Monday, February 9, 2009

NBA Trade Deadline – Amare Stoudemire Edition

It's looking like he's as good as gone from Phoenix, so here are a few possibilities as to where he may end up, thanks to the Trade Machine and my ingenious mind.

Atlanta Hawks get: Amare Stoudemire

Phoenix Suns get: Marvin Williams, Acie Law, Zaza Pachulia, Othello Hunter, first round draft choice

Atlanta's interest in making this work is obvious. Amare would step in and be the man for that offense, something that likely wouldn't bother Joe Johnson, who seems more comfortable as a 1a or a #2 type player. As for the Suns, they get a rapidly improving Marvin Williams and a great backup point guard in Law (who could also be their long term choice at the position). Throw in Pachulia's expiring $4 million deal and a 1st round pick, and you have a decent package for a guy you've all but committed to deal by the deadline.

Atlanta Hawks get: Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash

Phoenix Suns get: Marvin Williams, Mike Bibby, Flip Murray, two first round draft choices

This one will not happen, but I still like the idea. Phoenix slashes payroll (over $27 million) for Williams, Bibby and Murray, all of whom have expiring contracts. On Atlanta's end, that team would be SCARY. Nash/Johnson/Smith/Horford/Stoudemire would be unstoppable offensively, not to mention the fact that they'd sell out every arena they play in, certainly not a bad thing with our current economic situation.

Chicago Bulls get: Amare Stoudemire

Phoenix Suns get: Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Drew Gooden, first round draft choice

I think Chicago is the most logical destination, but I'm not sure if there's a package that would make both sides happy. I think I read about this one somewhere, but I wouldn't deal Amare for this package; I think I can come up with a better deal.

Chicago Bulls get: Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, Louis Amundson

Phoenix Suns get: Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Ben Gordon, Drew Gooden

Now that's more like it. The question is whether the Bulls would be willing to part with both Thomas and Deng, especially with how they've been playing the last month. Personally, I would do anything I could to pair Derrick Rose with a guy like Amare Stoudemire. Even if Deng and Thomas aren't teasing the Bulls – again – with their recent play, Rose-Stoudemire would be a franchise combination. On the flipside of this trade, the Suns would be getting two young talents and two expiring contracts (including a good player in Ben Gordon). They couldn't really ask for much more considering the league-wide perception (undeserved, for the most part) that Stoudemire isn't a team player.

Memphis Grizzlies get: Amare Stoudemire

Phoenix Suns get: Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, Hakim Warrick

I really like this trade, even though there are a few hitches. First, Phoenix doesn't get any cap relief from this deal; Warrick's $2 million is all that comes up at the end of the year. But as far as young talent goes, they won't get a better deal than this one. Conley is only 21 and can learn a lot from Steve Nash before taking over for him in 2010, and Gay is a great talent who has already proven himself to be a productive player. Pair him with Nash and his numbers can only improve.

New York Knicks get: Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa

Phoenix Suns get: Al Harrington, Nate Robinson, Malik Rose, Jerome James, first round draft choice

Obviously the Knicks will be a part of the Amare sweepstakes, how serious they'll be is anyone's guess. This was the best offer I could come up with that didn't include David Lee, because I highly doubt the Knicks' willingness to part ways with him. On Phoenix's end, all four contracts expire at the end of the year so they can chose which guys they want to resign; and they could take out Barbosa and James if they felt the names didn't add up.

Portland Trail Blazers get: Amare Stoudemire

Phoenix Suns get: Travis Outlaw, Jerryd Bayless, Raef LaFrentz, first round draft choice

Portland will always come up when a big name is on the trade market, simply by virtue of the number of valuable assets they possess on their loaded roster. This is one I read about and I somewhat like because I'm a big Bayless fan, and the more I watch Outlaw the more I'm impressed by his offensive skillset. But I created another deal between these two teams

Portland Trail Blazers get: Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa

Phoenix Suns get: LaMarcus Aldridge, Jerryd Bayless, Channing Frye, Raef LaFrentz

I don't see how Stoudemire could come in and play with Aldridge and Oden; are there really enough minutes to go around for all three of them? Simply put, no, so dealing Aldridge makes sense here (even though I'd rather move Oden… that's obviously not gonna happen). And the way I see it, Bayless' floor is to be the caliber of Barbosa, ceiling being Gilbert Arenas. And if they don't think they're getting enough, they can always substitute Travis Outlaw for Frye.

Washington Wizards get: Amare Stoudemire

Phoenix Suns get: Antawn Jamison, Nick Young, Juan Dixon

This is not that bad of a deal; Phoenix doesn't get the cap relief that they're searching for but they do get a proven all-star and a great young talent. Obviously I'm dreaming with this, and it really doesn't make much sense on the Wizards' end (and especially in relation to Gilbert Arenas, who really wouldn't be a good fit with Stoudemire). But it's a good package for Phoenix and the Wiz probably need to do something, so let's get this done!

In addition to the Amare talks, Phoenix's other all-star big man is on the block as well. I might go through a couple other options on a later date, but since I highly doubt anyone taking on Shaq and his $40 million over this year and next I'll only put forth one very interesting proposal.

Cleveland Cavaliers get: Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Richardson

Phoenix Suns get: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, JJ Hickson, Wally Szczerbiak, Eric Snow

How crazy would this deal be? And the scariest part of it is, it's not that farfetched by any means. Ilgauskas is a very good player, a reliable starter at the center spot. Hickson is, by all accounts, going to be a very good player. He's only 20 years old so he'd fill that young prospect requirement that Phoenix is looking for in any deal. And Szczerbiak's and Snow's contracts come off the books at the end of the season, clearing $20+ million. Meanwhile, take a look at Cleveland's starting five now: Mo Williams, Jason Richardson, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Shaquille O'Neal. That's an intimidating team, a championship team. They'd be making a huge stride towards showing LeBron that they're dead serious about winning a title, and Shaq's massive contract is finished in time for that magical 2010 offseason. The one hitch that I see is this (taken from the trade machine): "Trade/Claim: If a team is over the cap and receives a player in a trade or claims a player off of waivers, they cannot trade the player in combination with other players for 2 months. The player can be traded by himself." Meaning they'd have to isolate the Richardson for Szczerbiak part of the trade, but having seen the crazy deals where people get traded and come back to the team a week later, I'd be surprised if that little rule couldn't be sidestepped.

That's all for now, more to come soon.

Monday, February 2, 2009

NCAA Basketball Midseason Report

National Player of the Year

There's a lot being made of how open the race is this year, and a lot being made of the big three (Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Stephen Curry); and even though we're still not too deep into the conference season, I think those guys are being overrated and there are a few players who are being overlooked. I finally got to see Griffin for a full game yesterday @Texas A&M, and while I was impressed with his physical tools and next-level potential, the overall impact on his team doesn't equivalate to how talented he is (right now I have him pegged as a cross between Dwight Howard and Carlos Boozer; the raw physicality similar to Howard's is already there and his skills seem to be progressing toward those of Boozer's – much more on NBA potential on several players to come at a later date).

Don't get me started on Hansbrough. He's a dominant individual college player most of the time, but Ty Lawson is the guy who makes that team go. He's been GREAT this season, but I'd go so far as to say Danny Green has been more valuable to Carolina than Hansbrough this season. Every player on the team has spent stretches looking lethargic, with the exception of Green and Lawson, and that includes Psycho-T. I'm not going to go any further than that, because I really hate how the guy is treated by the media and officials all around the country and I don't want to get too far off track.

Stephen Curry is the one of the big three that I feel has the best case because he's at #1 in the country in scoring to lead a competitive Davidson team. But this year he's become more than a scorer; Bob Knight hails him as "the best passer in the country." I wouldn't go quite that far, but he's averaging more than twice as many assists this year as he is last year. He's doing everything and more for that squad, compiling eight 30+ (which includes three 40+) point games, five 8+ assist games, and he's been as clutch as they get in more than his share of moments. But I still think it's strange that he averages ten 3pt attempts/game, and it's definitely concerning that he only made 35% of his shots in their three losses, to the only three ranked teams on their schedule. He's doing a lot for his team, but he is by no means the best player in the country.

With all that said, I feel that there are a few guys who deserve to be getting the attention of those three. Guys who deserved to be mentioned for different reasons, but all deserve recognition in their own right. The first, a shooting guard who has had to deal with being overlooked for as long as I've been following him; not a guy with a flashy game, but one who gets the job done in every aspect of the game night in and night out. The next, a point guard who is breaking the mold of selfish scorer and blossoming into a true leader, on an extremely talented top 10 team no less. Another, an undersized post player who epitomizes his team's persona. Yet another, the most unassuming star in the country. And finally, a point guard who came out of nowhere to lead a talented but inexperienced team to the top of the NCAA basketball world.

James Harden, G/F, Arizona State – James Harden is the most complete player in the country, I don't think it's close either. He's the definition of the total package; great defender, great scorer, great passer, great rebounder,… the list goes on and on. No weaknesses in his game whatsoever. He's not a dominant scorer, but he'll take a game over when the situation calls for it. And he's got the Sun Devils ranked 17th in the country, with very little help from his supporting cast.

Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse – Flynn won't be a popular pick, but he's unquestionably the leader of a top 10 Syracuse team and they guy who they go to when they need a bucket. His numbers don't jump out at you and I don't expect him to be in the running by the end of the year, but for now he deserves consideration. Just watch the Orange play, if you know basketball you'll know what I'm talking about.

DeJuan Blair, F/C, Pittsburgh – Blair is another unconventional candidate, but he is the embodiment of what Pittsburgh basketball is all about. Undersized, overlooked in preseason, but a physical force that plays 110% on both ends of the court on every play. He's another guy who I don't really anticipate being in the running in March, but on my ballot he's among the leaders.

Luke Harangody, F, Notre Dame – Harangody is the most bizarre star I've ever seen. He looks like the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters, but he's one of the best players in the country. I generally compare him to Hansbrough, but he's really a lot better. He has an array of post moves, good mid-range game, and he can actually pass…. He has stretches where he forces shots and gets cold, but when he's on he's one of the best in the country.

Jeff Teague, PG, Wake Forest – Teague is my choice for National Player of the Year at this point. He's the same type of point guard that Flynn is and while he doesn't quite have the floor presence Flynn has, but on an immensely talented Wake team he's unquestionably the go-to guy (he's really their only guy who can create his own shot, other than James Johnson) and has them a mainstay in the top 5.

I also want to give a shout out to a guy who I've been a fan of since he was freshman, Louisville's Terrence Williams. Earl Clark gets all the publicity but Williams is their best player. If he's not scoring, he's making an impact somewhere, whether it's creating shots, blocking shots, rebounding, creating turnovers, whatever he can do to win. He reminds me a lot of Josh Smith with a competitive edge.

National Championship

First, I'll say this here: I was wrong about North Carolina. If I had been keeping up with the blog, I would've been touting UNC as a surefire bet to go undefeated this year. I still think that the team was capable of doing just that, but their mental toughness has been lacking to say the least. Roy Williams is one of the more overrated coaches in the country, and the team's shortcomings are a result of Williams not keeping them in line on a game-to-game basis. At least that's what it looks like to me. I still like UNC to take home the crown, but I'm a little nervous about their chances now.

There are a few other teams who's Final Four chances are really good, a few of them from the best conference in the country by FAR, the Big East. (And by the way, anyone who tries to argue anyone else, give me a break. Outside of the state of North Carolina, the ACC is awful, and there isn't another conference that makes any sense whatsoever.) My contenders:

Arizona State – This might be a pipe dream, but when you play defense like the Sun Devils do and you have a player like James Harden, you have the potential to go places. They need to limit turnovers and stop themselves from settling for jump shots; Harden needs to solve both problems himself and if he does, the team will follow. And if they can do it in March, they'll sneak their way up to Detroit.

Connecticut – Along with me touting UNC, I also had UConn as far and away the second best team in the country. This Huskies team is absurdly talented; they've got size, athleticism, great defenders at every position, and possibly most importantly, they play with the swagger of an elite team (that can get them in trouble, though). They're the only team in the country who can match UNC's talent, and they're a MUCH more physical team.

Duke – As much as it pains me to say it, Duke is good enough to contend, provided they get a decent bracket. I refuse to talk up any Duke team, so I won't here.

Louisville – When Terrence Williams and Earl Clark are playing well, they can't be beat. Granted, they can also be beaten by some bad teams when they start to settle for too many jumpers (losses to Western Kentucky and UNLV at home…) but Clark and Williams, along with Samardo Samuels, make up the best frontcourt in the country.

Marquette – I really want to know what's going on in Tom Crean's mind right now. He's coaching an Indiana team that has the least impressive set of wins in all the major conferences. Take a look at this: Northwestern St, IUPUI, Chaminade, Cornell, TCU. Good Lord. And to top it all off, Crean left his best Dwyane Wade-less Marquette team he's ever had; they're a legit Final Four contender thanks to the best backcourt in the country.

Michigan State – They're losing to some bad teams, at home no less (Penn St, Northwestern, and to a lesser extent Maryland), but they're still a very talented team and there isn't a coach in the country that I'd rather have come tournament time than Tom Izzo. After the last two weeks I wouldn't put money on MSU to go too far, but a good finish to the season could very easily change that.

Notre Dame – They've struggled quite a bit, but their last five-game stretch is the most ridiculous you can ever see: @Louisville, @Syracuse, UConn, Marquette, @Pittsburgh. Tory Jackson is one of my favorite players in the country (do yourself a favor and watch him), and Luke Harangody is a stud. When those two play well and their shooters (Kyle McAlarney, Ryan Ayers) are knocking down threes they're tough to beat.

Pittsburgh – Easily the most physical team in the country, the Panthers will beat the hell out of any team they face. DeJuan Blair is a top three player in the country, and a lock for first team All-American in my humble opinion, and Sam Young and Levance Fields could start for 95% of the country. And even though they're a tough defensive team, they can score with anyone in the country.

Syracuse – Jonny Flynn leads a gifted Orange team that, regardless of their recent slump, can play with anyone. Paul Harris is an absolute beast, words won't do him justice, just watch the 6'4" forward grab 8.2 rebounds/game. And Flynn is a stud; not only is he one of the most talented players in the country, but he's extremely cool under pressure whenever the situation calls and he's very reliable in those situations.

Wake Forest – I think they're too young to make the Final Four (see: loss @Georgia Tech), but they're way too talented to not at least have a shot. They're so big and athletic to not play good defense, and Jeff Teague is no joke, the Gilbert Arenas of college basketball.

NOT Oklahoma… they're not good. As I've already gone over, Blake Griffin is overrated. I really like Willie Warren, but this team will not make the Final Four. End of story.

Georgetown could get there, but they need to REBOUND. Greg Monroe and DaJuan Summers are very good offensively, but you can't have 4 and 5 that combine for 10.8 rebounds/game.

That's the midseason report, take it or leave it. NBA review coming soon.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008-2009 NBA Regular Season Preview

Well I'm gonna try to start this up again, and I'm not going to waste any time with another intro. Just know that I know more about the topics I choose than you do so respect the work accordingly.

And I apologize for this being a little late, but it's only a week into the season so if you don't like it, turn off your station. (Playoff seeds in parenthesis)

Eastern Conference


1) Boston Celtics (1) – This is still the best and most complete team in the division. KG will always be an MVP candidate as long as he brings the same intensity he does every year, and a lot of people will be very surprised about how good Rajon Rondo actually is.

2) Philadelphia 76ers (3) – The 6ers were a very good team at the end of last year, and adding a healthy Elton Brand to a young and improving group of players can only help. They still don't have any shooters but they do have Louis Williams, who will become a household name in the near future.

3) Toronto Raptors (6) – Toronto is going to surprise people for one reason: Jermaine O'Neal. I am of the belief that he simply stopped giving a shit about his situation in Indiana resulting in his conditioning -- and thus his health – suffering. He's still only 30 and if he goes back to the 19.4, 9.6 and 2.6 guy he was just two years ago, they're gonna win some games. Also watch out for Jamario Moon to have a big year running with Jose Calderon – both will benefit greatly from each other.

4) New Jersey Nets – Rod Thorn continues to prove himself to be one of the best GMs in the league. Think I'm crazy? The two most important positions in basketball are point guard and center, and the Nets have a solid group of players at both positions. Devin Harris is a stud in the making and Keyon Dooling is one of the best defensive PGs in the country. Josh Boone, Sean Williams and rookie Brook Lopez make up a pretty good platoon of pivots – especially Williams if he ever pulls his head out of his ass. This still isn't a playoff team, but they're definitely getting up there and it'll be interesting to see what they're able to do with Vince Carter.

5) New York Knicks – This team is really bad. D'Antoni is a very good coach, a great offensive mind. But where he had Steve Nash in Phoenix, he now has CHRIS DUHON in the Big Apple. If Duhon has anything resembling a Steve Nash-esque season I will officially profess my undying allegiance to Mike D'Antoni for being the greatest offensive mind in all of Sport.


1) Detroit Pistons (2) – Remember these guys? The clearcut #2 team in the Eastern Conference last year? Yea those guys. Except now, while they have only one regular (Antonio McDyess) who will probably see a decline in his effectiveness, they have a bunch of young guys (Rodney Stuckey, Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson – the last two will more than make up for McDyess) who will be much better than they were last year. They also have Kwame Brown. (Note: since I got this done late, I wasn't able to include the Billups/McDyess for Iverson trade til late. I think this will greatly benefit the Pistons, especially if Iverson is willing to be their Manu off the bench)

2) Cleveland Cavaliers (5) – As long as the best player in the world suits up for them (two more years) the Cavs are going to be a threat to win the conference. But I'm not as high on this team as most people are. The only upgrade on the roster over last year (other than LeBron's personal improvement) is Mo Williams, a guy who put up decent stats (17 pts 6 asts) on a piss-poor Bucks team. He is talented, and if he can really be LeBron's right hand man then they're going to be great, I just won't crown the King's minions just yet.

3) Chicago Bulls (8) – There is a lot of talent on the Chicago roster, led by the next great – and I mean GREAT – point guard in Derrick Rose. They're very weak up front and that'll likely put them back in the lottery this year, but they have a couple pieces (Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon) to move in exchange for some interior scoring. The guy to keep an eye on here (besides Rose) is Tyrus Thomas. Not only have his skills been progressing, but pairing him with Rose will only benefit all of those involved.

4) Indiana Pacers – This is the Forrest Gump team of the NBA: a little retarded and running all the time. With TJ Ford at point, Danny Granger on the wing (and nothing else), they'll have no choice. Actually Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy are pretty good, but nothing particularly special, unless you're doing fantasy basketball.

5) Milwaukee Bucks – I think this team has a few players, but ultimately they're just not that good. First, they don't have a point guard. Luke Ridnour? HA! Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva and Andrew Bogut is a solid quartet, but they don't play good defense and they have absolutely no depth behind them anyway.


1) Orlando Magic (4) – I hate putting the Magic ahead of the Wizards; if both teams were healthy there'd be no question in my mind that Orlando is the inferior team. But a couple knee and wrist surgeries later, here we are. Orlando did improve this year with the addition of Michael Pietrus – who I think was very underutilized last year by the Warriors – and the inevitable improvement of Dwight Howard. But Howard isn't as great as everyone thinks. He's 100% strength and athleticism, and very little skill and anticipation. His poor footwork leaves him with bad post skills, on both sides of the ball. But with that said, he's still ridiculously talented and this team will be better than last year.

2) Washington Wizards (7) – Caron Butler is the most underrated player in the NBA. And if you dismiss that statement as biased, I dare you to provide an alternative name. But with that said, the weakness of the Southeast's is the main reason why the Wizards are this high. Brendan Haywood's wrist injury will be worse for the team than Gilbert's latest knee surgery because his improvement, especially on the defensive end, was the biggest reason why the team was able to succeed without their best player. Now they have to start Etan Thomas good god. The wild card will obviously be if Arenas can come back healthy. If so, they will be an offensive force until Haywood comes back and completes the team. Also keep an eye on Nick Young.

3) Charlotte Bobcats – I first need to say, I think the bottom three teams in the Southeast are interchangeable. All three actually have a lot of talent, but for one reason or another they're simply not good teams. Charlotte has a bunch of good players, led by Jason Richardson. But instead of drafting a guy – albeit an overrated guy – in Brook Lopez to give them a decent post scorer, they decided to take PG DJ Augustin when they already had a good PG in Raymond Felton. I just don't get it.

4) Miami Heat – Dwyane Wade, when healthy, is arguably one of the five best players in the NBA. I wouldn't argue it, but the case can be made. Shawn Marion is extremely talented, and Michael Beasley is going to be a stud. But all three guys are primarily scorers. Marion isn't good without a PG to set him up, and Beasley is just a rookie. Plus, after those three, they have next-to-nothing. If Wade plays 70+ games, they might compete for the 8th seed in the East.

5) Atlanta Hawks – They have one of the most talented starting 5s in the NBA, but almost no bench to speak of. I am the biggest Josh Smith fan there is, same goes for Joe Johnson. Johnson is a legit superstar, and Josh Smith has the ability to be a top five player in the league. But while they have two point guards (too old Mike Bibby and too young Acie Law) they have zero depth beyond that and it'll hurt them, especially later in the season.

Western Conference


1) Utah Jazz (4) – I really like the Jazz, they have possibly the best coach in the NBA, a very deep rotation, and the best point guard in the NBA. Yes, I said it. Deron Williams is the best PG in the league; he's the better scorer, defender and passer in comparison to Chris Paul. Paul is the better creator, so depending on what you want in your PG, he might be your guy. But Williams is better. Also keep an eye on Ronnie Brewer, I expect big things.

2) Portland Trail Blazers (8) – I think this is a playoff team, but anything beyond that is dependant entirely on the health and production of Greg Oden. If he's the defensive force everyone thinks he can be, they could make some noise in April. But if he's as injury prone (and as god awful offensively) as he appears, they'll be an 8 seed and get bounced in the first round. LaMarcus Aldridge is a beast, fyi.

3) Denver Nuggets – After giving Marcus Camby away to the Clippers for literally nothing, the worst defensive team in the NBA got that much worse. Now they've traded their best offensive player (AI) for a declining and slightly overrated Chauncey Billups, I just don't see how they could win more than 35 games.

4) Oklahoma City Thunder – They're gonna be one of the worst teams in the league, but Kevin Durant is going to be a superstar. I also really like their selection of Russell Westbrook; I liken him to Rajon Rondo, except with more of a 2-guard game (better shooter/scorer, not as good passer). They're a long way from competing, but they have some good young talent with Durant, Westbrook and Jeff Green.

5) Minnesota Timberwolves – Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think Kevin Love is not gonna be good. I believe that one of Minnesota's coaches described him as a "train wreck" physically, meaning he's going to get punished by NBA bigs. Al Jefferson is good and keeps getting better, and I really like Randy Foye even if he isn't playing well right now, but this team is terrible.


1) LA Lakers (1) – As much as I dislike Kobe, his shortcomings as a player will only come back to bite this team in the playoffs. I don't see how they won't have another monster regular season with Andrew Bynum back. Trevor Ariza is also the most overlooked player on the team and he will have a big impact on how far they go, he can add toughness and raw ability to one of the weakest defenses in the NBA.

2) Phoenix Suns (5) – The Suns are the most disregarded team in the league. Trading Shawn Marion for Shaq was a GREAT move, and now that Mike D'Antoni is gone and they can slow their offense down, the world will see why (by the way that's not a knock on D'Antoni, I think he's a great offensive mind). Amare Stoudemire is a MONSTER, if he's able to improve his defensive ability (mostly protecting the basket) he will be the best big man in the league. Don't be surprised if Phoenix is fighting for the Western Conference title.

3) LA Clippers (7) – It's a real shame that Elton Brand left for Philly, but with the signing of Baron Davis they have a good team, a playoff contending team. Once Marcus Camby starts playing they're going to have a very good frontcourt with him, Chris Kaman and Al Thornton. Thornton is a BEAST, and I expect him to only improve as the year progresses.

4) Golden State Warriors – They're going to score a bunch of points so they'll win a few games. Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette are both very good all-around players, and when Monta Ellis comes back they'll have another guy capable of dropping 30 on any given night. But Ellis is not – at least from what I've seen – a point guard, let alone Baron Davis and this team is going to be lottery bound for sure.

5) Sacramento Kings – Bad team, plain and simple. Kevin Martin is allegedly a good scorer (I've never seen him play) and John Salmons is also supposedly good, though again I've never seen him play. They have a promising young frontcourt with Spencer Hawes and rookie Jason Thompson, but I'd be surprised if the Kings won more than 20-25 games.


1) New Orleans Hornets (2) – I'm still amazed at how good this team is because the roster isn't overly impressive, but the team has been expertly put together. The addition of James Posey will only help because in addition to his great shooting stroke now they have a guy who can guard Kobe. They'll contend for the NBA title for sure.

2) Houston Rockets (3) – If they can somehow stay healthy – arguably the biggest 'if' in all of sports – the Rockets are, at least in my opinion, the best team in the NBA. To the idiots who say the team is better with Yao in street clothes, you are morons. I realize Rick Adleman likes to have his teams push the tempo, but Yao Ming is the best post scorer in the league and he's one of the more intimidating defensive presences in the league simply because of his size. No team has a better starting five, and they have a solid and somewhat deep bench. If somehow they stay healthy I wouldn't be surprised if the Rockets won the championship.

3) San Antonio Spurs (6) – They're still the Spurs, right? Well they still have Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, and by the close of 2008 they'll have Manu Ginobili, so I guess they're still the Spurs. But they're aging rapidly, and I strongly feel that their title contending days are over. But Greg Popovich is one of the elite coaches in sports and when you pair him with the aforementioned trio of players and you're going to have a competitive team.

4) Dallas Mavericks – As bad as I like to think the Mavs are, they might have the deepest roster in the league. Jason Kidd has lost a couple steps, especially on the defensive end, but he's still the best passer in the game and one of the smartest players in the league. With Kidd leading Dirk, Josh Howard and company they're going to compete for a playoff spot.

5) Memphis Grizzlies – I guess I'm in the minority when I say that I think the Grizz robbed Minnesota when they traded Kevin Love and Mike Miller for OJ Mayo. Mayo is going to be a stud, and Love is a fat sack of nothing but effort and outlet passing. I really like the scoring duo of Rudy Gay and Mayo, and I was very impressed with rookie Marc Gasol during the Olympics as well. Not many wins this year, but this team is headed in the right direction.

Postseason Awards

MVP – LeBron James

Defensive POY – Josh Smith

Rookie of the Year – Derrick Rose

Most Improved POY – Nick Young

Comeback POY – Jermaine O'Neal

Sixth Man – Allen Iverson (if that's his role, otherwise Young AI aka Louis Williams)


All-NBA 1st Team

Chris Paul

Kobe Bryant

LeBron James

Amare Stoudemire

Dwight Howard


All-Defense 1st Team

Rajon Rondo

Caron Butler

Josh Smith

Jermaine O'Neal

Tyson Chandler


All-Rookie Team

Derrick Rose

Russell Westbrook

OJ Mayo

Michael Beasley

Jason Thompson


Breakout Team

Rajon Rondo (or Louis Williams if you don't want to count Rondo)

Nick Young

Al Thornton

Tyrus Thomas

Troy Murphy