Don’t ask me how this one started. The last thing I remember is going to Youtube and this video was on the front page. It’s crazy watching two slender, agile 7-footers doing battle with quickness and athleticism. This clip will surely have you saying, “they just don’t make em like they used to.” Anyway, in this clip, it appears that Hakeem Olajuwon feels a little slighted watching David Robinson hoist the MVP trophy. That postseason, over 22 games en route to a second consecutive NBA Championship, The Dream averaged a ridiculous 33 pts, 10 reb, 4.5 asts per game. I never would’ve classified Olajuwon as underrated, but looking back, I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. Michael Jordan is regarded as the best player in the history of the game, but who won the title both years he was away? Hakeem was at the top of his game, and he didn’t need Semmi to get there.
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The trade deadline has come and gone, and there was some activity over the past week leading up to the salary dump or be a contender deadline. I can’t say I was surprised that Amare or Boozer didn’t go anywhere since both teams are still in the playoff hunt, and the Jazz look to be a threat in the west. There were some big moves by teams in contention, so I’ll go through and give you my thoughts on if these teams actually made themselves better to contend for a title…
Great pickup for a team that desperately needed someone to help out Aldridge down low. Aldridge has been playing out of position since Oden and Pryzbilla went down, so moving back to his natural PF spot should increase his productivity. I don’t see Portland as a contender, but this move could get them into the playoffs, and give them a little more experience come next year when they have a better chance at competing for a title. That is, if Brandon Roy starts looking like his old self, and gets that hammy healthy. Trade grade B.
Yeah, I know. I already wrote about this one. I’ll rehash what I wrote before, this does make them better defensively, which should improve their soft image. Caron hasn’t had a great start in Dallas, but I’m sure it will take a little while to assimilate to the new team. I really like Haywood down low. I caught some of the game against the Suns last night and he was swatting all that weak sh** out of the paint. I thought they had a chance before the trade to do something in the west, but this only increases their chances. The trade grade B+
This feels like a terrible trade for the Bulls. They are finally gelling and out of nowhere they ship out a big man that is finally playing well out of town. I like the move for Charlotte, who needed to make a move to be better, and getting rid of Acie Law and Flip Murray won’t effect them at all from an on court standpoint. They’ve easily leapfrogged the Bulls in the east to get destroyed by one of the top three seeds. I still like that they made an improvement, so I’ll give them a B.
Great deal for the Rockets, although I don’t see why they traded away Landry who has a shot at 6th man of the year. I’m just glad he landed in Sac who now has ten PF’s. I think having K-Mart will help the Rockets in the clutch, and since they are in a lot of close games, they will need him at the end of games. I feel like he will give some relief to Ariza and Brooks on the scoring load, and also make their offense tougher to zero in. He’s being reunited with his old coach Adelman so at least there’s a familiarity there. Martin also has that high basketball IQ which never hurts on a team that looks to overachieve. Trade grade B+. I don’t like them giving up their best bench guy in Landry could hurt their chemistry, but overall it’s a good move…
I really like Jamison (partially for his Warriors ties, and partially because it’s my favorite Irish Whiskey). There’s no doubt that Amare would’ve been a bigger acquisition, but Jamison is no slouch. He’s a team guy and his averages are nearly identical to Amare’s 20ppg and 8 rpg. I’m not sure why people don’t view this as a great move. I mean look how well Jamal Crawford is doing for Atlanta after being stuck on crappy teams for years and years. The Cavs didn’t need to add someone that needs to dominate the ball to be effective, and Jamison is a guy that can get his without holding the ball too much! I thought they were the best team to knock off the Lakers, and this only improves them. Trade grade A-. It’s only a minus because they could’ve gone for Amare.
Surprisingly we haven’t done any power rankings for hoops this year, so we were about due for this post! We’re approaching the halfway point in the season, and this is how we think the top 16 looks as of today.
1. Los Angeles Lakers – As negative as we are about the Lakers on Doin Work, we respect them. Aside from losing to their freeway rivals Wednesday, the Lake Show still have the best record in the league, and only have 7 losses on the season. I watch them more than I want to, and they’ve had a few injuries, but if Kobe is in the lineup they seem to find a way to win. Their defense might be a concern going forward, but when Ron and Pau are both healthy and back in the lineup they should be solid in the defensive department again. Bynum has been stepping up in a major way.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers – I’m not really sure how the Cavs lost to Charlotte, but other than that mini-speed bump they’ve been very consistent since destroying the Lakers on Christmas. I have a feeling that Nike could get their lame MVPuppet match up this year. It’s sad that I think beginning to be less of a Lebron fan because of those commercials!
3. Boston Celtics – No contending team outside of Portland has more injuries to key guys than the Celtics. Even without Rondo, KG, and Pierce they somehow beat a Toronto team that is playing surprisingly well lately. I guess it’s not a surprise for the leagues oldest team is having injury problems. I’m sure they’re just hoping that they are healthy at the right time.
4. Dallas Mavericks – If the playoffs started today, the Mavs would have the #2 seed. I was actually surprised to see this, but it’s true! Cuban has reigned over the Mavs for a decade now, and seems like he’s pushing the right buttons with his squad this year. They may have stunk up the court against the Lakers, but they beat all the teams they are supposed to and are deeper than I imagined they would be.
5. Orlando Magic – Matt Barnes has been playing some great ball since being put in the starting rotation. Unfortunately for the Magic, he has been their best player as of late and they don’t look like a very deep team anymore. Coach Van Gundy thinks they are in a rut, and it seems like he’s right as they’ve lost three straight. If guys don’t know their roles on the team, it always leads to unhappy players…
6. Denver Nuggets – I’m not sure how the Nuggets are hanging onto their division lead, but they are without Chauncey and Melo. The refs gave them a gift of a foul against the Warriors. They better watch out though, because the Blazers are closing in fast, and have overcome many more injuries than these Nuggets.
7. Portland Trailblazers – Can you say enough good things about Brandon Roy. He’s the ultimate team player. He didn’t have huge stats in the beginning of the year because the team didn’t need him as much. Now that 80% of the team is on the IR he’s playing with D-Leaguers and still has this Blazers team hunting down Denver for the division lead. Roy put up a stinker against the Clips, but if Kobe gets a pass, so does he!
8. Phoenix Suns – This might be too high for the Suns, but screw it. They have beat the best in the league and seem to lose to the worst. I really don’t know what to make of them, since they are so inconsistent, but as long as Nash is running the show they will win. If Richardson can get a little bit more consistent, I like where this team is going.
9. San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs started off the year slow, but as is the case every year, they’re right in the thick of things now. Winners of 12 of their last 15, the Spurs haven’t been flashy, but rank second in the league in FG% and third in 3PT%. Tim Duncan is averaging nearly 20 and 10.
10. Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks have stumbled as of late, dropping 5 of their last 7, but they have plenty of talent to carry them into the playoffs. With Josh Smith continuing to mature with each game, and Jamal Crawford finding his stride as a bench player, they simply need to keep pace in the top half of the Eastern Conference standings and they can be a dangerous playoff team once again.
11. Utah Jazz – It’d be easy to chalk up the Jazz’ early struggles to injuries, but they haven’t really had many. Carlos Boozer has played all 35 games, while Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur have missed a combined 7 games. As long as Williams’ wrist injury doesn’t linger all season long, Utah should find themselves right in the thick of the playoff race.
12. Houston Rockets – The Rockets have been proving doubters wrong all season so far, and despite their current three game losing streak, they’re sitting pretty at 20-16. Those three losses have come at the hands of the Hornets, Lakers, and Suns, all on the road. They’ve been beating the teams they’re supposed to. In this league, if you do that, you’ll find yourself in playing in the postseason. Houston currently sits in the 7th spot, but only by a half a game. In fact, only 3 games separate them from the 12th spot right now.
13. Oklahoma City Thunder – A trendy preseason pick to make the playoffs, the Sonics have not disappointed. Kevin Durant has carried the load, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, and blocks. Their 19-16 record is impressive enough, but what really stands out is their 10-8 record on the road. The only teams in the West with worse home records are Minnesota and Golden State. It’s too bad they’re in OKC, as I’m sure the Seattle fans would provide them a much better home court advantage.
14. Miami Heat – The Heat were hot, no pun intended, to start the season but have since cooled off. Nonetheless, they’re still lingering around the .500 mark, which historically would get you in the playoffs in the East. Dwyane Wade should also garner some MVP attention should Miami finish in the top half of the standings. He’s averaging 27 pts, 5 reb, and 6 ast per game.
15. New Orleans Hornets – Riding a four game win streak, the Hornets are now over .500 for the first time this season at 17-16. That’s not good enough for the playoffs in the Western Conference, but with Chris Paul back healthy, they’ve got to like their chances to pass up Houston and/or Oklahoma City before the season ends.
16. Toronto Raptors – Let’s face it, this could be any team here at #16. The Raptors haven’t exactly impressed this season, but they’re still right in the thick of things. The Chris Bosh farewell tour is going strong. Now, if only Jose Calderon could regain his form, Toronto could have a good shot at knocking off a higher seed in the first round of the playoffs. I wouldn’t count on it though.
I know, Halloween’s passed, but the picture just made me think about what’s going on tonight. ESPN has a great doubleheader on: Atlanta @ Boston and Los Angeles @ Denver. Sounds like a great night right? Nope, those are the only treats. The rest of the lineup is one big trick. Here are the games, ranked in order of least bad to worst.
Portland @ New Orleans – Our panel was in agreement that this is at least one of the two next best games. Taking away some of the appeal is New Orleans’ disappointing start, capped by the firing of Byron Scott this week. Nonetheless, Chris Paul battling it out with Brandon Roy is still plenty reason to watch this one.
New Jersey @ Orlando – I must be on my own here, because everyone else ranked this game in the top three, but I couldn’t feel more different. Yes, Orlando is the defending conference champion. Yes, Vince Carter will be going up against his old team, but his old team is 0-8 and Devin Harris isn’t playing. Lopez vs. Howard should provide some highlights though.
Utah @ Philadelphia – This game actually had the same average ranking as the Warriors – Knicks, but I’ll list it first since one of us had it as their #1 game. I’m not sure who it was, or why they chose it, but it surely won’t be for the Carlos Boozer – Elton Brand fall from grace Duke matchup.
Golden State @ New York – East meets West in this matchup of teams that play in Top 5 basketball markets, but continue to make more headlines for disasters than winning ballgames. The only silver lining to this game will be the stat sheet after the game. Both sides will take turns letting each other score, so there’ll be plenty of points, but expect to see a healthy dose of turnovers and three point attempts as well!
Houston @ Sacramento – I ranked this game the highest, and I’m not being a homer. Believe it or not, this is the only other game where both teams are .500 or better. Many expected Houston to struggle without anyone good playing, but they’re off to a 5-3 start. Meanwhile, the Kings were the hands down favorite to be the worst team in the NBA this year, but since losing Kevin Martin, have rattled off three straight and sit at 4-4. Now, I’ll admit the action on the court isn’t the most enticing, but watching Tyreke Evans is a treat. He’s just now starting to realize that without K-Mart, this is his team. It’s a good thing Houston has guys like Ariza and Battier to throw at him after Brooks and Lowery give up.
Dallas @ Minnesota – The Mavericks look they might have one last good run in them this year. They’ve got plenty of weapons, but it’s unclear whether they have the depth to make a postseason run. We won’t find out tonight, as the Mavs’ reserves are sure to get plenty of garbage time minutes in the second half.
Toronto @ LA Clippers – It’s amazing how the Clippers can turn anybody off. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing, they’d still end up here at the bottom. Celtics – Clippers? Nah, blowout. Grizzlies – Clippers? Nah, garbage teams. It’s really a lose-lose. Even with Chris Bosh coming to town, and the Raptors figuring to be in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff picture this year, watching anyone play the Clippers sounds undesirable.