FOUL IN PHILLY
What�s up with the last place Sixers? Picked by many experts to challenge Boston for the Atlantic crown, Mo Cheeks� sorry crew has looked positively clueless while stumbling to a 7-10 mark.
The biggest issue: Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand don�t fit together. With EB clogging up the paint, Philly can�t run isolations or pick and rolls on the perimeter for Iggy.
Additionally, Andre Miller�s post-up game (one of his strengths) is no longer an asset since Brand�s big butt is occupying the entire painted area. Instead, Miller�s left to loiter at the 3 point line where he�s not much of a threat (4 made 3s in 17 games so far).
Brand�s lack of footspeed has also put the breaks on the burgeoning Sixer running game.
Brand's a good player, don't get me wrong. But he's not the RIGHT player for that system. In retrospect, maybe that money would have been better spent on Josh Smith (or saved for the Lebron/Wade/Bosh sweepstakes).
NETS: MORE THAN JUST THE SHEER MIGHT OF BROOK LOPEZ
Who are these suddenly competitive New Jersey Nets? Even though they�re being outscored by almost three points a game on average, they�re staying above .500 largely because of All-Star caliber play from Devin Harris. Seeing Harris score 47 last night probably gave Mark Cuban a fucking ulcer.
A DRAFT LIKE ANY OTHER
Looking back, can we now safely say that last year�s draft was not, in fact, the best of all time (as it was widely hailed a year ago)? Kevin Durant is developing nicely into the next Tracy McGrady- not the next Michael Jordan. And Greg Oden? Right now, he�s more Dikembe Mutombo than Hakeem Olajuwon. The 1984 Draft, which featured Jordan, Hakeem (Akeem back then), Barkley and John Stockton, remains the standard by which all other drafts are measured. The 2003 Draft, with Lebron, Wade, Melo and Bosh, would probably be my runner-up.
Pictured: The Dream with El Douche in '84
Gotta give some love to Portland. Starting two defensive-minded rookies, Oden and Nic Batum, the Blazers are playing tough, physical basketball while holding opponents to 93 points a game. Their first unit, spearheaded by MVP candidate Brandon Roy, has established early leads in every game I�ve watched this year. They�re not a championship club yet, but I wouldn�t want to see them in the playoffs.
POLITICKING FOR THE PODOLOFF
Speaking of MVP, there are only five players in the conversation at this point. Given that the MVP always comes from teams that win 50 plus games, only Kobe, Lebron, Dwight Howard, Paul Pierce and Brandon Roy qualify so far. Chris Paul is playing his ass off but his teammates, notably MIA Tyson Chandler, can hardly say the same.