Posted on: June 7, 2010 8:19 pm
What's up folks? I've actually never done a mock draft before, but I did a lot of reading up on prospects for the Hornets appearance in the lottery and I'm goign to give it a shot now. Forgive me if you think this totally sucks. Don't be afraid to criticize, definitely don't be afraid to praise and I hope this generates some conversation heading forward on this dead day in between NBA Finals games. So here goes out.
By the way, I'm only going to mock draft the first round.
1) Washington Wizards - John Wall, PG, Kentucky - Seems to be the no brainer pick here. I'm not really excited about Wall's prospects going forward, but I've been wrong on his type before (Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade) and he could continue to prove me wrong. Overall, though, front offices are in love with him and he becomes the new face of a team that really needs a new start.
2) Philadelphia 76ers - Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State - I'm aware of the comparisons to Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, but with the consensus being that Wall and Turner are the two can't miss prospects from this draft, I think Philadelphia has to stay at this place and take their chances with him. Also, if they have to move Young or Iguodala then I don't think they'll hesitate. It's not as if those guys did anything for team success this season.
3) New Jersey Nets - Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech - The Nets rebuilding process may be slow and tedious, but he fits in nicely with Brook Lopez, Devin Harris and Courtney Lee. It continues to give New Jersey a nice little core with a lot of promise going forward, which may make them a more appealing destination next offseason.
4) Minnesota Timberwolves - Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse - Sorry, BNW, but this looks like the pick here. Unless the team parts ways with Al Jefferson or Kevin Love going into the draft, the necessity of taking DeMarcus Cousins here just isn't necessary. Even though he's the better prospect, Minnesota would have a complete logjam without any fluidity in their frontcourt. Johnson also allows for Corey Brewer to go to the bench for Minnesota where he can be more of an impact player.
5) Sacramento Kings - DeMarcus Cousins, PF, Kentucky - The Kings wind up with the most promising player in the draft at the 5th spot. Cousins has a lot of upside but there seems to be questions regarding his attitude. Some think those red flags are unfair, but they do exist. Cousins will have to work on staying out of foul trouble and on his conditioning (he didn't play a lot of minutes his one year in college) but he should be great if he doesn't become a problematic player.
Now we have a general idea of how the top 5 is going to play out. The rest of it is all subjective.
6) Golden State Warriors - Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown - I see the Warriors taking Monroe here to fit in nicely with their frontcourt. They already have the athletic big men in Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph, they have their explosive frontcourt with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis and Monroe can fill in at either PF or C (in a pinch) for the Warriors.
7) Detroit Pistons - Al Farouq-Aminu, SF, Wake Forest - Probably the best player available at this point, Aminu will be able to step into Detroit (a team largely in need of talent) and contribute immediately. He could be the eventual replacement for Tayshaun Prince (who may not even be with the team by the start of the season) and could turn into a nice player at a big position of need.
8) Los Angeles Clippers - Xavier Henry, SG, Kansas - I don't think Henry deserves to go this guy, but the Clippers could use a conventional shooting guard that allows for Eric Gordon to come off of the bench. With Blake Griffin debuting next season and with Chris Kaman under contract, the need for a big guy isn't huge but they could take one here. However, I see them taking Henry at this spot.
9) Utah Jazz - Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas - The Greg Osterag comparisons are entirely unfair (and, I would claim, racially motivated). Aldrich is a great shot blocker and tough defensive presence that the Jazz sorely need at their center position. He's a legit center who may never star in this league, but he can make a big difference right away for the Jazz.
10) Indiana Pacers - Epke Udoh, PF, Baylor - While picks like Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough haven't payed immediate dividends, a pure shooting guard or point guard would be a better fit for the Pacers at this point. However, there really isn't one available. For this reason, I could see the Pacers trading down (I know a lot of mocks have Heyward going here, but Indiana won't reach that high) but if they stay here, they'll Udoh and he can be a big upgrade over Hibbert right away.
11) New Orleans Hornets - Patrick Patterson, PF, Kentucky - The idea of taking a small forward here is really intriguing, but the Hornets probably draft for need and take a big man here. Since I don't want the team to end up with Ed Davis or Larry Sanders, I'm going to pencil in Patterson here. Patterson has drawn a lot of comparisons to David West in that he wants to be a conventional PF but lacks the size to do it. However, being similar to David West is alright in this poster's eyes and, with West likely to opt out next summer, Patterson could wind up starting by next year for New Orleans.
12) Memphis Grizzlies - Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania - The Grizzlies probably don't need to add another big man, but I think the recent investigations with Zach Randolph are going to scare the team off of giving him the reported contract extension. For that reason, they may want to start looking for a replacement. Motiejunas is a complete opposite of Zach Randolph, but with Marc Gasol around the basket, the team can afford to take a chance on the sharp shooting, smooth 7 footer Motiejunas.
13) Toronto Raptors - Hassan Whiteside, C, Marshall - With Chris Bosh likely leaving, Toronto may start to look forward for its frontcourt. Who knows where they'll be selecting depending on what trades they do or don't make involving Hedo Turkoglu, but there's no doubt the team needs a big man. For that reason, the Raptors take Hassan Whiteside here, who's a big project but worthy of the risk at this selection. Also, he's a legit center which would allow for Andrea Bargnani to play at his more natural power forward position.
14) Houston Rockets - Paul George, SF, Fresno State - I don't think that Yao Ming is healthy and nobody can say certainly that he is. However, the Rockets will go into next season with the idea that he'll be the team's starting center. As a result, the team isn't in need of drafting another power forward. Therefore, I see the team taking one of the fastest rising stars in the draft in George and plugging him in alongside Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin to form an explosive offensive trio.
15) Milwaukee Bucks - Ed Davis, PF, North Carolina - Although the Bucks aren't in desperate need of a big man, Davis can be plugged in to the rebuilding Bucks right away and immediately contribute for the team. Whether as a starter or backing up Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Davis would a nice compliment to Andrew Bogut in the frontcourt and would join an already young and impressive Bucks squad.
16) Minnesota Timberwolves - James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State - Ideally, the Timberwolves would love George to be here at 16th. Because he's not, the team goes for another wing man here with the 16th pick. Anderson has a nice offensive touch and can immediately step in as the team's starting shooting guard next season. He'd bring a long range shot that was missing in Minnesota last season and can even become an eventual solid man defender at the NBA level.
17) Chicago Bulls - Avery Bradley, SG, Texas - Regardless of which route Chicago goes in free agency, Bradley could step in and play the Ben Gordon role in Chicago. Kirk Hinrich may be better coming off the bench and, although similarly undersized, Bradley would be a better compliment in the backcourt with Derrick Rose than Hinrich is. Anderson would be a great fit here as well if I didn't have him going to Minnesota.
18) Miami Heat - Daniel Orton, C, Kentucky - Rumored to be a potential lottery pick, the size starved Heat will take a chance on the promising but largely unproven Orton. Although he only produced in spots last season for Kentucky, there seems to be a lot of potential for Orton. His lack of colleigate production will cause him to drop out of the lottery, but Miami will quickly take him here.
19) Boston Celtics - Gordon Heyward, SF, Butler - Although not your prototypical shooting guard, Heyward would be able to contribute in Boston right away. Really promising and possesing a really good fell for the game, Heyward would fit in with Boston and could eventually be groomed to supplant Ray Allen's shooting guard position, or be the eventual replacement for Paul Pierce. Either way, the Celtics could use a young, talented wing player and Heyward fits the bill.
20) San Antonio Spurs - Damion James, SF, Texas - The Spurs will get a smart, four year senior who can contribute right away in Damion James. Needing an eventual replacement for Richard Jefferson (either this season or next season), James can play the small forward position and, while lacking the ball skills for the two guard spot, could play in that position in a pinch.
21) Oklahoma City Thunder - Larry Sanders, PF, VCU - Joining former VCU teammate Eric Maynor, Sanders could step in right away and contribute for Oklahoma City. Needing a legit PF, Sanders could join Serge Ibaka as a very promising front court going forward for Oklahoma City, which may be forced to let Jeff Green go due to financial limitations after they give the money to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
22) Portland Trail Blazers - Kevin Seraphin, PF, France - Without the necessary roster spots, Portland may seem content with drafting a foreign prospect and stashing him overseas for a couple of years. A talented big man, Seraphin won't take LaMarcus Aldridge's spot anytime soon but he could be a contributing piece for a thin Portland frontcourt.
23) Minnesota Timberwolves - Luke Babbitt, SF, Nevada - Seen as a possible lottery talent, Minnesota will be extremely happy that Babbitt fell to them at 23. Babbitt is different from the earlier picks in that he can play a front court position if necessary (although his skill set is more natural for a SF).
24) Atlanta Hawks - Eric Bledsoe, SG, Kentucky - With Joe Johnson probably leaving and with Mike Bibby no longer blowing anybody away, Atlanta needs to turn its attention to the backcourt with the 24th pick. Bledsoe may be very similar to Jamaal Crawford in that he's an undersized two guard who likes to score a lot, but the team may not have a long term need for Crawford either after this season.
25) Memphis Grizzlies - Willie Warren, SG, Oklahoma - Seen as a possible lottery pick last season before deciding to stay at Oklahoma, Warren will be able to step in and be a nice combo guard off the bench for Memphis. Jamaal Tinsley isn't going to lock down any spots on the bench, so the guard spots should be wide open and Warren's scoring would fit rigiht in with what the rest of the Grizzlies are doing.
26) Oklahoma City Thunder - Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia - Joining Sanders, Ebanks looks like a solid second first round pick for Oklahoma City. He may be too similar to Kevin Durant, but he can be a nice back up for Oklahoma City at both the SG and the SF positions. He's a really smart player that's a fine rebounder for his position and also shoots a high percentage from the field. That'd fit right in with what Oklahoma City's doing.
27) New Jersey Nets - Lance Stephenson, SG, Cincinnati - There have long been attitude issues with Stephenson and questions about his character, but Stephenson is an extremely talented player who can shoot from NBA range and has great size for a shooting guard or small forward. It's a risky pick for New Jersey, but his upside has impressed scouts thus far and he may be worth the risk at 27.
28) Memphis Grizzlies - Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State - Another player whose stock dropped after he decided to stay in college instead of entering last year's draft, Brackins is a hard workign big man who could provide some grit and toughness for the Grizzlies. After having taken two prolific scorers with their other first round picks, Brackins is the kind of low post, hard working presence the team could use.
29) Orlando Magic - Elliot Williams, SG, Memphis - Although Orlando would like to take a big man here to move Rashard Lewis to his natural SF position, they take Williams with hopes that he can become the eventual replacement for Vince Carter. Although lacking a great midrange game, Williams is a fantastic open court player and has no problem finishing around the basket. He's also a great on ball defender and can learn even more in the Magic's system.
30) New Jersey Nets - Armon Johnson, PG, Nevada - A tough point guard who could give the Nets another young, promising player, Johnson can step in and give New Jersey depth at the point guard position right away. He's a solid, solid pick this late in the first round as well.
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Al Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bogut, Anthony Randolph, Ben Gordon, Blake Griffin, Brandan Wright, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, Clippers, Corey Brewer, Courtney Lee, David West, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwyane Wade, Eric Gordon, Eric Maynor, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jamaal Tinsley, Jazz, Jeff Green, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Kirk Hinrich, LaMarcus Aldridge, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Magic, Marc Gasol, Mike Bibby, Monta Ellis, Nets, Pacers, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Raptors, Rashard Lewis, Ray Allen, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Roy Hibbert, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Spurs, Stephen Curry, Tayshaun Prince, Thaddeus Young, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Tyler Hansbrough, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zach Randolph
Posted on: May 26, 2010 3:07 pm
I figured since I didn't do a playoff preview this season for each team as I did last year, I'll do a fun little countdown to this year's draft, since that's where my team is going to be instead of the postseason. Well we're getting down to the nitty gritty now in terms of the countdown. With only three drafts remaining, I went into a lot of due diligence to research and review each draft before putting in this submission. I feel as if I was wrong in a few of my early seedings in this draft and I wanted to really try as hard as possible to make the top five as acurate as I feel it could be. I think I've done that now. Coming in at number 3 in our countdown is the 2004 NBA Draft which actually featured a hot pre-draft debate on who would be drafted number one and a pretty good group of players in general. So here goes it loyal readers, number 3 on our countdown!
Tags: 76ers, Al Jefferson, Anderson Varejao, Andre Iguodala, Andris Biedrins, Ben Gordon, Beno Udrih, Bobcats, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Duhon, Clippers, Damien Wilkins, Delonte West, Devin Harris, Dorell Wright, Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jameer Nelson, Jazz, Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kris Humphries, Lakers, LeBron James, Luol Deng, Magic, Mavericks, Nenad Krstic, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Royal Ivey, Sasha Vujacic, Sebastian Telfair, Shaun Livingston, Spurs, Suns, Timberwolves, Tony Allen, Trail Blazers, Trevor Ariza, Tyson Chandler, Warriors, Wizards
Posted on: November 19, 2009 12:28 pm
We all know the big phrase for every team that has a losing record ten games into the season. "Let's trade this bad contract for this guy with an expiring contract." These kind of moves have been made for the past two seasons all with anticipation of this upcoming offseason: the big 2010 free agent class. Teams are shedding payroll like Rex Ryan sheds tears in hopes of being able to afford the plethora of superstars available this upcoming July. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Dirk Nowitzki and, of course, LeBron James headline the class this summer and have every team in the league hoping to changes its fortunes in quick fashion. Out of the mentioned prospects, Nowitzki is the only player almost guaranteed to stay with his current team. The rest are all targeted players for that team looking to return to glory, for that team trying to establish a glorious rotation or just for a team looking to make a little bit of a profit with some ticket sales. But I'm here to tell you that shedding all that salary cap is probably more of a risk than some are mentioning.
The New York Knicks have been bad for awhile. They were the league's most consistent and glorious franchise in the 1970s and in the 90s into the early part of this new millenium, they were able to remain competitive and even had two Eastern Conference Championships to show for it. But ever since 2002 the Knicks have fallen on very hard times. They've had one playoff appearance since then, a crazy amount of bad contracts, displeased fans and one of the worst win-loss records in the league during that span. But the Knicks, even at 2-9 today, will sell to you that they're a team on the rise. Why? Not because of any young talent on the team (although Danilo Gallinari and David Lee are nice, young players) but because they're going to land one of the big free agents in 2010. Playing in the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, in the biggest market in the league, the Knicks are always formidable players in the free agent spending department (look at the contracts they were able to give to Allan Houston, Jared Jeffries, Jerome James and Eddy Curry). They've just never spent the time to focus on spending on talented players.
But at least they can sell you that they're New York and that's why you should play there. The other team that's been building for 2010 for a few seasons now is the New Jersey Nets. The Nets have had more success than the Knicks in recent history and made the NBA Finals two seasons in a row back in 2002 and then in 2003. But after this season, they will have missed the postseason for three consecutive seasons. They do have Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and Courtney Lee, but even with all that young talent on board, they play in an immensely small market, in an old stadium and in front of some of the most lackluster crowds east of the Clippers. Even with young talent in place, it's hard to sell to a potential star how important it is to sign with New Jersey. Until they get their ownership and the impending relocation to Brooklyn in order, the Nets will struggle to build as a franchise. And that includes playing any role in this offseason.
But those teams assume the risks of this offseason and do so with high hopes. They've put all of their eggs in the 2010 basket, but how reliable is that really? The Knicks have a city desperate for success and that's used to being at least remotely competitive. Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni were to turn things around but decided bringing in established superstars was the route to go. Fans have been patient for two seasons and even though the Knicks have fielded fun teams, they have not fielded successful teams nor do they bear any resemblance of a team on the rise. Unless they get that big piece. But what happens if you don't? That could be killer for this New York franchise. When you're a team like the Knicks and the Nets, if you swing and miss this offseason it's fatal for your franchise. The Nets are trying hard to sell a relocation and trying to bring on board an owner who's committed to winning, those will be even harder sells if the team that is currently 0-12 boasts no superstar power after this offseason. They all want LeBron James and LeBron has teased everyone involved, but let's not forget that Cleveland will still be able to give him the most money. When you resign your own players, it does not matter how big the contract is. Sure it goes against your payroll, but the NBA does not charge cap penalties when you improve within the organization. That's why Cleveland, even while spending 50 million dollars on Anderon Vareajo back in the summer, can offer LeBron the most money to get him to stay. It's his hometown, they've been a consistently good team for the past five seasons. They're on the verge of becoming a championship team. His best chance to win is in Cleveland. Sure LeBron has done nothing to disassociate himself from the notion that he's all about the money, but at the end of the day if you have a franchise that can give you the Benjamins and Franklins and still guarantee you an opportunity at the Larry O'Brien Trophy, you think he'll easily turn his nose up at that as opposed to a team that may become a formidable player with him on the roster? Look at how long it took the Cavaliers to build around LeBron. A player of his skill set is easy to surround with players, but to find a formidable roster that can win with one person controlling the ball a majority of the time is very difficult. Look at the problems the Heat are having now with Dwyane Wade. Look at the problems the Hornets are having with Chris Paul. Look at the Cavaliers during LeBron's first years in the league. It's hard to run a one dimensional offense, and if you spend all of your money on LeBron James that's what you'll have.
Fans have been patient in New York because they feel as if it's their God given right to have a superstar sign in 2010. Amar'e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh are likely candidates to switch jerseys this offseason because neither of their teams have been successful as of late and neither seems very commited to their organization. But are either of those guys going to be centerpieces for a championship? Don't you think that if they were, their teams would be better than they are now? Some team will overspend on Bosh or Stoudemire this offseason because the market will be so high on them. But that team better hope that those players mature and develop into something that they're currently not, or else they're looking at limited cap space and medicore results (see the Washington Wizards).
It's always attractive to look at good players and wonder what they'll do if they get to your team. But look at how the Hawks built around Joe Johnson. They have Josh Smith, Mike Bibby, Al Horford and a franchise on the rise. Look at Dwyane Wade. He's won a championship, has a lot of young, growing pieces in Miami and a franchise and city that adores him. Same goes for Dirk Nowitzki (minus the championship part). It's a hard sell to look a player in the eye and say "trust me" than it is to say "look what we've done for you." When you cut this much space, you're basically putting all your cards and chips on the table. In the New York Metropolitan area, you better hope that river card turns up a LeBron or a Wade. Because if it doesn't, years of futility will follow and the backlash will be catastrophic for the franchise.
Tags: Al Horford, Amar'e Stoudemire, Brook Lopez, Cavaliers, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Clippers, Courtney Lee, Danilo Gallinari, David Lee, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Eddy Curry, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jared Jeffries, Jerome James, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Knicks, LeBron James, Mike Bibby, Nets, Wizards
Posted on: May 28, 2009 2:20 pm
After the extremely positive feedback I received for ranking the No. 2 draft picks of the draft lottery era, I found it fitting to continue on and now rank the best No. 2 draft picks of the draft lottery era. Going over this list, there are plenty of dissapointing players and a lot of names that people will scratch their heads at. Unfortunately, everything from death, to injury, to immaturity and lack of talent has affected this crop of players and that's why this list was much toughter than the list of No. 1 draft picks. Everyone always remembers No. 1, but hardly anyone remembers who goes 2nd. Well here it is: Ranking The No. 2 Draft Picks of Draft Lottery Era.
24) Len Bias, F, Boston Celtics out of University of Maryland in 1986 NBA Draft (Did Not Play) - A lot of people will view this pick as "what could have been," but Bias drew many comparisons to Chicago great Michael Jordan and looked like one of the most promising prospects in years. Drafted by the aging Boston Celtics, Bias was supposed to be the stopgap that would allow the current Celtics to play out their years and then he would carry the team into the future. However, less than 48 hours after being drafted by the Boston Celtics, Len Bias was found dead of a coacaine overdose back at his college campus. He's one of the glaring casualties of the drug era in the NBA of the 1980s, joining David Thompson as one of the saddest stories.
23) Jay Williams, G, Chicago Bulls out of Duke University in 2002 NBA Draft (75 Games, 9.5 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG) - While in college, you had to watch Jay Williams to understand how great he really was. Leading Duke to a national championship as a sophomore, Williams would go on to win every player of the year award imaginable in his junior season before graduating with honors and entering the 2002 NBA Draft. Taken after Yao Ming, Williams was viewed as the sure bet of the two but really struggled in his rookie season. He did show flashes of brilliance, including a fantastic triple double against the New Jersey Nets, but he was largely inconsistent his rookie year. However, in the offseason, Williams' life almost came to an end after a brutal motorcycle accident that left Williams with a severed main nerve in his leg, a fractured pelvis, and three torn ligaments in his left knee including his ACL. The Bulls, a week later, drafted a point guard (Kirk Hinrich) to replace him and Williams' career was done. In a class move by the Bulls, they continued to keep Williams on the payroll through his rehab but then settled for a buyout with the player. Unsuccessful attempts to get on board with his hometown Nets followed, and Williams has now given up on getting back to the NBA.
22) Darko Milicic, F-C, Detroit Pistons out of Serbia in 2003 NBA Draft (337 Games, 5.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.2 BPG) - There were a lot of great players in the famed 2003 NBA Draft, and going into the draft it was obvious to all that Darko Milicic would be the first player selected after LeBron James. The Detroit Pistons, fresh off of a conference finals appearance, were able to land the No. 2 pick after a prior deal with the, then, Vancouver Grizzlies for Otis Thorpe. Milicic arrived with much fan fare in Detroit, but was never able to get off of the bench. Viewed as too young by coach Larry Brown, the 18 year old Milicic sat on the bench for two Pistons teams that went to the finals, and won a championship in his rookie year with the 2004 Pistons team. However, midway through his third year with the Pistons, still unable to get off of the bench, Milicic was traded to the Magic and showed the promise that people saw when he was drafted by Detroit. However, his inconsistency shined through again when Milicic signed with the Grizzlies, and it looks as if he'll never be the player he was capable of being.
21) Danny Ferry, F, Los Angeles Clippers out of Duke University in 1989 NBA Draft (917 Games, 7.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.3 APG) - A colleigate legend for the Duke Blue Devils, the sweet shooting Danny Ferry immediately refused to go to the Clippers when they drafted him and played in Italy his rookie year in order to get out of having to go to Los Angeles. After going to Italy, Ferry's rights were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ron Harper (in a good move for the Clippers) where he then signed a guaranteed ten year contract. It was immediately known after he got on the court that Ferry would never be a graceful athlete or a great player. All of the poise and posture he displayed at Duke quickly turned into decency on the court in Cleveland. He eventually won a championship on the 2003 San Antonio Spurs team and is, ironically enough, currently the general manager for Cleveland.
20) Shawn Bradley, C, Philadelphia 76ers out of Bringham Young University in 1993 NBA Draft (832 Games, 8.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.5 BPG) - An imposing presence at 7'6" tall, Bradley entered the league as the tallest player in the league's history. After blocking five shots a game as a freshman for BYU, Bradley declared for the 1993 NBA Draft following his freshman seasons. Drafted 2nd overall by Philadelphia, Bradley immediately showed a knack for blocking shots due to his height but an inability to due much else. Looking at the build of his body, it should have come as no surprise that Bradley never developed as an athlete but that didn't stop the Philadelphia media from torching Bradley when he was routinely dominated by more physical centers. After two and a half horrid seasons with the 76ers, he was traded to the Nets and eventually found his way on the Dallas Mavericks. Bradley spent the last eight and a half years of his career with Dallas before calling it quits due to knee problems in 2005.
19) Stromile Swift, F-C, Vancouver Grizzlies out of Louisiana State University in 2000 NBA Draft (547 Games, 8.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG) - A fantastic athlete, Swift bounced onto the scene in the NCAA Tournament during his sophomore season with the LSU Tigers. After being selected as one of many 2nd draft picks by the Vancouver Grizzlies, Williams sat on the bench in their last season in Vancouver before leaping onto the scene in Memphis. Paired with young point guard Jason Williams, Swift's athleticism and crowd pleasing dunks made him a fan favorite in Memphis. For reasons unknown, after signing a nice deal with the Houston Rockets, Swift's career took a huge nosedive as he was traded back to Memphis after one season with Houston, was then traded to New Jersey who promptly waved him. He currently finished the year as a non factor reserve on a Phoenix Suns team that missed the playoffs.
18) Michael Beasley, F, Miami Heat out of Kansas State University in 2008 NBA Draft (81 Games, 13.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 1.0 APG) - After a tremendous freshman season for the Kansas State Wildats, Michael Beasley shocked absolutely nobody by declaring for the 2008 NBA Draft. Long viewed as a lock for the number one draft pick, Derrick Rose's fantastic tournament play catapulted him to be selected first overall by the Chicago Bulls. Questons about Beasley's character and maturity then started to arise but the Heat still selected him 2nd overall. Starting off the year with many struggles, Beasley was criticized by many at the beginning of his rookie season but really caught stride the last two months of the regular season. Helping the Heat get into the postseason, Beasley's stellar play continued in the postseason and it looks as if he'll be a very good player as he continues to develop.
17) Marvin Williams, F, Atlanta Hawks out of University of North Carolina in 2005 NBA Draft (284 Games, 12.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.4 APG) - After a fantastic freshman season as a reserve on the famed 2005 North Caronlina national champion team, Williams shocked a lot of people when he declared for the 2005 NBA Draft. Viewed as a can't miss prospect, Williams was quickly snatched second overall by the Atlanta Hawks and hasn't yet took off. The last two seasons he has really come into his own as a player and looks as if he'll be a fine contributor for many years to come in this league, but because he was drafted ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul, Williams will long be a criticized pick by experts and fans alike.
16) LaMarcus Aldridge, F-C, Chicago Bulls out of University of Texas in 2006 NBA Draft (220 Games, 15.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.1 BPG) - Immediately traded by the Bulls to the Portland Trail Blazers for the draft rights to Tyrus Thomas, Aldridge eventually took the Portland fans by storm with his demeanor, work ethic and production. After a solid rookie season, Aldridge developed into a fantastic player for Portland before this season, teamed with Brandon Roy, helping lead Portland to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. The future is extremely bright for the young Aldridge, who looks like a centerpiece for something special for the young Portland franchise.
15) Kenny Anderson, PG, New Jersey Nets out of Georgia Tech University in 1991 NBA Draft (858 Games, 12.6 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.5 SPG) - As a local prodigy on the streets of Queens, Anderson went on to impress supporters with two spectacular seasons with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets before declaring for the NBA Draft. After being drafted by the somewhat local New Jersey Nets, Anderson looked like he had a fantastic career ahead of him. However, inconsistency and immaturity plagued Anderson for his entire career. Despite showing flashes of brilliance, including four seasons where he averaged above 16 points a game, Anderson never developed into a great player in any area of his game. After famously refusing to report to Toronto during a midseason trade from Portland, Anderson was then shipped to the Boston Celtics where his criticism of being "injury prone" followed him and he never materalized past being a solid player in Boston. He finished out his career with the Los Angeles Clippers.
14) Keith Van Horn, F, Philadelphia 76ers out of University of Utah in 1997 NBA Draft (575 Games, 16.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.6 APG) - A 6'10" player with an incredible shooting touch, Keith Van Horn's was drafted behind Tim Duncan in the 1997 NBA draft before his rights were immediately traded to the New Jersey Nets. He took the league by storm his first three seasons, routinely scoring above 19 points a game all of those seasons before signing a very lucrative extension with New Jersey. However, after the extension, Van Horn started to be bullied by players on the Nets team and after showing signs of being injury prone he was shipped to Philadelphia. This would start a chain reaction for Van Horn. Due to his immaturity and injuries, he was traded a total of four times in four seasons after signing that extension. He's probably most famous, now, for coming out of retirement to receive a one year guaranteed deal with the Mavericks to make the finances work in the Devin Harris for Jason Kidd deal in 2008. Horn was promptly cut by New Jersey and now has gone back into retirement.
13) Tyson Chandler, C, Los Angeles Clippers out of Dominguez High School in 2001 NBA Draft (537 Games, 8.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG) - A fantastic 7'1" athlete, Chandler was viewed as a great prospect throughout high school before being drafted by the hometown Los Angeles Clippers. Chandler's rights where immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls for Elton Brand so that he could be partnered with fellow high school prodigy Eddy Curry to form a dynamic front court for the Bulls. Neither Chandler nor Curry materialized in Chicago due to inconsistency and injuries and Curry was traded to the Knicks and Chandler was traded to the New Orleans Hornets. After arriving in New Orleans, Chandler immediately showed the promise that he displayed in high school that prompted the Bulls to trade for him. After being plagued by injuries and inconsistency again, the Hornets attempted to trade Chandler to the Thunder before injuries to Chandler's ankle and toe forced the Thunder to fail his physical and rescind the trade. Chandler is currently looking to be shipped around again and it is unknown whether he will ever become the player that he potentially could have been.
12) Armen Gilliam, PF, Phoenix Suns out of University of Nevada in Las Vegas in 1987 NBA Draft (929 Games, 13.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 APG) - As an intregal member of some fantastic Runnin' Rebels teams of the late 80s, Gilliam reached the final four in 1987 before graduating and entering the NBA Draft. After being selected by the Phoenix Suns, Gilliam turned out to be a solid scorer with Phoenix and turned out 13 solid seasons in the NBA. A fantastic low post scorer, Gilliam played some impressive basketball for the Hornets, Nets and Suns before finally calling it a career in 2000 after spending a season with the Utah Jazz.
11) Kevin Durant, G-F, Seattle Supersonics out of University of Texas in 2007 NBA Draft (154 Games, 22.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.1 SPG) - After taking the nation by storm following a fantastic freshman season with the Texas Longhorns, Durant declared for the 2007 NBA Draft and battled with Greg Oden as to who the number one overall draft pick would be. After the Portland Trail Blazers selected Greg Oden, the dying Seattle Supersonics franchise selected Kevin Durant, who promptly took the NBA by storm. Viewed as a player that was too small and not talented enough of a jumpshooter, Durant came into the league and averaged over 20 points a game in his rookie season, winning the 2008 NBA Rookie of the Year award. Before his second season, the Supersonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder and Durant immediately became a superstar. Averaging over 25 points a game, Durant has shown that he has the potential to be a fantastic player and dynamic scorer in this league for the foreseeable future barring injuries or any other setbacks.
10) Wayman Tisdale, PF, Indiana Pacers out of University of Oklahoma in 1985 NBA Draft (840 Games, 15.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.3 APG) - A dynamic scorer for the Oklahoma Sooners, Tisdale took the big eight by storm in his three seasons with Oklahoma by winning the conference player of the year all three of his seasons with Oklahoma. He was a member of the famed 1984 USA Olympic Basketball Team as well before being drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1985. Tisdale remained a productive scorer in the pros, immediately becoming a nice post presence for the Pacers before being shipped to the Sacramento Kings. Once in Sacramento, Tisdale's career really developed as he became Sacramento's best scorer inside for nearly six seasons. After finishing out his career as a reserve with the Phoenix Suns, Tisdale became a budding jazz musician, even releasing a score of CDs. However, in 2007 Tisdale fell down his steps and broke his leg and during an observation of the leg it was shown that he had cancer in his knee. After working to recover from the injury, he had his right leg partially amputated and went on a 21 date concert tour shortly after. On May 15, 2009, Tisdale was taken to the hospital after having trouble breathing where he was then prounced dead.
9) Steve Francis, G, Vancouver Grizzlies out of University of Maryland in 1999 NBA Draft (576 Games, 18.1 PPG, 6.0 APG, 5.6 RPG, 1.5 SPG) - After being drafted by Vancouver, in a sign of things to come in Francis' career, Francis immediately refused to go to Vancouver as a result of the distance from his Maryland home and citing that it was "God's will" that he not play in Vancouver. After being routinely criticized in the media, all was forgotten and forgiven when "The Franchise" was shipped to the Houston Rockets in a humongous 11 player deal. Once in Houston, Francis took the league by storm, becoming co-2000 NBA Rookie of the Year award winner (along with Bulls forward Elton Brand) and quickly becoming one of the more popular players in the league. After pubicly criticized Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy, who wanted to slow down the offense in favor of Yao Ming, Francis was shipped to the Orlando Magic where all looked to be forgiven again. However, after the Magic's quick start started to slow down, and the Magic traded Francis' friend Cuttino Mobley, Francis' pouting continued and he was then traded to the New York Knicks. Once in New York, Francis looked like a shell of his former self and was traded to Portland before they ate the remaining two years and 30 million dollars on his contract. Francis returned to Houston but has only played 10 games in two seasons with the Rockets and Grizzlies after suffering a quadriceps injury.
8) Emeka Okafor, F-C, Charlotte Bobcats out of University of Connecticut in 2004 NBA Draft (330 Games, 14.0 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 1.8 BPG) - After receiving every accolade imaginable in a fantastic colleigate career with the UConn Huskies, Okafor graduated and immediately was entered in the 2004 NBA Draft. After almost being assured the number one draft pick due to his defensive prowress and colleigate production, Okafor was passed over by the Orlando Magic (who selected Dwight Howard) and was promptly drafted by the expansion Charlotte Bobcats to be their franchise player. Okafor has never developed into that franchise player role due to injuries and going largely unnoticed in Charlotte. However, Okafor's career may be silent but it's been routinely productive. He won the 2005 NBA Rookie of the Year award and has manned down the center position for Charlotte for the duration of his career. He recently signed a six year 72 million dollar deal to remain in Charlotte last offseason, and looks to be a staple of the team for years to come.
7) Antonio McDyess, F-C, Los Angeles Clippers out of University of Alabama in 1995 NBA Draft (865 Games, 13.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.1 BPG) - A fantastic athlete for his size for the Crimson Tide, McDyess left college after his sophomore season to enter the 1995 NBA Draft. After being selected by the Los Angeles Clippers, McDyess' rights were immediately traded to the Denver Nuggets for Rodney Rogers and the draft rights to Brent Barry. While in Denver, McDyess established himself as a dynamic scorer and tremendous athlete. After spending a year with the Phoenix Suns, McDyess agreed to resign with Denver in 1999 and picked up his game to new heights. He routinely posted averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds for the otherwise unsuccessful Denver franchise and won a Gold Medal as a Unitd States Olympian in 2000. However, McDyess suffered a crippling knee injury early in the 2001-2002 NBA Season. Those knee problems would follow McDyess for that season and also for the next two seasons, as he played 52 total games out of a possible 246 from 2001 to 2004. After signing on to be a reserve for the Detroit Pistons, McDyess was a contributor to a team that went to the 2005 NBA Finals and has refound some of his old glory in Detroit. While never reaching the level of success he once had in Denver, McDyess has overcome the knee injuries to turn in a very successful comeback.
6) Marcus Camby, F-C, Toronto Raptors out of University of Massachusetts in 1996 NBA Draft (757 Games, 10.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 2.6 BPG, 1.9 APG, 1.0 SPG) - As a fantastic player for the Hilltoppers at UMass, Camby declared for the famed 1996 NBA draft after his junior season and was selected second overall by the Toronto Raptors. After two inconsistent years in Toronto, Camby was traded to the New York Knicks where he turned into a fantastic player. While as a member of the Knicks, Camby went to the 1999 NBA Finals and was promptly given a huge contract. However, after receiving that contract from the Knicks, Camby developed a knack for being injury prone after missing 277 games throughout his career. When on the court, though, Camby's play is extremely stellar. After being traded by the Knicks to the Denver Nuggets for fellow injury prone star Antonio McDyess, Camby would win the 2007 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and would help lead the Nuggets to the playoffs for five straight seasons. He was the subject of much controversy when he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers primarily for a trade exemption for the Nuggets, but continued his stellar, if not injury prone, play in Los Angeles.
5) Rik Smits, C, Indiana Pacers out of Marist College in 1988 NBA Draft (867 Games, 14.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.2 BPG) - After playing at Marist College shortly after coming over from the Netherlands, the offensively gifted 7'4" Dutch center was snagged by the Indiana Pacers in the 1988 NBA Draft. Shortly after coming over. Smits was teamed with Pacer great Reggie Miller and helped lead the Pacers to a string of successful seasons although the team always seemed to suffere postseason defeat. After spending his entire 12 year career with the Pacers, and routinely performing past expecations in the postseason individually, Smits and the Pacers made the 2000 NBA Finals where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers. After those finals, though, Smits prematurely retired from the game due to immensely painful foot injuries. Smits would later be named to the Pacers 40th Anniversary Team.
4) Mike Bibby, PG, Vancouver Grizzlies out of University of Arizona in 1998 NBA Draft (802 Games, 16.4 PPG, 6.1 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG) - A coach's son, Mike Bibby would win a national championship as the starting point guard for the Arizona Wildcats in his freshman season. After following that up with a stellar sophomore season, Bibby declared for the 1998 NBA Draft, and after the Clippers selected Michael Olowkandi, Bibby was taken 2nd by the Vancouver Grizzlies. Bibby turned in three very solid seasons in Vancouver although the Grizzlies routinely were among the worst teams in the league. After a trade to the Sacramento Kings, Bibby became one of the most recognizable players in the league. His performance, with Sacramento, in the 2002 NBA Postseason made Bibby a legend in Sacramento and he was rewarded with a 7 year 80 million dollar contract. Bibby continued to be a great player for Sacramento for the next few seasons, although the team never got as close to a championship as it did that 2002 NBA Postseason. Bibby has, as of late, become a routinely injured player and was shipped to the Atlanta Hawks at the 2008 NBA Trade deadline. He has since lead the Hawks to straight postseason apperances and is now a free agent. His future in the league looks to be solid, although he may never reach the level of success he obtained in Sacramento.
3) Gary Payton, PG, Seattle Supersonics out of Oregon State University in the 1990 NBA Draft (1,335 Games, 16.3 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG) - After being selected by the Seattle Supersonics out of nearby Oregon State Payton was slowly brought along in Seattle before being given the reigns and taking the Supersonics to some of their most successful stretches in franchise history. Nicknamed "The Glove" for his fantastic defensive presence, Payton teamed up with Shawn Kemp to routinely help the Supersonics make postseason appearances for 12 straight seasons. In 1996, Payton won the Defensive Player of the Year award, made it to the 1996 NBA Finals and won an Olympic Gold Medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He would win one more Gold Medal in 2000 but success would become harder to obtain in Seattle and Payton was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. After signing with the Lakers for the famed 2003-2004 team, Payton would struggle in coach Phil Jackson's pattented Triangle Offense and his production would take a huge hit. After initially refusing to go to Boston and then going, Payton would play for five teams in five seasons to end his career before winning that elusive championship as a reserve on the 2006 Miami Heat squad.
2) Alonzo Mourning, C, Charlotte Hornets out of Georgetown University in the 1992 NBA Draft (838 Games, 17.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 2.8 BPG, 1.1 APG) - A bragadacious player with game to back it up, Mourning took the league by storm even though he entered the NBA the same yaer that Shaquille O'Neal did. He helped a young and upstart Charlotte Hornets team make the semifinals in his rookie season before butting heads with fellow supertar Larry Johnson. After having contractual disputes with Hornets owner George Shinn, Mourning would be traded to the Miami Heat where he enjoyed the most consistent success of his career. Routinely posting averages of 20 points and 10 rebounds, Mourning would lead the Heat to the playoffs for five straight seasons, although they routinely lost to the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks every season. During that stretch, Mourning would win the 1999 and 2000 NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards and would also win an Olympic Gold Medal with the 2000 USA Olympic Baskeball Team. In 2003, Mourning started to suffer from kidney problems and his long estranged cousin eventually donated one of his kidneys to Mourning, and Mourning became the second player, after Sean Elliott, to play in the NBA after receiving a kidney transplant. After trying to win a championship with the New Jersey Nets, Mourning would return to Miami to back up Shaquille O'Neal and would be the backup center on the Miami team that won the 2006 NBA Championship. He retired in 2008 after suffering a crippling patellar tendon tear in his knee.
1) Jason Kidd, PG, Dallas Mavericks out of University of California in Berkeley in the 1994 NBA Draft (1,107 Games, 13.8 PPG, 9.2 APG, 6.7 RPG, 2.0 SPG) - After jumping out onto the scene in the 1993 NCAA Tournament, Kidd would enter the 1994 NBA Draft a successfull follow up sophomore season for the Cal Golden Bears. After being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, Kidd would be coupled with Jamaal Mashburn and Jim Jackson and the "three J's" would bring Dallas immense hope for the future. After taking the league by storm with comparisons to Magic Johnson and routinely picking up triple doubles, Kidd would win the 1995 Co-Rookie of the Year Award with Detroit Pistons forward Grant Hill. However, Kidd quickly grew unhappy in Dallas and was shipped over to the Phoenix Suns. His play took off while in Phoenix and Kidd would routinely be named to all NBA teams. After a public battle with his wife, though, Phoenix shipped him to New Jersey where his career would finally reach its peak. Kidd would finish second in the MVP voting in 2002 to Tim Duncan with the Nets and would lead New Jersey to two consecutive Eastern Conference Championships, being swept by the Lakers in 2002 and losing in six to the Spurs in 2003. Kidd, though, would routinely demand trade request adn then rescind those request with New Jersey and would also have a falling out with coach Byron Scott who was fired as a result of the disagreement. After being traded back to Dallas, Kidd has continued his stellar play although more critics of his have emerged overtime. It's unclear whether he will ever win that elusive championship, but his greatness on the court should never be underestimated.
Tags: 76ers, Antonio McDyess, Bobcats, Brandon Roy, Brent Barry, Bucks, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Paul, Clippers, Cuttino Mobley, Darko Milicic, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwight Howard, Eddy Curry, Elton Brand, Emeka Okafor, Grant Hill, Greg Oden, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Jason Kidd, Jazz, Kevin Durant, Kings, Kirk Hinrich, Knicks, Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge, LeBron James, Magic, Marcus Camby, Marvin Williams, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mike Bibby, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pistons, Raptors, Rockets, Shaquille O'Neal, Spurs, Stromile Swift, Suns, Thunder, Tim Duncan, Trail Blazers, Tyrus Thomas, Tyson Chandler, Yao Ming
Posted on: April 16, 2009 11:45 pm
Rookie of the Year:
Most Valuable Player:
Coach of the Year:
Executive of the Year:
Defensive Player of the Year:
Sixth Man of the Year:
Most Improved Player:
Tags: Brandon Roy, Brook Lopez, Bulls, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Paul, David Lee, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Eddie House, Grizzlies, Heat, Hornets, J.R. Smith, Jason Terry, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Knicks, LeBron James, Magic, Marcus Camby, Mavericks, Mo Williams, Nene, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Paul Pierce, Russell Westbrook, Spurs, Thunder, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Trail Blazers, Travis Outlaw
Posted on: April 16, 2009 11:42 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2009 11:56 pm
1) Cleveland Cavaliers - The Cavaliers were the best team throughout the entire season, expressing dominance at home, boasting the greatest player in the game and a fantastic group of shooters that could really spread the floor. Their commitment to defense, though, is what's been the true reason for their elevation of play.
Tags: 76ers, Al Jefferson, Allen Iverson, Andrea Bargnani, Andrew Bynum, Andris Biedrins, Antawn Jamison, Bobcats, Brandon Roy, Brandon Rush, Brook Lopez, Bucks, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh, Clippers, Corey Maggette, Danny Granger, David Lee, Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, Elton Brand, Gilbert Arenas, Glen Davis, Grant Hill, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jameer Nelson, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Jazz, Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Jose Calderon, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Marc Gasol, Mario Chalmers, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mike Conley, Mike Dunleavy, Mike Miller, Monta Ellis, Nate Robinson, Nets, Nuggets, O.J. Mayo, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Paul Millsap, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Rafer Alston, Rajon Rondo, Ramon Sessions, Randy Foye, Raptors, Richard Jefferson, Rockets, Roy Hibbert, Rudy Gay, Shaquille O'Neal, Spencer Hawes, Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Suns, Thunder, Timberwolves, Tony Allen, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Vince Carter, Warriors, Wilson Chandler, Wizards
Posted on: January 5, 2009 1:07 am
Edited on: April 16, 2009 11:56 pm
1. Los Angeles Lakers (4) - Rejoice, Los Angeles! The beloved Lakers have reclaimed their top position. The hottest team in the NBA is boasting one of its hottest players in Kobe Bryant. As of late, Kobe and Pau Gasol have elevated their play to around the level they were at around the postseason last year. The bench is getting good production even with Jordan Farmar missing time with his injury. I don't believe adding another point guard is critical for the moment but it wouldn't hurt if they could land one for cheap.
2. Atlanta Hawks (5) - The Hawks suffered a crushing loss with a near halfcourt heave at the buzzer from Vince Carter at New Jersey. That was only their second loss in twelve games. Victories over Cleveland, Denver, Houston and Detroit highlight that stretch and prove that this team is not a flash in the pan. I'm sure they won't maintain this level of competition all season long as the team is largely unproven, but don't try to dispute what they've accomplished so far this season. Not only is this team legitimate, they're talented.
3. Boston Celtics (2) - And just like that, with a loss to a depleted Portland team and to a bad New York team (coming off a week in which they lost their first game in forever in addition to a loss to a bad Golden State team) and the Celtics all of a sudden look vulnerable. I'm not going to jump off of the bandwagon and say that they're cooked, it's not a matter of if but when this team rights the ship and gets back to playing the defense that made them impossible to beat through November and December. Kevin Garnett has slowed a bit so far this season and Paul Pierce has had to carry this unit for basically the whole season. The role players have also slowed a tad, which is the main reason for the team's struggles but they'll get it back together and they'll still be there in the end.
4. Orlando Magic (3) - Something doesn't quite seem right with Hedo Turkoglu this season. All of his statistics have dropped from last season and his field goal percentage is at a laughable 38 percent. That's either meaning he's struggling to do too much in a contract year, or maybe last season was more of an aberration for the turkish born star. Overall, the Magic have been solid all season long and if he captures the form he showed last season then they'll be right up there at the top of the eastern confrence.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers (1) - Rejoice, Cavs haters! Zydrunas Ilgauskas has gone down to injury and the Cavaliers dropped two games this week, including an embarassing defeat at the hands of Washington today. For at least a week anyways, the team looked like last season's team, which relied entirely too heavily on LeBron James. What's happened to Wally Szczerbiak this season? He's the definition of a non factor, and with his expiring contract, if he showed any bit of production they could get a really good player in return for Wally World. But so far his value is worth about the same as Eric Snow's.
6. San Antonio Spurs (6) - Manu Ginobili had a huge week for the Spurs. Greg Popovich has done a fine job with his roster and has seemingly settled on a nice rotation. Tim Duncan is having the best year he's had in the past two or three and Tony Parker is currently playing like their best player. They're a dangerous unit and they're going to be there in the end, regardless of their difficult start.
7. Denver Nuggets (7) - Carmelo Anthony played hero on two separate occasions for the Nuggets this season, even if they were underwhelming in barely defeated Oklahoma City and blowing a 26 point lead at home to New Orleans. An injury to Nene for the Oklahoma City game showed no immediate hamper on the Nuggets, but if he misses any prolonged period of time they're in bad shape. They lack serious depth in the frontcourt.
8. New Orleans Hornets (9) - They still lack the consistency that they showed for so much of last season but Chris Paul is playing the best ball of any player in the NBA. The fact that he's not up there with Kobe Bryant in all star voting is unbelievable and truly speaks to the knowledge of the average NBA fan. David West has really picked up his game as of late and don't look now, but the Hornets rank among the league's best at the defensive side of the ball.
9. Detroit Pistons (15) - I've ridden no team as hard this year as I have the Pistons, but Rodney Stuckey has resurrected what was a dead season for Detroit after the Allen Iverson trade. The readdition of Antonio McDyess is as much a factor as any in the team's current winning streak and even though they may not be blowing teams out, victories are victories and the Pistons are winning ball games.
10. Portland Trail Blazers (8) - Playing without Brandon Roy hurt this team this week as they looked bad against New Orleans and the Lakers. Overall, they managed to pull out a victory against Boston and they're still playing hard even without Roy in the lineup. McMillan will never let this team play a weak game but they can't win without their all star guard in the lineup.
11. Dallas Mavericks (11) - Today's loss at Memphis was embarassing but Dirk Nowitzki has carried the Mavericks to a very strong season thus far. They're a team of wing players and that will doom them in the playoffs, but they will exceed any expectations they were given this season. Rick Carlisle has done a really good job with the Mavericks this season.
12. Phoenix Suns (13) - Shaquille O'Neal is having his best year since his last year in Los Angeles for Phoenix and the team is maintaining a steady play so far this season. Jason Richardson hasn't added much since his addition, but the team continues to win so his presence alone must be enough for the Suns to get by.
13. Utah Jazz (12) - Word of Carlos Boozer now needing surgery has to demoralize this squad even with Paul Millsap playing as fantastic as he has this season (I forgot to mention him in my most improved players list last week). The C.J. Miles experiment has worked well with him playing so steady this season. He's never going to be more than an average starter in this league but he's solid enough to where the Jazz can continue to use Andrei Kirilenko on the bench, which has worked very well for them so far this season.
14. Miami Heat (14) - An injury to Shawn Marion has thrusted Daequan Cook into the starting lineup and I think with a shipping of Marion and his expiring contract at the deadline, that can be a nice spot for Cook. Michael Beasley has been underwhelming so far this season but has shown flashes of being a nice player in this league. It's safe to say that he was a tad overhyped coming into the draft, though.
15. Houston Rockets (10) - Tracy McGrady's play this season has been absolutely pathetic. He's beyond bad at this moment and Yao Ming is shooting a percentage in the low 40s the past few games as well. With Ron Artest in and out of the lineup as well, this team is currently in a great deal of turmoil and it's evident when you watch them out on the court. Aaron Brooks has tailed off considerably since his start this season but the talent is still there for this team to turn it around. You just have to wonder if their players are tough enough to do it.
16. New Jersey Nets (16) - They're incredibly inconsistent and continue to be without a victory when Devin Harris is out of the lineup, but the Nets still, week after week, find themselves in the picture in the NBA. Vince Carter has had his fair share of last second theatrics this season and that's been a major reason for the Nets' position at the moment. They have to wonder if a postseason appearance is worth a possible run at a championship in the next two or three seasons when it comes to Carter, but we'll see what it is they're offered for Vince.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (17) - The Bucks are a team that's so difficult to put a finger on, because they have no player who's consistently great every night and they don't really scare you in any facet of their play. Yet they've been near .500 all season long and they're still in the playoff race thus far. That speaks wonders for Scott Skiles, even though I'm confused at his reluctancy to give Ramon Sessions big minutes. I've seen an increase in Tyronn Lue as of late and I don't believe he's better than Sessions.
18. Toronto Raptors (23) - Two weeks ago the Raptors were left for dead, and since then they've had a very impressive past two weeks. Chris Bosh has found the form he displayed earlier this season and the team is winning ball games without Jermaine O'Neal and Jose Calderon in the lineup. Anthony Parker has been a steady player at the shooting guard position and the Raptors have found themselves back in the discussion as far as the playoffs are concerned. It's a nice turnaround for a team that I wrote off just two weeks earlier.
19. Philadelphia 76ers (19) - If you were to look up the word "bland" in the dictionary, you would see this team's photo right beside it. Their play hasn't inreased without Elton Brand (even though I thought it would) and maybe they are what they are, a below .500 team that can't score and that isn't even that special on the defensive side of the ball. It seems like the two years of momentum that was built up by this squad was ruined with possibly unfair expectations with the Elton Brand acquisition.
20. Chicago Bulls (18) - A loss at home to Minnesota highlights a woeful week for the Bulls which was heightened even further with a horrible showing by Derrick Rose. Ben Gordon deserves serious all star consideration this season beyond the three point shootout and he's been the team's steadiest, most consistent option thus far. That probably is why they're down here at 20, but he deserves a little bit of credit after the way he was blasted and treated this offseason. He may, yet, see his big payday this offseason.
21. Indiana Pacers (25) - Mike Dunleavy is set to debut this week for the Pacers and that should help a team that still is looking to make a run at sneaking into the last playoff spot. Danny Granger has been tremendous this season even in the dissapointing year for the Pacers and Jarrett Jack has been tremendous since being inserted into the starting lineup as of late. T.J. Ford has done fine off of the bench but you have to wonder if he's the type of player that would be content with coming off of the bench.
22. Charlotte Bobcats (22) - I still can't speak enough for Boris Diaw's play since coming over from Phoenix. This Bobcats team has raised its level of play since that trade and currently has shown that they can be a pesky bunch to put away. Adam Morrison, on the other hand, is now officially ready to be labeled as a bust. He was a horrible selection as a 3rd overall draft pick (don't even get me started on Sean May). Little known Matt Caroll is better at what Morrison does than Morrison is and that's why Morrison scored for the first time in six games Saturday night. I still remember when Dick Vitale said we were all stupid for saying J.J. Reddick and Morrison wouldn't be great in the NBA.
23. Memphis Grizzlies (20) - Darius Miles made his debut this week for the Grizzlies and Steve Francis may be set to dress up anytime soon. It's amazing that those two players found their way onto the Grizzlies roster, but it's safe to say both are in dire need to prove that their careers aren't over in the NBA.
24. New York Knicks (24) - The Knicks have lost all of the good will they built up with a strong opening to the season, but still continue to play hard for coach D'Antoni. Al Harrington off of the bench has payed huge dividends as of late, including a victory today over Boston. David Lee has been tremendous this season and if they package him with a contract of Jerome James or Eddy Curry they can get another building block for the rebuilding of this proud franchise.
25. Minnesota Timberwolves (28) - The Timberwolves got back to back victories for the first time all season and got Mike Miller back from injury. Still, though, a lot is left to be done in Minnesota in order to get this team back to respectability. Kevin Love has been inconsistent in his performance this season and doesn't look like a great acquisition by Kevin McHale (and nobody honestly believed he would be) but I think, with the investment they made in him, that he needs to be shown more minutes as the season progresses.
26. Los Angeles Clippers (26) - Baron Davis, in addition to his pathetic displays on the court this season, caused controversy with a recent report of his wanting to return to the team he shafted just five months earlier. His homecoming has been nothing short of brutal but the team has got to be happy with the play of Marcus Camby and Eric Gordon as of late. They look like a team capable of hanging in tough games as long as Davis doesn't continue to shoot them out of ball games.
27. Washington Wizards (29) - The Wizards, with a run over Cleveland today, move out of the bottom two for the first time all season. Getting Caron Butler back this week has been good for the Wizards and the increase in minutes for Javaris Crittenton is a solid move by coach Tapscott. Andray Blatche has been a nice spot for what's been a dreadful season thus far and the Wizards are now starting to play harder each and every night. It's not going to amount to any kind of success this year, but it's a far cry from the team that regularly would get beat by 20 every night just a couple months prior.
28. Golden State Warriors (21) - With Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette now publicly speaking about trade requests the horrid season for the Warriors has now reached rock bottom. The dissapointing performance has taken a back seat to the fact that the group of players that they've assembled has now made the franchise one without any kind of positive direction. It's tough to be a loyal Warrior fan, and this season is a perfect explanation of why that's so.
29. Sacramento Kings (27) - Kevin Martin came back this season and looked fantastic in his return and Brad Miller has been a steady force all season for Sacramento, but they still continue to lose. This team looked like a team with a direction this season, but so far this season hasn't shown anything other than that they're a team without much talent or direction. It's tough to see what the future holds for this franchise.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (30) - The Thunder are really playing good basketball as of late and I wanted to move them out of the last spot for the first time all season, but can't justifiably do so. Jeff Green, this season, has looked like a player that was worthy of the draft slot they used on him and Kevin Durant have played at a very high level as of late. They're playing with more intensity than they did earlier in the season and have showed signs of a team that's on the right path as of late. That's good for that loyal fan base.
Tags: 76ers, Aaron Brooks, Adam Morrison, Al Harrington, Allen Iverson, Andray Blatche, Andrei Kirilenko, Anthony Parker, Antonio McDyess, Baron Davis, Ben Gordon, Bobcats, Boris Diaw, Brad Miller, Brandon Roy, Bucks, Bulls, C.J. Miles, Carlos Boozer, Carmelo Anthony, Caron Butler, Cavaliers, Celtics, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Clippers, Corey Maggette, Daequan Cook, Danny Granger, Darius Miles, David West, Derrick Rose, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Eddy Curry, Elton Brand, Eric Gordon, Eric Snow, Grizzlies, Hawks, Heat, Hedo Turkoglu, Hornets, Jarrett Jack, Jason Richardson, Javaris Crittenton, Jazz, Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Jerome James, Jordan Farmar, Jose Calderon, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kings, Knicks, Kobe Bryant, Lakers, LeBron James, Magic, Manu Ginobili, Marcus Camby, Mavericks, Michael Beasley, Mike Dunleavy, Mike Miller, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers, Pau Gasol, Paul Millsap, Paul Pierce, Pistons, Ramon Sessions, Raptors, Rockets, Rodney Stuckey, Ron Artest, Sean May, Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Marion, Spurs, Stephen Jackson, Steve Francis, Suns, T.J. Ford, Thunder, Tim Duncan, Timberwolves, Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady, Trail Blazers, Tyronn Lue, Vince Carter, Wally Szczerbiak, Warriors, Wizards, Yao Ming, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Posted on: December 29, 2008 1:47 am
Coach of the Year:
Rookie of the Year:
Most Improved Player:
Sixth Man of the Year: