Tag:Carmelo Anthony
Posted on: February 21, 2011 2:16 pm
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ChiTownCliff's Top 10s

Well the Allstar Game is over and we can move on to "real" basketball. The weekend, was for the most part, a waste of time to watch. Between watching the NBA field guys that cannot even shoot three pointers for the three point content and Griffin being handed the slam dunk contest, I really felt sick as a gazed at the TV. The actual Allstar Game itself was okay, but it was cool to see Kobe Bryant win the MVP even with LeBron doing all could to win it for the east. Anyways, I felt that right now was a good time to throw out my top ten lists. These ARE for play this season so far and for play I expect to see for the rest of the season. I have a Top 10 for each position and Top 20 for players overall and for Top 10 teams. Let us take a look.

Top 10 Point Guards

1. Chris Paul. Pros. No weaknesses and very efficient. Cons. Injuries.
2. Derrick Rose. Pros. Freaky fast and leading the Bulls to a +.700 mark. Cons. Defense is still just average. 
3. Russell Westbrook. Pros. All around very sound player that can do it all. Cons. Needs a better jumper.
4. Rajon Rondo. Pros. Scary good playmaker. Cons. Blackhole when it come to scoring.
5. Deron Williams. Pros. Like Westbrook with range. Cons. Ego?
6. Steve Nash. Pros. Still as silky smooth as they come with the ball. Cons. DEFENSE.
7. Tony Parker. Pros. Great penetrator or the paint and finisher. Cons. Assist numbers are low.
8. Raymond Felton. Pros. Has really elevated his overall game this season. Cons. Below average FG%.
9. Stephen Curry. Pros. Deadly shooter. Cons. Needs to focus slightly more on playmaking.
10. John Wall. Pros. Flashes of greatness spellout big upside. Cons. He's a rookie so I will give him a break.

Top 10 Shooting Guards

1. Dwyane Wade. Pros. Great scorer, defender, and is clutch. Cons. Likes contact, but gets hurt often.
2. Kobe Bryant. Pros. Savvy vet that can do it all and is clutch. Cons. Too many shots for a team with so many options.
3. Manu Ginobili. Pros. Smooth cutter and shooter. Cons. Average defender.
4. Monta Ellis. Pros. High volume scorer that can play the passing lanes well. Cons. Is a tweener size-wise.
5. Joe Johnson. Pros. Great shooter and a solid leader. Cons. Overpaid.
6. Ray Allen. Pros. Best 3 point shooter ever. Cons. Not a great defender.
7. Eric Gordon. Pros. Explosive and can score in bunches. Cons. Clipper's record.
8. Kevin Martin. Pros. A great pure shooter. Cons. Defense and injuries.
9. Stephen Jackson. Pros. Solid defender meets great shooter. Cons. Tarnished reputation.
10. Tyeke Evans. Pros. Explosive and can score well. Cons. FG% and leadership.

Top 10 Small Forwards

1. LeBron James. Pros. A force in both size and athleticism. Cons. His mouth.
2. Kevin Durant. Pros. Perhaps the best pure scorer in the game. Cons. Too soft spoken.
3. Carmelo Anthony. Pros. A threat inside and out of the paint. Cons. Lackluster defense
4. Rudy Gay. Pros. Solid all around player with a level head. Cons. Overpaid.
5. Paul Pierce. Pros. Still able to take over games from time to time. Cons. Sometimes needs a wheelchair.
6. Gerald Wallace. Pros. Great slasher and defender. Cons. Leadership.
7. Danny Granger. Pros. One of the better shooters. Cons. Forces shots sometimes.
8. Dorell Wright. Pros. Great 3 point shooter. Cons. Overall FG%.
9. Luol Deng. Pros. Good shooter, slasher, and defender. Cons. Ball-handling.
10. Andre Iguodala. Pros. Solid all-around SF that can defend well. Cons. Consistant jumpshot.

Top 10 Power Forwards

1. Dirk Nowitzki. Pros. Best shooting 7 footer ever. Cons. Slightly above average defense.
2. Pau Gasol. Pros. Great finisher and passer. Cons. Perhaps toughness.
3. Amar'e Stoudemire. Pros. Best scorer within 12 foot of the rim. Cons. Still not a good defender.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge. Pros. Should have been an Allstar because he is doing it all. Cons. Should be playing for the Bulls.
5. Kevin Garnett. Pros. Still an elite defender that can score when needed. Cons. Needs a zipper installed over his mouth.
6. Blake Griffin. Pros. Oozing with pure talent. Cons. Lacks fundamentals.
7. Chris Bosh. Pros. Good shooter and rebounder. Cons. Thoughness.
8. Kevin Love. Pros. Historic statline in the making. Cons. Defense anyone.
9. Zach Randolph. Pros. Great scorer and rebounder. Cons. The ball stops moving when he gets it.
10. Carlos Boozer. Pros. Great scorer in the paint with a solid jumper. Cons. Defense and inability to dodge luggage.

Top 10 Centers

1. Dwight Howard. Pros. A Beast on defense and on the glass. Cons. Makes some bad choices with the ball sometimes.
2. Al Horford. Pros. High FG% and a good passer. Cons. Needs to work on shot blocking.
3. Andrew Bogut. Pros. Great scorer and defender in the paint. Cons. Injuries.
4. Joakim Noah. Pros. Great vocal leader,defender, passer, and can run run run. Cons. Injuries
5. Nene. Pros. Pros. Able to use his size to overpower others. Cons. Rebounds are lacking.
6. Al Jefferson. Pros. Good on the boards and blocking shots. Cons. FG%.
7. Emeka Okafor. Pros. Smart player that can defend, rebound, and block shots. Cons. Scoring.
8. Tyson Chandler. Pros. Good rebounder that shoots a high FG%. Cons. Should be blocking more shots.
9. Andrew Bynum. Pros. Great size and inside scoring. Cons. If healthy he could be top 3.
10. Andrea Bargnani. Pros. One of the better shooting centers the league has seen. Cons. does nothing but shoot.

Top Twenty Players Overall

1. LeBron James
2. Dirk Nowitzki
3. Dwight Howard
4. Dwyane Wade
5. Kobe Bryant
6. Chris Paul
7. Kevin Durant
8. Carmelo Anthony
9. Derrick Rose
10. Pau Gasol
11. Amar'e Stoudemire
12. Manu Ginobili
13. Deron Williams
14. Monta Ellis
15. LaMarcus Aldridge
16. Rajon Rondo
17. Russell Westbrook
18. Rudy Gay
19. Kevin Garnett
20. Joe Johnson

Top 10 Teams 

1. Spurs. Pros. Just like a fine aged wine. Cons. Will they still have legs come playoff time?
2. Celtics. Pros. Great starting five with perhaps the best depth in the league. Cons. Age and injuries?
3. Mavericks. Pros. With a healthy Dirk they are well balanced. Cons. Without a healthy Dirk they are not the same.
4. Heat. Pros. Best 1-2 punch in the NBA. Cons. Lack of a center and PG will hurt against other elite eastern teams.
5. Bulls. Pros. Great chemistry and defense. Cons. Lack of another scorer at the shooting guard position.
6. Lakers. Pros. Kobe and the Lakers will show up in the Playoffs. Cons. Have they lost their edge?
7. Thunder. Pros. Balanced team that can put up big numbers. Cons. Lack of real size inside.
8. Magic. Pros. Pros. Best bigman in the game never hurts. Cons. Chemistry since the trade is not there.
9. Trail Blazers. Pros. LaMarcus Aldridge has this team on his back and they are winning. Cons. Brandon Roy's Knees.
10. Hawks. Pros. Have the talent to get out of the 1st round. Cons. Very inconsistant.

Well I hope you enjoyed the read. Please leave your thoughts and your Top 10 lists. Remember, these are just my opinions based on stats and watching games this season. I had a hard time positioning players on some of these lists so a player ranked 7th might be very close to 4th in my mind, but I have to rank them. Anyways, let me know what you think.    

Posted on: November 16, 2010 3:31 pm
 

Come February Carmelo Anthony will be a...?

Before we know it the trade deadline will be just around the corner and one name is all the talk. Carmelo Anthony. At this point all the rumors have pointed to either him simply staying in Denver, or pushing for a trade to either Chicago, New York, or New Jersey. All three teams have nice trade bait for Denver to consider, but only one of them will land him. So, which team is most likely to land him? You have to consider things such as New York being his home and the chance they might add Chris Paul, Chicago being so close to being a contender and being a defensive minded team that he knows would be a top team if he were to choose them, and New Jersey being so close to home with some nice young players. Or will he wait out is time until the summer and then look for a team?

In my eyes this is my rankings of which teams are most likely to land him.

1. New York Knicks. Upside: Hometown with Amar'e in place and perhaps another star on the way. Downside: He has stated lately that the knicks are not a good defensive team in so many words and that defense is needed to win it all. New York does not look close to being a contender and adding Melo does not make them a sure fire top 4 team in the east.

2. Chicago Bulls. Upside: Bulls are close to contending and adding Melo would make them certainly a top 3 team in the east and top 5 in the league, no question. Downside: Will Carmelo be fine with Rose being the top dog or at least with sharing top dog status with Rose?

3. Denver Nuggets. Upside: He might just want to wait it out and see what the offseason brings. Downside: Waiting it out could close the door on teams like the Bulls that will need to make a trade to get him because they do not have the cap space.

4. New Jersey Nets. Upside: Not to be an a$$, but I see little upside to this move. Downside: Nets are worse then the Knicks and with a trade the team will be even further gutted. The Nets seem to have a very slim chance in my eyes, if Melo is worried about winning and Championship.

So were will Melo be after the trade deadline?

Posted on: November 10, 2010 11:26 am
 

Do the Bulls really need Carmelo Anthony?

Okay, it is well known that Carmelo Anthony is likely leaving Denver at some point. It could be as early as next week or at late as next summer, but the guy is leaving. The three teams on his list are the Knicks, Bulls, and Nets. I am not exactly sure what the other teams are willing to trade to land him but I am sure they can both offer nice packages as both have some nice young players. The Bulls have stated that they will not part with Noah in any deal for Melo and it is easy to see why. Of course Rose is not going anywhere and I think it is very unlikely that the Bulls will offer Boozer on December 15th simply because he is the scoring bigman that this team has needed for years. that leaves really only one offer that the Bulls can make and this is it.

Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, James Johnson, and a 1st rounder or maybe even two for Carmalo Anthony.

My question becomes: Does this make the Bulls a better team? I mean you really have to consider what the Bulls would be losing and what they would be gaining. Carmelo is a elite scorer that can hit clutch jumpers and back smaller guys down with his solid post skills. However, he is about as average a defender as they come. My real concern is his personality. He is yet another NBA player on a long list of players that have demanded to be traded. What happens if he beomes unhappy in Chicago? Will he cause major chemistry issues? If at some point he wants out he could cost us a title. It is not like the Nuggets are a bad team. They have bult around him prety well and have a good head coach. Does he simply want to be in a big city like Chicago or New York or is it about conflicts with team managers? Could he be a poison to a team? Call me drastic if you will but I am not sold on him and I think we might be giving up a lot in this trade.

Sure a starting lineup including Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah would be lights out and could compete with the big dogs. However, who comes off the bench? Kyle Korver and ... With no more Taj Gibson that would mean Kurt Thomas or Brain Scalabrine which is a hug drop off talent-wise. We would still need a better backup point gaurd because Watson has looked quite bad. We would also have issues still at the SG. I am sure Bogans or Brewer would be fine with the other four out there, but Wouldnt it be safer and a bit wiser to address real needs first like a bcak up point guard and perhaps a better shooting guard?

The Bulls would be losing a SF that can defend well and nail 3 pointers, can slash and post up in Luol Deng. They would also be losing a young power forward that is having a breakout season thus far in Taj Gibson. We could stand to lose James Johnson, but if it cost us 2 first rounders then we are selling out or future as well. It is a gamble and the Bulls are not in the business of taking a ton of risks. I think if we could goback in time and know that LeBron was going to Miami, then we could have kept Kirk Hinrich and signed Boozer and called it a day. The loss of Hinrich is causing our biggest flaw, a lack of a playmaker besides Rose. Once we have Boozer we should have plenty of scorig with Rose, Korver, Deng, Gibson, Boozer, and even Noah. Do we need another? Do we want to trade balance for another superstar?

I know people love to say that it takes superstars to win a title, well the Bulls have a young superstar in Rose and Boozer and Noah are both stars in their own right. Plus you have a Luol Deng that can drop 40 on you and you have both star power and balance. Titles are also won with good roleplayers as well as some depth. I am not saying a deep 12 man rotation is needed, but you need a solid 8 man rotation with 2-3 stars to win it all. Gibson will be a great roleplayer when Boozer returns and Korver, Brewer, and Asik are all nice players as well.

One more factor to consider is Derrick Rose. The guy openly stated he wants to be a MVP. He wants to be the best player in the league, so he certainly wants to be the best player on his own team. Carmelo Anthony is right now a better player then Rose, so would adding him upset Rose? Let us be honest here Bulls fans. Rose wants to be an Alltime great and he never reached out to LeBron in the offseason. Had he we might have seen a different Bulls team this year. one with LeBron James on it. Was it Rose's desire to be the best that kept him from even calling LeBron once? that is something only he knows, but it is certainly something to tink about. Adding Melo could upset Rose.

Well, that is the end of my rant. My question to you is if you think the Bulls should for Melo and trade how much?
Posted on: October 29, 2010 1:41 pm
 

3-Way Trade. Bulls land Carmelo?

Here is a 3-way trade I was considering that would include the Nuggets, Bulls, and 76ers. There have been a few rumors that the 76ers wanted to swap Andre Iguodala for Luol Deng recently. I am not sure how true these rumors are, but they are just rumors. I am not certain this is a great idea for the Bulls as Luol, if healthy, is a great fit. Iggy is a better defender and a better slasher, but not by much and Deng is a better shooter and is now nailing threes. However, Carmelo if Carmelo wants to play for a bigger market and with a better cast then the Bulls might be a great option. I lineup of Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah, would have to be a contender right? So I ran this trade on ESPN's Trade machine and it works. What do you think?

Bulls get: Carmelo Anthony

Nuggets get: Andre Iguodala, Taj Gibson, James Johnson, and Bulls future 1st round pick.

76ers get: Luol Deng

Bulls
would land a top 10 player and a superstar that would have to sign an extension for the deal to go through and the Bulls would beome a powerhouse.

Nuggets would land a star shooting guard to ease the pain of losing Melo and a nice young double double machine power forward in Taj Gibson. James Johnson is a raw talent that in time could become a solid player. The 1st rounder from the Bulls would be in the mid to upper 20s but still it is a pick.

76ers would get the player they wanted and only lose the player they were willing to give up.

Thoughts?

Posted on: October 3, 2010 6:37 pm
 

Chicago Bulls: Season Preview & Predictions.

Okay, so it is time to start blogging again with the preseason starting this week and all. I am so happy the season is finally here and what a great season it could be for many teams that made big moves this summer. I think it goes without saying that the Miami Heat made the biggest moves but a few other made some solid moves as well including my Bulls. So where do the bulls stand in the East now? How many games should we expect them to win in the regular season? How well will each player perform? Will the Bulls make it out of the first round tis season? There are a lot of questions to answer so let us get started. I will first break down each player and then the team as a whole. I hope you enjoy.

The Players.

Derrick Rose. Rose is certainly the new face of the Chicago Bulls and the first Allstar we have had since MJ and this being his third season we should get an idea of what we have here in Chicago. Most Superstars become superstars in the third season. Will Rose? Maybe. I do not think he will enter the ranks of Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, But I think he will become a bigtime player. A seond tier Superstar if you will. Last season he ranked 14th in point per game and I see him moving into the top 10 even with the addition of Boozer. Derrick has had to holes in his game in the past. One being his ability to hit from downtown which looks to be vastly improved, but the other issue, his defense, is still a big question mark. Rose has the size, strength, and speed to be a very good defender, he just needs to get there mentally. Coach T is a good fit to help Rose become the best player he can be and I think Rose will shine this season. His assist numbers should move up a bit with the addition of Boozer and Korver who both hit a high percentage from the floor and his scoring should increase a bit if he is sharing the backcourt with Brewer who is more defense minded.

Stat Prediction: 23 ppg, 8 apg, 3.5 rpg, 1 spg, .475 FG%, .350 FG3%

Carlos Boozer.
The Bulls finally have their back to basket player that they have been seeking since Elton Brand was traded away nearly a decade ago. If healthy Boozer is the perfect fit in Chicago. I know I was pro-Chris Bosh before but that was mainly do to the fact that Bosh was younger and healthier. Boozer is really the better player if healthy and a great teammate. his ability to make the pass in the post and his pick and roll skills are a great match. If he gets the double he can pop it out to an open Korver, a driving Rose, a slashing Deng, or simply bounce pass it to Noah on the block. There really is not a player out there with his skill set that the Bulls could have snagged and the Bulls also got him at a bargin with teams like the Knicks overpaying for Amar'e Stoudemire and the David Lee deal. I am happy with this pickup as it does put the Bulls close to contention. The big looming storm cloud is Boozer's health. Last season he put up great numbers, but I am not sure the Bulls will see those kind of stats from him. He will not be great but he will be just what the doctor ordered.

Stat Prediction: 17.5 ppg, 3 apg, 9.5 rpg, 1 spg, .5 bpg, .525 FG%

Luol Deng.
Here we have another player that is known to get hurt, but he had a solid rebound season last year and I think he is a perfect fit for a third option on any offense. I understand he is being paid like a number 1 or 2 option, but with Boozer and Rose taking the big shots, Deng can focus on defense with his long frame and he can also keep defenses honest with his ability to hit the open jumper. Deng is at his best when he is slashing and moving and we saw a lot of that last season and I think we will only see more. Luol is far from great at creating his own shot, but with Boozer drawing in defenders Deng could see more open shots in stride. Overall, I think the addition of Boozer will hurt Deng's numbers but I think he will be a more effective player with open lanes and looks.

Stat Prediction: 14.5 ppg, 2 apg, 6 rpg, 1spg, .485 FG%, .375 FG3%

Joakim Noah.
I am a huge fan of Joakim Noah and his ability to get under the skin of other players and play nasty defense, but to be honest I am not sure he is going to get all that much better stat-wise as a player. I think he is close to his ceiling. He is a double double machine that can shot block and rebound like nobodies business. I simply cannot see him becoming a better scorer and he already is a good ball handler and passer for a bigman. Having Boozer in the paint could hurt his rebounding numbers a bit but his scoring could go up slightly. I think we all know what we are going to get from Noah when he steps on the hardwood. Energy, energy, and more energy, and he is just the type of player that most Championship teams have in the fold in one way or another. The Bruce Bowens, James Poseys, Dennis Rodmans, Ron Artests of the world. The players that are not affraid of anyone or anything and are willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty.

Stat Prediction. 12 ppg, 2.5 apg, 10.5 rpg, 1 spg, 2 bpg, .500 FG%

Ronnie Brewer.
I remember a few years ago when Brewer was getting a lot of hype as an up and comer. Those ideas have faded as Brewer has never been able to turn into the complete player that many thought he would become. He is very athletic and a good finisher, but his jumper is off and he is scary bad from downtown. However, Brewer has change his game and now focuses on being a defender first. In many ways he is a lot like Hinrich with his ability to matchup with the other teams elite player and slow them down or shut them down, but Brewer is bigger, stronger, and much more athletic then Kirk was and should fit in nicely even if he does come off the bench which I would prefer. A Brewer/Watson Combo off the bench would have defense and firepower. I am not expecting much from brewer this season, but think his defense will be a big part of the Bulls chances of advancing in the Playoffs.

Stat Prediction. 8 ppg, 2.5 apg, 3 rpg, 1.5 spg, .475 FG%

Kyle Korver.
Korver was a great backup plan to J.J. Reddick and perhaps an even better fit for the Bulls. He Knows his place and his job is clear. Hit open threes all night long. Kyle is an average deffender at best but I like him as a starter for the Bulls at the shooting guard and splitting minutes with Brewer. I think his ability to spread defenses has to be utilized as much as possible with Derrick and Boozer. Having him come off the bench kills the whole reason we brought him in. He needs to be out there with Rose nailing threes and driving other teams coaches mad. With him in the starting lineup the Bulls would have a nasty starting offense that could blow up a big lead in a hurry and then the Bulls could slow it down a bit and bring in Taj and Brewer to play defense.

Stat Prediction. 9 ppg, 1.5 apg, 2 rpg, .5 spg, .480 FG%, .450 FG3%

Taj Gibson. With Boozer on board Gibson's minutes will be cut bigtime and thus so will his numbers. Gibson will continue to be a great defender and should have his way in the paint with most other teams bench power forward. Gibson is a jack of all trades kind of player in the mold of P.J. Brown. He is fundamentally sound but lacks the talent to be a star in this league. He will have a long career as a backup and a darn good one at that, but he just lacks the flash and skills to be a huge threat. He can be brought in to be a pest on defense or to slow down another teams bigman and he is always good for a shot block or two. The best thing about Gibson is his basketball IQ, which is very very high and he always makes great choices with the ball or without the ball. He will have a few games this season were he will put up big numbers but Boozer is the man now and Gibson needs to keep on adding bulk and perfecting his jumper which is not bad as it stands.

Stat Prediction. 6.5 ppg, 1 apg, 5 rpg, 1.25 bpg, .510 FG%

C.J. Watson.
I think the Watson pickup might be the sleeper pickup for the Bulls this season. He is a great firecracker off the bench and he should do what the Bulls were hoping Pargo would do last season and that is to be a spark off the bench. Watson is fast and can score very well from within 18 feet or so. His 3 pointer is not great but he can get hot. His defense is a question mark but with Brewer sharing the floor with him the burden is less. I think he could be a great pickup but I will try and keep my hopes in check and wait to see what he looks like in the Bulls system. Scoring a lot of points for the Warriors is not hard to do. I think he will do just fine with the 10 minutes or so he sees every game.

Stat Prediction. 6.5 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 rpg, 1 spg, .450 FG%, .350 FG3%

The Others.
Past the players that I have listed are some solid roleplayers that will not see many minutes unless there are injuries and the players that could see some action are:

Omar Asik. Will see minutes behind Noah and sounds like he has some offense in the post and is a decent blocker and rebounder. Must see him play on the NBA hardwood to see how good he really is.

James Johnson. Will see minutes perhaps behind Deng, but from what I have heard the Bulls brass are not liking JJ's work ethic. We need no drama so I hope this guy settles down.

Keith Bogans. 6 teams in 7 years is never a good sign, but he could see minutes if there is an injury and he is a solid vet and a consistant player.

Kurt Thomas. Yes, this guy is still in the league. He is a locker room vet that will be a nice to have sitting on the bench and keeping the guys focused. He is also good for 3 minutes a night during a blowout. lol.

Brian Scalabrine. The golden horseshoe himself is now a Chicago Bull so mark your calendars for June because we are going to the Finals baby!

The Team.

The addition of head coach Tom Thibodeau was a fairly bold on the Bulls part and I liken him to Scott Skiles who we never should have gotten rid of in the first place. From what I have heard Tom has been pushing the Bulls hard in training camp as has made his place known and the players seem to have fallen suit. We all know that Thibodeau is a defensive wizard but I think we are all holding our breath to see what the Bulls offense looks like. To me it is simple. push the open floor with Rose on fast breaks for as many easy buckets as you can get. The Bulls will be quick and with Noah on the floor dangerous. If the fast break is stopped then set up the half court slow down game with Rose and Boozer utilizing the pick and roll or rune a series of high screens but leave Noah in the paint for rebounds and easy buckets. Noah no longer has to set those high screens with Boozer on the team and Noah never could hit the jumper or drive to the basket anyways. Keep Joakim were he belongs. The Bulls could also try to get Boozer down low in position first and run the offense through him. Let him decide with the ball in his hands. He has plenty of options. On any fast break were Noah or boozer are in the paint and Korver is standing on the 3 point line make the pass to Kyle for the 3 in stride. 

What I am getting at is that the Bulls players pretty much spell out what needs to be done on offense and I think Tom knows this. Hand the ball to Rose and let him work his Magic. I really feel that the Bulls are a very balanced team and their chemistry should work out just fine. I know there are a lot of new faces, but they are all vets for the most part and everyone seems to know their roles. There really are no headcases on this team and a starting lineup of Rose, Korver, Deng, Boozer, and Noah is very explosive. If the Bulls want more defense then the starting lineup could be more conservative with Rose, Brewer, Deng, Boozer, and Noah. This linup has few holes. The Bulls bench is fairly deep. Not the best in the league, but solid with Korver/Brewer, Gibson, Bogans, Asik, and Watson. 

I think the Bulls will be a top 4 seed. The Heat should lead the pack and the Magic and Celtics will most likely be ahead of the Bulls, but it could be close with those two. The Celtics cannot be counted out. I thought they were done last season at this time only to see them back in the Finals again. The magic could go either way. They do not look quite as sexy on paper as they did before the Heat and Bulls trades. The Bucks and Hawks will be in the mix as well. I could see the Bulls winning as many as 56-58 games this year and I would not be shocked. On the other end we could be looking at a team just above .500. I have to believe the Bulls are better then last season and even better then the team that won 49 games and swept the Wade/Shaq Heat in the first round and few years ago. Injuries will play a big part for sure with players like Boozer, Deng, and even Noah playing. The Bulls lost 10 game in a row last year late in the season when noah was out with his foot injury. The Bulls were playing great basketball at the time and could easily have had won 5 or 6 of those games and finished the season with 46 or 47 wins. Subtract Kirk Hinrich and add Boozer, Korver, Brewer, and Watson and the Bulls are a better team.

My Prediction. Record: 52-30. Advance to the second round in the Playoffs and push either the Magic or Celtics to a game seven but ultimately lose.

Possible Bulls Regrets. Not signing Tracy McGrady if he goes off with the Pistons.

Midseason Trade? Most likely not unless the Bulls can move Deng. The Carmelo Anthony for Joakim Noah trade talks will continue until the Bulls lock up Noah. If the Bulls do not lock up Noah then he could be part of a big trade of some sort. If the Bulls resign Noah and are above .500 by 5-8 games come the deadline then the Bulls will not be making any moves.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this preview. Please reply with your thoughts on my predictions or your perdictions for the Bulls or the east in general. I tried hard not to be bias so let me know what you think.
Posted on: June 23, 2009 12:53 pm
 

Top 20 NBA Players for the next 5 years.

     Ok, we have all seen these types of list before, so I thought I would give it a shot. The season is over and the draft is two days away. I simply compiled my list based on the question, " Who would I pick first to be on my new NBA expansion team?" Many of these lists are based either on past accomplishments or perceived future greatness. I wanted to put my list together using a balance of the two. I am not looking so much for the best player to win a title with next year, nor am I looking for the player to win titles with for the next 10 years. Simply, who are the best players in terms of raw skill and experience together. An aging superstar like KG might win you a championship next season, if healthy, but in two or three seasons he will really begin to fade. On the other hand a player like D. Rose may become a top 3 point guard in two years, but that too is a risk to take. Bottomline, I am looking for the player that will be the best option for the next 5-6 seasons. So, in fear of all the negative replies, I give you my Top 20 Players.

 1) LeBron James.

I will admit I am more of a hater then a fan of James due to his sometimes abrasive attitude. He is the best player and he knows it. Sure Kobe is right there, but if I am looking longer term then this becomes a no-brainer. Sure Kobe has 3+ great years left, but James will only continue to get better in those 3 years as Kobe begins to fade. I saw it with MJ with my own eyes. As great as Michael was he lost his edge in his last few years with the Bulls. LeBron is both short term and long term making him my choice for number one. Sorry Laker fans.

2) Dwyane Wade.

Oh no I didn't! Yes, I did. To me Wade is as good as Kobe is already and is younger. If you put Wade in place of Kobe on the Lakers do you not think the Lakers would have won the Championship? They might have not lost a single playoff game. I hate all the Kobe vs LeBron threads, put a case can be made for Wade vs Kobe and if I had to pick from the two I would go with Wade. Both are very similar in that they are strong team leaders, clutch shooters, outstanding defenders, and nightmares to defend. In Wade's own words " I am heading into my prime", while Kobe is on the backside of his.

 3) Kobe Bryant.

You may think I am a Kobe hater but that is far from the truth. I think Kobe is still the best player today, but LeBron and Wade will shortly pass him as Kobe begins to fade. However, I think Kobe will fade much like MJ did in that he will still be a force until he is 35 or 36. Kobe is in great shape both mentally and physically and has a good few years left to lead the Lakers to more Championships. Kobe will also continue to be in the MVP talks for the next few seasons as well. I would still pick Kobe this high because he is that good. Remember I am not just looking short term here, so Kobe being at number three is generous considering the competition.

 4) Dwight Howard.

I argued with myself on this one a lot. If Howard would have led his Magic past the Lakers in the Finals or even pushed the series to seven games then I might have picked him ahead of Kobe. You can not teach size as we have all heard so many times. Howard has a couple of holes in his game for sure like free throw shooting and shooting in general. If he could get his ft% up to around 70% and learn how to shoot a 15 footer then he could become the greatest in the game. He also needs to step up and demand the ball like Shaq did back in the day. Howard is still very young and raw and in time could prove to be a top ten center all-time.

 5) Chris Paul.

With the rules the way they are right now in the NBA a player like Chris Paul is a thorn in every teams side. He can drive and kick better then any other player in the league. He is a threat to shoot from anywhere on the floor and he is a solid defender. In short, he is the total package. Maybe not as fancy as Steve Nash but I think nobody would doubt who the better scorer or defender is. You give Paul a solid bigman to play off of and good wingman and you have a contender everytime. If the Hornets had a better wingman this season they would have been a much better team.

 6) Kevin Durant.

I know that Durant at 6 may seem a bit high, but he is the real deal. He still has holes in his game but with a couple of veterans around him he would shine even more. He will become the NBA scoring champion a few times before his career is over and he will only get better as time goes on. If he can learn to use his length more on defense and bulk up a bit he will become an all-around force in this league for years to come. Can you imagine if the Thunder would have landed the 1st pick in the draft and got Blake Griffin? Scary thought. With a true lowpost player Kevin Durant would be even that much better.

 7) Al Jefferson.

A bit of a gamble here. Jefferson may not be the same after his injury, but all signs look good. He is young and a beast in the paint and as you can see I think he is the second best bigman in the NBA in the near future. He scores well down low and has the size to compete with the best in the league and will overwhelm lesser opponents. Pair him with a solid point guard and a slasher and you have a great team on your hands. It is always wise to build around a great bigman.

 8) Danny Granger.

On just about any other team Granger would be a Superstar. He has not only the stats to prove it but anyone who has watched him play about a half dozen games or so will see that he is a special kid. He is very athletic and is therefore a solid rebounder and shot blocker for a small forward. He seems to be getting better and better every game and the sky is the limit. Maybe the best testament to his ablilty is his consistency. You know what you are going to get from him day in and day out and that will help Pacer fans sleep at night.

 9) Dirk Nowitzki.

I understand that Dirk is getting older, but he just had perhaps his best season ever and Nowitzki has one thing going for him as he ages. He is an outstanding shooter. of all the aging superstar bigmen like Duncan and Garnett, only Dirk is really a great shooter from long range. With his size he will always be able to grab rebounds but even if he starts to rely solely on jumpshooting he will still be a huge threat on the floor. A seven footer shooting threes will always be scary. I still think he has 3 more years to in his prime and he will be very useful past then as well.

 10) Pau Gasol.

He is in the middle of his prime and he is as smart as they come with his back to the basket. Not as good as Duncan but has fresher legs. On just about any other team Gasol would be a 22 and 10 player but his scoring is effected by Kobe. Another huge factor for me with Gasol is he is a great teammate and while Amar'e may have more talent Gasol has more overall skills that make a team winners. Gasol has 5 more productive years left and for that reason he makes my top ten. I wish my Bulls would have snagged him. I still cry myself to sleep about that trade every night.

 11) Deron Williams.

Never should he be called the poor man's CP3. In many ways he is just as good as Paul. He has good size for a point guard and it shows in his ability to rebound and defend. He is still quite young as has many more years to prove himself. Some will argue that he is the best point guard right now in the NBA and deron's stats can make make a case for it. In any event, I think he is a great place to start when building a team. If you start building a team with a bigman or a great point guard you will most likely be ahead of the game.

 12) Chris Bosh.

He is not the best post player in the league, infact he likes to shoot to many jumpers if you ask me and a player of his size should block more then just one shot a game, but with that being said Bosh has a great all-around game and is still young so there should be a bunch of good seasons left in him. He will never contend for a MVP that is for sure but he will be considered a top power forward for the next 8 seasons barring injury. He is a good teammate and a smart player and that could take him far. Maybe even far way from Toronto.

 13) Brandon Roy.

Still young and is already one of the best guards in the NBA. 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists can not be balked at. He is the clear leader of a young rising team and his future is bright. I may even have him too low on this list. I just feel that Dirk and Gasol will still be great bigman for the next 5 years. If the Trail Blazers can make a solid trade they could contend next season. I still think this team would be better with a solid veteran leader to help calm them down a bit. Still if they stand pat they could blossom on their own.

 14) Amar'e Stoudemire.

He is a risk after knee surgery. He is however perhaps the best inside scorer in the game but he disappears on defense and I question him as a teammate. He seems to have an ego problem that could be a cancer in the locker-room. He is a hard player to wrap my mind around. If the stars are aligned correctly he could be a centerpiece of a championship team, but I do not think he is quite that good of a player. He needs to be in the right setting and a number two option behind a superstar point guard or shooting guard. He would do well teamed up with Wade on the Heat.

 15) Carmelo Anthony.

Let's face the facts, Melo could not lead this team with a map until Billups showed up. Chauncey Billups is the sole reason that the Nuggets had such a great season. I might have Billups on this list if he were not so old. I can not see Chauncey being a stud in 3 to 4 years. Anthony will however continue to fill up stat sheets do to his talent and athletic ability. If he could get his head on straight for 48 minutes on the floor then he could be a top five player, but he always seems to get lost in games at times. 

 16) Devin Harris.

What a season for Devin Harris. He has turned into a top player over night. If the Nets somehow land LeBron James in 2010 then look out NBA. Harris, LeBron, and Brooks will make for a great young core that will contend every season. Harris is a solid shooter and a good defender as well as a playmaker with insane speed. He has many more great years ahead of him as well and I think he would be a great 2nd option behind LeBron. Way better then Mo Williams. He is also a smart player and a great teammate.

 17) Tony Parker.

It is hard to think of the Spurs without thinking of Duncan, but this season some might say that Tony Parker was the best player on the floor. He has many great seasons ahead of him and with his ability to make things happen of the floor he will always be high on people's wishlists. He can drive and kick with the best of them and is a great finisher for a smaller player around the basket. As Timmy begins to slow down more and more I look for Parker to take over as the leadr of this team. He too could be higher on this list.

 18) Joe Johnson.

I think we might have seen the limits of Joe Johnson. I think he is a top talent for sure and coulf even be the go to guy on a championship team. What makes him stand out to me is his size for a shooting guard. He is big. I think he tried to do to much this season and attempted to many hard shots. He needs to work on that a bit. Two seasons ago people had him as the third best shooting guard behind Kobe and Wade. He has some work to do to get back there. I would love to see him in Chicago though.

 19) Tim Duncan.

If I wanted to win a Championship next season I might pick Timmy, but he has had a long career and I think we all see him starting to slide. For the same reasons I do not even have Kevin Garnett on this list I have Duncan at 19. While he will still be a great player for a few more seasons he will fade hard. His body can not take that much more, and his outside shot is not as pretty as Dirk's. It is sad to admit, because I have always loved his game, but I do not see Duncan being a huge factor in 5 years.

 20) Rajon Rondo.

From a fading legend to a rising superstar we come to my last player on my top 20 list for the next 5 seasons. Rondo proved to be a great all-around player all season long but in the playoff series against the Bulls fans got to see the Future of the Cletics. Rondo is a true triple double threat in the likes of Jason Kidd. I like to compare Rajon to kidd because to me they are very much the same. Rondo might be a better finisher at the rim, and Jason could dish out better passes, but neither player have a good looking jumpshot. Lucky for Celtic fans Rondo is still young enough to fix that.

 

Well I hope you enjoyed the read. I am sure I will not like my own list tomorrow and for that reason I am sure many of you will not like my list at all. You have to remember I am looking at players to build a team around now for the next 5 seasons or so, so players like Kevin Garnett and Chauncey Billups simply did not make my list. Players like Yao Ming and Carlos Boozer missed out as well because I think neither will ever play a full season again. Some of my choices were easy and others were a gamble. I would love to hear what you think and would like to see your Top 20 list using the same criteria. 










Posted on: May 29, 2009 10:05 pm
 

Top 10 Playoff Performers Thus Far.

    The Playoffs seem to be much better this year in general if you ask me. Maybe it is due to the great series I got to watch my Bulls play in, but I think most will agree that there have been a lot of close games in this years playoffs. i can not remember a season with so many last second shots and amazing plays. I thought it would be fun to rank the top ten players as far as their playoff performances are concerned. I understand the size of the can of wrath that I am about to open by making a list but I only hope to spark some debate. So let us take a look.

Number 1)
LeBron James.

I think it goes without saying that LeBron James is having a historic postseason. I myself have not seen stat lines like LBJs since you know who graced the floor. I am not going to get into the LeBron versus such and such debate becuae I really think it is clear that at least in these playoffs this season that James is the best player in the league. His line is: 36.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, and 7.3 apg. His game 5 triple double is historic in that only 3 other players have ever scored more the 30 point and had more then 10 rebounds and assists in an elimination game victory. He is clutch beyond clutch. What if the Cavaliers made that trade for Shaq last year for Wally? If James can carry his team past the Magic, which looks near impossible at this point, and to a victory in the Finals I will concede to the fact that he is the greatest player in the NBA period.

Number 2) Kobe Bryant.

Kobe has been Kobe which translates into 29.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 4.6 apg. He has led his team to a 3-2 advantage in the western conference championship. As great as Kobe has been and as clutch as he has been his numbers still are a big drop off from LeBron's. The fact of the matter is clear. Kobe has a much better team around him and this allows him to take less shots and it takes some of the pressure off him to display outright greatness. What I am saying is that if you swapped Kobe and LeBron from their teams I think Kobe would be putting up numbers close to those of LeBron's. If Kobe has to he can score at will but I do not think he could average the assists and rebounds that LeBron is. LeBron is just bigger and a more physical presence. Kobe will continue to make big shots and lead his team and I think the Lakers will end up in the Finals. If they play the Magic I think the magic win in 6, but if they get the Cavs then I see the Lakers winning it all in 6.

Number 3) Dwight Howard.

I almost put Dwight Howard in the 2 spot because he has been out of world great. 20 and 15 is scary and with over 2 blocks a game nobody is playing better in the paint and it is not even close. If Howard can continue to polish his back to the basket game and also pick up a 15 foot jumper then he will be unstoppable and could become the "real" best player in the league. He is like a combintion of Shaq and Alonzo Mourning in that he has great size and is athletic but is also very well conditioned. We all used to wonder what Shaq would be like if he lost 40 pounds, well now we can see. Shaq was for sure a much better offensive player but Howard is the better defender of the two. His future is so bright just like his smile. Sorry, I had to write that.

Number 4) Dirk Nowitzki.

Ok, I understand that the Mavericks are no longer in the playoffs but Dirk had a great playoffs this season. In many ways he shed his reputation of being soft by playing a very gritty style of play. I thought the Mavs had a great chance to adavance to the WCF after watching them take out the Spurs in 5 games. I thought the Spurs would win the series going into it and Dirk was the force that finally made the Spurs look like non-contenders. With a stat line of 26.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg, and 3.1 apg Dirk makes the Mavericks still relevant for the next 3 or 4 years. If only Cuban can put the right pieces around Dirk. The Jason Kidd idea was solid but they could use a good wing player. Josh Howard is not the answer.

 Number 5) Rajon Rondo.

The future of Boston showed up in the playoffs. We all knew that Rondo was a top 10 point guard going into the playoffs but I for one never thought he was this good. A case could be made that he is the 2nd best PG behind Chris Paul. Infact a case could even be made that he is the best PG in the league. I would say he is top 5 for sure now and have no problem saying that he is in my mind the 4th best behind Paul, Chauncey and Deron. His stat line of 17.4 ppg, 10.0 rpg, and 9.8 apg in the playoffs is insane and while not as sexy as LeBron's numbers, I think it is safe to say that the Celtics will start slowly building around this young budding superstar. My only complaint would be that he loses his head in dire moments and he needs to mature a bit in that area so that he can become a true floor general.

Number 6) Carmelo Anthony.

Once you get past his outer shell which at times comes across as a bit thuggish you realize that he is a special player. He has slowly turned himself into a top 10 player in the league. When he entered the NBA it was all about him and LeBron James and they were compared constantly. It has become clear that LeBron is the better player and even Dwyane Wade has proved to be the better pick of that draft, but Carmelo has really started to shine the last two seasons and is doing a wonderful job of leading his team deep into the playoffs. He is not leading like fellow teammate Billups but rather leading with his effort on the floor. He is averaging 27.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists a game so far in these playoffs. That is nearly 5 more points per game then during the regular season.

Number 7) Chauncey Billups.

The trade of Allen Iverson for Billups should go down as one of the best personnel moves in NBA history. I think AI is a great player and has had a solid career and on paper it seemed that perhaps the Pistons robbed the Nuggets, but in reality Billups was the perfect fit in Denver while Iverson was far from an ideal match in Detroit. I can think of few players that have had such a positive affect on a new team as Billups has had in Denver. He is in many ways the model point guard with his play making decisions and savvy defense. He has stepped up his game on all fronts in the playoffs, but that can be expected from an old pro. He is averaging 21.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, and 6.7 apg. Can his playoff experience get the Nuggets over the hurdle that is the Lakers? We will find out tonight.

Number 8) Pau Gasol.

Knowing that my Bulls could have made a trade for Gasol for a bag of peanuts last season still makes me sick. Gasol has proved to be the missing link for the Lakers and Kobe. It is no secret that Kobe thrives with a great bigman down low and if the Cavaliers get knocked out of the playoffs it will be in part because LeBron lacks what Kobe has, an real bigman down low. Gasol has been a beast in the paint. While his scoring has not been any better then the regular season he is grabbing more rebounds and blocking twice as many shots. If Gasol can stay this effective then the Lakers should advance in the playoffs. However if the Lakers matchup with the Magic then Pau will be in trouble. He has played his worst basketball against Orlando this season, averaging only 12 points and 8 rebounds against them. 

Number 9) Dwyane Wade.

Even though his team got knocked out in the first round Wade still proved to be a giant on the floor. Averaging 29, 5, and 5 is special and Wade did all he could to carry his team on to the next round but because of the Heats lack of depth his efforts were halted. A real question needs to be asked at this point. Will Wade stay in Miami? There has been so much talk about LeBron James leaving and even about Chris Bosh being traded that Wade has kind of flown under the radar. Can he really be happy? Miami has made no solid trades since they originally acquired Shaq. Marion did not work out at all and J.O. is on his last leg and is not going to help bring a title to Miami. It will be interesting to see how things unfold with Wade over the next season.

Number 10) Brandon Roy.

I think I am not alone when I say that Roy is now the third best shooting guard in the NBA behind Kobe and Wade. He is only 25 years old as well. Portland has a bright future with Roy leading the way. His team also was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round but like Wade he did all he could to elevate his team. In the end Portland proved to be to young, but next season they should have the hunger required to advance. If only Greg Oden could be a factor. If Oden ever takes off then the sky is the limit for this team. Otherwise there will be a lot of what ifs in regards to what if Portland took Kevin Durant with the first pick. Ouch! Roy's scoring in the playoffs went up by 4 points per game but his assists went down by about 2 1/2 per game. That looks like a young player trying to do to much.

Honorable Mentions:

Tony Parker, Ben Gordon, Carlos Boozer, Yao Ming, Joakim Noah, Deron Williams, and Tim Duncan

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