Thursday, February 2, 2012

Big Names vs. Bigger Names


Every year, since it has existed, the NBA all-star game is one of the biggest venues in the country. Each year, the selected elite players always put on a show, and never disappoint. The exciting atmosphere keeps fans in the stands, as well as at home, on the edge of their respected seats. The biggest names, in basketball, and hollywood, and the world seem to make an appearance here to see players that over the course of the first 41 (or 33 this season) games in the season have displayed their qualities the best, in order to be put on the roster. This part poses a problem. The players that display their qualities the BEST over the course of the first half of the season. Although this theory is sometimes supported, it has not yet matured to become a law in the NBA. In recent years, the voters, the fans of the league, have picked the players who sometimes are not as deserving as other players in that first half of the season. However these players are picked over them anyway because of the excitement factor of the All-Star game. However, since All-Star appearances are one of the many variables that play an important part in a player's greatness equation, it's only fair that the ones that should be on the team, get to be on the team.

For example, Roy Hibbert. The Pacers' center, has been a pivotal, and perhaps the most important part in the Pacers surprising success. An unstoppable go-to hook shot, towering height, and crooked nose, is playing better than 95% of the centers in the league. When Indiana played Los Angeles (Lakers), Hibbert led his team to the win in LA, while impressing a lot of people in the process. Not only playing with a broken nose that game, he also outplayed leading Western Conference vote-getter at the center position Andrew Bynum. Bynum had no answer for Hibb's hook shot. Sounds like an All-Star to me, but imagine the phenomena, if Hibbert got picked to be an Eastern Conference All-Star starter in a Dwight Howard-ful league. Many would be upset because it just doesnt seem logical to pick Hibbert over Howard. Many could make the argument that Howard has led his team to the finals. Many could also argue that Howard has more All-Star appearances. 

Both would be great points in a debate, if we were talking about who's a better player. Both facts are based on past milestones in Howard's career, granted milestones that Hibbert hasn't acheived yet, but those shouldn't be valid points in choosing the best center to represent the Eastern Conference, based on his play in the first half of the season. If that wasn't the case, then there would be no need for voting each year.


The same thing happens to players like Andre Iguodala. Iguodala has led his team, just like Hibbert, in climbing the totem pole and beating some really good teams. He has played solid basketball, provided highlights, and won games for his team. To put it simply: this year, Iggy's an All-Star. However there is always someone that steps on Iggy's lego house. Dwayne Wade. Wade has been an All-Star since his second year in the league. He came out of that famous, stacked '03 draft class. He was destined for NBA stardom. But this season, Wade is averaging his lowest points per game since his rookie year. He has played in only 13 of Miami's 22 games, how is he an All-Star this year? Is it because his name is Dwayne Wade? Is it because he is a part of the Big 3? Or is it because he won a championship back in '06 and has made a name for himself as a top player in the leauge that deserves to be on the All-Star team because of his name?

On Groundhog Day this year, the NBA starters for the 2012 All-Star Game were announced. Wade was a starter, over a player that has had a better season than him, and has played more games than he has, and is actually leading his team to a decent record. But once again because he is Dwayne Wade, he is the starter.

The NBA All-Star game can accelerate careers, from good to great. And players that have potential to take their careers to the next level, and I for one, think it is unfair to those that every year have dampers put on their careers because some fan, wants to see their favorite big name player in because that leaves the more deserving out.

Please comment below and give us feedback

-Cantrell

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Pacers Win or Bulls Loss

  January 25th, 2012, Chicago, Illinois is the setting for the 8:00 matchup between the first place Chicago Bulls and the 5th place Indiana Pacers. The Bulls have the best record in the NBA, and are undefeated at home. The Indiana Pacers who, coming in, have already beaten Boston twice, and the Lakers in LA, are traveling to the United Center for the ultimate test to prove to all the doubters(me) that they are a force in the league this year. Starting lineup for the Bulls are; MVP Derrick Rose; former Detroit star Rip Hamilton; replacing Luol Deng, Ronnie Brewer; Second option Carlos Boozer; and finally love him or hate him, Joakim Noah. As for the Pacers; solid Darren Collison, an improved Paul George, the pacers leading man Danny Granger, a re-energized David West, and underrated Roy Hibbert. 
               
 Now, let's be honest seems like an easy win for the home team right? Best Record, Best Record at home, last year's Best Player, surely with all of those small things in your favor you can't lose right? Not to mention this is the former 8th seeded team whom you faced in the first round, and beat. But there's something different about the Pacers this year. They hustle more, they play more as a team, some of the players that have been hibernating in their cocoons have awakened and the Pacers have blossomed into a beautifully good NBA team. A team that has the potential to perhaps, dare I say, make it deeper into the playoffs.  

 Now, that same process happened to the Bulls, early last season when they started to beat the NBA's elite also. So, coming into tonight's contest, it was close throughout the game. Every basket that Chicago makes, BOOM, Indiana makes one, Chicago misses a shot, BAM, Pacers turnover. The two teams looked very evenly matched.  Much of the reason has to do with the incredibly improved play of the Pacers' frontcourt. West has found a new life in Indiana, and is playing like an All-Star in the East. Roy Hibbert, broken nose and all, is displaying the true definition of heart. Not only is Hibbert playing, Hibbert is playing well, really well. Dominating some of the NBA's best big man and not getting the credit for the effort that is put in every night with a broken nose, is really speaking to his character. 
             
  The Bulls and Pacers were close throughout the game. No one seeming to pull away, until the final 4 minutes of the game. Not the Bulls, but the Pacers, started hitting shots, and outworking Chicago for every rebound. Now since Chicago's a good team, they kept up with them by matching the intensity. With good all around team play and a final Brian Scalabrine (?) miss, the Pacers prevail to hand Chicago its first loss at home this season. 

 Now, to analyze whether it was a Pacers' win, or a Bulls' loss. In the final 2 minutes of the game, the Pacers kept up their intensity and the Bulls were barely keeping up with them. Chicago did not make shots in the closing minutes of the game. In the final two mintues, Carlos Boozer picked up his 5th foul, Coach Tom Thibbodeau takes him out as any smart coach would do and he puts in, Brian Scalabrine? The Bulls have been dealing with injuries this entire season. So yeah, Brian Scalabrine goes in to give the Bulls a spark on defense which they desperately needed. He did his job and helped make the Pacers miss 3 key shots, which gave the bulls one final possession to tie. coming out of the timeout we all know whose hands the ball is going to be in: Rose's. So he takes it, easily gets past his defender, and like a good defender does Hibbert goes over to contest Rose from getting the easy layup. Rose passes it to the corner in hope that whoever is there is going to make the shot. Who is it? None other than Brian Scalabrine. Why is he even in the game? B-Scal is a man who only 4 days prior to this, was a guy that you brought in only when you were up 40. Now all of a sudden, Thibbodeau trusts this guy with the game? Scal wasn't even expecting the ball. He, just like everyone else in that United Center, thought that Rose was going to get the last shot. That's how it usually is, the leader gets it, and his teammates will go with what there leader does. I mean, at the end of a concert you dont see Taylor Swift tossing the mic to one of her backup singers. When it comes down to it, the Bulls got beat. The Pacers won this one. This win makes for a more competitive and exciting Eastern Conference, and a promising rivalry between the two teams.

Please leave comments below, and any feedback.

-Cantrell

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The KI-AI Comparison

"With the first pick, in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving from Duke University." With those words, Cavs fans hoped a new era had begun. They hoped for a savior in the 19-year old, barely college-tested point guard. Unlike former Number 1 Overall Draft Picks, there wasn't a whole lot of footage on Irving, namely because he only played a handful of games his freshman (and only) year. However, the footage that was there and the knowledge of Irving's skills that did exist were enough to convince the Cavs that he was the right first step into rebuilding after the departure of LeBron. Just like America had Franklin Roosevelt to lead them through the post-Depression era, Cleveland was hoping Irving was ready to lead them through the post-Decision era. And so far this year, it doesn't look like that's impossible. Sure, the Cavs don't have a winning record, but Irving is showing flashes of being a special player. In fact, he's showing flashes of another player....Allen Iverson.
Iverson was the 2001 MVP 

Is it a stretch? Sure. Is it impossible? No. Is it even close to impossible? Not really. Think about it. The similarities are definitely there. Not only are their games similar, but they're also physically similar. The differences are there too, but this isn't the KI-AI Contrast, so for now let's ignore those.

The best place to start is the top, and the thing that's similar between these two is that their tops are around the same place. With only about a 2 inch difference in their height, neither has a real height advantage over the other. Then there's their weight. While there is a 15 pound difference, in the NBA, they're both small. The similarities so far: height, weight, position. Iverson had a 41 inch vertical leap. While Kyrie Irving didn't participate in the NBA Draft Combine, it is reported that his vertical jump has been measured around 37 inches. Basically, both of them can get off the floor. While no official measurement has been taken on their speed, it's easy to tell  with the naked eye that both are incredibly fast guys. But the thing that makes their speed different from others in the league is that they are incredibly explosive guys. It takes the smallest fraction of a second and they're off to the races.

With all of those natural abilities so similar, it's only natural that these guys' games are equally similar. Think about it. Both guys are a triple threat. They can shoot outside, they can drive inside, and if they're shut down they can dime their teammates into easy scoring situations. This makes them incredibly hard to defend. Think about that. If you lay off of him, he hits the three. If you play him too tight, he gets around and drives the lane or draws a foul. If you double team him, he sets up the open man with a good dish. No matter what, you're in trouble. Both guys are masters of the behind the back pass, and both play with a certain swagger that you simply can't ignore. Iverson was good at getting to the basket, but when he got to the land of giants that often surrounded the rim, it was his acrobatic finishes that accounted for a large amount of his points. Now, a decade or so later, Kyrie Irving is doing the same thing. He gets to the basket and is always getting points on clever reverses and crafty up-and-unders. When it seems as though there's no way he can hang in the air long enough to outlast the 7-footers that frequent the paint, he puts it in at the very last second for two, just as Iverson used to wow the league by doing.

The 19-year old Irving was taken
by the Cavs with the first pick
in the 2011 NBA Draft
Other than the heights and weights, all of those things are opinions. But you know me, I love stats. I believe stats can back anything up; including this. You're wondering, what do the stats say? Well, obviously Irving's stats are limited. But so far, his stats are strikingly similar to Iverson's stats from his Rookie of the Year campaign. Iverson averaged 21.1points/36min. Irving so far? 22.5points/36min. He's actually edging out Iverson. Granted, it's one point and granted, it's 15 games into the season. But that just goes to show the people who say they are nothing alike. Other numbers are equally similar.

Stat: (Iverson/Irving)
Assists: (6.7/6.3)
Steals: (1.9/.9)
Blocks: (0.3/0.8)
Rebounds: (3.7/4.3)
Turnovers: (4.0/4.7)

The only stat where there is a difference of 1 is steals, and that's only because Iverson was one of the greatest thieves of all time. Like I said, the stats back it up. Both averaged 6 assists, both average less than 1 block, both average around 4 rebounds, both average about 4 turnovers. The stats back up the opinions, and the opinions explain the stats.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am in no way saying that Irving is the next Iverson. Iverson was a special talent. Easily one of the most electrifying scorers and one of the greatest players of all time. If I was picking a player today to go into a best-of-nine 1-on-1 series, and I had to pick between the two, my choice would easily be Iverson. Irving has a lot of work to do to get to the elite level that Iverson reached. However, with rookie numbers nearly identical to Iverson, he is certainly on the right path. If he continues to improve and rival Iverson's numbers season-by-season, it won't be long before KI joins AI on an elite level reached by few point guards.

-Gunner

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Man Inside the Man: David West

This offseason, (however short), had some interesting personnel moves. Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups to the Clippers, Tyson Chandler to the Knicks, Lamar Odom left the Lakers, Big Baby Davis found a home in the Magic Kingdom. Some crafty vets found a new niche in new places, the likes of Tracy McGrady and Jerry Stackhouse to the Hawks, Shane Battier taking his talents to South Beach, and Rip Hamilton helping D Rose in Chitown. One that not very many people talk about though, is the quiet signing of David West to the Indiana Pacers. It was not a huge headline. It was nowhere near the largest signing of the year. However, it's one that is having one of the biggest impacts on it's team.

Let's be honest, this isn't the first time that DWest has been stuck behind more flamboyant players in the headlines. When you think of the 2003 Draft, you can't help but think it's one of the most talented pools in NBA History. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh all drafted the same day. With big names like those, it's not hard to overlook the 18th overall pick, David West. He was brought in by the New Orleans Hornets where he began as a modest power forward. Easy numbers, nothing stellar. Then 2005-2006 rolls around. David West begins breaking out. He finishes second in the league in Most Improved Player Voting. He and Chris Paul teamed up to give the Hornets a good inside-outside game, and they were a good duo. People close to West, though, will be the first to tell you that his prowess on the court is easily matched by his prowess in life.

Chris Paul said that he would "not like to play with any other power forward in the league other than David West" and also that West was the "smartest Hornet". Those aren't statements to be taken lightly, especially the first one. Needless to say, the guy is a consummate professional sure to bring maturity to any team he is on.

Fast forward a bit and think about this timeline:
March 25, 2011: David West tears his ACL
June 27, 2011: Goes on record that he will not pick up his final year option
December 11, 2011: Signs with the Indiana Pacers


Take a look at the last date. It was a move that left quite a few people around the league pretty much saying, "Wait...the Pacers?". Which was a fair question considering he had a 3-year, 28 Million Dollar deal lined up in Boston with Gang Green and their vets. Instead, he took a shorter deal for less money. Which left pundits everywhere wondering....why? Nobody answered the question better than West's agent, Lance Young, when he said: "David looks at the Pacers as a good young team with lot of potential." Plain and simple. 


The argument makes sense. The Pacers put on a better show than anybody expected them too last year against the Bulls and seemed to respond well to the new system that Interim (now permanent) Head Coach Frank Vogel was playing. The only drawback? They were young. That was the story of the Pacers. Their only real veteran was Jeff Foster, who, while a steady hand, was not a star and couldn't exert himself over the young players enough. The Pacers were lacking a mature hand, the Pacers were lacking a professional hand, the Pacers were lacking a guy who could show that you could be mature and still play at a high level. The Pacers were lacking David West.


There were reports out of the Pacers' camp of a post-game locker room environment where players would pick up stat sheets and point out the other players' shortcomings in the game. They had a coach who didn't do anything about it, until (equally young) Frank Vogel became coach. Finally, they had a Commander in Chief that held them accountable. They rallied under him, posting a wining record in his 38 games at the helm. They made the playoffs as the 8th seed, and faced high-powered Chicago. In a series that turned into much more than it was supposed to be, the Pacers played the Bulls tough. And while the whole world wasn't watching, one guy was: David West. And boy did he like what he saw.


He got on the phone with Larry Bird, they kicked out a deal, and David West was a Pacer. Now, we talked all about the maturity he brought. He easily has turned the Pacers into a more nuclear team. He's the third leading scorer on a Pacer team with 7 double figure scorers. He's second on the team in rebounds. He brings a deadly mid-range game as well as a crazy inside presence. He's built like a tank. Broad-shouldered, very toned. He's no guy to mess with on the block, and he causes headaches for defenses. The acquisition of David West is easily the biggest reason for the Pacer's improvement to the second best record in the Eastern Conference and a recent Power Ranking of 6. 


David West, a leader on the hardwood as well as in the community.


-Gunner

Jason White

Quick little post to introduce our new writer, Jason White. Hit him up on Twitter @makaveli1376. He brings some good writing and good knowledge to the table. You won't be disappointed by this guy.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

East vs West: The Competition for NBA Domination

There's 30 teams in the NBA. That's split into 2 conferences. The Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Both teams are equal in size, 15 each. And each year, the winner of each conference faces off in the best spectacle of the NBA, the NBA Finals. The best players from each conference play each other in the All-Star game. All of these are competitions, between the two conference, mostly to see who is better. Which conference is the best that year. The 2011-12 NBA season is no different (actually it's very different, playing 66 games and all. But in regards to inter-conference play, it is the same.) One conference will come out on top, and like everything else in the NBA, we're gonna analyze which conference is better.

Just like the MVP, there's no easy way to determine it. There's no formula that you can plug some numbers into and it will kick out your answer for you. Instead, we have to actually write an analysis and establish some guidelines to go by to decide who's better? Guidelines are best posed as questions that you ask yourself, so let's ask ourself:

1. Which conference has the most and/or bigger names?
2. If the 1 seed from the West and the 1 seed from the East played a seven game series, who wins? 8 seed vs 8 seed?
3. How many teams in each conference will end the year with winning records?
4. If the top 16 teams in the league were put in a tournament, how many would be from the East/West?

Question 1: Which conference has the most and/or bigger names?

This one isn't the easiest. The West has Kobe, Durant, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Kevin Love, Rudy Gay, Westbrook, Monta Ellis, Steph Curry, Tyreke Evans, Nowitzki, Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. The East, on the other hand, has LeBron, DWade, DHoward, Josh Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Chris Bosh, Deron Williams, Amare, Rondo, Joe Johnson, and John Wall. The biggest names in the West: Bryant, Durant, Griffin, Paul, Love, Nowitzki, and Duncan. The East: LeBron, DWade, DHoward, Carmelo, Derrick Rose, and Chris Bosh.
West: 7.
East: 6.

Question 2: If the 1 seed from the West and the 1 seed from the East played a four game series, who wins? 8 seed vs 8 seed?

Obviously, first we have to decide who the 1 seed is for each conference. The 1 seed for the West, in my opinion, is the Thunder. For the East, you can't go wrong with the Bulls. What happens if the Thunder play the Bulls in a seven game series? You get stellar guard play from both sides (Rose vs Westbrook). But after that, the Thunder are just a better team. However, looking at the top teams isn't the only concern. You also have to think about the worst teams (you're only as good as your weakest link). So who is the 8th seed in each conference? The Cavaliers and the Warriors. What if the Cavaliers and the Warriors play seven? Then the West wins again. The Warriors fast-paced offense obliterates the Cavs one superstar half court team. The Best of the West beats the Beast in the East, and the Worst of the West beats the Bottom of the East. The West are the better conference here.

Question 3: How many teams in each conference will end the year with winning records?

This one is pretty clear cut. The Playoffs aren't a great example of the league's best, because each conference ends up with 8 teams. What if 12 teams have winning records? Four don't get in. So instead, how many end up with winning records? For the East, we'll say only 9 (Sixers, Knicks, Boston, Bulls, Pacers, Hawks, Heat, Cavaliers, and Magic). Boston should end up two games over .500, 9th seed. In the West, 11 make it in (Thunder, Nuggets, Jazz, TrailBlazers, Timberwolves, Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks, Spurs, Rockets, and Grizzlies). The bottom 3 are the Timberwolves, Jazz, and Rockets. The West are the better conference in this regard too.

Question 4: If the top 16 teams in the league were put in a tournament, how many would be from the East/West?
We're just gonna list the top 16 teams in the league to start:
1. Bulls
2. Thunder
3. Magic
4. Sixers
5. Hawks
6. Heat
7. TrailBlazers
8. Pacers
9. Lakers
10. Clippers
11. Spurs
12. Grizzlies
13. Nuggets
14. Mavericks
15. Warriors
16. Cavaliers
Out of the top 16, seven are from the East, the other 9 are from the West. Once again, the West wins more.

Of the four guidelines we set out at the beginning, the East don't even take one question. The West beats them out every time. Now, obviously these aren't the only guidelines. But it's definitely a start, and for all intensive purposes, the West is better.

So there you have it, a comparison of conferences, a competition of conferences, an institution in the NBA. Maybe, I'll be wrong, and maybe you disagree, and that's fine, but so far it looks like the West is bette than the East this year.

If you have any feedback, just let us know in the comments and there's a good chance you end up in the Best Comments Page.

-Gunner

Was Kobe's 81 Point Game His Most Impressive?

You read the title. It seems like it should be an obvious yes. I mean, the guy scored 81 points in one game. In all of NBA History, it was the second greatest ever. So how could it not be the most impressive of his career right? Maybe not. It honestly might not have even been the most impressive of that season. I know what you're wondering. What game could have possibly surpassed this one? To answer that, let's take a trip, down memory lane:

Los Angeles, California.
December 20th, 2005.
Twenty-four guys are about to get together and play a basketball game. No big deal, a standard 5-on-5 game. The only difference between this and your neighborhood pick-up game is that this game will be played in front of some fans. Some fans who are about to be in for quite a treat. The game starts off at a place called the Staples Center. The teams are called the Lakers and the Mavericks. The Lakers are led by a guy who stands about 6 feet 6 inches. His dad used to play some ball, maybe you remember him. His name was Joe. His kid is playing in this game, his name's Kobe.  The Mavericks are led by a German dude named Dirk Nowitzki. The stage is set for a real fun game. 

First shot of the game, Smush Parker misses, but that Kobe guy gets the offensive rebound and pulls up. Swish. Lakers fans are hoping that Kobe has his mark all night. Then all of the sudden, Bryant is 2 for 2. Is he starting to heat up? The Mavericks better hope not, because this entire season, Kobe has been just potent. He's averaging over 30 points, and in the week before he averaged 33.8 a game. It's easily one of the best seasons of his career, which is saying something. Because this is Kobe Bryant.

Kobe Bryant who won three straight championships from 2000-2002. Kobe Bryant who is one of the most prolific scorers in NBA History. Kobe Bryant who is easily one of the top 3 players in the league. Easily one of the best players of all time, so you definitely don't want Kobe Bryant to get hot. In fact, if you're Avery Johnson, coach of the Mavs, you better make it your number one defensive priority to NOT let Kobe Bryant get hot. Let Lamar Odom, let Chris Mihm, let Smush Parker get hot. But whatever you do, don't let Kobe Bryant get hot. Especially after he torched you for 43 about a week before this. 

However, it seems like the best defense in the world couldn't stop Kobe so far. There's still 8 minutes left in the first quarter, and Kobe's got 8 point on 4-for-4 shooting. Better find a way to stop him Avery, because Dirk Nowitzki can swish as many fadeaway jumpers as he wants, but he's not going to match Kobe. Not tonight. And uh-oh, 5 minutes left in the first, 5-for-6 shooting and 10 points. Not looking good so far if you're Mr. Johnson. The sweat should start to pour out if you're a Maverick fan right about the time that Kobe makes an amazing acrobatic hang time layup and takes half your team to school to become 6-for-7 with 12 points. Now that wouldn't be super impressive. For most, that's a typical night after 48 minutes. But..there's still 4:30 left in the first quarter. He's got 12 point and 8 minutes and cannot miss. Sorry, Josh Howard, you're not gonna get to him. 

Fast forward to the end of the first quarter. Heat Check: Kobe's got 15 points, 7-for-8 shooting, 1-1 from the free throw line. He ends the quarter taking a break on the bench. Maybe that will cool him down. But honestly, as a coach in the NBA, if you're main strategy for stopping somebody is to wait for his own coach to pull him off, you don't have much of a chance always. 

Anyways, 2nd quarter starts. Before even minute goes by, he's found his way to the line for 2 shots. The boys from Dallas catch a break. Kobe misses a free throw. But, he's right back to the line 15 seconds later to hit 2. Once again, we're gonna fast forward. Eleven minutes have passed. It's halftime, and it looks like Avery Johnson might need a new suit because his looks soaked. Why? Because Kobe Bryant has 32 points, and it's only halftime. HALFTIME, 32 points. This one is shaping up to be too good. 

After somebody's dream of performing at halftime of a Lakers game comes true, the game is ready to start back up. Third quarter action, underway:

Kobe wastes no time getting started. He takes the ball right at 7 foot Erick Dampier and draws the foul. He goes to the line and hits his 9th free throw for point number 33. Eleven minutes remaining in the third. Kobe's doing so good at this basketball thing, he decides to start being a fighter. Nails Dirk in the face with a right hand on a follow through. Dirk gets tagged with the foul. Chucks his mouthguard. He gets a technical. Kobe hits the free throw. Then Avery Johnson (remember him?), gets a technical. Kobe hits the free throw. He scores 4 points without the clock moving. Kobe's got 37, and Dirk's got an icepack on his cheek. Ten minutes left in the third. Fast forward, 6 minutes later. Kobe has really turned it up. He's hit a flurry of shots and headed to the line a couple more times. And Avery Johnson finally found a way to not be responsible for Kobe getting hot. He's decided he'll just leave, picking up his second technical of the night. Kobe's still not missing, and he's got 48. Here we go.

There's four minutes to go (in the third). Kobe hits for 2 free throws. Fifty points. 3:26. He's not perfect though. He does air ball a 3. But then he gets 52 on the fast break with a perfect tear drop. 52 points, 2:06 left in the third. And now Kobe's gonna do something special. There's 1:26 left in the third. He's got 52. Two free throws, 54. Kobe blocks Nowitzki's shot. Then in transition, 2 more free throws, 56. One minute left. The Lakers are up by 30. People start to realize, Kobe might not play at all in the fourth quarter. The lead is too big. Kobe Bryant is gonna finish with 50+ in only 3 quarters. How high can he fly tonight though? 40 seconds left. 56 points for Kobe. 18-foot jumper. It rattles in. Ref calls a foul. Kobe to the line with 58. Hits the free throw, for an 18 foot and-1 for points 57, 58, and 59. 20 seconds left. Kobe rises with 5 seconds left for a three point swish. The buzzer goes off. He heads to the bench, where he will remain for the rest of the night. Won't see another minute of playing time. Through three quarters: Kobe 62 - Mavericks 61.

So Kobe finishes with 62 in the game, 30 in the 3rd quarter; the Lakers finish with the win; and Lakers fans finish having seen one of the best offensive assaults ever. But, it also leaves them with this taste of curiosity. Because, it only took Kobe about 33 minutes. What would have happened? What would have happened if Kobe plays the last 12 minutes? Would he have gone for 80 like Lakers commentator Stu Lantz jokes about in the second quarter? Or maybe 90. Could he have broken Wilt's record? Nobody knows. But Mr. Stu will become the ultimate foreshadower, because a month later Kobe will go for 80. 81 to be exact. Second greatest scoring game ever. And yet Laker fans, and fans everywhere, are wondering...

Could he have had more back in December? One thing to think about. When Kobe scored 81, he didn't have 62 points until there was only 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter. It took a half a quarter longer that day. So 90 certainly wasn't impossible for Kobe that day. Far from it, actually. It seems incredibly possible.

Which leaves you to wonder. Which game was more impressive? Think of it this way: What if Kobe fouls out with 62 in the game he scores 81? Which game would you say was more impressive? What if he finishes with 62 points in both games?

Let us know which game you though was more impressive and why, and you might end up on the Best Comments page.

-Gunner

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Meaning of the MVP

The most prized individual award in the NBA, the Maurice Podoloff trophy, is given to the player who throughout the season displayed his skills the best, and meant the most to his team. Or is given to the player with a big name that has done better than other big names in the league? Let's break M.V.P. down. Most Valuable Player, I know, is the meaning of that acronym, but what does that mean? It means out of EVERYBODY you have the most value to your team or any team. 




Which got me thinking, what if the NBA just restarted? And all of the players were free agents. In pickup game style, what if by luck the Milwaukee Bucks get the first pick? Who is David Stern walking to the podium to announce first? Is it a big name? Wade? James? Bryant? Rose? Howard? Nowitzki? Or will it be a secondary star name in the NBA? Gay? Deng? Odom? Boozer? Love? Allen? Or a bottom feeder like Anthony Tolliver? Obviously, you and me both know that the first pick will not be Tolliver. But he, like other names are up for grabs big and small in this situation. 


Here's the scenario, the only way to truly see who the Most Valuable is, what if next season the NBA reboots, and all the names are up for grabs? (Based on records right now let's say that Washington gets the first pick) Who do they choose? Well it depends on what kind of style they want to play. Also, the type of player they need to fulfill their desired style. Do they want a team that plays a half-court style, then they will choose the best floor general which is Chris Paul. If you want a up tempo, showtime-like offense, then you choose speed and strength, in Derrick Rose, or Lebron James. Do you want to build around one player? Then you would want a scorer, who can score at will. You can't go wrong with Bryant, or Durant, or Anthony. But would picking any one of those 6 First Overall make them the Most Valuable Player? Technically yes, it would, because they were picked first out of everyone. But with that big variable of what do you prefer in a player, still in the picture, how can you say that he is the Most Valuable? Sure, you think that way but what if another team got first pick, do you think they would pick the same person? I don't. So can the MVP really be one league wide player? Or is the MVP different for every team? A half court team like the Mavericks would think it's Chris Paul. A fast break team like the Warriors might think it's Steve Nash or LeBron James. The point is, the MVP isn't universal. It's different for everybody, every franchise, every team. Nobody thinks the same, so the MVP could really go to different people every year. Right?


Please comment and give feedback, I will respond back to all no matter how brutal. I hope you all enjoyed it.
-Cantrell

Clutch Plays for the Late 10:30PM Games (1/20/12)

First, the Pacers vs Warriors. George Hill comes up big with the steal and then the And-One Layup.



Then, after not leading since 2-0 in the first quarter, Ricky Rubio hits a clutch three to tie it which sets up Mr. Double Double himself, The Love Machine, Kevin Love.




Crazy night for the two 10:30 PM games, sometimes it pays to not sleep.

Friday, January 20, 2012

No Player from a Big 3 Should Ever Be MVP

A new trend is starting to appear in the NBA. The formation of Big 3's is becoming the norm around the league. The Celtics brought Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Boston to team up with Paul Pierce. It was a super team, and it brought Boston a title in 2008. Then the Heat infamously did it with LeBron James leaving Cleveland with "The Decision". The Knicks did it for a year, bringing Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and Chauncey Billups together. The Clippers have found recent success (yes, the Clippers..success) by teaming up Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and Chauncey Billups. The teams are fun to watch, they win games, and they've brought new interest from the fans. These teams have some of the best records in the league. Though they aren't completely unaffected by injury to one of their superstars, they certainly are much more equipped to deal with the injury of an All-Star. The Big 3's have changed the league, and while some say it's not fair, it's here to stay so we might as well write a post about it.

So let's start looking at the Big 3 concept. Most would say that Boston was the trendsetter. But they were far from the first. Back in the 70's, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Jerry West teamed up for the Lakers. The Lakers of the 80's had a Big 4 with Magic, Kareem, Worthy, and Byron Scott. The Celtics of the 80's had a front court Big 3 with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. Finally, the Spurs of the 2000's had Duncan, Ginobli, and Tony Parker. 

Now let me say my (probably) unpopular opinion: No player who plays in a Big 3 should ever win MVP.

Why? Simple:

The MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. This is widely interpreted as, the player who means the most to his team. And that is most often interpreted as the player whose team would fall apart the most if he wasn't on the team. But..that's exactly the opposite of what a Big 3 is all about. The Big 3 concept is about bringing three guys together so that one guy doesn't have to do it all. The MVP is about one guy doing it all. Those can't match up though. It's impossible. 

Consider this: The Miami Heat (the most powerful Big 3 in the league) are playing a game. LeBron James tears a pectoral. He's out for the rest of the year. What happens? Do they tailspin to the bottom of the standings? Do they fall out of playoff contention? No. No they absolutely do not. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh take over. Dwyane Wade has already proved that he can win a championship as long as he has a good big man. Chris Bosh has proved he can thrive when King James and Prince Wade are out (33 Pts, 14 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk in one game without them). Take any one of those guys out, and the other 2 step up. That's the magic, and ultimately MVP-killing, quality of the Big 3. No one guy is most valuable. It's like an assembly line, every part comes together and no one part is more or less important than any other. If you're going to give one person in the Big 3 the MVP, you have to give it to all of them.

That creates a bit of a hole for MVP candidates. With a large percentage of the league's superstars flocking to places to play together in Big 3's, you have to look a little bit harder to find the MVP. Because it eliminates all of these superstars from MVP Contention: 

Boston: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett (and maybe even Rajon Rondo)
Miami: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Blake Griffin
New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudamire
Memphis Grizzlies: Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph
San Antonio: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker

If none of those guys can win the MVP, honestly, who can?

The best players in the league who are not part of a Big 3 are (in my opinion):
Kobe Bryant
Dwight Howard
Kevin Love
Kevin Durant
Derrick Rose
LaMarcus Aldridge (surprise candidate of the year)
Dirk Nowitzki
Monta Ellis
Steph Curry

All of these guys are doing it (when compared to a player from a Big 3) alone. But are they? 
Kobe has Bynum and Gasol. Durant has Westbrook and Harden. Nowitzki has Kidd, Terry, even Odom. Ellis and Curry have each other. Which leaves four players:

Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, and LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Magic without Howard would fall apart. They would have no inside game and no athleticism. The Wolves without Love would have to call Michael Beasley their best player, and he's incredibly inconsistent. Derrick Rose's Bulls have already proved they wouldn't fall apart without him, as they currently have a 2-1 record whens he's out. And the Blazers without Aldridge are nowhere near their surprising great start this year.

Which is why I hope more than anything that MVP voters this year do not give their vote to a Big 3 player, because one of those three guys (not Rose) deserves it more than anyone else. 

-Gunner

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fifth Quarter: Lakers vs Heat (1/19/12)

To start off, I just want to say that I'll do my best to be unbiased even though it might means I have to trash my Lakers.

The two leading scorers in the league met Thursday when Kobe Bryant's Lakers traveled to South Beach to take on LeBron James' Heat. Widely anticipated, the game was being blown up as a one-on-one contest. LeBron vs Kobe. The final score: Heat 98, Lakers 87. The final score was a far cry from what it should have been. The Heat just absolutely dominated this game. It started off pretty close until Bynum picked up 2 early fouls and had to go out. After that the Heat took over and just never looked back. LeBron was absolutely dominant. A complete stat stuffer. He outplayed Kobe, and, unless Kobe gets out of this recent slump he's been in (15/43 in the last 2), the Lakers are in trouble. LeBron had 31 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks. Wow. Kobe ended up with 24 but did not deserve it. The Heat deserved this win, and the Heat went on to get this win.

Starting with the Lakers:

Positives: 

  • Played the Heat close until Bynum went out
  • Metta World Peace seemed to get his stroke back, hitting two threes, equaling his total for the year...Still shooting good from the line as a team
  • Troy Murphy scored 8 points on 4 for 4 shooting
  • Kobe started getting everybody involved when he was doubled (especially Murph)
  • Gasol had 26 to lead them (great shooting night too 11-19)
  • Never gave up, and Kobe finally broke out of his shooting slump in the last 2 minutes (single handedly cut the lead from 15 to 10 in about ten seconds) hopefully that translates to the Magic game


Negatives: The whole game (not really, but it was bad). For real though, negatives: 

  • Bynum took 2 early fouls because he wanted the blocks too much
  • There were still times when you could still see the confusion from a coaching change
  • There were times when they were totally out of sync
  • They shot 6-20 from 3
  • Got out rebounded
  • Mike Brown needed to figure out how to run the offense when they played such good D on Kobe
  • Kobe started off cold again
  • They lost


Now the Heat:

Positives:

  • Outrebounded the Lakers
  • Shot 50% from the 3-point line
  • Eddy Curry got in and actually played well
  • Improved to 5-0 without DWade
  • 4 players scored in double figures
  • Overall just outplayed the Lakers, in almost every aspect of the game



Negatives: 
  • Let the Lakers make a run at the end, and started to get into foul trouble. That's really it.

-Gunner

The Most Underrated Players in the NBA




                                     The Most Underrated
In the NBA there are a number of players who get the short end of the stick. They contribute so much to their team, and have the stats to back it up but get overshadowed by bigger, and more advertised players. So, for every position, I will give you the most underrated players in the NBA today. 

PG: Jamal Crawford POR PG/SG
Okay, I know he's not a point guard, but he can play the positon, and is really good as a bench player. Former Sixth Man of the Year and to put it simply, Crawford can score. Scoring 50 points for 3 different teams, he could easily be a starter in the league. 

SG: Monta Ellis GS SG/PG
Monta Ellis has been the force that has been leading the run and gun Golden State Warriors. Ellis, straight out of high school, has averaged at least 22 ppg in the last 3 years. He has a plethora of moves to get to the rim, and is one of the most unguardable players in the NBA when on a fastbreak. Why is he underrated? Well, Monta Ellis has never been an all-star, why? Every year he is overshadowed by another shooting guard, one more prominent and more successful. Kobe Bryant has been the canopy on the forest that is Monta's career. Every year when All-Star voting is started, who do all the fans vote for? Not Monta Ellis. They vote for Kobe, because he has been an All-Star starter since I can remember. He has been in that position so much that, it has become the norm. What if Bryant wasn't the starter? What if one year the fans vote for Ellis instead? Imagine the media, the angry LA fans. But is he deserving of it? Yes. In past years yes. He has played like an All-Star, but he never gets voted in. So, as consolation, Ellis gets my vote as the most underrated player in the NBA. 

SF: Luol Deng SF/PF/SG
Pre-Rose era, so mid '00's, Luol Deng was going to be the man in Chicago. But due to injuries he never fulfilled his potential. This year, and in recent years, Deng has played extremely well. On a very good Chicago team, he has been the glue guy for them. Providing big buckets, solid defense, and hard work, he is, in the mind of many, an All-Star. But, just like Ellis, Deng's career has been overshadowed by another advertised name in the NBA. LeBron James is a perennial All-Star for the forward position in the East, so people dont really look at Deng. Considering he made the All-Defensive Second Team and has had 3 solid years with the Bulls, he deserves a little more credit than he is given.

PF: LaMarcus Aldridge POR PF/SF
Here is another story of a good player being blanketed by another player. LaMarcus Aldridge, for years has been underappreciated in Portland, because of Brandon Roy. Now that Roy is gone, the star is still not the best in the West. Once again a more advertised name has put Mr. Aldridge under the bus. Who? Nowitzki. Another player who has snowed on another players roof. Aldridge now, is playing like an All-Star and at an almost MVP form. To put things simply, he deserves a little more love. 

C: Marc Gasol MEM C
Finally Marc Gasol. Another glue guy for another good team. He is very fundamentally sound, and is not afraid to battle down low in the block. Being constantly compared to his All-Star brother Pa, has lit a fire inside this man that cannot be extinguished easily. On a team that has been known to be a surprise to some, he has been a solid and stable presence.

So, there you have them. By position, the most underrated players in the league, please feel free to leave comments, and if we like them we will put them in our best comments tab.

-Cantrell

Who deserves the NBA MVP?













Well, here we are. After a crazy lockout and a real chance that there would be no basketball there's not much else to say other than....here we are. Three or so weeks into an shortened, crazy, 66-game season. As crazy as the schedule seems, it's far from the craziest surprises of the young season. Kobe Bryant is playing the best basketball he's played in four years. The Heat have lost 3 out of 4. The Portland TrailBlazers are doing big things out West, while the 76ers are taking the East by storm. It just goes to show, nothing is a given in the NBA. Especially not the MVP. Who deserves the three-weeks-in-but-still-exciting MVP? There are some pretty obvious guys. Kobe Bryant. LeBron. Blake Griffin. Kevin Love. Derrick Rose. Chris Paul. Dwight Howard. Durant.

Bryant is easily one of the front runners. He leads the league in scoring. He had four straight 40 point games. He has the single-game high for points in a game this year with 48 against the Suns. Of course, LeBron James is always in MVP conversations. King James is averaging 29 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists. He's getting to the free throw line 10 times a game, albeit shooting only 71 percent. A wave of new stars is contending for MVP recently. The likes of Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, last year's MVP Derrick Rose. Griffin is averaging 21.3 points and 11.8 rebounds while constantly igniting the spark for the Clippers. In his second season, he's among the league's elite. Kevin Love has started this year much like he played last year, with 14 straight double doubles. Fourth in the league in scoring and second in rebounds, he's an obvious candidate from Minnesota. Derrick Rose is having a sub-par year when compared to his year last year. A repeat as the league MVP is looking unlikely for Rose (sorry Cantrell). A player who requested a trade this summer, and the only player to average more rebounds than The Love Machine, Dwight Howard is off to a monster start. He already has two 20-20 games, and one 45-23 game, Superman is looking good this year. Kevin Durant has the Thunder off to an amazing start out West (despite a loss to the last place Wizards last night). He already hit a game winning three to beat the Mavericks this year and is third in the league in scoring.

How do you pick? How do you determine the league MVP? Easy.

MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. Which means you're looking for whichever player is the Most Valuable to his team. Which team would fall apart without their superstar? Which team is considerably worse without him?

That crosses off LeBron James. The Heat have Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They could easily be a strong team without King James. Blake Griffin's Clippers definitely wouldn't fall apart without him. Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups are perfectly capable of leading the Clippers. The Bulls are off to a great start. They have the best record in the league, and it would be easy to say that they would fall apart without D Rose. But would they? Luol Deng has the most minutes in the league. And in the games that Rose hasn't played this year, their backup is playing great. Then there's Kobe Bryant. The scoring is ridiculous. Under new coach Mike Brown, he's shooting more and hitting more. The Lakers offense runs through Bryant. However, they also have two great 7 footers there. So while their record suffers without Bryant, they don't fall apart.

Which leaves two. Dwight Howard and Kevin Love. Stats are easy to compare. Love scores more. Howard rebounds more (just barely, they're 1st and second in the league). They're all tied up after the two most important stats for a big man. So we go to value to his team. Timberwolves without Love? They're best player becomes Michael Beasley, a largely largely largely inconsistent player. Ricky Rubio is doing big things out there as a rookie as well. Then there's Superman. Down in the Magic kingdom, he's making Magic fans dreams come true with the monster performances. Without him, they have new breakout star Ryan Anderson. A washed-up Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson. It would be easy to say they are no where near the record they're at now without Dwight Howard.
It's impossible to decide. So we leave it to you. Tell us in the comments, and we'll post the best responses on the Best Comments Page. Who is the MVP right now? Whose team falls apart into the bottom of the league without him? The Love Machine or Superman? Or possibly one of the other guys? Vote via comment and we'll see what you guys think.


-Gunner

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Playoff Picks (Cantrell)





The NBA Playoffs are always one of the most anticipated events in the world every year. To some fans, it is when they say that professional basketball is at its best. Everyone gets into the hype and, and before every season, every sports analyst is asked their playoff picks for that year, so like my friend, I will give you mine.


First, The East.


First Round:

1 vs 8
Chicago vs Boston (Bulls win 4-1)


Boston will limp their way into the playoffs after a gruesome season. Let's face it, Gang Green is on their decline. They had their time, they produced a championship out of that time. But Father Time has caught up with them, and the Big 3 has turned into the Big 30's. All 3 superstars in their terrific trio are over 30 and are approaching the end of their careers. They're good, but not good enough to face off against the MVP (Rose), and the team with the best record in the NBA. Let me give you a a fact, the last time the Bulls were off to a start this good, they won it all, and history has a way of repeating itself.


2 vs. 7
Miami vs Atlanta (Heat win 4-0)

Atlanta will get into the playoffs, but they wont stay long because they are up against the new big 3. Bosh, Wade, and James will be the second seed in the playoffs, but will end the season right on the Bulls' trail. Anyway they will dominate the Hawks in this series because King James and Prince Wade are determined to not fall short this year.


3 vs 6
Orlando vs New York (Knicks win 4-3)


Orlando will continue to have a good year, and end the season on a high note with a deserving 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. But due to injuries the Knicks will descend to the 6th seed in the East. However, matchup problems and arguably the best scorer in the NBA in Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks will prevail in this matchup, and will edge the Magic.


4 vs 5
Indiana vs Philadelphia (Pacers win 4-3)


In the most surprising matchup of the year, two of the biggest surprises will faceoff in a close series. The Indiana Pacers will finish second in the Central Division, and 4th in the Conference. The Philadelphia Sixers will win the Atlantic Division, and will make the playoffs at the five spot. Indiana will find a way to win the series after going toe-to-toe with the Bulls last season, they will have an easier opponent and will finally get to smell the second round again.


Eastern Conference Semifinals:


Chicago vs Indiana (Bulls win 4-2)


Chicago will revisit Naptown to face a hungry Pacers team, who are not going to go down easy, much like they did last season. However, matchup problems with the Bulls will ultimately be the one thing that brings the Pacers down, and put an end to what will be a great season.


New York vs Miami (Heat win 4-2)


In a star-studded event every time the two will play, The Knicks and the Heat will be the most talked about playoff series this year. The interesting thing will be to watch how Miami will matchup against the Knicks frontcourt, and vice versa. With no solid 2 guard postion in New York, the Knicks have no answer for Dwayne Wade, and the Heat take this one in 6 games.


Eastern Conference Finals:


Chicago vs Miami (Bulls win 4-2)

In the rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals, Chicago and Miami have been brought together by fate. And in what should be the most exciting playoff matchup this year, revenge will be served cold for the Heat, as Chicago will exorcise their final demon and will not be haunted by their last year defeat to the Heat. LeBron's inability to close the fourth quarter and his drive to be the best will ultimately be Miami's downfall this year.


Now, before I give my Finals pick lets do the West:


Western Conference First Round:


1 vs 8
Oklahoma City vs. Memphis (Thunder win 4-1)


Memphis makes the playoffs this year, by having a season like last year. But they will not have a mirror season, playoff wise, because they will not upset the Thunder. The tandem of Westbrook and Durant will be too much for Memphis' defense to handle. Sorry Cinderella, no glass slipper this year.


2 vs 7
Los Angeles vs Denver (Lakers win 4-1)


Denver is having a decent season and will make the playoffs because of it. But will be a seventh seed and will have to face the best team in the last decade. The Los Angeles Lakers have played elite basketball for the past 10 years. The show is back on the road, and has a rejuvenated actor in Kobe Bryant, The Lake Show will be in the playoffs yet again and in the first round will handle the Nuggets in 5 games.


3 vs 6 
Los Angeles vs San Antonio (Clippers win 4-2)


The Spurs are playing really well right now, but with a long season ahead of them, the aging Spurs' record will deteriorate to the record of a solid 6th seed. But the Lob City Clippers will be facing them, and with their point guard play in Chris Paul, two guard play in Chauncey Billups, and their second year superstar forward in Blake Griffin, will be too much to combat as the Clippers will alley-oop their way to the second round.


4 vs. 5
Dallas vs. Portland (Mavs win 4-3)


Well Dallas seems to have found their settling point in the league right now and are finally off to a decent start. They will be a 4th seed and face off against Portland, who is off to a hot start. With the retirement of Brandon Roy, the T-Blazers have turned to their secondary option in LaMarcus Aldridge. And they are off to a good start. Come playoff time they will have their hands full against the defending champs. Which will handle the Blazers but in a close series.


Second Round: 
Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers (Lakers win 4-2)


In recent years, the west has brought a more faster style of play. Bigs run the floor, and guards get the outlet and go, thats the style the fans enjoy and come playoff time, the two most opposite teams in the NBA faceoff against eachother. But the Clips' facing a team who are more classic in their style of play, the Lakers like to run their offense until they get a good shot out of it. Experience will be everything in this one, as the Lakers have won, and continue to win, Im going with them.


Oklahoma City vs. Dallas (Thunder win 4-0)


Dallas, Dallas, Dallas, you had a great run last year, defying all odds and proving that last year was your year. But it was only for that one year, and the salty attitude of the Thunder will prove to be more than enough to handle anything that Dirk is going to bring. Sorry Dallas, this isnt your year.


Western Conference Finals:


Oklahoma City vs Los Angeles Lakers (Thunder win 4-3) 


It's the matchup everyone wants to see, two of the best scorers in the NBA today. Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant. But its not all about them, whose team is better? Matchup wise, OKC has LA beat point guard wise, LA two guard wise, OKC small forward wise, LA power forward wise, and LA center wise. Now based on that, LA should win, but there is one X-factor that you're forgetting about: arenas. Oklahoma City is a city that loves their basketball team, and they have fans that aren't afraid to cheer. LA is too.....cool. They have a lot of celebrities that come to the games who are too cool to cheer. Both teams are good, but the surroundings they are in are going to affect the Lakers in a big way. OKC in 7.


And at last the Finals:


Oklahoma City vs Chicago (Bulls win 4-2)


It is a new day in the world of professional basketball. We are now seeing younger stars, faster play, and substance and style that all the fans love. These two teams display these endearing qualities the best and their records show it. What team do I choose? Whatever the team lacks, they make up for it in another place. What the Thunder lack in the point guard position, they make up for it in having the slight advantage in the small forward postion. So who do I choose? The Bulls, they play more as a team, other than two people doing most of the work in Oklahoma City. Two people dont win championships Oklahoma City, teams do, teams like Chicago.


NBA Champion: Chicago Bulls


So there you have it, My picks for this season. Feel free to leave comments or responses, agreeing or disagreeing, and we'll post the best ones in the Best Reader Comments page. Check back to see if your comment is posted!


-Cantrell

2012 NBA Playoff Predictions (Gunner)




Controversial? Maybe. But unlikely? Not really. Here's my predictions for the 2012 Playoffs.

Western Conference First Round:

Thunder vs Warriors (Thunder win 4-1)

The Warriors are going to surprise some teams this year, and are going to run and gun their way to the 8th seed, especially once Steph Curry returns. However, they will be no match for the Thunder who should finish with the best record in the NBA.

Spurs vs Clippers (Clippers win 4-2)

The Spurs are going to get the 4th seed because of their coaching staff knowing how to use players strengths in all the right ways. The Clips will still have some chemistry improvements to make, but ultimately will come out on top.

Grizzlies vs Lakers (Lakers win 4-3)

This should be an incredibly exciting series. Kobe will power the Lakers to the 6th seed, but once the playoffs come around will go into 2004 Kobe mode. The super improved Grizzlies will get the 3 seed, but Pau > Marc, Kobe > Gay/Mayo, and Bynum > any center the Grizz have.

Blazers vs Nuggets (Blazers win 4-2)

The Blazers are probably going to be the surprise team of the year, but shouldn't be. They are a good team that plays solid on both ends. The Nuggets' 7 seed is not reflective of what their year will be but the West is just too competitive this year for them to get anything better. In the end, the Blazers come out on top.

Western Coneference Semis:

Thunder vs Clippers (Thunder win 4-2)

This will feature two of the games top point guards, and two of the best young stars. The chemistry of a team that's growing up together like the Thunder will end up being better than the chemistry of a team that's top 5 players just got together and are all at different points in their career. The Thunder take this one in 6.

Lakers vs Blazers (Lakers win 4-2)

Same as in the Grizzlies series, the Lakers will win because they're strong players are better than the Blazers strong players. The experience of the Lakers in the playoffs will make them more accustomed to playing two long playoff series and ultimately, the better team.

Western Conference Finals:

Thunder vs Lakers (Thunder win 4-3)

It takes every ounce of my objectivity to pick against my Lakers, but the Thunder have younger legs in their superstars, and a better bench with James Harden. Westbrook is better than Fisher at the point, and whoever the Lakers put at SF can't match up with Durant. Kobe will have a good series and the Lakers won't go down without a fight in an exciting and high scoring series.

Eastern Conference First Round:

Bulls vs Cavaliers (Bulls win 4-0)

Nobody is expecting the Cavaliers to do anything in their second season following the Decision. But Kyrie Irving is impressive and the Cavs are easily the best bad team in the East. The Bulls are scary good and have their best team since MJ left. They will win this one with ease.

Pacers vs Knicks (Pacers win 4-1)

The Pacers do not get enough credit. The offseason acquisition of David West is panning out better than anyone expected. The team is like the Thunder and growing up together (other than West). The Knicks are in their first full season with Melo and aren't ready to go deep yet. Pacers in 5.

Sixers vs Magic (Sixers win 4-2)

The Magic will gradually decline a tiny bit each game as D. Howard becomes more and more disgruntled. They will ride an impressive 3-point barrage to the 6th seed. The Sixers are a huge surprise, playing their best ball since the 2001 Finals run. The Sixers win this one in Howard's last six games for the Magic.

Heat vs Hawks (Heat win 4-2)

The Hawks will give the Heat all they can handle in this series, but ultimately the Heat come out on top. LeBron will play a stellar series and nearly average a triple double and the Hawks will feel the effects of not having Al Horford or having a newly off-injury Al. The Heat win some close games and, the series.

Eastern Conference Semis: 

Pacers vs Bulls (Bulls win 4-3)

A rematch of last year's 1st round, this series will be extremely close. Last year's was very physical, and much much closer than it should have been. With more playoff experience, the addition of David West, and revenge on their mind, the Pacers will make this a crazy-close series that the Bulls get in 7.

Heat vs Sixers (Sixers win 4-3)

The Heat are going to end up being severely disappointed again this year. The Sixers suffocating defense will easily rise to the occasion and find a way to absolutely frustrate LBJ. They will hold James to only 2 big games, and their offense will smack the Heat in the face. D Wade keeps the Heat in it, but Sixers in 7.

Eastern Conference Finals:

Bulls vs Sixers (Sixers win 4-2)

The defense of the Sixers is going to win them the Eastern Conference this year. Teams will have a tough time figuring out the Bulls scoring approach where anybody can step up, and the Sixers will be the first team to figure it out (much like the Pistons were the first team to figure out how to stop Jordan). Rose will be smothered and Luol Deng will no longer be under the radar as such a good player.

NBA Finals:

Philadelphia 76ers vs Oklahoma City Thunder (Thunder win 4-2)

Well, the Sixers defense can only do so much. Durant is a freak of an athlete and they won't be able to stop him all the time. When they do stop him, then Westbrook steps up. When Westbrook is stopped, Harden steps up. Ibaka will grow into his role as starting center in the league, and will see a dramatic increase in his own production. The Sixers will put up a fight but Durant has a monster series that solidifies him as one of the top 3 players in the league and the Thunder take their first championship.

NBA Champion: Oklahoma City Thunder


-Gunner