It’s that time of year again…

April 17, 2010

The playoffs are finally set. As a huge NBA fan, I’m extremely excited for especially this part of the season. Let’s hope this year’s playoffs is better than last years with more thrills, drama, and heart in the game.

Before I make my predictions for the playoff series, I wanted to hand out the season awards! This season had plenty of memorable highlights such as Kobe’s game hitting winners and a Corey Brewer poster. Other than just game action highlights, lets highlight the the key factors that stood out this season.

Coach of the Year Award: Scott Brooks

This was a pretty tight race between Brooks and a few other notable coaches, but Brooks stood out most with his inexperience in coaching an NBA team, especially a young team. Scott knew how to keep the core of the Oklahoma City Thunder together to win games. Finally hitting the 50 game win mark on the last game of the season, Brooks and his Thunder team are finally heading to the playoffs which this team haven’t been in years. Brooks deserves a moment to shine especially when facing the power house Lakers in the first round. 8th seed = 50 wins?!?! Never seen that before!

Runner up – Scott Skiles

Defensive Player of the Year Award: Dwight Howard

Easy to say, Howard is a monster on the boards and blocks. Averaging 13 re’s and nearly 3 blocks a game, it’s inevitable that Dwight would get this award. I remember Dwight averaging something similar last season also, and he won last year too. So why not give him the award this year? Make sense right?

Runner up – Gerald Wallace

Most Improved Player of the Year Award: Andrew Bogut

ESPN is ranking Aaron Brooks higher than Bogut. I totally think different. Look, Bogut has played nearly the same amount of time on the court as last year and Brooks has a +10 mins this season. Of course Brooks will get his chance to score more and shoot more when there isn’t a solid shooter and star on that team. Now onto Bogut. Andrew improved in blocks, points, and his leadership for the Bucks. Bogut may be finally living up to his number 1 overall name. Unfortunately, Andrew is seriously hurt after a gruesome injury recently. Best wishes to him, and I really hope he wins this award.

Runner up – Aaron Brooks

Sixth Man of the Year Award: Jamal Crawford

When you think of big shots, you think of Kobe Bryant. When you think of 4 point plays, Jamal HAS to come to mind. He leads the NBA in 4 point plays and he’s doing it off the bench. I still remember when Crawford was back in Chicago and he once scored that 50+ point game. That wasn’t too long ago. Now he’s a sixth man on a great young team where I believe have a shot at upsetting the top East teams. Jamal will be that X-Factor for the Hawks if they want to get through the playoffs strong.

Runner up – Anderson Varejao

Rookie of the Year Award: Brandon Jennings

He probably won’t get this award, but he definitely deserves it. For two big reasons. Yes, he brought the Bucks to the playoffs and no he didn’t do it alone, but with the help of Salmons and Bogut, yes I heard it many times. Thing is, Jennings is part of the reason why they ARE in the playoffs as a 6th seed in the first place. Secondly, he is practicly leading this team. He came into Milwaukee having huge shoes to fill since Redd was out. No one expected a breakout season by Bogut. The huge reason why Bogut is good is because Jennings is making him good. Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry are one man shows, rookies like to do that. But both of them are on a losing team. You come into the league to perform well, but to also win games, and that’s what Jennings is doing with a mediocre team.

Runner up – Tyreke Evans

Most Valuable Player Award: LeBron James

If you want a complete player, LeBron James is the answer. KD has many years to improve himself. (Even though he is having an incredible season). I hate to break it, but James would be snubbed if he didn’t get it again this season. His stats were similar to last season’s. Just that now, the Cavs have a much better record. I don’t need to explain a lot really, just watch a Cavs game and tunnel in on LeBron.

Runner up – Kevin Durant

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Congratulations to Don Nelson!

April 7, 2010

With his 1333 win in coaching, Don deserves to celebrate at least for one night. This season wasn’t a so called “wonderful” or “successful” one to call it with the Stephen Jackson issues that happened earlier this year that led to a trade to the Bobcats. Nelson still managed to turn that problem around. He looked at young and talented Stephen Curry to play like a true point guard on the court. Behind Tyreke Evans, I’d say Curry has to be right next to him (plus Jennings). Also, Monta Ellis has been another story, playing 11 games without taking a seat on the bench. Nelson’s bag of tricks has still gotten Golden State fans in Norcal to consider going to the games for the fun and entertainment of the quick scoring Warriors. Anthony Tolliver scored a career high of 34 points to have Nelson’s record eclipse Lenny Wilkens. With rumors swirling around that Don might come back for one more season, it would be fun to see Nelson increase his winning record IF the Warriors get busy in the summer.

**** And in response to the Clipper curse. If Peter is comparing the Clippers to the successful Saints, that’s funny. Because ANY TEAM with great management, team, and organization would be a successful team. Wouldn’t they? Common sense. The Clippers need to shape up every part of their organization. Injuries do happen. Unfortunately, they hit it big with the Clips like Livingston and Griffin. Griffin has potential, but I’m not going to put him up on any scale until he plays. Plus, the past few lottery years have been wonderful on them. Lets start with Michael Olowokandi’s 1998 draft being picked number 1 overall. Next, was athletic and young Darius Miles out of H.S. The year after, they chose Tyson Chandler at number 2 overall and traded him to Chicago for future All-Star Elton Brand (who also was plagued with injuries). 2002 comes Chris Wilcox! And right after Chris was Amare Stoudemire picked by the Suns, you might have heard of him before. Finally a great draft year, 2003 the Clips took Chris Kaman which wasn’t a bad pick. The year after was the unfortunate loss of Shaun Livingston. By the way I’m rooting for Shaun to have a stable contract offer from the Wizards. Now 2005, the Los Angeles Clippers took Yaroslav Korolev 12th overall in the draft. Enough said about him. Al Thornton was then taken in the 2007 draft, which I personally thought was a good pick. Too bad he’s not in Los Angeles anymore and didn’t develop much skill there. FINALLY, a player to appreciate is Eric Gordon. He can be a future star, that’s only if the Clipper staff let him. And 2009, Blake Griffin was taken number 1 overall. It was an obvious pick, but who knew the guy would get hurt right off the bat and miss the season? Curse? You might not believe so. Horrible management/staff/organization? I think so.


Race for ROY

March 17, 2010

As of today, Tyreke Evans is the rookie favored to win the Rookie of the Year award. Let me see why he deserves it. Obviously, he’s gaining popularity with the media blowing him up. He is one of the fewest rookies EVER to average +20 points, +5 rebounds, and +5 assists. That is amazing stats for such a young player like Tyreke. But what else does Evans have? His popularity and his averages. That’s it. Is that why fans think he should get the award? Check out the Kings record. They are 23-45 and far away from reaching the playoffs. Do you blame the coach, the team, or rising star Tyreke? Who knows? Yes his stats are unbelievable for his age, but should Evans just be given the award for how well he has done on a horrible team?

Take Kevin Durant for instance. His Seattle Supersonics in the 2007-2008 season went 20-62. Durant still won the Rookie of the Award race in the end though. But you see, the 2007 draft was a weak year. No one came close to Durant in the race for the award. Oden was out for the year, many players are busts, and some players are still finding a role on their (new) teams such as Yi Jialian, Brandan Wright, and Mike Conley Jr. So obviously, Durant is going to win that year.

Tyreke actually has competition with rookies front-runner Stephen Curry, Darren Collison, and don’t forget Brandon Jennings. Stephen is also tearing it up for Golden State. On the other hand, if you like Steph Curry for his stats also, you might as well pick Tyreke to win the ROY award. Evans has a +4 points per game and +1 rebounds per game than Curry. Both of these players will be great in the future.

There’s a big problem with this race. Instead of popularity, what about winning games? Isn’t winning games is what teams want to do? So far, Brandon Jennings has been leading his young Bucks to the playoffs. Yes the Salmons trade did help the Bucks a bit,  but in respect Jennings is leading this team at the point guard position which is the most difficult position to play and also starting all games. Brandon had everyone’s attention when he had that 55 point game earlier in the season. Now with Tyreke and Curry taking a big step in showing what they got, Brandon seems to be pushed out of the race. Jennings is leading the Bucks to the playoffs which they haven’t been in there since the 2002-2003 season. They have been a sorry ass team since. Bogut has gotten better with Jennings ability to give him the ball. Winning means everything in this league. Players who do things for themselves (Ricky Davis attempting triple doubles) are going to get nowhere. Jennings has blossomed and helped this team to win. Nonetheless, popularity overrules winning with fans and media, so Tyreke will probably see the award favoring him. Other than that,  the 2009 draft class is going to be one of the most memorable ones.


The New Best Draft Class? Part Dos

February 27, 2010

Continuation of my last post which you can find here, here, and here. This post shall describe the last half of the lottery picks of the legendary 2008 draft class.  The same draft class that lost to the rookies during all-star weekend some weeks ago.  So here you, picks 8-14.

8th Pick?

Who?

Every great draft class has a bust and this white boy happens to be the one of 2008.  His name is Joe Alexander, born in Taiwan, knows how to speak mandarin, and a phantom college career I do not know much about.  At one point he was described as being the next Larry Bird such as other white boys like Adam Morrison and Tyler Hansbrough.  On paper, he was considered the best athlete, having the second best 185lb bench reps, and second fastest sprint time during workouts.  And he was also able to drop 15 points on the Los Angeles Lakers once in his professional career.  Other than that, he was injured, assigned to d-league, still injured, and traded.  Not much else to say about him.

9th Pick

D.J. Augustin

The 9th pick drafted to the Charlotte Bobcats had a great rookie season, averaging 11.8 points a game and showing nice athleticism.  His second season though, he fell off a bit, averaging only a little bit over 5 points a game but that can be attributed to the ridiculous playing time that Raymond Felton is receiving.  Augustin lacks size but he has shown that he is a very smart player.  He knows his rotations, knows his plays, and can play pretty decent defense for a big man.  Just every once in a while a bigger point guard would out power him such as Deron Williams did.  As of right now, his game has a lot of expanding to do, but he can drop a lot of points at once if given the playing time.  An above average pick that still has a long way to go.

10th Pick

Brooke Lopez

The only bright spot of the New Jersey Nets right now.  Hell, he is the only person keeping those Nets afloat in this season.  His averaging of 19 points, 9 rebounds, and almost 2 blocks a game is considered all star level.  A talented center that can be almost Shaq-like in terms of dominance, Brooke Lopez will turn the Nets into a devastating team.  He’s young, he’s playing well, and everyone knows that he is only going to get better as the years go on.  All he needs is a strong supporting cast and this half Hispanic center can send his team to the playoffs and beyond.

11th Pick

Jerryd Bayless

Jerryd Bayless is a shooter, slasher, and volume scorer.  This season so far, he has scored double digits 24 times, one of those times, scoring 31 points.  Right now he’s a great backup guard to the great Brandon Roy and knows how to keep the team afloat when the Blazers starting lineup is benched and resting.  Like the rest of the players in this post, he’s still developing but he has shown many flashes of greatness here.

12th Pick

Jason Thompson

Jason Thompson of the Kings kinda got written off because of the beastmode playing of Tyreke Evans.  Last year he averaged 11.1 points a game which is decent for a rookie.  And this year he is averaging 12.7 points a game which shows slight improvement.  He is a forward center who is notoriously known for his jumpshot.  He is not a stretch 4 like Rashard Lewis or Antawn Jamison because he can’t really shoot treys but he has the long jumper which is good enough.  And Thompson also averages around 8 rebounds a game.  Good big man, I just don’t think hes ever going to be amazing now with Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi, and Carl Landry running the Kings.

13th Pick

Brandon Rush

This guy can’t really do much besides score.  And even then he only averages 8 points a game.  I’m not disappointed because anyone having to play with a ballhog such as Danny Granger would only average 8 points too.  I don’t watch the Pacers play much but I do know from playing 2K10 that Rush can hit the trey often.  Again, he’s not horrible, he’s not great, and he is part of the late lottery picks where its either hit or miss on who you get.

14th Pick

Anthony Randolph

The 14th pick by the Golden State Warriors and the last person I’ll be writing about in this post.  Some may call him overrated, others may call him the second coming of *insert great player here*.  I do know that he was heavily hyped during the offseason last summer by all the bloggers and media.  And really, those last 8 weeks of his rookie year where he averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds was impressive, I’ll give him that.  But he’s skinny like most of his teammates and extremely fragile.  I believe that he is injured right now.  I never understood the hype, but I can tell that he’s talented and athletic.  He has star potential written all over him, he just needs room to grow.  Which means Monta Ellis can’t keep shooting 30 shots a night and should pass it to the inside once in a while.  Randolph though is just one of those players you want to see get better but you’re not sure if it’ll happen.

So there are the lottery picks of the 2008 draft class.  A nice young group of players where besides one has shown many flashes of greatness.  Some other notable people from this year are J.J. Hickson, the 19th pick chosen by the Cavs.  He’s a good power forward who plays with Lebron.  Then there’s Courtney Lee, the 22nd pick chosen by the Magic and is now playing for the Nets.  And George Hill, the fantastic point guard chosen at 26th by the Spurs, who I also have on my fantasy team and is giving me more points than I deserve.  And from the second round, there’s Mario Chalmers from the Heat and DeAndre Jordan from the Clippers.  Then there’s Anthony Morrow who went undrafted and is also on my fantasy team and gives me a lot of points, inconsistently though but whatever works.  And yes, I believe this draft class will be better than the Lebron and Darko Milicic class of 2003 simply because of all the star power here.


Ready for the grades?!?!

February 22, 2010

As usual, rumors often become just rumors before the trade deadline. Not too many big deals at all. Other than that, lets recap with all the trades that went down right before Thursday night.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Acquired: Antawn Jamison and Sebastian Telfair

Losses: Zydrunas Illgauskas, Emir Preldzic, and a 2010 first round pick

Probably the biggest trade before the deadline was the Jamison deal. This trade surprised me. I thought the Wizards should have known better to make this team a more of a powerhouse than it already is. Don’t let the Bobcat’s whipping to Jamison’s behind fool you tonight. Antawn is a great player. His age might be a concern for the Cavaliers in the long run, but the man can still shoot the ball. Sebastian is currently injured, but I believe he may be a solid third string point guard if Mo Williams or Daniel Gibson gets hurt.

Grade: A-

2.Dallas Mavericks

Acquired: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson

Losses: Josh Howard, James Singleton, Drew Gooden, and Quinton Ross

Butler and Haywood are the main pieces to this Dallas team. Caron gives the Mavs another offensive threat which Josh Howard hasn’t been filling in for and Haywood gives another big body down low who can crash boards and play incredible defense. What I like to see from the Mavericks after the trade is the productivity of their bench. The bench has to be one of the best in the league today with Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, and Erick Dampier are one of the big names not in the starting lineup.

Grade: A

3.Houston Rockets

Acquired: Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong, Jordan Hill, and Jared Jeffries

Losses: Tracy McGrady, Carl Landry, and Joey Dorsey

I thought for one thing Houston would try to find another big man to their roster. They found two decent ones, but nothing to go “WOW” about. Kevin Martin was a great pick up for the Rockets. Shane Battier would probably move back to the sixth man spot where he does exceptionally well. Aaron Brooks should be leading this team now that Carl Landry who was probably the Rocket’s best active player this season is now gone. This trade was a great playoff push trade for the Rockets.

Grade: B+

4.Portland Trail Blazers

Acquired: Marcus Camby

Losses: Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw

In desperate need to find a big man, Portland finally came through landing a experienced player. Camby is a solid acquisition for the Blazers since Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla went out. Old Juwan Howard needed a break from playing so much sometime soon. Portland plays an uptempo style which fits perfectly with Camby since he used to play with the fast paced Denver Nuggets.

Grade: B

5.Charlotte Bobcats

Acquired: Tyrus Thomas and Theo Ratliff

Losses: Flip Murray, Acie Law, future first round pick, and future second round pick

The Bobcats are a fun fast paced team to watch. Funny how they can beat the Cavs and lose to the Nets. Tyrus Thomas is a perfect addition to the team. The Bulls were fed up with the kid, but the Bobcats picked up the slack for them by taking Tyrus off their hands for a decent Flip Murray, traveling guard Acie Law, and a first round pick which Tyrus once was. Ratliff was a questionable decision on the other hand. But having a veteran who can protect the paint for some few minutes won’t hurt much for a second round pick.

Grade: A-

6.Milwaukee Bucks

Acquired: John Salmons, Primoz Brezec, Royal Ivey, and a second round picks (from 76ers and Bulls)

Losses: Joe Alexander, Hakim Warrick, Jodie Meeks, and Francisco Elson

With Redd out the whole season, the Bucks look to start fresh with a new roster look. Redd’s contract will be done by the end of this season, so they are trying to find a replacement for him. Salmons is a decent pick up for the Bucks. But these trades to me doesn’t seem to make much sense. Warrick was a solid player for the Bucks. He didn’t have a great jump shot, but his athleticism makes him have skill talent similar to players like Josh Smith or Shawn Marion. I mean, he was a natural forward so I don’t expect him to shoot the ball outside much. Joe Alexander had potential to become a good player too, but the Bucks gave up on him. Milwaukee should have used this non playoff season to experiment young players like Alexander and Meeks.

Grade: D+

7. Boston Celtics

Acquired: Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry

Losses: Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, and a future second round pick

Nate Robinson as a sixth man for the already stacked Celtics? That’s crazy talk. Eddie House was a great role player for the Celtics. Shipping him and two young players for the 3 time Dunk Champion to me was pretty much a steal. The one problem on my mind is how is Nate going to share the minutes with Rondo or Allen? His minutes will go down for sure. Let’s see how this will work out.

Grade: A

8. New York Knicks

Acquired: Tracy McGrady, Sergio Rodriguez, Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, and a future second round pick

Losses: Nate Robinson, Marcus Landry, Jared Jeffries, Jordan Hill, Larry Hughes, and a future protected first round pick

The New York buzz is TMAC. Tracy amazed NY in his debut scoring 26 points. I always thought Tracy still had his talent. New York needs all the expiring contracts they can get for the LeBron chase. Having Tracy a former star on the team can bring in ticket sales for the Knicks at least. Also, the Knicks got lucky getting rid of Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill whose contracts were going to spill into next season.

Grade: B+

9.Chicago Bulls

Acquired: Flip Murray, Joe Alexander, Acie Law, Hakim Warrick, and a future first round pick (Charlotte)

Losses: Tyrus Thomas, John Salmons, and future second round picks

Chemistry issues made the Bulls ship out Thomas. Understandable in some sense, but Chicago took a huge hit on losing a talented player. On the good side, Salmons for Warrick and Alexander was a great trade for the Bulls. Warrick would fill the spot for Thomas and Alexander hopefully can develop in Chicago behind Deng and James Johnson. If Chicago is trying their best to chase after LeBron, I highly doubt it’ll happen. Their chances of landing Dwade is more likely.

Grade: C+

10.Los Angeles Clippers

Acquired: Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw, Drew Gooden, and Cash

Losses: Marcus Camby, Al Thornton, and Sebastian Telfair

Clippers were all about the money in this trade. They didn’t get much, but as they say “every penny helps”. The Clips will be looking busy this off season in the free agent market. Their best addition I thought was Drew Gooden, but rumors are he might get bought out. Other rumors are that he might stay. If he stays, I see Drew getting some good minutes to show off his role player model. Blake should be starting, but of course LA has Baron as their starter. Outlaw is out. In the end, it comes out to just Benjamins.

Grade: C (If Gooden plays)/ D+ (If Gooden gets bought out)

11.Sacramento Kings

Acquired: Carl Landry, Larry Hughes, and Joey Dorsey

Losses: Kevin Martin, Hilton Armstrong, and Sergio Rodriguez

Another team who will make many moves in the 2010 market is the Kings. The loss of Kevin Martin is always backed up by Tyreke’s break out year. I felt that the Kings could have gotten much more for KMART 2. Hilton Armstrong was also a tough loss for Sacramento. Hilton is surprisingly athletic for his size and Houston got a steal for that. Of course, on the upside the Kings received one of the sixth man of the year candidates and expiring contracts. Too bad Carl is now starting and will soon be out of the award race.

Grade: C-

12.Washington Wizards

Acquired: Josh Howard, Quinton Ross, James Singleton, Zydrunas Illgauskas, Al Thornton, 2010 first round pick (Cleveland), and rights to Emir Preldzic

Losses: Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, and cash

Washington is making the biggest push to rebuild before the deadline. They didn’t really care if they gave up Antawn. In desperate times, you need to make a move quickly. Big Z will most likely be bought out, but unsure if he will head back to Cleveland. Al Thornton was a nice cheap pick up and everyone else they got had expiring contracts.

Grade: C+

Minor Trade Deals

Memphis Grizzlies

Acquired: Ronnie Brewer

Losses: Protected 2010 first round pick

I just have to say, Memphis had one of the biggest steals of the deadline day.

Grade: A

Minnesota Timberwolves

Acquired: Darko Milicic

Losses: Brian Cardinal

Darko impressed many NBA fans in his debut as a Twolve. This might be his last shot at the NBA. Darko stated he wants out of the NBA after this season and wants to head to Europ to play. After a performance like that, he should think otherwise if he keeps it up.

Grade: A-

Philadelphia 76ers

Acquired: Jodie Meeks and Francisco Elson

Losses: Royal Ivey, Primoz Brezec, and a 2010 second round pick

Jodie Meeks was a good pick up for two players who practically do nothing for the 76ers. A second round pick would be pushing the Meeks trade outcome. If Philly ends up getting a high pick in the draft, the Bucks would benefit if they picked up a great player. Right now the 2010 mock draft says Greivis Vasquez from Maryland would be the Bucks pick. That’s bad on Philly’s note since Vasquez averages pretty good stats all across the board.

Grade: B-

San Antonio Spurs

Acquired: Protected 2010 second round pick

Losses: Theo Ratliff

Ratliff is old. The pick is protected. Spurs are slipping quickly out of the playoffs. If somehow the Spurs are in the lottery and get a high pick, they will regret it just a bit.

Grade: C-

Utah Jazz

Acquired: Protected 2010 first round pick

Losses: Ronnie Brewer

Why?!?! This was just plain idiotic. Ask Deron Williams and see how he feels.

Grade: F



My Allstar Weekend Winners

February 10, 2010

The All-Star attendance in Dallas this year is projected to be over 100,000 people! I wonder how loud that building will be with so many NBA fans in a single sitting.

Let’s start off with the Haier Shooting Stars event

This year, the NBA decided to change the “Team” shooting stars to “City” shooting stars. In my opinion I like the city option better because it gives more teams to show their city talents instead of individual team talents so they can brag about it in the end. Instead of a team bragging, it can be a whole city. So everyone can get along! Let’s see the teams.

Team Atlanta: Joe Johnson (Current Hawks player), Angel McCoughtry (Rookie Atlanta Dream), Steve Smith (Former Hawk player 1995-1999)

Team Los Angeles: Pau Gasol (Current Laker player), Marie Ferdinand-Harris (Current Los Angeles Sparks player), Brent Barry (Former Clippers player 1995-1998)

Team Texas: Dirk Nowitzki (Current Mavericks player), Becky Hammon (Current San Antonio Silver Stars player), Kenny Smith (Former Rockets player 1990-1996)

Team Sacramento: Tyreke Evans (Current Kings player), Nicole Powell (Former Sacramento Monarchs player), Chris Webber (Former Kings player 1998-2005)

My Winner: Team Texas

Why? Dirk Nowitzki is going to knock down shots no doubt. With the help of Becky who has been a consistent shooter through her career and Kenny “The Jet” Smith having a pretty decent jumper for his age, I think Becky or Dirk can finish the half court shot pretty easily.

Peter’s Winner: Team Sacramento

Why? Chris Webber is not that old and can still throw it down with the best of them right now barring injury. Pair him up with Tyreke Evans and they’d make a good team.  But this event is more shooting based so they might have some difficulties getting the last shot down but at least Webber can throw a ball further than Kenny Smith.

Now the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.

Last year, rookie Derrick Rose took the title with a quick finish of 35.3 seconds. Rose will be defending his title with plenty of past year winners this year in Dallas. Let’s see a few of the league’s fastest guards.

Phoenix Suns – Steve Nash (3rd appearance)

Milwaukee Bucks – Brandon Jennings (1st appearance)

Chicago Bulls – Derrick Rose (2nd appearance)

Utah Jazz – Deron Williams (2nd appearance)

My Winner: Deron Williams

Why? No disrespect to the others but Deron still holds the Skills Challenge fastest finish record with an incredibly low 25.5 seconds! Last year Williams wasn’t in the contest, but now that he’s back and 100%, I think he can take the title back.

Peter’s Winner: Derrick Rose

Why? The all-star and returning champion is going to be back to back.  He’s an elite point guard and more athletic than an old Steve Nash and a Deron Williams whose beard is weighing him down.  His only challenge is Branden Jennings but he was in Italy and Italians don’t know how to play.

I’m disappointed Kapono isn’t in the shootout this year. But hey, he had back to back 3-point contests before Daequan Cook stole it last year. Let’s take a look at the sharpshooters.

(The percentage is how the player is shooting behind the arc this season)

Denver Nuggets – Chauncey Billups (.415%)

Miami Heat – Daequan Cook (.300%)

Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry (.429%)

Phoenix Suns- Channing Frye (.438%)

New York Knicks- Danilo Gallinari (.403%)

Boston Celtics – Paul Pierce (.467%)

My Winner: Danilo Gallinari

Why? No one has made more threes this season than Gallinari. Frye and Gallinari are the only players hitting over the hundred mark in three point shots this season. In the final round, I believe the sophomore Knick can edge breakout player Frye by a shot or two.

Peter’s Winner: Chauncey Billups

Why? He’s not just a team leader, he’s one of the most proficient shooters in the league and can throw it down.  When Chauncy is on fire, no one can touch him and he is the most experienced shooter out of all of them.

In the past years, the Sprite Slam Dunk contest has players using many props. Dwight Howard with his “Superman” cape, Nate Robinson jumping over short and tall people, and Gerald Green blowing candles out. I think the dunks should be based on three categories. Originality scale 1-10, Creativity 1-5, and Finish 1-5. Sounds a bit complicated but I feel that it would bring more fun for the dunk contest. I’m hoping to see many surprising things this year. Everyone is a new contestant besides current champ Nate Robinson. The 2010 dunkers are….

Los Angeles Lakers – Shannon Brown

Charlotte Bobcats – Gerald Wallace

New York Knicks – Nate Robinson

Toronto Raptors – DeMar Derozan*

Los Angeles Clippers – Eric Gordon*

* – will compete in dunk-in challenge

My Winner: Shannon Brown

Why? I’m an L.A. native, I watch Laker games. When I see Brown hop to dunk, it’s plain sick for a short kid getting that high above the rim. Shannon stated “I can touch the top of the backboard”. In case you haven’t heard, the last person to touch a top spot on the backboard was Dwight Howard with the sticker dunk a few years back. Though Dwight didn’t win that year, that’s still freakishly impressive for a 6’4 guard getting that high. If I picked a final round for the contest, it would be Brown with either Derozan or Wallace. Derozan gets up. Wallace shows to finish aggressive around the rim, so I’d also take him to the finals.

Peter’s Winner: Gerald Wallace

Why? Crash is going to do some crazy ish in the dunk contest.  Shannon Brown has hops but Wallace will do some crazy oh my god dunks that will get everyone off their seats with gaped mouths.

Rookies

Player (Team) Position Height/Weight School/Country
Omri Casspi (Kings) F 6-9/225 Israel
DeJuan Blair (Spurs) F-C 6-7/265 Pittsburgh
Stephen Curry (Warriors) G 6-3/185 Davidson
Tyreke Evans (Kings) G 6-6/220 Memphis
Jonny Flynn (Timberwolves) G 6-0/186 Syracuse
Taj Gibson (Bulls) F 6-9/225 USC
James Harden (Thunder) G 6-5/220 Arizona State
Brandon Jennings (Bucks) G 6-1/169 Lottomatica Virtus Roma (Italy)
Jonas Jerebko (Pistons) F 6-10/231 Sweden

Sophomores

Player (Team) Position Height/Weight School/Country
Michael Beasley (Heat) F 6-9/245 Kansas State
Marc Gasol (Grizzlies) C 7-1/265 Spain
Danilo Gallinari (Knicks) G-F 6-10/225 Italy
Eric Gordon (Clippers) G 6-3/222 Indiana
Brook Lopez (Nets) C 7-0/260 Stanford
Kevin Love (Timberwolves) F-C 6-10/260 UCLA
O.J. Mayo (Grizzlies) G 6-4/210 USC
Anthony Morrow (Warriors) G 6-3/190 Georgia Tech
Russell Westbrook (Thunder) G 6-5/210 UCLA

My Winner: Sophomores

Why? When I deeply think about it, the 2009 draft class was one of the league’s best ever.

Peter’s Winner: Sophomores

Why? They’re more experienced and this year’s sophomores is some of the best in the league


Last season in Phoenix was a fun one to watch. Shaq, Kobe, and Phil reunited for a fun performance. The starting line-up wasn’t so different from last year with the East having the same starters this year.

Let’s take a look at the team’s full roster.

East Roster

NO. PLAYER (TEAM) POS. HT. WT. BIRTHDATE FROM
23 * LeBron James (Cleveland) F 6-8 250 12/30/84 St. Vincent/St. Mary HS
5 * Kevin Garnett (Boston) F 6-11 253 05/19/76 Farragut Academy HS (CHI)
3 * Dwyane Wade (Miami) G 6-4 220 01/17/82 Marquette
3 * Allen Iverson (Philadelphia) G 6-0 165 06/07/75 Georgetown, D.C.
12 * Dwight Howard (Orlando) C 6-11 265 12/08/85 SW Atlanta Christian Academy (GA)
15 # Al Horford (Atlanta) C 6-10 245 06/03/86 Florida
4 Chris Bosh (Toronto) F 6-10 230 03/24/84 Georgia Tech
34 Paul Pierce (Boston) F 6-7 235 10/13/77 Kansas
3 # Gerald Wallace (Charlotte) F 6-7 220 07/23/82 Alabama
2 Joe Johnson (Atlanta) G 6-7 240 06/29/81 Arkansas
9 # Rajon Rondo (Boston) G 6-1 171 02/22/86 Kentucky
1 # Derrick Rose (Chicago) G 6-3 190 10/04/88 Memphis
Head Coach: Stan Van Gundy (Orlando)

West Roster

NO. PLAYER (TEAM) POS. HT. WT. BIRTHDATE FROM
15 * Carmelo Anthony (Denver) F 6-8 230 05/29/84 Syracuse
21 * Tim Duncan (San Antonio) F 6-11 260 04/25/76 Wake Forest
24 * Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers) G 6-6 205 08/23/78 Lower Merion HS (PA)
13 * Steve Nash (Phoenix) G 6-3 178 02/07/74 Santa Clara
1 * Amar’e Stoudemire (Phoenix) C 6-10 249 11/16/82 Cypress Creek (FL)
16 Pau Gasol (L.A. Lakers) C 7-0 250 07/06/80 Barcelona, Spain
35 # Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) F 6-9 230 09/29/88 Texas
41 Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas) F 7-0 245 06/19/78 Wurzburg, Germany
50 # Zach Randolph (Memphis) F 6-9 260 07/16/81 Michigan State
3 i Chris Paul (New Orleans) G 6-0 175 05/06/85 Wake Forest
1 Chauncey Billups (Denver) F 6-3 202 09/25/76 Colorado
7 i Brandon Roy (Portland) G 6-6 211 07/23/84 Washington
35 # Chris Kaman (L.A. Clippers) G 7-0 265 04/28/82 Central Michigan
8 # Deron Williams (Utah) G 6-3 207 06/26/84 Illinois
Head Coach: George Karl (Denver)
* – denotes starter
# – denotes first-time selection

i – denotes injured and will not participate

My Winner: East All-Stars

Why? East is the powerhouse this season.

Peter’s Winner: Doesn’t matter

Why? This is going to be a fun and entertaining game showing the best talent around the world.  Lebron’s going to do something awesome, Dwight is going to do something funny, it’s going to be a good time.


Needs, Summary, and Grades

February 3, 2010

As teams come to the halfway mark of the season, let’s look back at how each team can improve in certain areas. Whether its trying to make a playoff push or heading to the lottery, every team can improve in some way. Also, grades will be handed to each team.

Atlanta Hawks

Needs: PF and C

Summary: The Hawks have surprised me this season. Maybe not only me but most of NBA fans. The Hawks record now stands as the 3rd best team in the Eastern Conference. Their depth runs well with the guard positions such as Jamal Crawford who has been solid throughout the year and Maurice Evans who brings defense. However, the Hawks need a decent back-up big man. A player who can play both the PF/C position to take some slack off Josh Smith and Horford’s back. Zaza Pachulia has another 4 years left on his contract and I don’t think Zaza is too reliable in the long run. Also, Horford’s contract ends after this season, so the Hawks should be thinking about their future now and make some space for Al.

Team grade: A

Boston Celtics

Needs: SF and C

Summary: Lately, the slumping C’s have looked old and battered. With Pierce at 32, Garnett at 33, and Allen at 34, the Celtics are lucky to have a night where all three of these players play. As you can see, I didn’t say stars, because the main star of this team now is Rajon Rondo. Rondo’s been the most consistent player in Boston. With Marquis Daniels out for now, the team should really invest in looking for a young SF behind Pierce. Defense should be a key in who they want to acquire for. Also, with Rasheed Wallace and Kendrick Perkins leading the league in technicals (13 and 11), who knows when or if they’ll be suspended for games? If they are out in the playoffs, the Celt’s will have a quick exit in the postseason.

Grade: B

Charlotte Bobcats

Needs: SF and C

Summary: The Bobcats are the hottest team in 2010 so far. Other than Gerald Wallace leading this team into their first playoff appearance, Stephen Jackson is the difference maker for the Bobcats with his leadership. Charlotte has one big problem though. Their point guard list is way too stacked. Suggestion for them is to ship one or two out for a solid starting Center who can run with the cats or energetic Small Forward who can score at will.

Grade: B+

Cleveland Cavaliers

Needs: PF

Summary: The Cavs are the top team in the league. LeBron is playing his best ball ever. Shaq is actually helping the King where he needs it most, in the post at both ends. BUT! There is a piece missing to this team. The Cavaliers feel as if they need to add a starting PF who can score down low in the post. With expiring contract Big Z in play, Illgauskas can be shipped out before the deadline without any trouble.

Grade: A+

Dallas Mavericks

Needs: SG and SF

Summary: The Mavericks holds the Southwest division for the first time since the 06-07 season. Mark Cuban has done a great job picking up Drew Gooden in the offseason. What about Marion? Marion hasn’t delivered like he was expected too. Despite him not performing well at the SF position, the Mavericks are still the 3rd best team in the West. The Mavs need to add a SG to help Terry’s back and a SF maybe to replace Josh Howard and at times, Rick Carlisle can use a run and gun team moving Marion to PF.

Grade: B-

Denver Nuggets

Needs: PF

Summary: The Nuggets started off hot this season and then cooled off. Not in their Rocky Mountains though, but the road? Lately, Carmelo has been hurt with his ankle bothering him. Billups had a few set of injuries before Melo too. However with Chauncey being hurt, Ty Lawson has stepped up to play. The missing link for the Nuggets is a back-up PF. This team has a lot of potential if they have fun throwing around small trades to improve their team.

Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons

Needs: PG and C

Summary: Messy…This team needs to be cleaned up. The best player on the Pistons this year is Rodney Stuckey. Young 50 I mean Rodney is at least getting to prove teams he can play as a starting point guard for a team. Rodney will draw attention, but if the Detroit keeps him, they will have plenty decent years to come for. Stuckey gets to shine because he basically has no back-up! Also, with aging defensive beast Big Ben Wallace

Grade: D

Golden State Warriors

Needs: SG, SF, PF, and C

Summary: See this team in the lottery…. It seems as if Don Nelson are letting these young players play however they like. Run and gun. This team needs a new make over and they should have Stephen Curry lead this team.

Grade: D-

Houston Rockets

Needs: SG and C

Summary: Rick Adelman has made this team into a contender. Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry are the top players on this team. Not Trevor Ariza. After the Tmac mess and Yao being out for the whole season and maybe beyond, the Rockets need to plan for now and the future with a star Center. Houston needs to bring back the inside man and also have a Shooting Guard who can bring some energy off the bench.

Grade: B

Indiana Pacers

Needs: PG and SG/SF

Summary: T.J. Ford is third string? All I have to say for that is Jim O’Brien’s dumb for not playing the talented young guard. If there is chemistry issues, then ship Ford out for a valuable player immediately! Pacers have Danny Granger they can build around. But other than Danny being a shooter, nobody else can knock down shots. Indiana needs a stable point guard and a shooting guard/small forward who can help take the scoring load off Danny’s shoulders.

Grade: D+

Los Angeles Clippers

Needs: SF and a new coach

Summary: Everytime I watch the Clips play, most of the time the coaching just pisses me off. If a player such as Baron Davis or Eric Gordon has a chance for a fast break, TAKE IT! Mike Dunleavy needs to understand this team can run and score quick. The players on this team are good, but Mike just doesn’t use them to their full potential. I understand the Clippers have injuries which hit hard, but as an experienced coach for this Los Angeles team Mike should be able to turn things around at least with a few of their great players. Al Thornton who was terrific last year seems to have fallen out of the rotation this year. If they don’t use Al, they need a new SF, because Butler can’t get the job done.

Grade: C

Los Angeles Lakers

Needs: PG/SG

Summary: Rumors are that Kirk Hinrich is on the Lakers radar. The Lakers have been on and off this season with wins. With injuries lingering through stars like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Ron Artest, the defending champions are fine where they are at the moment. The point guard situation for this team is a problem. Fisher looks like he needs new legs and Farmar just doesn’t seem to be consistent and proben himself enough to lead this team for the future.

Grade: A

Memphis Grizzlies

Needs: PG, SG, and PF

Summary: Memphis consists of many young and developing players. Sometimes too many young players can become trouble. Only one player on the team is over 28 years old and that’s Jamaal Tinsley. I’m also confused about the team’s leading player/ captain. To me, I found Memphis to be similar to the Hawks the past few years because they didn’t know who the leader of the team should be. Now it’s Joe Johnson for many obvious reasons. On the other hand, what about Memphis? Zach Randolph who now is an all-star MAY fill that role if young and upcoming stars like Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo don’t get into the picture. The Grizzlies have had a problem at the point guard spot for the last few years. They need one who can run this team. Also, a bench defensive shooter and a big man would help the depth of this team much more.

Grade: B-

Miami Heat

Needs: SF and C

Summary: Dwyane Wade needs the help for this team or he’ll be leaving in no time. Miami needs to start building now if they want to keep their star studded player. With the Heat struggling to keep at the .500 mark, Wade is only looking at how his fellow friends Carmelo and LeBron are doing so well with their teams. At SF, Miami has Q rich starting. Remember when Richardson got traded hundreds of times in the offseason? That’s because no team needed his contract and Q can’t help. Miami needs a athletic SF to help wade down the stretch for games. Also, Jermaine O’Neal’s injuries hurt the Heat because their next big man to play is either Udonis Haslem or Joel Anthony who are both 6’9 or under.

Grade: C+

Milwaukee Bucks

Needs: SG, SF, and PF

Summary: It’s time for this team to realize they need to rebuild this franchise now before they move to another location. Brandon Jennings is their youngest top talent. Redd should be out of the picture and off this team next year. The Bucks should draft another big man so Bogut will have some help. Also, this team needs more shooters and slashers who can draw fouls because this team is last in the league in free throw attempts and makes and 27th overall in field goal shooting. Milwaukee has a lot of work to do not now, but in the offseason.

Grade: D+

Minnesota Timberwolves

Needs: SG and SF

Summary: The Wolves have a lot of young talent. Jefferson, Flynn, and Love are the core of this Kurt Rambis team who seems to be having fun putting in different rotations. This team is off to a new start this season, trying to rebuild and find player’s roles. A solid shooter and who can play SG/SF would probably give Rambis a easier way of having a steady starting line-up.

Grade: C-

New Jersey Nets

Needs: PG, SG, PF, and C

Summary: This need will receive a whole new makeover next season. But at the half of this season, the team’s a wreck. They nearly need a new back-up or starter in every position. When I watch this team play defense, players are not just a second slow, but a full minute slow to get where they are needed to be. Good news is that next year this team will be interesting.

Grade: F

New Orleans Hornets

Needs: SG, SF, and C

Summary: This team desperately needs a shooter. Shooting guard or Small forward who can knock down the outside shots. They also need a big man who is at least 7 ft tall who can run and score. They are 27th in the league with 3’s and blocked shots. Now with Cp3 out, it’s time for rookie Darren Collison to shine. For this team to make the playoffs, David West or Emeka Okafor will need to be traded sometime soon.

Grade: C

New York Knicks

Needs: PG and C

Summary: Everyone knows this team is chasing the 2010 free agent market. The Knicks just needs to find expiring contracts and ship out Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries for them. Utah holds the Knicks 1st round pick this year. The Knicks hope to makes the playoffs to not have the pick head to the lottery. A steady point guard who can run would help Mike D’Antoni’s system. I thought this team needed a SG but it’s full of shooters! A center can help 6’9 Lee if they plan to keep him in the long run.

Grade: C-

Oklahoma City Thunder

Needs: C

Summary: This season’s MOST surprising team in the league is the Thunder. Durant, Green, and Westbrook has proved the young players have come to lead and play. The bench also has some depth. Thunder recently added guard Eric Maynor which I thought was a steal for Oklahoma City. When you look at the roster, everyone is usually recognized. Once your eyes hit the Center position, you just go huh? The Thunder has the most potential for a team if they shop for a big man.

Grade: B+

Orlando Magic

Needs: PF

Summary: The Magic have many talented players. I believe now they know Dwight is the person to go to and not Vince. Also, I think Orlando can dominate if they put Rashard as SF and brought in a starting PF who can give the Magic more bulk down low. Overall, this team is starting to pick up on where they left off last year.

Grade: A

Philadelphia 76ers

Needs: PF and C

Summary: This team needs to “THINK BIG”. Another thing is that this team is heading to the lottery with one of the best players ever to play in the game (Allen Iverson), who is probably going to retire after this year. Sorry Philly fans.

Grade: D-

Phoenix Suns

Needs: SG and PF

Summary: Amare doesn’t need to go anywhere. Besides Nash, who else are the Suns going to look to for critical game time plays. Phoenix needs to look at it this way. Nash is playing ball better when he’s old! He has a few years left in his tank so use it while you can! Amare is a young talent. Yeah his contract is expiring, but i bet if you try to build the team around both those two players and have Alvin Gentry run the show, Phoenix can win. With Barbosa out, Jrich needs help. If Amare gets into foul trouble, throw in the scrappy PF which they need.

Grade: B

Portland Trail Blazers

Needs: PF and C

Summary: I’m surprised this team is well above the .500 mark accounting their injuries were so devastating to their team. Bigs is what this team needs, period. Nate Mcmillan has done a wonderful job running this team with small size and a veteran PF who now plays C. Props to him.

Grade: B

Sacramento Kings

Needs: 2010 draft picks

Summary: We all know Tyreke Evans is going to be rookie of the year, plain and simple. It doesn’t seem Kevin Martin and Evans can play well together. The Kings won 2 games in the last month. I hope this team trades all of their players besides Evans and starts the 2010-2011 season fresh with young talents.

Grade: D

San Antonio Spurs

Needs: SF and C

Summary: They need some youth. Spurs are the oldest team in the league. They look like the oldest team EVER to play! This Richard Jefferson things isn’t working out. In the off season, it was ranked the best pick up too. A new SF can put this team into the Western Conference Finals at most. If they find a young talented Center to fill in the starting role plus the SF, I can see another rematch with Spurs vs Cavs in Finals

Grade: B

Toronto Raptors

Needs: SF and C

Summary: Bosh is a monster. Monster meaning he scores at will and crashes boards like no tomorrow. Back ups are this team’s key to making a strong playoff push. Other than Bosh, I can’t think of anyone else scoring 20 or more points every week. The starting line-up will need a lot of work in the second half of the season.

Grade: C+

Utah Jazz

Needs: SG and C

Summary: Deron Williams FINALLY got his All-Star spot which he deserves so much. The Jazz have been blazing hot with great wins over great teams. A starting Shooting guard would make this team complete. Too bad Ronnie Brewer can’t do that. Also a back-up bodied Center would cut some slack off the bigs who have been putting 110% every game.

Grade: A-

Washington Wizards

Needs: Everything

Summary: Look, this team just needs to replace their whole roster, stadium, and even team name. Gilbert has ruined their reputation…

Grade: F