Sunday, February 28, 2010

Have-Nots Enter Doldrums

This is a special time of year for the good teams. Coaches are shortening rotations, playing to win, getting their playoff mojo ready. Every game matters as the elite squads jostle for home court advantage.

This is also the time of year when dreadful teams start getting mathematically eliminated and GMs ponder colossal tank jobs to land the Next Big Thing (in this instance, John Wall and his idiotic Bowzer dance). It's a depressing phenomenon. Players tune out coaches. Veterans sit out with fabricated illnesses. Fans flee in droves. And guys like Ramon Sessions play well enough for a month of meaningless games to secure ludicrous long term deals elsewhere. It's fucking horrible. Truly.

The situation with Golden State is beyond absurd. Donny Boozeface is closing in on the all-time wins record even though he's alienated the entire team and fanbase. If he breaks that record in Oakland, the fans in attendance might boo him. I know I would.

Poor Kurt Rambis. Man. It's hard to play the Triangle when you don't have anyone that can shoot. Hard to defend when your two best players are unathletic power forwards.

Nothing is overshadowing the Tyreke Evans Show in Sacto (can you imagine him and Wall in a backcourt together? Damn!) but Paul Westphal is providing a bizarre subplot by publicly tormenting young tea-bagger, Spencer Hawes. What's the point? You're 19-39, dude. Play the young guys, collect your check and STFU... Flip's doing in Washington! Perhaps nowhere is the Tankfest more apparent than in the nation's capital. The Andray Blatche Era is upon us, even if only lasts 25 games. Also seeing big minutes are James Singleton, JaVale McGee and Randy Foye. Any day now, Mike Miller shuts it down with some obscure back injury.

Gotta give credit to Indy, NY, Detroit and the Clips, who still appear to be playing to win despite subpar records and little to no chance at the postseason. They're not very good but they don't know that and that's refreshing somehow.

And there's a soft spot in my heart for the Nyets, who are battling every night just so they don't break the all-time loss record. They just beat the Cs in Boston, for fuck's sake. Even taking the Nate Robinson Effect into account (Boston's -36 with him on the floor), that's still impressive.

Pictured: Yi showing much flex...not really

Friday, February 26, 2010

Attention, Rest Of League: Brandon Roy Will Be Taking Every Shot In Final Two Minutes

Just watched another late lead disappear as Brandon Roy went one-on-five for every possession in the last two minutes. Yes, he's a fantastic player. Yes, he's a great finisher. No, he can't beat entire teams by himself.

Sorry, Nate. You're actually going to have to do some coaching if you want to win these close games. Just giving Roy the ball and praying to Jesus doesn't work. Every team in the league knows about your 'strategy' by now.

Pictured: old photo, same game plan

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Get That Weak Sauce Outta Here!

It's fairly common for NBA players to get their shots blocked. It happens to everyone, sometimes even multiple times in a game. Now that Yahoo! Sports is keeping track of the 'blocks against' category in their box scores, fans get to stay informed on who's getting rejected most frequently.

In last night's schedule of games, Brandon Roy, Jerryd Bayless, Al Horford, Marcus Thornton, Derrick Rose, Manu Ginobili, Amare Stoudemire, CJ Miles and Deron Williams all shared the glorious honor of the Weak Sauce Hat Trick- getting their feeble offerings airmailed back to them thrice each.

Not to be outdone, TJ Ford served up four marshmallows for the defense to play volleyball with.

Pictured: Ford in familiar territory

Sunday, February 21, 2010

5 Reasons Antawn Ain't The Answer

LeBron was looking for a sidekick, an equal, a fellow superstar to help him hoist multiple trophies. What Danny Ferry provided was Antawn Jamison. Here are 5 reasons I don't think Antawn's the answer to keeping the King in Cleveland:

1 He's ridiculously overpaid

2 He plays the same position as James

3 He's old

4 He's not a good defender

5 He's a career 33% 3p shooter in an offense where he'll be spotting up most of the time

For the past decade, Jamison's had the luxury of a permanent green light to shoot on an assortment of crummy teams. He's also gotten the ball in the low post frequently, something you probably won't see much of with Shaq on the roster. All signs point to Jamison struggling, especially coming over at the midway point without a training camp to learn Mike Brown's (ahem) 'offense.' Granted, Jamison's a lot better than the 0-12 stinker he put up last night but I think a reasonable expectation from him moving forward is 13/6 while taking key minutes away from Floppy Varejao, who's very effective in that (ahem) 'system.'

Ferry's had years to surround James with top tier talent and he's turned an open checkbook (and the allure of playing with one of the best players in history) into Mo Williams, Ben Wallace, Larry Hughes, Lorenzen Wright, Wally Szczerbiak, Jamario Moon, Joe Smith, Anthony Parker, old Shaq...and now Jamison. Here's Ferry's GM page which lists his career decisions. Notice that under Executive Of The Year, it says 'Never.' Unintentional comedy?

Pictured: Jamison auditioning to be LeBron's teammate

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ray-John, Rah-John or Rye-John?

Celtics PG Rajon Rondo has the most commonly mispronounced named in the league. Network announcers usually say it 'Ray-John' but Celtics fans maintain it should be 'Rah-John.' To further complicate matters, this official NBA page suggests 'Rye-John.' RYE-JOHN?!?

And can someone give me a straight answer on Andray Blatche while we're at it?

Pictured: Rondo and fellow thespians

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rumors, Trades, Transactions And Trends

Another shrewd move by Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard, obtaining Cotton Camby from the Clips for Steve Blake and Travis (Don't Call Me Bo) Outlaw. Next year, this gives the Blazers insurance in case Oden or Prezbo don't fully recover. This season, it makes them a potentially tough playoff matchup (assuming Roy's healthy by then). Kudos.

Heartfelt boos all the way around for sad sack Ernie Grunfeld, who's basically giving his players away. Butler AND Haywood for Josh Howard? And now he's contemplating Jamison for an assortment of the Cavs benchwarming scrubs. If David Stern penalizes teams for tanking to get into the lottery, why doesn't he punish them for tanking to save payroll? That team's a fucking disgrace.

Same goes for the Clips. No surprise there, really. Although I will give them credit for issuing Ricky Buckets his marching orders. I was astonished when they signed him in the first place. He hasn't been an NBA-quality player in three years.

Rumor monger Marc J Spears (who's right about .008% of the time) is putting word out that Boston is taking a hard look at Nate Robinson. First Marbury, now this. Ainge is turning back into a pumpkin, folks. At this rate, would anyone be surprised if Boston was a 20 win team again in three years?

Will Ferrell: "You gotta win to get love!"

Friday, February 5, 2010

Loose Balls

*Wanna hear something funny? Hasheem Thabeet has four assists this year. Four. In 485 minutes played.

*Speaking of black holes, the biggest ballhogs in the league who play at least 30 minutes a game are as follows: Brendan Haywood (33 mins/0.4 assists), Emeka Okafor (30.5/0.6), Andrea Bargnani (34.4/1), Elton Brand (30.9/1.3) and Michael Beasley (31.6/1.3). Supposed PG Jamal Crawford logs 30 minutes nightly yet only averages 2.9 dimes per contest.

*Moving on, I think the NBA should make knee and elbow pads part of the uniform next year. Something like this, maybe- super soft and lightweight. There's no reason players should keep cracking their kneecaps together or catching inadvertent elbows to the teeth.

*Another change I'd like to see would be a tighter time limit on free throws. Maybe :05 to shoot from the time the player receives the ball from the ref. Over the course of four quarters, I'm convinced this would shave off a half hour of pure drudgery. And it wouldn't allow the pace of the game to slow or settle every time someone got fouled. As it is now, that's just two minutes of 'complain time' for every ref-baiting asshole in the league.

*Now that Channing ("Small") Frye has been named to the All-Star weekend's 3 point contest, his transformation from 'big man' to 'wing player' is officially complete. He joins an esteemed list of giants recognized for their ability to negate both their size and strength in favor of the 30 foot jumper. If Raef Lafrentz was still alive today, he'd be very proud. Ditto for Paul Mokeski, Tom Chambers, Rik Smits, Bill Laimbeer, Manute Bol and Memo Okur. Just kidding, all these guys are still alive...and probably shooting jumpers somewhere this very minute.

Pictured: Small Frye using his fadeaway from distance

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Highs And Lows Of TJ Ford

It's hard to feel sorry for anyone who gets paid millions of dollars to play professional basketball. Seriously.

But I started thinking about TJ Ford today and honestly, that guy's had it rough (for a millionaire who's probably never had a REAL job).

Here's a quick recap of the rollercoaster ride that's been Ford's basketball career:

After winning two state titles in high school, Ford was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a degenerative disease that narrows and compresses the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.

He played two phenomenal seasons at Texas U, winning both the Naismith AND the Wooden Awards as a sophomore.

He turned pro and was taken eighth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was in the midst of a productive rookie season when Mark Madsen delivered a hard foul that slammed the little guy into the hardwood. The result was a contusion of the spinal cord, a life-threatening injury that kept him out of action for almost a season and a half. When he finally returned, the team had moved on without him, building their plans around Mo Williams. Ford was traded to Toronto for Charlie Villanueva.

As a Raptor, Ford flourished, guiding the team to a division title and playoff berth in 06/07. Then he hit the deck again, this time on a flagrant by Al Horford. He didn't get up or move for a loooong time. They carried him off on a stretcher. Jose Calderon played well in his absence and Ford returned from his latest injury to discover he'd lost another starting job. He sulked. He refused to be a backup. The Raps traded him to Indiana for Jermaine O'Neal.

Again, Ford was handed the starting job. He played well for a while then lost said starting job to Earl Watson (yes, Earl Watson) in the beginning of January and hasn't appeared in a game since. The Pacers readily admit that they're trying to trade him.

Whew. Crazy.

I've never been a TJ Ford fan. He's always seemed like kind of a self-absorbed dick. But I have to give him credit for courage and perseverance. And I hope this whole story ends well for him, I really do. I'd like to see him redeem himself like Chauncey Billups did, prove he belongs in this league. More likely is the possibility that his career ends with another crash to the floor.

Pictured: a paralyzed Ford

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Gameplan For The Nyets

In order for the Nyets to avoid breaking Philly's 9-73 mark for worst of all time, they need to make the following changes immediately:

-Put Kris Humphries in the starting line-up and send Yi Jianlian to the bench

-Make sure Bro-Pez gets at least 20 shots a game; dude's 50% from the floor and 80% from the line, get him more than 14 shots

-Take less than 10 3s per game as a team; Harris and Lee should be attacking the basket constantly, Tony Parker-style

-Give Tony Battie, Keyon Dooling and Trenton Hassell more run as backups; avoid breaking the record first, then worry about developing the youngsters (apologies to Yi, CDR and T Williams)

-Get out and run, especially against teams on long road trips or back to backs

Overall, they still have the talent to win 15-20 games. Yes, they were hit hard by the injury bug early with Harris missing lots of time. But if they play their hustle and defense guys (Humphries, Hassell, Dooling, Battie) more with their core players (Harris, Lee, Lopez), they'll have no problem getting into double digit wins. If they need inspiration, they should look at the Milwaukee Bucks as an example. The Bucks have marginal talent but they play hard on defense and make sure their offense always goes through their big man (Bogut). And right now, that team's on pace for about 35 wins.

Pictured: Bro-Pez, too good to be on the worst team ever