Tag Archives: Andrew Bynum

Young Teams Rise In The East

The thing about the NBA is that, very much like pop music, it’s all about star power. That, and depth I suppose, but mostly star power. Almost always in the NBA, the team with the best stars win. You could build a band with Ringo Starr and Ronnie Wood if you wanted to but, I’d imagine that Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger sell the tickets. Likewise, it’s not impossible to build a good team with Chris Bosh and Joakim Noah but, the star power lies with Lebron James and Derrick Rose.

The NBA’s eastern conference has had a bit of a shake up in the last couple of years. A few stars have changed teams, and hopefully a few future stars have been drafted into the league. This has given some teams in the east the ability to, for the first time in years, make it to the playoffs.

Wizards point guard John Wall (left) and Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (right).

The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to be in post season contention if they can stay healthy. They have a number of pieces at their disposal and some potential stars. They’ve made some moves that give them an opportunity to be in the post season for the first time since Lebron James left.

Two years in, and Kyrie Irving is an emerging star. He’s an extremely reliable scorer, has handles for days, is great in crunch time and has court vision to boot. Apart from making Jason Kidd, Brandon Knight and Damian Lillard look silly; Kyrie specializes in shooting. He shoots the ball very well from basically everywhere on the floor. While he does lack a strong defensive presence, he always a threat on offense getting easy shots for both himself and his teammates.

Andrew Bynum is an all star caliber center who averages a double-double when healthy. His biggest problem being, of course, that he is not always healthy (or ever; in the case of the Philadelphia 76ers who never once saw Bynum play a regular season game in their uniform). Andrew Bynum is the perfect example of a player that is worth the risks taken on him. He’s a legitimate 7 footer with a variety of useful and often times crafty post moves. While Andrew Bynum may have red flags concerning his maturity but, he is worth the risk if he plays up to his potential.

Anthony Bennett is the number 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. This came as a surprise to many but, not too surprising since Cleveland general manager Chris Grant tends to be, shall we say, unconventional in his moves at times. The Cavaliers hope that Bennett can bring the athleticism that he showed when he played at UNLV. Bennett is explosive and is capable of finishing above the rim. He’s got a quick first step and speed when running the open floor. Anthony Bennett is not a consistent jump shooter and doesn’t play active defense, those are coachable issues however. Look for Bennett to contribute right away.

Not to be forgotten: Dion Waiters 14.7 ppg 2.4 rpg

The Detroit Pistons are ready to put their previously disappointing seasons behind them. General manager Joe Dumars through some form of magic (most likely) has found a way to keep his job despite putting together a myriad of bad teams. These bad teams directly preceded the  team that won an NBA Finals in the 2003-2004 season and had four other conference finals appearances, that Dumars also built. In a return to form, Joe Dumars has made a number of shrewd moves in the offseason in an attempt to bring the Pistons back to prominence.

Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond have a lot in common. They are both versatile big men. Both are 6’10” and are both highlights waiting to happen. They move well on the fast break. They are both smart and willing passers. Greg Monroe has 3 NBA season under his belt while Andre Drummond just wrapped up his rookie season. Monroe played 33 minutes a game to Drummond’s 20 minutes most likely because they occupy roughly the same place on the floor, and Andre is a rookie. Both show a lot of promise and skill.

Josh Smith is more than capable of being an all star. He isn’t but he could be. Josh Smith has strength not unlike a bull. When he attacks the basket he’s difficult to slow down. On the low block, he’s a nightmare to defend. He’s athletic and has tremendous leaping ability. The Pistons were able to acquire the former Hawks forward for a relatively affordable 4 year $56 million. If Josh Smith had a downside, it would be his tendency to settle for jumpers. He’s big, strong and fast yet is completely satisfied with taking some bad 10-15 foot jump shots.

Brandon Jennings (since we’re on the subject of bad jump shots) joins the Pistons roster via a sign and trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. In exchange the Bucks got point guard Brandon Knight. In Brandon Jennings the Pistons get a bit of a boost in scoring ability. Jennings is more of a volume shooter but he has his nights where he scores extremely well. He’s left handed and unsurprisingly goes to his left a lot; he avoids finishing with his right hand almost to the point of phobia. Brandon Jennings is a much better passer than he gets credit for, even averaging 6.5 assists per game on a team with Monta Ellis on it. Jennings is an improvement at the point guard position and is a better fit than Brandon Knight for this team.

Not to be forgotten: Chauncey Billups 8.4 ppg, 2.2 apg

The Washington Wizards believe this is the year they can make it to the post season. They’ve dealt with everything from bad injuries to just having bad players. This year their roster is stronger than it’s been in a long while giving them hope that they can end a very long drought. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007 and haven’t won a playoff series in about 25 years.

John Wall signed a 5 year $80 million deal with the Wizards earlier this summer. This is the maximum amount of money that he could have been paid. While Wall’s career numbers thus far do not justify this pay day, the Wizards believe that he can be an all star caliber point guard in the NBA. 2013 saw a marked improvement in Wall’s jump shot, which is still a work in progress. Wall at 6’4″ is a big point guard yet, he has incredible speed and is capable of going baseline to baseline in under 6 seconds. His jumper is his biggest barrier. At this point nobody takes it seriously. What is taken seriously is his court vision, passing ability and speed that leaves defenders standing still. Wall is also a very good defender.

Bradley Beal just finished his rookie season and it was very impressive. He’s an accurate shooter who, if given any daylight at all, can score at will. Beal can attack the basket both on the fast break, and in the half court. He runs through screens effeciently. Bradley Beal’s biggest draw back is ball handling. He’s not bad but when John Wall was injured earlier in the season he did not seem comfortable in the position of primary ball handler. However, his off ball skills are not to be over looked.

Otto Porter the rookie from Georgetown is a player in development. He looked like the most anemic of the rookies drafted this year when he participated in NBA Summer League play. He is adapting to a new offense and a new role. The Wizards re-signed veteran Martell Webster who plays the same position as Porter, so Otto shouldn’t have too much pressure on him early. He will likely not start. Otto Porter is extremely long and his huge wingspan gives him a defensive advantage. Otto was a good defender in college and an extremely scrappy player diving on the floor for loose balls, actually boxing out and sticking with broken plays.

Not to be forgotten: Nene 12.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg

All of these teams are either trying to develop stars or acquire them. That’s what it takes to win in the NBA. They are on the right track to get to the playoffs and to maybe one day compete for a title.

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NBA Playoff Recap: Round 2, 5-4-11

Bulls rebound against the Hawks 86-73. Series Tied 1-1.

Derrick Rose and his Bulls defend their home floor on MVP night for Rose. Derrick Rose is still playing tentatively on his recently re-aggravated ankle injury. That being said Rose played pretty well. He did volume shoot a bit though shooting 27 shots to score his 25 points. Rose also had 10 assists, 2 blocks and 6 defensive rebounds as well. The Bulls were able to beef up their defense and slow down Joe Johnson. Joakim Noah was able to double team Johnson and force him to take bad  shots. Joe who was making tough shots in game 1 came back down to earth a little bit. Zaza Pachulia had some 5 timely rebounds and 6 timely points in game 1 only had 1 rebound and scored no points in game 2. Al Horford also had a disappointing night. He scored 6 points and was just 3 of 12 from the field and didn’t get to the three point line.

Apart from some down performances by Hawks players other things the Bulls had going for them was Joakim Noah. Noah who is not thought of as an offensive player because, well he’s not, scored 19 points on 6 of 8 shooting and was 7 of 8 from the free throw line. Noah also contributed 14 rebounds to the effort. I’m pretty impressed with Chicago winning this game considering how poorly they shot the ball. This goes to show that this team plays much better defense than they do offense. Derrick Rose was 1 of 8 from beyond the arc and the Bulls were 39% from the field as a collective. If the Bulls continue to play defense at this level I don’t see them losing this series.

The Mavericks punch the defending champion Lakers. Dallas leads 2-0.

So many things went wrong for the Lakers in this game. Their bench failed them, their three point shooting failed them, Steve Blake failed them, and Ron Artest failed them (very likely getting himself suspended for the next game.) The Lakers had some matchup problems beside the obvious, nobody can stop that Dirk fadeaway problem, they also didn’t seem to know what to do with J.J. Barea in the pick and roll. With a shooting big man like Dirk you can’t leave him when the guard penetrates because all the guard has to do is give it back and Dirk would be left to shoot an open jumper.

The Lakers also had problems from beyond the arc. Like I always yelled at my TV to tell the Spurs, if you take threes you better make them. I did the same for the Lakers. I really need to stop doing that its just starting to look ridiculous. Not as ridiculous though as the fact that the Lakers attempted 20 three pointers and made 10% of them. That’s just 2 made threes for those of you who can’t count. When do you stop taking that shot? After 5 missed threes in a row? 10? 15? There were better shots available but the Lakers were content to shoot threes all day. They didn’t impose their will and they didn’t play their game and Dallas had control of this thing from almost the very beginning.

Jason Kidd didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but he did a good job guarding Kobe Bryant. He also controlled the tempo of the game on offense. The Mavs did a good job of making the extra pass to the open man and almost all of those passes passed through Jason Kidd at one time or the other. Sometimes Jason got multiple touches on a possession that resulted in points.

The thing that the Lakers did that annoyed me the most and cost them the game was miss free throws. I hate watching a team, any team really, but specifically a team as good as the Lakers leave points on the free throw line. The Lakers were 11 of 20 from the charity stripe. Dallas didn’t play great but they played good and the Lakers played bad in key aspects of the game. I don’t want to say the series is over because I did pick LA to win it but I have to believe that the Mavericks will win at least one game at home. American Airlines will be noisy when these teams tip off in Dallas. Which Lakers team will show up?

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NBA Playoffs 2011: Game 1, Day 2

The action and surprises continued into Sunday. There were a couple of losses even the “experts” didn’t see coming.

Grizzlies beat the Spurs 101-98

This was a game in which San Antonio went with out Manu Ginobili, one of the three members in their version of the big three. The Spurs and Grizzlies were close for much of the game trading runs back and forth. San Antonio had the lead going into the fourth quarter and lost it. Coming down the stretch it seemed like the Grizzlies were attempting to give the game away, missing four straight free throws. San Antonio cashed in on those missed free throws and got to quick threes from Matt Bonner. However Memphis took the lead on the last possession with a clutch Shane Battier three and would hold on to win it.

Tim Duncan was used by Spurs to carry the load early on but it seemed that in the fourth quarter San Antonio didn’t look to him as much, which is a shame because Tim had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. For the Grizzlies Zach Randolph was key. He ended with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Randolph was the game’s most consistent scorer. He worked skillfully around the basket and was not really stopped by either Duncan or Dejuan Blair. This looks like it’s going to be another fun series.

The Hornets upset the Lakers 109-100

Chris Paul and his New Orleans Hornets played a good game up until the fourth quarter. Then they played a great game. With the injury to David West in the regular season it was a forgone conclusion that the Lakers would simply be to big to be beaten. Their size would make it near impossible to score in the paint and therefore the Hornets would simply not be able to score enough points to win the game. The Hornets had other plans. With precision and efficiency New Orleans was able to outscore the Lakers in the paint 52-34 to win the game.

The key stat of this game; just a mere three turnovers for the Hornet in the entire game. The Lakers had 13 turnovers. The difference was just taking care of the basketball. Chris Paul led his team with confidence and when they needed him to step up in the fourth quarter, boy did he ever. Paul had a personal 14 assist to 2 turnover ratio in the game and scored 15 of his 33 points in the game in the fourth quarter leading his team on an 8-0 run against LA for the win.

The Celtics hold off the Knicks 87-85

This game was interesting for a number of reasons. The game was close throughout most of the contest, the refs had some . . . interesting calls, and Ray Allen broke his shooting slump and went back to his late game heroics. This game was up and down and it was hard to get a read on who was better. Both teams did well in the paint. Both teams turned the ball over about the same amount of times. The difference was the top scorers in the game. Ray Allen was the top scorer for Boston he ended the game with 24 points. Amar’e Stoudemire ended with 28 points. Coming down the stretch the Celtics trusted Ray Allen to come through for them yet, with time ticking off the clock the Knicks went with Carmelo Anthony even though Amar’e had the hot hand. It’s things like this and of course the injury to Chauncey Billups that have me believing that there is no way the Knicks can win this series. The Knicks may have been hurt on a sketchy offensive foul call on them and an offensive foul no-call on the Celtics but they still had an opportunity to win the game. They chose to go with Anthony who shot 5 of 18 for 15 points in the entire game and you can’t blame the officials for that.

The Thunder survive the Nuggets 107-103

Which would you rather have? The stars that can get you points or the balanced attack?

This is another series that may very well answer our questions on that matter. The Thunder started the game slow but got their act together. It was a good thing too because it looked like Denver was going to run away with the game from the outset. Oklahoma City, with the crowd behind them, got themselves together and came roaring back. From the second quarter onward this was a back and forth game. Denver had 5 players in double figures and two players (J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler) who scored 9 points each. The Thunder on the other hand relied heavily on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Durant had 41 points a career playoff high for him, and Westbrook had 31 points. This means of course that Durant and Westbrook combined for 72 of their team’s 107 points. Even with these performances the Thunder barely won this game and this was with a controversial basket interference call going their way.

There is no doubt in my mind that this series going seven games. These teams when they play are just so close. This is one of the more compelling match ups  in one of the more memorable playoffs in recent history.

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NBA Game Night 4-12-11: Playoff Preview

There were three games on last night and they all involve teams going into the post season. Due to the fact that a few playoff spots were locked in last night was important for some and not for others.

1. Chicago Bulls @ New York Knicks

Top Performers:

Derrick Rose- 10 of 19 shooting for 26 points, 3 assists, 2 steals                                                                       Luol Deng- 9 of 16 shooting for 23 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists

Carmelo Anthony- 8 of 19 for 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists                                                                           Bill Walker- 6 of 12 shooting for 18 points off of the bench                                                                               Tony Douglas- 4 of 15 shooting for 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bulls Dominated the Knicks throughout 48 minutes of basketball. The Knicks made a few runs and it appeared as though their bench might pull them back in the game but because the Knicks don’t play defense well that 21-6 run that they went on in the fourth quarter never materialized into New York taking the lead. Amare did not play because he was resting for the playoffs.

2. Memphis Grizzlies @ Portland Trailblazers

Top Performers:

Marc Gasol- 4 of 9 from the field with 11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists

LaMarcus Aldridge- 10 of 16 shooting for 22 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe that the Memphis Grizzlies are a tough team but last night they were just over matched by Portland. The Trailblazers got out in transition well, they shot the ball well from mid range and from beyond the arc, and Rudy Fernandez finally had a good shooting night. Unfortunately for Memphis, who played well, they just didn’t have the scorers to match up with Portland. If Portland gets hot and they most certainly are, nobody will want to play them come playoff time in a couple of days. Portland has now won three in a row. Also their Rip City jerseys were sweet.

3. San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Lakers

Top Performers:

DeJuan Blair- 5 of 10, 10 points, 11 rebounds

Pau Gasol- 7 of 12, 17 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists

The Lakers finally snap their 5 game losing streak. They beat the Spurs and they struggled doing it. This would be fin if the Spurs had bothered to play any of their starters at all. They did not. Tim and Manu were in street clothes and Tony Parker wore his warmups but never took them off. Most of the Lakers struggles came in the form of rebounding. It did not go well early on in the game but they got better. They also had offensive woes failing time and again to put a way a team with none of its starters on the floor. Kobe Bryant was ice cold and I don’t mean he had ice in his veins or that he was cold blooded. I mean that he scored 27 points but he had to take 21 shots to get them. Lamar Odom continues to be the most consistent Laker. Andrew Bynum hyper extended his knee and will have an MRI this morning to see the damage. He said it feels alright but with these things it’s hard to tell.

Am I the only that wonders that if the Lakers had taken care of business instead of screwing around for the greater part of the season that they wouldn’t even be in this position? If you wrap up the number 1 seed yourself then at this moment you don’t need to play Bynum and you can give your starters a rest.

The Spurs are definitely one of the deepest teams in the league and it showed. The bench players more than held their own against the defending champs. If these teams run into each other in the playoffs it’s going to be a good series.

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