Posts Tagged ‘Lebron’

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At long last, Greg Oden made his season debut on Wednesday night against the Washington Wizards. When the former number one overall pick took less money to sign with the Miami Heat this offseason, it was clear Oden wanted one thing, a ring. Since being drafted in 2007, the former Ohio State big man has been disappointing to say the least. Before Wednesday, Oden hadn’t played in an NBA game since December 5th 2009. He had suffered through a career of anguish and struggle both on and off the court. Between his best friends passing in 2006 and his embarrassing photo leak in 2010, it is impressive that Oden showed the will to return all together. Based off the small sample size, that determination seems to have paid dividends. In an impressive eight minutes, Oden scored six points (including two dunks) and grabbed two rebounds.

Physically, Oden looks better than ever. He seems to have lost weight, while putting on muscle in his upper body. That combination is always a step in the right direction for big men. Mentally, he looked even better. To score his first points since 2009, Oden grabbed an offensive rebound off a Dwayne Wade miss, and put back and emphatic two hand dunk. After seeing a play like that, fans and coaches alike have to be encouraged by his performance and attitude.

Looking on the larger scale, this is exactly what the Miami Heat need. While their current three game losing streak is bad, it could just be a January slump. However, looking at the big picture, the Miami Heat will not make the Finals with this current roster. They aren’t as big or deep as the Indiana Pacers. With his natural size, Roy Hibbert is going to easily beat Chris Bosh and Chris Anderson in the paint. This then creates matchup problems all over the floor and allows Indiana to stretch the floor for their surplus of shooters. What Oden could do, on a smaller scale, is be Miami’s Roy Hibbert. At 7’0 280 lbs, Oden has the potential to be able to play Hibbert perfectly on both sides of the ball.

Bigger then anything he could do in his minutes on the court, is what having Oden means the Heat will not do. That big discontinue would be Miami’s reported interest in free agent big man Andrew Bynum. Bynum is the NBA’s second biggest cancer, losing the honor to J.R. Smith. From his lack of effort on court to his erratic  off the court behavior, Bynum needs to be avoided at all costs. The Heat don’t have enough player chemistry and Erik Spolestra is not respected enough to be able withstand the walking hurricane that is Andrew Bynum.

Now with all this being said, lets not go and put Greg Oden next to Wilt and Russel. In reality, he will only be a 10-15 minute player come April & May, but those 10-15 minutes can be the difference between a championship and not even making the finals. With his size and strength, Oden possess the ability to be that enforcer down low, who can also spread the floor for Lebron, Wade, Chalmers, and the rest of the Miami Heat.

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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.