Posts Tagged ‘Lakers’

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After winning a playoff series for the first time in a decade, expectations were high for the 2013-2014 New York Knicks. Add in the fact that they play in the most famous arena in the world and the New York media; anything short of a conference finals appearance would have been considered a disappointment. Now a quarter of the way through the season, those expectations seem like a distant memory. At 8-18 lets see what has happened to the Knickerbockers.

The first glaring issue the Knicks have had this year is their lack of presence on the boards. They are ranked 29th in the NBA, averaging only 39 rebounds per game. The reason for this is because they lack physical big men on this team. They were exposed of this weakness even further when starting Center Tyson Chandler was lost for 4-6 weeks with a right fibula fracture. Forced to play 7 foot Power Forward Andrea Bargnani at Center (who averaged 5 rebounds a game in his career), New York constantly failed to grab a contested rebound. In a recent game against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Knicks were outrebounded 56-29. This massive problem doesn’t seem to have a solution at the moment, due to the Knicks roster. New Yorks current big men are Chandler, Bargnani, bench warmer Cole Aldrich, and the broken down Amare Stoudemire.

Another prevalent issue with the Knicks is there lack of discipline. Coach Mike Woodson has let the lunatics run the asylum. This has led to constant ill-advised shots, fights in the locker room, and general anarchy around the team. This dysfunction was put on display in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. With :11 seconds on the clock and a two point lead in overtime, Tyson Changler grabbed a big rebound. Chandler then passed the ball out to Bargnani. With the shot clock off, Bargnani inexplicably put up a three and missed. The bucks would then tie the game on their possession and send the game into double overtime. Woodson attempted to put his foot down by setting a 10:00 pm curfew on his players. This did absolutely nothing as New York was blown out the next day. If New York has any chance of righting the ship this season, Woodson needs to go. With a career record of 286-337, he hasn’t exactly been a fantastic coach. The Knicks need a disciplinarian to come in and control this team, which is something Woodson doesn’t offer.

Lastly, someone who encompasses all of the Knicks issues is one is Shooting Guard J.R. Smith. Smith has always been a head case, but this season he has turned into a full out circus. Before he even hit the court this year, J.R. was suspended for the first five games of the season for his third failed drug test for marijuana. In addition, Incarcerated Bob reported that Smith was doing cocaine in nightclubs during the playoffs last year. Once he hit the floor, Smith made Knicks fans wish they got high before watching him. The reigning sixth man of the year is averaging a career low 11.2 points per game. He also has a pitiful field goal percentage of 34.1 (also a career low). The embarrassing year came full circle when Smith put up a record 17 three pointers in a game against the Bucks. Of those 17 shots, he hit five. Smith is a malignant cancer to the Knicks locker room. With his selfishness, lack of game I.Q., and wild behavior, he is a perfect representation of the team as a whole.

Can this team make the playoffs? Maybe. Can this team compete in the playoffs? Absolutely not. The Knicks are the picture of dysfunction and have been for years. In reality, until James Dolan is no longer the owner, the Knicks will stay that way.

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With Tip-Off fast approaching here’s an in-depth look at the league, Team by Team.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Where They Have Been:
They have been in the basement of the NBA. Since LeBron left for south beach, the Cavaliers have been the worst team in the NBA bar none. However, with the high risk moves the Cavs made in the offseason, the Cavs can either become a total embarrassment or a sneaky good team.

Who They Have: Starters
Since LeBron left, the Cavs have had at least one top 4 pick (including two #1s) in the NBA draft. They have used these picks to essentially build their starting five. PG Kyrie Irving, SG Dion Waiters, and PF Tristian Thompson were all top 4 draft picks. Veteran SF C.J. Miles and C Anderson Varejao round out the starting five. Irving is already an established superstar, but Waiters has yet to show us anything special. Thompson and Miles are nothing better than role players on a good team, and Varejao is injury prone. This may not be the starting five as the season goes on, but if it is, the Cavs are in for a world of hurt.

Who They Have: Bench
Here is the silver lining for this Cleveland team. They signed troubled C Andrew Bynum to a 1 year deal, and have this year’s surprise first overall pick, Anthony Bennett waiting in the wings. Both are complete wildcards (especially Bynum since he hasn’t played in over a year and might not this year), but if they pan out as hoped, this Cavs team could see some daylight. Other bench payers include Tyler Zeller, Daniel “Boobie” Gibson, and Alonzo Gee. Once you add Varejao and Thompson to that bench, all of a sudden this team has depth.

What To Expect:
This team is a total wildcard in terms of predictions. On one hand, if everything pans out, this team could be as good as a 6 seed in the slim Eastern Conference. On the other hand, if Bynum doesn’t play and Bennett doesn’t work out (both literally and figuratively), Cavs fan can be looking at another top 4 pick. The way it’s looking right now, I’d have to lean towards disastrous, given Bynum’s track record and Bennett’s preaseason play. This could prove to be catastrophic as Kyrie Irving will become a free agent soon.

Record:
25-57

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With Tip-Off fast approaching here’s an in-depth look at the league, Team by Team.

Toronto Raptors

Where They Have Been:
The Raptors have been dwindling at the bottom of the Atlantic Division ever since the departure of Chris Bosh. Granted, they were never a force to begin with, but they have been abysmal as of late. Things don’t seem to be looking up for the sole Canadian team in the NBA.

Who They Have: Starters
A big start for the Raptors this offseason and their new GM Masa Ujiri, was dumping the disappointing former #1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani (and his contract) on the New York Knicks. The new starting five consists of Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, and Jonas Valanciunas. While the front court of Johnson and Valanciunas is a bit weak, the Raptors do have a very strong back three in Gay, Derozan, and Lowry. Gay has yet to blossom into a superstar, but he is a star who can easily average 20 PPG, 5 RPG, and 5 APG a game. Lowry is one the more underappreciated PG in the league, partially because of his ability to move around the court so fluidly. A very good passer who can shoot the ball, they may have a floor captain in him. Derozan is a scorer who isn’t a fantastic shooter, but can get to rim and finish with explosiveness and decisiveness. He can split defenders better than many in the league and can be looking at a nice scoring season for Toronto.

Who They Have: Bench
The Raptors are fairly thin outside of their backcourt. While the addition of Tyler Hansborough and D.J. Augustin were nice, they are paper-thin otherwise on the bench. Terrence Ross hasn’t panned out the way the front office had hoped, Landry Fields hasn’t earned a dollar of the $21 million he’s making, and Steve Novak can’t doing anything besides shoot a 3 from the corner.

What To Expect
While the Raptors started playing well after the Rudy Gay trade, I wouldn’t have high hopes for this team. Other than a strong back three, they are virtually empty as far as starting talent. Tyler Hansborough could prove to be well worth his deal, but if that’s what it takes to get a Raptors fan excited that should say it all.

Record
34-48

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With Tip-Off fast approaching here’s an in-depth look at the league, Team by Team.

Dallas Mavericks:

Where they have been:

After winning the NBA finals against the Miami Heat in 2010-2011, the Mavs have found themselves freefalling in the NBA. After allowing Tyson Chandler to walk (among other key pieces of their title team) the Mavs got swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder. The following season (2012-2013) saw the Mavs miss out on the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Hoping to pair up an aging Dirk Nowitzki with a star the Mavs took to free agency, striking out on all the big names. They recuperated by adding Monta Ellis, a borderline All-star.

Who they have: The Starting Lineup.

The Mavs starting lineup is good. Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Samuel Dalemebert will be able to score and while none of the players in the starting lineup are defensive wizards they will be able to play on that end of the floor as well.  Calderon, one of the more underappreciated point guards in the league, will bring stability at the point. Ellis will be able to produce his usual points. Dirk will produce, and with Ellis there to take pressure off from scoring, will be more effective (it also won’t hurt that he’ll finally be fully healthy.) Shawn Marion will defend, rebound and score when needed, so will Samuel Dalembert, just without much scoring.

Who they have: The bench:

The Mavs bench is solid, but doesn’t distinguish themselves. Their best bench player, Vince Carter, is past his prime, though still capable. Devin Harris will be solid, being able to play either behind or along Jose Calderon (or Monta Ellis.) Dejuan Blair, is an undersized forward/center, who will produce, but he won’t be able to play against players that tower over him for extended minutes. From there, the bench includes no-one distinguishable, with Wayne Ellington and Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright rounding out the back up unit. The rest of the bench will most likely see garbage time action.

What to Expect:

The Mavs aren’t winning any titles, in fact they’ll be competing with a handful of other teams for the bottom two rungs in a loaded Western Conference. They’re deep and talented enough to win anywhere between 42 and 50 games, with 45 wins around  what I’d expect from them.

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Here we go folks, the NBA season is less than a week away from Tip-Off, and that makes us VERY happy. There are so many questions to answer, but let’s just stick to the ones that are on the forefront of my mind right now.

The Questions:

1) Will Kobe Bryant come back from his torn Achilles tendon as the Mamba/Vino, or will he be just a shell of his former self? Will Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo?

2) Will the Miami Heat fail or succeed in their bid to secure a three peat, and make it to the NBA finals four years in a row? If they don’t, where do they fall, and whom do they fall too?

3) Which team, if any, in the NBA can unseat the Heat? Is that even possible after the past three years (2 championships, 3 straight trips to the finals, arguably the best 1-2 [and 3] combo in the league, the best player in the league, and a 27 game winning streak)?

4) Will the Clippers finally distinguish themselves where it matters most, in the playoffs?

5) Are both of NY’s team’s contenders, or pretenders? Which one of them has a more legitimate chance of competing for a title?

6) How serious are the Rockets?

The Answers:

1) Kobe is Kobe. There are few who can match his competitive drive, and after a whole summer’s worth of hearing people debate about how he’ll come back, he’ll do whatever it takes to come back as his old self. Derrick Rose is back, 21.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 7.9 assists through the preseason should alleviate any and all worries Bulls fans might still have. Same goes for Kevin Love who is putting up his monster double doubles, on a daily basis. Though Rondo isn’t due back for some time, there is no reason to think he still won’t be a top point guard, the only difference; he won’t have Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to pass to.

2) At first guess, the answer is, yes The Heat will succeed and LeBron will win a third title. However, personally I don’t think they will. The eastern conference has become much more competitive, with the Pacers, the Bulls, the Nets and the Knicks adding pieces to already solid rosters. Of those 4 the Pacers are the team most likely to supplant the Heat. Consider last season’s E.C.F finals where they took them all the way to game 7, and were a potentially bad substitution away from winning. They retained their core, Danny Granger is back, and Lance Stephenson has something to prove, after an encouraging season. Next they added Luis Scola, Chris Copeland and CJ Watson to shore up their bench offense. While they might not match up with the Heat in terms of pure Star power (though Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Paul George aren’t a bad star lineup), they DO match up (and win) in depth and bench production.

3) Expanding upon question #2, the Indian Pacers are the team MOST likely to unseat the Heat. The other serious contenders on this short list include the Chicago Bulls, the Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs. I can’t put the Thunder in here because this is the first season they’re playing without an established 3rd man, if someone can step up and fill that role, they’ll be back in contention.

4) I put the Clippers on question 3 for a bunch of reasons. An elite, no nonsense coach that knows what it takes to win a title is the first step toward legitimacy. The next reason is their depth. They have what it takes, from the role players (Louis Admundson, Willie Green) to the stars ( Paul, Griffin) they are a legitimate 10 deep team, with players who can (and will) take over close games. Look for the Clippers to aim for a 60 win season, a top 3 seed in the Western Conference and a berth in the W.C.F.

5) Pretenders, the Knicks more so than the Nets. The Knicks have not really upgraded over the summer, adding a shooter who can’t shoot, and a great defender who is a couple years past his prime. They’ll win and they’ll be fun to watch, but inevitably they will flame out in the 2nd round (and even the first depending on whom they match up with). The Nets are a bit different, they’ve clearly upgraded, adding Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko, to their core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. However, they are untested as a group, their coach is brand new and they will have to compete with the Miami Heat, the Bulls (who have regained their MVP) and of course their house mates in the city, the Knicks.

6) The rockets are a wildcard in the west, talented enough to go toe to toe with any team, in any conference, but unproven. They have no Chemistry yet, and until they develop it, they won’t be able to jump over the list of Western Conference contenders that include the Clippers, the Spurs and the Thunder.