Tag Archives: Lakers

The Lakers Are Growing Old. Are They Growing Up?

The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves at a very interesting crossroads. Considering the age of the team, let’s call it a midlife crisis. After all, isn’t midlife crisis about realizing one’s mortality and diminished strength due to increased age? If mortality for the Lakers is defined by life after Kobe Bryant, then the term fits quite nicely.

 

Almost too well. Acquiring Dwight Howard in the misguided belief that he would stay in Los Angeles, is nothing short of the guy in his mid 50’s buying an expensive sports car in an attempt to recapture his youth. To be fair to the Lakers, Dwight took them farther than Andrew Bynum would have, by virtue of breathing air and being on the floor. But since when has a 7th seed and a first round exit ever been enough for Los Angeles?

I’m not very good at playing general manager but there is one truth about the Lakers. They need to face reality. They can’t win a title next year. They are not even close to being considered contenders. In fact, the Lakers would be fortunate to make the playoffs next year. They are instead engaged in the petty exercise of avoiding rebuilding. Which of course is ridiculous because all teams have to do it eventually. Yet with rumors that the great organization is eyeing Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony in 2014 one can’t help but think that they have learned nothing.

The Lakers should probably take the lumps that come with any amount of sustained success; and just suck for a little bit. I’m not saying tank per se but let nature take its course instead of constantly trying to drink from the fountain of youth by signing young stars in free agency. You think Carmelo is going to fix the Lakers? Nope. Not by himself anyway. Role players are going to be necessary to do anything of substance. Let’s not forget that Kobe Bryant, for all his wear and tear, has no intention of taking a pay cut. And that’s if Carmelo opts out next year at all.

For goodness sake’s just draft already! I mean if ever there was a year to build through the draft, 2014 would be it. For starters there’s next years draft prize Andrew Wiggins. If that doesn’t work out, there is Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, either of the Harrison twins and Dante Exum. The list of potential  lottery picks goes on. There is a way to win this. A good team built from the ground up can have continued success, whereas going for the quick fix, a move the Lakers seem committed until the bitter end, will net them less. A lot less.

I’m not suggesting the Lakers tank. Nor do I suggest that they shouldn’t go after the big name free agents next season. What I am saying is that Mitch Kupchak trying to put together a “winning” team within the next two seasons is a mistake. At best it is fan service. Not unless you actually think the offseason additions of Jordan Farmar, Chris Kaman and Nick Young make the Lakers contenders. Because it doesn’t.

Whatever decision they make it needs to be the right one. It will affect the course of this organization for years to come.

 

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Dwight Howard, Good For the Lakers, Bad For the NBA

This is a story about parity. What is parity anyway? The dictionary defines it as; the state of being equal, or equality. So, in sports, when we talk about a league having parity we mean that there is a level of equality amongst the teams in that league. Teams that are considered bad are not so much worse than the good teams that they can’t compete.

So the first question is, does the NBA have parity? Yes. Critics of parity in the NBA, a list of people that previously included me, have said that the league doesn’t have parity. That the good teams dominate while the bad teams get screwed. The statistics show that this isn’t true. Teams haven’t been this close in a long time.

So why do fans perceive a lack of parity?

This is where we introduce the concept of championship parity. The level of equality amongst teams in the league in terms of their ability to win championships. If you look at the NBA from this angle the level of parity is laughable at best. Especially when compared to the two other popular sports in this country, football and baseball.

List of NBA Finals from 2000-2001 season to 2011-2012

The chart above shows the list of NBA Finals representatives of the last twelve years. I just wanted to start with the 2000-20001 season to cover the last decade as it went into this decade, and ended up with twelve seasons, there’s no significance to choosing that many seasons. The numbers on the chart, next to the team names, indicate the number of different teams in that category counted from the top down.

You’ll see that over the past twelve seasons the eastern conference in the NBA has been represented by seven different teams. That’s pretty impressive. The western conference on the other hand is only represented by four teams, only three prior to the Thunder, which is beyond terrible if we’re talking about parity. The other teams of the western conference quite obviously don’t have the same ability to play for a championship. If they did, they’d be there. Out of the last twelve NBA season there have only been five different champions. Five. Over a decade of basketball played and only five different champions have been crowned.

That’s not parity.

There’s a reason why NFL fans feel like every year their team can win. That’s because it can.

List of Superbowls from 2000-2001 to 2011-2012

A similar list of NFL seasons tells a different story entirely. The AFC looks like the NBA’s western conference with only five teams representing it in the Superbowl in a twelve year span (which is still more than the NBA’s western conference). Look at the NFC though! Ten different teams represented the NFC in the Superbowl. This has resulted in seven different Superbowl champions over the past twelve seasons.

That’s parity.

What about baseball? The best teams can afford the best players. There’s no salary cap at all. If ever there was a system that was made for no parity at all it would be baseball, right? Wrong.

Very, very, wrong.

List of World Series from 2001 to 2011

Amazingly, in the both the American League and National League, seven different teams have represented their teams over the past eleven years. The only thing more impressive than that there has been a whopping nine different champions in an eleven year span.

What does all of this have to do with Dwight Howard?

Everything. The NBA isn’t necessarily a top heavy league but only a few teams have a real shot at competing for a title. The Brooklyn Nets may have gotten stronger. The Denver Nuggets were able to get Andre Igoudala in part of the massive deal that sent Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the Nuggets aren’t title contenders. The Lakers are. The Lakers landed Steve Nash earlier in the summer and Dwight Howard puts them over the top without the Lakers having to give up Pau Gasol.

It seems that general managers in the NBA are just dumber than in any other league, and it’s the fan that suffers. Orlando fans now have watch their team be rebuilt from scratch with nothing really. They got back nothing in comparison with what they lost. The Lakers continue to stay dominant by forcing the issue to get a great player. The rest of the league, small market teams especially, can’t really compete with that. Particularly if they have a knuckle-headed GM which is a lot of NBA GMs.

When Dwight got moved to L.A. he made the Lakers stronger and, in so doing the rest of the league loses just a bit of that championship parity. In the face of the Lakers and Heat stockpiling weapons like it’s the arms race during the Cold War, what do other NBA fans root for? Do Pacers fans and Grizzlies fans really believe that their team is winning a title this year? Fans deserve to feel, at least once in a while, that supporting their team is going to pay off.

The NBA has great moments and spectacular athletes. It’s a league that can offer a lot of things. Unfortunately for the modern NBA fan, hope isn’t one of them.

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Not So Fast! Steve Nash won’t save the Lakers

On Independence Day the Phoenix Suns agreed to a 3 year/$27 million sign and trade deal that would send him to the Lakers in return for LA’s first and second round picks in 2013 , a second round pick in 2014, and a first rounder in 2015. The message is clear. The Lakers want to win now. Can they?

Nash is certainly the upgrade at the point guard position the Lakers have been seeking. He brings great passing ability, court vision, and consistent 3 point shooting. Even with all of this the Nash won’t make the Lakers championship contenders. Here’s 4 reasons why.

The previously mentioned passing ability and court vision on display.

4. Mike Brown is still the head coach. 

When Mike Brown became the head coach of the Lakers he found implementation of his offense . . . difficult. The Lakers, especially in the playoffs, were plagued by poor spacing and terrible shot selection as a byproduct of the aforementioned poor spacing. If a system is broken putting another player in it doesn’t make it better. If the Lakers still struggle with these issues next season, even Nash’s production could suffer.

3. The Lakers aren’t a running team and Nash is a running point guard. 

Steve Nash spent the majority of his career under Mike D’antoni a most widely know for his uptempo offensive system with emphasis on fast break scoring. The Lakers have been and still are a dominantly half court team. Kobe Bryant is aging, and Bynum and Gasol have never been fast (though Gasol runs the floor pretty well). Stylistically this isn’t a perfect match. There will definitely be growing pains as both Nash and his Laker teammates are acclimated to one another.

2. Steve Nash doesn’t play defense well.

Nash is for all intents and purposes a defensive liability. In a league full of young point guards with speed and quickness Nash, who is 38 years old right now will not only be a hindrance defensively, he’ll be worse defensively than he has ever been in his career. Nash’s size and (lack of) speed means that there aren’t a lot of other people he can guard well, if at all. On the plus side though, Nash is a pretty good help defender.

1. The Thunder still exist.

As long as this is still a fact I don’t see the Lakers getting to an NBA Finals with their current roster. The Thunder are a younger more solid team with experience. They have been playoff tested, they are supremely talented, and they are certainly more athletic than the Lakers. Gasol and Bynum are the keys to that possible match up and they don’t play transition defense well enough to slow up Oklahoma City. Nash can’t change that. It’s out of his control.

The Lakers need to believe that none of this matters because they mortgaged their future for a 38 year old point guard in the hopes that he makes them championship caliber. It’s a lot to ask of one player to do and that’s exactly why it won’t work.

 

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Daily Rain 5-17-12: Celtics Destroy Sixers, Lakers Give Game 2 Away to Thunder & Devils Even Series

The Boston Celtics Amp Up the Defense and Embarrass The Philadelphia 76ers At Home

The Celtics trailed the 76ers by 5 points going into the 2nd quarter of this game but upon regaining the lead never trailed again. In fact, wether or not the Sixers would ever see the lead again was never in doubt as the Celtics rolled on to a 107-91 victory. There are two main differences between this game 3 and game 2.

The first difference is, that Paul Pierce was more aggressive and more productive. In game 2 Pierce scored 7 points while shooting an anemic 2 of 9 in that game. In game 3 Pierce started the game with two dunks. He would go on to score 24 points on 6 of 17 shooting. That’s the Paul Pierce the Celtics are going to need if they plan on winning this series or any future ones.

The second difference, is defense. Boston murdered Philadelphia on the defensive glass gathering 37 defensive boards. Also none of the Sixers starters scored over 20 points. In fact, none of them scored greater than 15 points. Philadelphia shooting guard Evan Turner was held in check as he scored just 4 points and made 1 of his 10 shot attempts.

The Sixers are not out of this series but will need to make some offensive adjustments to match the re-emergence of the Celtics defense.

 The Oklahoma City Thunder Erase A 7 Point Deficit In the Final Two Minutes to “Steal” A Game At Home.

In the first quarter of game 1 of this series it became apparent that the Lakers had a distinct size advantage inside over the Thunder. When the Lakers wandered away from what many perceive to be their game plan, pounding the ball down low, they spiraled out of control allowing the Thunder to run and hit shoot  often uncontested jump shots. In game 2 the Lakers stick to the game plan and control much of the game thanks to the dominating play of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. So L.A. wins right?

Not so fast amigo. A series of gaffes nearing the end of the game caused Los Angeles to surrender a 7 point lead in the final two minutes of the game. First Kevin Durant stole an inbound pass from Kobe Bryant and slammed home an easy 2 points. Then James Harden was allowed to go coast to coast for an easy lay up that brought the Thunder within 1 point. Kevin Durant hit the floater on the baseline that would give the Thunder a 1 point lead. The Lakers last possession was a flare for Kobe Bryant but Metta World Peace caught Russell Westbrook sleeping on the inbound pass and hit a wide open Steve Blake. Blake however would not hit the wide open 3 point shot and the Lakers lose by 1 point.

Steve Blake had a few options. He could have made the shot, he could have used the fact that Westbrook had to jump to recover to defend him and pump faked and then drove to the basket for a better look, or he could have passed it to Bynum who had emerged on the low block. He had 5 seconds. That’s more than enough time. Despite all of this to blame the loss on Steve Blake would be asinine.  The Lakers attempted 77 shots before that last one and if they had made more than 30 of those this game may not even have been close. If anyone is to blame it should be Kobe. He shot a an inefficient 9 of 25 from the field and hit none of the 6 3-pointers he attempted. None. Steve Blake played a hand in the loss but Kobe’s impact was certainly bigger.

New Jersey Devils Even The Series Against the New York Rangers

When the Devils took the ice in game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals they got run over. Plain and simple. They didn’t look ready and the Rangers looked very ready. New Jersey did a great job of bouncing back in game 2. They were able to do something few teams this season have. Fool Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, arguably the league’s best at his position. This did so with a number of redirected shots including David Clarkson’s go ahead shot in the 3rd period. Clarkson has proved once again in the playoffs that he can be relied upon for clutch plays.

Speaking of clutch plays, Devils goalie Martin Brodeur made an amazing save. As Rangers right wing Marian Gaborik attacked the goal he tried to flip a shot over Brodeur who had fallen over. Brodeur raised his right leg up, as he was on his stomach, and kicked the puck away saving a goal. I gush about Henrik Lundqvist being the best in the league but it’s plays like those that remind us why the 40 year old Brodeur is a legend and one of the best to play the game. Ever.

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Daily Rain 5-15-12: Lakers rocked by Thunder, LA Dodgers Lose Matt Kemp are they in trouble?

The Oklahoma City Thunder Destroy The Los Angeles Lakers

The Thunder shot an other-worldly  53% from the field on a night that would see them rout the Lakers 119-90. The Thunder great shooting night came on multiple pick and roll plays that the Lakers seemed unable to defend. All players for the Thunder have ability to knock down jumpers including their big men. They had many open shots created the dribble penetration Russell Westbrook

Serge Ibaka was a help defender that was also able to recover and hassle Pau Gasol. The Lakers stopped going to Bynum and Gasol in the mid-second quarter. The Lakers opted to trust their guard play over their size advantage down low. The first quarter was the only competitive quarter of the game and that was the quarter in which Bynum and Gasol were most involved.

The Sixers Edge Out the Celtics

In Philadelphia’s 82-81 victory over Boston the main discussion seems to be wether or not Kevin Garnett’s screen at the end of the game was really a foul. I think it was and I think it should have been called. He stuck his elbow out and stepped into the screen.

You be the judge.

However, anytime a team leaves a game in jeopardy, especially to the point where one call can mean the decision between victory or defeat, they deserve the result they get. The Celtics did and they deserved that loss. Paul Pierce scored 7 points. Igoudala played great defense Pierce is an NBA star and 7 points on 2 of 9 shooting is not near good enough to beat the Philadelphia 76ers consistently.

The Dodgers Lose Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp has been placed on 15 day DL because of a hamstring injury. Is it possible for the Dodgers to keep rolling without him. Kemp is the best player in the National League. He has 29 runs and 12 homers as well as a batting average of .726, so there’s no doubt that his offensive production is going to be missed. With that said I don’t think the Dodgers are in trouble. Andre Ethier may be able to hold down the fort offensively, he’s batting .361 with 8 runs so far this season. He doesn’t have to be Kemp he just has to continue to produce.

The Dodgers have a capable pitching rotation. Clayton Kershaw is one of the best in the game and Chad Billingsley is a winner as well.

 

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Daily Rain 5-13-12: A Tale of Two Game 7’s; Lakers and Rangers Advance

Rangers Top Caps Conclude Thrilling Seven Game Series

The Washington Capitals started the first period on the wrong foot. The Rangers scored their first goal 92 seconds into regulation and never looked back. This is due in large part to Henrik Lundqvist. He’s the best goalie in the league in my opinion and when he’s handed  a lead you can pretty much bet the farm that he’ll hold it. Nobody else in the league does it better. The Capitals were unable to get anything going really. They looked a little underprepared but the credit goes to New York’s defense.

Next up for the Rangers is the New Jersey Devils in the eastern conference finals.

The Lakers Defeat the Nuggets In Their Seven Game Series

The Los Angeles started game 7 with an intensity and effort that was 180 degrees in difference from the effort they started with in game 6. While some of this can be credited to the return of Ron Art . . . er . . . Metta World Peace, who brought extra defense and outside shooting, the Lakers seemed to just need their backs against a wall. Pau Gasol who had played softer than Charmin all playoffs like finally attacked the rim in a fashion not unlike his much tougher younger brother. There was a play when Pau seemingly rebounded the ball a billion times against the much smaller Denver Nugget front court.

The contributions of umm . . . Metta World Peace are not to be overlooked. He was very much able to control Danilo Gallinari. Gallo was unable to do anything against him and as a result he hit only 1 of 9 shots from the field, one open three point shot.

Next up for the Lakers is the Oklahoma City Thunder. A much more talented team than the Nuggets with nearly equal depth. I don’t believe the Lakers win that series. I’ve got Oklahoma City in 6 games.

Manchester City Wins The English Premier League In Unnecessarily Dramatic Fashion

Manchester City topped the Queens Park Rangers and won the English Premier League title for the first time in 44 years. Queens Park unexpectedly took the lead in the second half and then held their own for the rest of the game. They even did so a man down, no thanks to the buffoonery of Joey Barton who acquired a red card in what seemed a one man campaign to sink his team and his career when he kicked Manchester City’s Kun Aguero in the back of the leg.

Manchester City responded with two goals in stoppage time with an effort nothing short of incredible. The thing is, Manchester City wouldn’t have needed any of that if they had just taken care of business earlier in the game. They allowed a team that they were, at least on paper, better than to dominate the game and to do so with 10 men on the field. Manchester City’s lack of aggression and sense of urgency in the waning seconds of the game nearly did them in. Still, it was both a solid victory for Man. City and a very entertaining game.

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Daily Rain 5-11-12: Lakers fall flat, Bulls & Hawks Eliminated

The Lakers Came Out Flat and Get Steamrolled By the Nuggets: The Understatement of the Year

The moment the Lakers stepped out onto  the floor last night they were entirely unprepared for the Denver Nuggets. They were beaten in literally every facet of the game. Offensively they had no fight in them, with the exception of Kobe Bryant who scored 31 points in 37 minutes of play. The Lakers struggled to make shots and lacked aggression of any kind settling for silly shots attempts early in the shot clock. Pau Gasol looked more lost than ever. I can only wonder if he even knew he was in the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Defensively they were overwhelmed Ty Lawson made them look foolish. Lawson had a shot from anywhere he wanted on the floor on his way to a career high 32 point game in which he knocked down 5 three pointers.

Denver played truly inspired basketball. They played like a team with a its back against the wall. They dominated the equally uninspired Lakers by moving the ball early and using Laker turnovers to score quick points in transition. Corey Brewer who isn’t exactly known for his proficient scoring got hot in fourth quarter where scored majority of his 18 points.

The Lakers have left the door open on a Nuggets team that feels extremely confident that it can beat them and that has a blueprint on how to beat them. That may prove to be the biggest mistake of all.

The Hawks Get The Boot From The Celtics

We all so this from a mile out. The only reason it is worth mentioning is that the Hawks made this a closer game than anyone thought it would be. The Hawks started off slow because . . . they’re the Hawks but soon found their rhythm. They lost because down the stretch they took too many jumpers.

When I say they, who I mean is Joe Johnson, Joe gets paid the big bucks on that team and yet he settles for jumpers time after time. The playoffs have not been kind to Johnson’s jump shots in the clutch. Particularly the contested ones. On one play with less than two minutes in regulation and the Hawks up two Johnson backed his man down to the top of the key and took a truly horrid and unnecessary turn around jumper. Since Joe Johnson is not Kobe that shot struck the back of the rim and was rebounded by the Celtics.

Watching the Hawks lose on an annual basis is infuriating to a certain extent because they’re a really athletic team with smart  players (sometimes).

The Bulls Tried To Beat the Sixers. It Almost Worked.

You have to hand it to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. He got all the heart and fight out of his team that a coach possibly could. Even as he lost player, after player, he got his team to dig deep and stand up to a more athletic and, some would argue, equally as well coached Sixers team.

It was not meant to be however, thanks to a combination of a CJ Watson mistake and Omer Asik’s laughably poor free throw shooting.

This was one of the better series in the first round surprisingly. It’s kind of sad to see this series not go the distance.

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2011 NBA Draft: The Good, The Bad, and the Just Plain Weird

I should have done this a while back, but I was out of town and had some business to attend to. The draft was intriguing(well, the first part anyway) there were surprises and twists. That being said none of this is going to change the fact that this draft class is one of weakest in recent years. As a result teams tried to do the best they could with what they had, but let’s face it, they didn’t exactly have a lot to work with. This however is sports. Someone’s got to win and someone’s got to lose. Let’s start off with . . .

The Winners . . .

Like the Utah Jazz for instance. The Jazz selected Enes Kanter from Kentucky (though he didn’t actually play any games for Kentucky) with the third pick. Kanter is a skilled big man with strength and solid moves in the post. Listed at 6’11” Kanter also adds length to a Jazz team that could stand to use it. Utah also selected Colorado’s Alec Burks with the twelfth pick. Burks is a skilled ball handler with good court awareness. He’s most dangerous when running the floor and is a good rebounder for a guard. While Burks is good at attacking the basket, a skill needed by the Jazz, he won’t be mistaken for a solid shooter anytime soon.

I’m proud to say that the Washington Wizards definitely put on a good show at the draft by making smart decisions. As a Wizards fan I couldn’t be happier, but I’m not ready to say that the incompetence of the past is behind us just yet. With the sixth pick in the draft, the Wizards took Jan Vesely from Partizan Belgrade (Serbia). Vesely is 6’11” and has a motor like you wouldn’t believe. He’s athletic and extremely active. He can also dunk with the best of them and may prove to be a fantastic running mate for John Wall. The Wizards also adressed some defensive needs by drafting Florida State’s Chris Singleton.  Singleton is an extremely active defender who doesn’t let opponents off easy. He runs the floor well and gets back on defense. His offensive capabilities are limited however and leave much to be desired. In the second round Washington adressed the issue of a backup point guard when they opted to draft Butler’s Shelvin Mack. Shelvin has a big body for a point guard. He’s not quick or explosive, but can shoot the ball well and is an above average passer and decision maker.

The Detroit Pistons are another team that took advantage in this draft. Brandon Knight fell into their laps at the eight spot in the draft. Brandon is one of many “shoot first” point guards in this draft. Knight can certainly score the ball. He uses his shot to create space and then is quick enough to convert that space into a lane that gets him to the bucket. He’s just 19 years old, and while a capable point guard doesn’t always make the best decisions. He didn’t always pay attention on defense, but he improved overall coming up to the end of the season. I thought the Pistons dominated when it came to “value” picks. Which is to say that when they had to pick lower picks or in the second round they got the best value for their trouble. Enter Duke’s Kyle Singler. Singler was grossly underrated in this draft in my opinion. He’s a good shooter that can put the ball on the floor and make plays. He’s a pretty good defender and is a very smart ballplayer. He picks up systems quickly and should have no problem fitting into whatever a coach demands of him. Their last pick netted the Florida’s Vernon Macklin. Vernon’s a big man with serious hops. His size and strength give him certain advantages, but at 6’10” he’s a bit small for a center. Macklin is still a great fit for Detroit.

The Charlotte Bobcats looked like they had some sense when the drafted UConn’s Kemba Walker. Another “shoot first” point guard who is a bit undersized, Kemba is if nothing, a winner. We all know what Kemba is capable of. He just knows how to win. He is a potent scorer who can score in droves. He’s got great ball-handling ability and court vision. He’s also a great leader, and Charlotte was smart to pick him up. The Bobcats also received Bismack Biyombo from the Sacramento Kings in a trade. Biyombo, just like his fellow countryman from the Congo Serge Ibaka, is a tenacious defender of the basket. Anything coming to the bucket when he’s on guard is liable to be sent three rows deep into the bleachers. He’s got a long frame, great instincts, and great anticipation. His downside is that he has no offense at his disposal. None. Biyombo has great potential though, after all, even Ibaka has a mid range jumper these days.

Lastly the Portland Trailblazers made a number of moves, that flew under the radar. With the twenty first pick and their first pick in the draft Portland selected Nolan Smith from Duke. Nolan Smith was originally a shooting guard, but when Kyrie Irving got injured Nolan was called upon to take over the point guard duties. He did and he did so very well. In fact he did the job so well that when Duke got Kyrie back in the NCAA tournament there was a debate as to wether or not Kyrie should even get his job back. Nolan can shoot and is incredibly intelligent. He was one of my favorite players coming into the draft. Portland is hoping that his coachability will allow them to use him to take over for Andre Miller(who was traded to the Nuggets) and be a reliable guard going into the future. The Trailblazers also got Texas’ Jordan Hamilton in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks. Hamilton has the ability to score at will from any point on the floor. His decision making is not very good however. Often times Jordan can be passive and indirect. He sometimes settles for shots when he ought to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket. His defense is also suspect. Late in the second round the Trailblazers picked up Jon Diebler of Ohio State. Diebler reminds me a lot of Kyle Korver in terms of his mobility and defense. A three point specialist, Diebler is predictable. He will shoot. A lot. His release is extremely quick so he only needs seconds to get his shot off.

There were quite a few teams that did well for themselves, however there were some teams that wasted their picks. These guys are . . .

The Losers . . .

This should go by more quickly than the winners because most of these teams had a single pick in the draft and then failed to adress their needs with the single pick that they had.

For instance the Toronto Raptors went ahead and wasted everyone’s time by taking Jonas Valanciunas from Lithuania.I like Jonas and won’t spend much time bashing him, but one would think a team with many needs wouldn’t take a chance on Andrea Bargnani 2.0, yeah I said it. Toronto had a chance to adress their distinct lack of reliable point guard and maybe make a splash in this draft. Instead they opted to draft a guy who probably won’t be in the league for another two years, because of his prior contractual obligations and is a carbon copy of a guy they already have on their team.

Speaking of redundant draft picks, the Oklahoma City Thunder had one of the head scratchers of the day when they opted to draft Reggie Jackson, a point guard from Boston College. First off, head coach Scott Brooks keeps telling the media that Russell Westbrook is going to be the point guard moving forward. Secondly the Thunder have Eric Maynor who is a point guard who like Westbrook also like to shoot. So how much sense does it make then to draft another shooting point guard? None. It doesn’t make any sense. The Thunder could have used a true big man who will work in the post and grab boards(neither Perkins nor Ibaka truly do this). The Thunder could also have drafted for depth and in that regard Jordan Hamilton, and Jimmy Butler were still available and would have given more to the team than Jackson will.

This of course leaves me with the bad taste in my mouth, that is the Memphis Grizzlies picking Josh Selby. Selby should never have been in the draft. He’s not NBA ready at all. He was highly recruited coming out of high school and grossly under performed in his time at the University of Kansas. I don’t care who you draft, just not this guy. He’s simply not going to get better between college and the pros. He needed to stay in school and develop. Isaiah Thomas would have been a good pick, or Ben Hansbrough(who by the way went undrafted).

This was a bit lengthy of course, but before you check out the  . . .

WTF???!!!! Pick of the Draft.

The Los Angeles Lakerspicked Daruis Moore from Michigan. This was a decent pick considering where they picked from, but from that point onward proceded to pick a parade of international players whose names I will not begin to type here they’re so long. Okay, fine I’ll copy and paste. Who the hell was scouting Chukwudiebere Maduabum? These players will likely not make the team and were seriously just wasted picks.

 

 

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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 Playoff Recap: Round 2, 5-2-11

The NBA playoffs has been a match for this NBA season. This has been the best NBA season in a while and the only way to top that apparently is the most unpredictable NBA playoffs in quite some time. So let’s break down the ‘upsets’ of last night. Shall we?

The Hawks take down the Bulls 103-95 (and Derrick Rose re-tweaks his ankle at the buzzer.)

Joe Johnson scores 34 points on 12 of 18 shooting from the field, with 5 of 5 from behind the arc. Joe was the difference maker in this game. Anytime Chicago made a run or tried to come back Joe made some off balance shot or long distance three to keep the lead and hold on for the victory. I though Johnson was agressive and made smart decisions particularly when he was doubled teamed, he moved the ball well.

I also thought that the Hawks just flat out had a hot night shooting the basketball. Maybe too good to be true. I highly doubt that Joe Johnson can go for 34 points and shoot 5 three pointers and all of them. While Jamal Crawford scored 22 points he’s an inconsistent player and he might not give you anything in the next game. Also Chicago didn’t defend great. They weren’t bad and Atlanta did make a number of tough and contested shots but, they didn’t rebound well to keep the ball away from Atlanta. Zaza Pachulia had a number of timely rebounds and Chicago should have taken that second chance opportunity from the Hawks.

Derrick Rose had 24 points shooting 11 of 27 from the field and he had 10 assists. Derrick didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half at all. He had a bit of trouble scoring on Jeff Teague which is not wholly surprising when you consider that Teague is a pretty good defender. Luol Deng added 21 points in the loss. Chicago was able to outscore the Hawks in fast break points 18-8. If the continue to score points off of defense and hope against all hopes that Joe Johnson doesn’t have a repeat performance then they should be okay.

I picked the Bulls to win this series in 6 games and while I still think it can happen I’m giving Atlanta credit. Nobody gave Atlanta any run, myself included. I think this team is legit and if they win this series I wouldn’t be shocked at all.

The Mavericks hang on to beat the Lakers 96-94.

Kobe missed it by that much. The would-be game winning shot, had he made it, of course. The Lakers had a lead as big as 16 points and they lost it. I thought that when Dallas unraveled at the end of the first half that they were going to lose to the Lakers once again but they regrouped and it was L.A. at the end of the game with all the questions. The game came down to a back and forth between the two best closers in the game. Dirk Nowitzki would nail one shot and Kobe Bryant would answer. Kobe had a hell of a game. He scored 36 points on 14 of 29 shooting.

I thought that a big difference in this game was the presence of Tyson Chandler. He was able to rebound against the Laker bigs because he himself is a very big guy. Tyson had 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Chandler also affected a Kobe Bryant drive to the basket that resulted in a bad pass and a subsequent basket.

The fact of the matter is that coming down the stretch the Lakers failed to execute. Dallas is going to be a tougher out than the Hornets. New Orleans was too small to play with the Lakers however Dallas is not. The Mavs are not going to get killed on the glass like the Hornets were. They can hold their own in rebounding. At the end of the day Kobe had a chance to win it and missed but that’s not why the Lakers lost. Games are not won or lost in single moments but during consistent play over the course of the game. The Lakers had Dallas down 16 points to them in the third quarter. A championship team like the Lakers needed to close out this team and keep them from coming back. Instead they blow the lead and the game.

I’ve still got the Lakers in 6 games but I’m becoming less certain of that by the minute. I never can tell with the Lakers. They never play their best until they have to and they can’t do it forever. They’re going for ring number three but they are making the same mistakes as when they wer going for one.

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