Thursday, March 5, 2009

Coming Down The Stretch...

With the season 3/4 of the way over, here are my picks to close out their respective categories and take home the hardware:

Champs- As much as it pains me to say this, I have to give the nod to the Cavs right now. They're too big for the Bynum-less Lakers and too deep for the Posey-less Celtics. I also think that Joe Smith is better for that offense than Ben Wallace. Smith's like a poor man's Horace Grant- a good rebounder and post defender who nails the 15 footer consistently. Delonte West and Mo Williams know their roles and make open 3s. Big Z's great on the offensive glass. I don't see anyone beating them.

MVP- Lebron over Kobe. James was already one of the best offensive players in the league. This season, he proved he can play All-Star caliber D. That said, if Cleveland hits a lull over the final few weeks, Kobe could catch fire and snatch his second Podoloff in a row. Props to DWade, Brandon Roy and Dwight Howard but it's a two-man race between James and Bryant.

Defensive Player Of The Year
- Howard. Sure, Wade and James learned a thing or two about defense from Kobe at the Olympics but Superman's a rebounding and shot blocking machine.

Most Improved
- Everyone's talking about Devin Harris but wasn't he this good last year, too? The player who took the biggest leap this offseason was Howard. The guy went from 'freakish athlete' to 'superstar with potential to be the best ever' in three months. Kevin Durant is going fucking ballistic, too. Think about how much better he'll be when he actually has a muscle or two on that skinny frame. Ironically, Shaq also showed great improvement this year, going from a useless fat bastard to dominant All-Star since hitching up with the Phoenix Suns training staff.

Coach Of The Year- It'll be Mike Brown or Stan Van Gundy but my vote would go to Nate McMillan. Nobody expected anything from Portland (especially with Oden dinged up) but Nate established a great rotation where every player knows his role. He was also smart enough to hand over the reins to Roy, who's proven himself worthy of MVP talk. Big ups to Erik Spoelstra for keeping the Heat over .500 with one of the youngest teams in the NBA.

- How can it NOT be Donnie Walsh? Goodbye, Isiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury and Jerome James. Hello, Mike D'Antoni, Al Harrington and cap room for next year's big free agent run which will net them either Lebron, DWade, Amare or Chris Bosh. Masterful. The Gallinari pick is a blemish but I'll put that one on D'Antoni.

6th Man- Jason Terry or Manu Ginobili will win but I LOVE what Trevor Ariza has done off the bench for LA this year. If they win the title, Ariza will a major reason why. Think about this for a sec: if LA had Ariza in the Finals last year, does Paul Pierce score at will off of isolation plays? Um, no.

Pictured: Ariza posterizing Grant Hill

- Derrick Rose gets the nod over OJ Mayo, Russell Westbrook and Brook Lopez. I talked shit about both Mayo and Westbrook around draft time, referring to them as Smurfs. I was wrong. They're both really good. I still think Mayo is more Ben Gordon than Michael Jordan but he's not a Smurf, by any means. Sorry. I suck.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Loose Balls- Monday

The Celtics are now 1-1 with Shitbury in the fold. He was OK in the win against Indianapolis but lousy in the loss to Detroit.

His combined stats in 25 total minutes of action:
4/9 FG, 5 Asst, 2 Reb, 1 Stl, 5 TOs, 4 PFs.
His plus/minus during that span is -1.

That's a lot of turnovers and fouls for a self-proclaimed superstar playing against second unit guys. Youngsters Will Bynum and Brandon Rush both clowned him. Sure, Steph's probably not in game shape yet but this is a dubious beginning, to say the least.

And doesn't he just look wrong in a Celtic uniform? I'm not feeling good about this...

Mikki Moore has never impressed me. When he was a Clipper, I saw him on a regular basis and always thought of him as a big who played small, a modern-day Keith Closs (getting dunked on here and getting his ass whupped here). I'm not sure why Ainge jumped at the chance to nab Mikki instead of waiting on Joe Smith. Prior to last season's Ray Allen and KG deals, Ainge was the worst GM in basketball. It seems he's turning back into a pumpkin before our eyes.

Immediately after trading AI to Detroit for Billups, the Nugs went on a streak that propelled them to a high seed and likely home-court advantage in the playoffs. Detroit? They took a shit and lost 12 out of 16. Just when it looked like they were completely done for the season, AI had to shut it down because of a back problem. Guess what? As soon as he sits, the team goes back to being a juggernaut. Rip scores 32, everyone plays D and shares the's uncanny how AI's mere subtraction makes that team about 500% better.

The Hornets are now 4-0 since having Tyson Chandler dumped back in their laps by the Superstolens. It's hard to tell whether he's rejuvenated by the shakeup or just finally healthy (or both), but Chandler's rebounding and blocking shots again. As a result, New Orleans is back to being a contender. Even if they win the title, management will probably jettison him again after the season. That's life playing for the cheap-ass Hornets.

Now that AI, Melo and Big Ben have shaved off their cornrows (and officially ended their attachment to wack mid-90s fashion), I'd like to politely ask the same of Jared Dudley, Thabo Sefolosha and Kyle Weaver. Not a good look, fellas. Never was.

Pictured: Axl Rose doing his 'cracked-out Bo Derek' impression.