Monthly Archives: January 2011

San Antonio Spurs are the Team to Beat

The San Antonio Spurs are a powerful dynasty with 4 championships, 17 division titles, and 19 playoff appearances in the last 20 seasons. The Spurs currently stand first in the whole league, with 39 wins and 7 losses, an 84.8% win record. A big part of the team’s success can be credited to “The Big Three,” as the trio of Emanuel Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan are often called.

Manu Ginbobili joined the Spurs in 2002, previously playing in the Argentine basketball league. Ginobili’s importance to the team has been proven – whenever he is injured, the Spurs start to lose. In fact, the Spurs were knocked out of the2008 playoffs in the first round, largely because Ginobili was out due to injury. In the 2010-2011 season, Ginobili averages 18.7 points per game, 4.9 assists per game, and 3.9 rebounds per game.

3-time all-star Tony Parker has changed the Spurs’ overall game play. Once Parker became a starter, the team had to immediately increase the tempo and pace at which they played to keep up with their swift and agile point guard. Parker’s statistics have been improving over the past 7 or 8 years now. In fact, Parker’s persistence on improving is what kept the Spurs from acquiring all-star point guard Jason Kidd. This season, Parker averages 6.9 assists per game and 17.5 points per game.

6-foot 11-inch, 260 pound forward Tim Duncan is the captain of the Spurs. He is a 12 time all-star and leads the team in rebounds with an average of 9.5 per game. He dominates defensively while still posting good numbers for points, an average of 13.6 per game this season. Tim Duncan is the main cause for turning the Spurs dynasty around. Before Duncan became a part of the team, the Spurs had no championship rings to show. Since then, the team has won 4 championships, most recently in 2007.

The Spurs rely on The Big Three. If even one member of the trio is injured or not playing up to par, the whole team falls. If Ginobili, Parker, and Duncan manage to stay healthy during the season and perform consistently, the Spurs have a good chance of keeping their position with the best record in the league and could possibly win their 5th championship.

Felton

Raymond Felton has resurrected his game and established himself as a premier player at his position as a New York Knick this season. The explosiveness that we all saw Felton play with during his college years at UNC has has returned and shown itself through his drastically improved statistics.

Last season, playing for Charlotte, Felton wasn’t the most efficient player. He averaged a mediocre PER of 15.6 in his 33 minutes on the court. His statistics in that time period weren’t much to rave about either. Felton averaged a low PPG total of 12.1 and an average APG total of 5.6. These were the numbers that a slightly below average point guard in the NBA would put up. Felton’s scoring and passing abilities that he possessed in college seemingly failed to stick with him in the NBA.

This season however, Felton shocked his teammates and silenced his critics showing a miraculous improvement in his game and playing at a level that no one thought he was still able to play at. His PPG has gone up to 17.5 and his APG are at an impressive 8.9 making him much better than the average point guard in the NBA. His PER has gone up to 17.5 as well, making him a more efficient player. Felton’s game has shown a remarkable improvement this past season.

The Knicks demanded a lot out of Felton and he has exceeded the enormous expectations that D’Antoni had for him. Expect a strong season and a possible all star appearance within the next few years from this outstanding player.

Portland-The Struggle to Survive

Greg Oden– first overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft-Injured

Brandon Roy– three time all-star-Injured

Marcus Camby– defensive player of the year in 2006-2007- Injured

With the deprivation of three exceptional players, it is almost unfathomable that Portland is still holding the 8th seed in competitive West. It’s even harder to believe that the Blazers were recently on a five game winning streak. Although this Portland team has become injury prone, key players are stepping up and are making the best of what they have.

First off, LaMarcus Aldridge has been an outstanding player thus far. Playing at an all-star caliber, Aldridge is making his team look competitive. Bound to make his first all-star appearance, LaMarcus Aldridge since December 15 has been averaging 26.3 points per game as well as 10.3 rebounds per game. Aldridge has stepped up as much as he can since his team has been plagued by injuries and has really been the go to guy for the Blazers. Secondly, Andre Miller has also helped his team out a lot. Currently in his 13th season, Miller has been a valuable asset. He constantly gets it done on both sides of the court averaging 1.7 steals per game while also dishing out 7.1 assists per game. Essentially, Andre Miller has stepped up in the absence of Camby and Roy and continues to produce solid numbers. Next off, Wesley Matthews has really established himself on the Portland Trailblazers. This un-drafted player has filled much of the void at the shooting guard position in place of Brandon Roy. Matthews has been quite the contributor, averaging 16.2 points per game, and even more staggering, Matthews has averaged 22.7 points per game in the last 3 games. Moving on, Rudy Fernandez has been a spark off the bench for the Blazers putting up some descent numbers as well as making the highlight reel every once in a while. Lastly, Nicolas Batum has also been showing progression in the absence of Roy and Camby. He recently scored 23 points and then four days later scored 24 points. Batum has shown some potential during this period of injuries and has been a solid small forward.

Hopefully this array of talent continues to mesh well together as well as keep on winning ball games. It is important they keep on winning games in order to hold their spot in the playoffs. These next few weeks will really test this Portland team.

Bottom Line- Portland is a solid team that could have a promising future if Roy, Camby, and Oden ever get back onto the court.

Can the Lakers pull off another 3 peat?

To start, let’s list the Lakers top players:

Kobe Bryant – Team captain and longtime NBA all-star, this shooting guard leads his team in points and assists. He is undoubtedly the key to many of the Lakers’ past success and is the center point of the whole team; the game revolves around him.

Derek Fisher – This point guard just doesn’t slow downwell maybe a little. At the age of 36, Fisher is still a dominant force with the Lakers and continues to contribute to the team’s triumphs. Derek Fisher’s outstanding 5 Championships and has the experience needed to push the Lakers through the playoffs.

Ron Artest – With a reputation for outstanding defense, Artest is a valuable asset. Although a strong defender, this forward no longer comes up with strong offensive results.

Andrew Bynum – BIG MAN. Bynum leads the team in rebounds and always looks for the easy bucket at the end of the paint. Bynum serves as the Lakers’ center.

Pau Gasol – Recent NBA all-star, Gasol heavily aids the team in boards and points. He takes much credit for the Lakers’ championship in 2009, giving Bryant a dominant force to pass to.

Lamar Odom – Arguably the best 6th man in the NBA, Odom is an all around player: he can score, defend, rebound, and do anything else he has to.

The Lakers stand as the second seed in the Western Conference, just behind the San Antonio Spurs. Their record is 32-13. The team does have chemistry, but the players are starting to age. With a stellar lineup and decent bench, the Lakers are still dominant in the NBA. But can they win championship this year and continue to bring honor to the franchise? It’s possible, but not probable.

The Lakers should be able to make the conference finals. However, from there, a tough road will be upon them. Many of the players may tire out by the postseason. Additionally, getting past the other conference finalist is obviously a difficult achievement. Even if the Lakers do make the NBA finals, they stand a very small chance to the possible Eastern Conference finalist, assuming one of the top teams from the East makes it. The Lakers will probably not win this year’s NBA finals, let alone make it that far; but if they do, the dynasty will only further their list of achievements.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant’s versatility and profusion of talent puts him amongst the top echelon of people to ever play the game of basketball. Durant has a great multifaceted game which allows him to be a deadly player. Now let’s get an inside look of Durant’s game

To start off, Durant can shoot from an infinite range. Whether he backs up to the three point line or hits the small jumper in the lane, their is no stopping him. With such a slender body, Durant can’t back people down on the post as well as a big man can. However, he more than makes up for this with a great jump shot. Durant knocks down 1.7 threes per game and averages 28.3 points per game. Kevin Durant can shoot over virtually any defender because of his long body and even longer arms.

To complement Durant’s shooting skills, is his elusiveness and dexterity. Durant’s astounding athleticism allows him to create shots for himself and allows him to drive and finish at the basket. Being such an agile big man, it is so hard for opponents to guard him. If Durant has a height advantage in a given matchup he will pull up for a jump shot because he knows the smaller players won’t be able to block him. Now if Durant is guarded by a bigger fellow he will utilize his quickness and beat you to the basket.

When a defender can no longer keep up with Durant’s skill he has only one option left- to foul. Although this may seem like a way to stop Durant from producing points, you are sadly mistaken. When you send Kevin Durant to the line it is an automatic two points for his team. Kevin Durant hits 88% of his free throws ranking him among the highest in the league.

Another thing that makes Kevin Durant a great player is his defense. Kevin Durant is a player that can haul down 6.3 rebounds per game as well as get a big block or steal.(1.1 steals, 1.0 blocks) As you can see, Durant contributes in all aspects of defense making him an even better player.

Finally, Durant not only makes himself look good but he also helps out his team tremendously. Durant averages nearly 3 assists per game. There is also another thing Durant has, however this does not show up in the stats column. Kevin Durant has become a leader through his past experiences on team USA. Leading team USA to a championship Durant developed many leadership qualities that he now brings to his Thunder team. Kevin Durant helps his team on the court and points them in the right direction. Lastly, when Durant is on the floor he draws double teams creating space for his teammates leading to better shots and resulting in wins. With such an offensive presence, teams often overlook Durant’s teammates.

Bottom line- When you have a repetoire like Durant you are bound to be a great player.

Anthony Morrow Jump Shot Analysis

There’s a reason that Anthony Morrow’s jump shot is so deadly. He has nice distance above the ground to avoid blocks. Morrow shoots a good distance above his head so that he has a clear view of the basket and bends his arms enough to produce an arc on his jumper. Morrow also grazes the ball with his left hand in order to produce enough spin on the ball so that it has a higher chance of rimming in. All these factors combined result in a deadly jumper.

Morrow’s distance above the ground on his jump shots is a key factor in why it is so good. This allows him to shoot over larger defenders and generate power from his knees. Then there is the distance the ball is above his head when he shoots. He gets the ball high so he can see the basket well. Morrow also bends his arms so he can produce a rainbow delivery which has a higher chance of going in than a line drive. Morrow is also able to generate spin on the ball by grazing it with his left hand. Spin makes it so that the ball has a chance of going in when it makes contact with the rim.

There is a reason that Morrow is one of the best pure shooters in the NBA. He has the highest 3 point shooting percentage in history and amazing form in his jump shot. Morrow is a constant target for double teams and reasonably so.

The Emphasis of Luck

People often underestimate how much of a factor luck plays in success, especially in the NBA. Virtually everything that an NBA player does involves luck to an extent. Shooting is one of the critical acts that an NBA player performs, and it is almost entirely based on luck. Dribbling involves luck to an extent too. In order to excute trick moves and cross overs, luck is neccessary. Then there is one of the more obvious aspects of the NBA that require luck, game winners. Luck is crucial and in order to become a great NBA player, an abundance of it must be present.

There is the jump shot which requires the most luck. Regardless of much a player practices, they most likely will not be able to perfect their muscle coordination so that the ball always goes in the net. A player can spend endless hours practicing the jump shot and still go 0-10 any given night if they’re not lucky. Not everyone is always lucky which is why we don’t see many spot up shooters in the all star game. There are obviously many other things that play a part in a jump shot including set up time, wrist rotation and countless others but come on do you really think that a player is thinking about all that in the split second that they have to shoot? It also depends if the jump shot is contested or not. A contested jump shot is 80-90% luck while an open one is around 30-50% luck. When a player shoots an open jumper, they have time to think about all the things that they should do for the shot to go in. They have adequete time to set up, and can release the ball without worry that it will get blocked. When a player is contested though, it is much harder. There is no time at all to set up, a pump fake or fadeaway is sometimes neccessary to even get the shot up and no clear view of the location of the basket is guaranteed. Which often leads to what you see here.

 

Next there is dribbling or in particular dribbling moves like crossovers. In order to crossover well, you need the man who is guarding you to go one way while you dribble the opposite direction. You need to count on the person that you’re guarding to go a certain way which is luck. It can either work perfectly on a lucky day or not so perfect on an unlucky day.

Next there are game winners. You can’t practice a game winning shot, it’s all luck like here.

Luck is a crucial part of the NBA, it is involved in many aspects of the game. An unlucky player is a horrible one, an example being Travis Outlaw of the New Jersey Nets. A lucky player is usually great, an example being Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. There are ways around luck like driving and playing good defense but 50% of basketball is luck and the other 50% is hard work. Both parts are critical and present in an NBA superstar

Aaron Brooks: Success Well Earned

Aaron Brooks’ journey in the NBA shows you that with hard work anything is possible. In 2007, his rookie season Brooks was sent to the D-league because Houston was unhappy with his play. Aaron was sent to the D-League in order to prove his worth to Houston and he did just that. In two games in the D-League, Brooks averaged 23 ppg 5 rpg and 5apg. He was immediately brought back to the NBA but was still limited to about 11.2 minutes per game in his rookie season. Brooks had to prove his worth to Houston and tried his best to do so, averaging a true shooting percentage of 54% in his rookie season.

In his second season Brooks experienced a little more success averaging 25 minutes a night and 11.2 ppg in those minutes. Brooks also started 35 of his 80 games that season showing that he was beginning to find his role in the Houston Rockets. His 3 point shooting also increased dramatically to 37%. Brooks was beginning to play exceptionally well and the Rockets’ noticed that.

Last season was Brooks’ breakout year as he averaged career highs in virtually every category and started all 82 games of the season. His ppg went up to nearly 20 and 3 point shooting was up to 40%. Brooks also began to pass the ball better as his apg went up to 5.3. Brooks became a multi dimensional player and a threat to anyone guarding him.

This season Brooks has been hampered with injuries, so his minutes have been cut but when he is out there he is still producing averaging a 16.0 per. Brooks went from being in the D-league and playing limited minutes to a starter and one of the better point guards in the NBA. His story is an indication that with hard work, anything is possible.

Melo Update: It

It seems like the Melo deal is finished as the Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has ended his 5 month, 13 player push. Prokhorov finally realized that he was sacrificing way too much for an overrated scorer and two aging players looking to end their careers. This is the first move of Prokhorov’s that I fully approve of.

The Knicks

With the acquisition of Amar’e Stoudemire during the offseason, there was no question that Amar’e would have an immeasurable impact on the New York Knicks. The question moreover, was how far would Stoudemire be able to take his new team and would he be able to turn around this New York Knicks franchise that has been suffering for over a decade now? From 2002-2009 the New York Knicks have not finished above 500. With the addition of stoudemire the Knicks are now 22-18, 4 games above 500 and look better than ever. Since Amar’e Stoudemire came to the Knicks he has been averaging career highs in both points(26.4) and blocks(2.4). It is astonishing to see that since Stoudemire has left Nash he is averaging more points, and this really makes one consider how good the point guard for the Knicks really is. Raymond Felton is on his way towards a breakout season, currently averaging 17.7 ppg and 8.9 apg. Felton has really filled the void for the Knicks at the point guard position and has been able to set up his teammates as well as leading Stoudemire to one of his best season’s ever. Although Felton and Stoudemire are great, they are backed up by a great all around squad. Danillo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler have improved their play and really get the job done on the offensive side of the court. Gallo contributes his superb shooting skills and has become an excellent 3 point shooter for the team. In addition, Chandler is a spark off the bench averaging over 17 ppg. To top it all of, Landry Fields has been a true X-factor for the Knicks; the rookie has made great plays throughout the season and during the stretch, often giving the Knicks the upper edge over the opposition. Bottom Line- Knicks will almost definitely make the playoffs and it should be interesting to see how far they actually wind up going.