Tag Archives: Josh Smith

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: 5-13-11, Derrick Rose & Company Doin’ Work.

The Bulls Crush the Hawks 93-73. Chicago wins series 4-2, will advance to play Miami.

The scary thing about the Bulls is that when they want to lock up on defense. They really lock up on D. It really didn’t hurt that Atlanta didn’t take very many good shots or move the ball, like at all, so Chicago just made the Hawks look bad. Joe Johnson is a player that kills team offense. When he’s playing well the Hawks look really good but, when he doesn’t he gets exposed. Johnson will get the ball and then everybody knows he’s shooting it. The Bulls know it, the Hawks know it, and hell the fans in the nosebleed section know it. All the Hawks players stop moving as Joe Johnson foolishly and sometimes comically attempts to take on an entire defense on his own, much to the chagrin of head coach Larry Drew. Larry Drew said in the press conference afterwards, “I still need my team to learn ball movement. This team (the Bulls) won’t let you play on one side of the floor so you need to move the ball and spread them out. If one player just holds the ball they just zero in on that player.”

All of the Chicago Bulls started the game with a sense of urgency. They didn’t want to play a game 7 at all. They showed up and handled their business. The Bulls as a team were shooting well so Derrick Rose shot the ball less. Rose distributed more and took less shots for himself. This has mostly to do with the fact that Carlos Boozer made seemingly every shot he took. Boozer was 10 of 16 from the field scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Derrick Rose had 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting to go along with his 12 assists. The Bulls as a team shot 53% from the field. They played as a team good offense and defense holding the Hawks to just 36% shooting. The best thing about the Bulls is that everyone that played contributed in some way. They had multiple players in double figures in Deng who scored 13 points, Noah had 11 points, and Taj Gibson had another 10 point night. The bench took a ten point lead and turned into a 15 point lead. The Chicago bigs did a great job of forcing Atlanta’s big men out of the low post so that they weren’t in a place where they could shoot comfortably. Al Horford went 2 of 10 and scored 7 points as a result. Zaza Pachulia who had a few big games in the series went 0 of 2 and scored a single point.

Joe Johnson and Josh Smith were the offense for the Hawks. Josh Smith really wanted this. He played pretty well but, basketball is a team sport. Having two guys play well and then have the rest of the team to forget to show up isn’t going to cut it. The Bulls locked the Hawks out, particularly in the second half. The Hawks had no answer and as result got beat badly.

Looking forward Chicago v. Miami is shaping up to be a fun series. The MVP against the guy who should have been the runner up. Both of these teams are going to test each other for sure.

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NBA Playoff Recap: 5-11-11, Okay so it was just the Hawks and Bulls.

The Bulls Lockdown the Hawks 95-83. Chicago leads the series 3-2.

The games was a getting back to the basics, sort of game for the Bulls. The Bulls know that when they play staunch defense they’re a very difficult team to beat. The Bulls made it uncomfortable inside for the Atlanta bigs and even though Al Horford had a decent night, with 12 points on 6 of 14 shooting, he settled for more than his fair share of jumpers. I’m sure Larry Drew will have a conversation with him about this later. Josh Smith also had another good game where he was active in the paint, on both ends of the floor. He even started the game by taking a charge. Smith and Horford were able to rebound and score but weren’t allowed to be all that effective late in the game. Zaza Pachulia helped to keep the Hawks afloat for a while but it just seemed like the Hawks big men didn’t want get physical down low. This might have had something to do with how aggressive Carlos Boozer was being. He was backing guys down in the paint instead of settling for that jumper that he usually goes for. Carlos was pushing guys and yelling. He needs intensity like that every night.

Derrick Rose was just more efficient all around. He scored just about as many points as game four and made just about as many shots. The difference? He took less shots than in game four. He took 24 shots in game five last night as opposed to 33 shots in game four. Rose looked to get his teammates involved early which was a good thing because he found a very hot Keith Bogans in the first half. Bogans was 4 of 7 (3 of 5 from three point range) for 11 points. This gave Chicago an early lead to hold onto. It looks like the Bulls are more comfortable holding onto a lead than chasing it.  Luol Deng played much better as well. Deng was much more aggressive and was able to get to the free throw line a few more times. He also had some cuts to the basket that Chicago is going to need if they want to win it all. Rose was able to draw defenders which left Deng with a nice open lane to the basket and it was nice seeing him take advantage of that. Deng had 23 on 8 of 18 shooting.

The Hawks are not out of this series yet. Despite the loss they clearly had a lot of good things going for them. Josh Smith continued to be active. Kenny made a good point on Inside the NBA last night. Even when Josh Smith shoots poorly if he continues to be active getting rebounds, going after loose balls, and setting picks for his teammates then the Hawks a very capable of beating Chicago. Another thing that Atlanta has going for them is Jeff Teague. Teague has been playing good defense on Rose (even though its obvious he doesn’t know what to do with the Boozer/Noah/Asik screen that frees Derrick up) and even better offense. He simply hasn’t been making bad decisions. He has the ability to get to the basket, he shoots well, and he runs the offense like a vet at times. I wish coach Drew would run the offense through Teague instead of Joe Johnson. Joe Johnson is the one reason the Hawks might lose. When Johnson is hot he’s damn near unstoppable. When Johnson is bad or even average all he does is kill offensive possessions. There is no extra pass or anything like that. The offense just stops. Joe does his thing while the other four guys stand around and watch.

The Bulls and Hawks have the potential to be one of the better series in the playoffs so far. It wouldn’t have seemed like a good matchup at first but, its been fun to watch.

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NBA Playoffs 4-26-11: Game 5’s

Click there to listen! ————>NBA Playoffs 5-26-11

Magic crush the Hawks 101-76 to escape elimination

I.Offense

A.Orlando played their most well-rounded game of the season.

1.Dwight Howard was 1-4 w/ 8 points

2.Top players in the game: Jason Richardson 6 of 14 w/ 17 points, Ryan Anderson 3 of 9 w/ 11 points, and

J.J. Reddick 6 of 8 w/ 14 points

3.As a team they shot 41% and 42% from the three point land.

4.Outscored Atlanta’s bench 49-34

5.Jameer Nelson injured his knee.

B.Atlanta didn’t get points from the bench

1.Josh Smith was the only one who showed up. 7 of 18 w/ 22 points and 11 rebounds

2.Starting center Jason Collins. Scored no points, had one rebound and one assist.

3.Shot 36% from the field. 4 of 16 as a team from 3

II.Defense

A.The Magic forced turnovers and held the Hawks to 76 points

1.As a team had 7 steals and 4 blocks

2.Allowed just 22 points in the paint for Atlanta.

B.The Hawks just got rolled.

1.They controlled nothing the whole game and basically got dominated in every facet of the game.

Bulls stomp Pacers 116-89

I.Offense

A. Chicago had their most production all series.

1. Derrick Rose scored 25 points on 8 of 17 shooting.

2. Taj Gibson and Kyle Korver provided 23 points from the bench.

3. Role players stepping up nullified the double-team on Derrick Rose

4 Luol Deng 7 of 14 w/ 24 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and a block filled out the statsheet.

B. The Pacers never found a rythym

1. The Pacers shot terribly as a team. Just 39%

2. They had 20 turnovers. 4 each from big men Tyler Hansbrough and Roy Hibbert.

II.Defense

A. The Bulls did a good job blocking shots and stealing passes

1. Joakim Noah 4 of his teams 9 blocked shots.

2. I thought he played a very physical game Noah did. Josh McRoberts got ejected for this reason.

B. Did not do well in transition

1. Chicago scored 17 fast break points.

Lakers handle Hornets 106-90

I. Offense

A. Lakers took advantage of their size for seemingly the first time this series.

1. Kobe Bryant 8 of 13 w/  19 points. So much for the ankle injury.

2.The Lakers had 6 players in double figures

3.Pau Gasol finally showed his face in this series. 16 shooting 6 of 12.

4.Bynum and Gasol had 18 rebounds between the two of them. LA won the paint battle 42-30.

B. The Hornets shot the ball just as good as the Lakers did . . .

1. New Orleans shot the ball 49% from the field. Just like the Lakers did. They just shot it less.

2. They took away their own offensive opportunities with turnovers and low percentage shots. The Hornets had 17 TO’s

3. Chris Paul should have shot more.

4. Ariza, Paul, and Belinelli all scored in the 20’s but nobody else got into the double digits

5. No production from the bench. The Lakers outscored the Hornets 29-14 from the bench.

II. Defense

A. The Lakers destroyed the Hornets on the boards

1. A good sign of playing good defense is when you force the opponent to shoot a bad shot. New Orleans had nothing to show for          their stops because they could not out rebound the Lakers. LA won that battle 42-25.

2. The Lakers forced turnovers and really bad shots.

B. Played pretty good defense throughout the game but lost it at the end.

1. The Hornets do deserve some credit defensively. They forced 12 turnovers.

2. They matched the Lakers on the defensive glass. However they late the Lakers get way too many offensive rebounds and second chance points.

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