Team Analysis

Denver’s Dominance

Since the Melo trade took place, not much was expected of the Denver Nuggets. People thought that Denver would surely fall out of the playoff race and lose their established dominance in the West. Dever has shocked all of those critics and even gotten better since the loss of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Since the trade the newfound Nuggets have compiled an impressive record of 9-3 while the Knicks with the supposed “elite player” Melo have just gone 7-7. People have had low expectations for Denver since the trade and Denver has not only proved them wrong, but also set themselves up for a possible first round upset against Dallas assuming that the Nuggets maintain their six seed in the West.

Felton, Chandler, and Gallanari for Anthony and Billups was the fateful trade that shocked the entire NBA. This was seen as a high price for Anthony and Billups as the Knicks were seemingly trading away one of their elite players and almost all of their young talent. Still Felton, Chandler, and Gallanari were not expected to mesh well with Denver and the Knicks were supposed to receive the better end of the deal. This was seemingly perceived to be true as the Knicks got off to a quick start with an unexpected win over Miami. In that time period though, no one was paying attention to Denver as Denver won game after game with their new roster. Denver is still not being recognized as the elite squad they are because they have no leader. Rather, the Nuggets have a roster well-balanced with players that possess equal talent and therefore the team is a nightmare to defend. Double teams are detrimental when every player is capable of lighting the scoreboard up. This is why Denver is in a much better position now. Now Denver has a future and every player is no longer overshadowed by Anthony.

Ahead To The Future

The future of basketball is uncertain as of this point because the current audience is not focused on tomorrow but now. The teams that have the potential to win titles in the future are disregarded and labeled as failures and busts by todays NBA fans. For example, if you take a look at the Nets, Timberwolves, and Clippers, you see teams that are not doing as well now but have the potential to become elite in coming years.

The Nets are loaded with talent that most fans disregard. Center, Brook Lopez, is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He is one of the most versatile centers in the league. Lopez can pull up from 15-20 feet out and drain jump shot after jump shot if the defense leaves him wide open. Brook is also athletic and can rebound and block reasonably well when given the opportunity. What I mean by that is when defensive specialist Kris Humphries is not working his magic down low. Humphries is a rebounding machine and a defensive threat. When playing well, Lopez and Humphries can form a lesser version of the Tim Duncan, David Robinson twin towers. They are led by NBA elite point guard, Deron Williams, who can explode for 15-20 assists any given night and sharpshooters in Morrow and Vujacic who are offensive threats. The Nets are a team that can definitely make some noise in the future.

Minnesota is another team that fan should look out for. Minnesota has crazy talent in Kevin Lowe who also has range extending to the 3 point line. The T’Wolves also have a scorer in Michael Beasley and a defensive stopper to an extent at least in Darko Milicic. Minnesota also has young talent in Wesley Johnson and a decent pointguard in Luke Ridnour. With an couple high draft picks coming up in the future, the T’Wolves are definately a team that can do some damage.

The Clippers are loaded with young offensive talent. They have a superstar in rookie Blake Griffin whose athleticism and size completely negate his lack of versatility and Eric Gordon who is one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA. The Clippers also have great young talent in Bledsoe, Aminu, and Jordan along with a defensive stopper in Chris Kaman. Look for this team to make a huge run next season and even possibly make the playoffs.

The Clippers, Nets, and T’Wolves are three team that aren’t so good right now but have the potential to be great. Don’t disregard these teams until you see them play to their full potentials.

Charlotte- A Happy Ending?

Before the start of the 2010-2011 season the Bobcats neglected to re-sign Raymond Felton and also traded away Tyson Chandler. With these detrimental mistakes it seemed as if the Bobcats were destined for failure. This was all too true when the Charlotte Bobcats began an ignominious season under head coach Larry Brown.

The Charlotte Bobcats started out 9-19 and during this stretch they put up abominable stats such as last in turnovers per game, 29th in points per game, 20th in Fg%, and 23rd in 3ptFg%. Although Larry Brown is a hall of fame coach his desired style of play is not applicable to this Charlotte Bobcats. Larry Brown’s defensive-minded and slow pace game did not pass muster with the young Charlotte Bobcats. In addition, as the season progressed matters only got worse for Coach Brown. Players no longer listened to Brown nor did they execute his plays during the game. With the Bobcats losing interest in their coach, it was time for a change. Larry Brown decided to resign from his coaching job and Paul Silas took the job as interim head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. During the Bobcat’s first practice with the new head coach, drastic changes were made instantly. Silas wanted to bring energy to the table by introducing a fast pace game to his young Charlotte Bobcats team. By the time of the Bobcat’s first game under new head coach Paul Silas, the new uptempo pace of game immediately clicked for the Bobcats. The Bobcats wound up beating the Detroit Pistons 105-100, with major contributions from D.J. Augustin scoring 27 points and Stephen Jackson with 23. This new uptempo pace worked like a charm for the Bobcats. Not only does Silas like playing uptempo but he also accentuates the importance of taking the open shot. Silas allowed his team more reign over the game by minimizing the amount of plays called and letting players like Jackson and Augustin to do their “thing” on the court. As of now the Bobcats are 5-2 with Coach Silas, and have an overall record of 14-21. With this record they are in playoff contention and can make the eighth seed or better if they continue to play the way they do. Lastly, former all-star Gerald “crash” Wallace will be returning to the Bobcats soon, once he is fully recovered from his injury. After traveling the downward slope, the Bobcats could be making their way back up the ladder.

Worst Team in History?

The Cleveland Cavaliers may be the worst team in NBA history this season. Not only are they on a horrendous 24 game losing steak, they have also dropped 34 of their lat 35 games with the exception of an overtime win against the New York Knicks. Questions are looming on whether the Cavs will lose 70 games this season. By the way things are going, it doesn’t look like Cleveland will win another game this season. Things are not looking too good with injuries to star player Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao. Their best player currently is 34 year old Antawn Jamison who is currently unhappy with playing in Cleveland. At least the Cavs can look to the future to divert their minds from the present with young talent in J.J. Hickson, Manny Harris, and Christian Eyenga.

With a record of 8-43, their aren’t many good things to say about this team. Sure Jamison’s one heck of a player and when healthy Mo Williams can play relatively well but as of right now, the best player on the team is an unhappy 34 year old veteran who is surrounded by inexperienced young players. You can’t expect to win games when the best player on your team wants out. J.J Hickson is decent young talent, but cannot be depended on to become a franchise player. Hickson is a solid player with a decent game but he lacks the tenacity and winning mentality to lead or even start on a good team. He would make a great sixth man or perhaps a solid 4th option offensively but should not under any circumstances be regarded as the second best player on a team. The other young talent isn’t bad either, maybe one day they’ll all be good enough to be able to create an average starting lineup. Williams is good when healthy but now doesn’t have a “Lebron” figure to attract attention offensively. Williams will still get his points but it will be off poor shooting and the occasional layup. Williams and Jamison’s two man offense proved unsuccessful as the three games prior to Williams injury, the Cavs were losing by an an average of 28 points a night. Four out of the five players on Cleveland’s starting lineup would not start for most other teams in the NBA and that in itself is a recipe for disaster.

Cleveland has it’s future to look forward too which is better than nothing. They already have young talent and will definitely pick up more in the next couple drafts. Whether this will result in wins is another story entirely but young talent is better than nothing. They could also probably trade Williams and Jamison for some draft picks and some more young talent if they are looking to go that way.

The Cavs this season are probably the worst team in NBA history talent wise. Watching them play is like watching a train attempt to run off a cars engine as they have no player that can be identified as a star and pull out wins. Although it is unlikely that this will happen, I don’t think they will win another game this season. I don’t see a single team in the NBA that the Cavs even have the slightest advantage against. Any wins that the Cavs will be able to pull out will rely purely on luck which hasn’t been too kind for Cleveland in the past year.

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.

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.

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.

Return of the Celtics

After a devastating loss against the Lakers in the 2010 championship, the Celtics were in quite the dilemma. Many Celtic fans thought this would be their last shot of winning because of their aging superstars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce as well as the possibility of Ray Allen not re-signing with the Celtics. As the new season neared, everything seemed to fall in place for the better. Ray Allen re-signed, Pierce and Garnett did not leave, and Doc Rivers, head coach of the Celtics stayed as well. Although the Celtics were able to maintain their all-stars and coach; the Celtics still needed to improve their team. So in order to take their team to the next level, especially because Rasheed Wallace was retiring and Perkins was hurt, the Celtics acquired Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal or as I like to call them, The Twin Towers. With depth from their two new big men, along with retaining their veteran all-stars, and with their rising all-star Rajan Rondo stepping up, the Celtics were looking like one of the most dominant team’s in the league. Early in the season, the Celtics looked like a championship contender when they took a huge win over Miami on opening day. The Celtics looked as good as ever especially with Rondo dishing out a total of 82 assists in the first five games of the season. Unfortunately though, the Celtics were plagued with injuries. Even with injuries from Rondo, Garnett, Shaq, Jermaine, West, and Perkins, the Celtics were still able to maintain dominance in the league. The Celtics currently have a record of 30-9 which is truly astounding, considering all the adversity they had to overcome. So far this season, Pierce and Allen have scored the bulk of the points and remain to be great contributors to the Celtics even at their old ages. Shaq has also stepped up quite a bit this season, when scoring 23 points and recording 5 blocks in his last contest. Pierce as well continues to play exceptionally well averaging nearly 20 points and hauling down over 5 rebounds per game. Bottom line- The Celtics have built a well balanced team and it should be very interesting to see how they do when all their players are healthy.

The Clippers rise, putting Miami in demise

The Clippers extended their winning streak yesterday after an exhilarating win over the Miami Heat. With contributing efforts from Blake Griffin, Baron Davis, and Eric Gordon the Clippers came out with a 111-105 victory. The overconfident Miami team had their hands full right from the start when the Clippers scored 44 points in the first quarter. The Clippers were able to hold on to their lead the for the rest of the game which resulted in an unexpected loss for the nearly unstoppable Miami Heat.

Although shaky at the beginning of the season, the Clippers are now looking like a great NBA team. Blake Griffin continues to show his dominance on the court with his insane dunks. In addition, Eric Gordon continues to succeed for he is averaging 23.6 points per game. Not only that, Baron Davis is gradually progressing from his injury earlier this season. Last night we saw signs of what he did as an all-star years ago when he dropped 20 points and dishing out 9 assists. The Clippers are now looking great and playing competitive games against the elite teams in the NBA.

Now moving onto Miami- Right when it seems that Miami has lived up to the hype and reached greatness; Miami hit another setback when losing to the Clippers last night. The Big three are still struggling as of now in building a good chemistry. Although James, Wade, and Bosh played well together scoring a total of 84 points, the rest of the heat did not contribute enough. Those three can’t win a title alone and need contributions from other starters and bench players. Winning is a team effort, and in order for it to happen everyone has to contribute. Sure Lebron, Wade, and Bosh are great but they’re not a 12 man NBA roster themselves. If the Heat want to be successful and make it deep into the playoffs, they need to get better contributions from role players like Joel Anthony and Carlos Arroyo