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Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011-12 NBA Season Preview: Eastern Conference

Canaan breaks down the 15 teams out East.


Offseason Recap: The Hawks haven't made a significant off-season addition since trading for Jamal Crawford. The firm belief in Atlanta has been that the core of Al Horford, Joe Johnson, and Josh Smith will eventually develop into a championship contender, with no major additions needed. Marvin Williams is paid like he's part of that core, and his bloated salary forced the Hawks to wave goodbye to Crawford after two very successful seasons in Atlanta. Jeff Teague is being counted on to build on his promising series vs. the Bulls last spring and become the man at point, which he'll have to do considering Tracy McGrady is his lone backup with Kirk Hinrich sidelined following shoulder surgery. Vladimir Radmonivic was also brought in to provide three-point shooting.
Offseason Grade: C-     Projected 2011-12 Record: 41-25 (5th in East)

Crawford cost too much
Kirk Hinrich hurt his shoulder
Teague must be the man


Offseason Recap: The moves the Celtics didn't make (trading for Chris Paul and/or David West) are more interesting than the moves they did make, but Danny Ainge still found a way to improve his team. Brandon Bass is a huge upgrade of Big Baby Davis, especially considering the money Davis will be making. The loss of Jeff Green hurts the depth behind Paul Pierce, and I don't think bringing back Sasha Pavlovic is going to help there. I do like the drafting of the Purdue duo JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore, but Jermaine O'Neal is still the starting center (ahead of Chris Wilcox), which isn't ideal. Delonte West was allowed to part, which may be for the best for both parties.

Offseason Grade: C     Projected 2011-12 Record: 44-22 (3rd in East)

Dooling and Bradley
Are the Celtics' backcourt depth
Rondo plays all game?

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011-12 NBA Season Preview: Western Conference

Phil breaks down the 15 teams out West.


Offseason Recap: Championship owners always have difficult decisions to make the following offseason, and Mark Cuban was no exception. He knew bringing Tyson Chandler back was going to be a steep price, so he let the 29-year old center sign with the Knicks and used the money to pay Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, and Delonte West. Wise move, Mr. Cuban. Chandler’s missed over 150 games in his career, and there was absolutely no way he was going to replicate last season’s numbers. Although the Mavs will be a little thinner down low, their perimeter defense should be among the NBA’s best between Kidd, West, Marion, Carter, and Odom (who I expect to play a lot of 3 this year). Expect little drop-off in the Mavs’ defensive efficiency.
Offseason Grade: B+     Projected 2011-12 Record: 45-21 (2nd in West)

Tyson’s in New York
It was smart to let him go
One more title run


Offseason Recap: After hitting a home run with the Carmelo Anthony trade last year, Denver’s offseason probably felt a bit underwhelming. Their biggest acquisition was Andre Miller, making his second go-round in the Mile High City. I personally think Miller’s a nice fit for Denver’s up-and-down style, though unfortunately he won’t have anyone to throw alley oops to (sorry, Nene). Regardless, three of Denver’s key rotation players – Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin, and J.R. Smith – will be playing overseas until March, and those losses will be felt early on during the team’s compressed schedule. But it’s hard to be too critical when the Nuggets were able to re-sign their two most important free agents – Nene and Aaron Afflalo – to long-term deals. They could be West contenders in 2013.

Offseason Grade: B     Projected 2011-12 Record: 37-29 (6th in West)

Key guys in China
Will limit team’s depth early
Playoffs still in reach

Sunday, December 18, 2011


AL HORFORD (Phil) - 88%

 PAUL PIERCE (Burakhan) - 12%

JOHN WALL (Richard) - 60%

LUIS SCOLA (Andy) - 40%

CARLOS BOOZER (Desmond) - 10%


DIRK NOWITZKI (Lawrence) - 45%

 KEVIN DURANT (MolapoKTM) - 55%

Thank you to all who voted!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

WEEK 6, DEBATE 4: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Kevin Durant



Who would you rather have this season: Dirk Nowitzki or Kevin Durant?

"Dirk, the “I denied the 3 Kings from winning the Finals" Nowitzki, is killing it. Our reigning Finals MVP is coming off a career year where he led the Mavs to a title. Durant is undoubtedly one of the most popular small forwards in the league, but Nowitzki is riDirkulous. Not only is the “The Fadeaway Fuhrer” un-guardable but he is just doing so many things better than Durant at the moment. Some people like to say that after 13 seasons Dirk ain’t getting any better. Well, last season Dirk’s incredible skills and attributes allowed him to fair much better than the younger Durant in so many categories. Let’s see; last year Dirk shot a better FG% (career high 52%), better 3P% (.393), better FT% (.892), more rebounds (7.0) and fewer turnovers (1.9) than Durant. And Dirk only gets better in the Playoffs.

But on top of all that, Dirkules has one more thing that Durantula doesn’t: a post-up game. Those disappointing defeats to the Heat in 2006 and the Warriors in 2007 made Dirk develop a nasty post game. Now Dirk posts up smaller defenders til he is 10 feet from the rim and scores at will. That’s why Dirk is un-guardable; too many arrows in that quiver. Personally, I will need to see Durant get a better post-up game before I can even think of him in the same category with my guy. Yup, I’m gonna stick with Dirk No-miss-ki. It has a nice ring to it."

"Kevin Durant is that guy. The Phenom. There are really no words to describe the impact Durant’s made on the NBA. In just four years he’s turned a young, small-market Thunder franchise into a top-tier contender and become the league’s greatest scoring threat, winning two scoring titles. It’s unheard of. Durant is the perfect hybrid of aggression, grace and athleticism, and the versatility of his arsenal makes him a truly unique threat. His Durantula wingspan for one allows him to shoot from the most impossible angles. His three-point shooting, mid-range jumper, running floater… are all imperious.

But what separates Durant from all shooters, like Dirk, is his explosiveness… just ask Brendan Haywood. It is this range of danger that makes KD a scoring nightmare that’s probably never been witnessed before. He attacks the rim with the very best of them, but when he gets to the line he doesn’t shoot in the 70s but at nearly 90%. So not only does this make Durant a two-point threat anytime he touches the ball, but it puts opposing teams in the precarious position of having to give a dead-eye shooter space in order to avoid fouls. So who do I choose? Well, Hollinger stats never lie, and in terms of scoring Durant’s on a road only ever treaded by Michael Jordan. It’s only a matter of time til the stars align and Durant too wins a Championship, the only grounds you have to say Dirk’s ‘superior’ to him."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WEEK 6, DEBATE 3: Carlos Boozer vs. Tyson Chandler



Who would you rather have this season: Carlos Boozer or Tyson Chandler?

“Carlos Boozer only played 59 games last season due to injury but still averaged 17.5 ppg and 9.6 rpg. That broke a four-year streak in which Boozer averaged double figures in rebounds. I expect his numbers to be among the league’s best this season. He’s playing with league MVP Derrick Rose and a defensive unit that is very stingy. Boozer isn’t asked to carry the load offensively, but he’s a force to be reckoned with down low. Chandler, on the other hand, is not so impressive. As the 2nd overall pick in 2001, he has been nothing short of a journeyman. Sure, he won a title with the Mavs last season, but they could have done it without him, and now he won’t be back with the team this year. So I would take Boozer for this upcoming season."

“Chandler just signed with the Knicks, and there were many teams vying for his services! Boozer will be back with the Bulls, with many teams grateful they are not stuck with him and his mega-contract! In the Bulls heart-breaking final loss to the Heat last year, Boozer—the highest paid player on the team—did not play one minute in the fourth quarter! A Sun-Times article carried this head-line: Two words sum up Bulls’ disappointment—Carlos Boozer. Chandler, on the other hand, helped lead the Mavericks to their first NBA Championship. He has improved his free-throw shooting and his mid-range jumper and cut down his turnovers. He is an incredible defender, altering many more shots than his numbers even show. He led the NBA this past year in true shooting % at 69.7% and, according to BasketballReference.com, had the league’s #1 Offensive Rating of 131!”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WEEK 6, DEBATE 2: John Wall vs. Luis Scola



Who would you rather have this season: John Wall or Luis Scola?

“If you compare Luis Scola to John Wall right now, Scola is a better player. I won’t bother trying to argue. Scola last season was more efficient than Wall, has rare skill for a big man, and is an excellent rebounder for his size. His advanced stats were superb. But this isn’t about the past; it’s about the future. Is there a player more prepared for a Russell Westbrook-like leap than John Wall this coming season? Wall’s talent leaps off the court - it’s impossible not to notice. Scola is a solid and efficient player, but his upside is nil - it doesn’t exist. Wall will one day (very possibly this season) become one of the best players in the NBA; Luis Scola will not." 

“'The Great Wall of Argentina' When Yao Ming when down for the final time, who picked up the rebounding and the scoring? Luis Scola with 18.3 ppg, 8.2 reb and 2.5 ast while playing all 82 games last season. The most underrated power forward flies under the radar while guarding the West’s big men and standing at only 6’9’’. Since Yao’s last full season played (2008-09), Scola’s averaged more than 16 pts, 8 rebs and 2 asts while still managing to knock down 50% of his shots and 73% of his ft’s as an undersized big man in 2009-10. John Wall’s rookie season leaves much to be improved if he wants to be a point guard. Unless he’s fortunate enough to be the next Jason Kidd or Rajon Rondo, a 41% fg accuracy and 30% 3-point shot won’t do."

Monday, December 12, 2011

WEEK 6, DEBATE 1: Al Horford vs. Paul Pierce



Who would you rather have this season: Al Horford or Paul Pierce?

"I have great respect for Paul Pierce. Always a class-act, he continues to defy Father Time with his All-Star caliber play. Al Horford, however, is the most underrated superstar in basketball. He’s never been known for flashiness – you won’t catch too many Horford plays on Sportcenter’s Top 10 – but he doesn’t have a single weaknesses and is exceptional in certain areas. For instance, he’s the NBA’s best midrange shooter; his 51.2% mark from 10-23 feet was tops among all players with 150 attempts, including Dirk Nowtizki (who may be the best of all-time). He was #3 among starting centers in assist and turnover rate, equating to a fantastic 2.24 assist/turnover ratio that was higher than Chauncey Billups, Russell Westbrook, and John Wall. Finally, he’s exceptionally durable, missing just 22 total games in his NBA career. Put it together, and you have the league’s second-most valuable center after Dwight Howard."

“Maybe Horford is the #2 or #3 ranked player in some areas, but Paul Pierce is a class-act as you said. He’s played in nine All-Star games, been an Eastern Conference Champion twice, and got a ring in 2008. I know a lot of NBA superstars who never get even a single ring in this league but Pierce has it. Let’s compare these two players: Al Horford’s career averages are 12.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game whereas Paul Pierce’s career averages are 22.2 points, 3.8 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per a game. Clearly, Paul Pierce is good in all areas. Horford got two championships in college and was selected 3rd overall by Atlanta, but I always wait for better performances from Al."