Archive for April, 2011
Thursday, April 28th, 2011
Thursday April 28 2011 – 11:07am Eastern – Toronto, ON
Many folks in the media (and fans as well) get blasted for being too critical of professional athletes or holding them to a higher standard when it comes to off-court / off-field antics and transgressions … to personalities and attitudes.
The heap of criticism comes when an athlete is doing something positive for the community and that ‘story’ doesn’t get the same kind of attention as (for example) a DUI, speeding ticket or bar-room brawl.
Ron Artest has had multiple suspensions in the NBA (the biggest of all (73 regular season games + 13 playoff games) stemming from the Pistons-Pacers melee in Detroit in 2004). He used to drink cognac in the locker room at half time – during his first 2 seasons in Chicago. The fiery forward has also done time in jail (10 days in 2007) for domestic abuse.
He is not a choir boy. But he has tried to turn his life around since 2007.
Artest wasn’t a problem in Houston in 2008 – helping the Rockets advance to the 2nd round without Tracy McGrady. And Ron-Ron’s time in LA has been quiet and calm. In fact, 1 year ago … Artest announced that he would donate a portion or ALL of his 2011-12 salary to various charities that deal with mental health awareness and on April 26 2011 … Artest was awarded the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
“Ron has such a passion for the issue (of mental health), and has demonstrated such leadership he was a perfect choice for such a prestigious award,” said Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and president of the PBWA. “His work embodies the kind of dedication to important causes that NBA players have become known for.”
Artest appeared before U.S. Congress in support of the Mental Health in Schools Act and took part in a public service announcement with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. He also auctioned-off his 2010 NBA Championship ring … raising more than $650,000 for mental health awareness.
Previous winners of this award – which is named for the second commissioner of the league and honors an NBA player or coach for outstanding service and dedication to the community – include guys like Wes Unseld, Julius Erving, Alex English, Doc Rivers, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, David Robinson, Steve Nash, and many more.
Zach Randolph doesn’t have the hardware that Artest displays. His example of ‘change’ certainly isn’t as strong. There are no championship rings or citizenship awards on “Z-Bo’s” mantle … but everyone I’ve talked to in Memphis has said he’s been a total pro – on and off the floor – since being traded from the LA Clippers to the Grizzlies.
Statistically, it’s hard to argue with Randolph’s impact in the NBA and his respective teams. Whether it’s the Most Improved Player award his won with the Blazers in 2004, his All Star appearance last year with the Grizzlies (and he should have been an All Star this year as well), or the 5-straight seasons of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds (2nd only to Dwight Howard’s run of 7) … the 29-year-old is trying to let his game do the talk. He believes he has found a home in Memphis after bouncing around from Portland to New York to LA.
That said, “stats” don’t make up for the off-court transgressions.
As a youngster … Randolph spent 30 days in a juvenile detention centre for shoplifting. Then spent another 30 days in a juvenile detention centre for possession of stolen property (including a gun – which he sold).
He was sued for sexual assault in 2007 but no charges were brought and he has been arrested on at least 2 occasions for driving under the influence of marijuana.
Randolph has also been knocked for being the kind of player that doesn’t like to play defence … and as a guy that can be a problem for his coach and/or teammates.
However, again, we’ve heard none of that since is re-birth in Memphis.
“Since he’s been here, he’s trusted his teammates,” Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins said to The Commercial Appeal in Memphis earlier this month. “He had a reputation of not passing the ball, but he understands he can’t win every game by himself.”
Hollins continued … “He’s our MVP. Ever since he’s been here we’ve been a good team. Last year we didn’t have enough to get over the hump. We didn’t make it to .500, but we were pretty close … (and) … now we’re on the cusp of doing something special.”
Said Randolph to The Sporting News this month: “I’m a hard-working guy. A friendly man. A good teammate. And I love to play this game.”
Tuesday, April 26th, 2011
Tuesday April 26 2011 – 11:58pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
One series came to an end tonight …
One team fought off elimination …
And another team is trying to keep a pesky, spunky 7th seed at an arm’s length …
The NBA post-season has been outstanding to this point and while I await the 2nd half of the Lakers and Hornets (Game 5) … I thought I’d check in with some observation from around the Association:
Remember when Chris Paul couldn’t shoot the 3? He’s done a fabulous job at improving his range … year after year.
Jermaine O’Neal was the unsung hero of Boston’s 1st round sweep of the Knicks.
What in the world can / will the Magic do with Gilbert Arenas and the buckets of cash that are still owed to him?
Derrick Rose may be the MVP of the league, but I’ve talked to many in Chicago that will tell you that Luol Deng would win the ‘team’ hardware in the Windy City. He has been incredible for the Bulls this season.
If certain teams around the league don’t have a coach and/or GM when July 1st rolls around, what will they do if the lockout only last a few days or a few weeks (and not the few months that many are expecting)? Do you not risk falling behind the competition – for trades and free agents, etc – because you’re too busy trying to get together search committee for a coach an/or GM?
Carl Landry needs to be cloned. Every team needs a Carl Landry.
Bigger ‘names’ may be out there but it’ll be interesting to see if the Pacers stay the course with Frank Vogel – and the high he had Indy riding after replacing Jim O’Brien – or if Larry Bird will look elsewhere.
Paging Pau Gasol … Pau Gasol …
I really don’t care if Chris Bosh is married or not. Leave that to ET or TMZ. Let’s talk playoff basketball instead!
Kevin Durant: leave the backpack in the locker room next time. Thanks.
Shane Battier is a free agent this summer and I expect a long line up of suitors. He’s the kind of ‘vet’ that would fit in with a young team in need of a leader or an older team in need of guy who’ll play a role – even if it’s a reduced role.
What if Brandon Roy and Greg Oden were never plagued by injuries?
The best thing for Andy Rautins in New York (if he is to become a PG – like the Knicks want him to be): another year to learn under a mentor like Chauncey Billups.
Unless they were moving to Vancouver (which they’re not) … I don’t want to see the Kings leave Sacramento. Arco Arena is a favourite road stop for the fanatical fan-base and the old-school (albeit, outdated) feel of the building.
GM that deserves more publicity and credit than he gets: John Hammond in Milwaukee.
My gut tells me Cory Joseph should spend another year in the NCAA … but you can’t fault the youngster for declaring for the NBA Draft … because he’s handling things properly by not signing with an agent and, thus, maintaining his college eligibility. It’s the best of both worlds.
I couldn’t have said this better myself … Spurs forward Antonio McDyess on being down 3-1 to the Grizzlies: “We’re playing like a bunch of wussies.”
I’ll be back with more in this space on Wednesday and/or Thursday.
Enjoy the 2nd half of the Lakers and Hornets … and the NBA Playoffs overall!
Have a good one
Monday, April 25th, 2011
Monday April 25 2011 – 2:30pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
If you have heard me on the Raptors Radio broadcasts, the post-game show (“The Rap”), or any of the various talk shows I’ve hosted on the FAN over the last couple of years you’ll know that I regularly state that “winning cures all”.
I don’t believe that weather is a factor in how free agents determining if they’re going to come to Toronto or not.
I don’t believe that “Canada” – and being north of the 49th parallel – is a factor in free agents determine if they’re going to come to Toronto or not.
I don’t believe that the taxes in our country play a major role either (educated agents and athletes know the truth (or they should) about the realities of our tax-structure and how it can actually work to the players’ advantage – especially these days, with the strong Canadian dollar).
The biggest factor – for any city/organization – in luring top-notch, marquee free agents is: Winning.
Charlie Sheen may have made that word popular over the last few months but it existed long before his media-driven meltdown. Winning is what it’s all about.
Simply put … The Raptors haven’t won enough since 1995-96 to make Toronto a ‘destination market’ in the NBA. Five playoff appearances in franchise history won’t cut it. And one second-round appearance (a loss to Philly) is nothing to write home about either.
Toronto needs to win – and win often – for everything to come together both on and off the floor. This city may be a Top 5 market in terms of population in North America and it may be a Top 5 ‘favourite location to visit’ for many NBA’ers, but that’s off-court interest. On the court … winning cures all.
But Toronto – and the Raptors – aren’t alone in this scenario. Far from it.
While many (including me) like to use the LA Clippers are another strong example of a top market — in a warm, desirable climate — that can’t attract the top names and players from around the league, I’m going to go in a different direction …
How about the NY Knicks?
I grant you … in the last 10 months the Knicks have acquired 2 of the top 15 players in the NBA (Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony) … so they MAY be moving in the right direction. But look how long it has taken New York to get to this point:
- Prior to this season the Knicks had made the post-season once since their first-round series against the Raptors in 2000/2001.
- After finishing the 2000/2001 season with a 48-34 record and then losing to the Raptors (in 5 games) in the 1st round, the Knicks went on to have 9-straight seasons below .500 (7 of those 9 seasons finished with 33 or less wins).
- During that nasty 9-year run, New York qualified for the post-season once – against New Jersey in 2003/2004. They were swept by the Nets, 4-0.
- Following yesterday’s Game 4 loss (another sweep) to the Boston Celtics, the Knicks have not won a playoff game in nearly 10 years (April 29 2001 – Game 3 vs TOR) and they haven’t won a HOME playoff game in more than a decade! Their last post-season win at Madison Square Garden came on April 22 2001 … Game 1 vs TOR.
And during that 9-year, sub.500 funk — that included only 1 post-season appearance and 6 straight years out of the playoffs (2004 through to 2010) — which “big names” landed in New York?
The answer is … none.
Sure … guys like Vin Baker, Penny Hardaway, Dikembe Mutombo, Jalen Rose, Antonio McDyess, Stephon Marbury, Keith Van Horn, Jamal Crawford, Steve Francis, Quentin Richardson, Eddy Curry, and Zach Randolph were in the Big Apple between Fall 2001 and Spring 2010, but were any of them true ‘stars’ at the time? And we already know the answer to whether or not they actually made the Knicks any better.
The bright lights and the big city couldn’t attract the top tier talent because the Knicks weren’t winning. Yes, the organization was affected by a nasty, inflated payroll/cap as well … but with the big money of James Dolan and Cable Vision … New York shouldn’t be using a financial excuse for their woes. Simply put, they just weren’t that good and they weren’t a ‘destination’.
Even last summer – during the LeBron James sweepstakes – the Knicks lost out. Many believed LBJ was going to ignore NY’s lone playoff appearance since 2000-2001 and focus-in on the marketing and business potential of NYC. But in the end, James spurned the Knicks and went to Miami and New York was left with its fall-back option of Stoudemire.
To his credit, Stoudemire had a fantastic season in New York. However, the late-season addition of ‘Melo made no major difference … as the Knicks stumbled to a 42-40 record and, again, were swept by the Celtics in the 1st round.
Will things get better next year – with a full training camp (and maybe a different philosophy or coach)?
Probably. I wouldn’t bet against a 1-2 punch of Amare and Carmelo.
But the fact remains that the funk continues in New York. At this point, I’m sure the fans in NYC aren’t singing the praises of #7 and #1 … they want to win! Heck, they might even settle for one playoff win, period. And then build from there! Even the most ardent Knickerbocker fan, Spike Lee, Tweeted yesterday: “Where are Pat, Oak, Mason, LJ and Starks when you need ‘em?”
He referenced the glory years of the Knicks … with guys like Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, Larry Johnson, and John Starks, et al. Lee wants to win. Knicks’ fans want to win.
And so do Raptors’ fans.
Strangely, while this isn’t anything to get too jacked-up about, Toronto has witnessed more ‘success’ than New York since 2000/2001. Not only did the Raptors win that series 10 years ago, but they came within inches (on the Vince Carter corner jumper in Philly) of the Conference Finals as well. And though the team has had 3-straight sub-500 seasons, there were back-to-back playoff appearances in 2006/2007 (losing to NJ in 6) and 2007/2008 (losing to Orlando in 5).
So while the media hype from some of my U.S. brethren may tell you otherwise, is New York that much different than Toronto?
The taxes in New York City are worse.
The weather is very comparable.
And the intangibles like night life, food, culture, safety, cleanliness, are all a wash as well.
Both teams/cities have struggled for quite some time. Neither team has won a thing.
The Knicks have the edge on the Raptors because of history. They have won two championships. They’ve been to two Finals since their last championship in 1972/1973. They have pedigree via that “Knick” name. But lately, that’s about the only edge they have.
Because ultimately … for Toronto or New York … or LA or Boston; Memphis or Milwaukee:
Winning cures all.
Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Thursday April 21 2011 – 11:56am Eastern – Toronto, ON
The NBA Playoffs are in full-gear …
The Lakers bounced back after the Hornets stung them in Game 1.
Melo and Amare can’t seem to get on the same page on the same night and they’re down 0-2 to the Celtics.
The Thunder rolled over the Nuggets last night (up 2-0 now).
And the Pacers seem to be forgetting that games are 48 minutes long … not 42!
Those are just some of the storylines we’ve already seen in the post-season and we’ll get more tonight with three games on tap (IND-CHI, PHI-MIA, and DAL-POR).
To talk more about the playoffs and the local Raptors as well … I went to my 5300+ followers on Twitter and opened-up a Thursday morning Q and A.
Check it out:
@MMTheRook – When healthy, where does Chris Paul sit in PG ranking?
@Eric__Smith – At the top. And if he’s not AT the top, he and Deron Williams are 1A and 1B – in whatever order ya like
@TheNBAPlayoffs – Should Rose win the MVP? Statistically, he would be one of the worst & players like D12 & LBJ have the stats & are deserving
@Eric__Smith – We both know it’s not all about “stats”. Rose’s impact on CHI this year was huge. He’s the MVP. 25, 7.7 & 4.1 is outstanding too!
@MacLeod27 – Who are you hoping the Raptors select if they win the draft lottery? And what if they lose the lottery and move down?
@Eric__Smith – As of April 21, I think the #1 pick is Kyrie Irving. That could easily change. Others? D. Williams, K. Walker, B. Knight
@AlanSimpson – With such a weak draft, if the Raptors fell past third in the lottery, do you think they actively pursue moving the pick?
@Eric__Smith – Never say never, but I don’t think so. I think you can still get a good player – that can help your team – in the top 5
@dinonationblog – Your take on the positives and negatives an NBA Lockout will have on both Raptors and NBA in Canada as a whole?
@Eric__Smith – I don’t see any positives. Not just for Toronto – for all markets. Core fans will come back in most cities; casual fans could be lost
@freek_9 – Any rumblings regarding BC? What’s your take – is he coming back or not?
@Eric__Smith – Given that MLSE doesn’t even know, how would I? Joking – but serious. My gut says he will be back. But it’s not being handled properly
@DLounz – When will the Raptors finally move out of Toronto?
@Eric__Smith – I’m guessing you’re joking. If not, that’s just a foolish question. The team is going nowhere. But, the culture/vibe must change…no doubt
@Brent_Nault - Do you think Andrea Bargnani will be traded in the off-season?
@Eric__Smith – Might depend on who the GM is. Might depend on ‘what’ is offered. Anything is possible. If Kareem & Shaq can be dealt, anyone can!
@djxsremix - Why would Glen Silvestri want to blow everything up and start over…again?
@Eric__Smith – You’re preaching to the choir. But that is his / the Teachers prerogative. I just think they should make a decision – now – one way or the other
@_Lenito – How much of a black eye is MLSE’s reputation taking with their indecisiveness on BC? To me they look “in over their heads”
@Eric__Smith – Not sure they’re “in over their heads” but it certainly is indecisive. Strangely, it may not matter if/when they sell. It’s definitely an awkward ordeal
@DH_Alvarez- Am I the only one worried that the Raptors will use their #1 on (C) Enes Kanter? Nothing to do with Turkey/ Hedo…well, kinda.
@Eric__Smith – A LOT can change from APR 21 to JUN 23 but I’d be very surprised if that were the case
Thanks for all of the questions folks.
If you’re not on Twitter … join up. It’s free!
You can follow me at www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith
Don’t forget to tune in to the “HOOPS” show tonight at 7pm on Sportsnet Radio the Fan 590. Paul Jones and I will break down the NBA post-season and look back to Bryan Colangelo’s press conference earlier this week as well.
I’ll confirm our guest list very soon.
HOOPS … 7pm-8pm tonight.
Have a good one!
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
Tuesday April 19 2011 – 9:20am Eastern – Toronto, ON
You think things get bad in the NBA from time to time? Well, check out the release I just saw from Halifax of the PBL:
For Immediate Release April 19, 2011
HALIFAX RAINMEN EXIT PREMIER BASKETBALL LEAGUE
On Monday night, Halifax Rainmen joined the Saint John Mill Rats in exiting the Premier Basketball League (PBL), effective immediately.
The decision to withdraw from the league was made upon the Rochester RazorSharks being crowned as PBL champions over the Lawton Fort-Sill Cavalry. The Rochester RazorSharks are owned by Dr. Severko Hrywnak, who is also the owner of the PBL.
“After watching the final playoff series and analyzing the statistics, I have decided to withdraw the Halifax Rainmen from the Premier Basketball League,” said Halifax Rainmen President & CEO, Andre Levingston. “I am appalled by the officiating that took place during the playoffs, and am ashamed of the PBL’s operations this season. I want nothing but the best for our city, our fans, our sponsors, and our players, and I can say with confidence that the best is no longer found in the PBL.”
Mr. Levingston says that he does not and will not recognize the Rochester RazorSharks as this season’s champions, and that the Lawton Fort-Sill Cavalry are most deserving of the title.
Over the next few weeks, Mr. Levingston will continue to examine his 2011-12 league options, but is adamant that there will be professional basketball in the city of Halifax next season.
“We are very optimistic and excited about the options we are currently weighing,” he said. “Our organization will always remain committed to providing Halifax with the most professional sporting and entertainment experience minor league basketball has to offer.”
There’ll be more on this story for sure.
FYI … Former Raptors assistant coach, Mike Evans, is/was the coach of the Rainmen.
Monday, April 18th, 2011
Monday April 18 2011 – 3:26pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
The NBA just announced that Dwight Howard (ORL) has been selected as the 2010-11 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR.
Howard won the award by snagging 114 of a possible 120 first-place votes. He was the landslide winner over Kevin Garnett (BOS).
Tyson Chandler (DAL), Tony Allen (MEM), and Rajon Rondo (BOS) rounded out the top 5.
I did not have a vote for THIS award but if I had a ballot … it would have looked exatly the same … with Howard, Garnett, and Chandler going 1-2-3.
I’m sure many Raptor fans are still wondering what Chandler would have looked like in Toronto this season … had that deal (from last summer) gone through last summer … with Reggie Evans and Jose Calderon nearly landing in Charlotte for Boris Diaw and Chandler.
As I wrote last night, I voted for 3 separate awards: Coach of the Year, Sixth Man, and Rookie of the Year.
My ballots looked like this:
Coach of the Year: 1. Tom Thibodeau 2. Lionel Hollins 3. George Karl
6th Man: 1. Lamar Odom 2. Jason Terry 3. Thaddeus Young
Rookie of the Year: 1. Blake Griffin 2. John Wall 3. DeMarcus Cousins
If I had a ballot for the remaining awards (Most Improved and MVP) … here’s who would have made my cut …
1. Derrick Rose (CHI)
2. LeBron James (MIA)
3. Dwight Howard (ORL)
4. Kobe Bryant (LAL)
5. Kevin Durant (OKC)
NOTE: Regarding my #4 and #5 picks (the MVP ballot has 5 slots by the way — unlike every other award) … don’t become ‘bored by greatness. Both were at the top of the conversation last year and had similar if not BETTER seasons this year … so Bryant and Durant deserve to be in that conversation.
1. Kevin Love (MIN)
2. LaMarcus Aldridge (POR)
3. Derrick Rose (CHI)
Thanks folks. Have a good one
Monday, April 18th, 2011
Monday April 18 2011 – 10:15am Eastern – Toronto, ON
Direct quotes and paraphrasing from Bryan Colangelo … by E. Smith
“There’s a lot to digest …”
“De-railed … Some of it by injuries … Some of it by a lack of talent, generally….”
“Good things happening” with young players”
Young players are now developed (more) after having a chance to cut their teeth…”
The young guys “enjoy playing togetjher and enjoy playing in Toronto…”
Season seat renewals and new season seat purchases are both up (at this time) over what they were last year and the year before …and he doesn’t believe it’s just because of the price decrease the Raptors announced a while back
Highlighting the good young pieces: (1) DeRozan. Had an incredible year in scoring and has a very bright future. Must improve his D and 3pt shooting. (2) Davis. After a slow start he has tuned into a guy that could/should be a double-double machine going forward in his career.
Colangelo thanked and noted his scouting department and management team for the last 2 drafts and the selections of DD and Davis
BC noted Bayless’ production as well – especially as a starter – and singled out Amir Johnson too … and the fact that he lived up to the contract that many were critical of last summer (when he re-signed). Colangelo also announced that Johnson will visit some foot and ankle specialists in the U.S. very soon
James Johnson – according
The enigma of all enigmas – to many of you – is Andrea … (But) … He’s proven to be a legitimate 20-point scorer in this league.”
He “clearly” has not improved his defence and play around the rim to the extent we’d like
Reggie Evans deserves an incredible amount of credit for what he was able to accomplish
Leandro Barbosa has seen specialists for his wrist but will not require surgery. Specialists are calling it non-operative … which is good news according to BC
“Andrea is not a good help-side / weak-side defender” … Thus, he notes, getting a legit 5 (center) to play alongside him or to bring some defence and rebounding to the front court would be a thought for ‘needs’ for the draft. Colangelo noted the 3-spot could be a thought as well … though J. Johnson showed some positive signs down the stretch. Overall team defence and 3-point shooting needs to improve too.
“Until I’m told otherwise” … He’s going to do the best he can for this team. “It’s business as usual”.
“I hope I’m back. I want to be back. I’m committed to Toronto and the country of Canada”
“Until my situation is resolved, I’m sure Jay’s (Triano) will remain unresolved.”
“Clearly he did everything we asked him to do this year. He stuck to that plan” … even if his reputation or record took a hit. Colangelo gave him a ton of credit for sticking to that plan and noted that the players have a true, genuine like and respect for Triano.
“If I’m not here, he deserves consideration as as a head coach.”
RE: Bargnani: What I do know we have is a considerable asset for this organization” … he’s in a difficult spot given that he’s “mis-cast” as the 5 on this team based on the personnel.
“I don’t know that he’s ever going to be a better defender … But can he be a better rebounder? Absolutely!”
Notes that Bargs doesn’t work on his rebounding as much as / like he should.
“He’s a match-up nightmare” for opposing teams and “I guarantee you he’s a focale point” of the game plan / scouting report from opposing teams.”
RE: Bargnani and potential trades overall – “I’m not afraid to admit when something doesn’t work”
He believes he’s proven in his career that he’s not shy about making moves
He calls the idea that he won’t move Bargnani ’cause AB was a #1 pick – utter “nonsense” – and he’ll dowhatever it takes to make this team/organization better
$9.026 million left on the Bosh trade exception
Said it’s “unlikely” that will be used NOW cause it could cut into the cap flexibility going forward. But never say never
RE: the uncertainty of his job and how if affects the young core and the team overall going forward … “There’s not a lot I can say” … he says he’s told the players what he expects going forward “IF (he’s) back.”
“It’s a business. I’m okay with it. I’ve chosen this life.”
He continued … that if he’s not back, he’ll “walk out of here with his head held high.”
Looking back at his time in Toronto he admits that this team may have had too much success too early in his tenure
“I’ll take my share of the blame” for doing some things to surround Chris Bosh with more, that didn’t work.”
RE: whether he thinks he deserves a new contract or not. “On a win-loss record, no” … But being a strong person in the community and being passionate about what he does should count. There’s more to it than just W-L record. In 16 years in the business he’s over .500 and knows the business inside and out. “I would say though, continuity in this business is pretty important.”
“Can I get better? Sure.”
Sunday, April 17th, 2011
Sunday April 17 2011 – 11:57pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
For each of the last 6 years I have had the honour of voting for various NBA post-season awards. From the MVP to the Rookie of the Year – and everything in between – I’ve cast a ballot for each piece of hardware at some point in time.
This year, the folks at the NBA asked me to help decide on the winners of these awards:
Coach of the Year
6th Man of the Year
Rookie of the Year
I’ll now share with you who I voted for …
1. Tom Thibodeau (Chicago Bulls)
2. Lionel Hollins (Memphis Grizzlies)
3. George Karl (Denver Nuggets)
Note: I was really trying to find a way to get Doug Collins (PHI) and/or Monty Williams (N.O.) on that list. But you can’t deny what Thibodeau has done in Chicago – as a rookie coach – and NOBODY can say they honestly expected Hollins (with the NBA’s 3rd-youngest roster) to be in the post-season … or for Karl and the Nuggets to be DRAMATICALLY better AFTER the Carmelo Anthony trade.
1. Lamar Odom (LA Lakers)
2. Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks)
3. Thaddeus Young (Philadelphia 76ers)
NOTE: There was brief consideration given to Glen Davis (BOS) but he would have been 3rd on the list anyway. Odom could’ve easily been an All Star this season and Terry helped keep the Mavs afloat (a) when Dallas got off to a rough start and (b) when Dirk Nowitzki missed a chunk of time from Rick Carlisle’s line up.
1. Blake Griffin (LA Clippers)
2. John Wall (Washington Wizards)
3. DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
NOTE: This should be a unanimous vote. Wall and Cousins were good but nobody other than Griffin deserves the #1 slot. He was an animal for LA this season. The only possible knock on his rookie run is the ‘case’ that Charles Barkley talks about — the fact that Griffin had a chance to sit and watch last year (when he was injured in what would have been his rookie season). Barkley believes that ‘learning experience’ (both on and off the floor) makes a difference for a young player’s growth, thus, Griffin should not have been considered a ‘rookie’ this season. Anyway, he’s the landslide winner. If the ballot had 5 slots instead of 3 (like the MVP sheet does) I would have had to pick between Greg Monroe (DET), Ed Davis (TOR), and Landry Fields (NYK).
Your thoughts are always welcome below.
Thanks folks … have a good one!
Friday, April 15th, 2011
Friday April 15 2011 – 11:50pm Eastern – Toronto, ON
We’re just over 12 hours away from the tip-off of the first game of the 2011 NBA Playoffs and I figured it was time to check in with some quick thoughts on each series and some fearless predictions as well.
Feel free to leave YOUR thoughts in the COMMENTS section below as well.
Chicago Bulls (1) vs Indiana Pacers (8)
The Bulls are easily the superior team and I expect them to sweep the Pacers. But this will be good playoff experience for Indy — for their young head coach as well. This could be the beginning of a long post-season run for Chicago. NOTE: Bulls won the season series 3-1
Miami Heat (2) vs Philadelphia 76ers (7)
If the Sixers were 100% healthy I’d give them a little more love … but as well as Doug Collins’ team played all season (especially after their 3-13 start), I just don’t see them making enough noise against Miami. The Heat will turn it on and get plenty of love from the officials too. Miami in 5. NOTE: Heat won the season series 3-0
Boston Celtics (3) vs New York Knicks (6)
Like everyone else, I believe that the Celts are missing Kendrick Perkins … big-time. Their size (or lack there of) up front can be an issue. However, I’ll take my chances with Kevin Garnett pestering Amare Stoudemire and the Paul Pierce/Carmelo Anthony battle should be fun. This may be the best first round series in either conference. I’m going with the Celtics in 7. NOTE: Boston won the season series 4-0
Orlando Magic (4) vs Atlanta Hawks (5)
The Hawks are good but they’re a team that is not quite ready for prime time (again). They’re built for the regular season. Orlando has a lot of weapons and one of the biggest threats off all … in Dwight Howard. His presence in the middle should thwart a lot of the Hawks athleticism around the rim. Magic in 6. NOTE: Atlanta won the season series 3-1
San Antonio Spurs (1) vs Memphis Grizzlies (8)
The Grizz are young and hungry. They don’t know any better … ’cause they haven’t been on this level. But while a lot of folks are calling for this to be the best chance for an upset … I don’t see it happening. Experience will prevail. San Antonio has too much depth and post-season credentials to drop this series. Spurs in 5. NOTE: The season series was tied 2-2
LA Lakers (2) vs New Orleans Hornets (7)
The Lake Show had its issues (at times) down the stretch but the post-season is a different animal. The 2-time champs may be right where they want to be: with folks doubting their ability to go on another run for a ring. Andrew Bynum says his knee is fine and David West is a HUGE absence for New Orleans. Lakers in 5. NOTE: LA won the season series 4-0
Dallas Mavericks (3) vs Portland TrailBlazers (6)
Had the Blazers not gone out and grabbed Gerald Wallace by the trade deadline, I’d be leaning heavily on the Mavs. But with Wallace’s D and overall game in the mix and LaMarcus Aldridge not slowing down … THIS is the series where an upset could be brewing. That said, if this goes the full seven games (which I’m expecting) … Dallas will be on their home floor and I’m not betting against that – especially with Dirk Nowitzki. And I’m interested in seeing how Tyson Chandler handles the big stage for the 4th straight year. Mavs in 7. NOTE: The season series was tied 2-2
Oklahoma Ciy Thunder (4) vs Denver Nuggets (5)
If Boston vs New York isn’t THE series to watch … this one could be. Oklahoma City continues to improve and after scaring (but then losing to) the Lakers last year, they appear ready to take that next step. They’re built for the playoffs now too – shoring up their size and D with the addition of Perkins. Denver played VERY well after the ‘Melo deal but I just don’t see the Nuggets stopping the Thunder roll. OKC in 6. NOTE: The Thunder won the season series 3-1
Enjoy the playoffs!
Have a good one