Jul 24, 2008

Monta Ellis gets $67M

Is this a good move? I'm torn. It's not that I don't believe he's worth those kinds of dollars, it's just that I'm doubting the Warriors will utilize him properly.

I'm a huge Ellis fan, but I think the Warriors are making a mistake if they plan on building around him as a POINT GUARD. I'm hoping the W's are planning on developing newly-acquired Marcus Williams as their point man, because Ellis is not and will never be a lead guard in this league.

Ellis is a shoot-first, pass-second kind of player. I don't think he's selfish by any means -- he is merely best suited as a scorer. Playing alongside B-Diddy the last few seasons took the burden off him from a ballhandling and distributing perspective. He could finish on the fast break and slash from the wings. With Davis gone, he's probably going to spend the bulk of his minutes at the 1. Nellie is going to start him with Jackson & Maggette, and neither of those two are capable of playing the point guard.

Watch the turnovers pile up in this whirling dirvish offense next season...

Jul 10, 2008

If the NBA Started Fresh...

I got to thinking what it might look like if the NBA cleared all its rosters and had a 12-round draft to re-form the teams. I'm not going to make a 12-round mock draft -- despite what you may think, I really don't have that much time on my hands. I'll start by making my picks for spots #1 through 15 and will follow up with 16-30 in the coming days. My criteria for the top players on this list are as follows: 1) age (I want a player who isn't going to fade away in less than 5 years), 2) skill set (I want players who are versatile and can play multiple positions), 3) leadership (I want someone I can build my team around), 4) love for the game (without passion for the game, how can I expect him to improve?), and 5) marketability (the NBA is still a business, and some players are better at putting fans in the stands than others). Obviously, this list is up for criticism as it is a daunting task and I will inevitably make some questionable picks.

1. Lebron James
There isn't a young player in the game with a higher ceiling. He put up 30, 7, & 7 as a 23-year old kid last season. He can play multiple positions, and makes his teammates better. Plus, the NBA is determined to make him their poster boy for the next ten-plus seasons, so the marketing possibilities would be endless.

2. Chris Paul
Already the best point guard in the game, and still only 23 years old. Had averages of 24, 11, & 5 in his first playoffs and almost singlehandedly knocked out the defending champs.

3. Dwight Howard
Only 22 years old, and already the best true center in the game. An absolute beast who still has time to correct his obvious flaws (FT shooting, Turnovers). I gave him the nod over Kobe because he will be around much longer.

4. Kobe Bryant
The best player in the game and the most-feared player in the clutch. He's still only 29, so I'm giving him 6-7 quality years left. Like him or not, we all know he has the drive that will keep him at the top of his game for that long.

5. Deron Williams
Probably my first pick with any legitimate "shock" value. Say what you want, but he's already (at 24) the leader of a very good Utah team. Plays like a guy who's been in the league ten years. Unlike players who rely upon athleticism & quickness (although he has both), his style of play is one that will remain effective even as his legs start to wear down. Besides, he's a point guard -- and most NBA GM's are sold on point guard as the position to build your team around.

6. Amare Stoudemire
Although he's not great on the defensive end, he is a workhorse on offense. He's only 26, and has shown a great work ethic in coming back from that season-ending knee injury a few years ago. Virtually unguardable from the mid-post and will get your team plenty of easy baskets.

7. Kevin Durant
I said it a year ago, and I still believe it -- Durant should have been the first pick in last year's draft. I'm not overly concerned with his low shooting percentage as a rookie (that will improve as he learns NBA game) or his skin-and-bones frame (he only missed a few games in an 82 game season). He's already a prolific scorer, has a 7' wingspan, and made a few game-winners as a rook. He also seems to have a deep passion for the game, which makes me believe he will improve tremendously over the next few years. Oh yeah, he's 19!

8. Brandon Roy
Great all-around player going into his third year in the league. Has shown leadership at a young age and the ability to play multiple positions. Also possesses the "it" factor that results in icy cool play down the stretch of games.

9. Derrick Rose
My top 10 may be a little point guard-heavy, but as I said earlier -- that's what GM's crave. Rose went #1 this year, so who's to say he wouldn't be a top-10 pick under this draft's format? Given his age, ceiling, and unselfishness, I probably have him a little too low on this board.

10. Dwyane Wade
Despite his recent string of injuries, some GM would nab him this high. It was only two years ago that he led the Heat to the NBA Title (yes, it was Wade... not Shaq). He's still only 26 and can play the 1 or the 2. He's got a motor that won't quit and a knack for hitting the big shot.

11. Carmelo Anthony
He may be a crybaby, but there's no mistaking his love for the game. He'll continue to work at it and has the ability to drop 50 any given night. There are only a few scorers in the league more gifted than Melo, and he is improving in his rebounding, defense, and passing. If Wade goes #10, Melo goes #11.

12. Greg Oden
Oden went #1 last year, and even after the injury he would still go this high. Many heads in the league still believe he will be battling Dwight Howard for distinction of best big in the game within a few years. While I'm not going to go that far, he's a huge, athletic body -- the type of physical specimen that only comes around once every five years or so.

13. Chris Bosh
While I'm not Bosh's #1 fan, I can see why scouts would drool over this guy. He's a pretty cerebral, almost a throwback type of player who can step out and hit the 18-footer at 6'10". I take him ahead of Nowitzki and Duncan here because he's only 24 and those guys are in their thirties.

14. Josh Smith
Smith greatly improved his stock after a stellar playoff series against the NBA Champion Celtics. He makes easy plays look spectacular and spectacular plays look easy. Players who can play multiple positions flourish in today's wide open style of play, and there are few more capable of doing so than Josh Smith.

15. Al Jefferson
Yes, I took him ahead of KG. The only reason I did this is because KG is 32 and Big Al is 23. Is he in KG's league right now? Not even close. However, I'm betting my future on a player who will be around 12-15 years instead of a player who will be around 3-5 more years.

16-30: Coming in a few days

Jul 9, 2008

Baron Davis just took it in the...

After Davis opted out and signed with the Clippers, ESPN reported Brand had been asking Clippers management to pursue Davis leading up to the signing. A few days later, Brand opted out and appears to have signed with the 76ers.

I guess we'll never know how much communication occurred between Brand & Davis, but comments by Baron led me to believe that they had been talking extensively and that he expected Brand to stay in LA. That also leads me to believe one of they main reasons BD signed with LA is because he liked the prospect of playing alongside Brand (who can blame him?). Guess who was most bummed out by the news of Brand going to Philly? Mr. Davis himself, of course. If the rumors about Brand beckoning Davis to come to LA are true, it was a pretty sketchy maneuver on EB's part.

Of course, I try to be a realist. Elton Brand has always said he was better suited for the Eastern Conference's style of play (although I disagree -- but that argument's for another day). I'm not certain, but I'm guessing he has family on the East Coast given he grew up in New York. He's entering the home stretch of his career, and family/lifestyle tends to become a bigger factor for players at that stage of their careers. It's also not like Brand moved to a miserable team that was merely willing to pay him -- he went to a team with a solid, young nucleus that plays in a Conference that's easier to manuever in. I get it -- the NBA is a business and Elton Brand probably did what was best for Elton Brand.

Nonetheless, I'd feel a bit shafted if I were Baron Davis. Overnight, he went from moving to a potential contender (at least for the second round of the playoffs) to a team in the same position as the one he left behind. If the aforementioned rumored coaxing by Brand is in fact true, it would be like salt on the wounds. I suppose he'll be happy living in his hometown and being closer to the entertainment scene that he has grown to love. From a basketball standpoint, however, he's gotta be frustrated.

Will the Clippers continue in their quest for improvement by seeking the services of another solid free agent? As the pickings become "slimmer", it's hard to see them luring anyone in until the summer of 2009.

Jul 2, 2008

At the Hip: Behind the Glory of the Lopez Twins -- Week 1

There has been many a joke floating around the blogosphere regarding the potential of a Robin & Brook Lopez reality tv show. Joke no more, the voices have been heard. Oxygen Network recently announced it will be airing "At the Hip: Behind the Glory of the Lopez Twins" in one of its fall season slots, immediately preceding the second season of "Tori and Dean." Taping began during pre-draft workouts when Brook & Robin were living together in their parents' basement.

We got a glimpse of what the season will entail as Oxygen allowed us to sneak preview the pilot (week 1) episode. Here are the highlights:

The first five minutes portray the "real people" qualities that the twins possess. Robin & Brook are locked in a heated boxing match on their Nintendo WII, when Robin lands a combo that sends Brook's fighter to the mat. Brook throws his controller at Robin and accuses him of standing too close to the TV to gain an unfair advantage. Robin quickly diffuses the situation by reminding his brother that "bro, we're supposed to be BFF's." A bro-hug ensues, and Brook apologizes by telling him that he hopes they get drafted by the same team.

After a commercial break, the twins are filmed hiding in the bushes of their parents' side lawn. They are throwing water balloons at cars that drive past on the street and covering their mouths so their laughter cannot be heard. One driver screeches his car to a halt and catches the boys. Mrs. Lopez makes them take a 10 minute timeout and they reluctantly promise to clean the neighbor's car after lunch.

The twins make the most of their timeout by debating the best movie of all-time. Brook says "Cool Runnings" is his number one because he likes the "Jamaican dude's accent" and (he thinks) it was based on a true story, making it even better. Robin vehemently disagrees and says that "The Bride of Chucky" is by far the best movie of all-time. When Brook scoffs at his choice, Robin counters by saying: "you don't like BoC because you had to sleep with Mom & Dad for a week after we watched it." Brook fights back by saying "you're just jealous because I was born first." Robin yells at Brook, calling him a "prick" and Mrs. Lopez makes them spend the last 5 minutes of timeout in separate rooms.

After another commercial break, Mrs. Lopez calls the boys downstairs for Peanut Butter & Banana sandwiches, their favorite lunch. Brook asks his mom if he can have a pack of guzzlers with lunch, but Mrs. Lopez reminds him they had Frosted Flakes for breakfast -- they can only have one "sweet" per day because they are training for the NBA.

The phone rings, and Kevin McHale wants to talk to Brook. He tells him that the Timberwolves are very interested in him and want him to come work out. Brook asks if they have x-boxes in the locker room, and lights up when McHale says they do. "I bet I can beat Al Jefferson at Tony Hawk 3," boasts Brook. McHale is impressed with his confidence and schedules a workout for the following week.

The episode ends after Mrs. Lopez approaches the boys with the box of SI Swimsuit Editions that she found stashed under their bunk bed. Neither twin will fess up, and Mrs. Lopez won't believe them when they try to convince her the magazines belong to their older brother, Alex. The credits roll, and Coldplay (Robin's favorite band) plays in the background.

As expected, episode 1 didn't disappoint. Like any great reality TV show, Oxygen gives us conflict, resolution, more conflict, and a cliffhanger. It's a shame that they make the viewing public wait a whole week to see what happens next...

10 Reasons to Wear Your Letterman Jacket After High School

10. Free entrance to the homecoming football game
9. You can cut in line at any fast food restaurant without opposition
8. Adds credibility to any "when I was in high school" story
7. Guaranteed top-3 pick in any pickup game chosen by captains

6. It will have only cost you $5 per year if you wear it for forty years
5. The rising cost of movie tickets won't impact you -- you'll still qualify for the student rate
4. Your parents may forget that you should have moved out by now
3. Everyday photo ops will turn out as classy as your senior pictures
2. You'll never have to bring a printed resume to job interviews -- it's already on your back
1. Hitting on high school chicks won't look as creepy to unknowing bystanders

10 Reasons to Hate the San Antonio Spurs

10. Manu Ginobili's flopping

9. Fabricio Oberto's flopping

8. Robert Horry's flagrant fouls

7. Tim Duncan's wide-eyed, elbows cocked, basketball clenched whining after every call/no-call involving him in the post

6. The ten minutes devoted to praising how fundamentally sound Tim Duncan is in every Spurs vs. anyone broadcast

5. The five minutes devoted to reminding us how "underrated" and "overlooked" the Spurs' dynasty has been in every Spurs vs. anyone broadcast

4. Tim Duncan's oversized shirts in post-game press conferences

3. The always stretched-out neck of Tony Parker's jersey

2. Bruce Bowen

1. The Riverwalk being San Antonio's #1 tourist attraction

Honorable Mention: Jacque Vaughn's jump shot, the ugliest uniforms in pro sports, the Spurs fan who calls in to national radio shows, Tony Parker trying to rap

Jul 1, 2008

B-Dizzle to LA???!?

Not gonna lie, I'm a huge Baron Davis fan. He's definitely one of my 5 favorite players in the league right now. I've got mixed emotions about his pending departure from the Bay.

On one hand, I'm pretty sad to see him go. He personified that fun-n-gun style. He made basketball interesting in a great basketball city that had been dormant for about 10 years. To be quite honest, I don't know how Golden State is going to recover. Monta Ellis can't play the 1 full-time. Stephen Jackson might spontaneously combust on the court without Davis' (the only Warrior Jackson respected) calming presence telling him to chill out. Golden State just went from a team that could compete on any given night to a team that will be lucky to win 30 games.

On the other hand, I'm pumped to see what the new-look Clippers will be able to accomplish. If they re-sign Brand (which they probably will), we could see a starting lineup of Davis, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, Brand, and Chris Kaman. That lineup could be pretty scary. It could be the right balance of veteran leadership and youth. If Dunleavy lets them loose, they could put up some big numbers next year.

Could we see an LA-LA playoff matchup next season?