NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Friday, October 19, 2012

The NBA's PED Policy: Standing In No Man's Land


(note: I wrote this article a couple of years ago for an English Class I did. The World Anti-Doping Agency has come out and said that the NBA's drug testing policy is insufficient. Figured I'd share this with you guys). 

The National Basketball Association is one of the four major sports in America, with the other three being Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League. All four sports (as well as other sports not in that list) have had to deal with an era of performance enhancing drugs (PED). While Major League Baseball and the National Football League have been coming down harder on the use of banned substances for performance enhancement, the NBA has remained idle in hoping that the topic of PEDs would simply vanish from the table all together. The NBA’s current testing policy for PEDs is pretty weak. The current policy, which was established in the 2005 collective bargaining agreement, is that players get four random tests during the year and one during the off-season. This is certainly a better policy than the one that was implemented in the 1999 collective bargaining agreement where only rookies were subject to these tests, and the rest of the players only faced one test a year during training camp, and then they were in the clear. The only exception under the old policy was if a player was “suspect” of doping, which is too vague, and not aggressive enough.
Despite being more aggressive and proactive, the current policy still has flaws. There are three key things that this policy lacks: sufficient punishment, emphasis/priority, and thorough testing. These three issues hold the NBA back from having a legitimate drug-testing program that can be taken seriously. As it stands, the current NBA drug testing policy is in “no mans land”. On paper they do have a drug testing policy, which is enough to get the public eye off their backs, but not enough to actually stop and prevent the use of performance enhancing drugs.
Regarding punishment, first time offenders for PED use only get 10 games of suspension, as in the case of Rashard Lewis of the Orlando Magic, who got a 10 game suspension for elevated levels of testosterone. 10 games is a slap on the wrist in comparison to the 50 game suspension of MLB and the 4 game suspension that the NFL kicks out. They need to amp up the games that a player would be suspended if he in fact got caught. Let’s be real. 10 games are roughly 12% of the NBA season. That is nothing! These guys don’t have to feel like they are taking much of a risk if they haven’t gotten caught yet because getting caught doesn’t really hurt you all that much! It isn’t like Baseball where 50 games is 30% of your season, and where in the NFL four games is 25 % of the season!
It is also apparent, that the issue of PEDs is not a priority or concern of the NBA. David Stern, the commissioner said about the matter in a report by Marc Stein of ESPN “ It’s not a problem we think we have”. The quote was in direct relation to steroids, which is the poster-child of performance enhancing drugs. I don’t know what on earth David Stern was thinking when he said this! Hopefully he was just being na├»ve! The reality whether he likes it or not is that the NBA does have a PED problem or at the very least, reason to be concerned about it. The evidence is about as clear as the evidence in baseball from a physical observation perspective. Look how big Shaquille O’Neal’s arms got! Look how ripped Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, and Kobe Bryant are! Rashard Lewis gets busted for drugs, and the rest of these guys are clean?! I don’t think so. The fact that nobody in the NBA except idiots like Rashard Lewis gets busted means that the NBA isn’t really testing for PEDs.
If David Stern doesn’t make it a priority, and says these kinds of comments, then what does that say about the rest of his league officials who are supposed to police it? It means that they aren’t being pressured to really check for illegal substances.
Now I will defend David Stern for just one moment, by explaining the logic of why his sport doesn’t have to worry about steroids, HGH, and other drugs. Stern, as well as others in the NBA, says that drugs that are used to enhance strength like Steroids and HGH aren’t useful in basketball like they are in football and baseball from a power perspective. Other sports like running, cycling, etc. need PEDs for long endurance that basketball players don’t really need. Marc Stein also interviewed NBA player Shane Battier who said about NBA players using PEDs to get stronger “Something you've got to understand is that basketball players just don't like to lift weights. Most of us would rather be out playing ball. We all grew up either on the playground or in the gym. If we're going to spend time working on our game, we're going to be on the court."
Tony Massenburg, another former NBA player stated the same thing, along with Grant Hill, who currently plays for the Phoenix Suns.
Former Stanford all-star and NBA player Mark Madsen wrote on his blog about the matter “I've made a very long list of mistakes and blunders in my own life large and small. Taking HGH, steroids, or any other type of Performance Enhancing drug, is not one of them. I had one interaction directly with this issue where someone asked me if "I had every considered using 'the growth hormone.'" Was this a direct offer? It probably was given the background and the situation, thought I'll never really know for sure. This interaction took place in the summer of 2000 after my Stanford playing days were over and before I joined the Lakers. I mentioned to the individual that I had no interest, and that was it. I've never ever seen it since in all of my NBA days nor is there any concrete evidence or whispers among the players that this has been or is a major problem.”
The center of their logic is that steroids and HGH won’t help you because getting bulkier will slow you down, and that NBA players hate to weight lift, and have other priorities. The logic behind other PEDs is that they won’t help you with the kind of endurance that runners, sprinters, and other endurance athletes need. Basketball being a more stop and go sport doesn’t need the kind of PEDs that those guys need. By eliminating all the things that basketball players don’t need from PEDs the NBA hopes that you can put it all aside and on the back burner.
But the reality is, that Basketball players are getting bigger, they do want to get stronger, and they are getting stronger. I don’t care who you are, strength helps in any sport, whether it’s lacrosse, swimming, or basketball. To say that basketball players don’t lift weights is ridiculous. Of course they do. These guys are a hybrid of basketball players and semi-body builders at the same time. Does the NBA really expect us to be so naive to think that certain players and certain stars don’t apply a little bit of steroids or HGH on their body to get stronger? The reality is that they probably do. Point blank. But, I can’t prove it for sure because nobody is getting “caught”.
This is the same problem that baseball has had. Suspicious players not getting caught and getting off scotch free because the testing is a joke. The fact that no NBA players are testing positive for any PEDs to me personally states that the NBA obviously has a really soft stance and attack on PEDs. If they were really passionate about keeping their sport clean, they wouldn’t have any problem with really jacking up the testing, and ratting out a few stars who are using them. If they started to test stringently, the NBA would be catching a whole bunch of players! But they aren’t catching anybody, which means that they aren’t testing that intensely. Occasionally guys like Rashard Lewis get busted, but that is always rare. The vast bulk of the players know how to easily fly under the radar and not get detected.
On a side note, another reason why the NBA isn’t particular about its policy for PEDs is because they’ve had bigger fish to fry with the officiating scandal that was opened like a can of worms thanks to Tim Donaghy. Tim Donaghy officiated for many moons in the NBA and betted on games that he officiated, and fixed the scores to cover the spread of he and his bookie buddies. With all that going down, David Stern has had his eyes on cleaning up the image of his refs, and making sure that the public has confidence in the integrity of its officials, which to me is a much bigger issue.
When the media thinks about MLB in a negative light, they think steroids. When the media thinks negatively about the NBA they think poor officials who cheat. That is the reality. Baseball has had to fight the steroid the battle, and the NBA has had to fight the officiating battle, and leave aside the PEDs for another day. The thought of busting players for taking PEDs and also having to bust refs for rigging games is too much for the NBA to handle at one time.
But the NBA doesn’t want to appear as though they don’t care about PEDs, and so they have set a policy up in place that “appears” like they really test hard for it, when in reality, they don’t. It’s time for the NBA to step up and either really come down on it, and eliminate it from their sport, or have no policy at all. Maybe just let everybody do what they want, and believe in good faith that nobody is taking them (which is their claim anyway). So, if they feel like PEDs really doesn’t belong in basketball, then they should police it a lot harder. But if they feel like it isn’t really an issue, then they should just let it go, and not worry about it. But having this iffy policy that is standing in “No Man’s Land” is absurd.
This leads me to the third key thing that I mentioned above, which is that they don’t test for everything that is banned. The NBA is much harder on steroids, but their policy on HGH is literally non-existent! The NBA as of right now doesn’t test for HGH because the NBA Players Union doesn’t want to do the blood tests that would spot HGH. So even though they look tough through doing four “random” tests per year, they really can’t be doing any good, if everybody is off steroids and on to HGH anyway. Ezine articles reports “Human growth hormone supplements have been found to produce stunning reversal of the aging process and results from several important studies showed that those who took HGH supplements experienced an 84% improvement in their energy level; 75% improvement in their sexual potency and 88% improvement in muscle strength when combined with a daily exercise program.”
If the NBA isn’t even testing for it, than why not use it if you are a NBA player who wants to get stronger and doesn’t want to lift a ton of weights? The benefits of HGH are as good as steroids, and since the NBA doesn’t test for it, players can use it rampantly and nobody will know! With that being the case, the NBA really doesn’t have all that hard of a drug testing policy!
They’re trying to appeal to both the players who don’t want stringent testing, and the fans/media who want to make sure it’s being policed. You can’t have it both ways. You have to either stomp it out, and be sniffing blood, and actually catch the players who do it because you really hate the thought of steroids being used, or you have to let it go and admit that you really don’t care if they are used. But being in this middle ground where you care enough about it to set up a measly little plan to stop PEDs, but not enough to actually get it to work and stomp it out of your sport is ridiculous and fraudulent.
They have to know that we can see that the NBA players are getting more athletic and it has to be partly because of PEDs. The NBA is caught in this ugly web where they feel like society is pressuring them to have a drug testing policy that they really don’t want to police. It’s there in the rulebook, but it can’t possibly get all that enforced. This comes from the top. The top (David Stern) has spoken, and said it’s not a concern or a problem. With that being said, it means that the bottom isn’t doing its job to police the drug problem. They are halfway up the building in an elevator right now. Where they are right now isn’t the right destination. Going up the elevator means having to really come down hard on a whole bunch of athletes, which isn’t fun to do. Going down the elevator means that they abandon all policy and just trust in their players to be honest or simply allow it to be apart of the game, but believe that their players won’t take drugs because they won’t gain from the use of the drugs. Those are their two options.
I would finally conclude with what I personally think the NBA should do about the drug issue. They need to test for everything at least 4 times a year and make it random. They need to do the blood testing for HGH, and also the tests for steroids as well as other drugs. The NFL and MLB are tightening up their programs, and it’s time that the NBA does as well. As long as the NBA does not test for HGH, then they really aren’t where they are supposed to be. Right now, all they have is a program that tests for only some of the stuff that they should be testing for. They need to get on board and test for HGH and get this stuff cracked down on, and actually show that they want to stomp out PED use. But as of right now, they are standing in “No Man’s Land” with a policy that gets the critics off their back, and that’s it!

Reflection: As a Quick reflection on this topic, I learned a lot about the state of the NBA's PED policy, and was able to gain an opinion on it based off of my observations. It was really cool in my mind to be able to research a social issue that mattered to me and learn enough about it to be able to talk to others about it on a regular basis. It was really fun and exciting to do.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stan Van Gundy Thinks D-Rose May Bolt The Windy City: Sour Grapes Or Is He On To Something?

Stan Van Gundy has come out and spoken his mind on the future of Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose, stating something to the effect that it is likely Rose bolts the Windy City unless he gets another superstar to come join him.  It's easy to call his words merely sour grapes after the fallout of the Dwight Howard saga; but it can't be ignored that many superstars are joining forces in order to "keep up with the jones'" of the NBA.  Carlos Boozer certainly hasn't delivered the goods, and Luol Deng is a "B-level" all star. Derrick Rose is clearly the best player on the team and the team only can go as far as his shoulders can carry them. A better sidekick for Derrick Rose definitely seems to be a necessity for Chicago if they want to compete for a title.       One thing that is in the Bulls' favor is the fact that they are located in one of the 5 biggest markets in the NBA. A move to LA, Boston, Miami, and New York seems highly unlikely for Derrick Rose.  No other destination out there seems to make sense for Derrick to choose over Chicago, which is why he likely stays. But if Chicago wants to firmly lock up Rose for the long term,   they'll want to find a player other than Boozer and Deng that can help him lead the Bulls to a championship. Otherwise, Stan Van Gundy's words may come to fruition. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why Dwight Howard Is Over-Rated



                                     (Image from: blogs.orlandosentinel.com)

Dwight Howard is considered by many to be the most dominant force in the NBA. Standing at 6'11 and weighing 265 lbs, Dwight Howard's body acts like a brick wall to many who coming flying towards the rim. Thanks to his freakish build that you'd only expect to see in video games, Dwight Howard has convinced many people that he is indeed Superman and that he is rightfully the most coveted player in the game today.
    But if you strip away the Superman cape, get past his frightening frame, and look to his stats, you realize he isn't nearly as good as we all like to think he is. Dwight Howard's numbers are solid, and I mean that in a good way. He averaged 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds per game last season along with a shade over 2 blocks per contest. Those numbers tell us he is the best center in the NBA by a long shot. But if you start to compare him to great NBA centers who came before him, it becomes clear he has a ways to go before he can truly be considered a great center.
         Last season, at the age of 26, Dwight Howard averaged 20.6 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. Those numbers look really solid until you stack it up to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the age of 26. When Kareem was 26, he averaged 27.0 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game.  A 26 year old Kareem eats Dwight Howard for lunch. You think maybe Kareem had inflated stats do to weaker competition? Well, lets compare Dwight Howard to Patrick Ewing when Ewing was 26 years old. When Ewing was 26 years old, he averaged 22.7 points per game, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game. Comparing stat lines, it's a toss up between Ewing and Howard if you ask me. Ewing scored a little more, and blocked more shots. Next, let's compare Dwight Howard to Hakeem Olajuwon, who Dwight Howard could use some coaching from (especially if he gets traded to Houston). When Olajuwon was 26 years old, he averaged 24.8 points per game, 13.5 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks. Olajuwon easily wins that battle. At 26 years of age, Hakeem Olajuwon was a vastly superior center to Dwight Howard. He was a better scorer, an almost equal rebounder, and a better shot blocker. At the age of 26, David Robinson averaged 23.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 4.5 blocks, and he was only in his 3rd year in the league!  Finally, lets compare Dwight Howard at the age of 26 to  Shaquille O'Neal at the age of 26. At the age of 26, Shaquille O'Neal averaged 26.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. That doesn't look like Shaq was all that much better. But wait, this wasn't Shaq's best stat line up to this point of his career. His best stat line came in Orlando when he was 21 years old! When Shaq was 21, he averaged 29.3 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game. So, the Superman cape really does need to come off!
     After analyzing their stats, it can't even be debated whether or not Dwight Howard is as good as these players were at his age. They were all vastly better, and mostly on the offensive end. These guys had better moves, better touch, and a better knack for putting the ball in the hole. If Dwight Howard wants to take a big leap forward in his development, it has to be on the offensive end. Right now, Dwight Howard is not that polished of a center and not very offensively assertive. No matter how many rebounds and blocks he gets, he won't become a championship caliber center until he can score in the same range as Shaq, Kareem, Ewing, and Hakeem. Not only that, but at this age, he needs to be entering the prime of his career, having the very best years at ages 27-30. Instead of developing his game and getting better, he seems to be caught up in his own ego and indecision about where he wants to play next.
                                                      (image from: dimemag.com)
 So, to answer my question, is Dwight Howard over-rated? The answer is yes. The reason is because if you compare him to the greatest centers in recent NBA history, he isn't nearly as good as them. Not only that, but Dwight Howard also has a much bigger ego than these guys all had, and he seems much less focused. Let's not forget that Dwight Howard at the age of 26 is more NBA experienced than any of these guys were at the same age. All these other players played at least a year or two in college.  Dwight Howard really should have numbers as good as these guys by now since he came directly from high school!
       The fuss over Dwight Howard seems ridiculous if you look at him in comparison to any of the players that I just compared him to. He's a really good player, and is the best center in the NBA. But unlike the hall of fame players that I just mentioned earlier, he isn't a franchise changing center. Orlando couldn't win a title with him as the center piece, and until he improves his offense, I would have to say that I don't see him leading a team to a title outside of Orlando. If people stop to look at the numbers, and compare him to great centers of former years, it becomes clear that Dwight Howard just isn't worth nearly as much as we all think he is.
 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

2012 Mock Draft

Here is my 2012 NBA Mock Draft. One of the things I did in preparation for this was calculate every prospect's efficiency using the formula on NBA.com. I will display their efficiency rating next to the players name. Here we go!!!

#1 New Orleans Hornets- Kentucky PF/C Anthony Davis (+26.125 Efficiency rating):
Pretty obvious choice here. Anthony Davis has the best efficiency rating of all players entering the draft, which is no surprise since he is the consensus #1 pick. Anthony Davis is said to be the only "franchise changing player" in this entire draft. The rest of the players are supposed to be at best solid, but Davis is said to be in a league of his own. He's long, athletic, and blocks shots at a ridiculous rate. Once he gets some legitimate low post moves, this kid is gonna be scary in the NBA.
#2 Charlotte Bobcats- Kansas PF Thomas Robinson ( +22.23 Efficiency rating): 
The Bobcats have a lot of different options to go with, but I see them taking Thomas Robinson. He's a very solid big man standing at 6'9 and weighing 244. I was deliberating over whether or not the Bobcats would draft Andre Drummond #2, but the reason I think they won't is they want to get a guy who's  more ready right away to make a difference in the pros and isn't a "project". Plus, being a Junior, he's more mature than Freshman, etc. His offense needs work, but like all big men, his size and athleticism is what makes him so attractive. Also, among prospects, his efficiency rating ranks pretty high.
3. Washington Wizards-Kentucky SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (+15.55 Efficiency rating):
 Many feel like MKG is the #2 player in the draft, but you can't teach height! Hence he falls down to #3. The Wizards could use a good swingman to go with John Wall at point and Nene down low. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist really makes perfect sense at this pick for them.
#4. Cleveland Cavaliers- Florida SG Bradley Beal (+16.84 Efficiency rating): 
Bradley Beal fits perfectly with what the Cleveland Cavaliers want and need, which is a player in the backcourt to accompany Kyrie Irving. Beal is supposed to be one of the most gifted scorers in this draft, and he should make Cleveland's offense much more potent.
#5. Sacramento Kings- Weber State PG Damian Lillard (+23.375 Efficiency rating):
Let's face it, the Kings don't like Jimmer Fredette. The team seemed to freeze  him out and not want him on the court. When he was on the court, they seemed to ignore him. Little Isaiah Thomas was doing well enough to sit Jimmer, but long term he's not a viable solution to the "get Jimmer out of town" campaign. What better way to get Jimmer on his way out than to draft an even more talented young point guard from the state of Utah? The Kings still need a point guard, and drafting Lillard will fill the need and also give them reason to deal Jimmer. Look for the Kings to take Lillard #5.
#6. Portland Trail Blazers-Duke SG Austin Rivers (+11.088 Efficiency rating): 
Surprisingly to me, Rivers efficiency rating was pretty weak, but keep in mind he's a freshman. His offensive upside and overall potential will get him drafted higher than he probably should. If you ask me, he should be a mid to late first round pick. But he's gonna get picked high, and I see Portland picking him to fill the void of Brandon Roy. Plus, they've had bad luck drafting big men over the years!
#7. Golden State Warriors- UCONN PF/C Andre Drummond (+14.21 Efficiency rating): 
Drummond had a weak season at UCONN, but many feel he has the highest potential ceiling of any player in this draft aside from Anthony Davis. The Warriors are trying to move away from small ball, and they have Andrew Bogut in place to help show Drummond the ropes down low.
#8. Toronto Raptors- North Carolina PF John Henson (+19.31 Efficiency rating): 
The Raptors have a solid Center down low in Andrea Bargnani, but they could always use another big guy down there to help Bargnani out. Plus, this guy is a good athletic shot blocker, who'll provide solid interior defense down low. Something Toronto desperately needs.
#9. Detroit Pistons- North Carolina SF Harrison Barnes (+13.76 Efficency rating):
Tayshaun Prince is retiring soon, and they need a small forward to fill his spot. Plus, Prince would be a perfect mentor to Barnes and would really help him grow. Barnes would be an ideal player to go to the motor city. A combo of Brandon Knight and Harrison Barnes could be pretty good in a couple of years.
#10. New Orleans Hornets- North Carolina C Tyler Zeller (+21.58 Efficiency rating): 
The Hornets will already have a defensive fiend down low in Davis. So why not couple him down low with a guy who is his exact opposite. Zeller is a fantastic offensive player, who shoots around 80% from the foul line. He lacks good post defense, but having Davis down low would mask that. Look for the front court to get a lot bigger and better in the Big Easy.
#11. Portland Trail Blazers- North Carolina PG Kendall Marshall (+15.056 Efficiency rating): 
Marshall needs to improve on his scoring abilities, but he's a great facilitator and he'd be the perfect guy to distribute the ball to the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Wes Matthews.
#12. Houston Rockets- Washington SG/SF Terrence Ross (+16.542 Efficiency rating): 
Look, we all know the Rockets are stacking picks to get Dwight Howard. But if they keep this pick or trade it, look for Terrence Ross to get picked up about here. He's pretty offensively polished, and seems to have a lot of potential. The Cavs reportedly like him a lot, and he could get picked higher than #12. But this seems to be probably the earliest he'd be taken.
#13. Phoenix Suns- St. Bonaventure PF/C Andrew Nicholson (+21.718 Efficiency rating): 
 He played at a small school, but like Damien Lillard, he's got the game to back it up. The only knock on him is his lack of strength, but he's got a very good offensive game, and a nice shot. All Phoenix has down low are bangers who can't hit the broad side of barn (i.e. Robin Lopez). Nicholson's offensive abilities down low seem to be exactly what the doctor ordered down in the valley of the sun.
#14. Milwaukee Bucks- Illinois C Meyers Leonard (+18.469 Efficiency rating): 
The reports I've read on him say he's got a good offensive game but just needs to continue to improve his all around play. Here's the deal, the Bucks dealt Andrew Bogut for Monta Ellis because they were tired of Bogut always being hurt and they thought Ellis could provide their backcourt with a nice punch.  I don't think anybody including the Bucks knows what to make of Epkeh Udoh, who still needs to develop a better interior post game offensively. Leonard has a better offensive game than Udoh does, and can potentially replace the production of Bogut down low. Leonard is a perfect fit for Milwaukee who needs somebody good down low to help create a more balanced offensive attack. Ellis and Jennings is a nice backcourt, but the need a legitimate down low threat.
#15 Philadelphia 76ers- Mississippi State PF Arnett Moultrie (+21.100 Efficiency rating): 
Spencer Hawes may not be returning to Philly, and Arnett Moultrie could maybe make the departure of Hawes easier. The Sixers got plenty of young legs to run up and down the court. What they need is a big body to crash the boards and score down low.
#16.  Houston Rockets-UCONN SG Jeremy Lamb (Efficiency rating +16.53): 
Good chance Lamb falls a bit if Portland doesn't take him #6. This draft is deep enough that teams will likely draft more need than who is best overall. Good player, that will be a great addition wherever he goes. But he's got nice offensive abilities, and could be a particularily good piece of trade bait for Houston to use should they try and deal for Dwight Howard.
#17. Dallas Mavericks- Baylor SF/PF Perry Jones (Efficiency rating +15.70):
He's valued high by some due to this athleticism. A good stable organization like Dallas would be a nice landing spot because he wouldn't be expected to come in and make an immediate impact right away.
#18. Houston Rockets- Kentucky PG Marquis Teague (Effiecency Rating+ 11.450): 
If the Rockets do decide and move Lowry in a deal, and keep the #18 pick, Marquis Teague could be a nice option to fill Lowry's spot. He needs to cut down on turnovers, and become much more efficient on the court.
#19. Orlando Magic-Kentucky SG Doron Lamb (Efficiency rating +13.150): 
Doron Lamb is probably a good fit down in Orlando. They need to start building for the future, and a good solid young SG like Lamb would be a nice way to start.  He can put the ball in the hole no question, and with Jameer Nelson handling the point, he can just focus on scoring.
#20. Denver Nuggets-Syracuse SG Dion Waiters (Efficiency rating +12.324): 
Hard to know where Waiters goes, but if he's available at #20, Denver will likely take him. He'd be a nice addition to their already deep bench. The only realy knock on him is he needs to learn to adjust to being a SG full time, but George Karl should help him out in that department.
#21. Boston Celtics-Indiana State SF Royce White (Efficiency rating +18.47): 
White seems to be the real wild card prospect in this draft. Nobody knows how good he's really going to be. Look for Boston to take a gamble on White. Once you get to this point in the draft, "gamble" on a guy like White isn't such a gamble.
#22. Boston Celtics- Ohio State PF/C Jared Sullinger (Efficiency rating +21.08): 
Sullinger's back problems is the only reason he'll be available at this point in the draft. But if healthy, he's a promising a young big man with lottery type potential. Kevin Garnett could be on the move, and Boston might take a gamble on Sullinger if they really like what they see.
#23.  Atlanta Hawks-Syracuse C Fab Melo (Efficiency rating +13.10): 
I personally feel that the Hawks are one good big man away from being a real title threat. Maybe Fab Melo isn't the answer, but he'd clog the middle and make things tougher for guys like LeBron and Wade coming through the middle.
#24. Cleveland Cavaliers-Kentucky SF/PF Terrence Jones (Efficiency rating +16.079): 
He's an explosive young player who can score the ball and he has a ton of potential. He's also a good all around player that seems to be another good weapon for a young team like Cleveland to have.
#25. Memphis Grizzlies- Michigan State SF/PF Draymond Green (Efficiency rating +21.75): 
For a player likely picked in the late 1st to early second round, his efficiency rating is quite impressive. The knock on him is he doesn't shine in one area, but then the positive spin on him says he does a little bit of everything. Memphis could use a guy like him that helps them do a little bit of everything. Something Shane Battier used to do for them.
#26. Indiana Pacers- Washington PG/SG Tony Wroten (Efficiency rating +12.94): 
He's 6'6 and is listed as a point guard. I've read he attacks the glass well, handles the ball well, and passes well/facilitates quite well. Sounds like a nice addition to Indy, and a lot of teams.
#27. Miami Heat-Vanderbilt C Festus Ezeli (Efficiency rating + 11.46): 
If there's one thing Miami needs, it's more size in the paint. Ezeli is a big boy standing at 6'11 and weighing 264 lbs. He needs to improve his offensive abilities, but in Miami, they won't need him to score, they'll just need him to attack the glass and play solid post defense. Miami should feel fairly confident he can do that.
#28. Oklahoma City Thunder- St. John's SF/PF Moe Harkless (Efficiency rating +17.118): 
Good chance he's off the board at #28, but he'd be a nice fit in OKC. Another young athletic scorer that  has a ton of upside. He'd make the Thunder younger, quicker, and more explosive.
#29. Chicago Bulls- Vanderbilty SF Jeffery Taylor (Efficiency rating +15.22): 
He gets good marks on his defensive abilities and we all know coach Thibs loves defense. He'd fit right in Chicago and give their bench another layer of depth.
#30. Golden State Warriors- Baylor SF Quincy Miller (Efficiency rating + 11.32): 
He is said to be one of the more skilled players in this draft who can score well, and create his own shot. Not to mention he's a long lengthy dude. The concern with him is he had ACL surgery, and his lack of explosiveness will concern enough teams to have him drop into the late 1st /early 2nd round. But he does show promise, and he'd be worth picking up for Golden State at the #30 pick.

 (thanks to NBADraft.net for providing me with additional analysis and insight into all these prospects). 







Friday, May 18, 2012

Miami Vice

The Miami Heat right now trail the Indiana Pacers 2-1 in the eastern conference semifinals, and with no Chris Bosh for quite a while, the Heat seem to be in massive trouble. The Miami Heat have already been knocked for not having a middle and for not having any sort of a middle or legitimate post presence even with Chris Bosh on the floor. But now that he's out with an abdominal strain, the Heat's middle seems to have really shrunk to the point that it appears as thought there are midgets playing down in the post. Let's be real here folks: Ronny Turiaf, Joel Anthony, and Juwan Howard can't play a lick of center right now, and LeBron James is struggling to play the power forward position. They have nobody to compete on the glass with Roy Hibbert, David West, and Tyler Hansbrough. The Pacers are mauling the Heat on the glass right now, and that has really made the difference in this series.
     The other big flaw that has come to light is Miami's lack of bench depth. When nobody on the bench can score more than 5 points, you aren't going to win many playoff games. The NBA Playoffs is a war of attrition, and you need guys 1-12 step up at some point to win a series. Right now, only guys 1 and 2 are really stepping up for the Heat. The rest of the guys are stinking up the joint and showing why basketball is a team sport, not an individual sport. If their bench continues to suck, then yes, the Miami Heat will lose this series. They need somebody to step up and do what any solid 6th man should do, which is score the ball and take pressure off the stars. Nobody on the Heat is doing that off the bench, and that is why LeBron and Wade are tired down the stretch. With no Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat have to carry 10 yahoos on their back for all 4 quarters. Of course their shots fall short down the stretch. Great teams have the luxury to allow their bench to come in for their stars for around 10-12 minutes a game. The Heat can't play their bench without Wade and James on the floor because they'll get whopped by any team in the league. The fact of the matter is the Heat bench is beyond weak, and LeBron and Wade are too tired to carry this team for all 4 quarters. But before you start defending James and Wade for this, let's keep in mind that they chose to play on this team.
   Bench play has always been an important staple of any contending team. It's a fact. Guys who don't start need to step up and play their roles. When they do, their team succeeds. When they don't their team struggles. The need for a bench is one of the most fundamental needs for any basketball team to succeed, and the Miami Heat basically gave the finger to bench play and said "we don't need it, because we have 3 superstars". Well guess who's laughing now? They are getting beat by a team who has a vastly superior bench, and has allocated its resources more evenly from top to bottom. So don't try to defend Wade and James because their bench sucks. They chose to have a chicken-shit bench, and it's coming back to bite them in the butt.  
     

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lockout Deja Vu?

The NBA Playoffs have finally arrived, and much like the 1998-99 lockout season, we've seen some unusual things thanks to the lockout. Injuries have been the primary fallout of this schedule compressed season, with Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert both tearing ACL's, and Amar'e Stoudemire getting so frustrated at the lockout that he punched a fire extinguisher severing tendons in his hand. But while this lockout has had it's own unique struggles in comparison to the last lockout season in 1998-99, there could also be a certain repeat of events that can't be ignored.
   First off, last time there was a lockout season, the Spurs won the NBA Championship. Back in 1999, David Robinson finally quenched his thirst for a championship, and in the process brought the Spurs their first NBA Championship. Perhaps by pure serendipity, the Spurs are once again playing the best basketball in the NBA and maybe on their way to another championship in a lockout season.
   Secondly, last time there was a lockout, the #8 seeded New York Knicks upset the #1 seeded Miami Heat in the first round. This season, the #8 seeded Philadelphia 76ers have a 2-1 lead on the #1 seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round. We may once again see the #8 seeded team out east upset the #1 seed. Oh, but it gets even more interesting than that. If you remember, the 8 seeded Knicks in 1999 went to the NBA Finals where they eventually lost to the Spurs. Now, to suggest that the #8 seeded 76ers will reach the NBA Finals in 2012 is crazy right? Well, not exactly. You see, provided they eliminate Chicago, they'll be paired with the Boston Celtics, who for much of the season they were out-playing for the division title before sliding back to the 8th spot. Suppose the Sixers get hot and eliminate the Celtics, and then find themselves facing the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Do you not start to think Deja Vu in the Eastern Conference?
    The Chances of the Pacers reaching the East finals isn't at all crazy. Their size and depth is exactly what Miami is trying to avoid. Indiana beating Miami and Philadelphia beating Boston are both legitimate possibilities. From there, take a wild guess who wins a 7 game series between the 76ers and the Pacers. It's a coin toss. So, by flipping a coin, we conclude the 76ers knockout the Pacers and are all the way in the NBA Finals.
    Meanwhile, back in the Western Conference, the Spurs finish their rampage through the West, and voila, we have the Spurs in the NBA Finals facing the 8 seed from the East, who would this time be the Philadelphia 76ers. To complete this all off, the Spurs win the NBA title like it's 1999.
    Does this all sound too crazy and far fetched for you to comprehend? It may at the moment, but mark my words it could all happen, and don't say you didn't hear it from me first. Will the Spurs really win the NBA Championship? In my opinion, I don't see who's gonna stop them. I mean let's be real. If San Antonio plays as well as they've been playing as of late, they'll win the Western Conference title, and likely the NBA Championship. Will the Sixers really win the Eastern Conference title? Well, history says they could, and they have the team to maybe upset Boston or Atlanta in the next round, and there's a solid chance they could avoid Miami altogether. I say why not?
  Regardless of what happens in these playoffs, it's fun to speculate and have fun guessing a what would happen. A Spurs/Sixers Final may seem like a pie in the sky to some, but maybe it's what the basketball gods have in store for us. We shall see.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Who Can Challenge The Thunder Out West?

The Oklahoma City Thunder currently possess the best record in the Western Conference right now with a record of 42-16. They are picked by many to win the Western Conference this year due to their youth, explosiveness, and their deadly one-two punch of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder are currently second in the NBA in scoring averaging 102.72 points per game, first in field goal percentage shooting 47.4% from the field, first in free throw percentage shooting 80.2% from the charity stripe, and 11th in 3-point percentage shooting 36.0% from beyond the arc. In short, the Thunder are a very good offensive team. They have 2 guys in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook who can go off at any moment and take over a game.
         Having two guys who can do that gives them a huge advantage over most of their opponents. But the Thunder aren't winning 42 games because they have two great scorers. The Golden State Warriors had to part ways with a back-court consisting of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, two players who know how to score the basketball. The Thunder are a more complete team than people realize, and have more going on than just Westbrook and Durant. First off, they have a third guy who can score the rock off the bench, and that would be James Harden. While Kevin Durant averages 27.5 points per game and Russell Westbrook averages 24.2, James Harden averages a solid 16.7 points per game. Harden's scoring off the bench is critical for the Thunder because it helps take pressure off Westbrook and Durant in the scoring department, as well as ensuring that the ball flows better. Harden takes a fair amount of shots himself, and makes it a lot harder for teams to double Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook.
           Averaging 31.7 minutes per game, Harden is third in minutes played behind Westbrook and Durant. He is essentially playing starters minutes, but comes off the bench to help give the team a little bit of a spark mid way through the first quarter. Him coming off the bench is also able to more easily ensure that the Thunder always have a good scorer on the court.I.e. when they want to rest Durant or Westbrook, they can have Harden out there playing, since he will be more refreshed.
           In addition to Harden, Westbrook and Durant also have the luxury of having some guys in the paint who can really plug it up and play good interior defense. If there is any weakness in the Thunder's game, it is defense and their bench. They rank 15th in points allowed, giving up 96.35 points per game, which makes them a mid pack team in scoring defense. But their interior defense is pretty solid with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka in the middle. Ibaka is averaging 3.55 blocks per game, which puts Ibaka up there with the greatest of shot blockers. Mark Eaton who played 11 seasons for the Utah Jazz from 1982-1993 averaged 3.5 blocks per game for his career, which is #1 all time in NBA history. Ibaka is blocking shots at rates that few people have. Perkins is averaging 1.18 blocks per game, nothing near Ibaka's level, but he still helps plug up the middle. As a team in full, the Thunder rank number one in blocks per game, averaging 8.07 blocks per game. That is largely due to Ibaka and Perkins.
         The Thunder are also a solid rebounding team, ranking 8th in rebounds per game (43.19). So rebounding doesn't account for their poor scoring defense. The reason their scoring defense isn't so good is due to their uptempo style of play. They rank 17th in steals per game (7.52) but then they also ranked 3rd in field goal percentage allowed. Their opponents shoot a field goal percentage of 42.6%, which means they defend shots pretty well. Somehow, the Thunder still give up a decent amount of points, but they rebound, shot block, and defend shots well. So it means that they give up more points mainly because of their uptempo style of play. As far as their bench goes, it isn't too impressive once you go beyond Harden. The highest ranked scorer off the bench beyond Harden is Daequan Cook, who is averaging only 5.4 points per game. To be truly honest, outside of Harden, Durant, and Westbrook, nobody on the Thunder really is asked to score. Ibaka averages a shad under 9 points per game, but most of those are off put-backs, dunks, and foul shots.
       The offense is and outside-in offense. Most of their scoring comes on the perimeter. Perimeter jump shooting teams like the Thunder rarely win titles because their shots are lower percentage. But the Thunder are so far defying logic in that department, since they have the best record in the Western Conference, and the second best record in the NBA. But the season is not over yet, and the playoffs are yet to start. The Thunder still have a ways to go before they win the Western Conference. There are a couple teams out there who can beat them in a 7 game series. What I will do in this article is list all possible teams out West who may face the Thunder in the playoffs, and tell you whether or not they have a legitimate shot of dethroning the Thunder come playoff time.
         The first team I'll discuss is the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are currently seeded 9th out West with a record of 31-28. They rank 5th in scoring averaging 99.09 points per game, and 22nd in scoring defense, giving up 98.92 points per game. They also rank 4th in rebounding averaging 43.83 rebounds per game. The Jazz are a team with a lot of youth. That is why there is a lot of hope in Utah. Players like Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, and Gordon Hayward are all in their 1st or 2nd years in the NBA, and all promise to be future stars in the NBA.
            But can the Jazz realistically beat the Thunder in a 7 game series? The answer is probably not, but lets keep something in mind about the Jazz. They are young, athletic, and play in a very tough arena. The Jazz are tough to beat at home. Especially in the playoffs. Plus, unlike the Thunder, the Jazz play that pick 'n roll offense, and are a very inside and out team. Their top two scorers are Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, both who are power forwards. Together, Jefferson and Millsap make for a tough front court. A young athletic team like Utah that plays opposite of OKC could give the Thunder some problems. Plus, the Jazz also have a deeper bench than the Thunder do. With CJ Miles, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Alec Burks coming off the bench. The Jazz youth, interior offense, and rebounding are why the Thunder should be afraid of facing the Jazz. Not only that, but the Jazz score at pace not far off from where the Thunder are at. If they met in a series I think Utah would take them at least 6 games, maybe 7 before losing in game 7 in Oklahoma City. Being a division team helps Utah as well, since they are familiar with the Thunder. As of right now, the Jazz are 1-2 against the Thunder.
             The next team I'll discuss is the 10th seeded Phoenix Suns. The Suns have recently surged into the playoff mix with a 30-28 record, maybe getting the #8 seed out West. They are 11th in scoring at 97.81 points per game, and 20th in scoring defense at 97.66 points given up per game. They also rank 22nd in rebounding at 41.53 rebounds per game. The Suns are honestly lucky as hell to even be in the playoff mix, and they don't have much scoring beyond Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat. Gortat is a nice player and everything, but if he's your leading scorer, you are in trouble. He's averaging 15.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, which are solid numbers, but as of right now he is the #2 player on this team behind Steve Nash. Once you go beyond Nash and Gortat, you have Jared Dudly and Channing Frye, two guys who can both shoot and stretch the floor. But neither really scores well inside. Grant Hill is also done for the season, so they've lost his double digit scoring as well. They aren't very young either, something that the Thunder are. The truth is, the Thunder would love to face the Suns in the first round because they are an older team, they don't defend or rebound well, and they don't have a great #1 scoring option. They're offensive punch is gone. They also are 0-2 against the Thunder. Expect the Thunder to defeat the Suns in 5 games.
           The next team is the Houston Rockets ranked 8th in the west with a record of 32-26, who rank 16th in rebounding (42.09 rpg), 8th in scoring with 98.29 points per game, and 19th in scoring defense 97.40 points allowed. Here is the problem with Houston, they don't have any elite scoring options. Kevin Martin and Luis Skola and score the ball pretty well, but neither is especially explosive. Kyle Lowry is a good point guard, who would give Westbrook some problems but the truth is, he is no Westbrook. They are 1-2 against the Thunder this season, so they have beaten the Thunder, but they lack the overall explosive power to defeat the Thunder. The only real edge the Rockets have is Kevin McHale. He's a very good coach and has championship experience. That could serve them well in the playoffs, but not well enough to knock out the Thunder.
           The next team is the Denver Nuggets, who rank 7th out west with a record of 32-26. The Nuggets rank #1 in scoring averaging 103.71 points per game, and #29 in scoring defense, giving up 101.78 points per game. As for rebounding, they rank 7th averaging 43.22 rebounds per game. Currently 0-2 against the Thunder, the Nuggets don't pose much of a threat. They play utterly no defense, which means the Thunder would score a bucket of points against them in a 7 game series. While they themeslves do score very well, they don't have the offensive power to compete with OKC over a 7 game series. Their best player is Ty Lawson, who is having a solid season averaging 15.8 points and 6.7 assists per game. But he is nothing compared to what the Thunder have. If Ty Lawson is your best player, you aren't beating the Thunder in a 7 game series. Last season, they lost to the Thunder in 5 games in the first round of the playoffs, and I don't see why the results would be any different. Plus, they are banged up with Danilo Gallinari having injury problems, which makes them even less deep. Wilson Chandler is banged up as well. They are a fairly deep team going 12 guys deep, which would give the Thunder some problems, but the truth is, Denver lacks the fire power to give the Thunder any real problems.
              Ranked 6th is the Dallas Mavericks who are 32-26. They are ranked 20th in scoring at 94.67 points per game, 7th in scoring defense 93.52 points allowed, and 12th in rebounding 42.62 boards per game. The only reason to think the Mavericks can beat the Thunder in a 7 game series is because they did last season. They are a solid defensive team, and if Dirk Nowitzki gets hot, then the Mavs are in trouble. But a lot of the key pieces from last year's team (Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and DeShawn Stevenson) are gone. Also, Lamar Odom is no longer gonna play for them due to his attitude problems. That really is rough for the Mavs, who thought he could be the missing ingredient in their repeat for a title. With their team having changed so much from last season, along with Odom's fall from grace, I think it's easy to say the Mavs will not knock out the Thunder unless Dirk Nowitzki goes nuts, and other players really step it up. This year, they are 1-3 against the Thunder, which is not at all an encouraging sign.
             Ranked 5th is the 34-23 Memphis Grizzlies who took the Thunder 7 games last season. If there is a team that the Thunder don't wanna face in the playoffs, it's the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are 19th in offensive scoring 95.18 points per game, but they are 6th in scoring defense 93.37 points allowed per game. Rebounding is also a strength of the Grizzlies, who average 42.22 per game ranked 15th in the NBA. The Grizzlies are a threat because they have an inside out style of game with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph in the paint. Also they have Rudy Gay, who is an all-star caliber small forward. They took the Thunder 7 games with Gay hurt. If he's healthy come post season, look out for the Grizzlies with Conley, Mayo, Randolph, and Gasol to make a run. The big reason why I think the Grizzlies will oust the Thunder if they get the chance is due to their depth. They have 6 guys who score in double figures to the Thunder's 3. They have a much more balanced scoring attack, a deeper bench, and they play better defense. Not to mention they are just about as young as the Thunder are. If they meet the Thunder in a 7 game series, I personally see Memphis upsetting OKC. They are 1-2 against the Thunder this season, but they weren't at full strength in any of those games, and in their most recent game against the Thunder, they won @ OKC without Mike Conley.
        Ranked 4th in the Western Conference are the 35-23 Los Angeles Clippers. They rank 13th in points scored (97.29 points per game), 14th in points allowed (94.98 points allowed per game), and 18th in rebounding (41.72 rebounds per game). They have a 2-1 record against the Thunder, which does lead me to believe the Clippers may have a shot at knocking out the Thunder. The reason why the Thunder should fear them is pretty obvious. Chris Paul is better than Russell Westbrook, and Blake Griffin is a force in the paint. Blake Griffin has scored 22, 7, and 16 points in those three games against Thunder, which means that Serge Ibaka is doing his job against B-Griff. In order to really have a good game in the paint against the Thunder you need to have another teammate who also scores well in the paint. The Clippers only have Griffin which allows him to get doubled and roughed up by Perkins and Ibaka. They need another good force in the paint, and their best option DeAndre Jordan hasn't yet arrived. He still needs a lot of growing to do. Teams like Utah and Memphis have two really good inside paint options that can wear down the Thunder's interior defense. Having just one paint player won't get it done.
           But if there is a reason to believe in the Clippers, here is why: Chris Paul will outplay Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin won't be contained, Nick Young will replace the production of Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams will get hot, and they overall will win because they have a slightly better bench. Like Memphis, they have 6 guys who score in double figures while the Thunder have 3. Teams that have more offensive weapons in totality like the Clippers give the Thunder problems. Plus, Chris Paul knows how to close ball games. Do they knock out the Thunder? I don't see why not. I like their chances for the same reason I like the Grizz. More balanced scoring. However, we haven't seen them take the Thunder to a game 7 like the Grizzlies have, which makes me a little less confident in the Clippers. But I give them good odds at doing it.
             Ranked 3rd in the Western Conference are the 37-22 Los Angeles Lakers. They are 17th in Scoring averaging 96.78 points per game and 11th in points allowed at 94.64 points allowed per game. They are also # 2 in rebounding averaging 46.17 rebounds per game. The Lakers are also 0-2 against the Thunder this season. The Lakers on paper give the Thunder problems because they have Kobe Bryant who averages 28.1 points per game, and two great big guys in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. They rebound very well and can out muscle the Thunder's post defense. They have been lacking a good point guard, but now they have Ramon Sessions, who is a legit point guard. He is averaging 13.5 points and 7.1 assists per game as a Laker. He seems to have given this team a real boost by helping them address an obvious weakness they had at the beginning of the Season. The Lakers haven't played the Thunder with Sessions at point, so until then, we can't make a fair prediction of how things will go. Will they beat the Thunder in a series? Probably not, but they got the size to do it, the closer to do it in Kobe, and a better point guard now. So, don't count the Lakers out, even though I think the Thunder probably knock them out in 6 games.
           Ranked 2nd in the Western Conference is the 40-16 San Antonio Spurs. They are 3rd in scoring, averaging 101.68 points per game and 17th in points allowed, giving up 96.38 points per game. They also average 42.52 rebounds per game which is 13th in the NBA. They are also 2-1 against the Thunder. The Spurs are a team that the Thunder should be worried about for a few reasons. (A) They have more experience than the Thunder. (B) They are 2-1 against them and Manu Ginobili hasn't played in any of those games. (C) They have a very deep bench and a lot of it is youth. (D) Tony Parker is a great point guard who can match up with Westbrook. (E) They score the ball well. Also, if the Spurs get the #1 seed, then the Thunder could have to go on the road in a game 7. The reason why the Thunder probably beat the Spurs should they meet is they are younger and have the best player on the court. Kevin Durant is better than anybody on the Spurs. Is Russell Westbrook the #2 best player on the court? Probably, but I'm willing to call him and Tony Parker even. So in short, I think the Thunder win that series because they have the best player on the floor. But if this doesn't mean it wouldn't be close. The Spurs have more youth this year and are deeper than last season. Plus, they play very good team basketball. They play as a unit and are very disciplined. If the Thunder trip up at all, the Spurs would be right there to pick them apart. I expect the Thunder to win in 7 games.
                My honest pick to win the West is the Memphis Grizzlies as of right now. I like their depth, size, versatility, and defensive abilities. But the Thunder should still be the favorites. They've been the best team all year out West and they deserve to be the team being chased. While they are really good for all the reasons I mentioned earlier, they are still young, and I'm not sure they are quite ready to take that leap to the NBA Finals. Remember that they nearly lost in 7 games to Memphis last season, and lost in 5 games to Dallas in the next round (conference finals). It's no "slam dunk" they win the west. There are a lot of teams that can knock them out and a lot of teams that very well may represent the West in the NBA Finals. It'll be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fresh Power Rankings!!!

Here are my power rankings as of today April 10. Enjoy!
1. San Antonio Spurs (40-15) The Spurs just had their 11 game win streak snapped in Salt Lake City, but that was because Gregg Popovich rested Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan. The Spurs are white hot right now, and with the way they are playing, there is no reason to not think they can't win it all this year. 2.Oklahoma City Thunder (42-15) They currently have the best record out west, and they've won 2 straight after dropping 3 in a row. The Thunder should be the favorites to come out of the west, but if they want to make that happen they need better bench production. They're getting 2/3rds of their scoring from 3 guys. That should worry them with teams like Memphis and San Antonio lurking, who have much deeper benches and more balanced scoring attacks. 3. Miami Heat:40-15 No matter how much of a funk that they've been in, I can't pick the Bulls to over-take them in the East. I just can't do it. The Bulls don't seem to have made enough improvements for me to think things will be different this year, but they still gotta be worried that the Celtics are getting hot. 4. Chicago Bulls: 43-14 If they want any shot of winning the East, they have to get the #1 seed in the East. With only about 9 games left, they're gonna have to pedal to the metal to get that accomplished. Miami wants the top spot, too. 5. Boston Celtics:32-24 They've won 7 of their last 10 games, with impressive wins over the Heat, Sixers, and Pacers. Greg Steimsma has also come out of nowhere off the bench to energize this team. The Celtics are hitting their stride at just the right time. 6. Memphis Grizzlies: 33-23 With solid wins over the Heat, Mavericks, and Clippers the Grizzlies are on a roll, including winning 8 of their last 10. This is with Zach Randolph being eased back into the rotation! The Grizzlies are the sleeper team out west, and everybody needs to be more afraid of these guys. They got the depth, youth, and defensive abilities to win the western conference. 7. Los Angeles Lakers: 36-22 They barely beat the Nets, Warriors, and Hornets. They lost badly to the Suns in Phoenix, and lost at home to the Rockets. The Lakers are sleep walking right now, and Andrew Bynum is acting like a little kid. They better wake up soon, because they are not winning the west if they continue playing like this. 8. Los Angeles Clippers: 34-23 The Clippers have taken a huge step forward as a franchise this season, but they still are a couple of pieces away from contending. Still, if Nick Young gets more comfortable in their system, they could make a deep playoff run. But it would really surprise me if they did. 9.Indiana Pacers: 35-22 They're still a young team with lot of growing ahead of them, but when they play at their best, the can hang with anybody in the NBA. Roy Hibbert is a top flight big man, and he's still extremely young. Look for the Pacers to wreak havoc in the playoffs, but not win the conference. 10. Atlanta Hawks: 34-23 They are 1-5 against the Bulls and Heat this season. Granted, a couple of those losses have been pretty close, but I doubt the Hawks will pose much of a threat in the 2nd round. They have a realistic shot of advancing in the playoffs provided they aren't playing the Heat or Bulls. 11. Houston Rockets: 32-25 The Rockets are playing fantastic basketball right now winning 4 straight games all on the road. @ Chicago, @ L.A. Lakers, @ Sacramento, and @ Portland. The Rockets play like a team with urgency, and they deserve to be in the playoffs. Kevin McHale has his team playing the right way. 12. Orlando Magic: 34-23 They're lucky they play in the East, because if they were out west, they'd be missing the playoffs for sure. With all this Dwight Howard wanting to fire Stan Van Gundy drama, they will be lucky to win a series. 13. Denver Nuggets: 31-26 The Nuggets are a tough team to face because they don't have one clear go to guy or an all-star. But they are a well assembled team of many talented players. Kenneth Faried just had 27 points and 17 rebounds against the Warriors last night. I know it was against the Warriors, but the "Manimal" as he is called is living up to his nickname. If Faried can keep this up, the Nuggets will be a lot better. Faried is such a large young man that he's gonna give a lot of teams trouble. 14. Dallas Mavericks: 31-26 Having to part ways with Lamar Odom is likely the best thing for this team, but it is still a real bummer for the Mavs that they couldn't get Odom to play well for them. Now they have to press on and hope they don't miss the playoffs, which is a real possible. 15. New York Knicks: 29-27 The Knicks roller coaster is on another upswing as they've won 2 games in a row and 7 of their last 10 games. They've beaten Indy twice, they've beaten the Sixer, the Magic, and now the Bulls. They show flashes of brilliance, but the consistency just isn't there. They're 19-10 at home, but 10-17 on the road. That's not gonna cut it in the playoffs. They gotta step it up on the road. 16. Milwaukee Bucks: 28-29 Thanks to the Sixers sliding, they still got a pulse. They are 19-4 against below .500 teams, but they are 9-25 against above .500 teams. They've been beating the teams they're supposed to beat, but they gotta do better against playoff bound teams. 17. Phoenix Suns: 30-27 It's amazing that the Suns are still in the playoff mix with the loss of Grant Hill, as well as the departure of Amare Stoudemire. It really is a testament to how good Steve Nash really is. Marcin Gortat is also having a very underrated season, and has been holding down the fort pretty well in the paint. 18. Philadelphia 76ers: 29-27 They have really gone downhill, dropping 4 games in row to the Heat, Raptors, Magic, and Celtics. The loss to the Celtics was embarrassing, and a clear sign that they are on their way out. They got a young team that still needs to grow. Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand have to step up and pull this young team out of this mess before they miss the playoffs all together. 19. Utah Jazz: 30-28 Paul Millsap said the Spurs resting their starters against them lest night was a "slap in the face" to the Utah Jazz. He said it motivated them to win. But it wasn't as if the Jazz really stomped them. With 2 minutes left, the game was tied. The Jazz should be glad Pop rested Parker, Ginobili, and Duncan. Because if he didn't, the Jazz would have gotten stomped for sure. Thanks to Pop, the Jazz still are alive in the playoff race. 20. Portland Trailblazers: 27-31 The Blazers are clearly "walking dead" at this point. They know they got no shot at the playoffs, and they are really just looking towards the Draft. They have the Nets first round pick (top 3 protected) as well as their own lottery pick which they'll get for missing the playoffs. They're already looking towards next season with an improved roster thanks to this deep draft. 21. Minnesota Timberwolves: 25-33 They've gone 4-14 since Ricky Rubio got hurt, so it's tough to really blame them for their struggles. They got a bright future in the Twin Cities with Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and co. But for right now, they're just gonna have to hit the reset button for next season. However, this could be good as they'll get a better draft pick. 22. Detroit Pistons: 21-36 They're 15-12 at home, but 6-24 on the road. Pretty much a telltale sign of a young team. They gotta get better on the road, but as a young inexperienced team aside from Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace, struggling on the road is no surprise. As far as I'm concerned, they've had a very encouraging season. Brandon Knight is the real deal. 23. Golden State Warriors: 22-34 They got absolutely mauled by the Nuggets last night. But overall, they've been playing really hard and aggressively. Expect them to play the Mavericks down to the wire on Thursday night, and perhaps even win. The game will be in Oakland. 24. New Jersey Nets: 21-37 Brook Lopez has been shut down for the rest of the season, and they clearly are all eyeballing the summer. Whether or not Deron Williams stays with the team basically determines whether or not they start from the ground up again or not. They just gotta hope he stays. Otherwise that trade with Utah will officially have been a HUGE mistake. 25. Toronto Raptors: 20-38 The loss of Andrea Bargnani has really hurt this team. Especially since they struggle when he's healthy. They got some pieces,but still they are aways away from being a serious contender. 26. Sacramento Kings: 19-38 They should be excited with the way DeMarcus Cousins is developing, as well as the rest of their roster. They're just young and inexperienced. 27.Cleveland Cavaliers: 18-36 Kyrie Irving is still out, and I wouldn't be surprised if they shut him down for the rest of the season. No need to risk further injury to their top pick. Irving already hast the rookie of the year award locked up. 28.New Orleans Hornets: 15-32 Eric Gordon hasn't been healthy all season and Jarret Jack is out for the year. It's been a rough year for the Hornets in the Big Easy. David Stern is meeting with a potential ownership group this week. Getting new ownership that is committed to this franchise long-term would really give this dire franchise a boost. 29. Washington Wizards: 13-44 They've been beating up on the Bobcats all season. Too bad they don't play them anymore! 30. Charlotte Bobcats: 7-48 They've had a rough rough season, including hearing that a college team would beat them. I just hope they get a good draft pick, and pick themselves up. I also hope Michael Jordan stops running them into the ground.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Are The Orlando Magic Done?

The Orlando Magic just had one of the most dramatic weeks in recent NBA history. Stan Van Gundy opened a can of worms by saying that Dwight Howard had asked for him to be fired. He said management had told him this, but that he wasn't at all worried and only cared about winning basketball games. But this didn't stop the media from going into a frenzy. Kendall Gill had some interesting things to say Friday Night on NBA Game Time regarding the drama in Orlando. He compared Dwight Howard asking for Stan Van Gundy to be fired to a situation that happened to the 1994 Seattle Supersonic team that he played on. If you guys know your NBA History, you know that in 1994, the 8 seeded Denver Nuggets upset the 1 seeded Seattle Supersonics in the first round of playoffs, the first time an 8 seed ever beat a 1 seed in NBA history. The Sonics were expected to win the west as well as the championship, but they fell way short after losing in the first round of the playoffs. Kendall Gill says the reason they lost that series was due to an argument that Ricky Pierce and Gary Payton in game 1 of that series. Gill said that the argument divided the team, and was a big reason they lost that series. He feels that this Dwight Howard/Stan Van Gundy drama will have the same affect on the Magic, and he went so far as to say the Magic are "Done", and will not be a factor come playoffs. Gill's words are strong, and come with a lot of weight behind them. But are the Magic really done? Well, it appears as though Gill may be right. The Magic are currently 6th in the East and 10 games out of first place. They just got thumped by the Knicks who are also full of problems, and have had recent losses against the Pistons and Nuggets. Two teams who aren't going anywhere. But I guess to more definitively answer the question about whether or not the Magic are done I'll define what "done" means. If "done" means out of the playoff mix, then the answer is obviously no. They will still make the playoffs, and likely avoid the Bulls and Heat in the first round, which means they can still maybe win a first round series. If by "done" you mean they aren't winning the championship this season, then by all means, yes they are done. The Magic will not come close to winning a championship this season. They may win a series, they may have a close series in the 2nd round, but they won't advance to conference finals and certainly not the NBA finals. Even if you take all this drama out of the equation and just look at them from a pure basketball sense, it is clear that they aren't going to win the title. Dwight Howard is not the same force that Shaquille O'Neal was in his prime. Shaq averaged 29.3 points per game twice in his early days in Orlando, and 29.7 points per game later on with the Lakers. Dwight Howard averages 20. That's a solid scoring average,but he is nowhere near the same level of scoring production that Shaq was, and he is nowhere near the player that Shaquille O'Neal was as a whole. So the whole Shaq/Dwight Howard comparisons just need to stop. Secondly, Dwight Howard doesn't have anybody else really really good around him. Ryan Anderson is having a breakout season, but he's not good enough to propel them to a title. Jason Richardson is on the back end of his career, and Jameer Nelson just isn't all that good. So in short, if you look at the Magic from just a pure basketball perspective, it's clear they aren't cut to win a title. But then when you throw all this drama into the mix, then it makes things even worse, and really sinks the team. Sorry to break it to you Orlando Fans, but your team is "DONE". Better luck next season, and hope your team makes a big signing over the summer. Maybe you nab Steve Nash? Who knows, but for the time being just hope your team can win a series, and not totally explode at the end of the season. At this point, all that Orlando fans can really hope for is that their team doesn't totally detonate and explode making things even worse at the start of next season.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Orlando Magic: The Jekyl and Hyde of the NBA

The Orlando Magic are the most up and down team in the NBA. Some nights they look dominant and in a position to contend for the Eastern Conference title. Other nights, they look just awful like they did this past week against the Bulls, who drubbed them 85-59 without D-Rose even in the lineup. Their next two games, they went on to slaughter both the Suns and Cavaliers. Granted, those two teams aren't the Bulls. But the Magic looked like a vastly superior team, well ahead of both the Suns and Cavs.
What makes the Orlando Magic so frusturating is the way that they seem to disappear and not show up at certain games. It seems like some nights, the Orlando Magic just mentall check out, and don't even try to give an effort, aside from Dwight Howard. This is why Dwight Howard has considered leaving Orlando. He's not confident his team is all in on being a championship caliber team. But with Dwight Howard now commited for the rest of the season, and also the start of next season, the Magic should be able to put some of that Dwight Howard trade drama on the backburner and just go play basketball. These random occurances of utter apathy need to stop right away. The Magic have the talent with Howard in the middle to give the Heat and Bulls a run come playoff time. But until they get used to playing hard every night, the Magic will get bounced out early in the playoffs. They're way to good to not be a factor in the East. But their attitude has to change. I hope it does, because as an NBA fan, I'm very excited to see what Orlando is capable of doing in the playoffs with the crew that they got.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

NBA Trade Deadline Grade Report

The trade deadline has come and gone. Some teams made moves, and some teams did not. But sometimes not making a move is making move in its own way. What I will do is list all teams that made a move on trade deadline day, grade their trades, and also make a list of notable teams that didn't make any sort of move, and tell you all what I think.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks made the first big move of the trade deadline period by trading away Center Andrew Bogut and SG/SF Stephen Jackson to the Golden State Warriors for SG Monta Ellis, C Ekpe Udoh, and
C Kwame Brown. I like this trade for the Bucks for several reasons. (A) They got rid of Andrew Bogut who wasn't playing due to another injury. It was starting to seem like his lack of minutes on the court was a hindrance to their overall growth as a team. Even though Bogut's injuries were due to falling down off a dunk, and other pretty hard physical plays, the reality is Bogut has shown to be injury prone, only playing 12 games this year, and 65 the year before that. In the 08-09 season Bogut only played 39 games. Getting rid of him is a huge relief to Milwaukee fans for that very reason. (B) They got themselves immediate help for a playoff run. The Bucks are currently in the mix for the 8th seed out East, and they just bolstered themselves to practically secure a playoff spot. They've won 5 games in a row, and are getting a boost from this deal at the right time. Ellis will help provide Brandon Jennings with better help in the backcourt than Stephen Jackson did, and it will provide them with a very scary back court. The Bucks now have a pretty legit 1-2 punch in the back court with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. They're gonna be a fun team to watch and a scary little team as well.
(C) They got a big back! Yes they may have given up Andrew Bogut, but here's the deal: They are getting Epkeh Udoh in the deal, who is a very promising young Center. Udoh has the potential to be as good as Andrew Bogut should he work hard and continue to expand his game. If he gets anywhere near Andrew Bogut level of production or better, they will have clearly won this trade. The Warriors gave up a big and an elite scorer to get a big. But the Bucks gave up a big to get an elite scorer and another big. Bucks won on this deal big time for sure, and they have to be laughing that the Warriors were so stupid for not asking more for Ellis.
(D) Where were they going with Bogut really? Bogut is a very nice Center, no question about it, but with his solid production, where were they going? They were still not an elite team, and barely sniffing out a playoff spot. Bucks had to make a move, and Bogut was their best asset. Dealing him for a promising young big guy in Udoh, a veteran big in Brown, and an elite scorer in Monta Ellis isn't bad to get back for an injury prone Bogut. Bucks won this deal big time. I give it a solid B+.

Warriors: The Warriors were clearly eager to deal Monta Ellis and get rid of a guy who they felt was "hogging" the ball, and preventing the team from playing more unified. But here is the deal: Monta Ellis is an ELITE scorer in the NBA. That's right, I called Monta Ellis ELITE. Not many guys can create shots like Monta can, and the Bucks just got an elite level scorer. Not only that, but other parts of Monta's game such as his defense, and his ability to distribute the ball went underrated in Golden State. Everybody has viewed him as a poor man's Carmelo Anthony, but that is an unfair label on him. He played his butt off every night, and carried that team on his back every night. The Warriors right now don't have a guy that is comfortable doing that. So to recap, the Warriors dealt an ELITE level scorer, a very promising young Big Man in Ekpe Udoh, and a solid veteran big man in Kwame Brown for a top 5 Center in Bogut, and an aging small forward in Richard Jefferson. They traded Stephen Jackson to the Spurs for Richard Jefferson and retired TJ Ford (for cash purposes). They could have gotten a LOT more back than that. Orlando could have offered Jameer Nelson, Ryan Anderson, Jason Richardson, and possibly a JJ Reddick for just Monta Ellis. I guarantee the Magic would have made that deal, and that would have been a better deal. Or they could have dealt him to the Bulls for maybe Boozer and Noah, something along those lines. The point is, I'm not high on this trade on the Warriors end because they didn't get as much back as they could have gotten. Plus, Bogut is injury prone, and is currently out with a broken ankle. If Bogut plays, this trade may work out, but until he does, the Bucks are for sure the winners of this deal. I give this deal a C for this deal.



Memphis Grizzlies The Memphis Grizzlies dealt Sam Young to the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to Ricky Sanchez a 6'11 Puerto Rican currently in the D-League and future considerations. Not a whole lot to really say about the Grizzlies other than maybe they were just making a spot for Gilbert Arenas? I give this move a C+ for the Grizz.

Philadelphia 76ers: Sixers give up Ricky Sanchez and future considerations to get Sam Young, a young SG out of Pittsburgh. Still in only his second year, the Sixers are getting a promising young SG to help add depth to their back court. I like the move because of Young's potential to end up being good down the road. I give this move a solid B for the Sixers.

Indiana Pacers: The Pacers made a quiet but good move at the trade deadline, by giving up a 2nd round pick to get G Leandro Barbosa from the Raptors. Good move for the Pacers because Barbosa can add some depth to their back court like Sam Young can for Philly, only Barbosa will actually help them out now. Barbosa is averaging a solid 12.2 points a game. I give this move an A by the Pacers because trading a 2nd rounder to get a guy of Barbosa's caliber is a steal.

Toronto Raptors: Giving up Barbosa for a 2nd round pick was stupid. Not because they need Barbosa, but because they could have gotten more for him. I give this trade deadline deal a C- for the Raps.

New Jersey Nets: They dealt F/C Mehmet Okur, F Shawne Williams, and a top 3 protected first round pick to the Blazers for Gerald Wallace. Not a bad move at all for the Nets if Gerald Wallace decides he wants to stay in Jersey. This gives Deron Williams more help and doesn't put all the burden squarely on his shoulders. Wallace is a good enough player that they should be able to convince Deron Williams to stay with this news. It's good enough to convince him to stay for sure. If he leaves, it'll be because he didn't like Jersey. But at any rate, I didn't think they gave up too much, and the Nets were one of the teams that had to make a move. They made a solid one, and so I'll give them a solid B on this move.

Portland Trail Blazers: On the flip side of this Nets/Blazers deal, the Blazers did get a protected first round pick that is only top 3 protected. So as long as the Nets don't get one of the top 3 picks, it's going to the Nets. The Blazers would be happy with a #4,5, or 6 pick. They need new blood to rebuild that team and revitalize it. Giving up Wallace was not a small price to pay for a draft pick (Okur and Williams were thrown in for good measure). But it may work out in their favor. One thing to keep in mind, the Blazers don't usually make smart drafting decisions. For the time being though, I give them a B-.

Los Angeles Lakers: Lakers dealt Luke Walton, Jason Kapono, and a lottery protected first round pick to the Cavaliers for Christian Eyenga, Ramon Sessions, and the right to swap picks with the Heats 2013 first round draft pick. Overall, I gotta say the Lakers made a good move on this end. Getting Sessions and only giving up Walton and Kapono is pretty good on their part. This addresses their need for a Point Guard and makes them a better team this season for sure. The head scratching move for them though was dealing Derek Fisher and a first round pick to the Rockets for F/C Jordan Hill who is only averaging 5 points a game. I know Sessions can probably do more than Fisher at this point, but giving up Fisher who was a vocal leader on your team is puzzling and a tad disturbing. Something tells me this will create more drama in LA in the ensuing months. But anyways, I really disliked this move for the Lakers. So combining the Sessions deal and the Fisher deal, I give the Lakers a B- overall. The Sessions deal is an A, but the Fisher deal is D, so I'll give more weight to the Sessions deal, and dock the Lakers down a little over a full letter grade.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Dealing Sessions and Eyenga for Walton, Kapono, and the Lakers first round pick? That was a dumb trade. Getting rid of Sessions is fine, since they got Kyrie Irving, but please don't tell me they couldn't have gotten more for Sessions! I give this move a C- because it was smart to deal Sessions, but not for what they got.

Houston Rockets: The Rockets deal Jordan Hill to the Lakers for Derek Fisher and a protected first rounder which the Lakers got from Dallas. But then they bought out Fisher's contract,so now he's free to go wherever he wants. I give this move a B- for the Rockets because of the draft pick. It wasn't like Hill is a budding star.

San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs move at the deadline was shipping out TJ Ford and Richard Jefferson to the Warriors for Stephen Jackson. TJ Ford had already retired, so in effect it was RJ for SJ. Stephen Jackson has played in San Antonio many moons ago, and is familiar with their system. He's a high energy guy that can come in and get hot. He's sort of an older version of J.R. Smith if you will. Richard Jefferson wasn't doing anything for them, and they did need to make a move. Bringing in Stephen Jackson could help spark their bench play and give them enough of a boost to maybe win the west. It's not a move that I think likely pushes them over the top, but it will provide their bench with even another lethal scoring weapon for Popovich to utilize. I give this deal a B- for the Spurs. Not the kind of move they were really in need of (adding a big man), but they did strengthen their bench. It does make them better for sure.

Denver Nuggets: The Denver Nuggets were involved in a 3 team deal with the Clippers and Wizards. What the Nuggets gave up was Nene to the Wizards but in exchange they got Ronny Turiaf (now with the Heat) and JaVale McGee. For the Nuggets, I liked this move. Nene is a nice player, and he's a really solid big guy. But they need something to get them excited for the future, and JaVale McGee has the potential to be even better than Nene, and he's younger. He's a long freakish athletic young man who can swat shots, and get up like few people can. He's basically a more athletic version of Jeremy Evans with better skills. The Nuggets definitely made a good decision here, and I gotta give them a B+ for this move. I'm not going higher than that just because McGee is still young and does have to mature emotionally. Otherwise this likely is an A move for them.

Washington Wizards: The Wizards sent Ronny Turiaf and JaVale McGee to the Nuggets, and also Nick Young to the Clippers. In exchange, they got Nene, Brian Cook, and a future 2nd round pick from the Clippers. Not a bad move for the Wizards either. They are a struggling team with not hardly any veteran leadership. Nene is a solid Center who is a very professional leader on and off the court. He's a real solid citizen. The Wizards need a voice of reason like that in their locker room, and Nene right now is a better Center than JaVale McGee. Giving up Nick Young hurts a bit, but getting Nene for them is worth it. Brian Cook is another big guy who can crash the boards for them and do some dirty work, and getting another draft pick could help them out in the future. But getting a veteran in the locker room who can start and help take some pressure of John Wall is huge. It was necessary for either JaVale McGee or Andray Blatche to get out of DC due to their attitudes. They chose to trade the guy who could give them more in return. I give this move an A-.

Los Angeles Clippers: They gave up a second round pick, and Brian Cook to the Wizards to get Nick Young. The Clippers clearly won this trade in which all teams benefited. They get rid of Cook who was warming his seat on the bench because Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were getting more minutes in front of him in the front court, and a second round pick to nab a young and talented shooting guard who can fill the role that Chauncey Billups had. Young averages 16 points a game this season, and will clearly give the Clippers offense a much needed Boost. He's not Billups, but not a bad replacement to pick up in a trade. Especially for not giving up hardly anything. The Clippers are the only team involved in this deal with a real shot at winning their conference this season. This trade enables them to now threaten to do that, and so I gotta give this deal an A+ on the Clippers end.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

10 Teams That Need To Make A Move Before The Deadline

The NBA Trade Deadline is This Thursday (March 15) at 3 PM ET. A lot of different rumors are out there, and a lot of different teams are in circumstances where a trade could bolster them for their playoff run or future. Here are my list of teams that need to make a move before the trade deadline.

#1. Orlando Magic: Here is the deal, the Magic are being held captive by Dwight Howard, and they seem frozen at the moment and unsure about what they want to do. Do they trade Howard? Do they bring somebody else in? What do they do? The truth of the matter is they can't get frozen here, let the deadline pass and do nothing. If you're planning on keeping Howard, then trade some other pieces like Jason Richardson, Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu, or some draft picks in addition to a few of those guys to add somebody to help Dwight Howard. If they don't get the feeling that such a move like that is realistically going to up their chances of keeping Dwight, then they need to read Dwight Howard's poker face and decide whether or not he plans to stay. If they don't think their chances are higher than 75% that Dwight stays, then the Magic should deal him and take the best offer. But regardless of which route they go (Deal Dwight or Keep Him), they gotta make a trade.
#2. Los Angeles Lakers: I understand that Ron Artest may be waking up from his slumber, which COULD put the Lakers back in the mix to win the west, but the reality is that the Lakers need to make a move. Even if it is to bolster their bench a little bit. They gotta do something. I actually think their best piece to trade for something like that could be Ron Artest. Some other teams may want him, and they could get a couple of solid bench guys back for him. Of course if the Magic are calling, dangling Dwight Howard in front of their noses, they'll have to really consider that at the expense of Gasol or Bynum.
#3. Los Angeles Clippers: They've already made a big trade this season, but now with Chauncey Billups out, they gotta pull one more good deal off. Jamal Crawford would be the perfect addition to them, and they wouldn't have to give up too much.
#4. Portland Trailblazers: This team is snake bit, and they've fallen a great deal from where they were entering this season. Remember those talks of Portland winning the west? Those talks seem like ages ago. But maybe with a good move, they could get back in the picture. The problem is who to deal. In many ways, maybe dealing Gerald Wallace wouldn't be a bad thing if they got something good for him. But I'd be hesitant to deal him. Maybe trading Crawford makes more sense because they wouldn't give up as much. Regardless of what they are thinking, they gotta do something.
#5. San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are slipping with the retirement of TJ Ford, and the injuries that Manu Ginobili keeps incurring. Spurs are still in the mix, but they better trade for a big real quickly, otherwise, they are out of the race early once again.
#6. Dallas Mavericks: Something tells me this Lamar Odom saga isn't ending very well. Deal Odom to a team not called the Lakers (perhaps the Clippers?) and get something good back for him. The Clippers is where he started off, that'd be a nice place for him to end his career. In the opposite locker room from Kobe.
#7 Chicago Bulls: Let's face it, Rip Hamilton has not delivered the goods for the Bulls. He is old, injury prone, and not producing when in the games. They need to do something to get Rose scoring help in the back court. Kyle Korver is a nice shooter, but he has been shaky all season.They got guys to move, but where will they move them is the question. They don't have to make a push for Dwight Howard, but that would be an awesome duo with Rose and Howard. Miami would sure as hell be in some trouble. They can go big and shake it up, or they can fine tune their team through some smaller trades. But either way, the Bulls need to do something by the deadline.
#8. Oklahoma City Thunder: As well as they are playing, they need to deepen their bench a little bit, or add another good scorer to their bench. Maybe Rip Hamilton would succeed in OKC better, and the Bulls could get some nice young assets in exchange to use in the future. A Bulls/OKC trade smells good to me for both sides.
#9. Golden State Warriors: Is it Curry? Is it Ellis? Which one is it gonna be? I'm tired of hearing all these talks about Stephen Curry/Monta Ellis on the trading block. The reality is they have to make a move and get over with it.
#10. New Jersey Nets: Deron Williams won't stay unless they land Dwight Howard. Period. Nets better get creative with their offers, or they're rebuilding in 6 months.