NBA All Day. NBA All Day. NBA All Day.

Basketball at it's Finest. Also, other stuff. Sometimes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yo, Kobe'. &^$%# Just Got Real.

Pau delivers in the clutch. And in a scarf.
Ah, the NBA is on an' poppin'; teams are past the "getting in gear" phase (except the Magic, they got another 2 week window to get it together). Remember the DEFCON-1 when Miami stumbled out the gate, the "I think LBJ and Wade are beefing!" rumbles and the "Spoelestra is GONE!" muttering? Yeeeeeah, about that. And how about LA bullyfooting out the gate, rolling to 8-0, then 14-2, while Pau displayed the full tool chest he has at his disposal, Shannon Brown unleashed his devastating long-range game and came out scorching,  and Kobe' played the facilitator, when the "LA is so good they're bored" talk had LA fans foaming at the mouth? To paraphrase that ol' Jay-Z song "it was all good just a week (ok, about 3 weeks) ago..." LA fan But LA is approaching the crucible of it's season; starting with the Bucks playing custodian by mopping the floor with a LA in front of a disgusted Staples Center crowd, and followed by a 16 point shellacking on a national by the resurgent Heat, the schedule ratchets up the opposition level; before LA lost to the Bucks, a wearing down Pau Gasol said, "You have to start tightening things up. You want to see some progress."  At the time they were 21-7, giving the "all-business" sound bites as the fervor built for the Christmas showdown with Miami. Since then... 0-2, their 5th loss to a sub-.500 team (last year around this time they were 21-4;  they hadn't lost their 1st game to a team with a losing record until their 35th game. And while 21-9 is perfectly respectable, watching LA from the 1st week and a half compared to the disjointed performances from the last 2 losses is like night and day. Now, this isn't me crowing about the Fall of the Lakers; if Boston taught us anything with their Rope-A-Dope performance last year, it's that to veteran, established teams, the regular season is less about W's and more about fine-tuning rotations and maintaining health (which is why even I, a Laker-hater, feel bad for Pau Gasol; almost 40 minutes a game for a not-particularly-athletic 30 year old big is tough). But even the most pro Pro-Lakers apologists like the writers at Silver Screen And Roll have to admit that, with opponents winning a paltry 41ish% of their games (that's like a 12-17 record, gross). It all averages out, though, with the 2nd half of January sees LA battling foes with a projected 65% win percentage, and from there on out the opposition projects at +.536. LA IS still the team to beat, no doubt; their resume' earns them that much. Artest has got to do SOMETHING on offense, and Pau has to return to his November (12 g, 20 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 54% from the floor), and Bynum needs to move from "potential" to "bonafide" if LA is going to duplicate the success of the past 2 years. On deck- Tuesday San Antonio Express rolls into town. Good luck with that...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday's Twitter Stuff: Bloggers Blogging Bloggers

  OK, something new. I get all kinds of good stuff all day on twitter, so why not grab a few and save 'em for posterity? Follow me on Twitter at james2477911.

Scott Schroeder, on Ricky Davis Being Ricky Davis (with Mike James getting in the act) over in the Far East. Marcus Williams, c'mon DOWN.
 " Random NBA stat of the day: J.R. "We Just Saw a Man Fly" Smith has played 548 minutes this  season and has yet to block a shot. Not one."
Damn. one of THE most athletic cats in the league and ZERO blocks?? Ballard let's us know that even Luke Ridnour has 5 this season. That's a damn shame.
  • The good fellows at Hardwood Paroxysm tweeted what we all know; it's time to go to the extreme in Charlotte (NBA Point Forward). Last year was squeezing the max out of minimal talent. That 33 point loss to the Wiz was a disgrace. At the very least, Gerald Wallace deserves better. You can't be nicknamed "Crash" and play for such a crappy team.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gilbert Arenas: Sidekick, Actually

Gilbert Arenas
We can all agree that Gilbert Arenas' new start is necessary; we wonder exactly what kind of production we can expect going forward from the 28 year old guard. I mean, in his heyday, Gil was giving you 28.4 a night; the percentages were never great (42% with 35% from 3. Yikes.), but MAN, when it counted he got buckets, right? This season his 17 ppg on 39.4% shooting, with an abysmal 32.4% from deep looks sobering for Dwight n' Co. BUT...let's look at the games he's played as Numero dos, with John Wall running the show. It's a small sample size, only 11 games, and if you throw out the 2 absolute stinkers, a 2-14 bomb vs Charlotte and a 1-10 clunker at Toronto, as "just bad nights", Agent 1 looks decidedly better when he's riding shotgun; the other 9 games playing Robin to Wall's Batman he was at 18 ppg, 42% overall, but 44% FROM 3.  Playing with a much better assortment of talent around him, Gil's minutes may drop, but his efficiency should, I say SHOULD, be at an all time high for him. Not worth friggin' 22 MIL a year, but given the situation, I guess Otis Smith is making the best of it. At least Gil has a pulse, he'll affect the game somehow; there are stretches where you're not even sure Rashard Lewis was in the bulding, and if a 6'11" dude can make himself invisible doing what he's grossly overpaid to do, then something's gotta give.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

When The Smoke Clears...Magic Make Things Appear.

So there I was, it's 11 AM on a Saturday, I'm gettin' my head kicked in by a Statistics final, and my phone goes nuts. Texts. 3 missed calls. Twitter alerts. After I turned my test in, dried my tears of failure, it was time to see what the fuss was abo...DAMN! So Orlando is trying to do what the Cavs and the Raps couldn't do and and now the Nuggets and Hornets are trying so desperately to do: keep the Franchise content with his lot in the NBA landscape. Dwight Howard's locked in until 2012, and best believe, as jokey and "aw shucks" as he seems, he's got a shark's eye on the moves of the Heat, and the Bulls, and the moves that CP3 and 'Melo make. It's a business, the leagues Last Dominant Big wants to win. the Magic have been Mavs East (regular season juggernauts who look lost when they get ousted in the playoffs), so Orlando rolled the dice: Said "our bad",bringing back Turk, along with athletic streak scorer Jason Richardson and enigma Earl Clark, while shipping out the gutless VC, Martin Gortat, and Michael "Peaches" Pietrus. Almost simultaneously, they admitted that 'Shard Lewis fooled 'em into giving him that utterly ridiculous 119 million dollar (goddamn) contract and swapped him Gilbert Arenas, AKA 2010's fontrunner in the "Mike Vick Comeback Award". For some reason the rumbles seem to be that 1) Orlando panicked, that 2) replacing VC with Arenas/Richardson is a somehow a downgrade, and that 3) Turkoglu being brought back is pointless. Well, let's see...
1) Define "panic". Is it panic because, while the Magic looked unstoppable at times last season, especially in the 1st 2 rounds of the playoffs, the front office realized that the throttling they recieved by the Lakers 2 years ago and the thrashing the Celts laid on them in the '10 would continue if the Magic didn't make some significant moves? This team isn't the Blazers or the Thunder, being built painstakingly and lovingly via draft and shrewd midlevel free agents; the "let's be patient and let it marinate" tact won't fly, D. Howard's clock is ticking. Panic or not, this is what a GM is SUPPOSED to do; see your teams weaknesses and try to improve on them.

2) Richardson is a MUCH better defender than VC, and J-Rich in last year's playoffs was SPECTACULAR, providing timely scoring and clutch play. Arenas? For all the baggage; the bad knees, the bonehead gunplay, the silly "faked injuries", Arenas still has to be feared by the opposition for his scoring and his fearlessness in the clutch. Sure, the shooting percentages don't look good, but how quickly we forget the insanely clutch play Arenas showed just 3 years ago, when he was turning his back and celebrating while the ball was still in-flight on a last second shot he put up. Plus take into account that Gilbert was handed the keys to 2 of the most dysfunctional franchies out there, G-State and Washington. A team with strong leadership in Van Gundy  and an exceptionally bigger star like Orlando should bring out the best in Gil while keeping his insanity in check. Give me Arenas/J-Rich over Carter any day, hands down.

3) Championships aren't won by stars, they're won by stars driving the engine built on role players. Turk in Orlando was a unique thing. he was a role player who carried himself like a star, but THE STAR WAS COOL WITH THAT. Why they let him leave is baffling to me, and it's cool to see Otis Smith pretty much shrug and say,"my bad, lemme get that back and try again." He was good when he had 2 things; the ball in his hands and someone to pass to. He was bad when he was expected to do "little things" and be a catch-and-shooter. This is a win-win; he comes back to the situation that made him look so good, and Orlando get the ONE thing that really made them devastating; the 6-10 guard who can create a matchup nightmare for anyone. And Lewis? Lewis was like paying Lambo money and having it show up with a Camry engine: Camry's are ok, but Lambo money should NEVER be spent on one. At least he should bring some professionalism and shooting to the Wiz, alleviating the Arena/Wall overlap, and shoot ALOT of 3s.

Honestly, the thing that may hurt the Magic in the short-term is the absence of Gortat and "Peaches", leaving the bench pretty dang thin. Somehow Gortat got labeled as a "starter" talent which is foolish, but the guy was quality in his short stretches. Same with Peaches; he might never be the player HE thinks he is, but his shooting, D, and athleticism will be missed, at least by Chuck Wagon. I dug watching the Polish Hammer and Air France when they'd dominate lesser second units, or when they were plugged in with Howard and Nelson and were part of a ridiculous 23-4 scoring run.
Memo to the Heat and the Bulls; Orlando may have been stumbling, and they haven't been a "story" all year. They realized that they were juuuust a cut below the Celts and Lakers,  while the Bulls, Spurs, and Heat are all bristling with talent, so they made a huge gamble. At the very least the Magic now are a team to watch as they try to integrate new variables into the always elusive "team chemistry" while attempting to slug it out with the NBA big boys, and at most they've thrown their hats into the ring with the rest of the contenders. Can't wait to see Nelson running with Agent Zero on one wing and J-Rich on the other with Howard rumbling down the middle behind them. Your turn, N'awlins!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Menage A Trade: T. Will, Old Smith, Sasha Vu Switch It Up: Melo-Drama

Three players. One goal. We know the Nets want Carmelo, like an insecure young woman trying to woo the guy who's sweating her better looking older sister. So this isn't about the "Established Coach X vs Promising Young Player Y" duel playing out yet again, (I hate when an in-all-other-ways reasonable coach gets a wild hair up his, y'know what, and ends up with some personal vendetta against a talented young player, then tries to "break" them, i.e. D'antoni vs Nate Robinson . From 18 ppg to benched when the new coach comes in? That's beef...). Terrence Williams is, by all accounts, a very, very good young basketball player who needs an alarm clock and rubbed The Lil General the wrong way. So the Rockets get ANOTHER exciting, hardworking perimeter player (yawn), Sasha Vujacic is kicked off the coattails of Kobe' and Co., and the bones of Joe Smith are forced to shuffle out of the duct on NJ's bench and actually may see court time for the Lakers. PLUS, the Nets have like 487 1st round picks over the next coupla years.

Now in Denver.

Even though fake-named Lionel Bienvenu and his 7News team insist otherwise, the Favors/Murphy/2 1st rounders-for-Melo deal is far from done. My question: Why would Melo sign an extension in Jersey? Is Brook Lopez an upgrade from Nene? Is Devin Harris THAT much of an upgrade from Chauncy (well, yeah, he is). Adding Melo, subtracting Derrick Favors and his potential, and the roster in Denver is more talented than Jersey's would be, right? Ah well, at least Houston's pick might be worth something next year if Chairman Yao's feet keep exploding....

Demar DeRozan: Baptizer of Fools

DeMar DeRozan:" 'Sup, Double T."
Tyrus Thomas: " S'happenin', DeMar."
DD: "Chillin' man. Lemme get by?"
TT:"Can't do that, homie."
DD:"I'm goin' in."
TT:"Dang. I see bright light...."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday: Quick Hitters

OK, this is just ridiculous.
*So, who is Charles Pierce? He wrote this review of Bill Simmons, AKA ESPN's Sports Guy's book. Simmons is a big boy, right? Wrong; he tries to big time CP. Silly stuff for national writers, but it's comedy.

Wait. What part of practice is THIS?
*Oh, LeBron, it's NEVER your fault; now Wade is the worst finisher in the L? LBJ's mom Mrs James respectfully disagrees, Delonte hangs his head in shame.

D Rose makes Pointguard-coladas.

*Donald Sterling. Clippers owner. Racist. Cheapskate. Slumlord. Heckling his OWN players? David Stern, fix this. Shout out to Trey Kerby at thebasketballjones blog.

*Silly Tyreke Evans; you can't wear skates and play basketball! Derrick Rose puts Evans in the blender.

*Anybody need a shooter? The 76ers might as well post Jason Kapono on Craigslist.

Monday, December 13, 2010

James Harden: Demolition Man. Harden harkens back to a time when men with beards did fantastic things.

Blake Griffin is an Engine of Destruction

See, what had HAPPENED was....

What?!?! October 27th was the LAST post?! It's not my fault, coach. I'll fill y'all in on the tale of bullets, mistaken identity, and shift Colombians with big guns that had me MIA later, let's just say that whoever the real Justin Nellerton is, he should thank me for dealing with the Lionaza family for him. Can't believe it's been that long; since then we've got excessive successes, suprise flops (*ahem*Miami*cough*), and as always, some dope basketball. Quick hitters:


OK. Um. My bad. Wait...what? So I figures if you take 3 of the top 5 or 6 STATISTICAL players from last year, add 2 really good spot-up shooters, throw in the janitor (or hell, even me), you'd see an offensive explosion, Shock and Awe in South Beach. WRONG. WRONG.They've "righted the ship" recently, winning 8 in a row, but damn. 9-8? It was like if someone had used a time machine, uniting 80s Michael Jackson, vintage James Brown, and Luther Vandross, and they come out singing "Rumpshaker" and "Stanky Leg".


OK, out the gate, the Fakers Lakers, the Hornets (huh?), the Celtics, and the Spurs killed. A quarter of the season passed; LA has stumbled a little, with a 4-game swoon, some uninspired play, and they are KILLING Pau Gasol (some call NBA bigs work horses; then somebody needs to call the ASPCA, cuz Phil Jackson heaping 40 minutes a night on his 30 year old back is downright cruel), the Hornets are looking like the Washington Generals in this piece (6 field goals in the 1st half last night. Against a pathetic Philly team. CP3 is gonna look GOOD in Knicks blue-n-orange), but the Spurs and Celts, both anchored by PFs who played for James Naismith (I'm playin', but KG and Duncan are OLD), are both just chuggin; along, gobbling up wins. The Celts (KG, Ray Ray, Pierce, and Shaq average out to 35 years old) defensive execution, led by a '02 Kevin Garnett, is a nightmare for all comers, and the Spurs' (Duncan, Ginobili, and TP average almost 32 years old) new-found offensive juggernaut is being driven by Manu and "Text Pimp" Tony Parker, letting Duncan take his Centrum Silver in peace (yeah, it's a career low 14 and 9 a game, but the minutes are nice and low, he's gearing up for the play-offs).


Blake. Griffin. Highlights don't do him justice. For a 21 year old about 20 games into his 1st season, to be considered Must See TV is incredible. I've watch John Wall, and dude is extra nice, no doubt. BLAKE is on another level; he already has a season's worth of highlights, and he has the um, admiration of vets such as Ron Artest (pause...) and Amare Stoudemire. Once the Clips slip the shackles of Baron "Fat Boy" Davis' crappy contract and get a real coach, they will beast with Griffin (20 ppg(!), 11.7 rpg(!!)), and Eric Gordon (24 ppg, 4.6 apg) leading the charge. DeMarcus Cousins put the "revolt" in "Youth In Revolt"; the whispers about his attitude have become a dull roar in Sac Town, and he's already been kicked out of a practice because of his behavior, but his game is obviously tight. The question "Why did Philly draft &$%# Evan Turner?!" is a valid one; dude can barely crack the rotation, and as a #2 overall pick on a turrrrible team, that's NOT a positive sign.

Alot more to cover: The Rise of Westbrook, the Flight of Amare', The Young Team Conundrum, but Rome wasn't built in a day, and YTNITC won't be rebuilt in one session...but once I finish puttying over these bullet holes in my kitchen I'll work this blog back to respectability. Shout out to Zach Harper at; his work kept me in the loop while I was evading Cartel goons and setting up contract killers in desert ambushes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day Zero: What We Learned

Don't Do it. Don't look at Boston's 88-80 stifling of the Heat and start the hand-wringing and sneering about how MIAMI SUCKS or I KNEW THEY WOULD BE HORRIBLE. Just stop. Along with the harsh glare of opening night shining on the Heat, here's what we learned:

*Miami has a ways to go; ESPN construction of a dedicated news team JUST for the Heat and people like Jeff Van Gundy smoking a bowl and then declaring them 72 game winners put alot of pressure on 'em, and last night we saw that, simply put, they're not ready. BUT-

- To open with the Celts was one of THE worst scenarios for MIA. THe Celts are the epitome of supreme defensive squad , their suffocating defense ranking 1st, 2nd, and 5th  in John Hollinger's Defensive Efficiency in the last 3 years. (The 5th place finish last year is misleading; Garnett, Rasheed n' Co. sandbagged the regular season and stepped up at the end, cumulating in the throttling of the Magic and Cavs in last years playoffs, then giving the Lakers ALL they could handle in the Finals). Boston's disciplined rotations, paint-clogging bigs and swift close-outs on the perimeter were too much for the still-developing Heat squad.

- Mike Miller is going to be a HUGE part of the Heat offensive attack; his sharpshooting, passing, and rebounding (no, really) are expected to lead that 2nd unit and boost the Miami Thrice. Right now, he's a spectator due to a cracked thumb.

- 3 minutes does not a preseason make. This was basically Dwyane Wade's 1st on-court action since the Celts bounced him from the playoffs, and it showed. He seems out of rhythm and lacked that Burst,  going for a weak 13 pts on 25% shooting. Give Wade a week and a half of court time before we proclaim the LBJ/Flash experiment a failure.

- 1 game does not a legacy make. Bosh had a crap game with 8 and 8. It's one game. He's a 25 and 10 guy. I got faith he'll make up for this clunker.

What else did we learn Opening Night?
- Lakers are even BETTER than last year. Just typing that makes me wanna sit in a dark room with a bottle of brandy and a cigarette. Shannon Brown might have made the biggest sacrifice of any player this off-season, passing up bigger money and minutes to play his position in LA. If he shoots even close to the way he did last night, he's going to be a problem for the rest of the L. Matt Barnes looks like he was made for this squad. All the Steve Blake nay-sayers? Shhhhhhh. It's amazing how playing with quality teammates brings the best out of even those considered "mediocre".
-Pau Gasol is the best center in the league right now. He's toughened up, he boards, he can shoot, and he's got a full toolbag of post moves. I hate him.  His 29/11 and 2 blocks somehow wasn't the headline, but it should have been.
- Speaking of centers; if you KNOW Yao is only playing 24 minutes, shouldn't the coaching staff down in Houston wouldn't force the issue a little, get the team to STOP SHOOTING JUMPERS while Yao's out there??

Phoenix is in big trouble, and Portland is gonna be good. As much as I think we'll see Amar'e struggle without Nash, the Suns now have a gaping 25 ppg hole in the middle. Nash may still have" It", but if you got no one to pass it to, you end up with 26 points (good...), 6 asts (eh..), and 9 TOs (What the..?!?). Hedo Turkoglu's Karma is kicking him in the crotch; I bet he cries into the obscene amount of money he stole from Toronto every night, thinking about throwing lobs to Dwight Howard.
Nicolas Batum  = Bruce Bown 3.0?

That's enough of what I learned...what else stood out on Opening Night?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reality Check: This WILL Happen

"They are SO mean on Twitter."
 Right now, as a wanna-be blogger, I'm slackin'. I post less than Chris Bosh does. I produce less than Vince Carter in Crunch-Time. I put up less numbers than Michael Redd's kneecaps. I got all kinds of issues, My ISSUES got issues, and I'm not updating what is SUPPOSED to be the dopest blog in the land enough, but it's cool, because it's STILL the dopest blog in the land. The season starts in less than 48 hours.  Skip Bayless, Bill Simmons, John Hollinger,  and especially Zach "Bacon" Harper at, they all pontificate, subjugate, evaluate, palpitate and insinuate their season previews. I'm gonna tell you what exactly is gonna happen this season. As I type, I'm watching Ahmad Rashad try to slurp Kobe, telling him he doesn't "need" the same motivation MJ needed; the same guy who woulda spent millions to pay for the medical situation that  would have allowed him to take Michael Jordan's child into his man-made womb if MJ woulda lrt him, is now tryna put Kobe into the conversation with Mike. Ms. Cleo has temporarily given me the gift of sight (Ms Cleo and the fact that I know what the &%#@& I'm watching), so I'm gonna bless you, the NBA reader. As an NBA fan, I hold these truths to be self evident...

1. One of the 3 following teams will win the 2011 championship: Miami Triple Threat, LA Lakers, or the    
Boston Celtics. I'd bet anyone, any time, any where.

2.The Miami Heat might not win the champiuonship, but they will DESTROY alot of teams, win a butt-ton of games, and are gonna have nights where we wonder if they'll ever lose. The vitriol and venom is aimed at the Heat. The message board fake-gangstas are trashing the Heat, saying that they're overrated, they don't have the talent to support the hype. Be real. LeBron screwed over a city (and by Electricity, a whole state), but statistically he can't be touched. the foolish babble about Durant being the "best player" is pure media-driven hogwash. Best scorer? Durant, hands down. Best player to build around? I'll take LeBron's 29.7 pts, 8.6 asts (DUDE IS 6'8". 270 LBS!!!!!) and 7.6 boards over Durant's 30.1 ppg, 2.7 asts, and 7.6 boards ANY DAY. Look  at those assists numbers again.  And damn, Dwyane Wade, who's been missing through the whole "what's wrong with the Heat???" preseason, put up 26.6 points, almost 5 boards, and, most importantly, 6.5 DIMES A GAME last year. That's over 15 dimes a game between those Heat's two primary ballhandlers. Why are some fools claiming that the 2 stars can't co-exist, as if  they have some kind of selfishness syndrome?  And somehow, Bosh got stuck this label of being some kind of lame, just along for the ride with these 2 superstars. 24/11/2.4 steals and a block. Bad team or not, those are elite numbers. In the preseason games I watched, Bosh shut that talk down. His jumper was wet, he drove to hole with authority, he used crafty shimmies and fakes on the low box...Bosh is doing exactly what he did in Toronto, with alot more room to fry his opposite number. We are going to witness history.

24 min 5 sec. Yao shuts it down.
3. Yao Ming will play well but get hurt at some time and miss significant time. It's all well and good to try to limit Yao's minutes protect him, but we ALL know the old adage: if you're out on the court worried about getting injured,sooner or later (probably sooner than later), you WILL get injured. No real baller can thrive on such a rigid minute farce. If you had a sleek top-of-the-line SUV with a known bad axle or a faulty transmission, would you be scared, driving it only to the store 6 miles away at 8 miles and hour, no more, no less? Or would you go out and get a less awesome but more dependable vehicle? It's getting to that point with Yao. The Rockets will be exciting to watch, may make a surprisingly deep playoff run, but the absence of Yao will sink 'em in the playoffs, Ground Hog Day-style...Kevin Martin will score in bunches, Aaron Brooks will cook and look unstoppable at times, and Budinger's a legit NBA threat, but where's that ROCK for that squad, the dude to get tough buckets down the stretch when there's 3:13 seconds left and they're down 7?

NOT the recommended box-out.
4. Orlando has a motivated D. Howard (you're a multi-millionaire with physical gifts no one else in the league can touch- why the HELL weren't you motivated last year? You're paid to do one thing: pay basketball really, really well. Why didn't you holla at Hakeem last year, or the year before???). Orlando also is depending on the ultimate dog-player/frontrunner, Vincent Carter. VC HAD breathless talent; but he admitted to dogging it in Toronto, and he's gakked in all his bigtime moments- he is what he is. He's not-good when it matters. He worried about being a star without ever being a star. He'll find a way to trip up the Orlando Magic. They won't win one until they go through a mini-rebuilding and shed that idiot Carter's contract. I saw a mock deal to Denver for Carmelo an' Chauncey for Peaches/Reddick/Bass and Carter and Jameer, which would have given Orlando it's best shot. if the Magic wins a 'ship this year I'll eat one of VC's "I suck at life" hats. Let's be real; you can't teach "playing nasty", so Howard hasn't learned how to play nasty. He's a physical freak, he'll probably win 2 or 3 'ships sometime in his career, but this Orlando team is a Regular Season Killa and Playoff Pansies.

taken yesterday. They've already given up.
5. Let's be real. Dallas is like the Cowardly Lion- they just don't have the heart. The basic talent is there- Boubeaouis is freakin' Tony "Longoria" 2.0 with a J; Dirk is a 7 footer raining Js, Jason Kidd is Mr. Do-It-All M.C. Guess what? 2 of those 3 have been the exact same for the last 13 years. Who exactly is gonna make Dallas an elite team? Caron Butler? Yeah, if this was 4 years ago when he was a dominant player. Tyson Chandler? He couldn't hold Kevin Love's jockstrap this summer at the World Games. Prediction- Dallas wins 50+ games and flames out in the 1st two rounds of the playoffs. Dirk isn't an Alpha. Jason Kidd's hanging on but he won't put a team that needs a serious 2nd star like Dallas does over the hump.  Jason Terry will give you 20 on some ridiculously in-the-mug jumpshots in losing efforts as usual. Stop playing, that's the Dallas max.

6. Who else, San Antonio? C'mon, Tim Duncan is still a very, very, very, VERY good player, but the years haven't just caught up with him., they've built condos on his back and strip clubs in his knees. Yeah, he'll give you 17-20 ppg and 8-12 boards in the monitored minutes Pop will give him, but with the athletic freaks all over the center and PF landscape, how is this throwback gonna lead his team to the Ring? When's the last time we saw Manu and Tony Parker dazzle on a consistent basis? When's the last time we saw San Antonio string a 4 week period of dominance together? Can you see the Spurs, with no perimeter stopper, dealing with 7' Durant, jumping jack Ibaka, and X-Men mutant Westbrook in 7 games? Be real; Splitter will help, George Hill will help, but in what reality are they beating LA, Miami, or even OKC? The Spurs have fallen back to the pack.


7. The Nugs window is nailed shut. Carmelo's girlie-drama and Kenyon Martin's mentally deficient reasoning (dude, you're PAID for what you DO, not for what you MAY DO IN THE FUTURE; any time you miss games is stealing money) already got the Nuggets out of the picture. Chauncy's overrated at this point, Nene' is good but not that bomb big man they need, JR Smith is insane...they're like the Atlanta Hawks West.

"Yaaaay! Chcaaago!"
8. Utah Jazz? We love Deron Williams, BEST PG IN THE L, (can't wait to see him somewhere in Texas in 2013!) and we love Jerry Sloan, in my opinion the best coach in the league over his career; he took Karl Malone, Stockton, and the 99 Cent Store Clearance rack to the finals, and more recently he molded Deron, Boozer, and The Other Jacksons into "contenders" (getting Wesley Matthews an bloated contract from the Blazers in the process). real...

9. The Nets Terrence Williams will catch some poor soul slippin' and destroy all nonbelievers with one of those once-in-a-generation, reality twisting, make-me-scream-while-watching-from-the-couch monster poster dunks....

13. Blake Griffin will be Rookie Of The Year. I like John Wall, he's got his own style, carries himself like a star (I refuse to use "swag". Not gonna happen...), but if you've seen Griffin in the preseason, you've seen an animal ready to be unleashed on the bigs of the league. He can snag double-doubles in his sleep, goes to the rim with bad intentions, and he's got that elusive "motor" so many GMs would give their first-born child for their power forward to have.

14. This year will mark the 1st noticeable of the slow-but-steady decline of Kobe' Bryant. Say what you will, at least I admitted that he IS the league's best....but age + mileage on his knees + lingering finger problems -LeBron's prime -KD's ascension to an elite player = Kobe' finally reliquishing the "Best Player" label at the end of the season. I'm not hatin', not saying he'll suck, or any of the old "Aw, hell naw, youza hata!!!" standbyes....Lakers fans, enjoy him while you can, it's goin' down...

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Man On Trial

I'm under the gun. I have a confession to make. Firstt, a little backstory. I love watching dominant basketball. I remember watching Mike eviscerate teams and destroy dudes careers and when the horn sounded, I had the satisfied feeling of a full man who just finished polishing off his favorite meal; when Rodman was added to that Bulls squad and we witnessed the record setting rampage through the league, I was in basketball Heaven, it was the dopest of the dope. Watching that 1st LA Shaq/Kobe juggernaut in the early 2000s was like watching a damn top-notch boxer laying all challengers on their back in a parking lot brawl. Somewhere along the way, with Shaq blowing town and Kobe showing certain Diva-like tendencies and allegedly taking unsuspecting hotel service-workers gross panties against their wills, I admit it, I stopped liking Kobe'. I admit, the whole "I'm-not-trying-to-be-like-Mike" while desperately trying to be like Mike thing irked me. The whole "won't-get-Ason (no J)-Kidd-cuz-of-Bynum?-Trade-his-azz!!!" garbage and the BS trade demands when the team struggled got on my damn nerves. So when Vince Carter, T-Mac, and now LeBron hit the scene, I would go through all the rigmarole to put one of these guys, ANY of these guys, above Kobe in the 2 guard hierarchy, cuz I just didn't dig that dude. I mean, who beefs with Ray Allen? Fast forward to December 2009; Lebron is stampeding any and all defenders, the Cavs are doing skits and dancing on the sidelines, and I'm telling any and everyone that wanna babble about Kobe',"Yo yo, my man, Kobe' is nice and all, and I'mma let you finish, but LEBRON JAMES is the BEST PLAYER in the League!!! THE WHOLE LEAGUE!!!!" *Shrug*. Did he dance on the sidelines DURING  a game, pissing of Chi? Yeah, and that was some bull. Did he start to really get full of himself, and start referring to himself in 3rd person WAY too much? Hell yeah, and that was crap. But guess what? I didn't care; he wasn't Kobe. The League bestowed him his MVP, Kobe' was banged up, life was good. Then- The Celtics expose LeBron as gutless (I don't care about his "the fans are spoiled" talk; a true warrior would have went out with both guns empty, shot 6 for 24 with 7 turnovers if he had to, he would have TRIED). THEN...Kobe' wills his team to ANOTHER Finals. And DENNN....Kobe' DOES shoot 6/24, but dude grabs 15 boards; at 6'7" with a bum knee, that's insane. I remember sitting in that sports bar with my homie Dun, surrounded by rabid, drunk Lakers fans, while I crowed and heckled with Boston bruising their way to a 4th quarter lead IN LA!!!! BUT...Kobe' goes 8-9 from the line and grabs 4 boards in the 4th. It's over, LA wins. Are you ^$%#* KIDDIN' ME!?!? Did he shoot 40% for the series? Yeah, the Boston D was a wall, and Kobe' was a walking wounded wing all by himself. Did Pau play better than Bryant in Game 7? Hell yeah, Pau's 18 points and 19 boards was game changing, but in the crunch, that jerk Kobe' grabbed the game by the throat and took it home as his. So yeah, as much as it makes my eyes bleed and my teeth itch, I will admit it: Kobe'snot the fastest or more athletic anymore, he's not the best shooter, not the best pure scorer, or the best defender. He's still not a good person, but Kobe' Bean Bryant is the best player in the damn WORLD. Excuse me while I go set myself on fire. I see you Dev...
I hate this guy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekend Flash Pt. Dos

KB n' LBJ, right before Kobe's cracked sternum.
*OK, as a pro athlete, you HAVE to have to think highly of yourself; it tales a certain level of arrogance to be elite in your sport. I dig that. So when Kobe' says he'd win a 1-on-1 match-up with LeBron no sweat, I understand. But PLEASE, how can anyone who watches basketball not fear for Kobe's life if this ever happened? LBJ would simply go beast mode and steamroll Bryant. It's not even a question. I respect Kobe's work ethic and competitiveness and his "jaw-jut" (that's a lie, I find that idiotic face he does when he's "on a mission" ridiculous), but head up, LeBron is smashing Kobe.

"I'm 'bout to bust yo' head."
*It's funny the kinds of head-games NBA players run on each other. LA is gonna feel the wrath brought on by RonRon's slick talk (or non-talk) about LeBron. I'm a huge Kevin Durant(ula) fan, but to put him ahead of LeBronicus Rex just because of a (justifiably) superlative run this summer is ridiculous. Durant DID give LA 25 a night in their thrilling 1st round series, but he shot 35% from the floor. This isn't an indictment of him of him, but he's not better than LBJ in any facet of the game right now except humbleness. Remember this tongue-in-cheek diss when LeBron drops a sick 47/13 board/14 assist night on Artest's head sometime this season.

Like this, but like 40 more times.
*I LOVE John Hollinger's work; he's insightful, and leans on smart statwork to bolster his theories. I gotta disagree with him trying to disprove MJ's boast that he could score a 100 if he played now-a-days. You know why I KNOW he could have? He's MICHAEL ^%#$* JORDAN. He was basically unstoppable when the league was allowed to push, grab, trip, slap, and pound on him to no end (watch tapes of Detroit and NY playing D on MJ; if Kobe or T-Mac took punishment like Mike had to deal with, their heads would have imploded). Now? With the "no touching" rules, lack of burly interior defenders and even less high quality wing defenders? I can definitely see Mike having one of "those nights" and dropping triple digits on the Suns or Clippers.

*Interesting post from, but I could have saved 'em A LOT of work analyzing stats. Joe Johnson's contract became a negative to Atlanta the minute he placed the tip of the pen on the SIGN HERE: line. In no way, shape, form, or alternate reality is the guy who just went for 18, 5 and 5 on 38% shooting in this years playoffs worth 119 mil.

Weekend Blast


OK, I want my NBA back. I want to see real ballers going all in, screw how much their making. Remember McHale/Rambis WrestleMania VII? Remember MJ dunking on Ewing, then screaming in his face? Mutombo's finger-wave? Shawn Kemp eviscerating Alton Lister in '92, then pointing to show the world who just tasted his junk? I wanna see the best athletes in the world goin' hard in the paint, without worrying about the ticky-tack fouls or BS calls robbing them of their aggressiveness or breaking their concentration. It's so bad that the NBPA might take 'em to court to stop this nonsense. Yeah, the NBA is a billion dollar corporation, but the essence of those billions boils down to athletes trying to dominate each other, mentally and on the scoreboard. I remember watching the Rocky when he fought Ivan Drago; they showed the huge, ice-cold Russian ripping through his training partners with his face as impassive as stone; his emotionless destruction of Apollo Creed (Throw in the %^#*$ TOWEL!!!!) was chilling, sociopathic. Now, why would we want our NBA to be like that? I've read the sheeplike "this is a good rule!" responses like this clown, to which I respond: Shut up. I mean, are there SOME athletes *cough-KobeGarnettDuncan-cough* who DO whine at every call or non-call. Did the refs, over time, let this be the situation? Of course, this is a league of stars, and some dudes are given excessive leeway. But get outta here with that "ruining the game" crap.

Except Sheed. He took it pretty far sometimes. Still liked it, though.
Are you telling me that, as a man, if Gerald Wallace is playing hard-nosed, all-out D  on Duran tin the last 5 minutes of a 3point game, he doesn't fall for any jukes and fakes, and as Durant goes up he challenges the shot heroically, the shot misses but *TWEEET* the whistle bails KD out, are you telling me that Gerald Wallace can't turn, in the heat of the moment, turn in disbelief and be like "WHAAAT?!?!?"? Are you telling me if Kyle Korver comes hard off the screen, pulls up and drains a slick 18 footer while obviously getting smacked on the arm, it's a TECHNICAL FOUL because he surreptiously smacked his arm to show the ref where he was hit as he ran back down the floor (this actually happened.)? I get it; the Rasheed-Full-Court-Run-N-Screams after foul calls and the KG F-bombs gotta go.
But is Tim Duncan's bug-eyed "Who ME??" reaction to commiting fouls or Kobe's glare at a ref is worth a tech? Basketball is a sport, it's entertainment, and seeing the best players in the world show raw emotion is a big part of it; we as fans like to see that these millionaires care just like we do when we play pick up, that they take pride in doing what they do and have no problem showing the world. I know Doc Rivers and other coaches (and even some players) are regurgitating the brown-nosing company line (which is hilarious, Rivers is notorious for working the refs), but this is just another tug on the noose that's strangling the personalities of the NBA. From the crackdown on taunting to the dress code, to the "Leave The Bench" rule that derailed the Suns playoff run in 2007, to this crap, Stern is going all Animal Farm on the players, constricting them, brick by brick, into a confining image of what conservative (read: "White") America needs to see. You can't deny the controlled violence and necessary animosity needed to perform at a high level in the NBA. If the worst spillover is players being irked by calls they don't agree with, then we're ahead of the game. This is about players playing, the refs are no more than details and accessories. THey do NOT deserve even close to equal billing, nor should they whine about "respect"; theit job is to judge, so why can't the players voice the displeasure with shoddy reffing??

Friday, October 15, 2010

10 Day IR...

...but the training staff has cleared me to resume full-contact basketball witng activities. For the last 10 days, while suffering from lazybumitis, I've soaked up as much preseason a healthily possible, pored over about 658 other ball blogs, watched the NBAtv previews, and tried o sneak into the Staples center disguised as Artests' Zoloft carrier (I made that up), and marveled over Gilbert Arenas' Cosby look. As much as the world drools  while waiting to see how LWB get loose in MIA, there are uncountable other storylines percolating, from the Arenas saga while Wall hits the scene in DC to the D. Cousins psyche experiment during young Tyreke's "fork-in-the-road" 2nd season (we KNOW Evans is talented, but can he use the Force to expand his team game and raise the Kings collectively, or will he start toward the Dark Side, putting up huge numbers on a team that can't find ways to win?). Here are 2 major plotlines in "As The League Turns" that got me tuning in:

1. Rise of The Fallen
  Last year, the Nets were putrid, Washington was embarrassingly painful to watch, Minnesota looked like a Div II team that snuck it's way into the NBA, and watching the NO Hornets was like watching an injured fighter trying to limp through a 12 rounder with one arm. There's no way to sugarcoat it, there was some disgusting basketball played in those there cities. This is what I love about the NBA, though; we've seen these squads low, now we get to see what they're made of. Michael Beasley gets to try and jumpstart his career while simultaneously helping the Wolves return to threat status out west. Yeah, it's the preseason, but watching dem Minny Boys run the Lakers off the floor over in Spain was a promising sign; Beaz looks confident with his slick drives and wet leftie pull-ups, K Love looks dominant on the boards, and the rook Wes Johnson looks like the real deal. The Nets were a W.O.A.T. candidate last year; but now, with new owner, new coach, new athletic wings, and a new lotto pick forward, I'm excited to see these young cats grow together. Washington had one of the most atrocious seasons ever from a PR and bad luck standpoint; Agent Zero went from being a near-Top-10 "Hibachi" player to living in a halfway house upon his release from frickin' prison. The DC brass said screw it, blew the squad up (sending Jamison to be "The Guy Cleveland Got Instead of Amar'e. D'OH!" and Caron Butler to the "Ground Hog's Day" Mavericks).  but we see the young talent in Javale, Blatche, and Nick Young. Add the insane potential and speed of  # Uno John Wall and the tantalizing Yi Jialian, we got us something to watch in DC. Finally, we heard the rumblings from CP3 in the NO, and after watching the Hornets be continually outgunned and out-muscled last year even when Paul WAS on the court was just sad (just 18 months ago they were considered the "young team on the rise out West". OKC says "Gimme that!"). No Paul is chillin' in public, but the Hornets front office KNOWS the clock is ticking, and Trevor Ariza and Marco freakin' Belinelli ain't gonna cut it. What big move can N'awlins pull off to convince their savior to stay? Man, I'm amped...

2. Youth Movement
It seems like the league kinda stagnated for a few years in the early 2000s. There was some ugly, ugly basketball out of the East, I mean, the Nets made the Finals twice, and Philly went with Iverson, Mutombo, a plumber, and some dudes from the local Philly bars on the squad, for crap's sake. I was watching the replay of the Nets/LA Finals in 2002, and it was jaw-droppingly horrendous to see Keith Van Horn stinking it up in June. BEN WALLACE made 4 All-Star teams. Let that sink in. 4. Look at some of the number one draft picks: Kenyon Martin (2000), Kwame "Hands Of Stone" Brown (2001), Bogut (2005), and Bargnani (2006). ALL are decent player, Bogut looks like he may be a borderline All-Star, but as far as number one picks, they sucked. One positive about these lean years, though; it makes the hardcore NBA fans really appreciate the explosion of talent we're about to see throughout the league. There's gallons of talent every where you look; CP3, Deron, D. Rose, Aaron Brooks,  John Wall, and Rondo are trying to unseat Steve Nash as The PG of the NBA.  Yeah, LBJ and Kobe are the top 2 perimeter players, but Wade, Carmelo, Durant, Danny Granger, Rudy Gay, even relative unknowns like Wilson Chandler (don't trip, 15/5 isn't tuuurrible) and young comebacker Mike Beasley are pushing them for supremacy. Just like 2 years ago, Elton Brand was a 20/10 guy, but now the new crop of long, athletic, multiskilled bigs like Anthony Randolph, Javale McGee, Gallinari, Chris Bosh, Blake Griffin, and rooks DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors are smashing the old "back to the basket" idea of post players. And with Tim Duncan in the twilight of his career, Boston's Big Three all showing signs of decline, and Kobe' showing a few chinks in the armor due to age, in-their-prime teams like D. Howard's Magic and The Miami Triumverate, along with super-young squads like OKC, Portland, New Jersey, The Wizards, and even Philly and the Clips, are licking their chops, waiting for their chance to shine. All in all, young talent spread out + the "Old Wolf/Young Challenger" dynamic will make for some fierce, compelling basketball this season.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

They SHOOTIN'...Made You Look

FINALLY. Real NBA players doin' real NBA thangs. Yeah, the Knickerbockers squared off against a team sponsored by jeans from the 1996 hip-hop scene, and Kobe' didn't play enough  against the Tito-Wolves to scuff his Mambas (AND Beasley is still clear-eyed and motivated, so you KNOW it's pre-season), but it's been almost a month since Durantula Go-Go-Gadget'ed all up in Turkish grizzillz, I've been jonesin'. THere's all types of League detritus dusting up, from stupid injuries in the Chi, Reinsdorf had to CTC of Noah, and 'Melo going super-Hollywood.

*I was hoping the Italian team came out rockin' some 1996 Armani Jeans and Troop boots, but I was disappointed as the Knicks squeaked by Armani Jeans Milano over in Italy. Amar'e is who we thought he was; a tough 32 points but only 6 boards (it should be noted as a sign of things to come: Milano power forwards scored 41 points on 13-22 shooting. New PG Felton looks "eh", Wilson Chandler looks official, and Mozgov, the new Ivan Drago had a tidy 10 and 5 with 3 blocks. D'antoni has a ways to go, but this team must be like a ray of sunshine for NY fans because, dude, the Knicks have been horridly putrid for the last few years.

*If God has any mercy, then this smashing of Maccabi Haifa is just the 1st of many (at LEAST 12) wins for the Nets. Rook Derrick Favors ran the floor and looked ready to contribute big-time with 14 and 8. I know, I know, pre-season, a non-NBA team, yada yada yada. For the Nets, ANY win is a positive step in erasing the nightmare that was the '09-'10 season for them. 6 players had between 10 and 14 points. Former GSW baller Anthony Morrow showed his slick shooting stroke, draining 4 threes. Let's hope this team bonds and gets it in this season, I wouldn't wish a repeat of Jersey's last season on my worst enemy.

*Hey, D. Howard, you're developin' and all, an' I'mma let you finish, but until you show some fire like this, Shaq is the greatest Magic center who raps of all time...OF ALL TIME! (He went platinum. Seriously.)

*Yeah, it's only the preseason, but the T-Wolves looked ready to put last season's debacle behind them with a 19 point win over the LA Champs in the UK.. With such a young squad, consistency is going to be a problem, but with bona fide wing scorers B-Easy (21 pts) and Martell Webz (24 pts) and legit defensive bigs, they can only get better (because they REALLY sucked last year). Let's hope Rambis goes easy on the triangle and let's his squad of young athletes run a little. And Wes Johnson, the Wolves lotto pick, keepin' it real about his priorities in England. (hint: it's girls).

*There's a way of thinking that purports champs can't be made; either ballers have that win-at-all-cost "dog" in them or they don't. Whatever the case, if the Magic need the Super-Friends to motivate them, they aren't  gonna win one as presently constructed. and with Rivers leading the Celts taking it all Zen-like, it's obvious why already have a 'chipand are primed to go again. Look, I get that pro athletes are like everyone else; certain things get them fired up more than others, and over the 82 game grind they might need little mind-games to push them. But seriously, Dwight n' Co. are in the '10 ECF and they call losses wake up calls? That's not only soft, but to actually say it with a straight faced to the media is weak-minded. If pride, the millions they're being paid, the lavish NBA lifestyle, and the hours upon hours they've spent in their lifetimes honing their skills isn't enough to make them want to win at all costs, all the time, then retire. On the other side of that coin, the Gang Green in Boston is showing why they're the defending Eastern champs, saying "no sweat" when questioned about the Heat. The Celts might be older, slower, and less athletic as the years creep up, but the no-nonsense mindset goes along way. I admit, I drank the Magic Kool-Aid in the '10 playoffs, but I()along with about 98% of basketball heads) seriously underestimated the heart and guts of the Celts. Orlando can play great ball, but until they learn to play grown-man ball, it's a wrap.

* is one of the sites that I wish I could write like, they know their stuff. Carlos "Mr. Glass" Boozer is already proving his worth in the Chi (worth: not much) by breaking his hand answering his ^#%$* doorbell. Seriously. Since he pulled a super-slick-double-fast one on Cleveland before the '04-'05 season, Boozer's played in over 75 games only twice, averaging 23 games missed with his injuries a year. Yo Booz, karma is a &#^%@.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Choose your Own Adventure...Put Up Or STFU

Training camp's in full swing and damn it feels good. The news is all about The Superfriends in MIA, Kobe's attempt to be "in the discussion" of G.O.A.T. with his chase of ring #6 (Never. Ever. Will he be The Best...that's for another day). The Bulls FINALLY getting the elusive post scorer and shooter they've lacked since MJ left, AND we get to watch D. Rose's ascension to top 5 point. Carmelo's drama and CP3 trying to drag that mismatched Hornets roster back to relevance (hard to believe that it was just in the '08 play-offs the Hornet's were "up-n-comers" in the west who almost knocked off the then powerful Spurs). But the thing I love about the NBA is the lesser known stories; the breakouts, the dudes trying to make their mark and stay on the map. Every die-hard NBA fan has playesr that he watches from the corner of his eye, that for some reason they want to see sink or swim. Whether it be the youngster labeled with "Potential", the vet making a comeback, or the established monster looking to break out, there are players with Red or Blue pills to choose. I can rattle off dozens, but here are 8 (ok, 9) players that I'm itching to see play, see if they ride or die:

Anthony Randolph (PF, New York, 3rd season): I caught snippets of Anthony Randolph in his 1st year at Golden State and thought he was a special effect, like CGI. No WAY a 6'11" cat could handle like that, jump like that, be that damn skinny. Then I watched him destroy the Summer League in '09 (yeah, it's summer league, I know...), but I couldn't figure out how he was NOT getting big minutes on bigs-starved GSW. I'm sayin', 11.6 and 6.5 with a block and a half in just 22 mpg? (answer: Don Nelson done lost it.). So I'm waiting to see if we got a Year 3 jump coming; he's in a wide open system tailor-made for his length and speed on a team in desparate need for his athleticism and defense. Randolph's ascent will usher in the new breed of long, athletic, unorthodox bigs like Washington's Javale McGee,the Clips' DeAndre Jordan and Sacs' Jason Thompson. Prepare for lift-off.


Andrea Bargnani/Danilo Gallinari (PF/C, Toronto/NY, 5th/3rd season): I'm listing these 2 mokes together because, I admit, I got a thing against Euros. It started with France's Frederic "French Toast" Weis getting intimate with VC's crotch in 2000 and it peaked with freakin' Skita getting drafted so high in 2002 by the Nugs. I'm intrigued by these 2. They're agile bigs with legit range, but I view them both the exact same way; stereotypically soft, jump-shooting euros. It's a damn shame for grown men so tall (G is 6'10", Bargs is 7'0"), to grab so few boards (Gallo is at 4.6 for last season, Bargs, 6.2). With Bosh gone from Toronto and NY FINALLY actually trying to be competitive, now we'll see if these cats are in the mold of Dirk in Dallas, or more Uwe "The Slob" Blab.

Michael Beasley (SF/PF, Minnesota, 3rd season): SO damn deadly in college, SO much debate about "Beasley vs Rose #1"   in '08, SO much frustration from the staff and fans in MIA over his air-headed antics and inconsistent play. 14 and 6 isn't terrible, but when you're a #2 pick, and those numbers drop to 10 and 4 in the playoffs, that's not gonna cut it. B-Easy had plenty of chances in South Beach; maybe the lights were too bright. His immaturity is well documented, and his, um, judgement was definitely questionable in Miami, from Day 1. Now he's getting a fresh start in Minny after being jettisoned from Miami. Judging from Beasley's "T-Wolves Rule, Rest of L Drools" comments, either he's ready to live up to his potential, or he's still high.

Joe Alexander (SF/PF, N'Awlins, 3rd season): He's not a big name player, he never was projected to be a superstar, but I remember how his name was buzzing in his junior year at West Virginia. 6'8", athletic, good kid, and 17 and 6 led to dude being picked 8th in '08. I was looking for him to hit the league and at LEAST wow with a dunk or 2 every couple of weeks, a la' Des Mason, be a rotation player. He's only 24, and SOMETHING allowed him to play high-level basketball until 2008. I'm not ready to yell "BUST!" yet, but damn, he was trash in Milwaukee and Chicago, toilet-bowl bad, so here's hoping that running with CP3 in the Hornet's training camp can finally unshackle JA. 

Monta Ellis (SG, Golden State, 6th season):  After 5 seasons, "breathtaking", "blazing" and "unstoppable" have been used to describe Monta, and his 25 ppg last season kinda backed all of the adjectives up. The average NBA fan is all about scoring and swagger, so to some folks, Ellis is already a bonafide star. But to me, after his injury fiasco and the crap he said about Stephen Curry, plus the fact that he played for Crazy Man Nelson thus far in his career, I'm not sure if Ellis has the mentality and the all around game to be a truly elite. Putting up numbers on a horrible team is one thing, but can he adjust his game and swallow his ego a bit to play winning ball? Playing for new coach Keith Smart and with the now known talent of Curry beside him, we'll see if Monta can be a real winner or just another undersized gunner.

Andrew Bynum (C, Lakers, 6th season) 6th year in the L and Bynum is only about to turn 24. The talent is definitely there, the attitude is there (remember when he dunked on shaq as a rook? When he said he wanted to be like Shaq, but "make his free throws"?). But the injuries. Oh, the injuries. '07, it was his left knee. '08, it was his right knee. '09, his hip and Achilles. Since being drafted, Bynum has played in all 82 games only once (season 2), and in his other 4 seasons he's averaged 49 games played. Yeah, the 15 and 8 from last season is nice, but he was so banged up by the time the playoffs rolled around he labored to put up 10 and 6 (the D was legit, though). He's already slated to miss the 1st part of this season due to July knee surgery, but it's so common the Laker faithful didn't even blink when the news came out. Bynum is at a pivotal point in his career this year; will he go on a top-flight big, or is he destined to limp off as one of the doomed "if only he could stay healthy" guys? Starting the season on the shelf ain't a good look.

Al Jefferson (PF, Utah, 7th season): Damn, the NBA has been hard on Al Jefferson. Just 2 years ago, Big Al was the darling of the league; articles were raving about his low-post awesomeness, he was The Future, he was going to lead Minny out of the NBA Basement. He was killing in '08-'09 before injury took him out, going for 23 and 11 a night. Then the torn ACL. The rumblings about his selfishness and ball-stopping O, his defensive liabilities. Now the other principle peice in the KG trade has been given up for picks and cap space, replacing another undersized-but-more-established PF in Boozer. Al is at a crossroads; will he be an elite big man, bringing true post-play back to prominence, or is he just an oddity, the last back-to-the-basket brute in a league loking for the superathletic, face- up bigs?

Elton Brand (PF/C, Philly, 12th season): ANOTHER injury/bounce back candidate. It's sad I have to put Brand in here; EB is the one of the only Duke players I ever didn't want to punch in his face. In 2006 he was a Top PF in the league candidate; 25 and 10 with 2.5 blocks and a deadly mid-range game, and even in '07, before he Benedict Arnold'ed the Clips, he just missed the Gold Standard 20/10 (20.5/9.3). But injuries, questionable decisions, and the shadow of young gunna Marreese Speights' potential got him struggling in Philly. His 14 and 8 last year weren't terrible, but he was definitely a shadow of the Beast he was prior to signing in Philly (karma?). This year is pivotal for Brand; either he returns to dominating form and locks his spot down, or he'll fade into obscurity on one of the worse contracts in recent memory.

Dwight Howard (C, Orlando, 7th season): I know, crazy, right? Look, I'm a huge D. Howard fan. Dude is an absolute MONSTER; jumps out of the gym, throws all the weak crap he sees out of the middle, hits the boards, and is the most physically gifted big in the L, no doubt. His team is an Eastern conference powerhouse, and he's the heart, I dig it. But something's...missing. For him to be that SUPERSTAR,don't we need to see him dominate at a higher level in the playoffs? Understand, 22 and 10 with 3 blocks in this year's ECF is awesome, but it's not how many he scores, but when and how he scores. He's efficient, and he breaks out a jaw-dropping dunk or block a game, but lets see him just punish teams. I know he never claimed to be the Next Great Big, but his shaky free throw shooting and the fact that his team "forgets" to feed him for stretches, plus his inexplicable temper flare-ups don't bode well. With Miami set to dominate and LA looking to dig in for the long haul, let's see if Superman 2.0 can take that next step up to join the LBJ and Wades of the game.  

Patrick O'Bryant: Nah, I'm playin'. This is his best highlight. O'Bryant sucks.

That's just a few; I mean, I'm sure this is the year that makes or breaks Yi Jianlian, and I definitely want to see which way Yao's career goes with this bogus minute count. Who do YOU want to see decide their own fate this season?