Lakers to end their season (and most likely Phil Jackson's career, which is sad it has to end like this), but for guys like Lamar Odom and Bynum to intentionally try to hurt their opponents out of frustration is stupid and embarassing not only for the Lakers and their fans, but for all NBA fans. Now Odom's wasn't really much, just an elbow to Dirk while both were at the top of the key, but what Bynum did, and for a second time might I add, was unbelievable. It's one thing to play physical and two big guys bang in the post and give some hard fouls, but to throw an elbow into the ribs of a defenseless player in mid-air is not something that should be tolerated in the NBA.
You only have one intention when you do that and it's to inflict as much pain to that player as possible. Add that fact that it was tiny Jose Barea and it just makes Bynum look even more like a goon that has no business playing basketball. If this would have been the first time it would be bad enough, but the fact that he already did it before in the regular season to Michael Beasley , just makes this even worse. I have nothing against the Lakers, their fans, Kobe, (in fact I hate seeing Phil Jackson go out like this) and I'm not a fan of the Mavericks, Dirk, etc. either. I just don't believe a big goon like Bynum deserves to play in the NBA when he's only trying to inflict serious harm to opposing players and has some serious immaturity problems with himself. He had the nerve to say there was trust issues with the Lakers, and I find it hard to believe it's not him that is the one who can't be trusted. He's gotten burned by more Tyson Chandler PnRs than anyone on the Lakers and is as much to fault for them getting demolished in this series as the rest of the team.
He should be suspended for at least 10+ games next year and if the Lakers were smart, they would trade him to some poor team that wants a 7-foot baby that is only good for throwing his elbows at defensless players in mid-air. Bynum is a joke and it's joke if the NBA let's him get away with this without serious punishment. I'm all for physical play (hell I'm a Bad Boys Pistons fan), but trying to seriously harm someone like that is digusting, disgraceful, and not something I want to watch when I watch NBA games.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 10:14 pm
Blake Griffin missed his entire first year out with injury and many were already calling him a bust. He then began his rookie year a season late in this current 2010/2011 NBA season. He began to turn some heads with his play. Now of course ESPN was all over him the minute he started throwing down highlight dunks, but alot of knowledeable NBA fans still weren't impressed. Then Griffin started owning the boards and has got himself on a 27 game streak of straight double-doubles. It began to peak the interest, but still wasn't enough. After Blake Griffin's monster game where he dropped 47 points against the Pacers , there has been quite a bit of buzz about how good this guy actual is. With a couple impressive wins and big games against the like of the Heat and Lakers , that helps draw more attention to this guy.
Now you see people mentioning him as possibly already one of the best NBA players already, or at least for the future. Everyone is mesmerized by his high flying style, his big time numbers for a rookie (only 7th rookie to average 21 ppg and 12 rpg if he keeps up his numbers), being able to show up in big games against some of the NBA's top teams, and putting up the highest scoring game of any NBA player so far this season. However, while even this doesn't impress some die-hard NBA fans, I think I have something that would even impress them. The thing that is the most impressive about Griffin and the thing that will be the most important ability throughout his NBA career and could definie his future as an NBA superstar is his passing ability.
I know, he's a big man and you wouldn't expect alot of passing out of a big man, especially in today's game. What's even more unlikely that it's coming from such a young player when most of them seem more interested in the flash of the game and not the true fundamentals. Nonetheless, Griffin is already amoung the best passing big men in the NBA right now and could be on his way to being one of the best passing big men in NBA history. That can only mean very good things for his future in the NBA. Right now Griffin is averaging 3.4 assists per game and is currently 3rd in the league in assists for big men (1st is Pau Gasol at 3.9 apg and 2nd is Al Horford at 3.5 apg) .
To put things in perspective, let's take a look at some of the best passing big men of all time. First let's look at Pau Gasol himself:
Pau Gasol - In his rookie year he averaged 2.7 apg, his career high is 4.6 apg, and his career average is 3.2 apg. Gasol has now been a big part of the Lakers recent back to back NBA titles.
Tim Duncan - In his rookie year he averaged 2.7 apg, had a career high of 3.9 apg, and has a career average of 3.2 apg. Duncan has won 2 NBA MVPs, 4 NBA Titles, and 3 NBA Finals MVPs
Karl Malone - In his rookie year he averaged 2.9 apg, had a career high of 4.7 apg, and has a career average of 3.6 apg. Karl Malone won 2 NBA MVPs and went on to be one of the greatest scoring big men in NBA history.
Wilt Chamberlain - In his rookie season he averaged 2.3 apg, had a career high of 8.6 apg, and a career average of 4.4 apg. Of course we all know how Wilt became one of the most dominant NBA players of all time, won 2 NBA titles, 4 NBA MVPs, and a Finals MVP.
Wes unseld - In his rookie season he averaged 2.6 apg, had a career high of 5.2 apg, and a career average of 3.9 apg. Unseld was one of the strongest NBA players of all time and definitely one of it's best rebounders. He has won an NBA title, NBA MVP, and an NBA Finals MVP.
Bill Russell - In his rookie season he averaged 1.8 apg, had a career high of 5.8 apg, and had a career average of 4.3 apg. Russell is seen as one of the greatest players ever and most definitely the greatest leader of a team ever by leading the Celtics to 11 NBA championships in his 13 seasons in the NBA. He also added 5 NBA MVPs just for fun.
Kevin Garnett - In his 1st starting season he averaged 3.1 apg, had a career high of 6.0 apg, and a career average of 4.1 apg. KG proved to be one of the game's most passionate players in it's history and was an all time great defender (finally winning a DPOY a couple years ago), was an NBA MVP, and recently won an NBA title.
Chris Webber - In his rookie season he averaged 3.6 apg, had a career high of 5.4 apg, and a career average of 4.2 apg. Webber is easily seen as one of the best passing big men of all time and was one of the NBA's best players in his days. He was a David Stern Game 7 in 2002 away from getting a chance to win an NBA title.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - In his rookie season he averaged 4.1 apg, had a career high of 5.4 apg, and a career average of 3.6 apg. Kareem went on to win 6 NBA titles, 6 NBA MVPs, and 2 NBA Finals MVPs. He is seen as one of the greatest big men and NBA players in it's history and its the only one to ever star in a Bruce Lee movie (suck it DJ Mbenga!)
Bill Walton - In his rookie season he averaged 4.8 apg, had a career high of 5.0 apg, and a career average of 3.4 apg. His NBA career was shortened due to his awesome red beard weighing down his legs enough to give him injury problems for the rest of his career, but in his limited time as a star he did manage to win an NBA title, MVP, and Finals MVP.
So in short, only 3 players have ever had a rookie season with higher assists per game averages (Webber, Kareem, and Walton) . Those 3 along with everyone else on the list of the NBA's best big men all went on to have a lot of success in the NBA, most of them being amoung some of the best NBA big men of all time. The passing game from a big man has proven to be a big part of their success and key to leading their teams to victory and success. If Blake Griffin can continue his strong passing game and improve upon as many of these great big men have done in NBA history, Griffin could be on track to becoming a great NBa player one day.
Posted on: September 28, 2009 8:24 am
Edited on: September 28, 2009 5:59 pm
The Southwest division has become the best division in the NBA. There seems to be a lot of rivalry games and tough competition mainly to due the fact that 3 of the teams are located in Texas (San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston). They've had four of their teams making the playoffs for the last couple years now, all four of those teams constantly flirting or reaching 50 wins in a season. The division is filled with some of the best players in the game with Duncan, Nowitzki, and Paul. For the last three years, at two of the top three seeds in the West have come from this division. The division is filled with legends like Timmy D, J-Kidd, and AI, but it also has young stars that will be among the best players in the NBA for years to come in CP3, Tony Longoria, and possible Mayo. There are also three MVP candidates (two of which have won the award before) in Paul, Dirk, and Duncan.
The division is always very competitive and only Memphis has been a team that doesn't contend in the playoffs. There won't be a team that dominates this division because of much talent each team has and how competitive each team is. Following will be my analysis of this division and how I see each team turning out this season.
1. San Antonio Spurs
Since Duncan has been here, this team has always been among the best teams in the league, and has always been a contender for the title. Duncan is the kind of player that has the greatness to lead his team to victory no matter what the talent around him. However, he does have a good amount of talent around him and that just gives this team an even better chance at success.
Starting at the point we have Tony Parker , a.k.a. "Eva's husband." A Top 5 PG who is lightning quick and has improved his scoring each year. He is one of the best players at penetrating to the basket, and that proves very valuable to his team. Then you have the other guard in Manu Ginobili , a.k.a. "The Argentinean Flopper." He is one of the best shooters in the game and makes it harder on defenses with his ability to take it up with his left hand or right hand (being naturally left handed). He is a good team player that has won championships at both the NBA and Olympic level.
We move to the forwards with the newly acquired Richard Jefferson . He is a very gifted scorer that can shoot or penetrate the lane. However, he has been known as one of the weaker defenders in the league. Then we have the also newly acquired (damn Joe D, why didn't you resign him?) Antonio McDyess . An aging big man that can do whatever you need him to. He can hit that mid-range jumper, he can rebound, and he can play good post defense.
Then at center we go to "Mr. Fundamental" himself, Tim Duncan . Getting older now, but still one of the best big men in the game and guy who just knows how to win. To quote Ricky Bobby, "he wakes up in the morning and pisses excellence." He has the best post moves in the league on offense, and is still one of the best post defenders and shot blockers in the NBA.
They have very good, young bench players in George Hill , Roger Mason Jr. , and their rookie DeJuan Blair . I might be higher on most about Blair, but I think he was a huge steal in the 2nd round for the Spurs, and they've had a couple other 2nd round draft picks turn out very well (Parker and Ginobili). Not to mention that he'll have one of the greatest big men in NBA history teaching in Timmy D. The only concern about him seems to be his injuries in the past (but they were both in high school, not in college and didn't slow him down in college). They also have veteran big men defender Theo Ratliff , and veteran scorer Michael Finely to add some more depth off the bench.
My prediction: 57-25 (1st or 2nd seed in the West)
Timmy D doesn't have much time left to get another title before he retires, but this is probably the best chance he'll get. Parker is improving to the point where he can take over any game with his scoring and playmaking skills, Ginobili should be at full health this year, and the additions of Jefferson and McDyess should prove very valuable to this team. The only weakness I can see for this team is the loss of Bruce Bowen. He never contributed a lot in terms of offense or stats, but he was their best perimeter defenders and one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Now that he has retired, they don't have any great perimeter defender to rely on. Ginobili can look good at times with his flopping, but that won't be enough when playing against some of the best perimeter players in the league.
I don't think that will keep them from being one of the best teams this year and making to the Western Conference Finals, but if they have to play the Lakers to go to the NBA Finals, there is no one to stop Kobe Bryant and that could prove costly. But Timmy D and the interior defense will really have to step it up if they want to make up for Kobe beating them on the perimeter. However, that interior defense has proved to be very valuable in the past and can get them to the Finals if it's at it's best with Duncan and McDyess. If they play the Lakers, I think it goes to 7 games without question and it's going to come down to Duncan and Kobe, who can will their team to victory. It's a toss up for me, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Spurs won or the Lakers won.
2. Dallas Mavericks
This is the team I will enjoying watching the most out of the West this year (of course I won't favor them over my Pistons though). They have two of my favorite players of this past decade, Kidd and Marion, who were teammates earlier in their careers for the Phoenix Suns and will now be teammates on the Mavs.
This is a team of aging veterans who have a small window of time for winning a title before their careers are over. However, they are still very good players that can contribute a lot to a successful team. Also, the amount of talent doesn't always equal the amount of success you have. A factor that comes into play in their advantage with these older veterans are, ironically, their age. With their age comes years of valuable NBA experience. They know how to play the game just as well as anyone, but it depends if their bodies can keep up with their brains.
We start with the floor general Jason Kidd . He's not the same player he use to be, but he's still among the best playmakers and passers in the game. Also, he's still one of the best defending PGs in the game as well. He knows how to run the team and is unselfish as they come, looking to find his teammates for open shots. Then we move to Josh Howard , the perimeter scoring threat. He has plenty of talent, but it's his attitude that hurts him at times. If he can keep his attitude in check and play team basketball, this guy can score very well and prove very valuable to this team.
At forward, the Mavs have newly acquired Shawn Marion . He has struggles the last two years, but that is due to him not being with a true PG. Other than the one year between Kidd leaving Phoenix and Steve Nash joining the Suns (with Stephon Marbury at PG), he's always had a true PG to play along side with him until he joined the Heat . However, he stepped up his game quite a bit after being traded to the Raptors last season (coincidence that he was playing with another true PG again in Jose Calderon ?). Marion is not a guy that can make plays for himself and be one of your main scoring threats. However, now with the Mavs he won't have to do that since they have Howard and Dirk. He can spread the defense with Kidd being able to find him for open shots, and he can use his athleticism to cut to the basket for easy buckets and alley oops being set up to him from Kidd. But this biggest value is his defense, which has not gotten worse regardless of his struggles. He is still a very good perimeter defender that can cover anyone from the 1 to the 4.
Of course we can't forget the team's best player, Dirk Nowitzki . Dirk is still one of the best scorers and most difficult players to defend because of his size and shooting abilities. With Marion being able to defend the team's best perimeter scorer and Dampier or the newly acquired Gooden being able to cover the post threat, Dirk will be able to focus more on offense this year than ever; which should provide some very good results (possibly MVP again?). Then their other post player will be either Erick Dampier or Drew Gooden . Dampier has become old, slow, and pretty much just a guy to clog the lane now. However, Gooden is still relatively young and could be valuable to them as a starter. He is not a great defender, but he's is not a bad one either. He's a very capable post defender and very good rebounder as well.
They also have possibly the best 6th man in the game in Jason Terry . "The Jet" should get lots of playing time again this season being able to fill in at either guard spot and provide lots of scoring. He will prove to be very valuable to this team coming off the bench, especially to give the old J-Kidd a breather and keep his legs fresh.
My prediction: 54-28 (3rd or 4th seed in the West)
I think the Mavs are going to have a very good season this year and will be a Top 4 seed. Marion should be able to find lots of success and chemistry with his former teammate in Kidd, and also contribute a lot of defense thus taking the pressure off Dirk and Howard that will allow them to score better and more efficiently. The only issue with this team of course is their post defense, and that should prove to be costly when going against the Lakers and Spurs who both have post-scoring threats.
I'll root for them to make a huge upset and somehow win the West, but I just don't seem the being able to overcome Duncan with the Spurs and Pau Gasol and Kobe with the Lakers. Who knows though, miracles can happen.
3. New Orleans Hornets
After CP3 had his breakout season in 07/08 leading his team the 2nd seed in the West and being the runner-up to the MVP Kobe Bryant, the Hornets were not able to repeat their success in 08/09 (although they still came within 1 game from having another 50 win season). However, Tyson Chandler missing 37 games seems to be at the root of their problems. After getting rid of Chandler this off-season, they replace him with athletic center in Okafor. The question is will he be able to provide a better center for them than Chandler> Well let's take a look
At the point they have the best PG in the game and one of the best players in the NBA in Chris Paul . He's become an amazing playmaker that can score, pass, and defend all at a high level. He is a very good leader at such a young age, and that can only improve with more experience. After losing last year's starting SG Rasual Butler , they will now have to turn to Morris Peterson to start. But we've seen his minutes drastically decrease each year since '06 so I expect him to share time with Devin Brown and even Posey at times here. Really doesn't matter who's there because Paul has the playmaking capabilities to get his players open shots.
At forward you have the 3pt specialist in Peja Stojakovic . He's as good as he was in his Kings days, but he's still a very good outside shooter that Paul can find on plenty of open shots. James Posey should see some time here as well as (seeing time at both wing positions) because of his valuable defense, outside shooting, and clutch play. Posey has contributed quite a bit to two previous NBA champions ('06 Heat and '08 Celtics ). At the other forward is David West . He has developed a very good chemistry with Paul, best two-man PNR game in the league, which provides the main source of offense for this Hornets team.
Then at center you have the newly acquired Emeka Okafor . He's not as tall as Chandler but he's younger, just as athletic, just good of a rebounder, and even better defender. We might not see the alley-oops like Paul did with Chandler so often, but he is solid post scorer and can do more in one-on-one situations instead of having to be set up by Paul every time (like Chandler did). He won't need to be a main post scoring threat for them with West, but mainly their post presence on defense. He's been among the league's best shot blockers and rebounders, and his post defense is very good as well. It may take him a little while to get some chemistry with Paul and his other teammates, but he can be just as valuable or even more valuable than Chandler was. Plus he's not an injury risk like Chandler has become since getting older.
My prediction: 50-32 (5th seed in the West)
A team led by Paul will always make the playoffs and no matter whom the other four players are he's going to be at the top of his game and win this team games. The system and style they run fits perfectly into his game, and he has players that compliment him very well. That's key for your best player to have all those things working for him. They only issue for this team is a lack of a perimeter scorer. They have Paul at point, they have West down low, but Peja is no longer that legitimate perimeter scoring threat that they can rely on. That's the only thing standing in the way of them making it to the WCFs and having a good shot at beating the Lakers or Spurs. However, they should still have plenty of success and get around the 5th seed in the West this year. I just don't see them as being a contender with the two favorites, but Paul has already shocked the world once in 07/08, so he could always shock the world again (and prove me wrong) and take his team to the WCFs and give either the Lakers or Spurs a run for their money.
4. Houston Rockets
After finding out Yao Ming will miss the entire year for 09/10 and T-Mac will likely be out until after the All Star Break, the Rockets are really going to have rely on their young players to step up and keep this team competitive and successful. The Rockets have had success before when Yao was out with an injury for extended time, and they've had success when T-Mac was out with an injury for extended time. However, they've never had to deal with them both being injured at the same time for this long. How will they fair this season because of it? Well.....
At the point they will have the young Aaron Brooks . He became a big scoring threat for the Rockets towards the end of the season and the playoffs last year, and he should only improve on that this year. To start out, Shane Battier should look to get the start at the other guard position until Tracy McGrady returns from his injury. He is still arguably the best perimeter defender in the game, and that is valuable to this team's success.
At forward is the newly acquired Trevor Ariza . Ariza is a good defender and good shooter with lots of athleticism who contributed to a title with the Lakers last season. However, with T-Mac out for the first half and Yao out for the year, he will look at to be their main scoring option. Can he take his game to another level and step up to fill that role? At the other forward is young big man Luis Scola . Scola is not athletically gifted nor does have any unique and special abilities. What makes him a good player is his hard work, hustle, and toughness that makes him successful. He works hard on the boards to get rebounds and he uses smart, precise moves in the post on offense to score. Like Ariza, he's going to have to step it up even more this year with the loss of Yao.
Now that Yao is out for the season and Mutombo has realized, what we all have known a couple years now, that he is to old to play anymore the Rockets had to scramble to find someone to play center for them. All they could find was David Anderson. Anderson was drafted by the Hawks in 2002 but has spent his career playing for Australian and Europe leagues. He's big and has size, but so was Shawn Bradley and that guy was horrible. I don't know much about this guy so I can't really say how good he will be for them, but I can tell you that he will not come close to filling Yao's shoes.
My prediction: 46-36 (8th seed in the West, or barely missing playoffs)
I think Brooks, Battier, Ariza, and Scola can keep this team from completely falling apart until T-Mac returns. When he returns, he will be rusty and still getting over that micro fracture surgery so he won't be at the top of his game. However, despite having injury problems every year the Rockets some how always find a way to make the playoffs. This year is a little different though with both their stars out until at least the All Star break. It all depends on how T-Mac heals from his surgery. If he is able to come back at 100% shortly after the All Star break, this team should be able to make the playoffs, but if he struggles to get healthy at all this season they could be barely missing out on the playoffs this year.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
When you have a team with lots of young talent in players like Mayo, Gay, Conley, Arthur, and the #2 overall pick in Thabeet what do you think the best acquisitions would be to make in the off-season? Would you get two notorious "me first" players in Randolph and Iverson? I know I wouldn't if I was the GM. However, a bigger concern for this team is their financial issues and the need to sell more tickets and merchandise. So from a business standpoint, it was something that had to be done regardless of what it does to your actual team.
However, I think AI has gotten a bad rap for being too much of a ball hog when frankly until he joined the Nuggets , he had no one else to do the scoring when he was on the 76ers . However, that has made it more difficult on him to fit into a different role than the one he has been use to his entire career. We seen last year with the Pistons that he couldn't fit into that team player/role player and not the star role. With the Grizzlies it should be different because they don't need him to be a set up guy and a role player; they need him to be one of their stars.
Allen Iverson will have to play the point position for the Grizzlies this year because of his size and the fact that they won't bench their star in the making in Mayo. Despite getting the reputation as a ball hog and selfish player, he is a very capable passer and playmaker. He has shown that with his assist numbers, and for anyone that has actually watched a lot of him you'd see he is able to penetrate the lane so well that defenses collapse on him and give other players open shots. I'm not saying he will be Jason Kidd or anything, but he's not going to be jacking up 30-40 shots and never passing the ball. He will draw the defense to himself and pass it to the open man if he can't find a shot for himself.
At the other guard is O.J. Mayo . Then 2nd year guard out of USC has shown he was worth the hype. He is a very good scorer who is a capable passer himself. He has a very bright future in the NBA, but he may see his numbers dip this year with AI and Randolph on the team now. At the other wing position is Rudy Gay . Gay is a very athletic forward who can score very well and loves to play above the rim. Like Mayo and the other young players on the team, his numbers might see a dip because of the scoring veteran additions, but that doesn't mean he is declining at all.
The newly acquired Zach Randolph should see most of his time at power forward for Memphis. I can see the Grizzlies rotating Gasol here at times to give their first round draft pick Thabeet more time at center. Randolph is a very good scorer and rebounder. He's a weak defender, but he doesn’t have many weaknesses outside of that as far as his talents are concerned. The problem with his is that he can become what is known as a "black hole" on offense. He will rarely give the ball back to his teammates after he gets the ball. He's going to put up good numbers, but that's going to affect the overall team negatively.
At center they have the young Marc Gasol , a.k.a. "The Other Gasol." He showed that he is a very good big man in the NBA and has benefited from his time overseas. He is not an athletic or physical gifted player, but he is a very fundamental player that knows how to play the game well. He has good post moves on offense, is capable rebounder and defender, and knows how to play team basketball. The problem is, not many other players on this team know how to play team basketball as well. Expect Hasheem Thabeet to steal some minutes from Gasol this year to provide rebounder and post defense off the bench. Thabeet has tons of talent and potential, and they won't let their No. 2 overall pick go to waste on the bench.
They also have two young talented players in Mike Conley and Darell Arthur who will most likely see limited playing time this year. Those players are young and need time to improve, but they might not get many chances this year to do that.
My prediction: 36-46
From a business standpoint, this team will have achieved it's goal of making more money than they have in the past with Iverson and Randolph putting up numbers, selling jersey and other merchandise, and winning this team a few more games. However, this will hurt their young players and not give them as much chances to improve and develop like they should be. So while the Grizzlies will be happy with this decision now, they will regret a few years down the road. They don't have a shot at making the playoffs, and I'd be surprised to see this team win 40 games.
So that's it for my preview of the Southwest division. Look out for the other 5 division previews on the blogs of other posters (Feanor, ignorepeter, HurricaneDij39, GoHornets21, and kmvenne)
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Allen Iverson, Antonio McDyess, Celtics, Chris Paul, David West, DeJuan Blair, Dirk Nowitzki, Drew Gooden, Emeka Okafor, George Hill, Grizzlies, Hasheem Thabeet, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, James Posey, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Josh Howard, Kings, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, Luis Scola, Manu Ginobili, Marc Gasol, Mavericks, Mike Conley, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pistons, Raptors, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Roger Mason Jr., Rudy Gay, Shane Battier, Shawn Marion, Spurs, Suns, Theo Ratliff, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady, Trevor Ariza, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph
Posted on: September 22, 2009 7:18 pm
What do Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and Dirk Nowitzki all have in common? Other than being teammates on the Dallas Mavericks of course
They are all over 30 years old (Nowitzki & Marion are 31 and Kidd is 36), all have had great careers and are seen as one of the top players at their position in their best days, and (most importantly) none of them have a championship ring. I bring this up of course because they are now going to be all teammates with the Mavs in the upcoming 09-10 NBA season. We all remember the Kidd/Devin Harris trade between the Mavs and Nets a couple years back, and now this summer Marion was involved in a 4 way trade between the Mavs, Raptors, Magic, and Grizzlies that sent Marion to Dallas. Kidd and Marion spent two years together with the Suns (99/00 - 00/01), but that was Marion's first two years in the league and when Kidd was in the prime of his career. Both are now "over the hill" (with Kidd WAY over the hill) and are not quite the players they were once. Kidd is still one of the best defensive PGs and a good passer, but he is much slower, can't jump to get tons of rebounds like he use to, and doesn't look as sharp on his passes or drives as he use to. Marion is still a good defender (not great anymore) and rebounder, but he hasn't been able to his scoring (shooting percentages) have went down and his athleticism isn't as "freakish" as it use to be.
Now neither one is a bad player at all, and both can still contribute a lot to a team. Kidd is still one of the best floor generals and leaders at the point, and Marion is still the "Matrix" who can defend anyone from the 1 to the 4 (even some 5's). They just are not at the top of their game anymore. This is more true for Kidd than Marion who may just have been missing an offense that allowed him to contribute a lot of offense. When he had Kidd in his prime, Kidd would set him up with lots of alley oop chances, and when he left the Suns 3 years (in which he still put up really good numbers) until they started the "D'Antoni Run n Gun" with the Anti-Christ. The all offense no defense style provided some very entertaining seasons and boosted Marion's stats. But once he left the Suns in 07 for the Heat, he didn't have an offense or a PG who could set him up and give him the scoring chances. He showed some flashes of returning to his glory days with the Raptors, but it was short lived.
However, this team isn't just about Kidd and Marion, but there is still a player I've yet to talk about who is the best of all of them: Dirk Nowitzki. Even though he is 31 years old, he is still playing as well as he ever has. He averaged 25.9 ppg last year (3rd highest of his career, 4th in the league) and got the Mavs to another 50 win season. His rebounds have went down, but that is not because he is declining but due to the fact he doesn't need to rebound as much with the improved rebounding of the team (Kidd adding some to that). Dirk is a former MVP that is one of the most difficult players to guard in the league because of his size and ability to shoot the long ball. His biggest weakness, and the reason he hasn't been able to win a title yet (losing to the Miami Heat in 06 season NBA Finals), is his defense. But with Marion being able to cover 3's and 4's, that may not be as big of a problem as it once was.
All 3 of these players have had plenty of recognition and success for their individual success (Kidd making 9 All Star teams, 6 All NBA teams, 9 All NBA Defensive teams, being regarded as one of the best PGs ever, and having 2 NBA Finals appearances; Marion has made 4 All Star teams and was regarded as one of best defenders in his day; Nowitzki has made 9 All Star teams, 8 All NBA teams, made an NBA Finals appearance, and won an MVP), but they have yet to win NBA's greatest achievement: the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. Their time is running out on a chance to win one (especially Kidd), and I'm sure they are hoping this is the year they can do it. They have other good teammates in Josh Howard, Jason Terry, and Drew Gooden.
The West is tough, but there are only 9 teams that have a shot at the playoffs (Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets, Mavs, Hornets, Trail Blazers, Jazz, Rockets, and maybe the Suns but really probably just the other 8). There are a lot of the games top PGs on these teams (Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Chauncey Billups, and Andre Miller) so it's a good thing the Mavs have Kidd. However, the teams that look to be favored (Lakers, Spurs) and the some of the other top teams (Hornets, Jazz) have a big post prescense. Will Marion being able to help mask Dirk's bad defense? Is Erik Dampier just a waste of space that can't rebound and defend well enough anymore? Can Drew Gooden be the new defensive presence for the Mavs down low? Can this team of old stars band together and pull out a surprising title run? These are some important questions when judging the Mavs and they should be one of the interesting teams to watch this year.
Posted on: May 31, 2009 9:54 pm
History tends to repeat itself a lot; not only in sports but in all of life. However, here we're only interested in the sports history. One such thing that has been consistent in NBA history is defense winning championships. Almost every time, one of the best defensive teams will win the championship. Now of course there are a few exceptions here and there, but you have to look at the overall picture. This, however, is not about defense in NBA history, but instead great big men winning championships. The majority of NBA championships have been won by teams who are lead by a great big man (almost always one who has very good defense, if not great defense). You can go all the way back to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain to see that great big men have always been able to win championships with their great post play on both offense and defense (mainly defense though).
I only bring this up of course because of this year's NBA Finals matchup: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Orlando Magic . Now Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are both very good big men, but neither one could come close to being consider one of the best big men in the game (on both ends of the court). Of course I am talking about Dwight Howard , who most would agree is the best big man in the NBA right now. Howard has proved very worthy of that title thus far leading his Magic to the 3rd seed in the East, being a Top 5 defense in the NBA, winning the DPOY (well deserved), and getting his team past the favorites, the Cleveland Cavaliers led by LeBron James . Without a shadow of a doubt he has been the main reason for what has got the Magic into this year's NBA Finals. Of course there are always very important role players for every great team, so Rashard Lewis , Hedo Turkoglu , Rafer Alston , Courtney Lee , Mickael Pietrus , etc. have all contributed to the team's success as well.
The last 10 years in the NBA has been dominated by big men - as far as championships go. Shaquille O'Neal has four NBA titles (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), Tim Duncan has four titles (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007), Ben Wallace has a championship ((2004), and Kevin Garnett has a championships (2008). You can argue the Pistons were led by Chauncey Billups (but he couldn't get them one after Big Ben left) and Paul Pierce led the Celtics (although he couldn't get the Celtics one without KG), but regardless the last ten years of NBA champions have been dominated by big men (Shaq & Duncan combine for 8). Will Dwight Howard be next on the list of great big men to lead his team to a championship? Or will Kobe Bryant and the Lakers break the cycle?
There are some things to point toward a break in the dominance of big men. Howard is still very young and has never been in a situation like this before. Can he step up and rise above the pressure to prove he has what it takes at this young age to win his team a title? Kobe Bryant has contributed to three championships himself (although Shaq was with him too), and is the best player in the game. He has always been a great closer and clutch player that has gotten his teams deep into the playoffs almost every year. Phil Jackson is one of the all-time great coaches who knows them game just as good as anyone. Also, even when Shaq was young and first with the Magic, he led them to the only other Finals appearance for the Magic. He was swept 4-0 by the Rockets . However, they also had one of the best big men in the game with Hakeem Olajuwon (so Hakeem was just a better big man at that point in their careers).
There have been two all-time great players who have risen above dominate big men and led their team to championships: Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. Yes, both did have very good defensive big men who contributed to their teams' success, but it goes without saying that MJ and Bird were the ones who led the teams to the championships. Now Kobe has been an all time great player, but he is not in the class yet of MJ and Bird. However, if he can led his team this year and win a championships without any dominate big man (like Shaq), then I believe he could be entered into that group of the NBA's greatest wingmen (although it doesn't mean he is just as good or better). He might need to win another one to really solidify that, but I would be satisfied with just this year (but that's just me).
So this is definitely something to think about when watching this year's NBA Finals. Will we see history repeat itself again? Or will we see one of those exceptions when a great player rises above it? Will Dwight Howard be able to handle the pressure and be good enough to lead his team to the championship, or is he still too young and not enough developed offensive game? Can Kobe finally win a championship without Shaq and thus solidify his name on the list of the NBA's greatest wingmen? For me, I've always been a fan of defense and will always root for defense to come out on top. I'm a big Howard fan, but I also remain in a pact between Pistons and Lakers so I cannot officially root against the Lakers. I will be happy with who ever wins the championship this year to be honest, so I will just sit back and enjoy the NBA Finals while the rest of you argue over who is better and who will win. I just figured I'd give you all something more to add to your discussions.
Posted on: March 18, 2009 11:48 pm
Here is my list of the Top 10 Greatest Defenders in NBA History:
1) Bill Russell - This only needs one explanation: 11 championship rings. It was his defense that anchored every last one of those 11 titles he won with the Boston Celtics. They didn't keep track of blocks, steals, or even All NBA Defensive teams in his days, until the end of his career where he was on the very first NBA All Defensive First Team in history. He is the proof that defense is what wins championships, and he will always be remembered for that. He will go down as the greatest defender in history.
Feel free to comment and even make your own list if you wish.
Tags: Alonzo Mourning, Ben Wallace, Bill Russell, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, David Robinson, Dennis Rodman, Dikemebe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Garnett, lakers, Michael Jordan, Nate Thurmond, Pistons, Shaquille O'Neal, Sidney Moncrief, Spurs, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Wilt Chamberlain
Posted on: January 6, 2009 7:20 am
When talking about the great defenders in the league, people tend to think of the great post defenders like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, or they might even think about the great help defenders that put up good stats like Marcus Camby or Josh Smith. But the one group of defenders that seem to get the least love is the perimeter defenders. They are the ones that have to cover the best and most dangerous perimeter scorers in the league. They don't put up him great stats like some other defenders, but they always make their defense better by reducing scoring from the opposing team. I think it's about time they get some credit and respect, so I've decided to make my list of Top 10 best perimeter defenders in the league.
Top 10 Perimeter Defenders:
1. Shane Battier
One of the most underrated defenders in all of the NBA. Everyone recognizes him as a good defender, but not as a great one. However, his perimeter is definitely tops in the league and makes him of the Top 5 overall defenders in the entire NBA. He doesn't put up good numbers at all, but that doesn't mean he doesn't play good defense. Bruce Bowen does the same thing, but with dirty tactics, however he has gotten far more credit than Battier; there's something wrong with that. If Battier can do the same (or better) as Bowen without the dirty tactics, then how doesn't he get the same respect? Regardless of how underrated he is, that doesn't change the fact he slow down some of the NBA's best players out on the perimeter better than anyone.
2. Tayshaun Prince
The long armed Prince is a monster defender on the perimeter. Like a lot of other perimeter defenders, he doesn't put up a whole lot of good numbers (until this year), so people don't give him as much credit. He is a big part of the tough Pistons defense that has been so successful over the past few years. He usually has to cover the best perimeter scorer on the opposing team, and has done very well. He's played against Kobe, LeBron, Pierce, etc., and has had games where he slowed them down significantly. He uses his long arms and huge wingspan to block his opponents off from getting easy drives to the basket, and using those long arms to always have a hand in the shooter's face so they get no easy shots.
3. Kobe Bryant
Yes, Kobe can play some good defense and this is key for the Lakers. Not only does Kobe have to be the Laker's primary scorer, but he also has to be their best defender. To go along with scoring points for his team, he also has to prevent the opponent's best perimeter scorer from scoring as well. They don't put Kobe on the worst player either, he has to cover guys like Wade, Joe Johnson, etc. who are all good scorers. Kobe's incredible offense tends to overshadow his defense, but whether you notice it or not, Kobe is actually a very good defender (particularly out on the perimeter).
4. Paul Pierce
He is another guy that is more known for his offense than defense, but still has some very good perimeter defense. He has gotten more recognition for this lately because of how well he played on defense against Kobe in last year's NBA Finals. It may have some to do with Kevin Garnett's influence on defense, but Pierce has always been a good perimeter defender. He knows how to keep his man in front of him, and not get beat to the basket very often.
5. Ron Artest
Now Artest is an all around good defender, and if this were based on overall defense, he might be higher. However, this is only perimeter defense and that isn't his specialty (on ball defense is). He can still play very defense well on the perimeter though. He has tons of strength and uses his big body to stay in front his man, making it very difficult to get by from points in the paint. Artest might not been seen that highly because of his bad attitude in the past, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a very good defender. You can hate him all you want, but you can't deny he has great defense.
6. Caron Butler
Butler has always been a good perimeter defender, but no one knew about it until he started to become a better offensive player on the Wizards. He has the size, speed, and quickness which allow him to stay right with his man and make sure they don't get by him too easily. He is probably a better on ball defender than perimeter defender, but he still has some very good perimeter defense as well.
7. Ronnie Brewer
Probably the second most underrated defender (behind Battier). Like Battier and Prince, he doesn't put up high stat numbers that get him recognition. However, he is able to keep his man from doing a lot of scoring damage. He has tons of speed and athleticism which allow him to stay in front of his man. He has become a very important role player for the Jazz, and that role is slow down the opponent's most dangerous perimeter threat. He is still young and improving, so he could very easily rise higher on this list in a few years.
8. Shawn Marion
Marion, like Artest, is an all around good defender and perimeter defense is just part of his game. He is more of an on ball and help defender, but he can still play some very good perimeter defense. He is one of the most athletic players in the league and uses that to his advantage when playing defense. He may not be putting up the huge numbers he use to on the Suns, but he is still playing very good defense along side Wade which has been a big part of the Heat's success.
9. Andre Iguodala
Iggy is another one of those all around good defenders. He not particularly specialized at anything yet, but he can play any kind of defense very well. He uses his speed and athleticism to stay toe-to-toe with his man and never lets them get an easy shots off. He has kind of regressed this year for the 76ers, but he is still young and will improve (probably being higher on this list in a couple years as well).
10. James Posey
One of the best role players in the game knows how to play good defense. It's not luck that Posey has 2 rings now (from the Heat and Celtics) because he played a big part in both his team's success. Not only does he come off the bench for his 3 point shooting, but he comes in for his great perimeter defense. When they need him to, he will come in and cover the best perimeter scoring threat on the opposing team. He does very well at this, and has been huge for his team's defense and their success.
Honorable Mention (or 11th whatever suits you): Dwyane Wade
He has greatly improved his defense this year and he has the numbers (team stats not just individual stats) to prove it. The reason why I didn't put him on this list is because he's more of an on ball defender. He can cover the perimeter well, but he is more of an on ball defender. He is also a good help defender too, getting lots of steals and blocks to prove that.
Posted on: December 1, 2008 2:09 pm
For some reason this season feels very familiar to this Pistons fan; it's almost like deja vu. It's kind of like the Pistons traded for aging superstar early in the season before. It feels so familiar like the Pistons struggled at first before and then caught fire around the all star break. Wait, now I remember, that was back in 2004 when the Pistons traded for Rasheed Wallace. Didn't the Pistons win the title that year too? Wasn't that the last time when no one (outside of Detroit) believed in the Pistons and gave them no chance against the Lakers? Yes, now it all seems so clear to me.
Please everyone, don't start having faith in the Pistons. It's that type of thinking that has kept them out of the NBA Finals since 2005 against the Spurs. They are a blue collar team that strives off of the hate from everyone else. They can't perform well when everyone believes in the Pistons. They need everyone to doubt them and hate on them so the they can prove everyone wrong. The Pistons know they can win it all, but when they hear everyone else saying and believe in them, they get cocky and overconfident. They no longer have anything prove and work for because they are already seen as great.
The Pistons have been stuck in the ECFs for the last few years because they become too cocky, arrogant, and overconfident (most of which started with Chauncey Billups; not a shot at him but it's the truth). Since the Pistons won the title back in 2004 and went back into the NBA Finals in 2005 everyone believed in the Pistons and expected them to be one of the front runners for the title every year. However, they continued to disappoint us by losing in the Eastern Conference Finals year after year.
Up until now, the Pistons were seen as one of best teams in the East (Top 2) and one of the league (Top 5), but after the Allen Iverson trade people have lost their faith in the Pistons. After the Pistons haven't had too much success since and the Nuggets have with Billups, people are doubting the trade. After both beatings by the Celtics, people no longer believe the Pistons will be able to beat them in the playoffs if they were too meet. Most people will even say the Cavaliers are a better team (despite the Pistons beating them this year), and you might hear a few crazies saying the Magic are better too.
Now I for one love this. Don't get me wrong, I don't like it that the Pistons are losing, but I do enjoy everyone doubting them and not seeing them as such a great team anymore. This is the exact type of things the Pistons need to win the title this year. They need the media and the fans (not Pistons fans, but other NBA fans) to doubt them. That will give them something to work for, something to try to prove. That's the type of team the Pistons are; if they're not hungry enough for a title they won't win it, but if they are then watch out. Allen Iverson really helps with that too. He is an all time great player who is running out of time in his career. He has yet to win a ring, and is really hungry for one. It's just like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen last year with the Celtics. Both are HoF players who wanted to win a ring before their career is over. It will be the same thing AI this year because he wants to add a championship ring to his list of great accomplishments over his career.
Mark my words: Around the all star break (February) the Pistons will start to click. AI will be fully worked into their offense and things will start to run smoothly. Their defense will be great (as usual) and they will continue to play their great style of teamwork. They will get hot all the way through the end of the season and go into the playoffs ready. They will take care of their first two opponents (in the first two rounds), and go into the ECFs. They will most likely face the Celtics who will give them a run for their money. But in the end, the Pistons will be hungry for another title and defeat the Celtics going on to the NBA Finals. And if they make the NBA Finals, I guarantee they win it all and bring a 4th title to Motown!
Now I'm not gonna lie, the money situation helps too. Even if the Pistons some how don't win the title, they will still have lots of option in 2010. Once AI's contract runs out, that leaves them tons of money to sign one (or two) of the numerous superstars who will be free agents in the summer of 2010. They also still have Rodney Stuckey, and anyone who has watched him play knows this guy is a future star. The Pistons will be able to start him within the next few years.
So in summary, haters can continue to hate because it can only be good for the Pistons. They will get things together and once again bring a title to Detroit. I can see the parade already.