Player Analysis

Keep It Up Deron

D-will has been playing phenomenally as of late as a New Jersey Net. Although his scoring numbers have decreased significantly, Deron is racking up over 13 assists per games as a Net and benefitting the team greatly. The Nets have enjoyed success for the first time all season since acquiring Williams and are on a substantial 5 game winning streak assuming that they fare well against Chicago tonight. D-Will is a definite benefactor to the Nets and one of the elite players in the NBA. If Deron’s high level of play continues, the future looks bright for this once hopeless New Jersey Nets team.

Aside from Williams impressive stat line of 21 points and 10 assists a game, Deron also has a great effect on his teammates. Since William’s trade, players like Anthony Morrow, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez have been feeding off Deron’s positive energy and tremendous play making abilitiy. Brook is playing some of his best basketball this season due to Deron’s ability to set him up. Humphries has chemistry with Deron due to the two playing for the same Utah Jazz team in the past. Because of this Williams understands Humphries game and knows when and where to set him up. Morrow is a sharp shooter and is more than able to hit open shots and Williams is able to give Morrow plenty. The Nets as a team are playing much better since the trade and now might even be a dark horse to clinch the 8th seed in the east.

Williams is a great player and elite point guard. His style of play meshes will with New Jersey’s offense that is composed of sharp shooters and big men. Look for Deron to make a huge run next season with New Jersey that results in a playoff appearance.

An Incredible Pace

If you are not familiar with the man who I am speaking of, you probably are not an NBA fan. Blake Griffin has developed as a player at an incredible pace and established himself amongst the NBA’s elite all in his rookie season. Griffin has shown that he was born to play basketball professionally and that all the hype and expectations that came along with him were legitimate. This tale is not perfect though, after being drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers and being named Summer League MVP Blake suffered a painful injury while landing on his kneecap after a dunk. Griffin was able to overcome this but at a huge cost. He was forced to sit out his entire rookie season due to his injury and rumors circulated as they were expected to. People said that he would be injury prone for the rest of his career, that the injury would have a significant impact on his game and make him a below average player and a disappointing first round draft pick. These rumors and injury served no purpose but to motivate Griffin to use the year off to properly recover and polish his already outstanding game.

When Griffin was in college, every basketball fan, player, and coach acknowledged his talent and knew that one day he would be a great NBA player. It was also obvious that injuries would be an issue in this remarkable young players career due to his size and physical game. Griffin’s tendency to acquire injuries first made its debut in his freshmen year when he sprained the MCL in his left knee playing for the University of Oklahoma. Two months after he recovered, Griffin tore his cartilage and required a minor surgery that put him on the sidelines for one week. Griffin’s talent came a high cost as his health was jeopardized with painful injuries. Regardless, he still had an outstanding college career and put himself in a position in which every NBA team would willingly add him to their roster. He was the first pick of the 2009 NBA draft and landed himself a slot playing for the Los Angeles Clippers. The drama didn’t end there though. In the last game of the preseason, Griffin landed awkwardly after a dunk and had a stress fracture in his left knee. This would postpone his NBA debut for a projected 7 weeks. After those 7 weeks were over though, it was apparent that Griffin was not recovering properly and would have to have knee surgery that would land him on the bench for his entire rookie season. Questions loomed whether he would be injury prone for the rest of his career and not play to his full potential when healthy like Greg Oden another player who was in a similar situation. Griffin entered his second NBA season full of uncertainty whether he would live up to the expectations placed upon him a year ago.

Not only did Blake live up to the enormous expectations placed upon him, he exceeded them. Griffin is already one of the best power forwards in the NBA and still possesses the ability to score at will as he averages 23 ppg. His size combined with his physical game allows to rebound exceptionally well as he averages a whopping 12.7 a game. Not only is Griffin a great player, he is also an efficient one with an amazing 23.3 PER that is among the league’s best. Blake Griffin is also a phenomenal scorer with an above average offensive rating of 113. Words cannot describe the level that Griffin is playing at so early in his career.

Griffin is already an all star and many more appearances are expected of him. Unless John Wall plays some of the best basketball in history for the remainder of the season, Griffin will win rookie of the year. Although injury prone, the reward of having Griffin outweigh the few cons. Expect great things from this young player.

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.

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 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.

The Tragedies and Triumphs of Darko Milicic

After seasons of playing horribly, Darko Milicic has transformed himself into quite the low post threat

Michael Jordan “A Basketball Fairy Tale”

Not many people in the world find themselves getting cut from their high school basketball team and going on to become one of the best NBA players of all time.

There’s a reason that movies, books, and posters are frequently made with Michael Jordan’s face on the cover. But the question is, how did he become so good? The answer is simple, he wasn’t hard-working, he wasn’t motivated, he just loved to have fun. If you enjoy doing something, you’re going to want to do it over and over again. Michael really enjoyed to play basketball, so it wasn’t “hard work” for him, it was simply a good time. The work he put in off the court like working out and running made it so he had a more enjoyable time doing what he loved, playing basketball.

Also Jordan loved to compete. Most people in the world would rather win than lose, rather do better than do worse, but there is a select few that love to excel in everything they do and will put in a crazy effort to do so. Jordan is one of this select few. He loved to compete in whatever he did and was always upset when his team lost. In the 1987 NBA playoff when the Bulls went up against the favored Celtics, Jordan scored 63 points and took the Celtics to double overtime almost singlehandedly but was still upset when the Bulls just fell short. Not many players would be upset about scoring 63 points and losing in double overtime but Jordan was because of his competitive spirit.

Many people say that Jordan was extremely skilled and that’s why he was so good. Jordan could jump pretty high and hit the mid range shot with efficiency but that was about it skill wise. Jordan’s aggression came from his lust for victory. His speed and muscles came from work off the court and even his jump shot came from practice. The only skill that Jordan had which few other players in the NBA had was his high jump.

Jordan was so good at basketball because he enjoyed it that much. Playing in a game wasn’t a burden for him, it was more of a good time. Jordan was about as good of a basketball player as there ever was because of his love for the game. No one can excel as much as he did in something that they don’t have passion for. I call Jordan’s career “A Basketball Fairy Tale” because well it had about as happy of an ending as a fairytale could have, he went from being cut from his high school team to one of the best players in NBA history.

Rookies On The Rise

Each year roughly 60 new players make it into the NBA. However, only a handful of rookies have success let alone potential. Here is an analysis of rookies to look out for this season

Blake Griffin- Without a doubt Blake Griffin is the most dominant rookie in the league today. So far this season Blake Griffin has a staggering 30 double-doubles. To perform such a feat is mind-boggling, yet Griffin is able to do this as a rookie. The talent and potential that lies within Blake Griffin is limitless. Not only does Griffin has the strength to overpower some of the most formidable defenders but is also extremely agile and elusive. When a big man such as Griffin can run up and down the court and maneuver smoothly through opposition it is nearly impossible to stop. His astounding ability to be as quick as a guard and as powerful as a big man allows him to play at an all-star caliber day in and day out. Griffin currently averages 22 points per game and 12.7 rebounds per game, however; Griffin averages a minuscule .7 blocks per game as well as .7 steals per game. If Griffin continues to improve and work on all aspects of his game, Griffin could be an all-time great.

John Wall- After John Wall was selected 1st in this season’s draft, he quickly lived up to the expectations. During his first few weeks of playing with the Wizards, John Wall was succeeding tremendously. Wall was among the league leaders in steals and averaged over 10 assists per game during his first seven games. During the early stages of the season Wall was phenomenal and was in the midst of becoming an all-star. This streak however ended to abruptly. Wall’s success was instantly hindered by an injury. Once Wall recovered from injury he failed to put up the numbers he had at the beginning of the season. Although John Wall hit a minor setback his game is gradually progressing back to the way he was. Hopefully Wall will continue to progress throughout the duration of the season and even surpass what he had done earlier in the season.

Landry Fields- Fields can rebound, shoot, pass, block, steal, but there is something he will never be able to do. He will never be a first round pick. Although Fields was a second round pick in the NBA draft he has had an immense impact on the Knicks this season. The rookie Fields shocked us all when he started for the Knicks on opening game. A second round pick had somehow cracked his way into a starting lineup. Although it may seem unfathomable it is all true. So far this season Fields has shot over 50 percent from the field, has averaged 7.4 rebounds per game and scores 10 points per game. Fields however has more than just stellar stats. Landry Fields is the type of player that makes big plays without being asked. This rookie hustles on offense and defense and is prominent to Knick fans for his follow-up dunks. Landry Fields has proven himself among the top rookies and continues to elevate his game.