In a big trade that involved three teams and six players Memphis sent their leading scorer, Rudy Gay, to the Toronto Raptors and received Ed Davis from the Raptors along with Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince from the Pistons. Despite being 4th in the West at 29-14 the Grizzles needed to make a change if they wanted to improve and have a better shot at knocking off one of the West’s elite. By adding Prince, Daye and Davis Memphis adds length, athleticism, defensive prowess and rebounders. By trading away Gay they lose an average defender at best who can score but does it at inconsistent rates. Now that Gay is gone Memphis will be able to feed Randolph and Gasol more. Prince will space the floor more than Gay did and give the bigs a little more room to operate. When Gay and Randolph shared the floor together they both needed the ball in the same spots which led to a lot of congestion in the paint area. With the new acquisitions Memphis should become a better offensive and defensive ball club that can rebound better. The Grizzles now have the size and depth that most teams lack. The Grizzles from two years prior have returned.
Earlier today during the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics game we all found out that Rajon Rondo tore his ACL. Even though Boston won the game against the Heat one has to wonder if they can actually compete with East’s Elite without Rondo. Right now the Celtics are 8th in the East with a record of 21-23 and have gone 1-6 in their past seven games with Rajon Rondo in the lineup for six of those games. In the midst of those games Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Garnett have shown signs of them slowing down and looking their age. Top that with the fact their best player is out for the rest of the season Boston’s front office have found themselves in a state of uncertainty. Do they keep this group in tact for one last ride or do they hit the detonate button, blow things up and start building for the future? If they decide to keep this group for one last run they’re looking at a first round exit as the 8th seed and nothing more. If they blow things up now they would have a better chance of receiving more value for what they’re giving up. Realistically they could send Paul Pierce to a contending team or team closer to contention than they are and get picks, cash and expiring contracts back in return to help them relieve salary cap to make a push at a big name in free agency or whatever the case may be. Maybe they could send Kevin Garnett to a young team in need of leadership and playoff experience like the Golden State Warriors and receive picks and a young player in return. There are a countless number of scenarios the Celtics could use to help them jumpstart the rebuilding process. In Boston it’s about winning championships and being relevant not about being mediocre. By keeping this core together mediocrity will continue to be in play. The best route to relevancy is to start all over. The Boston Celtics need to start all over.
In my previous post about the Heat, ( http://wp.me/p33YLP-g) I said they should fear the Chicago Bulls and 4 other teams. One of those teams happens to be Chicago’s division rival the Indiana Pacers. Just like Chicago, Indiana thrives in the halfcourt set and can rebound and defend extremely well. The difference between them and Chicago is the fact that they’re bigger and more athletic. In last year’s playoffs the Heat disbanded them in six games, while having to play without Chris Bosh for most of the series. But even when Bosh was in the lineup Indiana exploited some of Miami’s weaknesses. The weaknesses Indiana exploited was Miami’s lack of a halfcourt offense, lack of a true bigman and inability to get rebounds against big frontlines. The problem Indiana faced was their inability to do it consistently. Some games they would feed Roy Hibbert and David West down low in the post and dominate them there, while in other games they would get content with running a fast paced game that featured turnovers and alot of missed 3pt attempts. Against the Heat last year they suffered sometimes because they lacked a go to scorer. Other problems that hindered them was their lack of pg stability, speed/athleticism and bench production. During the offseason they solved those problems. At the pg position they traded away Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones for a 7fter named Ian Mihimmi. That move bulked up their frontline and provided an athletic big off the bench. The trade also gave George Hill the starting spot without question. D.J. Augustine and Gerald Green were players they picked up in free agency that helped them solidify their bench and add more speed and athleticism as well as leadership. Even without one of their main guys, that guy being Danny Granger,they’re tied for 4th in the East at 26-17 and ranked #1 in total defense. When it comes to rebounding they’re #1 in that also at 45.7reb per game. They’re ranked 30th in the league at PPG (91.0) while allowing the fewest PPG (89.3). Not to mention they rank 3rd in the league in blocks ppg at 6.9 meaning they don’t give up many layups. And in numerous games this season in tight situations Paul George has emerged as their go to guy. The Pacers have now developed an identity that replicates a hard nosed feisty defensive team that shows heart and will scrap to the finish, e.g., the Chicago Bulls. The Miami Heat struggle in the Halfcourt and in the rebounding department (Ranked 30th at 31.9PPG) and those are the two aspects Indiana thrives in. In a series against the Heat they’ll have half the battle won by making it a halfcourt affair.
As i stated in an earlier post Kobe, Nash, Gasol, Dwight and Mike D’antoni are the Lakers problems. Time after time they blame each other for the struggles. Here and there they’ll have times where one may own up, but most of the time they’ll just point the finger. Kobe, Nash, Dwight and Gasol have all been the leader at one point of time in their careers. Nash led the Suns, Dwight led the Magic and Gasol led the Grizzles once upon a time. Even Metta World Peace and Antwan Jamison were leaders for some of the teams they were on. As of right now the Lakers lack a true leader. The leader of the team doesn’t necessarily have to be the best player, but a guy who’s vocal, been in the league for awhile and knows how to get players to listen. That’s where guys like Derek Fisher, Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups come in. When the Lakers won back to back titles Derek Fisher was their spokesman. When Pistons won the championship Billups was their leader. Right now for the Clippers Billups is their leader along with Chris Paul and Grant Hill. Jason Kidd did it for Dallas the Nets and is currently providing leadership for the Knicks. The Lakers lack guys like them. After the leadership issue chemistry becomes a problem. Due to injuries (Nash, Gasol, Dwight and D’Antoni, ) the Lakers haven’t been able to truly grasp the offense and get a good a feel on how to play with and off each other. out of the 40 games being played Dwight has missed (3) (plus got ejected in two), Gasol has missed (13) and Nash has missed (24). Failure or inability to stay on the court hurts when you’re trying to develop chemistry. Lack of chemistry results in turnovers. Turnovers result in easy baskets for the opposition. Kobe averages 3.4 turnovers and Nash averages 2.8. Not including everyone else their 6.2 turnovers typically results in 12 fastbreak points for the other team which puts the Lakers in a hole defensively. In the halfcourt set they continue to miss assignments. Dwight may be late coming over or Nash may not get back on defense in time or Kobe gets beat. When things like that continue to happen there is no way you can stop anybody. Despite the transition defense or halfcourt defense the Lakers are all ready in a disadvantage. When playing guards like Westbrook, Parker, Chris Paul, Deron Williams etc, Kobe has to waste and expend extra energy guarding those guys because Nash can’t do so. Another reason why the Lakers defense is lackadaisical is because they spend so much energy on offense. As of right now the Lakers are tied for 4th most points per game at 103.3 per game. When Mike D’Antoni first came he said he wants them to score at least 116 a game. After that he raved about how this team is going to be like showtime. Instead of developing a system that will help maximize the talents of Dwight and Gasol he develops a run and gun up tempo offense that has very little post-ups. In this system he has Gasol shooting 16 to 19ft jumpers all game long as if he’s Dirk or Kevin Garnett. The system has Nash and Dwight running the Pick and Roll that hasn’t been very effective. The only good thing this offense has done is produce a more efficient Kobe Bryant who leads the league in scoring at 29.6pts per game. But is that really a good thing. He averages 22.2 shots per game and makes 10 a game. Everytime he shoots and misses a long jumper it makes it harder for the Lakers to get back and defend. A couple days ago after losing to Miami Kobe came out and said he needs more help offensively. If Kobe decides to feed Dwight ( who averages 17pts on 10 attempts) and Gasol (12pts on 11 attempts) more he’d have more help. But then again when he feeds them they’ll either turn it over (Gasol 1.9 turnovers and Dwight 3.2 turnovers a game) or miss the shot as is the case with Gasol who is having his worst year offensively. Last but not least Dwight Howard and the teams horrid freethrow shooting has been a major concern. They rank 29th in the league at .694% ahead of only the Nuggets who sit at .681% . In the game against Miami, Dwight could’ve made two crucial freethrows that would’ve changed the complexion of the game. Instead of making them he missed them and ultimately the Lakers lost. When games get tight teams should be able to make the freethrows when they matter most but the Lakers have failed to do so on multiple occasions this season…. When it’s all said and done the Lakers’ worst problem is being able to contently look at themselves in the mirror thinking they have time.
Throughout this underachieving season the Lakers have been in complete disarray. They came into the season thinking all of their problems were solved when they really weren’t. Lack of a point guard, Steve Nash became the answer. Lack of athletisism, Dwight Howard, Jordan Hill and Chris Douglas-Roberts (failed dramatically), were the answers. Not enough three-point shooting A.Jamison, Jodie Meeks and Nash were the sure fire answers. With most of those acquisitions the need of a solid bench was suppose to be solved. Not knowingly the Lakers made themselves worse in other aspects. Steve Nash (38) and Antawn Jamison (36) made them older and neither one of this is known to be a defensive player. They made themselves worse in the health aspect as well with Dwight Howard coming off surgery and not being healthy; along with Nash and his history of back issues. To top all of this they brought in an offense known as the Princeton to help maximize their abilities as a whole. Fast forward to the start of the preseason and things weren’t looking good. In the preseason they went 0-8. Not having enough time develop chemistry played a roll since Dwight wasn’t healthy, but its still unacceptable. Opening night the Lakers got stunned in a home game against a Dirk-less Dallas Mavericks squad. The next night against the Portland TrailBlazers Steve Nash goes down with a leg contusion and the Lakers lose. Following a couple more losses the Lakers fire Mike Brown and later sign Mike D’Antoni. Mike D’Antoni implemenred a run and gun offense that required speed, 3point spooting and a lack of focus on defense. After losing games here and there resulted in conflicts with Pau, Dwight and Kobe. Later on Nash, who was suppose to be the savior of this offense, came back from injury and the Lakers went on a five game winning streak with noteworthy wins over the Knicks and Warriors. Most people, including myself, thought the Lakers season was turned around. Following that 5 game win streak the Lakers go on to lose 8 of their last 11 games along with a 6 game skid in between that time. Today the Lakers sit at 17-22, 11th in the west and facing alot of questions. The main two questions are, ” How many problems do the Lakers have ” and “Which problem is the worst”. The first question is the easiest to answer. The problems are Kobe, Nash, Dwight, Gasol and Mike D’Antoni.
The Miami Heat are the league’s reigning champion as you all should know. Led by arguably the best player on the planet, Lebron James, and superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. In route to last year’s championship they dismantled the Knicks in 5games, the Pacers in 6 games and the Celtics in 7 without Chris Bosh for a majority of that series. Once the finals came around they beat the Thunder in 5games. Ever since then people have wondered can anyone stop the Heat? Should they fear anyone? Who in the East can hang with them? The answers to those questions are yes, yes and plenty. The Pacers, Knicks, Celtics, Bulls and the 76ers ( when healthy), all have advantages over the Heat that they can exploit. During the Heat’s recent struggles most of their weaknesses were exposed. Lack of a consistent point guard, not having a true center and poor coaching are some of the issues that hinder the Heat. You can say it’s the middle of the season and the playoffs haven’t started yet so they shouldn’t be worried, but in reality when problems like those exist they get exposed even more in the playoffs. Lack of a true half-court offense also hurts Miami as well. The Chicago Bulls are a well coached team. They’re taught to fight, scrap, rebound, defend relentlessly and show heart. They do those things exceptionally well. The Heat on the other hand does every now and again. One major difference between the Heat and Bulls is that Chicago is way more mentally tough than Miami. If the two were in a series and Chicago was down by 20 they would fight and continue to claw their way back up. While the Heat would start feeling sorry for themselves and not play as hard. In a game against the Bulls a team has to have a legit halfcourt offense. The Heat don’t have a halfcourt offense that makes you cringe in your seat. It’s average at best. The rebounding battle wouldn’t be close. Chicago’s an elite rebounding team while Miami isn’t. Winning the battle of the boards is a huge step in winning a game or series. “Chicago doesn’t have a legit 2nd scorer like Miami does,” what good is a 2nd scorer when he’s just going to be standing around watching the main scorer go to work, as is the case in Miami when it becomes a halfcourt offense? As i said before in the playoffs its a slow paced halfcourt game. In an environment like that Chicago will thrive. If the series came down to coaching Coach Tom Thibodeau would out coach Erik Spolestra. I’m not saying Miami has no chance of winning because they do, but to think it’ll be a cake walk to finals appearance #3 is insane. The two positions Miami struggle with Chicago thrives with. Out of all the other teams in the Eastern Conference that could challenge Miami the Chicago Bulls are the biggest threat.
Kobe, D-Wade, Monta Ellis, Jamal Crawford, Eric Gordan, James Harden, J.R.Smith, Joe Johnson,Manu Ginobili, Kevin Martin, OJ.Mayo,Jordan Crawford,Lou Williams, Ray Allen, Klay Thompson, Ben Gordon and Andre Igudola are the top players listed at that position. D.Rose and Westbrook are really sgs that play the pg position. The best Shooting guards are able to just flat hit score.They look for their shot more than trying to help others get their shot (James Harden is an exception). Some started off as Point Guard but later on in their career switched positions. On most teams their best scorer is the shooting guard. You have the shooting guards that specialize in defense. You have some that are just bonifide scorers and you have those that do everything well. Efficiency, being healthy, playing smart and being a good team player are roles that help conclude which player is better than the other. Other factors are being able to defend, score, rebound, dribble etc. Leadership is good thing to go by also. After reviewing the list of players and things thay can and can’t do I’ve concluded that the Sg guard list is 1.Kobe Bryant 2.D-Wade 3.Russell Westbrook 4.D.Rose 5.James Harden.
Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, Kemba Walker, Darren Collison, Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash, D.Rose, Mike Conley, Mario Chalmbers, John Wall, Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, Jrue Holliday, Jeff Teague, George Hill, Jeremy Lin, Rajon Rondo, Isiah Thomas, Brandon Knight, Kyle Lowry, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, G.Vasquez, Ricky Rubio, Goran Dragic, Ty Lawson and Mo Williams are the starting Point Guards in the NBA. Some are good while others are a bit ehh. As a point guard you’re suppose to be a good leader, get your teammates involved, excel at passing, possess a great basketball IQ, handle the rock, make their teammates better etc. Some of the players above aren’t true point guards. They’re just players listed at that position, because their team doesn’t have any one that can play that position any better. The 5 best point guards are Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving and Tony Parker. The top 5 players at that position may look a little different but as far as being a PG you can’t find anyone better than those 5.