Amareisreal…Dumb

Monday night the Knicks were bested by the Miami Heat for the second straight game.  This loss wasn’t as bad as the blowout that took place in game 1 or was it?  After the game the Knicks star forward punched a fire extinguisher enclosure in which the glass lacerated his hand.  Paramedics went into the locker room and worked on Amare.  He later went to twitter stating:“I am so mad at myself right now, I want to apologize to the fans and my team, not proud of my actions, headed home for a new start”.  Later posting another tweet saying:“We all have done thing out of anger that we regret. That makes us human. Bad timing on my part. Sorry guys. This to shall pass.”.  Well at least he’s sorry guys.

He punched glass.  I’m sure there were many other objects he could of punched, kicked, threw that were around him.  We all make mistakes yes, but most people’s lives aren’t under the microscope.  Today athletes are all over social media, in the news, and under constant watch of the public eye.  I don’t have a problem with him making a mistake and admitting to it.  We are all human.  My biggest gripe with what he did isn’t about the very dumb decision to punch a glass fixture.  I recall him saying at the beginning of the season that he was going to go hunting in South Beach.  When asked what was there to hunt in South Beach, Amare replied “We’re hunting D-Wade and LeBron.”  At the time I thought that that was a bold statement.  Especially since the Knicks were swept last year by Boston in the playoffs and Miami was coming off losing in the Finals.  I still believed and believe that the Heat were the superior team mainly because of their ability to play suffocating defense.  You can’t say you want to go hunting in South Beach and be the first to draw blood…on yourself.  Put aside all the statistics that the Knicks have a better record without Amare in the lineup because that is the regular season.   In the playoffs and they need Amare to produce if they want to win anything.  Melo can’t win it by himself.  Isn’t that the reason why he wanted to come to New York in the first place?  To team up with another superstar?  Doesn’t look like the Knicks plans are going as planned as of right now.

His status for game 3 is that he is a no go.  Going forward I’m not sure if he will be able to play.  He supposedly needed 15 stitches in his hand.  After the loss of rookie guard Iman Shumpert they can’t afford to be losing players, especially since they were being praised for their depth.  Well where’s the depth now?  It’s the playoffs and most teams generally play an 8-man rotation at most because you want your best players on the floor for as long as possible.  It’s do or die.  The Heat smell blood.

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Why Kobe Will Never Be Jordan

The 2012 NBA Playoffs are underway and I’ve been reading a lot of underlying stories that could take place given certain circumstances. Will LeBron finally get his first elusive ring? Will Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich upgrade their legacy by grabbing their 5th title together? Can the Bulls win without former MVP Derrick Rose? Can Kobe get his 6th Ring and finally catch up to Michael Jordan? That last one is the one that bugs me the most and has been for several years now. There is no question Kobe Bryant wants to be compared to Jordan, if not surpass him when it comes to their ring collection. Does Kobe winning a 6th ring make it fair to evaluate Kobe on an even playing field with Jordan? Does 6 rings for both men mean they are equal superstars? Is Kobe really being compared to being the next Jordan? I mean all rings aside the two aren’t even in the same league. I’ve heard it all too. Kobe had developed a better jumper earlier in his career than Jordan did. Kobe this and Kobe that. I’m not saying everybody actually believes Kobe could be considered an equal or even better than Jordan, but the media seems to like to compare the two when really there is no comparison at all. The only thing Kobe has over Jordan is the number on his jersey.

First lets compare their stat lines per game:

Michael Jordan: 30.1ppg 6.2rpg 5.3apg 2.4spg 0.8bpg .497FG% .835 FT% .327 3P%

Kobe Bryant: 25.4ppg 5.3rpg 4.7apg 1.5spg 0.5bpg .453FG% .838FT% .337 3P%

Jordan scored more points, more rebounds, more assists, more steals, and more blocks per game than Kobe. Jordan also shot a higher field goal percentage. Their Free Throw percentage is basically the same and Kobe has a slight edge on his 3 point percentage than Jordan. The way people say Kobe is a much better 3 point shooter than Jordan made me believe the percentage was at a great disparity when in fact it is not. Kobe has made almost a thousand more 3 point shots than Jordan has, but that wasn’t Jordan’s game and he didn’t shoot much less efficient than Kobe. I’ve previously said Kobe’s numbers are more comparable with Dwayne Wade’s but that’s up for another discussion.

Kobe is blessed with playing in a league where it is nowhere near as physical a game as it was when Jordan played. The NBA is catered to offense because fans rather see an offensive game than a low scoring defensive struggle. It’s like that in baseball, hence the American League adopting the DH. It’s like that in Football which is why we saw 3 QB’s eclipse the 5,000 yard passing mark this year while only seeing twice before that. Kobe still averages less points per game. Kobe has only scored over 30ppg twice in his career while Jordan has done it 8 times. Kobe is a prolific scorer but has only won the scoring title twice while coming very close to grabbing his third this year. Jordan won the scoring title 10 times. Kobe has one MVP award. He probably deserved maybe a few more, but never got it. Jordan won MVP 5 times second to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 6. Jordan probably deserved it every year from 1987-1998.

Jordan won rookie of the year and a defensive player of the year award. Kobe was on the bench his rookie season and is never even mentioned in the conversation for top defender honors. Kobe came straight out of high school, but that’s no excuse for him to start his career on the bench. I’m sure he could of went to any college in the country to play, but he declined and headed straight for the NBA. Jordan spent three years at the University of North Carolina and won a National title. Some will argue and I agree that going to college prepares a player’s body and mind for the NBA. Kobe has already been playing a whole season longer than Jordan. There is no doubt that the both are Hall of Famers, as Jordan was inducted in 2009.

I don’t really like the rings comparison for players to determine how great they were, but it’s a hot topic so I need to have some input. Jordan won 6 NBA Championships along with 6 Finals MVP trophies. He was the best player on the best team every time they played in the Finals. Kobe has won 5 NBA Championships so far, with 2 Finals MVP trophies. He was not the best player on his team when they won the first 3 championships. There was one of the most dominating centers in the history of the NBA named Shaquille O’Neal on his team and the recipient of 3 Finals MVP awards. If it wasn’t for Shaq would Kobe have those 3 rings? If it wasn’t for Kobe would Shaq have gotten those 3 with the Lakers? Who knows and it’s hard to tell. It’s hard to say that someone is as great as the greatest player in most people’s opinions when the one who wants to be compared had a player who out shined him. Didn’t Shaq leave LA because Kobe wanted to shine? If were talking about rings then isn’t Robert Horry better than both of them? Didn’t think so.

My main argument for why Kobe will never be Jordan is that Jordan never lost in the Finals. Kobe has lost twice in the Finals. The 04 Pistons and the 08 Celtics beat the Kobe led Lakers. In essence Kobe has had more opportunities than Jordan to win more rings. And had Jordan not taken two years off to play baseball I’m almost positive that Jordan would have led the Bulls to two more Championships. It’s hard to argue otherwise. Most great players in that era didn’t get to win a ring because of Jordan. Those two years off had NBA greats salivating at the opportunity. Hakeem Olajuwon and the Hawks were the one’s who capitalized on that short window. Jordan doesn’t lose when it matters most. Jordan won a NBA title with the flu. Kobe is always hurt, but I’m almost convinced it’s for effect because he still will come out and drop 37 without a grimace on his face unless he misses.

Jordan is the greatest of all time. So great that Pat Riley of the Miami Heat retired Michael Jordan’s jersey. His legacy was so great that he believes nobody on the Heat deserve to wear that number. No LeBron didn’t just change his number he had too, and the whole change of scenery remark he made. Kobe changed his number from 8 to 24 to prove he is one better than Jordan. Like I said before that’s the only thing he has on him.

as of 2010

2012 NBA Playoff Predicitions

Yesterday was the last day of the regular season in the NBA for 2012. Now the playoff teams are set up with their respective seeding. The last month has been a roller coaster ride watching some teams make a strong push at the end while others seemingly faltered. The Spurs took over the #1 seed in the West while the oft-injured Derrick Rose and Bulls finished the season with the #1 seed in the East. Seeding deems very important in the first round in particular because of home court advantage. The Spurs and Thunder seem to be the favorite Western Conference matchup and the Bulls and Heat will have a rematch of last years Eastern Conference Championship. How could you not think those are the favorites going into the playoffs. Let’s take a look at how each team will get there.

FIRST ROUND

EAST

(1) Bulls vs. (8) Sixers

The Bulls have shown that they can beat teams without Derrick Rose or even if he is playing limited minutes. The Bulls have a stifling defense that make them a favorite to make it to the Eastern Conference Championship for the second straight year. Defense wins championships, or at least that’s what the motto says.
The Sixers have no real superstar on their team. They very much play team basketball. They have a great defense themselves and are good in transition, which can negate any defense. At the end of the day Coach Thibodeau is mastermind on defense and will lock this series up by out coaching Doug Collins. The Sixers could steal a game maybe two since Rose is pretty much coming off an injury and the current Bulls squad hasn’t played enough to have it’s chemistry where it needs to be.

BULLS IN 6.

(4) Celtics vs. (5) Hawks

Remember when the Saints had a better record, but had a lower seed than the Seahawks? The Saints had to go to Seattle for a playoff game, which is one of the toughest stadiums to play and they lost. The NBA however has this format right. The Hawks have a better record and the Celtics have the higher seed, but the Hawks will get home court advantage for having more wins throughout the season. This is probably the closest matchup in the East in the first round. The Hawks have been playing well even without their All-Star Center, Al Horford. Josh Smith has taken his game to another level and Jeff Teague has shown some improvement as well. This team bounced the Orlando Magic out of the playoffs last year, but that was last year and they still lost one of their best players for at least the first round.
The Celtics have been one of the hottest teams since the All-Star break. They have the experience and champion caliber players to make one last run. Rondo has proven he is an elite point guard and doesn’t even need to score to have an impact on the game. Garnett has moved to the 5 giving the Celtics more talent on the floor as far as starters go. This is going to be a tough defensive series. With all that being said I think the clutch shooting of Pierce and the loss of Horford will be the difference in this series.

CELTICS IN 6.

(2) Heat vs. (7) Knicks

This is the series to watch in the first round. No, not because I’m a Knicks fan. No, not because Dwayne Wade’s my guy. This is the most star-studded matchup. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh vs. Carmelo, A’Mare and company. Any reason we refer to the Knicks on a first name basis and the Heat players by last name? Either way this matchup is going to be fun to watch. Playoff basketball inside Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are actually playing defense under Woodson and aren’t giving up like they did under D’Antoni. Do you really trust guys that quit on their coach when things are going rough? I don’t. Miami has arguably the best player in the game in LeBron James on both sides of the floor. LeBron is on a mission to win his first elusive ring. His performance this year has proven that in which he should win his 3rd MVP trophy. The Knicks have been a great 3-point shooting team as of late, but maybe too much 3-point shooting will hurt them. Remember you can live and die by the 3. Most times you die by it, ask Orlando. The Heat defense is too quick and I think ultimately will force the Knicks into some bad shots as they already seem to take time to time. It’s hard for me to say this, but I don’t think the Knicks can take down the Heat this year and certainly not in the first round.

HEAT IN 6.

(3) Pacers vs. (6) Magic

The Magic have lost Dwight Howard to injury for the remainder of the playoffs. I repeat the The Magic have lost Dwight Howard to injury for the remainder of the playoffs. I think that says enough about this series. I’m not taking anything away from the Pacers because they are probably the most underrated team in the NBA this year. The Pacers should handle the Magic pretty easily without the big presence of Dwight Howard in the paint, which will have a negative effect on the entire Magic team.

PACERS IN 4.

WEST

(1) Spurs vs. (8) Jazz

The Spurs are probably the quietest franchise ever. Nobody ever talks about them until the playoffs roll around and even then there are a lot of skeptics. I’ve been saying for the past I don’t know how many years, I lost count, watch out for the Spurs they have one last run in them to win the championship. One last run. Gregg Popovich is probably one of the most underrated coaches in the league and it coincides with what people think of the Spurs franchise. The Jazz are just too young at certain positions. They have a really good team, but not one that is going to be able to surpass the experience that the Spurs big three have along with it’s deep bench. I loved the addition of Stephen Jackson and I think they have what it takes to come out the West.

SPURS IN 4.

(4) Grizzlies vs. (5) Clippers.

This is the best matchup in the West in the first round. The Grizzlies make a deep run last year without their star forward Rudy Gay. He’s back this year and I think they are going to surprise a lot of people. The Clippers have taken huge strides this year from being a franchise that was only known for playing in the same building as the Lakers to being a legitimate title contender. Well maybe we won’t go that far. The Clippers lack size at the guards and small forward position and after their starting rotation they don’t have much depth. This is going to be a good series, but I’m going to have to say the Grizzlies finish off the Clippers.

GRIZZLIES IN 6.

(2) Thunder vs. (7) Mavericks

Last year’s Western Conference Championship rematch will be seen in the first round this year. The Thunder were the favorite pick to win the West this year and probably still are by most people. The Mavericks have been playing lackluster basketball which isn’t comparable with last year’s title run. Ultimately I think this series is tighter than most people expect, but the Mavericks don’t seem to be playing the same as they were a year ago. Their heart and soul doesn’t seem to be in it this year and Durant and company have been playing championship level basketball all year despite conceding the #1 seed to the Spurs.

THUNDER IN 6.

(3) Lakers vs. (6) Nuggets

The Lakers are going to miss Ron Artest (sorry I refuse to call him by his new name) for pretty much the entire first round. It might even be a service to them if they can take this series to 6 and win it of course. You don’t want to sweep the Nuggets and go into the next round without your best perimeter defender out for the first 2 games. I don’t see a sweep here anyways. I actually see a very close matchup and could possibly be the next series to watch in the first round in the West after the Grizzlies and Clippers. The Nuggets benefited the most from the Carmelo Anthony trade last year. If you don’t believe me go look at the numbers. Better yet look at the seeding. The Knicks got a perennial All-Star and are the 7 seed while the Nuggets got half of the Knicks teams last year and are the 6 seed in the much stronger West. The Nuggets are deep. They play with a lot of energy and they have good guard play. They are undersized in the paint to say the least and the Lakers have over 14 feet down low.

LAKERS IN 6.

SEMIFINALS

(1) Bulls vs. (4) Celtics

This series will be something to watch. Both teams play superb defense and have amazing point guards. At this point I think it comes down to who is more healthy. Can the Celtics Big 3 hold up? Will Derrick Rose and Luol Deng be able to carry the Bulls past the Celtics? Defense is going to be the name of the game in this series. I see it being a low scoring affair night in and night out, but I’m going to have to go with the team that plays better on the road here. In a tight series the team that wins is the team that can steal one on the road.

BULLS IN 7.

(2) Heat vs. (3) Pacers

The Pacers are the quintessential team. Many believe they really don’t have an All-Star type player. I think Granger is one of the most underrated players in the league and Roy Hibbert was an All-Star, but I’m not sure he gets the nod if other players in the East were healthy. They have great depth and play good defense. They are the #3 seed for a reason. The Heat play way too fast and I think you will see in this series that LeBron is ready to take that next step and become All-Worldly. That’s not a real team? Whatever the dude is on another planet when it comes to his skill set. Did I mention the Heat have Dwayne Wade? Chalk one up for the “BAD GUYS”. I don’t see them being stopped in the East.

HEAT IN 5.

(1) Spurs vs. (4) Grizzlies

Last year we watch the Memphis Grizzlies shock the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. The Spurs were old then. They are older now, but somehow they are better. Manu Ginobili is healhty. Rudy Gay is healthy. I think this series goes the other way this time, but not by much. Tony Parker is playing at such an elite level right now and I see him getting the Grizzlies into some foul trouble. Spurs will have the taste of last year’s defeat in their mouth. Sorry Grizzlies.

SPURS IN 6.

(2) Thunder vs. (3) Lakers

Ron Artest (I told you I refuse to call him MWP) will make his return in this series. James Harden will be looking to come off the bench and punch the Lakers in the mouth. Ok, not literally but figuratively. The 6th man of the year will look to ignite the offense. The Lakers have a decent bench, but nothing to brag about. The 2 7-footers in this time will be matched with Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. As long as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant aren’t missing 20 shots each they should handle the Lakers and make it back to the Western Conference Championship once again.

THUNDER IN 6.

CONFERENCE FINALS

(1) Bulls vs. (2) Heat

These two teams met last year and Miami handled the Bulls rather easily, although each game was pretty close. I had to remind myself that it only went to 5. The Heat are hard to beat in a 7 game series especially in the weak Eastern Conference. The Bulls are a better team this year, but still seem to be a one trick pony. It’s Derrick Rose or bust and the Heat found out last year how to slow him down by putting LeBron on him. Both teams play good defense and neither team has lost to the other at home, but the playoffs are different. I look for the Heat and LeBron to take over this series much like last year.

HEAT IN 6.

(1) Spurs vs. (2) Thunder

My pick before the season was to see the Thunder and the Heat. My pick now is…well it’s going to be a tough choice. The Thunder lack scoring outside of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden. The Spurs have seemed to rest a lot of their players late in the year and still overtook the Thunder for the #1 seed. Both teams are very good at home and on the road. The bench of the Spurs will probably get them to surpass the Thunder this year. I know teams don’t play much more than an 8 man rotation in the playoffs, but I think the Spurs make this run to the Finals because after being bounced early last year, they are on a mission.

SPURS IN 7.

THE FINALS

(1) Spurs vs. (2) Heat

It’s a matchup of the Big 3’s. Manu, Parker, and Duncan vs. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh. Outside of each teams big three the Spurs have a better team. The Spurs Big 3 have played way longer together than Miami’s Big 3. This is going to be a good series as each team seems to be on a mission to prove itself. Coach Popovich will have his hands full, but I’m sure he can handle it and Coach Spoelstra will have to utilize his lineups right to come out victorious. Part of me would like to see Tim Duncan get ring number 5 and part of me wants to see LeBron finally get his first ring. It’s hard to say who really holds the advantage, but I think LeBron has to come out and take over and win this year. It is an absolute must. Wade knows what it takes to takeover a series and win a ring, but he is many injuries removed from that and it has to fall on the shoulders of LeBron to take the crown as king. Let the party begin in South Beach.

HEAT IN 6.

Who is the Greatest All-Around NBA Player Ever?

Recently I had an argument, no, no, a discussion with one of my friends on who the best all-around player in the NBA. We both agreed without argument that it is LeBron James. I chimed in that the next closest player to him is on his team in Dwayne Wade. Both players are the two best two-way players in the league today by far. Then I took the conversation even further in asking who does he think is the best all-around player ever. Hmmm, that’s a tough one he says and then almost instantly says LeBron James. What about Oscar Robertson? Larry Bird? Magic Johnson? Michael Jordan? We can cross Dwayne Wade out because we both agree LeBron is better all-around than him and I’m going to contribute that to LeBron’s size. So we both ponder for a moment to really see who’s the best all-around player to ever play the game. Here’s what we come up with.

I’m only 24 years old so it’s safe to say that I’ve only got to “witness” LeBron play in the entirety of his career thus far. I’ve caught the latter days of Jordan’s career, but not enough to say I really got to watch him and when I did he was winning his last two NBA championships. At about 8 years old you don’t know too much about basketball, not the way you would when your older and understand the game better. Then I watched Jordan comeback playing for the Wizards, not nearly as good as he used to be, but if you’re anybody else those numbers are still pretty good. I never got to see Larry Bird play although you hear stories, see some clips, and you know that the guy was a prolific player. Unfortunately I never really got to see Magic Johnson play. When he came back during the 95-96 season, it was like Jordan playing for the Wizards, a good player but a shell of what he used to be. I mentioned Oscar Robertson and I wish I could have seen him play. He is the only player in the history of the NBA to average a triple-double in a season and has come very close several other times. The Big O also played during an era in which not all statistics were kept like they are today. Steals, blocks, and turnovers were not tracked and he also played in a league that did not have the 3-pointer as part of the game.

Before I make our case for why LeBron is the best all-around player I would like to argue the other players cases first, with the best of my knowledge. First, I want to say that it’s possible we left out a candidate that deserves consideration. You might be thinking where’s Kobe Bryant? Well in our eyes Kobe is purely a scorer and while he can do other things very well nobody really looks at him as a true two-way player. While Kobe is probably one of the best players to ever play the game and has the championships to back it up, his career numbers are actually comparable to Dwayne Wade’s and Wade is a much better defender than Kobe. While I’m not counting rings as a sign of individual success, it should be noted that Kobe had Shaq for three of them, and had a very good team for the next two rings. Dwayne Wade leads all active guards in blocks with 610. Kobe has 594 and 7 years more playing time than that of Wade. Sorry Wade’s my guy and I’d take him over anybody in the league, but were not arguing over popularity here.

Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double. That’s an amazing feat being that the best players today don’t even come close to that. Maybe LeBron does, but if you think that only getting 2-3 more assists and rebounds is easy, think again. I never got to see him play and only get to hear what others say about him. He might have been the original all-around player. In terms of stats he’s the best. I don’t know how well he played defense although I hear he was never really known for his defense, but I’m sure his triple-double status overshadows that. Either way the guy could score in bunches, dished out dimes, and grabbed boards all in the same game. He has to be up for consideration right?

Larry Bird was one of the most prolific scorers ever. He could score at will. He averaged 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. He is by no means the best defender to ever play the game, but he did play defense and made three 2nd All-Defensive teams in his career. He made 10 All-NBA teams, won 3 NBA championships, 3 NBA MVPs, and 2 Finals MVPs. He is the only player on my list that is strictly a forward. He is an underrated defender even though most would agree he played good defense, he is not an elite defender, but you wouldn’t want him guarding you.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson redefined the point guard position. At 6’8 his athleticism and court vision were uncanny. Magic averaged 19.5 points, 11.2 assists, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.7 steals a game. He has 5 championship rings, 3 Finals MVPs, and 3 NBA MVPs. He is probably the least defensive minded on this list, but that is by no means an insult. This is an elite list and not a list of best ever, but best all-around ever. His ability to pass, rebound, and score are what some would say as being ahead of his time. Most young point guards in the league today model their game after his.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan is regarded by most as the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball. His talents are second to none. His competitive spirit and willingness to win is second to none. He is a true competitor in every sense of the word. He is the best player in the biggest games. He might be the best scorer the league has ever seen. His stats back it up too. He averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.3 steals a game. Mind you his two years with the Wizards brought those numbers down. He is the proud owner of 6 NBA championships, 6 Finals MVps, and 5 NBA MVPs. Oh yea he also won defensive player of the year once, the only player on this list to do so. He is the player that players today dream to be. Kobe wishes that he was Jordan. Kobe changed his number to 24 to signify that he was better than Jordan, but that’s the only thing Kobe has on Jodran, 1 number on his jersey. Jordan was the best all-around player to ever play the game. That is until October 29, 2003.

LeBron James made his NBA debut on October 29, 2003 with the Cleveland Cavaliers as the first pick in the draft. LeBron James is a combination of the previous four players. He has the triple-double capability of Oscar Robertson, the scoring ability of Larry Bird, the court vision of Magic Johnson, and the two-way mindset of Michael Jordan. Here’s why LeBron is the best all-around player to ever don an NBA uniform: he got to watch and learn from these players. If Jordan came after LeBron he would be the better all-around player. Players today have the ability to watch previous greats and take a part of their game and incorporate it into their game. My friend brought this to my attention and then I thought, wow, he’s right. Michael Jordan was considered the best dunker in NBA history, but then a kid named Vince Carter came along. Vince Carter got to watch Jordan display his panache and then add that to his own arsenal. It’s only right that new players have the ability to be better than former players.

LeBron James averages 27.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. He has yet to reach his full potential which is even more scary. He has the ability to play the 1-4 positions. Something that none of the other players were able to do. He can bring up the ball or play the 3, you could even play small and fast and put him at the 4. Something that makes him stand above the rest is his ability to also defend the 1-4. We saw it last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, when he guarded Derrick Rose and took him off his game. He guards other small forwards and sometimes power forwards like he did Pau Gasol earlier this year. No other player in the league can do that, not with the success that LeBron would have. That’s what sets him apart from any other player in the history of the league. He is one of the 5 category players in the league today along with Dwayne Wade. The other players I mentioned before him had the ability to put up stats in 5 categories as well. Did I Mention that LeBron is only

LeBron may never have won a defensive player of the year award, but I think this year he should have a really good consideration because of his ability to guard 1-4. He should also win the NBA MVP for the third time in his career this year, despite talks that Durant could potentially be the MVP. LeBron’s Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is above 30, no other player in the league has that. He might have another MVP candidate on his team in Wade, but of all the elite teams in the NBA they have the weakest team. They have no depth, and after Wade and Bosh there are no real scoring options. Durant has a better team as a whole than LeBron. Durant is really the only threat to take the MVP honors away from LeBron.

LeBron is highly criticized for his late game meltdowns as of late. This team has only been playing for a little over a year and when you have 3 players who are used to taking the last shot now playing on one team it’s going to take a while to gel. Personally I’m sick of the media coming up with stories about how un-clutch LeBron is. Ever heard of believe none of what you hear? Well it’s true. Since LeBron has come into the league, he leads the league in shots made to tie or take the lead with under 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter. If that’s not clutch I don’t know what is. Ok, so he’s not Robert Horry. He passes in situations he should shoot, but that’s the right basketball play. Isolation plays are the least successful in terms of scoring, so the media would rather him have a lower chance of scoring than setting up a teammate with a better chance to score? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Listen, I understand why he is being criticized, but let’s not make up stories about the BEST ALL-AROUND PLAYER EVER.

Handicapping the MVP Race

Handicapping the MVP race

Great article about who should win this year’s NBA MVP award.  Love Bill Simmons’ his case for Kevin Love, I’ve been saying it for most of the season.  The link to the article is listed above.  If you don’t have time to read the whole article at least read his case for Kevin Love which I will post below, because I’ve been saying this for quite some time.  

Bill Simmons: 

“3. Kevin Love (+1200)

Fact: Love is averaging 26.5 points and 13.6 rebounds with 45/39/82 shooting splits right now. This seems impossible, I know. I checked five times. It’s definitely true.

Fact: Neither Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley, Chris Webber, Larry Bird nor Karl Malone ever averaged 27 points and 13 rebounds per game in the same season.

Fact: Love’s low-post game has really turned into something special. He can make 20-foot stepbacks, jump hooks or up-and-unders. He can back guys down and get easy five-footers. He can pull bigger guys away from the hoop and shoot 3s over them. And if you double-team him, he’s one of the best low-post passers we have.

Fact: I’m not a giant fan of adjusted plus-minus stats, especially for individual players, but it’s worth mentioning that Minnesota averages about 107 points per 100 possessions when Love plays and about 97 points per 100 when he sits (one of the highest discrepancies in the league). Check out this really confusing and über-dorky page for more details.14

Fact: Even after Minnesota’s inspiring postseason run was derailed by Kobe pulling a Bernard Pollard on Ricky Rubio’s right knee,15 Love simply refused to allow them to stink — and by the way, when the rest of your top eight is Luke Ridnour, JJ Barea, Nik Pekovic, Darko Milicic, Mike Beasley, Martell Webster and Wesley “What Happened to Me????” Johnson, you stink — averaging a Moses-at-his-apex-like 31 and 15 for the month of March. 31 and 15???????? Sorry, I have to swear … ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???16

Fact: Love sent an Oklahoma City game into overtime two weeks ago by posting up 25 feet from the basket, sealing his guy off, then draining a buzzer-beating stepback 3 that was so blatantly ripped off from Larry Bird that he should have just worn a blond permafro wig. If you’re ripping off the Legend successfully, you have my attention.

Fact: Watching Love and Rubio run high screens was my single favorite thing about this season. They were on another level of … everything. It was just sublime. I can’t tell you how much I loved it. It was basketball porn. DVDs of Love-Rubio high screens should be edited and handed out at basketball camps with the title, “How to Run High Screens.”

Fact: In back-to-back summers, Chris Wallace traded Love’s rights for O.J. Mayo’s rights17 and drafted Hasheem Thabeet over James Harden and Ricky Rubio … and somehow, Memphis is still my favorite 2012 sleeper. I know, this has nothing to do with Love’s MVP campaign. I just didn’t know where else to put it in the column. The Love/Mayo swap doesn’t get mentioned nearly enough.

Fact: Love rates off the charts on the most crucial MVP question: Would the difference in his team’s victory total drop dramatically if you replaced him with a half-decent player all season? The answer? Hell yes. You can’t blame Love because he’s playing for a .500 team in a stacked conference, or because that team fell out of the playoff race only because its second-best player went down. That’s a 13-win team if you flipped him with, say, Brandon Bass. It’s true.

Fact: Despite everything you just read, Love can’t make First-Team All-NBA because of our next two guys.”

D’Antoni Knix-ed as Head Coach

Mike D’Antoni resigned earlier today as head coach of the New York Knicks. It was thought that the emergence of Jeremy Lin and the “Linsanity” that followed would ultimatley save coach D’Antoni his job, possibly returning next year. Lin aided the Knicks in winning 8 of 10, but when star forward Carmelo Anthony returned the Knicks starting slumping, going a measly 2-8 in their last 10 games. The team showed little effort on the defensive end, not getting back on defense, and their body language suggested they were not fully committed to Coach D’Antoni’s system. Earlier this week it was reported that D’Antoni had lost the respect of the locker room and it is never a good thing when that happens. The Knicks will make Mike Woodson interim head coach for the remainder of the year.

Whose really to blame? It’s any coaches job to get his team to play together and fully commit to the system that the coaching staff implements. It is the players jobs to run that system and find their niche within it. When Carmelo Anthony and A’mare Stoudemire were out of the lineup with injuries and personal matters, Jeremy Lin was moved from the end of the bench to the starting point guard. Linsanity began. When Melo and A’mare came back they would be a forced to be reckoned with right? Sadly that was not the case. Both Melo and A’mare have not been playing up to their potential this season as they were last year. It was thought that Lin could spur them into a dominant force within the Eastern Conference. It is here that the trio has not met expectations. Stoudemire flourished in the pick-and-roll under D’Antoni with Steve Nash in Phoenix. Melo, however is more of an isolation player who holds the ball and then goes up for the jump-shot. Not exactly the same playing style. Melos said that he will buy into this new system of ball movement instead of isolation, but then there’s that saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Melo has had trouble adjusting and rightfully so, he hasn’t done that in his entire career.

D’Antoni has implemented his SSOL or seven seconds or less style of play which he made famous in Phoenix. Seven seconds or less, if you have the ball and are open, shoot it. Doesn’t matter who you are, shoot. A player like Stoudemire and Melo are the two highest paid players on the team for a reason, because they are the best scoring options on the team. When you take the ball out of their hands seven seconds into the possession and someone else shoots, both players lose their value a little bit. The pick-and-roll works much more effectively making defenses chase the ball around the court as it swings from player to player. This also puts them out of position for the possible rebound. It worked well with Stoudemire and Nash. It was working for Lin and whatever big he was paired with. That is until defenses got some tape on Lin and Melo came back.

Carmelo Anthony pushed for a trade to the Knicks last season and the Knicks and the Nuggets obliged. Melo did a great service to the Denver Nuggets by getting them 4 great pieces to add to their team, making them one of the deepest teams after last year’s trade deadline. Anybody who says that the Knicks should trade Melo is probably in no position to say so. Listen I get that you’re frustrated because quite frankly I am too, but there is no way that the Knicks front office can validate trading someone they gave up half their team to get last year. It would make them look terrible. Most Knicks fans lobbied for Melo to come to MSG alongside A’mare. You got what you wanted. Personally, I thought we gave up way too much especially since we had bargaining power. Melo wanted to come here and nowhere else. We could have gotten him for nothing via free agency. He did the Nuggets a favor in getting them some good pieces back. They have a better record then us since the trade! So the Melo trade talk needs to end. I wouldn’t trade him after what we did to get him.

Let’s get back to the isolation plays. ESPN magazine will feature an article in their next issue called “Hero Ball” written by Henry Abbott. I want to just share an excerpt from that article. Abbott writes, “Start with the basics. The goal of basketball, in its simplest form, is to turn possessions into points. And on that basis, when Synergy began breaking down NBA plays by type in 2004, what it found would have made Wooden smile: Plays involving off-the-ball cuts (1.18 points per possession) and transition plays (1.12 ppp) are the most efficient, followed by putbacks (1.04 ppp) and pick-and-rolls in which the ball reaches the hands of the rolling man (0.97 ppp). And the least efficient? Isolation plays, good for only 0.78 points per possession.” Those are alarming numbers to say the least. I really urge you to read that article which was written for the purpose of all the heat LeBron James, no pun intended, has been taking for not taking “clutch” shots when the game was on the line. We traded for a guy whose favorite play to run only scored and average of 0.78 points per possession. I understand that number is league-wide, but that’s not very efficient even if Melo might be one of if not the best in the business running an isolation play. Melo is a shooter and he should run some off-ball screens to get the ball and a wide open or less contested shot. Run a little. Standing at the elbow, his favorite and most comfortable spot, didn’t help the Knicks when they went 2-8 in their last 10 thats for sure. I’ll cut him some slack because he’s not used to it, but he’s a professional so there is really no excuse.

As for the interim coach, Mike Woodson, I loved it when we got him as an assistant. Woodson is almost the exact opposite of what the Knicks had in D’Antoni. He implores defense. His record speaks for itself. Woodson has coached his team to a better record every year then they had the previous season. He took an a team that was undersized at the 5 and 4 and made them contenders in the East. Al Horford was an All-Star center last year and he’s really a power forward. Josh Smith played the power forward when he’s really a small forward. He got these guys to buy into playing defense and it worked for them. I don’t know if only speaks to Woodson as a coach as much as it does for Horford and Smith as players, but something worked. I look forward to seeing what Woodson demands from this Knicks lineup. If he’ll remain head coach next season is uncertain as many rumors are circling around that owner James Dolan will pursue the likes of Phil Jackson or Kentucky coach John Calipari. I think how well Woodson has this team perform the rest of this season and if they can make it into the playoffs with a possible push when they get there, will determine if the Knicks bring him back. So Knicks fans, we all got something we wanted…a new head coach. Let’s see what happens.

Where’s The Love?

Tonight is the NBA All-Star Game and for the sake of this article I’m kind of glad I procrastinated just a little bit.  Last night Kevin Love out shot Kevin Durant, the reigning scoring champ in the 3-pt. contest.  Kevin Love might not be the best shooting big man, but at least he can shoot.  Last year he shot nearly 42% from beyond the arc, while this year he’s shooting a modest 35%.  Love’s total field goal percentage is about 47% and mind you he’s a power forward. Right now as the season stands Love is 4th in the league in scoring with 25ppg. and 2nd in rebounding grabbing 14 per.  So where’s the love?  In my opinion and apparently Charles Barkley’s as well believe that right now Kevin Love is the best power forward on the planet.  So how is it that he isn’t a starter?  Again I’m not taking anything away from Blake Griffin, but hes not nearly as good and as complete a player as Kevin Love.  When Love was attending UCLA I constantly said he had the best footwork of a big man I’ve seen since Tim Duncan.  Tim Duncan, a guy who many regard as the best power forward ever.  The passing of the torch so to speak is happening right now before our eyes and yet Love gets no Love.

Of course their will be some snubs in the All-Star selection.  Making it should be an accomplishment in itself and it is.  The distinction of starting means a lot more though.  Imagine if Kobe didn’t start and he came off the bench in these games.  I’m not even sure if Kobe would attend because he’s that kind of competitor.  I’m confused by the NBA’s approach to how they handle the All-Star selection.  They let the fans vote in the starters and the coaches pick the reserves.  I’m not sure that much can be done to change this, but the starting 5 should be the best at their position in their respective conferences.  Then the fan favorites can be voted in as reserves.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  You ready? Jeremy Lin will be the starting point guard in next year’s All-Star game over current MVP Derrick Rose, Deron Williams who is possibly the best all around point guard, and Rajon Rondo.  Maybe next year Lin will be around the stature of Rondo, but definitely won’t be a Rose or D-Will.  If that’s making your stomach a little queasy then so should Kevin Love not getting the starting job in the Western Conference.

He should of started over Blake Griffin, hell he could of even started at the center over Andrew Bynum.  Maybe it’s because he doesn’t play in a big market team? I get that, but you have to consider his numbers.  Consider this Blake Griffin scores less points per game at 21.4 and snags less rebounds with 11.4.  He also has a lower PER(player efficiency rating) at 23.41 while Love’s is slightly better at 24.70.  I mean come on the guy is 4th in the league in scoring behind, oh I don’t know, Kobe, LeBron, and Durant respectively, 3 of the premier players in this league and yet I never hear Love’s name mentioned for any reason.  Where’s the love?

Last year the Minnesota Timberwolves had the worst record in the league, contrary to many believing the Cavs were the worst team losing LeBron and all.  The Wolves only won 17 games.  This year in the condensed schedule the Wolves at the break have……you guessed it 17 wins.  John Hollinger has them ranked 14th in his power rankings and Marc Stein has them as high as 11 on his power rankings.  They are right outside playoff contention and if they were in the Eastern Conference they’d be in 7th place right in front of the New York Knicks.  So one would have to think that the Wolves will net a wins total somewhere in the 30’s in a 66-game schedule.  For arguments sake lets say they double their first half wins total and get 34 on the year.  That’s 17 more games then they won last year and had this year been a full 82-game schedule its possible the could of at least went .500 on the year and obtained 41 wins.  That would be 24 more wins then they had last year.  They owe it to their best player and yes admittedly the help of the supporting cast, but how come Love doesn’t get mentioned in any MVP conversations?  I’m not saying he deserves it and he’s the first half MVP, but if his team does make the playoffs, they increase their win total by 17 games, and he maintains his numbers why shouldn’t he receive the award?  Everybody else in the MVP conversation has a great supporting cast, Love and the Wolves have a lot of young talent, but they don’t compare to what other teams have as a team as a whole.

Please, show the man some love.  He is Mr. Love afterall.