Friday, December 26, 2008

The Holiday 5-Pack.

I don't care much for those new NBA commercials that feature the mini tour bus. The Lebron James spot is pretty funny when he is in the locker room singing "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. But the Kobe Bryant-Pau Gasol and Greg Oden spots just fall flat. They aren't funny at all. And why, oh why did they constantly pimp the film: "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" yesterday, during the ball games? The film stars Kevin James (from King of Queens) and looks absolutely awful based on the trailers. The NBA desperately needs to find better sponsors. Third, enough with the NBA Cares commercials! We get it. You are trying to rebuild the image of the league after the Detriot brawl, the recent ref scandal, and the off-season stupidity of some of the NBA players. But those ads come off as being very pretentious, un-genuine, and more annoying than inspiring. I much prefer the T-Mobile ads with Wade and Barkley. Now those are entertaining. But enough about that, below are my comments on the 5 games yesterday.

Game 1: New Orleans Hornets vs. Orlando Magic

I only caught the second half of this game, but it was an absolute blow-out. This is a perfect example of why I think the Hornets aren't true title contenders. Despite having one of the best players in the game, Chris Paul, they have little depth and don't get consistent effort out of their role players. With Stojakovic out, they struggled to score points. And just were not able to get into a good rhythm. This allowed the Magic to hone in on Chris Paul and David West and limit their productivity. Chandler has struggled all year long, and was in foul trouble for most of the game. His numbers are down across the board. Chris Paul's steals streak was ended today also, which is just insult to injury. They don't have an answer at SG. Neither Devin Brown, Rasual Butler or Morris Peterson can give them a consistent effort.

On the flip side, Orlando looked fantastic. I haven't watched them play too much this year, but I got an understanding of why they are a top 5 team this year. Jameer Nelson is playing out of his mind and has elevated his game dramatically. He's scoring in bunches, and is a capable leader on this team. Dwight Howard continue to beast, and will defend his slam dunk crown this year. Even though he struggled to score in this game, he rebounded and defended well. Turkoglu, Lewis and Pietrus are excellent outside shooters that just lit up the Hornets. Another difference from last year's squad is the return of Tony Battie. He and Gortat are providing some solid play at the PF/C spots to backup Howard. This team is still over dependent on the jump shot, but are much improved from last year. It's amazing that they won by 20 points considering they only hit 1 FG in the last 9+ minutes of the game, and only scored 27 points in the second half.

Game 2: San Antonio Spurs vs Phoenix Suns

The Spurs have the Suns number. Plain and simple. They seem to always pull out on top and win all of the close games. The Suns completely reinvented themselves beginning from the second half of last season in order to beat the Spurs, and they still lost. It must be demoralizing for them. I've been impressed by the play of the Spurs role players. Mason, Bonner, Hill have given the Spurs some much needed energy and youth. And has allowed the Spurs to cut down on the minutes of veterans like Bowen and Thomas. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili continue to carry the majority of the load. Duncan was huge down the stretch on the defensive end, playing with 5 fouls. And Parker was able to get to the basket at will against Nash. He setup Roger Mason for the game winning 3-pointer. Interestingly, that was the first time that Mason entered the game in the 4th quarter. Clutch. This Spurs team is resilient, having been able to weather the storm with injuries to Manu and Parker at the start of the season. Never count out the heart of a champion. They are still contenders.

The Suns have one of the best starting lineups in the league; on any given night, any of the starting 5 can score 20 points. The problem is that they don't play good defense on a consistent basis. Nash continues to get exploited on the defensive end. Also they are struggling to find a consistent offensive identity. Are they a Run-And-Gun team, or are they a half-court team that runs through Shaq? Shaq and Amare were dominant in this game, conbining for 45 points, 25 rebounds, 3 steals and 6 blocks. But they still managed to lose. Ouch. Richardson is a nice addition to this team, but will take some time to really gel with this team. He is a big improvement over Raja Bell at the SG position, however. I like the strategy of resting Shaq on back-to-back games; but the problem is the Suns have a lack of depth at the 4 and 5 spots. Amundson and Lopez are not reliable big men yet. Barbosa looks completely lost this season and is struggling to get consistent minutes off of the bench. I like the duo of Hill/Barnes at the SF spot, though. They are a work in progress.

Game 3: Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers

An excellent game that lived up to all of the hype. But I just think the Lakers wanted it more. This snaps the Celtics 19-game winning streak. The Big 3 (plus Rondo) were superb, but they got little production from their bench. Which was the difference in the game. The Celtics bench was a combined 6 for 20 from the field. I'm pleased to see the continued growth of Rondo, however. His playmaking skills have been superb this year, and he continues to be an excellent ball thief. But he still needs to develop a consistent jump shot. That will help elevate his game to the next level. I'm not sure if he's deserving of an all-star bid yet. Garnett could not miss a shot yesterday. And got quite a few uncontested dunks and layups. Pierce had a nice run in the third quarter to bring the celtics on top temporarily, but was scoreless in the 4th quarter. Ray Allen had a mediocre game yesterday. I think they missed Posey in the clutch; his 3-point shooting and defense. This was a tight game up until the closing minutes.

The Lakers did not back down and matched the physicality of the Celtics. Their defense was a huge key to their win. Amazingly, Pau Gasol was clutch in the final moments of the game. And carried his team on his back. 20 points 3 rebounds is not exactly what you want coming from your starting PF, but they were able to pull out the win. Bynum looks lost at times. He still has plenty of room for improvement. Starting Bynum and Gasol together has produced mixed results. The Lakers team seem to play better when they have an extra outside shooter and don't have two big men clogging the middle. Odom's production has taken a big hit this year, but he did hit a pair of clutch 3's for his team. Kobe played superb and continues to be this team's MVP. Fisher looks a step slow. They may want to consider upgrading that position during mid-season. But this has to be a huge confidence booster for this Lakers team to pull off the win against the Celtics. They seem to be on track again now after losing 2 straight games earlier this month. They miss Jordan Farmar off the bench who gives them scoring, energy, and another play-maker.

Game 4: Washington Wizards vs Cleveland Cavaliers

I elected to skip most of this game, but apparently, it was a much closer game than I thought it would be. The Wizards led for nearly the entire game. But with a couple minutes left and down by 7 points, the Cavs clamped down on the Wizards on the defensive end, and scored 11 straight points to pull out the win. They still are unbeated at home. Very impressive. Mo Williams hit some big shots for this team down the stretch. That's the reason why they acquired him over the offseason. Lebron had a solid, but not spectacular game. Big Z was invisible, and Delone West missed 12 shots in the game. It's amazing that they were able to pull off the win. Varejao, of all people, hit 2 clutch free throws to clinch the game. He finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds off of the bench. He's a very underrated player. I noticed that 10 of the 11 shots that Wally World and Boobie attempted were 3-pointers. Crazy. Overall, a very valiant effort by the Cavs to pull off the win. Though I have no idea how the Wizards were able to stay competitive in this game. A Xmas Miracle?

On the flip side, the Wizards were led by Jamison and Mike James. Caron Butler struggled against Lebron James, but managed to contribute 10 assists to offset his bad shooting night. Young gun McGuire got his second start of the season and contributed 10 rebound and 7 assists. That's back-to-back games with double digit rebounds. Nice. But besides that, there were very few bright sides to this team. There is a reason why they are the second worst team in the league right now. I'm sure that Arenas is not in any rush to get back to this team. They are roughly 8-9 games out of the last playoff spot. And are 4-23 on the season. Other young guns Nick Young and Andray Blatche have been really inconsistent. With so much money devoted to their big 3 and a mediocre supporting cast, the Wizards are going nowhere quickly. They'll be a borderline playoff team even when everyone is healthy, over the next few years. I think it was a bad idea to fire head coach Eddie Jordan. He managed to get solid production out of a mediocre roster during the past seasons.

Game 5: Dallas Mavericks vs Portland Trailblazers

An excellent game between a declining team (Dallas) and one of the rising teams (Portland) in the league. The Mavs were able to use their experience and toughness to squeeze out a close win. They ended the game on a 12-2 run. Dirk Nowitzki was on-fire in the first half, before fading away in the second half. Jason Kidd and JJ Barea were huge at the G positions. Combining for 20 rebound. Yikes. Rarely does a player impact the game without scoring points like Jason Kidd. He only hit 1 FG, but also added 12 rebound, 10 assists, and 2 steals. Josh Howard showed his immaturity by getting ejected from the game. He doesn't look 100% healthy yet. And he's struggled in the past few games to do anything but score points, averaging a mere 1 assist and 1.5 rebound in the past 7 games. Jason Terry looks like a lock to win the 6th man of the year award. He's killing it off of the bench. Devean George might be the worst starter in the league and the Dampier/Diop combo isn't intimidating anyone.

Brandon Roy is the truth. He's been on fire lately, which includes a 50-point outburst a few games ago. Too bad the rest of his team is not playing at the same level. Greg Oden looks lost out there, and not very agile. He has 4 pts and 5 rebounds yesterday, after a 0 pts and 2 rebound stinker in the previous game. He's not the savior that this franchise hyped him up to be. At least, not this season. Blake looks like a very capable PG for this squad, making the big passes and hitting some big shots. Aldrige was in foul trouble and didn't contribute anything. He needs to work on consistency and crashing the glass. I think he relies too much on his jumper also. Batum doesn't much of anything at SF. Outlaw, Fernandez and Przybilla provide a huge spark for Portland off of the bench. Outlaw came up with some clutch steals in this game, but it was not enough. He doesn't get consistent minutes, so it looks like whenever he is on the floor, he will shoot the ball whenever it comes to him. Rudy had some exciting plays and is an excellent 3-pt shooter. I'd be curious to see how he'd fare in the slam dunk contest, if he is voted in.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2008-09 NBA Season Preview: Pacific

1. Los Angeles Lakers: This division is not the powerhouse that it's been in years past. The Lakers will win the division easily. They have a ton of talent, a good coach, and a very deep roster. They play an efficient offense game, and are underrated defensively. While Kobe is this team's best player, their MVP will be Andrew Bynum. He will be the difference maker with respect to whether the Lakers win the NBA championship or not. How will he handle all of the pressure? They have basically the same roster as last year, switch out Turiaf for Bynum, so they will have high expectations. If Kobe does not lead this team to the promised land, it will be just another blemish on his resume. Gasol, Bynum and Odom gives the Lakers a talented 3-headed PF/C platoon. It will be interesting to see how Odom reacts to playing off of the bench. He's known to be a bit of a space cadet. This finally might be the year that Farmar wins the starting spot from Fisher; or at least, plays more minutes than him. Vujacic and Radmanovic provide some outside shooting for this team. Ariza and Walton will provide sporadic value for this team off of the bench; Ariza with better defense and Walton with better offense. I give this team a slight edge over the Celtics due to their younger age and their superior inside play. It's title or bust for this Los Angeles team.

2. Phoenix Suns: It'll be fun to follow this team throughout the season, as they try to change their team philosophy, after the addition of Shaq. They are a much deeper team than last year, and I think Barnes and the rookies: Lopez and Dragic will provide solid production for this team. Hill off of the bench is great, and should help their second unit. He provides them some leadership, another ball-handler, and a guy who can create his own shots when needed. Limiting Hill's minutes will hopefully keep him healthy all year long. Amare and Shaq will beast in the middle. If Shaq can stay out of foul trouble, stay healthy, they will be tough to beat. Nash will continue to be a stud; I don't foresee any slowdown, despite his increased age. Raja Bell and Barnes form an interesting dynamic duo; they stretch the offense with their shooting and are tough, rugged defenders on the opposite side. Barbosa and Diaw may be the X-Factors. They need solid production from both reserves players in order for them to be competitive. This team needs to prove that they can get defensive stops in the clutch and win games with a slower pace; this favors Nash in the long-run, who could use the extra rest.

3. Los Angeles Clippers: I'd be surprised to see any of the below teams make the playoffs. They have too many questions marks and just not enough talent. This Clippers team in particular will be hit or miss; most likely miss. They have a ton of new faces compared to the last year, and are relying on two injury-prone players: Camby and Baron Davis to lead their team. Theoretically, they form a potent duo. But let's see how many games they end up playing together. That will be a barometer for this team's success. Kaman needs to prove that last year was not a fluke. Also it's not clear how he will jive with Camby in the middle. It seems like they will hurt each other's production. Thornton needs to build off of his promising rookie season. SG will be a rotating mess. Who do you start? Mobley, Rickey Davis or Eric Gordon? All are talented, but flawed players. It's too bad Jason Williams had to retire. It would have been fun to watch him and Baron Davis play together at times. Tim Thomas will provide some erratic play off of the bench. The departure of Elton Brand, and to a lesser extent Maggette, is a big step back for this team.

4. Golden State Warriors: The Warriors will struggle to match their win total from the previous year. Losing Baron is a big hit; he was the face of their franchise. Maggette can match Baron's scoring, but doesn't provide the same intangibles and leadership. Stephen Jackson will have to step up and earn his contract extension. The lose of Baron Davis and the injury to Monta Ellis leaves a huge hole on this team at the PG spot. Until they can find some stability at this position, they are going to struggle to win games. Marus Williams, DeMarcus Nelson, CJ Watson... that might be the worst trio of PG in the league. I hope that Nelson stays true to his word to play their young players. They have nothing to lose at this point, and I'm sure that fans want to see what Bellinelli, Randolph, Wright are capable of doing. Azubuike off of the bench should be solid and will be one of the few bright spots of the team. This team will desperately miss the versatility and hustle of bench players: Pietrus and Barnes, who have moved on to greener pastures. They were key to Nelson's crazy player rotations. Biedrins should hopefully get a boost in minutes and a chance to justify this huge contract. He should be a double-double machine. Harrington needs to be traded so that Randolph and Wright can get more playing time. Turiaf will be a solid reserve, though his minutes will be sporadic.

5. Sacramento Kings: I'll be watching this team closely. They are another rebuiding team with some interesting pieces. Kevin Martin looks to take the next step to all-star, while Salmons/Garcia will try to fill the void by Artest. Both have an excellent chance to flourish on this team. I'm not sold on Udrih being a rock at the PG position, but he should be adequate in the short-term. With Brad Miller suspended for drug use, Hawes and Thompson should get some extra burn. These two young players are the future of this team. I would trade Brad Miller to get them more playing time. Also Mikki Moore is a bum. They need to bench him or trade him. He might be the worst starting PF in the league. Shelden Williams should be the first big man off of the bench. This team is lottery-bound, so they should start looking towards the future and playing their young guys as much as possible. Playing Bobby Jackson heavy minutes, for example, is doing no one any favor's. I'm not sure where Donte Greene fits into this picture but he can score points in a hurry. Also either Quincy Douby or Bobby Brown (LOL) needs to solidify themselves as the backup PG.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008-09 NBA Season Preview: Northwest

[Note From Kay: These Season Preview articles were written before the news of the Billups for Iverson trade. So the comments may be a little outdated. However, I don't see the trade having a significant change to either team's rankings within their division. So I haven't bothered to update the text.]

1. Utah Jazz: An overlooked team, that should be able to win their division yet again. They have a solid core, but I'm worried that Boozer has one foot outside of the door already and that could affect team chemistry and his overall play. Deron Williams is one of the best PG in the league, but gets overlooked because of Chris Paul. Okur is a sweet shooting big man who compliments Boozer well. Kirlenko has great versatility but needs to be willing to accept a bench role for the betterment of the team. On the bench, I like Korver for his outside shooting and also Millsap. If Boozer is injured or leaves the team, he could step and fill admirably. He won't score as much, but has potential to match the rebounds and will play even better defense. Miles, Price and Brewer need to step up to give this team some much needed athleticism and scoring off of the bench. They were dominate at home last year, but woeful off the bench. Will they be able to turn around their fortune and move into elite status?

2. Portland Trailblazers: While the injury to Greg Oden was equal parts predictable and unfortunate, I still think they have enough firepower to make the playoffs this year. Brandon Roy and Aldridge are future stars in the making. Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez off of the bench are explosive and give this team crazy depth. They go 2-deep at every position. This should limit injuries to their star players and keep everyone fresh come playoff time. The key will be everyone buying into the team concept and being willing to sacrifice their stats and minutes. Nate McMillan has his hands full with that task. Bayless looked like a beast in the preseason and summer camp, but he'll rarely get off of the bench. Same goes for Sergio Rodriguez. Webster's injury should give Rudy and Outlaw a chance to solidify themselves in the rotation. I'm not sure where Webster will fit in when he returns, however. Przybilla is a beast on the glass and is a great shot-blocker. Despite his offensive woes, he should fill in admirably for Oden while he misses games. Which could be frequent this season. They are still a young team, so expect some ups and downs this season.

3. Denver Nuggets: It's a crapshoot after Portland and Utah. None of these other teams really stand a chance at making the playoffs. Denver traded Camby away for nothing, which leaves their frontcourt with huge question marks. They can't rely on K-Mart and Nene to play heavy minutes; or to even be healthy for the entire season. Carmelo and Iverson will carry the offensive load for this team. JR Smith and Kleiza are streaky scorers. Anthony Carter might be the worst starting PG in the league. And their bench is full of no-names. They barely made the playoffs last year, and I think they took a step back this year. They don't play a lick of defense, and they will struggle against other Western teams. I don't know why they gave Nene a huge contract last year, coming off of an injury. They put themselves in a huge hole financially that the team may not recover from. That was the main reason why they traded Camby in a salary dump. Team morale has got to be at an all-time low on this team.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves: They should be fun to watch, but I don't think they'll make any waves in terms of the playoffs this year. Al Jefferson and Kevin Love have the potential to be a dynamic scoring duo on offense. Neither of them can defend centers, but their team is not very good defensively anyway. Backing them up they have a slew of stiffs: Booth, Collins, Madsen, and the decent Craig Smith. They have a lot of depth at the SG and SF positions. Miller is a sharp shooter, while Brewer has excellent defensive abilities. Gomes is solid; nothing extraordinary but will compliment this team well. I'm not sure where McCants will fit in; but he can score a lot of points in a hurry and has a nice outside shot. At point guard, they'll rotate between Telfair and Foye. Foye has break-out season written all over him assuming that he can stay healthy. A big If. This'll be a year for the young guns to get some experience under their belt and be ready for next year. I wouldn't be surprised to see Mike Miller traded to a playoff team at midseason.

5. Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder will be awful this year. I just don't like their roster at all. Durant and Green are nice players to build around. But Green is still a year or two away from being a consistent threat. Westbrook is a good defender, but needs to prove that he can score and lead a team consistently. Until than, he is stuck in a timesplit with Watson. I'm not sure where that leads either Desmond Mason or Damien Wilkins. They'll get spotty minutes all year, and really aren't a part of their youth movement at all. They have a ton of big men, but none of them are really any good. Petro, Swift and Sene all combined together are not a good player. They can, at best, block some shots, use up some fouls, and get the occasional rebound. That's about it. Wilcox will look to score points, but give up the same number or more on the opposite end. Collison is quality big men; but is better served on a winning team. He is a nice compliment, but not really a dominating big man. This team looks pretty hopeless.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Answer for Detroit?

After all the rumors, it has been finalized. Allen Iverson will head back to the Eastern Conference this time as a member of the Detroit Pistons, while Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess, and Cheick Samb will head to the Western conference and the Denver Nuggets. This is the second trade for Iverson in the last 2 years. Could this trade possibly be what Pistons GM Joe Dumars was referring to when he stated he would be "shaking things up"? Billups returns to his home state of Colorado, and McDyess returns to the team he began his career with from 1995-1997 where he had his best years as a pro.

Kay: Wow. I did not see this one coming. Based solely on talent, Iverson is probably an upgrade over Billups. He's a legit 30 point scorer, that can create his own shot and take over games in the clutch. And he seems to have aged better than Billups who seems a step slower since his Finals MVP award. I have concern about how well Iverson will jive with the rest of the team and whether he will sell into the whole team concept. But Iverson is hungry to win a title, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. This could be the blockbuster trade that elevates the Pistons to the Finals, similar to Rasheed Wallace a few years back.

It does bring up some interesting questions however. Neither Iverson or Stuckey is true PG. Will the lose of Billups negatively hurt their ball movement and offensive execution? If they elect to start an Iverson and Stuckey backcourt (which is undersized), who goes to the bench: Hamilton or Prince? One of those players is not going to be happy. If Iverson starts and continues to play like 35-40 minutes that will greatly hamper Stuckey's development. Neither Iverson or Billups are defensive stoppers; I'd say their defense is roughly the same, right?

It's also worth noting that Iverson is in the last year of his contract. So he becomes a free agent at the end of this year. This gives the Pistons some salary flexibility. They could elect to either resign Iverson at a discount or go after some other free agents. Meanwhile, Billups had 3 more years on his contract after this one (at a cheaper price than Iverson, though). It is rumored that McDyess will be bought out and will return back to the Pistons, so his inclusion in the trade is moot.

Why would the Nuggets do this? Billups is a true PG and will bring some much needed stability and leadership to this young team. Previous to this they were starting Anthony Carter, probably the worst starting point guard in the league. Now they can slide JR Smith to the starting position and go with an explosive offensive team. Denver had elected to not extend Iverson's contract, so it's clear that he was not in their team's future. So the Nuggets needed to trade him away and get something in return, rather than see him walk away. Could they have gotten something better? Maybe. But Billups is not bad.

2008-09 NBA Season Preview: Southwest

1. Houston Rockets: With all due respect to Artest, this Rockets team will only go as far as T-Mac and Yao lead them. They are in toughest division in the league, but I think Houston will prevail this year. They have crazy depth, play superb defense and have their own version of the Big 3. Artest gives the Rockets toughness and a lock-down defender. But more importantly, he will allow the Rockets to rest McGrady and Yao more, which should keep them healthy come playoff time. The key will be maintaining team chemistry. This is the year that Houston finally makes it out of the first round. In fact, I like their chances in a 7-game series against ANY team. Scola and Landry give this team a potent duo at the PF position. Once Battier returns from injury, he gives the Houston a great glue player off of the bench. Brooks looks legit and may finally overtake Alston at the PG position. Barry and Head are good for a few clutch shots each. I have some concerns about their lack of a backup C, if Yao gets injured. Also will their bench players be content with erratic playing time?

2. New Orleans Hornets: While the addition of Posey will add some toughness and experiencing to their team, I'm still not completely sold on them. Peja has zero mobility and Chandler is an injury-risk. Peterson has been inconsistent at the SG position, and losing Pargo may hurt this team more than they think. Paul is a MVP candidate and West is an all-star, but I'm not sure if they have enough depth to compete in the West. Mike James is their backup PG, for example. He had trouble getting off of the bench for Houston last year. And who do they have to backup Chandler and West? Ely or Armstrong? Not exactly intimidating names. One injury to Paul and this team could fall out of the playoff race completley. Paul is the motor that runs this team. I think the Hornets overachieved last year. I'm not confident they can repeat their success this year. But maybe they can prove me wrong again. They surprised me last year already.

3. San Antonio Spurs: Its an odd-numbered year, so that means the Spurs have a good shot at winning the title. The injury to Manu could be a blessing in disguise. That means he'll be fully rested come playoff team. And hopefully this will give their role players a chance to shine. They need consistent efforts from Udoka, Finley, Mason, Bonner and Oberto to be competitive. There are too many games where their big 3 combine for like 70-80 points, but the team still loses. This team is prehistorically old so they will only have another couple years to be competitive. Will George Hill get minutes and a chance to overtake Vaughn in the depth chart? Vaughn is a non-factor on offense. Will we see Mahimi get any action on the team this year? He was a stud in the NBADL last year. I just can't see Bonner and Oberto logging heavy minutes again. Also can their big 3 stay healthy all year? That will be the key. Popovich is one of the best coaches in the league. So you should never underestimate this team.

4. Dallas Mavericks: I would not discount them complete, but I think they will be a lower playoff team. They have a former MVP winner in Dirk. And some nice complimentary stars in Kidd, Howard and Terry. But their roster doesn't scare anyone. They will have to improve on last year's effort just to make the playoffs. Diop gives them another big body to defend with. But Dampier/Diop might be one of the worst duos at C in the league. I'm not sure I like the idea of starting Wright.. He's athletic, bigger and a better defender than either Terry or Stackhouse, but he'll be very inconsistent on offense. Will Gerald Green get any burn this year? He could inject some much needed youth into this team. This team looks ancient compared to some of the other playoff teams. I think Brandon Bass could be huge off the bench for this team. Having Kidd for a full season will help, but I just don't see them being a contender anymore like in previous years. They might be forced to break this team up. Or make some major trade.

5. Memphis Grizzlies: A very young team that is going nowhere fast. Rudy Gay is their leader and best player. But they need production from their young players in order to be competitive. OJ Mayo will step into the second banana slot and will be very inconsistent. He has potential to score points in bunches, has a nice outside shot and will get steals. But will also give up the same number of points on the other end. Marc Gasol, Pau's brother, seems like a legit big man. Maybe the Lakers-Grizzlies trade was not so bad after all. Or maybe not. I'm not sure how the point guard situation will play out. Conley, Critteron or Lowry? Who will get the minutes there. And will they eventually trade one of their extra players? Will Arthur, Darko or Warrick start at PF? That position is up for grabs and I don't really like any of them very much. There's plenty of opportunity for players to step up and put up huge numbers. But I just don't seem them being remotely close to challenging for the last playoff spot.

NBA Live 2009 vs NBA 2K9

(Is it strange that Tony has more rings than KG?)

This weekend I had the chance to play both of the NBA games that matter, NBA 2K9 and NBA Live 2009 for the Xbox360. Initially going in, I had a bit of an axe to grind with both games for the mistakes thay had made in the previous years games, but this years versions suprised me. Instead of going on and on about each game individually, I'll draw up comparisons between the two, and note specific advantages one has over the other.

1) Play By Play Commentary:

Live= Steve Kerr and Marv Albert vs 2K9 = Clark Kellogg (WHAT???!?!) and Kevin Harlan.
This isn't even close, Live has this category won hands down. Clark Kellogg doesn't even do NBA broadcasts, in real life he handles college games for CBS. What happened to Kenny " The Jet" Smith? I'm gonna assume he asked for a bit too much money than 2K sports was willing to part with.

EDGE: NBA Live 2009

2) Music:

2K recruited a who's who list of young hip hop acts (The Cool Kids, etc) and also got some old school tunes to balance out the game (The Pharcyde!!!!!!). A big plus for 2K is that they got a few exclusive new tracks that hadn't been heard prior to the release of this game, something that should become a regularity on future versions of 2K. Live has decent music, but half the time I found myself plugging my Mp3 player into the Xbox 360 and using my own music in place of it.


3) Gameplay:

This is what seperates the contenders from pretenders. Kay had asked me to look out for the infamous "glide" glitch in NBA Live, and I'm glad to report that it has been fixed. But one thing that hasn't is the mechanics of the centers in the game. Seriously, why would I want to learn the post up moves, set up specific plays for my center etc, when 80% of the time all he's going to do is toss up a backwards odd looking two hand lay-up. I kid you not about this. Andrew Bynum by no means has the most polished center skill set, but he has some type of footwork, he's being taught by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for god's sake!! So imagine my chagrin when not once, twice, but FIVE times down he did the exact same move!!!! I'm assuming it never occurred to EA that seven footers like to dunk just like everyone else.

Now, this isn't to say that 2K9 is without it's own share of miscues. The infamous misses of point-blank lay-ups is still around, it just rears it's ugly head a bit less than usual. However, when it does happen, it's at the most inoppurtune times, like when it's 30 seconds left in the game and I'm driving to the hole in a tie game and I've CLEARLY beaten my man to the hole. Yeah, not fun, not fun at all.

For all the fancy talk about the updated mechanics, it just seems like 2k opted to play the safe route this year and only make cosmetic changes to the game instead of going in and making a daring move to improve on some of the miscues from last years version of this game. The free throws on both games have long been a point of frustration with gamers, and this year brings a bit of a change, but not a total abandonment of the past free throw shooting method. Both companies need to change this feature in next years version.

Even though i've pointed out flaws in each, both games actually play very well. 2K continues to be more of a realistic simulator, while Live manages to fall somewhere inbetween striving to attain that title, but still having some arcade-esque gameplay (WAAAAAY too many dunks and fast breaks). The crowd features in 2K9 must be seen to be believed. If you were maybe passing through a room and 2K9 was playing, you could mistake it for a real NBA contest. We'll maybe not, but it's that good graphically.

NBA Live 2009 also excels in gameplay and presentation, but in some, not all of the game. The game looks smooth, and is at it's best when you are running and gunning with your team of choice. The controls are a bit easier to manage compared to 2K's and that should work in Live's favor, as it manages to keep your focus on the game, and not on little menu's and grids that litter the screen on 2K9.


4) Player DNA vs Living Rosters:

This was the new feature that both companies were bringing to the table this year. As far as the DNA (Live) and the Living Rosters (2K9) feature go, these both are pretty much the same thing, and I could see how this could really piss people off in the long run as people online will choose to only play with teams who's players have the hot hand offensively. Fortunately you can turn this feature on or off in both versions, and choose to play head up with out any additional help, which in my opinion is how it should be.

Edge: Meh.....

In closing, I wished both games would've taken more chances, but I'm sure they didn't want to scare people away. But by playing both games, I'm able to say that while Live has made some much needed upgrades, 2K Sports still has the basketball video game crown firmly affixed to it's head. Looking at the potential both of these games have really has me looking forward to next years batch of titles.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

2008-09 NBA Season Preview: Central

1. Detriot Pistons: It'll be closer this year, but I think Detriot will still edge out Cleveland for the division crown. They have one of the best starting lineups in the league, though they have struggled to find a consistent #5 starter. McDyess is starting to show signs of age, so I think they will start either Jason Maxiell or Amir Johnson. Both have interesting defensive potential. None of those players or Kwame will get enough minutes to be productive, however. This squad has excellent depth and they can go 2-deep at every position. I like how they are starting to rely on their young player more, but that could be trouble in terms of fantasy basketball. Outside of their 4 main players, its hard to recommend picking up anyone else on this team since they won't get enough playing time. Stuckey is being pimped as the 6th starter, though I'm not sure he'll get consistent minutes behind Billups and Hamilton. Herrmann is usually overlooked on the bench, but he's a big man who can shoot the lights out. I'd like to see him get more minutes this year. I expect great defense and teamwork from this team. They are second tier title contenders.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: Any team with Lebron James can be considered a contender. He's a one-man wreaking crew and has a good shot at winning MVP this year. The addition of Mo Williams will definitely help this team out. Mainly I like his ability to create his own shots and score. He has a nice outside shot and should be a good complement to Lebron. The SG spot is up for grabs; I think Delonte West, Wally World, Sasha Pavlovic and Boobie Gibson will take turns having big nights. All of them can shoot the ball wall and stretch out the defense. But I don't think any of them will get consistent minutes. PF is a big question mark for me. Ben Wallace is clearly over the hill and is a step slower than in previous years. They are better off playing Varejao and Hickson more minutes. But none of those guys will provide any semblance of an offensive game. Ilgauskas is steady and solid at the C spot. This roster doesn't look particularly intimidating, but they will be competitive in the East. This team plays good defense, and has enough shooters to compete on any given night. But chances are they will be stuck in the #4 playoff spot again.

3. Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose looks better than advertised. While I don't like their logjam at the SG position, this Chicago team should improve on last year's record. Hinrich gives them a veteran combo guard who can take over the PG role when Rose is on the bench. Gordon is instant offense off of the bench. I'm not really sure where Sefolosha or Hughes fit into all of this. I prefer Sefolosha because of his defense, and his overall play. He's not a chunker and ballhog like Hughes. Deng is rock solid at the SF position. Let's see if he will be able to take the next step to all-star level. Tyrus Thomas is primed for a breakout season. He'll put up huge rebound and block numbers. But needs to hit that jumpshot consistently and stay focused throughout the game. That leaves Nocioni and Noah buried on the bench, however. As it looks like Chicago will start Gooden at the C position. They need to do some trades to get rid of some of their talent. Less is more. They need a legit inside presence to compete.

4. Indiana Pacers: Their roster got a major overhaul during the summer. It'll take some time for everyone to get acquainted to one another, but I think they can be a borderline playoff team. Ford and Jack at the PG spot is a definite upgrade from an injured Tinsley and Diener from last year. Hopefully Ford can stay healthy. Dunleavy and Granger are solid at the SG and SF spots, though Dunleavy is currently injured. I wonder if Brandon Rush will be able to get consistent minutes on this team. Murphy should return to double-double form if he gets enough minutes at PF. He won't have to play out of position at C anymore. He'll also shoot a decent number of 3's throughout the season. The C spot is a big mess. The Pacers have Foster, Nesterovic and Hibbert; none of whom are quality centers. Their roster may not look particular impressive on paper, but they play hard, and find ways to win. Don't sleep on this young Indiana team, they could sneak into the playoffs. Granger is a star in the making.

5. Milwaukee Bucks: On paper, this team has some nice talent, but I'm not sure how everything is going to mesh together. Michael Redd is their main star, and he should score in bunches once again. He finally has a consistent second banana in Richard Jefferson, who adds some toughness to this team. Villanueva at PF is as inconsistent as they come. He can alternate between 20 and 5 point games all year long. But does not play a lick of defense. Those 3 players will throw up a ton of shots, so I'm not sure where that will leave Bogut. He needs the ball in his hands to be successful. And it looks like he won't get many touches or shots this year. Can he compensate for them by crashing the boards and improving on his block numbers from last year? The PG spot is a question mark. I like Sessions's potential, but it looks like he'll have trouble getting off of the bench with Ridnour as the starter. Both are more than capable of running this offense, and can put up huge assist numbers. But a time split would hurt both of their value. Will Joe Alexander get any playing time? None of their bench players really stands out at all.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

2008-09 NBA Season Preview: Atlantic

1. Boston Celtics: The defending NBA champions. They should have no problems finishing at the top of their division again. The loss of James Posey won't hurt this team as much as experts predict. They have a cluster of young players waiting in the wing and eager to prove themselves. Tony Allen and Leon Powe should benefit the most from Posey's departure. While Glenn Davis will put up the occasional big night. The success of the team will lay on the shoulders of the Big 3 once again. They are a year older, however, and it will be interesting to see if they can match the intensity and hunger that they brought the previous year. Rondo and Perkins have an extra year under their belt and should be even better this year. If Rondo can develop a consistent jump shot that will help elevate his game to the next level. There are some concerns about depth at PG and C. Eddie House is not a true PG, and they don't have a reliable backup C anymore with PJ Brown retired. Regardless, I like the Celtics chance of reaching the NBA Finals once again and defending their crown.

2. Philadelphia 76ers: The addition of Elton Brand should elevate this team to the top of the conference. While I don't think they are on the same level as Detriot or Boston, they should be able to win home-court advantage through the first round of the playoffs. Adding Kareem Rush and Donyell Marshall (to a lesser extend) are underrated moves and gives the squad some much needed outside shooting. Thaddeus Young looks primed to make a leap in his sophomore year. Lou Williams looks like a stud in the 6th man role. It will be interesting to see how Iguodala can adjust to being a complimentary player. Will he be able to hit those open jump shots consistently? Also will Dalembert be able to adjust to playing with Brand in the post? Will he be able to maintain his torrid rebound and block shot pace? Andre Miller should have a field day with all of this talent at the PG spot. The rookie Speights has interesting potential. They have all of the ingredients necessary to be a successful team; but they are lacking in experience. This young team has a bright future ahead of itself.

3. Toronto Raptors: This team's success is pending on the health of Jermaine O'Neal. When healthy, he forms a lethal duo with Chris Bosh. Don't be surprised to see Bosh's # takes a jump like Amare's did when he got to play alongside Shaq. He should get more single coverage and be able to score at will. Calderon gets the full-time starting job with TJ Ford out of town and should be able to flourish. He is baby Nash in the making. He is extremely efficient with his passing and scoring. The SG and SF spots are a little iffy for this team, however. Anthony Parker is a solid, but not exciting scorer. Moon has huge defensive potential, but can't score well. While Kapono is a great shooter, but can't defend well. If only they could combine those two together. They will miss Delfino who returned back to Europe. Can Bargnani step up and be a reliable player off of the bench? He should get more open shots playing with O'Neal and Bosh and his versatility will be key for this team off of the bench. I'm not ready to call this guy a bust yet. They should be much improved from the last season.

4. New Jersey Nets: They have a ton of new faces, so it'll be interesting to see how everything plays out. Vince Carter is still one of the best SG in the league when he is motivated. Devin Harris is an up-and-coming point guard. Yi could be a great fit for this team at the PF spot. He has a nice jumper, can block a few shots, is very athletic, and can contribute all around. Brook Lopez could surprise some people at the C spot. I think they need to get him as many minutes as possible. I'm not a huge fan of Josh Boone or Sean Williams. The SF spot is a bit iffy, however. I'm not sold on Bobby Simmons as being the answer. Jarvis Hayes or Najera are solid role players, but nothing else. Will they give Douglas-Roberts enough minutes to be successful? I don't expect this team to make the playoffs, but they could be better than predicted as they make a run for the 2010 offseason. Expect to see a lot of ups and downs for this team. It will be fun to watch this team and see how their young talent develops.

5. New York Knicks: This team could possibly outplay this position, but the New York franchise has such a bad reputation for losing. I'm glad to see that D'Antoni is not afraid to to bench Curry and Marbury and give them DNP. That's a start. Duhon and Nate Robinson at at the PG spot is a nice combination. Nate is high energy and a bit careless at times, but has potential to put up better numbers. While Duhon is steady and boring but consistent. Crawford could have a huge year under the D'Antoni system. Chandler and Q-Rich look to get minute at SF and both should be productive. Q-Rich with his outside shooting, and Chandler for his great energy, hustle, and his defense. At PF and C they have Randolph and Lee who can both be double-double machines. Both will score at a nice clip, but can't defend particular well. They seem like ideal players for the D'Antoni system than. Hah. I expect this team to score a lot of points, but also give up a lot of points. And be lots of fun to watch, for a change.

Friday, October 31, 2008

2008-09 NBA Season Preview: Southwest

1. Orlando Magic: I'm not sold on Orlando being a title contender, but I think they will finish at the top of this lackluster division. This team can score with the best of them, and they have Superman who is one of the best big men in the game. My main gripes with this team is their lack of depth/bench, their lack of a reliable point guard, and their lack of a secondary big man to play alongside Dwight Howard. I just don't like the idea of playing Rashard Lewis at PF full-time. Also Lewis and Turkoglu are basically redundant players. While I like the addition of Pietrus, who gives them a rugged defender and another outside shooter, it doesn't solve any of the above problems. It will be interesting to see if Reddick gets significant minutes off the bench. Can Battie provide a solid lift off of the bench? And can Nelson be a leader for this team; their only backup point guard is Anthony Johnson.

2. Atlanta Hawks: In my opinion, the next 3 teams are pretty interchangeable. None of them will really challenge in the East, but could be borderline playoff teams. The lose of Childress will hurt this team. Evans and Murray will try to fill the void left behind by Childress. Similar to Orlando, they only have one reliable big man in Al Horford. I like this guy's upside, and think that the more touches he gets on offense, the better this team will be. Josh Smith is a freakish athlete who puts up ridiculous numbers. But I mainly see him as a complimentary player. Johnson is a stud as their #1 scorer and leader. It'll be interesting to see how Bibby performs in his first full (and perhaps) last year with the Hawks. He could be the difference-maker. Him taking on the point guard role, allows Johnson to concentrate more on scoring. Will Acie Law be able to step up and be a reliable backup point guard? This needs to be the year that Marvin Williams steps up and shows Atlanta why they passed on Paul and Deron Williams.

3. Miami Heat: Any team with D-Whistle has a good chance to make the playoffs. This team's success will pend on the play of their rookies: Beasley and Chalmers. I'm happy to see that they decided to hand Chalmers the keys and let him run this offense. They aren't going anywhere with Quinn or Banks. Beasley and Marion are somewhat redundant talent, so I think they may hurt each other's value. It's not clear which of them will play the SF spot and which is the PF. Haslem playing the C is undersized and will struggle against Western teams. The alternative, Blount, is a bum, however. An injury to any of their main players will cripple this team severely. They have little to no depth. I don't see this team as being very good defensively, but they have nice scoring potential. I say this team will get better as the season progresses. And it's impossible for them to perform as badly as they did last year, right? Also Tinsley/Marbury = bad idea!

4. Washington Wizards: This team can never stay healthy. I don't think we'll get a chance to see what this team can really do this year. Arenas is out until December or January, and Jamison already gave the team an injury scare. Haywood will miss probably the whole season also. Butler is quickly becoming the franchise face and their best player. But he also is injury-prone. When healthy, however, their big 3 is tough to beat. They have some interesting pieces on the bench with Nick Young and Andray Blatche. But any team that has to start Antonio Daniels is not going to go very far in the playoffs. Will McGee get any playing time? He looked pretty solid in preseason. Etan Thomas with his recent heart problems is iffy at C. As you can see this team has a lot of question marks, and they really haven't made any significant changes since last season. As such, I foresee another first round lose to Cleveland. Jay-Z > Soulja Boy.

5. Charlotte Bobcats: Ugh. This team is just awful. The signing of Larry Brown as their head coach is not going to change that. I think they made a huge mistake in passing on Brook Lopez to pickup DJ Augustine. This team desperately needs an inside scorer to complement Okafor. Sean May is injury prone and out of shape and Mohammed is not the answers at C. Gerald Wallace is a freak of nature who will put up huge numbers when he is healthy. J-Rich was surprising efficient last year, but I don't think he'll match those numbers this year. Felton is an X-Factor at the PG situation. His jump shot is horrible, but his passing and leadership are key. Augustine to me looks like a replacement for Earl Boykins. It'll be interesting to see if Adam Morrison can bounce back and be productive this year. But as you can see, their roster is not really exciting. This team is lottery bound, for sure.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fantasy Draft 2008: Alternate View

Considering that I got stuck at the #8 spot (one of the worst spots to draft from), I'm happy with how my team ended up. Thanks to Zee passing on Nash, I ended up grabbing Marion and Nash with my first 2 picks. And as you know from my previous post, I ranked both of those guys in the top 8. So I'm a happy camper. With my next 2 picks, I grabbed Calderon and Joe Johnson (solidifying my strength at AST and 3PT). Also Nash and Calderon are of the rare PG breed that shoots ridiculously high FG% and FT%. So my team, at this point, is super efficient at scoring. The cons of my strategy is that excluding JJ none of them are big scorers. Also most of these guys are turnover machines. And Lol. I have like 3 of the 5 starters from the 2004-05 Phoenix Suns team. Too bad I couldn't get Amare or Q-Rich.

The next 4 rounds I went with big men to balance out my team. I drafted Okur, Okafor, Horford and Beasley (in that order). Okur fits nicely into my draft strategy. He'll provide me with 3's at the Center position. Okafor is the traditional big man: high FG%, low FT%, but his huge rebound and block numbers were too hard to pass up. Horford and Beasley in the 7th and 8th rounds were very good value picks. Both are young players with big upside. These picks helped balance my team out with a huge boost in FG%, REB and BLK. Notice at this point, that I have drafted 3 PG and 5 PF/C. This allows me to cover most of the stat categories efficiently. And it also fills the hardest positions to cover.

In the #9 round, I picked up Raymond Felton (who I think was a steal here), to put AST on lock-down. I don't think any team can compete with me in this category. After that, I selected players with upside to fill out my bench: Marvin Williams, Michael Pietrus, Luis Scola (who turned into Marc Gasol), and Rudy Fernandez. Lol. I was talking to Zee earlier today, and I just realized that I have a ton of international players on my team. I have no idea how that happened. But I have like the UN of basketball or something. In any case, I'm looking forward to a competitive season. Good luck to everyone; may the best team win.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fantasy Draft 2008

Wow, so we concluded out fantasy draft today, and I did it again. You ever get a prime drafting spot (the first or last pick) and you don't make the right pick? Yeah I did that, had the #12 pick and to start things off, I picked up Deron Williams. Not bad, but then with Steve Nash and lord knows who else staring me in the face, what do I do? I pick Chris Bosh...ugh. 

Now I'm not hating on Chris, but I realized at that moment a Mr Dwight Howard was on the board and I foolishly neglected to pick him up. As expected, the person with the #11 draft slot (my co-worker Nate) immediately picked up Dwight Howard. This sucks. I'm sure Nate will remind me of my folly when I see him Monday at work. I realized I missed out on a potential landslide in the AST and STL category by not picking up Nash and Williams, and I had the luck of nabbing Andrew Bynum, Lamarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh at the C spot to give me REB, PTS and BLK but I'll probably have to do some wheeling and dealing to get my team where I need it to be by the beginning of the season. Word to the wise, make sure you fully examine the draft board before you make that double pick!!!!!!

P.S. Also, thanks a lot Kay, for managing to take every single remaining quality player 2 picks before me!!!!!

Chris you had better not let me down.......

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fantasy Basketball: Top 12

With the dawn of the Fantasy Basketball season upon us, it's a good time to discuss the top players and who I would draft in the first round. For simplicity's sake, I will assume Yahoo Fantasy Basketball league settings; that is a 12-team H2H league with the standard 9 categories. Without further adieu...

1. Chris Paul (PG): It's hard to argue against CP3's stats. He leads the league in both assists (11.6 per game) and steals (2.7 per game); and can single-handlely help you win those categories. Unlike other point guards, he can also help you out in all of the scoring-related categories. He scores over 20 points per game, hits over 1 3pt per game, and shoots crazy high % (48% FG and 85% FT). He has no weaknesses. And he even turns the ball over less than Kobe or Lebron. While I wouldn't call this pick a no-brainer, I would pick him over the above said players in a draft.

2. Lebron James (SF): Lebron James is arguable the most dominant player in the league, and is a great player to build your basketball team around. He provides excellent versatility, helping you out in nearly every category. He gives you approximately 30 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 1.5 3pt per game. Those are great assist numbers coming from the forward position. His downsides are his sub-par FT shooting (70% FT on over 10 attempts per game) and 3.5 turnovers per game. His 48% FG is very solid, however. He misses few games, and is one of the elite Fantasy players.

3. Kobe Bryant (SG): Another solid candidate for the #1 spot. I have no qualms with anyone selecting him with the first pick. I have some concerns about his injured pinkie finger; but that didn't force him to miss any action last season. He's a great all-around player, and unlike Lebron, will not hurt you with his free throwing shooting (84% on 9 attempts per game). His points, rebound, assist and block totals are a shade lower than Lebron's, but he does offer more 3pt made per game and less turnover. Kobe is the MVP in real life, and offers similar Fantasy value.

4. Amare Stoudemire (PF/C): Amare is the last of the "fantastic four". You are in a great shape if you can grab one of these guys with your first round pick. He's center eligible, which is very helpful in these Yahoo leagues. And Post-Shaq, his #s were crazy. He averaged nearly 30 points per game on ridiculous percentages (59% FG and 81% FT on 9 attempts per game). The free throw shooting is a huge plus coming from the C position. While his rebound #s aren't that great (9 rebounds per game), he did average 2 blocks per game last year. I expect more of the same this year.

5. Dirk Notwizki (PF): Dirk is an underrated superstar in Fantasy basketball league, just like in real life. Everyone knows about his offensive prowess, he scored about 24 points per game on 50% FG and 90% FT (on 7 attempts per game), but he also averages nearly 1 block, 1 steal, 8.5 rebound and 3.5 assists per game. His 3pt shooting went down a bit last year (only 1 make per game), but with Kidd on board for a whole season, you can expect a bump in all scoring categories from Dirk. He's not a traditional big man, so be prepared to team him up with a shot blocking Center.

6. Shawn Marion (SF/PF): I may be in the minority, but I think Marion will have a better year than Wade. He offers huge value in difficult categories to win, and doesn't hurt you anywhere. He averages nearly 10 rebounds per game, 2 steals per game, 1.5 blocks per game, and 1 3pt per game. Not only that but he averages less than 1.5 turnover per game and shoots 50% from the field. While he had an off-year from the charity line last year (71%), this is a guy that shoots over 82% for his career. So I think that he'll bounce back. He will also give you 16+ points per game.

7. Dwyane Wade (PG/SG): Are Wade and Marion the best teammates in Fantasy Basketball? I have some injury concerns when it comes to Wade, but if healthy, he can put up huge #s. You have to like his upside. Playing with Marion and Beasley, can only make him look better. Besides the injury concern, the other reasons I ranked Marion above him are his high turnovers (4.5 per game), and his lack of 3pt shooting (0.5 per game). Besides that, however, the rest of his game is outstanding. He should be able to post numbers like: 26 points on solid % (nearly 50% FG and 80% FT), 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 1 block per game.

8. Steve Nash (PG): For all of this talk about Nash slowing down, he still puts up elite numbers. He's always amongst the top in assists and 3pt made, and his shooting % for a point guard are outstanding (50% FG and 90% FT) en route to 17 points per game. There are some health concerns when it comes to Nash, however, over the past 3 years he's averaged 78 games played. His turnovers are high (3.5 per game), and he doesn't offer you much in terms of steals. But his assist, 3pt and other scoring categories more than make up for that. He can carry you in those categories.

9. Kevin Garnett (PF): These last few picks are getting pretty tough; but you can never go wrong with KG. Though his stats and minutes have gone down since he joined Boston, he is still one of the more reliable and versatile big men in the game. His statline last year was: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steal, 1.5 blocks per game, on excellent shooting (50% FG and 80% FT), and he averages only 2 turnover per game. He rarely misses games due to injury, and plays hard each and every game.

10. Elton Brand (PF/C): Brand gets the nod for the #10 spot because of his center eligibility. In Yahoo leagues, they force you to start 2 C, so it's imperative that you don't get stuck with Eddie Curry. He was injured nearly all of last year, but looked strong when he returned at the end of the season. There is some injury risk selecting him this early. But looking at his stat line from 2 years ago, he averages 25 points, 10 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1 steal, 2.5 blocks per game on 52% FG and 78% FT. Excellent. If he can come close to matching that, he'll be an excellent value at this pick.

11. Allen Iverson (PG/SG): He is an ageless wonder that seems to amazingly get better with age. FG% used to be a weakness of Iverson, but he's managed to shoot better than 45% each season since joining the Nuggets. He gets to the free throw line a ton also, where he shoots above 80% on roughly 10 attempts per game. He gives you over 7 assists, 26 points, 2 steals, 1 3pt per game. Very solid stats, and it doesn't look like he'll slow down any time soon. His turnovers are a little high, however (3 per game). Deron Williams is interchangeable at this selection. He gives you better FG% and more assists, but less points and steals.

12. Josh Smith (SF/PF): His main value comes from his blocks at the F position. He averages nearly 3 per game. And can help you win that category single-handedly. But let's not forget the rest of his game, which has improved over the years. He can give you 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. His shooting % are a little iffy, however: 45% FG and 70% FT, and he turns the ball over 3 times per game. Adding a 3pt shot to his repertoire would be both a good and bad thing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dream Team or Redeem Team?

All of the cool kids are doing it; so I think it's time that Zee and I bow down to peer pressure and chime in on this debate: who would win a match-up between the 92 Dream Team and the 08 Redeem Team? To keep this comparison as simple as possible, let's ignore the rule changes that have occurred to the sport in recent years and assume equal playing fields for both of the teams. Also since the international competition is much stronger now than it was in 98, we cannot use stat comparison of the two teams to support our arguments. It doesn't matter that the Dream Team beat teams by an average of 44 points compared to only 28 points by the Redeem Team or that the Dream Team averaged a +14 rebound differential compare to only +6 by the Redeem Team. We can also ignore the fact that the Dream Team averaged 11 more assists, 10 more steals, and 2 more blocks per game. The Dream Team faced little competition on their way to a gold metal; Russia, the only team that might have challenged them, boycotted the Olympics that year. Both Chuck Daly and Mike Krzyzewski are fine coaches. So let's just call that comparison a wash. So with that out of the way, let's just do an old fashioned player by player comparison to determine which team is better.

Point Guard. Magic Johnson and John Stockton vs. Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Jason Kidd. It's hard to argue against Magic and Stockton; two of the best point guards to ever play the game. Both are brilliant playmakers. And Magic's size and strength advantage would be huge for Dream Team. On the flip side, Paul and Deron are super athletic, quick and would be defensive nightmares. An aged Magic and gimpy Stockton would not be able to stop either of them. Jason Kidd, IMO, is just John Stockton without a jump shot. Redeem Team was applauded for its great ball-hawking skills, but Stockton and Magic are two of the best at taking care of the ball. I don't see turnovers as a problem. In a half court set, I like Stockton and Magic as better distributors. Experience could be a factor here. Both sides will have their way offensively. Winner: Even. It's close.

Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler vs. Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade. While Kobe and Wade were the stars of the 2008 Olympics, they are at best slightly lower than Michael and Clyde. Clyde Drexler, IMO is a hugely underrated superstar in this game with a great all-around game. He's on the same level as Wade. MJ, however, is the difference maker in this equation. He's the greatest player to ever play the game. He would give Kobe fits. He brings more intensity, is a better defender, and just finds a way to win and make his teammates better. Everything Kobe can do, Mike can do better. This would be a fun matchup to watch, however. I just can't see Jordan losing here. Winner: Dream Team. Because they have Mike.

Small Forward: Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen and Chris Mullin vs Lebron James, Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd. Well, first off Chris Mullin and Michael Redd are comparable players. Both are excellent shooters but poor defenders. Scottie Pippen and Tayshaun Prince will serve similar roles on their teams as a defender and utility player. I like Pippen better on defense, however. The more interesting matchup is Lebron and Bird. Both are excellent scorers, passers, and rebounders. Bird, obviously, is the better shooter, but Lebron is just so strong and athletic, and would give Bird trouble on the defensive end. Also Bird was old at this point, and could contribute in short bursts only. I like Bird's basketball IQ and will to win, but I think Lebron has the edge. Could Pippen stop Lebron? I don't think so. Winner: Redeem Team. Though I'm being a bit generous.

Power Forward: Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Christian Laettner vs Carmelo Anthony and Carlos Boozer. Lol. Let me first start off by saying that Christian Laettner does not belong in the same sentence as Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, two of the greatest power forwards to ever play the game. The Redeem Team gets squashed here. If they had Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, however, that would a different question. I'm not sure who I would choose as the best side in that scenario. But I digress. You can see that Dream Team has a much stronger front court. Both Barkley and Malone can dominate on both ends of the floor. Carmelo would get squashed. He's marshmellow soft and not a real power forward. Carlos Boozer hardly got any minutes in Beijing, and we expect him to go up against Barkley and Malone? Get out of here. Winner: Dream team. Easily.

Center Patrick Ewing and David Robinson vs Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard. Double lol. Are you serious? Ewing and Robinson would school these young pups. Dwight Howard struggled massively in the 08 olympics. Imagine him against two of the greatest centers to ever play the game. Every game would be a lesson for the kid. His poor shooting and lack of offensive moves would be a handicap; and he would struggle to stop either Ewing or the Admiral on the defensive end. Chris Bosh could maybe hang with these two legends in terms of scoring, but not defense. Overall, the Dream Team has a huge advantage here, and would be the difference maker in a series between the two teams. Winner Dream Team. By a landslide.

As you can see, Dream Team wins over the Redeem Team easily. Of note, Isiah Thomas was left off of the 92 Dream Team. If you add his name to the list instead of Christian Laettner, Dream Team becomes that much better. Hakeem Olajuwon was not a US citizen at the time, so that's why he was not on this team. He would have made a great addition also. Likewise, Dominique Wilkins is another guy who barely missed the cut. He could have replaced Chris Mullin on this team. Even with them excluded, the Dream Team boasts 10 of the top 50 players ever in the NBA as announced at the 1997 NBA All-Star game. Sure Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were at the twilight of their careers, but this team has too much talent and experience to lose. They have some of the greatest clutch players, smartest minds and most illustrious winners to ever grace the sport. A more interesting comparison would be the 96 Dream Team II vs the 08 Redeem Team. But that's a discussion for another entry.

Friday, August 15, 2008

More Offseason Moves

Zee's been too lazy to update the blog, so I guess it's up to me to keep this boat from sinking. Hah! I'm gonna quickly run through some of the major transactions that have happened during the last month and write up my comments.

Update on August 18, 2008: LOL. Never mind my last comment. It looks like Zee just logged in and updated the blog entry with his comments (see below). Maybe calling him out on the blog is the best way to get him to update.

1) Golden State Warriors sign Ronny Turiaf to a 4-year $17 million contract

Kay: While I think Turiaf is a bit overpaid, he'll be a welcome addition to the Warriors roster, who desperately need some toughness and energy down low. He should form a potent duo with Biedrins on the defensive end, and will allow Nelson to play a traditional starting lineup, if he wants to.

Zee: This move was done out of desperation. You can't help but feel that the Warrior's front office felt they had to made a signing, ANY signing to show that they were trying to make the current team solid in the offseason, especially after Baron bolted for the Clippers. Granted, Turiaf has been a Warrior killer during his tenure with the Lakers but, they really overpaid for this guy. The life without Kobe era begins for Mr. Turiaf.

2) New Jersey Nets trade their $3.3 million trade exception to the Orlando Magic for Keyon Dooling, who was recently resigned to a 2-year, $6.8 million contract

Kay: Orlando didn't want to pay Keyon that much money. Meanwhile, New Jersey wanted a veteran backup PG for Devin Harris. He's a solid defender and shooter and is one of many new players that will be joining New Jersey. Note that his contract expires in 2010, when they will make a run at either Lebron or Wade. This trade also allows them to make the below trade, and acquire a future draft pick from Golden State.

Zee: I have no idea what Orlando's front office is doing. They need all the help they can get at PG and they let one of the semi-decent ones go, and don't make a move to replace him. Also, they let Carlos Arroyo sign with a international ball club as well. New Jersey looks like they know something the rest of the league and it's fans don't. Seriously, if they set things up just right, and get a major The question remains, do they go for the mega star signing? Or take the chance on two lower tier stars?

3) New Jersey trade Marcus Williams to the Golden State Warriors for a future 1st round draft pick

Kay: This is a great move for both teams. With the acquisition of Keyon Dooling, Marcus Williams becomes expendable for New Jersey. They weren't impressed with his overall play, and were ready to move on. Meanwhile, Golden State gets a young PG with potential, and fills a gaping hole. He'll get a chance to grow with Golden State, rather than being stuck on the bench in New Jersey. This allows Monta Ellis to move back to SG.

Zee: This one fell into GS's lap. Warrior's GM Chris Mullin was having a horrible offseason and then like a domino effect from hell, he manages to pick up some decent pieces for his team. Williams has a lot to prove, going from the role of heir-apparent to Jason Kidd, and now reduced to trade fodder. Suffice to say, this probably has put him in a me against the world mentality, and for once I'm actually interested in seeing the Warriors play this season. His ability to share the rock will be key in a fast tempo offense where distribution is heavily relied upon. If this kid can make it work with the Warriors and get the fans to forget about Mr. Davis, he'll have it made.

4) Phoenix Suns sign Matt Barnes to a 1-year deal for the league minimum of $926,678

Kay: Wow! I'm shocked that no other team was willing to pay Matt Barnes more money. Boston should have thrown some coin at this guy. He'll be a great fit on Phoenix, and could supplant Grant Hill at the SF position. He's a feisty defender and rebounder, can hit the outside shot, and is a great team player.

Zee: Very good pick-up by a aging Suns team. Hopefully he'll play with the same chip on his shoulder that he had coming into Golden State when he was spurned by Mo Cheeks in Philly. And hopefully, he'll drop 50 on the Warriors when they play this season. Take that Nelly!!!! Lol.

5) Utah Jazz trades Jason Hart to the Los Angeles Clippers for Brevin Knight

Kay: Utah gets a veteran backup for Deron Williams. While Brevin Knight is injury prone, just a couple years ago he averaged 8.8 APG and 2.3 SPG as the starter for Charlotte. He's got game. And could be a nice spark off of the bench. Jason Hart, meanwhile, is a solid 3rd string PG. Nothing special.

Zee: Hart is garbage, was overrated coming out of Syracuse, ditto for Knight coming out of Stanford. They both stink, and I'd be suprised if they make it through the regular season on the same roster.

6) Denver Nuggets trade Taurean Green, Bobby Jones and a future second round draft pick to the New York Knicks for Renaldo Balkman

Kay: The Balkman experiment is over in NY, which was one of many horrible move by Isiah Thomas. The Knicks clear up some cap space and waive both players they received in the trade. Meanwhile, the Nuggets get a nice role player who will shore up their weakened frontcourt. When (not if) Kenyon Martin or Nene gets injured, he could get heavy minutes.

Zee: See my last comment, and move the names and colleges around a bit.

7) Los Angeles Clippers sign Ricky Davis to a 2-year $4.7 million contract

Kay: Yet another move by the surprisingly active Clippers. I have mixed feelings over this trade. On one side, Ricky Davis is a solid scorer that will solidify the Clippers SG/SF position. But on the other side, it's Ricky Davis. He's a cancer in the locker room. He's selfish and turnover prone. It'll be interesting to see how this drama unfolds in the city of Los Angeles.

Zee: Kay, how long until Baron and Ricky fight over touches and shots? I say 3 weeks into the season. Also, what are the odds he and Baron mistakenly wear each others jerseys?

8) Phileadelphia 76ers sign Kareem rush to an undisclosed contract.

Kay: Hah! In my previous entry, I was talking about how the 76ers needed a shooter desperately, and they sign a great one in Rush. He'll be a key component in the 76ers playoff run, as he'll get a ton of open shots because of Brand. I'm only disappointed that the Rush brothers won't get a chance to play together in Indiana. Has any brother duo ever played together?

Zee: The sixers look serious, and I hope they give the eastern conference a much needed infusion of youth that the west has had for many seasons. It's a stretch, but I'd compare this move to the move that Utah made in prying Korver away from Philly. Now Philly has another deadeye 3PT shooter on their roster. The season can't start soon enough.

9) Atlanta Hawks sign Maurice Evans signs to a 3-year $7.5 million contract

Kay: A very solid pickup. He'll fill the 6th man role that Childress had previously. He's a good defender, can slash and shoot from outside. And he came at a very affordable price. He could put up solid numbers if given ample playing time.

Zee: Mo was supposed to sign with the Warriors, but instead held out for more money and ended up signing with the Hawks?!?! This guy deserves the horrible season the Hawks are about to have. Enjoy the strip clubs and waffle houses in ATL Mo.

10) Detriot Pistons sign Kwame Brown to a 2-year $8 million contract

Kay: Wow. I'm not sure what to say about this trade. It seems like they overpaid for Kwame's services. But he will provide them an extra body in the middle, and is an underrated defender. This isn't exactly the big move that Detriot fans were waiting for, but it looks like the Pistons will get another chance to win a title with their core unit, before they are broken up.

Zee: Fearless prediction: KWAME (spell his name in all caps now, and only use his first name) will beast out in the upcoming season as he will face a sever punking by the ruffians on the Pistons squad if he does not produce. Heck, Piston's GM Joe Dumars will probably lay the smack down on KWAME if he can't put it together this season.

11) Cleveland Cavs sign Tarence Kinsey to an undisclosed contract

Kay: Unless you play Fantasy Basketball, you probably have no idea who Kinsey is. But a couple years ago after Mike Miller was injured, Kinsey stepped in and averaged like 19PPG during the last month of the season. He has potential, but was never give the playing time. Will he get a chance to prove himself in Cleveland? He could step in and play minutes at SG/SF.

Zee: Umm... will he be on your fantasy team's roster this season Kay?

12) Los Angeles Clippers sign Jason Williams to an undisclosed contract

Kay: Yet another move by the Clippers. I'm not sure if they'll make the playoffs, but they should be exciting to watch. Jason Williams and Baron Davis should form the most exciting PG duo in the league. He's an underrated talent who should provide a nice spark off the bench for this eclectic team.

Zee: I hope we get the Sacramento era J-Will and he and B-diddy just go showtime all over these teams in the Western Conference. They'll leaad the league in turnovers but who cares?!?! And it's not like Dunleavy is going to bench them. Ahh to be at Clippers practices. The dimes that are going to be thrown, OH THE DIMES!!!!!! Side-note: Pretty Ricky and J-Will...reunited and it feels so GOOD!!!!

13) Cleveland Cavs trades Damon Jones and Joe Smith to Milwaukee Bucks for Mo Williams, and Oklahoma City Thunder trade Luke Ridnour and Adrian Griffin to the Milwaukee Bucks for Joe Smith and Desmond Mason.

Kay: That's quite a mouthfull. The big winner looks like Cleveland, who finally gets a second banana for Lebron James. Mo and Lebron should form a potent duo. The Bucks get Luke Ridnour who will compete for the starting PG role with Ramon Sessions, and could return to form this year. The other players included in the trade, IMO, won't have too much of an impact next year. Though Desmond Mason is a solid role player.

Zee: Michael Redd turned down the Cavs offer when he was a free agent a few years back, that would've sent him to his hometown, where he's worshipped after he and Scoonie Penn (Scoonie Penn, look him up. The boy was NICE) tooled on the NCAA comp years back. Now, he's losing the second best player on his train wreck of a team, and he's getting a big mouth, no talent chucker in return, oh and the agless wonder Joe Smith. Can you imagine how those Team USA practices are going now that this trade has gone down? Desmond, have fun in Oklahoma!!!

14) Atlanta Hawks sign Flip Murray to a 2-year $5 million contract

Kay: Flip Murray will serve as a backup to both the SG and PG positions, and help solidify the bench for the Atlanta team. He can score in bunches, and will provide a nice change-of-pace off of their bench. I like both the acquisitions of Murray and Evans. They need to solidify their frontcourt to compete.

Zee: Flip, who was nicknamed after the character in the movie Above the Rim (R.I.P. Bernie Mac) will be in a position to provide lots of scoring. Mike Woodson is a punk and I'm sure he can dictate how many minutes he wants. A sleeper in fantasy leagues if he can get steady minutes.

15) Sacramento Kings trade Ron Artest, Sean singletary and Patrick Ewing Jr to the Houston Rockets for Bobby Jackson, Donte Greene and a first-round pick.

Kay: Wow. Houston looks like it got the better end of this trade, as their team is now stacked. They have crazy depth and should challenge for the title, assuming that Artest does not self implode. They just need everyone to stay healthy (I'm looking at Yao and McGrady). Meanwhile, the Kings free up playing time for their young players and get a solid rookie in Donte Green, who exploded for 40+ points in a summer league game.

Zee: This will be a disaster for both teams. Mark my words. When the gentle giant Yao Ming speaks out about a recent add on to the team and he's in another country, you know things aren't gonna go well. Lake show will CRUSH them when they meet this season. And if you hadn't guessed, I'm a little bitter the Lakers front office didnt make a move on Artest in the offseason. And Patrick Ewing Jr???? Tell me his dad isn't calling in some favors. I dare you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Offseason Moves

We're back after a short hiatus. Rather than play catch up and give our comments on both the Finals and the Draft, we are just going to dive into the offseason and analyze some of the biggest moves that we have gone down so far. Below are the 15 biggest offseason moves (as of last week) in descending order, excluding free agent resignings. We only want to look at transactions that are going to reshape the NBA landscape.

15) Dallas Mavericks signs Gerald Green to a 1-year, $850K contract.

Kay: I know that some people are high on this guy's potential; but I just don't see it. True, he has crazy hops and athleticism, and can score in bunches. But he just don't have a good feel for the game. He makes just as many, if not more, bad plays as good plays. Generally, he looks lost out on the floor, and he's prone to chucking up bad shots and turning the ball over. He was signed by the Rockets last season after being cut by the T-Wolves but only played in 1 game. Ouch. The Mavs desperately need some youth, athleticism and scoring off of their bench, so for them it's a low risk gamble. I suppose worst case scenario, he rides the bench all year. Best case scenario, he provides the Mavs some scoring off the bench, and is good for the occasional highlight reel on ESPN. I don't have much else to say about this move. We just included it because we needed a 15th item. Hah!

14) Portland Trailblazers sign Rudy Fernandez to undisclosed contract. Memphis Grizzles sign Marc Gasol to a 3-year, $10 million contract.

Kay: Here we have a pair of talented International players coming into the NBA. I'd like to see them both succeed to reinforce the belief that the NBA is becoming a global sport and that there is plenty of excellent talent available overseas. I haven't seen either one play, but from what I've heard, they are both winners. Marc Gasol is a big man with a lot of skill. He's not very light on his feet, but he should be savvy enough to be effective in the league. He'll forge an interesting duo with Gasol in the middle. Center is a sparse position, so if Gasol proves to be half as talented as his brother, Memphis will have gotten a great deal. Meanwhile, Rudy Fernandez is a beast that has been named MVP in nearly every league that he's played in. He's generally seen as one of the best players outside of the NBA. He has a great basketball IQ. He can score in a variety of ways, but is also unselfish and eager to find opportunities for his teammates. He's a winner; and should be a valuable contributor to this young and up-and-coming Portland team. I heard he turned down a contract to play in Russia for like $10 million per year. Crazy. But if that's true, he's really dedicated to winning. I like that. He reminds me a little bit of Ginobilil based on his attitude and his track record overseas.

13) New Orleans Hornets sign James Posey to a 4-year, $25 million contract.

Kay: Wow. Nearly $6 million per year for Robert Horry-lite. Posey averaged roughly 7 points and 4 rebounds last year. I'm not sure he is worth that much money, but his departure is a crushing blow to the Celtics, who refused to give Posey a 4-year deal. The Celtics will have to scramble now and find someone in the free agency market to fill the void left behind. I think Barnes or Childress would fit in nicely on the Celtics team. Or they could even go after former Boston Celtics, Gomes or Davis, to replace Posey. The Hornets meanwhile get a nice piece that they hope will bring them over the top. I'm still not sold on this Hornets team, however. I think they overachieved last year. I don't think they have the depth or experiencing to compete in the West. And I'm not sure if this move will change that. They still did not address their issue of a weak SG. Peterson/Wells are not the answer, and I'm not sure Posey is either. He's more of a SF; and might be better suited to coming off the bench. Posey is the kind of guy that will bring a contending team over the top; but I'm not sure if the Hornets are that type of team.

12) Minnesota Timberwolves trades Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Greg Buckner & OJ Mayo to the Memphis Grizzlies for Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal, Jason Collins & Kevin Love.

Kay: What an ugly trade. You got teams trading bad contracts back and forth. And in the middle of the trade are 2 rookies with a lot of potential, but also a lot of question marks associated with them. Will Love be able to continue his dominance in a more physical league? Does Mayo have the maturity and mental toughness to be a star in this league? If I had to pick a winner in this trade, it would be Minnesota. Because they got the best player in the trade: Mike Miller. Granted, the T-Wolves aren't going anywhere next year, but Miller will get a lot of open shots thanks to Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. Those two guys are a disaster on defensive, but they should be able to score in bunches on the other side. On a side note I'm disappointed that the Gay Love connection wasn't given a chance. Heh. Memphis is now the home of Walker with his shimmy, and Jaric with his wifey Adriana Lima, who should be able to attract some new fans to the Grizzlies. Hah! Mayo and Gay form a potent 1-2 combination. They should be exciting to watch, even if they lose a lot of games. Neither of these teams will make much noise next year, so the overall significance of this trade is pretty low.

11) Miami Heat sign James Jones to a 5-year, $22 million contract. San Antonio Spurs sign Roger Mason to a 2-year $7.5 million contract.

Kay: Two low-key moves that could pay dividends. Miami desperately needed a 3pt shooter to space the floor, and punish teams for double-teaming Wade. James Jones will play the role that Kapono and Posey played on the champion Miami Heat squad. This Miami squad should have a nice bounce back season. Adding Beasley, Chalmers and Jones will be huge. If they can resign Marion or trade him for another nice piece, this team could challenge for a playoff spot. It's a huge improvement over the squad that they had last year, which was comprised of like all NBADL players. On the flip side, the Spurs sneakily sign Roger Mason before anyone had a chance to blink. He'll be a great fit for the Spurs, and should combine with Hill to form a nice backup backcourt. They are both young, athletic and can score in bunches; and should allow Parker and Manu to rest more. I like how the Spurs are finally adding some youth to their team. I expect Ian Mahimini to be called up from the NBADL, where he was a first teamer. He should be a solid big man off the bench for them. Too bad they could not get Tiago Splitter. Those 3 players should inject some youth and energy into this team. Along with their veteran core, this team should be able to contend for the next few years, to many people's dismay.

10) New York sign Chris Duhon to a 2-year, $12 million contract. Orlando Magic sign Michael Pietrus to an undisclosed contract.

Kay: Two very underrated moves. Chris Duhon gives the Knicks a pass-first PG, who can actually defend. He's a great for D'Antoni's system. He's also an excellent shooter. Definitely one of the better PG on the market. He's been stuck on the bench besides Hinrich for the past couple years, and now he is given a chance to shine. Notice that the contract ends in 2010. It looks like the Knicks want to take a run at Lebron James or Dwayne Wade. Duhon isn't going to push the Knicks to the playoffs, but he's a step in the right direction. I like what Donnie Walsh is thinking. If they can ship Randolph and Marbury off, I would consider this offseason a huge success. On the other side, Pietrus is a great signing for Orlando. He gives them some consistency at the SG spot finally. He's a great shooter, but unlike some of their other players, he's also a great defender. He's very athletic, can rebound, and can play multiple positions. He gives this team great versatililty, and will fit in well with the other guys. Orlando is close to being an elite team, but they need to either shore up the PG or PF positions. I'm not sure I like the idea of playing Lewis and Turkoglu together; players with comparable skill sets, and neither is a PF who can bang inside. And Nelson is too short, and too inconsistent to man the PG position as a full time job.

9) Portland Trailblazers trade Brandon Rush, Jarret Jack, Josh McRoberts to the Indiana Pacers for Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu.

Kay: From what I've seen so far, Portland made out like bandits in this trade. Jerryd Bayless is, by far, the best player in this trade. He's been dominating the summer league, and should be named the MVP. The general consensus is that he was a top 5 talent that strangely slipped in the draft. I think he'll be a great complement to Brandon Roy in the backcourt. Both guys can handle the ball and both can score efficiently. Ike Diogu will probably not see much burn, but he has some potential. On the flip side, the Pacers get the other Rush brother, and Jarret Jack, who will compete with TJ Ford for the starting PG spot. The Pacers needed a PG, so it seems strange that they would trade one away to get a combo PG in Jarret Jack. It seemed like a heavensent that Bayless fell to them. But they must have really saw something great in Brandon Rush. Either that, or they have complete faith in TJ Ford's ability to stay healthy and run the point. I suppose that for a rebuilding team like the Pacers you just want to stockpile as much talent as possible, and hope that they pan out. This helped this fill 2 needs instead of just one. How strange is it that there are brothers playing on the same team? How frequently has that happened (if ever)?

8) Brandon Jennings signs with Pallacanestro Virtus Roma of Italian Serie A.

Kay: Wow. In what could be the start of a new trend, Brandon Jennings elects to play a year overseas rather than play college ball. This is a decision that will piss off David Stern. But can you blame the guy? First, he'll get paid to play basketball for the next year. Second, he'll be able to play against professional players in another league and hopefully refine his skills more than if he just played college ball. Granted, there will be a lot of cultural shock, but it could help to toughen up his skin and make him ready for the NBA. And who knows, maybe he'll like playing overseas so much that he decides to stay over there. The NBA needs to realize that their one-and-done policy with the NCAA is a stupid idea. Why force kids to go to school for a year; especially when many of those kids end up just skipping classes and get accepted into college via shady methods? The players make the college teams tons of money, but have nothing to show for it themselves. Should they get paid? I don't know what the solution to this problem should be, but some changes need to be made. On a side note, Carlos Delfino signs a 3-year, $13.5 million contract for Khimki Moscow of Euro Cup. This is significant in that some players realize they can make more money overseas in than in the NBA, and have a better shot at fame and success.

7) New Jersey Nets trades Richard Jefferson to the Milwaukee Bucks for Bobby Simmons & Yi Jianlian.

Kay: On paper, this looks like a steal for the Bucks. They get the all-star SF that they've always coveted, and a second banana for Redd. And in return, all you had to get rid of was an expensive role player and a rookie that hasn't lived up to the hype yet. Not only can RJ score in bunches and defend, but he's an unselfish player and should be able to provide some leadership to this young team. You gotta like their chances in the Eastern Conference to make the playoffs. Williams/Redd/Jefferson/Villanueva/Bogut on paper is gonna score a ton of points. Of course, they could go with Sessions at PG, and either trade Williams for a more reliable PF or play him off of the bench in a Barbosa, Ginobilli, Terry or Gordon type of role. For New Jersey, this was a all up saving $ and preparing for a run at Lebron James in 2010. Simmons' contract is one year shorter than RJ and he is making $30 million less. Yi could turn out to be a solid starter; otherwise, it's a cheap short-term risk. He can maybe attract a larger asian audience to their stadium, at the very least. The Nets are trying to get younger but stay competitive. I would not be surprised to see Vinsanity traded in the upcoming seasons. They have some nice young talent on their team and are clearly in a rebuilding mode.

6) Golden State Warriors sign Corey Maggette to a 5-year, $50 million contract.

Kay: Is Maggette overpaid? Yes. But he's a consistent 20+ point scorer, and unlike other players on the Warriors lineup, he won't just sit around and take jump shots all day long. Maggette and Ellis should combine to a form a potent slashing duo. They should each average a ton of free throw attempts this year. Though we can all agree this was a knee jerk reaction to losing Baron Davis, and missing out on Elton Brand. I'm surprised they didn't make a run at Josh Smith, but I think most teams have settled with the idea that the Hawks will retain Josh Smith. They'd rather go after an unrestricted free agent, which is more of a sure thing. In addition to losing Pietrus, it looks like the Warriors are going to lose Barnes and Azubuike also. So they are suddenly very sparse at the swing positions. Maggette will take over a majority of those minutes (hopefully he can stay healthy). And hopefully Nelson will give Belinelli some burn. This should also free some more minutes for Randolph and Wright. Hopefully those guys can assert themselves and be productive. These young gun are the future of the Golden State team. I should also comment that the Warriors offered a contract to Turiaf, who gives them a nice bruiser at the PF position, and helps solidify their bench.

5) Indiana Pacers trades Jermaine O'Neal and Nathan Jawai to the Toronto Raptors for TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and Roy Hibbert.

Kay: I like this move for both teams. Toronto realizes that they aren't going to get anywhere with their current squad, so they take a gamble and trade away Ford and Nesterovic for Jermaine O'Neal. This frees up more playing time for Calderon, which is a win-win. Both Ford and O'Neal are injury prone, however, so whoever manages to stay healthy will prove the winner in this trade. O'Neal and Bosh form a potent 1-2 punch in the middle for Toronto. If O'Neal returns to all-star form, they'll be competitive in the East. This should also allow them to play Kapono more minutes, who will greatly benefit from the double teams and open looks. The Pacers, meanwhile, get a replacement for Tinsley finally. They can cut off Tinsley from their team, which is a good move towards turning around this franchise. Nesterovic and Hibbert provide some depth for the Pacers in the middle. Both are skilled big man who should be able to contribute right away. The Pacers are a young team, and this trade gives them some young talent to play with. They have solid depth at every position now. I don't think it's enough to challenge for a playoff spot yet, but I like the direction this team is going.

4) Denver Nuggets trade Marcus Camby to the Los Angeles Clippers for a conditional 2nd Round Draft Pick.

Kay: Wow. Camby was traded for nothing. That's gotta be a harsh blow to your ego. He wasn't traded for a first round pick. Or even a second round pick. He was traded for the option to swap second round picks. Hah! Apparently, Denver cares more about saving some bucks than trying to win. Not that they were close to winning a title, any ways. Camby was their only decent defensive player, and his departure will create a huge hole in the Denver lineup. They now have to depend on Nene and Kenyon Martin, both injury prone players, to man the PF and C positions. Perhaps Denver felt pressured to play Nene more minutes because they gave him an inflated contract a year ago. On the flip side, the Clippers get a nice, affordable player to play at PF. It will be interesting to see how Camby and Kaman blend; but they should be a force on the defensive end. I suppose with Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Tim Thomas in town, they need someone to rebound all of those missed shots. For the Clippers, it's a short-term gamble. He comes off the books in 2010, and should free up a ton of salary space, if they elect to make a run at one of the big guns. I would have preferred they go after Josh Smith, but they elected to go with the safe route and not pursue a restricted free agent, who will likely get matched by their current team.

3) Los Angeles Clippers sign Baron Davis to a 5-year, $65 million contract.

Kay: I would have liked this signing even more if Elton Brand had stayed with the Clippers. As is, the other LA team is a borderline playoff team at best. And Baron becomes the face of this franchise. His job will be to elevate the play of everyone around him and try to fill some seats, at the same time. Baron Davis and Eric Gordon sounds like a potent duo on paper, and most definitely an improvement over Knight and Mobley from a year ago. Luckily, the Clippers were able to acquire Camby, so he should take some of the pressure off of Baron. I expect Thornton and Kaman to have big seasons playing with Baron. And if they allow Baron to push the tempo, this team should be fun to watch and very high scoring. I'm not sure if they'll be able to make the playoffs, though. The West is tough and competitive; and I don't see this team as being very good defensively. The key will be whether Baron can stay healthy for the entire season. It's hard to argue with Baron's logic for leaving the Warriors. First, the Clippers offered him the most money, and second this gives him a chance to return home and be in Hollywood, where there are more non-basketball opportunities. It's hard to argue with that. It's not like the Warriors were a contender anyways.

2) Philadelphia 76ers signs Elton Brand to a 5-year, $82 million contract.

Kay: While I prefer the Clippers starting lineup with Brand in it over the 76ers lineup with Brand, you can't argue against taking more money, playing in the Eastern Conference, and moving closer to home. While the Clippers lineup would be stacked, they would not be guaranteed a playoff spot, and would struggle to get out of the first round. The Western conference is just that deep. In the East, he can elevate the 76ers to near elite status. They are definitely one of the top teams in the East with Boston, Detriot and Orlando. Brand gives the 76ers the inside/post scorer that they desperately needed last year in the playoffs, where they got beat by the Pistons. They are horrible in a half court set, and Brand should look to solve those problems. He instantly becomes this team's best player. He can score in bunches, rebound, defend, and draw double teams. Andre Miller should have a field day with all of his offensive weapons now. Dalembert should improve playing next to Brand in the middle. Young and Iggy should have more room to operate. They need to sign some shooters to take advantage of the open looks that Brand will give them.

1) Seattle Supersonics relocate to Oklahoma City... Sorta.

Kay: The biggest offseason move this year is not a player, but a team. Hah! The whole situation behind the relocation is quite confusing, so I will instead just post a link to a wikipedia article on the topic. I understand from a financial/business point of view, that moving the team to Oklahoma City is a good idea. Just look at the number of season tickets that they have already sold: 16,000. That's in only 2 weeks! Compare that to the Seattle Supersonics average attendance last season which was less than 18,000. And you can see that there is much greater support in Oklahoma City than Seattle for a basketball team. And unlike Seattle, Oklahoma City was able to approve the renovation of their arena (the Ford Center) to better accommodate the basketball team. But I just don't like how everything went down; all of the lawsuits, broken contracts/leases and the lies of the new ownership group. To take away a team from another city is just wrong. I'm also disappointed that the city of Seattle did not put up much of a fight to keep their team. They accepted a settlement with Clay Bennet and his group to void the lease that the team had with KeyArena to allow the team to relocate in return for a lump sum of money ($45 million) and also the right to retain the name and history of the Supersonics franchise. What's the point in having a team name and history, when you don't have a team?