Thursday, August 19, 2010

Milwuakee Bucks Offseason Review

Sorry for the sluggish pace as of late. Have been stressing from various sources, all approximately equal in their immense stupidity. Now then, on to reviewing the Bucks.

There is something about this team I just love. Maybe its Andrew Bogut's at times weird antics (or the fact he is just an awesome center) Maybe its Brandon Jenning's constantly evolving hair cuts. Or Maybe its the fact that this team refuses to back down from anyone. Whatever it is I am board. I like this team a lot and if they are healthy (a big if at this point but I want to think in best case scenarios in terms of health on this blog) I could potentially seeing them upsetting one of the east's top teams.

Fear the deer (and rooster!)

Brandon Jennings has actually made Milwaukee cool. That is an unbelievable feet. He started off the year sizzling hot, topped off by his legendary 55 point performance against the lowly Warriors. He tapered off a bit from there but the flashy point guard was still a big contributor for the Bucks. He put up some great rookie numbers if you ignore his field goal percentage. That would not be a good idea though, so I will just say Jennings really needs to get that up. Regardless of the efficiency, it does not take an expert to see that this kid has so much potential.

There were a lot of mumblings of Jennings being bad locker room guy. His description of Scott Skiles upon being drafted did not help either. However, from my point of view this guy has been great for team chemistry. He has an infectious enthusiasm for life that seems to have lifted the entire city of Milwaukee. Not only that, his chemistry with his team mates appears to be great. Jennings had many doubters after his meh year in Europe. It seems like his time in Europe did wonders for his maturity however. He may run his mouth a lot (ask KG), but I believe he uses his emotions the right way. Jennings most important contribution though may be the will he has instilled in his team. The Bucks are now a team that is not rattled or intimidated by anyone (I think Bogut had a big effect on this also) As a fan of the Raptors I can vouch that this is an invaluable trait to possess.

Andrew Bogut has been a player for years now I have been predicting to break out. While not garnishing much attention in the media Bogut was quietly producing very well but being absolutely plagued by injury. Sadly, Bogut was injured again in a freakish accident, but he and the Bucks had done enough to get the media's attention. Analyst praised Bogut's play and while Brandon Jennings had been getting all the initial hype it was Bogut who was now being recognized as the one holding things together in Milwaukee.

Bogut is about as skilled of a power big man that you could find in the NBA. He is a sort of a rugged Vlade Divac. Also, for me he is the closest resemblance to Shaquille O'Neal I can think of currently in the NBA. Both are power players with great awareness, slick passing from the post, and solid defense. Obviously Shaq was way better in his prime, but as far as player archetypes go, Bogut is quite similar to Shaq. There are however some skills that Bogut lacks when compared with O'Neal (on top of being freakishly athletic, er wait is that a skill?) For example Shaq's awkward yet surprisingly effective ball handling.

Andrew Bogut has been one of my favorite players for awhile now. It is only recently has he began getting recognition on a larger scale. Taken from here

Now I know most people like to compare Dwight Howard and Shaq and yes I agree to some extent. I think Shaq and Howard's game are similar in terms of their off ball offense and devastating dunking style. However when it comes to their skill sets Shaq is more similar to Bogut. To sum it up, if you mixed Dwight Howard and Andrew Bogut into one super player I think what would come out might resemble Shaq. I hope the Shaq fans out there will not hate me for the Bogut, Shaq comparison.

Moving along the Buck's swing men are composed of John Salmons, and Corey Maggette. Neither are top wings but are undoubtedly solid starters in the NBA. Maggette as a new addition was a great pick up for Milwaukee. He will give a boost to their offense which was in desperate need of a spark (whether it be off the bench or starting) Buck's fans will hope Corey can keep up his high level play he showed last year for the Warriors. The move will also lighten the burden on Jennings and hopefully help improve his efficiency.

Milwaukee also selected Larry Sanders in the middle of the first round. He appears to be an active, athletic big, who will be looked upon to contribute right away. I have not seen him play much but Bucks fans have high hopes for the guy. He is known for playing excellent defense and many have compared his ceiling to former Raptor Marcus Camby (who refers to Camby as former Raptor honestly....I do!!) If the rumors are true then Scott Skiles could possibly end his love affair with Drew Gooden (6 million a year for a guy who was thrown around like a hot potato honestly?) Sanders performed admirably in summer league and has added to the buzz in Milwaukee.

The rest of the team is compromised of Carlos Delfino, Luc Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden, Keyon Dooling, Michael Redd. While not the greatest supporting cast of all time, they are enough to get by.

Brandon Jennings has brought excitement back to Milwaukee and is one of the reasons I have them ahead of Atlanta. Taken from here

I have the Bucks finishing ahead of the Hawks which most will feel is silly. I will quickly try to justify this decision and save some face with a short list!

Pros Milwaukee
-Jennings has more room to grow then any Hawk player
-Added solid pieces in Corey Maggette and Larry Sanders
-If healthy, Andrew Bogut still has even more room to improve and will be an all star
-The team is hungry
-They took Atlanta to 7 games without their best player and all of the previous improvements

Cons Milwaukee
-Bogut's health
-Michael Redd
-John Salmons could possibly start to decline
-Drew Gooden got paid big time at Milwaukee's expense

Pros Atlanta
-They have a very solid team
-Resigned Joe Johnson
-Al Horford continues to develop

Cons Atlanta
-They came back with the exact same team which needed a shake up

So in conclusion, Atlanta and Milwaukee are very close. I just feel the Bucks improved and have some nice momentum while the passive approach of Atlanta is not going to pay off. I am really looking forward to watching the Bucks on league pass this year. Fear the Deer!!!!

Regular Season Record: Milwaukee Bucks – 49- 33 (fifth in east)
Offseason Grade: B- (Did not make a blockbuster deal but a solid draft, good job
resigning Salmons, and a nice deal to acquire Maggette. Gooden
the most overpaid player of the 2010 free agent class)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Boston Celtics Offseason Review

The Celtics showed their veteran swagger in the 2010 playoffs impressively taking to the Lakers to the edge in an epic showdown. Not many changes were need with this team and fittingly not many drastic moves were made. They did do some minor moves however, so here is what they did do.

They signed Jermaine O'Neal. He will replace Rasheed Wallace and be similarly effective. I think O'Neal will do a bit better then Wallace, especially after factoring all those technical fouls! Matching Wallace's production is not an impressive feet however and I don't expect JO to be a big factor in the Celtics success.

They also got that other guy, Shaquille O'Neal. I suggested Shaq a new nick name on twitter (@sidk4) 'The Green Giant' however I did not get a response! Shaq is a nice option off the bench and should provide good defense in specific match ups. He adds a lot of entertainment value as well. Reporters will enjoy having the Diesel around to provide his expert commentary on the going ons in Bean Town. The Cavaliers picked up Shaq to guard juggernaut Dwight Howard last year. With Jermaine O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins, and the Diesel, Dwight Howard is going to have nightmares about playing the Cs.

Luke Harangody was drafted in the second round by the Celtics. Think Matt Bonner combined with Kobe Bryant. I am joking but I do like him a lot! Taken from here

Another guy the Cs brought in was Notre Dame standout Luke Harangody. He is a big and white center who loves to jack it from 3. I know what you are thinking, Matt Bonner...Ryan Anderson...Brian Cook (I know he is black but whatever)...Dare I say Nikoloz Tskitishvili? Lets get the record straight, Luke Harangody owns these fools! I am joking to some extent, he does not own them and Matt Bonner is not a fool. Harangody seems to have a flare that none of the others possess though. His shot form makes me laugh, and makes it even sweeter when tickles the twine. I actually expect this guy to get some minutes on the deep Celtics and will be a nice player for them.

The Celtics also drafted Avery Bradley. He is a super athletic scoring point guard out of Texas. He was good value for that late in the draft, and has very nice upside. He is going to learn a lot from this veteran team. More on him in a bit.

The only player other then Rasheed that the Celtics lost was shooting guard Tony Allen. This is a bit of a loss for them, Allen was a great player to have coming off the bench providing them with elite perimeter defense and the ability to finish emphatically on the break. There is going to be a big drop off at the backup 2 for the Celtics this year. Having to rely on Marquis Daniels and Avery Bradley is questionable for a team of this caliber. Bradley really has a great chance to flourish in his role as backup. Think Ty Lawson. If Bradley struggles this position will be a point of weakness for the Celtics.

Jermaine O'Neal will add a lot of toughness especially in the form of sliding punches to the Celtics. Taken from here

Looking at the big picture now. The Celtics still look to be a power house. The big three is getting older but they still have a few years of high level play left in them. Rajon Rondo, what can really be said at this point. He is an amazing point guard. Physically gifted and a basketball genius, the sky is truly the limit for him.

A big question mark for this team is the health of Kendrick Perkins. An extremely vital part of the team. His health will decide whether Boston is at a championship level or not.

Expect the Celtics and Heat to meet for an epic show down in the second round in 2011. I am so tempted to declare Celtics victor of this battle, but my gut is telling me I will look stupid in the future. I will predict a game 7 victory for Miami against Boston.

I am very high on Boston, however I don't believe they will have an amazing record. Why? Just look at the roster, you know these guys are going to be coasting in the regular season. When April comes, expect the real Celtics to show up.

Regular Season Prediction: 51-31 (fourth in east)
Offseason Grade: B (Losing Tony Allen sucks, resigning Nate is meh, good
value signings of both O'Neals, and awesome draft picking up
Bradley and Harangody)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Detroit Pistons Offseason Review

Detroit is not a team I had often thought about prior to tonight. When I started thinking about what to write I began to realize the teams woes followed a certain theme. Detroit is a team full of sixth men, with a few nice prospects. The problem is they have all these fellows who would be great additions to teams with a good foundation, but they are not good starting points for a rebuilding franchise.

I'll start with Rodney Stuckey who has been their most disappointing player. Although scoring quite a bit his efficiency has not been superb. A look at his field goal percentage and three point percentage tells the story (shooting a lack luster 40% from the field, and atrocious 22% from 3) His inefficient scoring is not the only problem sadly. Stuckey struggles performing his duties as a point guard having trouble with court vision and awareness. His ineffectiveness as a floor general has been a big factor in the Pistons being a bottom team.

Not to say it has all been bad for Stuckey, even on poor percentages he still put up mediocre numbers. Hopefully as he continues to gain experience as a point guard things will come together for him. He has a lot of room to improve still. Stuckey right now would be a good sixth man. As a starting point guard, you really need to be able to get your team organized and running smoothly. As the sixth man he would be less responsible for distribution and be able to have more of a scorer mentality, a more suited role for his current skill set. However Stuckey has the highest plus minus on Detroit. Also he is 9.6 points above backup Will Bynum in terms of plus minus. Thus what I am trying to say is in an idealized setting he would be a backup and develop his skills in a lesser role. On the Pistons who do not have a great point guard option other then Stuckey it would be disastrous to demote him to sixth man.

Rodney Stuckey has been given high expectations being compared to 50 cent and even Dwyane Wade. He has had a hard time living up to this lofty praise. Image from here

The Pistons went on a spending binge during the offeason of 2009. One of the guys they shelved out a huge contract to was former Chicago Bull Ben Gordon. Gordon had impressed the world with his performance against the Celtics. However although some had been enchanted by his performance most still realized the reality of things. Gordon was/is still a 1 dimensional player who really brings very little to the game other then scoring. The Piston's brass was not one of the many people who had come to this obvious conclusion. Like Stuckey, he is not a fundamental piece to a winning team and is more suited to a 6th man role (if the team wants to be successful)

Charlie Villanueva was also a benefit of the Pistons 2009 spending spree. Sadly the Pistons retained the same theme that the Gordon signing followed. Scorer who does not play defense, or bring much to the table other then scoring. Again, these sort of signing can be beneficial if proper infrastructure is already in place. For example, if a team with a solid foundation, i.e the Spurs wants to add some punch off the bench, or add a bit more scoring to an already stout defensive starting lineup. Detroit is neither and they need to bring in winning type of players to get on the right track. Villanueva's development has been disappointing to me. He has not really added much to his game since his rookie year. I liked his personality a lot when he was a Raptor so it is sad for me to witness his stunted growth.

I'll continue getting the Piston's negatives out of the way. Like Stuckey, Jason Maxiel's development has been extremely disappointing. Other then the occasional highlight play, Maxiel has added nothing to his game. Actually, he has even regressed as a player statistically. Tracy Mcgrady is washed up (sorry t-mac), Richard Hamilton is declining, and Tayshaun Prince is just not that good.

Will Bynum is an interesting player. Resigned this summer for 3 years 10.5 million is a solid price for a decent back up point guard. He is a nice scorer to bring in off the bench who occasionally throws down some monster dunks. You can't hate on his game for the price he is paid but like many of the Detroit players he does not bring much other then scoring. Another knock on Bynum is his synergy with the other Detroit guard.

There are some bright spots for the Pistons. They do have some young players who look to be of the winning mold.

Demar Derozan was not happy with his exclusion from the Rookie team. Thuy models her new Derozan Jersey in support of our dear Raptor. Cheer up Demar!

Jonas Jerebko is a young Swedish forward who brings a lot of energy to the game. The sophomore brings great hustle which is evident in his body language and high offensive rebounding numbers. He looks to be a good piece for the Pistons moving forward. Fellow sophomore Austin Daye did almost nothing in his rookie year, he has shown flashes in summer league that he can be a very nice player though.

With the number 7 pick of the 2010 draft the Detroit Pistons selected Greg Monroe. There are mixed feelings on Monroe, many are pegging him to be a disappointment already. While I wont make any predictions on whether he will be a bust (I have not seen him play very much) he does seem to lack the elite level athleticism and desire to be more then a serviceable player at this level. That said he appears to have a nice overall game (although nothing blows you away) and displays good passing ability (actually he is quite an impressive passer from what I have seen) It will be a refreshing change to have a player who enjoys passing on the Pistons for a change. I am predicting him to have a serviceable career and a solid rookie season.

Ben Wallace revitalized his career by returning to where it all began for him (I know he was not drafted by Detroit but you know what I mean..)

The one, other bright spot for the Pistons was the return of Big Ben. Wallace just looks right in a Piston's uni and injected his career with a jolt of life in 2009/2010. Look for him to continue being an extremely serviceable C for a year or two.

To sum it all up, the Pistons players have very little synergy with each other. This is true except for a few players who I expect will be starting pieces in their rebuilding process. It will be a struggle this year in Detroit, I am expecting them to end up around the same record as last year. Slight improvements and Monroe's addition will be offset by the improved Eastern Conference.

Estimated Regular Season Record: 28-54 (Thirteenth in East)
Offseason Grade: C+ (Will regret passing up on Cousins if they could of had him but
Monroe was still a nice pick, and T-Mac probably wont add much)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cleveland Cavaliers Offseason Review

Unlike the Cleveland Show their wont be much to smile about for Cav's fans. From here

With the Lebron leaving his hometown roots in Ohio the city of Cleveland reverts to the former ghost town of basketball. I may be under estimating Lebron Jame's former supporting cast, but I currently see them as the second worst team in the east. The basis of this slighting is that the success of many Cleveland players was a byproduct of Lebron Jame's greatness. Indeed this seems reasonable, and for once I decided to do some research to explore the validity of my renegade notions.

My research began with a simple query into google's impressive database. The search was on "Cleveland's record without Lebron James" and yielded some results, I decided to check out an article called 'Cavs Prove They Can Win Without LeBron James' (by Pat McManamon - check it out here) if you want) The title frightened me a bit, could I be wrong already? The title was accurate, the Cavaliers had defeated the relatively powerful San Antonio Spurs without the King. Reading a bit further however I found some other interesting tid-bits, specifically

"The Cavs' record in their last 10 without LeBron? One-and-nine. This win was their first without him in three years and it came over a team that is the seventh-best in the West." - Pat McManamon

Again, congratulations to Cleveland for defeating San Antonio, but the main thing to see is the performance of the Cavs without Lebron. They had a win rate of 10 percent without the King.

Now I don't expect Cleveland to have 10 percent win rate in 2010/2011 but I am expecting them to win less then half of what they did in 2009/2010. Not only have they lost one of the greatest of all times, but there are many other factors that point to an even poorer season then commonly predicted for the Cavs.

First is moral. When your owner writes hate mail like a 13 year old teenage girl to the cities formal idol, you got some issues (although I thought his metaphor on going to heaven without dying was a nice touch) I can't help but think Lebron's departure is going to have a negative impact on the moral of everyone involved in the organization. The lack of positive energy will not create an environment conducive of winning.

If you read the above article you will notice Delonte West was one of the key contributors in their heroic victory over the Spurs. Well, he is gone too. I have been a fan of Delonte West the player and person for awhile now. His antics have been somewhat troublesome but I cannot help but love the guy for all the shenanigans he pulls off. On the court he is pretty underrated by many. A good shooter, with a variety of skills offensively (nice handle and impressive low post game) and an excellent perimeter defender. So losing this guy hurts.

Third their swing man rotation. I feel truly sorry for the folks of Cleveland. Going from Lebron James to a swing rotation of Anthony Parker, Joey Graham, and Jamario Moon is going to be painful to say the least. This trio 'graced' Toronto fans with the worst production from the 2, 3 spot in the NBA from 2007-2009. With Parker declining with age, Graham and Moon not improving at all, expect much the same.

With the absence of production from the wings, it will fall on Mo Williams, Ramon Sessions, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao, and JJ. Hickson to carry the team offensively.

Antawn Jamison is bound to improve a bit statistically from his atrocious performance as a Cav last year. That said, he is still trending downwards as a player. I expect this decline to accelerate in the coming years.

Ramon Sessions is a decent backup who I don't know much about other then losing follows him wherever he goes. JJ Hickson has some upside and is very athletic however his skill level does not seem very high. Varejao is an amazing role player and will still provide energy, however his effectiveness wont be as high now that he is playing for a terrible team (more attention, less easy buckets from LBJ)

Mo Williams will have to make random and unexpected player growth for the Cavs to be considered average. From here

Finally Mo Williams. The burden is going to fall on this guy to lead the Cavs out of the bottom tier. For them to win over 30 games he is going to have to have a good year. Increases in most categories, most importantly points, assists, and field goal percentage. I am doubtful that this will happen (sorry for the lack of good reasoning, I just don't really like his game and don't see him improving)

In conclusion, poor Cleveland. The end.

Offseason Grade - F (Unlike Toronto they had a chance to retain their superstar and
failed to do so. Trading West for Sessions does not improve the
team but rids them of a head ache. Really they did nothing
else but sign Joey Graham which is not much)
2010/2011 Regular Season Record - 26-56 (Fourteenth in East)

Day 10: A photo of you taken over ten years ago

Here I am with some inanimate objects who had been friends of mine. As you can see I am quite young here, thus fulfilling the requirements for this day's task! Indeed this trend in befriending objects that the average sane person would not call alive would continue into adulthood (adulthood might be a controversial remark on myself) I have always felt an odd thing, a thing that has enticed some degree of mockery from some. I always felt all objects had some sort of emotions, even if scientifically I was clearly wrong. In the novel I read recently 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' an exploration of what differentiates human beings and the fictional androids occurs. One term thrown around quite often is that of empathy, the capability of one to 'put yourself in the shoes of another. Yes this is something quite characteristic of our race of super advanced monkeys.

It would appear this ability is beneficial, however I am a case of empathy gone haywire. I put my self in the shoes of everything! Other people, clothing garments, plush animals, candies shaped like kittens, bloody everything. The result is a life of constant emotional turmoil over obviously useless thing like eating a chocolate bunny. Interestingly this feeling is trumped by that of fear and hunger. For example, I no problem destroying an invading centipede or spider that happens to cross my path. Additionally I have never felt the urge to become a vegetarian.

Well that is all I can say about this photo, my hair was so curly back then. Now it is labeled as the 'thickest hair I have ever seen' by 93% of hair dressers I have met.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Toronto Raptors Offseason Review

From my top three teams I will now move to bottom three.

Starting with the bottom - my beloved Raptors.

It is going to be a very long year north of the border. There are some things to be excited about, that would be the future. As far as the present go the Raptors will compete for the worst record in the NBA amongst the likes of the T'wolves, and Cavaliers. I would have added the Nets in that group but I feel the addition of Murphy puts them above the bottom tier.

Here I am, overseeing the Raptors game against Washington in 2008

Even when looking to the future it is very uncertain. We have nobody we can really build around to be honest. This is not a slight to Demar Derozan, I really like him and believe he will have an impressive sophomore campaign. On the other hand it will be hard for him to become a go to guy on a championship team. He has a world of potential but the sheer amount of improvement he has to make to reach that level is immense. I feel his best case is somewhere around Brandon Roy (in terms of overall effectiveness - I am not saying he plays similar to Roy) and his worse case would be Dahntay Jones.

Other then Derozan we have some other nice young fellas. The notorious 'Young Gunz' of the Raptors consisting of Amir Johnson, Clarence 'Sonny' Weems, and Jarret Jack (I am not sure if he is an official member, he appears to be the overseer / parental figure of this group of rascal) These young guns are very talented and have a great attitude. They both have a great deal upside (although I suspect Amir and Sonny do not have all star potential - sorry guys >< ) and will end up being nice pieces on this team.


There is also Raptors young big man Ed Davis. Again, he looks like a decent player who will have some impact even as rookie. However his upside (based on limited sample size) is all star at best. I was impressed by his shot blocking during the summer league, other then that his game seems solid. As stated earlier (implied by view on his upside) nothing else really blew me away though. His most impressive play came when he caught the ball in the post, faced up and made a hard drive right, spinning back left and finish against a second defender plus the foul. This is a classic and deadly move on the block and the fact that he can pull it off fairly gracefully at this stage is a good sign. He showed a nice feathery touch on his face up mid range jumper as well. Those were the highlights though, and a majority of the time his baskets were garbage points or him finishing off a pass (where he showed decent hands and a good touch) I would of really liked to see more intensity from him and assertiveness, he has a fairly calm and collected demeanor on the court (or perhaps that is a good thing, I have been a KG fan for too long I guess)

And then there is Brian Colangelo's prized gem - Andrea Bargnani. By no means is he a bust, but he has not been good either. Statistically he has been decent, but his effect on winning has been minimum. The main problem is his lack of basketball IQ. He needs to get some popcorn, kick his feet up, and watch a bunch of game tape so he can see exactly what he does that is effective / ineffective. Example of effective moves include catch and shoot threes, and offensive low post into hook shots and layups. Examples of ineffective actions are compromised by sudden out of rhythm low post fadeaways, and pull up mid range jumpers lacking any elevation (honestly he does not jump at all on his pull up) I really don't know what to expect from this guy next year, he could average 20 PPG, but what will his effect be on winning? I think his weaknesses (poor IQ) will be less evident if he is not playing with Jose Calderon. Think about it - A point guard who can't keep Darrick Martin in front of him, and a center who has no clue when to rotate. A lethal combination and a potent mixture if you're interested in sucking. That being said breaking up this duo of darkness will result in a more effective Andrea Bargnani (in all honesty this is based on my own instinct. The statistics don't really back up that the particular combination of Bargnani and Calderon equates to losing. I am not intelligent enough to devise a way to analyze statistics to isolate what we need to find an answer)

Statistically Bargnani probably missed this rebound

Antonio Daniels beats Jose off the dribble with his 'blazing' speed

Financially Toronto made a solid deal getting rid of Turk. Barbosa will likely not do well, his production has been falling for awhile now, but again that wont make the deal a failure. I suspect Turk will have a semi bounce back year in phoenix. I am expecting an awe inspiring 14/4/4 from Mr. 'ball'

Colangelo made a very Colangelo'ish deal (that is it epitomized his refusal to acknowledge that sometimes to become a great team you have to not be a great team for awhile) in signing Linus Kleiza to a 4 year 18 million dollar deal (Approx.) A solid deal in terms of value, Kleiza is a serviceable player who would be welcome on most teams I imagine. If we still had Bosh I would of liked this signing, as it would have propelled us from mediocrity to a slightly higher level of mediocrity, which is a good thing. However going from crap to slightly less crappy is not a good thing. It takes away from development of our youth and hurts our draft stock. The concept of making decisions based on draft stock makes Colangelo feel as if he is ****ing a brick.

The Raptor's future is shrouded in mystery. With the varying potential in our players, and most having ceiling not incredibly high we really need only one thing.
A superstar. When you suck, you get one from the draft, and that is what we need to do. I don't know who it will be, Harrison Barnes? Kyle Irving? But we need that one guy who has 'it'. So fellow raptors fans, we have hope, and it stems from the fact we will suck, suck mightily. We will have a great chance of landing the number 1 pick in the NBA draft. That is our hope - and that is pathetic sadly :P

Good Night!

Offseason Grade - C- (Lost Bosh and made weird FA signings but dumped Turk and got
good value at 13 with Ed Davis)
2010/2011 Regular Season Record - 25 - 57 (Fifteenth in East)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Orlando Magic Offseason Review

Prior to the 2009/2010 NBA season I had proclaimed amongst my circle of friends a bold predictions.

Orlando would
- Record the best regular season record
- Win an NBA championship

Dwight Howard would
- Win his first MVP
- Win his second DPOY (hereby making him the third player since the introduction of
DPOY in 1982 to win both awards in one year. The two others being Michael
Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon)

I was very high on Orlando at the time, clearly. My opinion had been that the finals against the Lakers in 2008/2009 was a lot closer then many people had thought. I felt they had all the tools to win it, unfortunately they were a big let down. They had unbelievable depth at every position and the type of game plan that wins championships. An above average point guard who could make shots, wings who could shoot and penetrate, power forwards who could spread the floor, and the most dominating defensive force in the league at C.

Here I am during the 2007/2007 season wearing a newly purchased Howard jersey.

Looking at why they came short in the 2009/2010 will explain why I see them taking a step back in 2010/2011.

Jameer Nelson is overrated. He is an above average point guard but not even in the second tier (or third maybe) For a team so offensively gifted his assist numbers are low, and other stats remain relatively unimpressive. Compare his numbers to Toronto Raptor's backup point guard Jarret Jack (who is not generally considered to be comparable to Nelson) and you might be surprised to see that Jack is actually statistically superior to Nelson. Additionally the guy did not block a single shot all of last season. I know he is short but come on man! I am sorry if I am going crazy on the hating, I think he is still a good point guard, just not great.

The wings were a big disappointment. Specifically Vince Carter, and Mickael Pietrus. Reddick was outstandingly mediocre but honestly not impressive either. I wont spend any time talking about how Reddick was decent, as a Raptor's fan I am more interested in talking about how Vince Carter sucks (evil laugh) It is just over for this guy. He is not a good player anymore. He has reverted to his jump shot lover affair he started in his latter years in Toronto and I doubt that will ever end. He received a jolt of life temporarily in NJ but is back to has returned to Orlando as 'Wince' Carter. Even if he has a boost of motivational energy he is too old to use it. Mickael Pietrus has been a player everyone has expected to take the next leap for awhile now. Sadly, is has never happened, the only thing he has increased is his cockiness. I find that annoying. Moving along.

Rashard Lewis, the most overpaid player in the NBA. This title was bearable prior to 2009/2010 due to his decent production. He fit the role in Orlando well. Last year he just sucked though. He declined in almost every important statistic, but none more important then 3 pointers made. I see this decline not as a anomaly but a trend in his production. His decline is going to be a big factor in wavering future.

Dwight Howard, what can I say. This guy is a beast and he needs to be put in the same category as Kobe and Lebron in terms of their effect on winning. The only way for Orlando to take the next step is for Howard to take the next step offensively. Will this happen? His training with the greatest center of all time Hakeem Olajuwon could help. If he can gain more confidence in the post (and skill) Orlando has a chance to prove me wrong. I am skeptical that he can really take a big leap in that area this year. Hopefully I am proven wrong since I have historically been a big support of Howard (see pic)

All in all, Orlando has done nothing to improve this offseason. They have added nobody and lost a very solid player in Matt Barnes. Additionally decline in the performances of Carter, and Lewis are expected. The east has improved, making winning even more difficult. Being in the southeast has become a lot tougher.
I see them as a tier 2 team in the east, with very slim hopes at winning a championship. Dwight Howard taking huge steps forward seems to be their only real hope at winning it all.

Offseason Grade - D- (They did nothing and lost Barnes)
2010/2011 Regular Season Record - 54 - 28 (Third in East)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chicago Bulls Offseason Review

The Chicago Bulls have walked this path before. Entering the 2006/2007 season the Bulls had a young core consisting of Kirk Heinrich, Ben Gordon, and Luol Deng lead them to some moderate success in the playoffs. The Bulls then lured defensive juggernaut Ben Wallace from the powerhouse Pistons with an extremely lucrative contract.

This year, the Bulls boast a young promising core of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson. To that young core they have added 2 time all star Carlos Boozer. I am by no means a fan of Boozer, the whole free agency scandal really annoyed me, but he is really going to help this team out. The addition of Boozer all but guarantees the Bulls to be a lock as the best rebounding team in the NBA. Boozer will also give the Bulls an above average post presence that they have been lacking for what seems like forever.

The Bulls may have added Carlos Boozer but their two most important players are still Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. Joakim Noah has proved to be a winner at every level. He plays with unprecedented passion and his approach to life on and off the court, to quote Kevin Harlen "has no regard for human life" I expect Noah to continue to develop and dunk on people's face pony tail flying wildly.

Derrick Rose has apparently greatly improved his shooting, especially from long range. From my own observation Rose has also increased his presence and command of the floor. He seems to have a stronger demeanor now, in his mind he feels he is a super star and to me the confidence is very evident. I think those two improvements, combined with his already godlike physical traits will help him reach the top tier of point guards in 2010/2011.

All of this, and they have added a very solid 2 guard in Ronnie Brewer, 3 point marksman Kyle Korver (a personal NBA 2k9 favorite of mine) and defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau (this guy was the real head coach of Boston) I feel this team is the now top of the second tier in the East. This may seem slightly controversial however I feel Orlando has taken a small step back and Boston is going to be in cruise control during the regular season. On the other hand if healthy, Chicago will have the peddle on the metal for the entire season.

It is going to be a very exciting year in Chicago! I look forward to hearing Chuck Swirsky going insane all year, onions baby onions!

Offseason Grade - A- (S if Lebron signed in Chicago)
2010/2011 Regular Season Record - 55 - 27 (Second in East)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Miami Heat Offseason Review

The dust is finally starting to settle and we are getting a relatively clear view of the 2010/2011 NBA landscape. While it is blatantly obvious that it is going to be a rough year for my precious Raptors, the eastern conference as a whole (especially at the top) is looking extremely competitive.

Miami seems to be the clear cut favorites in the East with the additions of King Crab and Brontosaurus. Every day I ponder how the birth of this fearsome trio was even possible - let alone legal! Clearly this power shift was legal and did happen though and Miami is now a force to be reckoned with. To top it off they have cut off all their useless fat, and managed to assemble an above average supporting cast.

Moving in another direction for a moment here is a quick tidbit on CB4 and LBJ's decisions to join Flash in South Beach.

As a Toronto fan I wish him the best of luck in Miami. A lot of Raptor's fans are upset by Bosh's use of Twitter and social media during his free agency. Although some of his tweets have been borderline annoying for me, in general I don't feel he really did anything wrong. He is right, he was a wolf in a cage (a tweet that aroused much anger on realgm) in Toronto. He was surrounded by players who could obviously not match his skill level, but more importantly could not match his effort and intensity on the basketball court. Again, there was almost no reason for him to stay. It was the best decision for him and us to move own to the next stage in his career.

For me, it was a joy getting to see Bosh grow into the top power forward in the NBA (in my opinion) I always saw a bit of him in myself (timid, techie, lanky) and had a vested interest in his career. I really hope he does well and gets the recognition he deserves. I also worry that when/if it does happen his ego may get out of control. I really hope he stays somewhat humble but it will be hard. From my observation of Bosh I feel he may have certain insecurities about a lot of things. National recognition for one. With insecurity comes a highly fluctuating personality, one that can ride the waves of success all the way into the sky. With your head in the clouds that ego gets pretty crazy and you act unnatural and awkward. I suspect this may happen to our beloved dino, but I am hoping I am wrong.

But anyways, farewell dear dinosaur, I will cheer for you and not boo when you return to Toronto :)

I'll keep things short with Lebron and "The Decision"

I agree that winning a championship with 3 superstars (2 would of been fine in terms of legacy i.e Jordan and Pippen) makes a championship a less impressive feet. It will be very hard indeed for Lebron match the legacies of Jordan, Kobe, Magic, and Bird with his new team. That said, who cares really? All the analysts and media guys do, but does Lebron? He could believe that this choice does not take away from his legacy. I personally feel this was his way of saying screw all that, I honestly just want to be happy, and I can't hate on that. In the end if he does not have the legacy of Kobe or the others, he was still an amazing player. Hopefully that is enough to satisfy a king.

Back to the Heat

Joel Anthony will see a lot of minutes at center and should be extremely solid for them. Actually a bit more on Joel Anthony, being Canadian I have seen him play for the national team and heard a bit more on him then the average fan. This guy flat out gives it his all whenever I have seen him play, he is all about team and effort. He is also one of those guys who could care less if he gets dunked on. This is a good thing and that attitude help him contribute in making Miami a top defensive team (when you look at their roster it is very surprising) in 2009/2010. Now replace Michael Beasley and Dorell Wright with Chris Bosh and Lebron James and you have a team that looks to be a lock to repeat this achievement.

Mike Miller is a perfect fit as a sixth man. Mario Chalmers seem to be a good fit, I haven't seen him play too much but my impression is he is a decent shooter and known for his perimeter defense. Which is really all they need from him. Finally Jamal Magloire, Shavlik Randolf, James Jones, and some second round picks who are all below average players but should be good enough to get by.

The only move Miami has done that I have not been as big on was sending Beasley out of town. I really don't know the inside story but I thought the big three of Miami would be able to bring out the best in B-easy. I guess trading him freed up space to resign Anthony and acquire Mike Miller? If that is the case then it was a solid move. Speaking of Beasley, props to Michael Beasley Sr. for making a funny on twitter (for those who have not heard do a Google search on "Michael Beasley Sr. Delonte West")

In conclusion the Miami Heat had the greatest offseason in the history of the NBA (and possibly sports) and are "The" team to watch in 2010/2011. Getcha popcorn ready folks it's going to be a wild ride in South Beach.

Off season Grade - S (better then A+)
2010/2011 Record - 65 - 17 (First in East)
Web Analytics