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.