Saturday, April 25, 2009

If You Haven't Seen It, It's New To You

Below are a couple of videos from the vaults that I'd thought I'd drag out and share with everyone. Both are absolutely hilarious and showcase the acting talents of some of the top NBA players.

The first video is a Nike commercial featuring Lebron James and Nicole Scherzinger from The Pussycat Dolls.

The second video is a movie trailer spoof featuring Steve Nash and Baron Davis created for the site:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

1st Round Playoff Predictions (Western Conf)

At last, the 2009 playoffs are upon us. Man, Woman and Child rejoice!!!!! The western conference playoff race was nothing short of draining. Up until last night, only one of the match-ups was set in stone, that being the #1 seeded Los Angeles Lakers vs the 8th seeded Utah Jazz. When the dust settled this morning all western seeding had been decided. Let's rundown the match-ups for the 1st round.

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs (8) Utah Jazz

It would be safe to assume that Kobe and the rest of the Lakers have been on a mission since being destroyed at the hands of the Boston Celtics in last years NBA finals. Now they're back in the playoffs with the best record in the Western Conference, home court advantage throughout all their Western match-ups, and a determination to not only make it to the NBA finals, but to win it all, nothing less will do. This does not bode well for the Deron Williams led Utah Jazz.

The Lakers won the 2009 season series 2-1, scoring 115.7 per game vs the Jazz, almost nine points more than their season average of 106.9 points a game. Additionally, Kobe Bryant averaged 31 ppg against the Jazz in the season series, the 5th highest scoring avg vs any opponent in the NBA this season. Another statistic that favors the Lakers in this match-up? They are 40-10 with Andrew Bynum in the lineup. Guess who's back? Andrew Bynum. (See where I'm going with this?) With a front court tandem of two seven - footers,Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, the Jazz will have a tough time defending the paint and denying the Laker bigs a chance at high percentage buckets (Bynum's stats vs Utah are 15ppg, 3rpg, 61.6 FG%). Add in a bench that includes Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, Sasha "masheen' Vujacic, mid season acquisition, Shannon Brown, as well as rugged inside presence Josh Powell, and you have a nice rotation of players to come in and spell the starters and hold, or possibly extend existing leads in the game. And last but not least, the black mamba himself, Mr Kobe Bryant. The man is still the best in the game, and this playoff season is going to be on a mission to get his hands on a ring without the help of Shaq.

To the Jazz's credit, they do have the edge in one crucial position in this match-up: The Point Guard. They have arguably one of the top three point guards in the NBA in Deron Williams. Williams heads into this match-up averaging 10.7 assists per game, good for 2nd in the NBA. The Lakers achillies heel all season has been their lack of depth and talent at the point guard position. If the Jazz can exploit this match-up and combine that with their knack for shooting high percentage shots (as a team, shooting 47.5 FG%, 3rd in NBA), this may be what the doctor ordered to confuse the Lakers and give the the edge when the match-up heads to the energy solutions arena for games 3 and 4, but I can't see the Jazz winning more than 1 game versus the Lakers, especially if they're motivated, hungry and out for blood. And they will be.

Prediction: Lakers in 4, (maybe) 5.

(2) Denver Nuggets vs (7) New Orleans Hornets

In an odd reversal of fortune, the Hornets and Nuggets almost flip-flop playoff spots from last season, when the Nuggets came into the playoffs as the 8th seed and the Hornets had the 2nd seed. This is just another example of how tightly contested the Western Conference has been the last couple of years, where a few losses here, a few there, and one minute you're in the middle of the pack, and then just like that, you're in the cellar.

The Nuggets and Hornets split the season series 2-2 apiece, with each team grabbing a win on the road, so there really isn't a clear cut favorite in this match-up. However, the Nuggets do come into the series ranked in the top 5 in the league in FG% and in FG% defense. Also, with new PG Chauncey Billups running the PG position, the Nuggets tied their franchise record for wins in a season with 54. So the argument could be made that with the exit of Allen Iverson, and the entering of a proven winner in Billups, maybe this Denver team is for real and is ready to finally make it to the second round of the playoffs, something that has alluded them since the Dikembe Mutombo days in 1994. (Yikes) It also stands to reason that should Carmello Anthony not make it out of the first round again this year, the inevitable comparisons to Tracy MacGrady will pop up, and really, who wants to be grouped in with that loser?

And now, the darlings of last years NBA playoffs, the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets come into this match-up with a road record of 21-20 on the road, tied for 3rd place in the Western Conference. So (maybe??) they've shown they can win on the road. Add to that, the team has experience dating back from last seasons deep run into the playoffs, and that will be instrumental in exactly how far they make a run in this years post season. The Hornets are 28-5 this season when scoring 100+ points, and truthfully, without number 3 running the point guard for them, I'm not sure the Hornets would even top 70 points on a nightly basis. What Chris Paul does for the Hornets is invaluable, and the match up between he and Chauncey Billups will be key in this series, along with David West going against Carmello Anthony. Will James Posey play the same lockdown defense he displayed in last years NBA finals against the current league MVP Kobe Bryant? If he can, and Tyson Chandler is close to full strength, then I think the Hornets have a shot.

Now that's a lot of if's. But regardless, I have a feeling that this series may go 6 games, if not 7. And if Denver is as tough as they look right now, and they go into the series focused, and exhibit a level of maturity, look for them to make it to the second round for the first time in a long time.

Prediction: Nuggets in 6.

(3) San Antonio Spurs vs (6) Dallas Mavericks

Wow, Dallas is to be commended. Not only did they manage to avoid playing the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, but they also managed to leap-frog the New Orleans Hornets and avoid playing the #2 seed Denver Nuggets! But guess what guys?!? This is the Western Conference! And you're playing the San Antonio Spurs. Now under normal circumstances this might be a bad thing, but with the injury of Manu Ginobli, combined with the ailing wheels of Tim Duncan, and you have a situation where if the Mavs play things right, they might just be able to advance to the second round....MAYBE.

The Spurs and Mavs are no strangers to each other, each team winning a game on each others floor, and splitting the season series 2-2. Some positives for Dallas? In those games, they shot almost 50% from the field against the Spurs (48.2 percent to be exact). Also, the last meeting they had with the Spurs on Nov 4th, they beat them soundly 98-81. If Rick Carlisle is looking for motivational material, this should be it. In order to have a shot at winning this series, the Mavs need to fast break as much as possible, play right, like I was saying, fast break, try and limit the Spurs 3 point attempts (they are shooting 38.6%, 3rd in the NBA) and focus on stopping either Tony Parker or Tim Duncan. If they can do that, they have a chance. A slim chance, but a chance.

Just like the Lakers, the Mavs have a weakness at the PG position in aging future Hall-of-Famer Jason Kidd. Tony Parker has torched Kidd in their head-to-head match-ups, averaging 31ppg on 52% shooting from the field. The Mavs need Kidd on the floor to find open teammates, ignite the offense, and to put his all-around stamp on the game (Against the Spurs,13ppg, 7rpg and 9ast and 51% from the field) so in a way their hands are tied, unless they opt to bring in 6th man of the year candidate Jason Terry, to try and slow Parker down. It's possible he could slow down Mr. Longoria, but how much of a toll would that take on his offensive output?

Also, the big guys, Timmy Duncan and Dirk Diggler, One goes in the paint and sets up his open teammates with 3pt attempts, the other attempts a lot of 3pts and doesn't go to the paint like he should. No question both of these guys need monster games to keep their clubs in it. All of this is shaping up to a monster series. But seriously, this is a Popovich coached club were talking about here, and the Spurs superior defense may just be the difference in the series.

Prediction: Spurs in 7. (This may be the best 1st round series)

(4) Portland Trailblazers vs (5) Houston Rockets I'm not sure what to say about this series. Houston seems like they should make it out of this round, and get to the second round, especially without T-Mac around to muck things up. But that would be in a perfect world, in this world the Trailblazers have a team loaded from top to bottom, with depth at just about every position and a all-star do-it-all player in Brandon Roy. For Houston to win, it's simple: YAO MUST DOMINATE. Easier said than done however, as Portland has big bodies in 7 footer Greg Oden as well as forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge who can play tight defense, rebound, block and score buckets. Also did I mention that Portland likes to get out on the break, I mean really, really utilize the fast break? You have to wonder if this will be an issue for Yao over the course of a series. I think Ron Artest, Luis Scola, and Shane Battier will apply a considerable amount of defensive pressure, but I think this is a situation where the home team will win every game.

Prediction: Blazers in 7

Playoff Predictions: 1st Round (Eastern Conference)

Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Detriot Pistons (8)

Detriot is just the first hurdle that Cleveland has to jump over on their way to the NBA Finals. They are clearly the better team in this series. And I expect a dominating performance. They are nearly unbeatable at home, and have the league's MVP on their team. The Pistons, meanwhile, have floundered into the playoffs. With a record of 3-5 in April and 12-19 since the All-Star Break. The Pistons only shot at making it out of the first round would have been a matchup against Orlando; a team that they have historically dominated. The loss of Billups has had a devastating impact on the Piston's fortune. They are clearly not the same team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals the past 6 years. They not only allow 5 more points per game, but they score 4 less points per game. They have a rookie running the PG spot, and Rasheed and company are a year older. Wallace is as enigmatic as usual. Their only consistent scoring option has been Rip Hamilton. And McDyess has been their best big man. Which says a lot about this team. Prince will have his hands full trying to slow down Lebron. It'll be interesting to see if Will Bynum can bring some of that magic to the playoffs. He and Stuckey could cause some match-up problems for Cleveland. On the flip side, Cavs have the league's #1 rated defense and have enough firepower to match that. They are amongst the league leader's in 3pt made per game. Everyone know's about Lebron and Mo Williams, but they also have shooters off of the bench: Boobie, Wally, and Pavlovic. Delonte West doesn't get that much attention, but his shooting and defense are big for this team. Big Z and Joe Smith are solid as always, while Ben Wallace and Varajeo are studs on the defensive end. This team has it all. Lebron by himself can will his team to a couple of wins, and now he has the supporting cast to make a legit run at the championship. It should be a fun ride to watch. - Cleveland wins in 5

Boston Celtics (2) vs. Chicago Bulls (7)

Ouch. It's being reported that KG might miss the entire postseason. There goes Boston's chances of a repeat, and their chance at getting their revenge against the Cleveland Cavaliers who they felt disrespected them a few nights ago. Pierce and Allen must be pissed off (see the above pictures). With that said, I think they still have enough firepower to take out the Chicago Bulls. They still play phenomenal defense (though not as good as with KG) and they are too experienced and talented to lose in the first round. Leon Powe and Big Baby Davis have stepped up their game nicely in KG's absence. And the Celtics still have 2 HOFers on their squad, and a rising star in Rondo. Let's not forget about Perkins either who is a defensive stud in the middle. Eddie House gives them scoring off of the bench. Though the X-factors will be the play of Tony Allen and Marbury off of the bench. I'm shocked that Chicago lost to Toronto on the last day of the season. I thought that they had the #6 seed all wrapped up. They could have given the Orlando Magic a run for their money. But against Boston, I don't think they stand too much of a chance. They are still too dependent on their jumpshot. And they are too young and inexperienced to make a playoff push. They have been 16-11 since the arrival of Brad Miller and Salmons, however. Those 2 guys have given this team some necessary toughness and leadership. Salmons has been their most consistent scorer. And has helped Chicago forget about the absence of Luol Deng. Gordon is still hit-and-miss, but is one of the league's best scorers when he gets on a hot streak. Derrick Rose is the ROY and will get his first tate of the playoffs; and his first defeat. Hinrich will be solid off of the bench; filling in any either the PG or SG position. I'm not sold on Tyrus Thomas and Noah in the frontcourt. They are too inconsistent, and neither is a reliable scorer. But his will be a good learning experience for this Chicago team. They should be back better than ever next year. - Boston wins in 6

Orlando Magic (3) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (6)

Orlando luckily draws the 76ers in the first round. Had they gone up against the Bulls or the Pistons, they might not have been able to make it out of the first round. This team is just too beat up right now. Turkoglu has missed the past 2 games with a sprained ankle, and Lewis has missed the last 3 games with knee tendinitis. They'll need both of their stars back and 100% healthy to make a nice playoff push. But with that said, I think they have enough talent and firepower to take out the 76ers who have been equally bad. They had lost 6 games in a row, before their OT win against a Cleveland team without any of their starters. Now that's just pathetic. Howard is by far the best player in this series. He's a legit MVP candidate and he'll be able to dominate the defensive end. Orlando depends heavily on Dwight not only for his defense, but for drawing double-teams to get their shooters open looks. And this team has a lot of shooters. They are the #1 3pt shooting team in the league. With Lewis, Turkoglu, Lee, Pietrus and Reddick as lights-out shooters. Alston has been a nice replacement for Nelson; but isn't as dynamic of a scorer. Gortat and Battie have proven to be solid big men. The 76ers are just a mediocre team. They can't score in the half court and depend on getting easy buckets in transition. Thaddeus Young is just coming off of a sprained ankle. They'll need him at the top of his game to be competitive. This 76ers team will struggle to score against Orlando's tough defense. They are one of the league's worst 3pt shooting teams. Andre Miller is a stud at the PG spot, and I like Lou Williams off of the bench for scoring. But I'm not sure that Iggy is ready to carry this team on his back. He's not consistent enough of a scorer or a player who can take over games in the clutch. Dalembert has regressed majorly this season. And he'll get eaten alive by Dwight Howard. Speights is a nice young talent, who will gain some experience in these playoffs. If they have to start Evans at PF, they will be in trouble. - Orlando Wins in 5 (or 6 if Turkoglu and Lewis aren't healthy)

Atlanta Hawks (4) vs. Miami Heat (5)

This should be an exciting match-up against 2 of the younger teams in the playoffs. The SG matchup of Joe Johnson vs Dwyane Wade should be especially fierce. While the Hawks have homecourt advantage, I believe that it's Miami's series to lose. They have the best player in the series. And Wade will be the difference maker. He can take over games when necessary and singlehandedly will his team to victory. The teams are pretty well matched up besides that. The PG matchup could play a big role in the series as well. Does Bibby still have any gas left in the tank? And how will Chalmers react to the spotlight in his first playoff appearance? Miami also has another rookie, Beasley, who will need to step up for Miami to come away with the win. Miami has some injury concerns in their frontcourt with J. O'Neal and Haslem. How much will they get out of J. O'Neal in particular? They have some great 3pt shooters in James Jones and 3pt shootout champion, Daequan Cook. It's too bad that Luther Head is injured. He could have played a nice 6th man role for this team. Atlanta, on the other hand, has some injury concerns of its own. How much will Marvin Williams be able to contribute? He's just come back from a back injury. But he gives Atlanta another offensive weapon. Josh Smith will need to bring his A game. He needs to be active in rebounding, shot blocking, and slashing to the basket. His poor FT% shooting could come back to haunt this team. Miami could resort to a Hack-A-Josh tactic. Smith is shooting 58% on the season from the charity line. Horford is a double-double machine. Flip Murray has been an excellent 6th man for his squad. He'll provide them some much needed scoring off of the bench. In many ways, this Atlanta team looks better on paper than the Miami squad. But I'm still convinced that Wade will be able to pull his team to victory. I just don't see anyone being able to stop or contain him. And we have seen in the past that he is able to carry inferior teams to victory. - Miami Wins in 6

Monday, April 13, 2009

Top 5 plays of 4/12/09 aka Marko Jaric meet Shannon Brown

Marko can still go home to his supermodel wife, but man did he get caught up in the okey-doke by Shannon and Luuuuuukkkkeee. Mr Jaric, you got BAPTIZED!!!!

(It's play #3, but should have been #1) Enjoy!

Where Nut Shots & Blown Calls Happen

"It was a dirty play. He threw me to the ground. He wrapped my arm and threw me to the ground, and I wasn’t going to do whatever he wanted. I'm not going to lie - I'll always stand up for myself and anyone on this team. It’s in my nature. They’re not going to just walk all over us. I had to make a stand. It was embarrassing for us to get beat this way - playing on national TV." - Ray Allen

"It looked like the ball was still in his hands. I didn’t study it, but I looked real quickly, and it looked like it was still in his hands." - Greg Popovich.

Ahh Kay, your precious Spurs resort to winning the only way they know bending the rules again. - Zee!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Handing out the hardware '09 (continued)

As promised, here are our picks for the rest of the awards. Zee and I have switched roles in this entry. I'll be taking the lead, and Zee will chime in with any additional comments that he might have.

Defensive Player of the Year

Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic.

There's no denying superman's impact on the defensive end. He leads the league in both rebounds (13.9) and blocks (2.9) per game. And is the anchor for one of the top defensive teams in the league. Orlando ranks amongst the top 5 in opposing team's FG% (which I think is a good measure of a team's defensive prowess). The only teams that are ranked higher are Boston and Cleveland. They are also tied for 6th in opponent's points per game average and are 4th in point differential. And that is thanks to Dwight. He's a great intimidator and protector of the paint. He can cover up a lot of mistakes that his teammates make on the defensive end. Take away Dwight from this team, and they will be an average defensive team at best. None of the other members of Orlando's starting 5 are standout defenders.

Runner Up:

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs.

I'm amazed that Tim Duncan has never won a defensive player of the year award before. Part of my reasoning for selecting him is because of his legacy. The Spurs are perennially one of the top defensive teams in the league, and the reason for that is Tim Duncan. He's an amazing individual and team defender. And even though he puts up nice rebound and block numbers, his impact is beyond the numbers. The Spurs seem to always get the big stop when they need to in the clutch. Even more impressive is that the Spurs have maintained their defensive excellence despite the insertion of Bonner and Mason into the starting lineup for offensive purposes, and the demotion of Bowen to the bench. I'd like to think that's because of old reliable Duncan. Another candidate that deserves some mention is Dwyane Wade for his individual defensive stats. Like Zee mentioned before, Wade is the only player under 6' 4" to block more than 100 shots in a season. And he's also second in the league in steals with 2.3 per game. That's bonkers.

6th Man of the Year

Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks.

Who else could it be? The Jet is averaging a shade under 20 points per game in arguably his best season ever. He has been instant offense for this Mavs team off of the bench, hitting over 2 3-pointers per game on excellent shooting percentages. The trade for Jason Kidd last season has allowed Terry to move over to the SG position, where he can just focus on putting the ball in the basket and not worry about setting up his teammates. And this has brought some necessary depth to the Dallas squad. Terry is a great pace-changer and provides great energy and scoring off of the bench. He is playing the role that the Pistons had hoped that Iverson would have accepted. Heh. Although he comes off of the bench, he is one of the key members of the Dallas team, and one of their most clutch performers; if not their most.

Runner Up:

Nate Robinson, New York Knicks.

Playing for D'antoni has done wonders for Nate who is having a career year, as he has been given more freedom on the offensive end. He's averaging over 18 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists per game off of the bench, and has willed this Knicks team to a number of wins. Though he shows some signs of immaturity on occasion, getting technical fouls for showboating and turning over the ball too much, he has been an invaluable contributor to this team. He's a decent point guard in the mold of Stephon Marbury (for better and worse) and electrifies the crowd with his crazy hops and play making. He brings a lot of energy to the team and instant offense. Another player that I considered for the runner-up spot was Andrei Kirlenko from the Utah Jazz. He deserves some credit for taking the move to the bench well. And he's provided that squad with a little bit of everything, especially defense.

Executive Of The Year

Danny Ferry, Cleveland Cavaliers.

My reasoning for this pick is simple. He traded for Mo Williams, and that move has catapulted Cleveland Cavaliers to the top of the league. It gave Lebron James a legit second option finally; a player who can hit the big shot and share some of the ball handling responsibilities. In retrospect, it was a brilliant trade. He traded away Damon Jones and Joe smith to the Milwaukee Bucks for Mo Williams. And than they ended up getting Joe Smith back later in the season after he was waived. So it was basically trading Damon Jones for Mo Williams. Genius. I know that it'll cost them big bucks in the long-run, but it gives them a good shot at winning a title. And more importantly, a shot at retaining Lebron James. Which is priceless. In one move he might have single-handedly saved this franchise. Only time will tell, however.

Runner Up:

Darryl Morey, Houston Rockets.

He is constantly looking for ways to improve the Houston Rockets team, and he has a great knack for finding talent. He signed Von Wafer over the summer, who has been a great role player for this squad. He's provided excellent scoring off of the bench. Prior to that, he was a journeyman who had played for 4 different teams in the last 4 seasons and struggled to get off of the bench. Second, Daryl traded Donte Green, Bobby Jackson and a future 1st round pick for Ron Artest. While a bit of a gamble, Artest has been an excellent addition to this team. He and Battier have formed a potent defensive duo on the wings. And when T-Mac inevitably went down, the team did not skip a beat because of the aforementioned acquisitions. In a low-key move, he signed James White to a multi-year deal. White not only is a crazy dunker, but has potential to be a great player in this league. That's a move for the future. Before the trade deadliine, he shipped Alston for Lowry and Cook. That gave Brooks some time to mature as the starting PG, and it gives them a defensive PG that adds some more toughhess to this team. This might finally be the year they get out of the first round.

Friday, April 3, 2009


The Detroit Free Press broke the news today that Allen Iverson (back) will miss the remainder of the season. Should the Pistons make the playoffs, his "situation" will be reevaluated. I might be more inclined to believe this if it wasn't on the heels of Iverson's dramatic statement that he'd rather retire than come off the bench. I can't be the only one who thinks the Nuggets got the better end of this deal.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Handing out the hardware '09

Continuing what has been a Double-Technical tradition, Kay and I will put our two cents in as to whom we feel are the deserving recipients of the MVP, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Comeback Player of the Year, and Coach of the Year. Kay is going to chime in throughout the article and share thoughts on his selections for these awards. All strapped in? Let's go. [Note from Kay: I just noticed that Zee forgot to mention Defensive Player of the Year, 6th Man of the Year and Executive of the Year. We'll tackle those awards in a separate blog entry. Just to let everyone know that we did not forget those.]


Derrick Rose PG, Chicago Bulls

Any surprise here? This highly touted, number 1 draft pick lived up to the hype as well as the promise that the Bulls were hoping for. Upon arrival into the league,Rose was thrown into a team with (1) a mix of veterans, (2) 2-3 year players and (3) a rookie coach. Suffice to say, Rose had his work cut out for him. Judging by where Rose is at this point of the year, so far so good, as the young rook has posted numbers to the tune of: 16.6 ppg, 6.2 apg and close to 4 rebounds a game. Oh and I forgot to mention, as of today the Bulls are hanging on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, within passing distance of the slumping Detroit Pistons (1 game) for the seventh place spot. Rose has been instrumental in all of this, thus the reason as to why he is so deserving of the award. Should the bulls make it to the playoffs, that would further cement Rose deserving this award.


O.J. Mayo, PG/SG Memphis Grizzlies

Up until a few months ago, this was a two man race between O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose, with Mayo leading all rookies in scoring with 18.3 ppg, 3.1 apg, 3.8 reb, 1 stl and close to two 3pt a game. Being one of the top scoring options on a bottom feeding team contributed to those numbers, almost in a way making it seem as if he was supposed to put up these type of numbers on a consistent basis. And he pretty much did all season long, without hitting the infamous rookie wall. But his team still struggled and all he did was what a typical star player on a bad team does: shoot, score, repeat. So, O.J. my friend, while you are a great talent and destined for stardom in this league, round one goes to your fellow rookie Mr. Derrick Rose. (Zee!!)

Your picks are spot-on, Zee. But I'd also like to throw out a few other names. This was a deep rookie class, and there are some other players that deserve some props: Brook Lopez, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love & Eric Gordon. All of these guys are playing significant roles on their respective teams. I remember that a lot of experts were bashing the Thunder for their selection of Westbrook, but he looks legit. He plays good defense, is a solid play-maker, and is a threat for a triple double on any night. Brook Lopez and Kevin Love have been solid big men for their respective teams. K-Love is a double-double machine, while Lopez provides better defense and shot-blocking. And lastly, Eric Gordon has put up comparable numbers as OJ Mayo when given the playing time. If he had been a starter since the start of the season, he might have been higher up in the ROY award considerations. (Kay)


Paul Millsap PF, Utah Jazz

I'm a bit biased about this pick simply because of Paul completely BEASTING out for my fantasy team this season, with Carlos Boozer being sidelined for most of the year with an injury. But give this guy some playing time and all of a sudden he's a double double machine. Since Millsap was thrust into the starting lineup and began playing 30-plus minutes, he has put up averages of 14ppg, 9rpg, and 1 blk per game, and now has people talking about him being the future of the Jazz at the PF position and poor Carlos Boozer can't leave town soon enough. But give credit where credit is due, Millsap was given more playing time and took the opportunity and ran with it.


Danny Granger, G/F Indiana Pacers

Granger has made the leap from solid second or third option on offense to Indiana’s go-to guy. Larry Bird cleaned house and re-built this team with Granger as the centerpiece. It must've kicked in awful quick that he was going to be scoring options #1-3 on a talent depleted Pacer team. This is along the lines of my O.J. Mayo analysis earlier in that while Granger has posted great numbers this year, he's basically able to shoot whenever he wants, and everyone pretty much knew it was a matter of time before this kid blossomed into the dynamic player he is today. Hopefully next year with a team that includes Jarret Jack, Troy Murphy and a sleeper in rookie Brandon Rush, and a year more seasoning, he will be able to lead the Pacers to a playoff birth, it would only help to cement his reputation in the city of Indiana as a future basketball icon. (Zee!!)

My pick for Most Improved Player goes to Devin Harris. He's elevated himself to all-star level this season and has become the best player on the New Jersey team. He's proven himself to be a capable leader and floor general, and can score with the best of them. And did you see that buzzer-beater he shot? Nasty. Another player that deserves some recognition is Kevin Durant. I know that he was already a stud last year, but he's really upped his game this year and is amongst the elite wing men now. His shot selection has improved and he's up to 26 PPG, 48 FG% and 43 3PT%. He gets to the free throw line more often, and has increased his rebounding numbers. All of this while opposing teams are focused on stopping him on defense. His stats in February were gaudy, where he scored over 30 points in every game except 1 (before his injury). Some second-year stars that have made some nice strides in their game this year (mainly due to increased playing time) include: Thaddeus Young, Aaron Brooks, Rodney Stuckey, Wilson Chandler, Jeff Green, Al Thornton, Spencer Hawes. (Kay)


Dwyane "Don't call it a comeback" Wade, G Miami Heat

Wow. Where do I start? How about the 101 blocks, a record setting number for any player 6'4 and under? Or how about his league leading 29.9 points a game along with 7.5 apg and 5 rpg? His numbers are just insane this year, especially when you consider Wade was beaten up, raising criticism about his ability from haters and fair weather fans alike who had jumped off the Miami Heat bandwagon after the Heat fell from the ranks of contenders, and a injured, Shaq-less D-Wade was left with a team of youngsters that were too raw for prime time, or worse named Jamaal Magloire. Shame on you all for not wanting to be in D-Wade's circle, because now you're on the outside looking in and D-Wade is yucking it up at the league's expense. Play on young man, play on.


Are you kidding me? No one is remotely close to a comeback of this magnitude. (Zee!!)

I'm gonna have to disagree with you, Zee. Wade only missed 30 games last year because of a shoulder injury. How is that a comeback? Shaq's career revival in Phoenix is a better comeback story. But my pick for Comeback Player of the Year goes to Nene. The guy came back from testicular cancer! That takes balls. He's putting up career numbers across the board and is a big reason (along with Chauncey Billups) why Denver is in contention for the Midwest Division crown. His recent play almost justifies trading away Marcus Camby. I admit, I was skeptical that he would be able to stay healthy. But he has only missed 5 games this year. My runner-up comes from the same team: Chris Anderson. He's been a defensive dynamo for this team coming off of a year-long drug suspension. He leads the league in blocks per 48 minutes at an impressive 5.5! He's provided great energy and defense off of the bench. These two guys are "real" comeback stories. (Kay)


Larry Brown, Charlotte Hornets

I'll keep this short and sweet: If the Bobcats make the playoffs, there is no possible way Larry Brown will not be named coach of the year. That in itself would be a miracle with how horrible the Bobcats have played in seasons past. Brown did a minor restructuring of the team, shipping out Jason Richardson, bringing in veterans Raja Bell and Boris Diaw from Phoenix, while meshing them with current Bobcat players Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton and Emeka Okafor, and adding quality rookie guard D.J. Augustine to the mix. The end result is a team that is a sleeper for the playoffs this year, and a definite challenger for a 7th or 8th playoff seed next season.

RUNNER UP: Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers

Best record in the NBA? Check. Current 13 game win streak? Check. 1 home loss for the entire season up until this point? Check. Say what you want about him having #23 doing all the heavy lifting, but give Coach Brown credit for managing the team, not necessarily coaching per se. However his approach to the game, which is allowing players to have fun, along with him being energetic and animated seems to have worked out for the overall chemistry of the team, and good chemistry has led to a lot of wins. If the regular season wins equal post season success, then expect Mr James to stay around, and expect Coach Brown to keep smiling on the sidelines for quite some time. (Zee!!)

I think Mike Brown has the award in the bag. But there are a few other coaches that I'd like to spotlight. Gregg Popovich did a brilliant coaching job, especially given all of the injuries to the Big 3 on the Spurs (6 games by Duncan, 10 games by Parker, and 32 games by Manu). The team has an impressive record of 8-4 in games where only 1 of their Big 3 is healthy. And they had no right giving Denver a run for their money when all 3 of them sat out and they started a lineup of: Bonner, Thomas, Bowen, Mason and Hill. Popovich is a great motivator and strategist. The Spurs always play great defense, and he's managed to get the best out of scrubs like Bonner, Bowen, Oberto, Udoka, etc. They are battling for the second best record in the Western Conference. Of course, you have to give some credit to Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Rick Adelman, and Jerry Sloan for their great efforts. Sloan, in particular, is one of the most underrated coaches in history. He's never won coach of the year despite all of his team success. He's 4th all-time on the wins list. And he has the longest tenure of any other coach in the league (20 full years). He's had to overcome tons of injuries (14 by Williams, 9 by Okur, 45 by Boozer, 16 by Kirlenko) and this team still has managed to stay afloat and be competitive in the West. When will he get his? (Kay)

: Lebron James (Surprise,Surprise)

Part of me wants the NBA to give it to Kobe simply because he isn't going to be winning anymore anytime soon, and we all know he was stiffed out of quite a few MVP trophies in the past. But, you can't deny the performances Lebron has graced the league with night after night. The 2009 NBA MVP is dropping 28 points a game, 7.7 rebounds a game and a mind boggling 7.3 assists a game. Kobe, all world player that he is, has not and will not ever distribute like Lebron does, and still manage to impact the game in multiple ways. I have full confidence that Lebron will average a triple-double before his career is done.....the future of the league is now. 2010 will be a madhouse when he becomes a free agent.


Check the Comeback Player of the Year section. (Zee!!)

I have no choice but to agree. Lebron is the clear-cut winner. He's led his team to the best record in the league, while putting up some amazing stats. His season averages might have been even better if so many of the games weren't blow-outs. Think about that. He makes all of the players around him better with his passing, his leadership and the extra attention that the defense gives him. And he's finally stepped up on the defensive end and improved on his other weakness: FT shooting. There's no denying his importance to this team; or the league, for that matter. As an added bonus, he has not missed a single game this year. This guy is a machine. I give Wade the runner-up spot over Kobe and Dwight because of his nasty stat lines and how much the Heat depend on Wade. Wade scores or assists on over 45% of the team's points. That's crazy. But I don't think the MVP award will ever go to a player from a team that is barely hovering over the .500 mark. Team success is an important factor to consider when selecting MVP. (Kay)