Category:General
Posted on: October 31, 2009 9:10 am
 

Ben Wallace - Still a Top Post Defender

Yes, you heard me right and now that he's back with the Pistons he's proving it. He wasn't be used correctly on the Bulls and Cavaliers who tried too much to play him out of position (PF) and never let him roam like he could. He's old now, so I won't argue he's better than Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett but he's still in that upper group of post defenders. He can still go one-on-one with any post player and slow them/shut them down. He can still get up (though not as well as he use to) and block shots or get rebounds. He is also still quick enough and has quick enough hands and feet to press players after the throw in and still can step out on players and get some steals. If you need any proof, go watch the last two games for the Pistons and you will see plenty of proof.

He's not just putting up individual stats or slowing down just one player, but he's effecting the entire defense again and getting back to being that anchor on defense. The first game against the Grizzlies, the Pistons held them to 74 points on 36.1% FG shooting and Big Ben had 9 rebounds and a block. The game last night against the Thunder, the Pistons held them to 91 points on 43.4% FG shooting and Big Ben had 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 steals. Yes, they did lose last night but there was no more that Big Ben could have done to help them win (they only played him 30 min. for one, and even though they played good defense it was their offense that couldn't get it done).

I know you still have a bad taste in your mouth from what he looked like on the Cavs and Bulls, but you can't expect a player like Ben to be able to play out of position and not in his own style. The excuse sure works for Steve Nash and a few other players, so why does it get ignored for Big Ben? And for anyone who has tried to say it was the Pistons defense that made Big Ben, please explain how their defense is making him look good now? Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villaneuva, and Richard Hamilton are making him look good on defense? Please, Tayshaun Prince is the only other one who can play great defense on the team right now.

I know you will say "it's only the Grizzlies and Thunder," even though I heard a lot of people talking about the Thunder being a "surprise team" this year and their offense is really good but their defense is the weak part. However, Tuesday, November 3rd 2009 (mark it down) the Pistons will get to play Dwight Howard and the Magic. Once you see Big Ben take on Howard and still play great, I'll be waiting to hear what excuses you can come up with then.

Ben Wallace is still one of the best post defenders in the league.


Posted on: October 29, 2009 9:47 am
Edited on: October 29, 2009 9:49 am
 

My Thoughts on the Pistons Opener

For the most part, I loved what I seen in this game. Love seeing Big Ben Wallace back on the Pistons , and I love his defense even more! He had Zach Randolph frustrated all night long and had him shut down. I think I only seen Randolph score once or twice on Big Ben, with the rest of his points coming on FTs or on Kwame Brown /Charlie V. At 35 he can still play very good defense and rebound well; his hops aren't what they once were but he's no chump. He's still the best defensive prescence they have in the paint and is the best they've had in there since he left before. This is one of the better games on defense I've seen this Pistons play in a long time (maybe all the way back to when he left before), and it's no coincidence that they do it with him back. Anyone that has ever doubted or hated Big Ben just was shown what he's still capable of even though he's no where near his prime. For a long time now haters have said it was Big Ben who was made by the Pistons, but I think all us Pistons fans know and anyone that watches him play knows it's the other way around. He might be having them hold teams up 90 ppg all year long like in his prime days, but he can make sure they are still a formidable defense. He with Kwame Brown and Jason Maxiell can lock down the paint on defense. Now of course we need to see them against a real threat down low first before this is proven, but I think we'll get to see what they're really made of against the Magic on the 3rd (next Tuesday).

I've been a Ben Gordon hater and have been upset with how Richard Hamilton has turned out since Chauncey Billups left, but for the most part I was impressed with how they played last night. Rip still had still isn't playing like he should be (still trying to dribble too much instead of just getting open for a shot and knocking them down), but he was good for the most part. I was very impressed with Gordon right off the bat with Gordon (that 4 point play was amazing) and he really looks like he could fit in nicely. He didn't ball hog like I expected him too, and if he continues to fit in and play team ball like he did last night, I'm glad we got him and will admit I was wrong for hating on him this off season.

Rodney Stuckey had some flashes of the great play we know he is capable of, but not enough of them to prove to me that he's going to "come out of his shell" already and be more aggressive. Bynum looked very good still (other than trying to shoot jumpers when he should be driving) and if Stuckey don't step it up this season I wouldn't be against starting Bynum. Prince was looking good on offense, but I want him to get back to playing lock down perimeter defense too; there is no way a guy like Rudy Gay should get that much made shots on him. Charlie V was really the only Piston who I was disappointed with (although he did start playing well toward the end), and I expected more from him. Like Logic said, we need more scoring from the front court and he's a guy I expected to step up and do that. However this game he didn't do that, but luckily it was only the Grizzlies and not an actual tough team we were playing. I guess you can chalk it up to him being a little banged up still and not getting much time in the preseason, so maybe once he plays a few games he'll start getting more into the offense and scoring more. I hope so because we do need his scroring; Rip and Gordon can't score all our points.


Overall, the team did well and looks like they could improve quite a bit after the disappointed last year. I still need to see more and against better teams before I say they will be a competitive playoff team, but right now they're off to a good start. There was a lot of doubt from the general public, Pistons fans themselves, and even myself. However, a lot of those doubts and pessimistic thoughts are gone for me (with some still remaining to be seen). I know this is just the Memphis "my college team is better than I am" Grizzlies, but it's still a positive sign to see the defense holding a team under 80 points and Rip and Gordon playing well together. We'll see soon enough if they can have success against a good team when they play the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, November 3rd! I'm ready to see some more...........

DEEETTRROOOOOOOIIITTT BAAAAAAAASSSKKEETTBBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!! Laughing


Posted on: October 28, 2009 3:40 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2009 7:50 pm
 

NBA boards: All NBA Decade Teams

We, collectively as the NBA boards of CBS, have gotten together and had a voting process in which we have decided on who the best players, coaches, and teams of the this past decade were. This is what we have come up with:

1st team:


PG - Jason Kidd
SG - Kobe Bryant
SF - Paul Pierce
PF - Tim Duncan
C  - Shaquille O'Neal

Coach: Phil Jackson

2nd team:


PG - Chauncey Billups
SG - Allen Iverson
SF - LeBron James
PF - Kevin Garnett
C  - Ben Wallace

Coach: Greg Popovich

3rd team:


PG - Steve Nash
SG - Dwyane Wade
SF - Tracy McGrady
PF - Dirk Nowitzki
C  - Dwight Howard

Coach: Larry Brown


DPOY: Ben Wallace
Best Team: 2000/2001 Los Angeles Lakers
MVP: Tim Duncan


Voting:

Point Guards


1st team - Jason Kidd   : 88 points (27 first place votes, 3 second place votes, and 1 third place vote)
2nd team - Chauncey Billups : 48 points (3 first place votes, 14 second place votes, and 11 third place votes)
3rd team - Steve Nash : 31 points (1 first place vote, 9 second place votes, and 10 third place votes)


Shooting Guards


1st team - Kobe Bryant : 104 points (35 first place votes)\
2nd team - Allen Iverson : 48 points (20 second place votes and 8 third place votes)
3rd team - Dwyane Wade : 31 points (12 second place votes and 5 third place votes)


Small Forwards


1st team - Paul Pierce : 81 points (19 first place votes and 12 second place votes)
2nd team - LeBron James :  56 points (10 first place votes, 9 second place votes, and 8 third place votes)
3rd team - Tracy McGrady : 18 points (2 first place votes, 4 second place votes, and  4 third place votes)


Power Forwards


1st team - Tim Duncan : 83 points (26 first place votes and 2 second place votes)
2nd team - Kevin Garnett : 58 points (2 first place votes and 26 second place votes)
3rd team - Dirk Nowitzki : 22 points (22 third place votes)


Centers


1st team - Shaquille O'Neal : 86 points (28 first place votes and 1 second place vote)\
2nd team - Ben Wallace : 46 points (1 first place vote, 19 second place votes, and 5 third place votes)
3rd team - Dwight Howard : 16 points (4 second place votes and 8 third place votes)


Coach of the Decade


1st team - Phil Jackson - 54 points (12 first place votes and 9 second place votes)
2nd team - Greg Popovich - 51 points (9 first place votes and 12 second place votes)
3rd team - Larry Brown - 8 points (8 third place votes)


Defender of the Decade


1st team - Ben Wallace:   41 points (10 first place votes, 4 second place votes, and 3 thrid place votes)
2nd team - Kevin Garnett: 24 points (4 first place votes, 4 second place votes, and 4 third place votes)
3rd team - Bruce Bowen: 17 points (1 first place vote, 4 second place votes, and 6 third place votes)


Team of the Decade 


1st team - 00/01 Lakers : 27 points (9 first place votes)
2nd team - 03/04 Pistons : 23 points (3 first place votes, 5 second place votes, and 4 third place votes)
3rd team - 07/08 Celtics : 15 points (6 second place votes and 3 third place votes)

MVP of the Decade


1st team -
Tim Duncan : 39 points (7 first place votes, 7 second place votes, and 4 third place votes)
2nd team - Shaquille O'Neal : 37 points (4 first place votes, 10 second place votes, and 5 third place votes)
3rd team - Kobe Bryant : 36 points (8 first place votes, 2 second place votes, and 8 third place votes)



These are the awards for the decade that the NBA boards have come up with. Thanks to all those who participated.


Category: General
Posted on: October 13, 2009 9:15 pm
 

DeJuan Blair: The Next Spurs Star?

I know what you're thinking: "Blair? Seriously? This guy was drafted in the second round of the draft for a reason." However, maybe we should take a closer look before completely dismissing this guy just because he dropped to the 2nd round, is undersized (in terms of height), and has had "injury problems" (I put that in quotations for a reason).

Let's start with his so called "injury problems." Everyone's first response to dismiss Blair is his previous injury past with him tearing both ACLs in high school and having them both surgically repaired. However, that was back in high school and he played two full season for Pittsburgh in college and did very well (winning the Big East Player of the Year last year and getting Pitt a #1 seed in the NCCA tourney). Now sure, he could possibly having some problems 5-10 years down the road but why judge him before you see him play? Just because he might have injury problems as he gets older doesn't mean he can't have a successful start to his NBA career does it?

Now to him being under-sized. I hate this term because people only use it in terms of height. Now in basketball, height is important and can be very helpful in making a player better. However, shouldn't the word "size" also include a player's weight? Blair may only be 6'7", but he is a strong 265 lbs. Much like other big but short players in NBA history who turned out to be very good (Ben Wallace, Charles Barkley, Wes Unseld, etc.) he knows how to use his body and strength to his advantage and make up for his lack of height. He was one of the best rebounders in college and has already proven he is could be a good rebounder in the NBA as well (19 rebounds in 22 min. in his first preseason game).

The most important thing that should influence how he turns out as a player is the team he was drafted for: the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have a history lately of getting players late in the draft and turning them into stars. First it was Manu Ginobili in 1999 as the 57th overall pick in the draft (2nd to last pick in draft). Since Manu is now considered by most as one of the best SGs in the NBA (most would say at least Top 10 and some would even say Top 5). Then there was Tony Parker who was drafted in 2001 as the 28th overall pick in the draft (last pick of 1st round). He is now considered one of the best PGs in the league (most would say Top 5). Now we have Blair who was drafted as the 37th overall pick pick in the 2009 draft (7th pick in the 2nd round). So will we be seeing Blair as star in the next few years to come?

Blair won't be starting this year, but he will get to play behind one of the greatest big men in all of NBA history: Tim Duncan. Right now Blair has a lot of talent and is a very explosive player, but like most rookies (and other NBA players) he could learn more about the fundamentals of the game. What better than to learn from Mr. Fundamental himself. Blair said right after he was drafted to the Spurs that he would stick himself close to Duncan so he could learn as much as possible from him. Learning and playing without one of the best can only make you a better player.

I'm a fan of the NBA and I'm also somewhat of a history buff, so I like to look at things in the history of the NBA that tends to repeat itself. One thing is there is always a sleeper late in every draft, no matter which one you look at. Now the Spurs have had 2 of them this decade, so would another one be so crazy to think about happening? I'm not guaranteeing Blair will be a star or claiming he will be the next great big men for the Spurs (David Robinson, then Tim Duncan, then......), but I'm saying that he is definitely a big sleeper and could turn out a lot better than most expect. No, I don't expect him to put up eye popping numbers this year or win ROTY, but I do expect him to contribute well off the bench to spell Timmy D, Antonio McDyess, and the veteran big men. Then maybe a few years down the road, he might be something special. However, if Timmy D retired soon maybe all is lost for the Spurs; maybe the only reason Parker and Ginobili turned out so well was because of Duncan. Who knows, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.


Posted on: October 12, 2009 9:28 am
 

NBA Member Mayhem 2009/2010

I know I've mentioned it a few times, but the more I think about it the more I realize I want to try and get this going again this year. However, this time I want it to be more organized, planned out, and prepared so that it will not fall apart. Before I start working it though, I want to know from all you guys on the NBA boards if there is enough people out there to make this work. I will need at least 30 people (one person for each NBA team) that will participate in this, and will stay in it all the way to the end and not give up. Here's an early idea of how I think it will go:

We will have 15 "games" each week where I will put two of the teams (or posters representing their team) against each other. If anyone is not familar with how Member Mayhem works (just like CBS's NFL and NCAA Member Mayhem) I will select a question for everyone to answer and you give me a response based on the requirements (might be limited to 300-500 words or something like that) and then I will judge who's response was the best; also we will have a poll up for everyone else to vote on who they thought was the best. I will rate each response on a 1-10 scale, and you will get the amount of points based on my "grade." The poll will also give you points based on percentage; you will get a point for each 10% of the poll voting you get. So all together there will be a possible 20 points for each team to get, and whoever has the most total points at the end of the week wins that matchup.

We will only have 1 "game" per week since there will be 15 of them going at the same time, and we need to give everyone (and myself) time to read all of them and make their judgements. I have not got a timeable schedule set yet (I might need some help from some expert schedulers on here) but I would like to have one "game" per week for every week of the NBA season. At the end of the season, the best 8 teams from each division (just like the real NBA) with the most points will make the playoffs. You will be seeded based on your amount of points and then be matched up by seedings for the playoffs. The playoffs will be scheduled as well (most likely longer than the regular season "games") and there will be word count limits (higher than regular season as well) for your responses. Then we will go through and find ourself a winner.

I'm not planning on starting this until the actual NBA season starts, but I need to start planning now if I want to get it ready in time. So for now, I want to find out if there is 30 people (one to represent each NBA team) out there who understands how this thing will work and will be able to participate for the entire NBA season and playoffs. Also I will need at least 1-2 people to help me run this as well since I want it to be ran smoothly and without many hiccups. I can't be on the computer 24/7, so I will need help from people to run this. I know there is people out there who I can trust to help me out with something like this, and I'm sure they know who they are. So if you don't want to actual participate in this as a team representative, but would be able to help me out with keeping track of the points, scheduling, etc. then let me know and I would really appreciate the help.

Now I know a lot of people on these NBA boards and there are quite a few people who I know would a good job in this thing. However, just because I don't know you doesn't mean you can't get in. If I'm not quite familar with you but you still want to participate, write me a quick little entry paragraph (about 300 words; on this thread) about how you think your favorite team will do this season to prove your worth to me. If I can tell you're an intelligent and logica poster who has plenty of NBA knowledge, then I will be happy to let you in even if I don't know you.

So, who's interested?

Category: General
Posted on: September 28, 2009 8:24 am
Edited on: September 28, 2009 5:59 pm
 

NBA Southwest Division Preview - 2009/2010

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)

Posted on: September 22, 2009 7:18 pm
 

The Mavericks: Old Stars bring new success?

What do Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and Dirk Nowitzki all have in common? Other than being teammates on the Dallas Mavericks of course Tongue out

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: July 21, 2009 5:09 pm
 

What has the world come to?

Can you remember when athletes were just athletes? Before all the movie star, celebrity athletes when all they cared about was traing hard and doing their best at their sport. Now I'm not talking about way back when athletes weren't paid millions of dollars and they had to have other jobs to survive. I'm about since athletes started making the big bucks. Can you remember back when there wasn't any star athlete in any sport that was looking improve their image or make even more ridiculous money by staring in a movie or doing some other form of entertainment?

I bring this up of course because it seems to be worse now than ever. Athletes are no longer looking to star in movies or get big time endorsement deals anymore, but no that's not enough for them. Now they want their own "reality TV” shows that are all about them. It's one thing to have an athlete play a role in a movie, which forces them to miss some training time, but it's another thing when that athlete plays a huge part or is the star of a movie. But it's plain our ridiculous for any athlete to have their own TV show. Why I ask? What's the need for it? What good can it do? It can't be about the money because they have plenty already.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I'm talking about Terrell Owens and Shaquille O'Neal. Of course if anyone would do it, it would be T.O. so that comes as no surprise to me. It's still ridiculous because he's wasting his time participating in the "Superstars" challenges (where he could very well injury himself and really screw himself and his team over) instead of practicing and preparing for his up coming debut with his team, the Buffalo Bills. If that's not enough, he also has to have a "reality" TV show, "The TO Show" to have people watch him and his entourage in their "real lives." Like we haven't seen enough of the "The TO Show" when he was with the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys. Shouldn't TO be worried about actually contributing to a team and be a team player for once; he has yet to win the ultimate prize in the NFL: The Super Bowl. Shouldn't that be his main concern, and not reality TV shows?

Then there is Shaq. Now it's really not that surprising that Shaq is doing his own TV show as well because he can never be out done by anyone (he won't let TO get all the lime light). His makes a little more sense (but that's not saying much) than "The TO Show," because he's actually competing in athletic events and will be training before each show. However, he is not like Shaq is some young guy here. He is 37 years old and his body is not near what it use to be. He could very well get injured in one of these events, especially since he has a very competitive nature and will be going up against the best players at their respective sports (who are also very competitive and could get very carried away, especially if it looks like Shaq could beat them). You'd think with all the time he wastes on movies (Kazaam) and TV shows that he could have very well used that time to improve his game? I bet if he had practiced free throws instead he'd be able to make more the 50% of his FTs. He says this is a new way to help him train in the off-season, but why wouldn't you train practice with your Cavaliers teammates and train for basketball instead of training for different sports?

I really don't want to see this become a trend, but know today's culture which is driven and ruled by the media and "reality TV shows." I wouldn't be surprised to see more athletes follow suit; especially someone like LeBron James. "The King" doesn't want to be out done by anyone either, and will have to come up with some reality TV show in order to remain "on top" in the public eye. I've got a good suggestion for a show he should do: "I Dunked on LeBron James." Xavier's Jordan Crawford could be the guy who introduces each new player that will get a shot at dunking on LBJ. I'm sure Nike would walk right into MTV's station and ask for their tapes of the show so we'd never be able to see it.

It's a sad sad thing to watch great athletes do things like this. If this is a sign of things to come and is the future of entertainment, maybe Mike Judge got things right when he made the film "Idiocracy."

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com