Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Damian Lillard: Doin' it for the Old Guys

Damian Lillard is my favorite rookie in the NBA this year. No, I'm not a hypebeast who jumped on the bandwagon a couple weeks into the season. I'm a hypebeast who jumped on the bandwagon during the rookie workouts. Insiders kept talking about this guy from a small school called Weber State, so I checked him out and I was more than impressed. Lillard's blend of ball handling, quickness, and shooting touch made me a fan.What I was even more impressed by was his work ethic, which is on display in his web series "License to Lillard."

This man really puts in the work. If I attempted to do his workout, I'm almost certain I would vomit. Now before you knock my conditioning, let me say I run three miles a day. Lillard however; is just one of those rare people who is willing to go that extra mile. He wants to be great and you can see that in how he works.

My favorite thing about Damian Lillard you ask? He's 22, just like me. Damian Lillard is the part of a dying breed, four-year college players who get drafted. He spent four years at Weber State honing his game, coming back from injury and turing into one of the best players in the country.

Lillard's experience comes across in his game. When I see rookies or just young players in general, their inexperience is evident. For example, John Wall is a great player, but he does a lot of asinine shit. Andre Drummond, endless potential, but has no idea how to play basketball. When you see Lillard, averaging 19 and six, you see the maturity and understanding of the game. He plays with a calm and control that is often associated with veterans, not rookies.

It's refreshing to see a guy out there who knows the game and is clearly ready for the NBA. I'm not saying the one and done kids can't play, clearly some can, but not everyone is Anthony Davis or Kyrie Irving. There are a number of guys who had great potential coming out of high school, but have not been able to reach their full potential. Guys like Jerryd Bayless or Michael Beasley have been in the NBA for years now and still are unable to fulfill initial projections. Maybe the projections were off, but maybe those guys just needed to stay an extra year or two and really develop.

There is no clear answer as to whether or not guys need to stay in college or just jump to the big stage, but there is a certain maturity and awareness that comes with staying in school. Think about your own life. How are you different today from when you were 18? You're probably smarter, more aware and more sure of yourself. Those are all things that come with time and experience. Damian Lillard seems to have figured that out, hopefully some others will follow his lead.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Comparing Today's NBA Players to Today's Rappers

I was born in 1990. I was just a kid during the golden era of hip-hop and the championship run of Michael Jordan's Bulls, but the 90s are still close to my heart. I sit back and watch Fresh-Prince before work, bump Illmatic and wear slap bracelets when I'm feeling crazy. There's a lot of nostalgia for the 90s going on right now and with good reason. The mainstream creativity of this generation sucks. Don't get me wrong there are tons of talented people out there in a number of fields (technology, fashion, film); however have you listened to the radio lately? Or turned on the TV? Shitty music and terrible reality shows dominate the airwaves. Now, don't get me wrong there is still good music and TV out there, but its hard to find.

Today's NBA is actually in a much better place than today's music or TV. Tons of talent and tons of excitement right now. I'm a huge fan of all music, seriously I'll give anything a listen, but rap is closest to my heart. Today I want to compare the music scene to hoops by way of matching players to rappers. Lets begin...

Kevin Love/Action Bronson

Action Bronson is a raw ass dude from New York, with immense skill and incredible delivery. This guy is a throwback to the old days of rap. He's spitting street stuff through complex rhymes coupled with a voice reminiscent of Ghostface Killah. His counterpart, Kevin Love, is also a throwback to the old days. Love doesn't go out on the court and overwhelm you with ahtleticism, he does it with his brain and ever-expanding skill set. There's not a lot of flash to Love's game, but there is a shit load of substance. He boxes out well, shoots with great form and makes the right plays. Love isn't out there trying to break backboards and smash rims, he's trying to find the open space on the court, use his body to create space and exploit the defenses weakness. These guys are complete opposites in terms of appearance, but in terms of bringing the old school back they do it admirably.

Tim Duncan/Nas

I know what you're thinking. This is absolutely ridiculous. Let me explain though. Tim Duncan, one of the all-time greats, proven track record, longjevity, still schooling the young heads. Nas, one of the all-time greats, proven track record, longjevity, still out classing the younger generation. Nas and Timmy D have more in common than people would think. Duncan rarely talks, but when he does its captivating. Nas obviously speaks more than Duncan, well because he raps, but like Duncan he's ever insightful. What makes these guys most similar to me is the fact that they both are still doing it despite the odds. Duncan is still one of the driving forces behind the Spurs despite the fact that he's "old," and has "lost a step." Nas just put out his 10th album to much acclaim despite haters saying he was finished. Hell, they thought he was finished after Jay-z did "Takeover." While Nas may not be the 17-year-old who wrote Illmatic and Duncan not the guy who won four rings, they're still at the top. What these guys both have endless amounts of is skill, which allows each to thrive regardless of age and the changes in their respective fields of work.

LeBron James/Drake

This is another one that probably doesn't make sense off the bat, but give me a chance. LeBron James and Drake are both at the top of their professions. I don't think Drake is the most skilled rapper or the best or that he even says anything profound, but Drake is at the top of the rap game. Don't believe me? Turn on a radio or go to a show and see the legion of Drake fans out there. It says a lot about the state of hip-hop, but that is where we are.

LeBron is clearly the best basketball player on the planet at the moment. He scores, he rebounds, he passes, he defends, he does it all. LeBron has been the best in the game for years now, but certain critics were blinded by hate and never gave him his just due. This year, with another MVP trophy, his first championship and a gold medal, LeBron has separated himself.

Why are Drake and LeBron similar? When they came out, both had a buzz and were anointed without ever achieving anything. LeBron the "king," Drake the "first name greatest, last name ever." The credit they received angered both hip-hop heads and basketball critics alike. That anger turned into hate, which became as abundant as oxygen for both men.

Like I said, Drake isn't a profound artist in my opinion, but he does have skill and can obviously put a song together. I used to be a big fan, but he's gotten a little out of control and full of himself over the last couple of years. LeBron, like Drake, was hated on and ridiculed despite obvious skill and numbers to back claims of greatness. It wasn't until this spring that LeBron was able to send a huge fuck you to the haters and get his first ring. Unfortunately, for Drake, music has no championship and has much more room for subjectivity. Drake could put together a real hip-hop classic and will still have his detractors. That's just music.

I think people would like LeBron and Drake more if we knew the real them. Drake is a mixed, jewish kid from Toronto who sometimes acts like a thug from the south or a pussy whipped character from a Nicolas Sparks book. Who are you really? And LeBron is a guy who never says anything controversial and does every interview like its scripted. LeBron has shaken the hate now, but in years past if he would've just been real people would have respected him much more.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dwight's Journey is Done

The Dwight Howard saga is over. According to ESPN "A four-team trade that would send Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers is complete, multiple sources told ESPN on Thursday night. A source with direct knowledge of the talks told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein the Lakers will receive Howard, the Denver Nuggets will acquire Andre Iguodala, the 76ers will receive Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson, and the Magic will get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and one protected future first-round pick from each of the other three teams."

This is the biggest trade in recent memory. This is bigger than Deron Williams to the Nets and its bigger than Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. Dwight Howard going to the Lakers is the be all end all of trades. In my opinion Dwight Howard is the third most valuable player in the league. I came to that conclusion through this thought process. If I was going to trade LeBron James or Kevin Durant the only guy you could give me back in exchange for them is each other or Dwight Howard. Dwight may not be the third best player in the league, but he has the third most value. I would trade Kevin Durant for Dwight way before I would trade him for Chris Paul or Kobe and the same can be said for LeBron James.

Howard is simply a game changer. He plays defense, rebounds, hustles and is improving his offensive game each season. Not to mention, he is only 26.

Some good came of this trade for each team except the Orlando Magic. How was Pau not included? What kind of incriminating information do the Lakers have over every team in the league? Every time it looks like they are out they pull something like this. I mean its incredible.

I was a little surprised that Denver took Andre Iguodala considering how many guys they have that play the wing already, but he can step in at shooting guard immediately and have a bigger impact than Afflalo did. With Iguodala, Lawson, Gallinari, and Wilson Chandler running the break, Denver could be scary. I could see this team competing for a ring in a couple of years based the amount of talent they have. Its just a matter now of cultivating it and turning it into something special. They could be like the Detroit Pistons in 04' if everything falls in to place correctly.

The Sixers are probably the most slept on in this whole trade. Adding Andrew Bynum solidifies that team. They still can't beat Miami and probably won't move passed Boston, but they can compete with everyone else in the east now. Bynum is a big man surrounded by a bunch of guys that will "give me the f*cking ball." This is another team that is young and has talent. I doubt they will turn into something special, but they have a great piece to build around.

Orlando....wow...how?..I mean why? Was it the best?...I just...I can't even find the words.

Lastly, the Lakers have no excuses. They have a starting line-up that includs five guys who have been all-stars and at one point were the best player on a playoff team. No other team in the NBA could say that. This trade puts the Lakers ahead of the Spurs and in direct contention with the Thunder. If Kobe really is as good as he thinks then he should win it. I don't want to hear about Miami taking a year because that's BS. That team wasn't this good by any means. LA has to get it done to earn any respect from me. And please, lets quit any Kobe to Jordan comparisons from now on. If Jordan was on this team they would win 75 games. If LeBron was on this team they would win 75 games. Kobe on this team? better be 65 at least.

One final thought, this trade shows me that LeBron is better than Kobe at this point without questoin (I think hes been better for years anyway). If LeBron was on this team in place of Kobe I have no doubt they would win a ring. With Kobe on the team I still don't know.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Top 5 PGs in the NBA

Point guards are the premiere players in the NBA right now. Every competitive team has a competent one and on probably 1/3 of teams he is the best player. In the NFL the quarterback is the most important player on the team and in the NBA it may be the point guard. Even LeBron James who is a "small forward" really plays more of a point guard position on offense. He initiates often, makes plays and has the ball in his hands more than anyone else.

Before I go into the top five I just want to name off some guys who barely missed the list, but are still incredible point guards.

Derrick Rose- Purely because of his injury I'm going to leave him off the list. Everyone knows he's top 5 at this position and possibly top 5 in the league.

Stephen Curry- Great player with an awesome shooting stroke and a high basketball IQ. Hopefully he can stay healthy.

Kyrie Irving- Future star. All the potential in the world.

Brandon Jennings- One of the quickest guys in the league who can get hot at anytime and is developing more skills as a pure point.

#5.5 Steve Nash
There isn't much I can say about Steve Nash that people don't already know. He's possibly the best shooter in the league (peep his stats), he is arguably the best passer and I'll say he is the smartest offensive player in the NBA. On the offensive end Steve Nash has no weaknesses. The Lakers are extremely fortunate to have such an elite player coming to their team. The one knock is of course his defense, but when a guy is this good on O, who cares?

#5 Tony Parker
After a somewhat down year Tony Parker came back this season with a vengeance. He dominated during the regular season with the offensive changed that Coach Pop made. With the ball in his hands Tony Parker was simply dominant. Assists numbers were at a career high and the point production didn't waiver at all. TP was truly impressive this year, as was his whole team. He really just continued to do the things we were accustomed to, but at an even higher level. Tony Parker is probably the most underrated player of his generation and definitely at his position, but everyone knows hes one of the best to do it over the last 15 years.

#4 Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook as just a pure basketball player may be top 10 in the league, but as a pure point guard he may not be. By pure point guard I'm talking the days of Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash pure. Guys who pass first with amazing court vision and an Einstein like IQ. Westbrook is this new age hybrid who is essentially a mini-LeBron with less passing ability. He can fly to the rim and finish over anyone, he can kill you with the mid-range jumper, but can he kill you with the pass? I haven't seen it. I'm not trying to knock him by any means because this guy is a stud. I'm just saying he's not the first guy I'd pick to run my offense. Westbrook's best attribute, in my opinion, above the athleticism even, is his will to win. This guy is so competitive and cares so much and the passion he plays with shines through in his game. He goes 100% the whole time and that's something only the best players can do. So despite my criticism I still think he's one of the best in the game.

#3 Rajon Rondo
If Rondo had a jump shot he would be in that LeBron James/Kevin Durant super elite status. He's a tough defender, incredible passer and efficient scorer when necessary. Rondo is the best player on the Celtics and has been for a couple of years now. When he lead the team to the finals in 2008 he was the Mario Chalmers of the team. Now hes a bona fide star that is expected to lead the Celtics into the next era. Rondo is one of those guys you want standing next to you in a fight. Hes tough and never backs down, which are qualities a point guard needs in today's NBA. Hes a maestro on the court and easily one of the best in the game.

#2 Deron Williams
Deron Williams was stuck in hell the last year and a half. An elite player like D-Will hates to suffer on a losing team, but that is exactly what he did and it seems to have paid off. This is a guy who scored 57 points in a game last season. Not just anyone in the league can do that. In fact thats probably more points than anyone currently in the league has ever scored besides Kobe and "The Hibachi." I don't know if Deron Williams is a scorer before he is a passer, but he does both brilliantly. Whatever his team needs he provides. I think he is the perfect blend of scoring and passing mixed with some pretty good athleticism, not to mention this guy is low-key clutch. Now that Brooklyn has retooled with an all-star shooting guard, veteran small forward, and potential all-star center, D-Will is officially back in the spotlight.

#1 Chris Paul
I don't know if Chris Paul is actually the best point guard in the league. Any of these guys could be considered top dog, but for now I'll say its him. CP3 is a lot like Deron Williams to me. He brings the scoring, but also tremendous court vision. CP3 is completely in control when he's on the court. The way he runs the point dictates the pace of the game for both teams. Whatever style Chris Paul plays is the same style the opponent is going to have to play. I cannot emphasize the advantage that gives his team on the court. He is literally pulling puppet string out there. Paul is also an excellent defender with a nose for the ball. Going in to this season I expect big things from him and the Clippers, especially after how they got swept in the playoffs, but for now I'll let CP3 enjoy being numero uno (even though he'll never see this).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Top 5 SG

Since I was a kid shooting guard was a premier position in the NBA. Jordan, Reggie Miller, Mitch Richmond, Clyde Drexler, John Starks and Joe Dumars were some of the best players in the league during the early 90s and made for some incredible match ups when they faced off. Once those guys retired it was time for some young guys to take over like Iverson, Kobe, Vince Carter, Allan Houston, Sprewell,Ray Allen and some foreigner named Manu. As these guys have gotten older, retired and fallen off the face of the earth, the shooting guard position has faltered.

Today I compiled a list of the top five shooting guards in the NBA and it wasn't easy. This is an interesting one.

#5 Monta Ellis
Monta will probably never be an all-star, let me get that out the way now, but this guy is an incredible basketball player. He is undersized for his position, but it doesn't matter because of how hard he plays. He took a lot of heat in Golden State for never leading the team to the playoffs and shooting too much, but that's what he had to do. I watched a ton of Warriors games over the last few years and Monta was the heart and soul of that team. They lost a lot of games, but were always competitive and seemed to only ever lose by a few buckets. Monta is a good jump shooter, great slasher/finisher at the rim, and smart player. Over the last three seasons he's averaged over 3.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 23 points. Now, that he's going to have a full season with the Bucks I think he'll continue to do more of the same. I really can't wait to see him and Brandon Jennings light teams up next season, should be entertaining.

#4 Manu Ginobili
Manu's numbers were down this season, but if you saw the Western Conference Finals you saw how brilliant he still is. Manu at times seemed like the only Spur who could compete with OKC. He torched them from three, split the defense with ease and reminded us where James Harden got his game from (Hold up, I just realized I forgot James Harden on this list. I was going to put Joe Johnson at #3, things just got complicated). Manu's getting up there in age, but his skill and quickness still seems to be on par with other elite guards. When Manu's on the court he brings toughness and a drive that very few others have. I expect him to put up better numbers this year and dazzle us again in the playoffs.

#3.5 Joe Johnson
Thats weird. But hey, I can do what I want. Uhh, Joe Johnson, where to begin. He has a great shooting stroke, plays tough defense and is extremely smart on the basketball court. The problem with Joe Johnson is that he doesn't wow you nor does he seem to want to. Johnson has a tendency to not rise to the occasion, but this year will be different. In Brooklyn, Johnson will no longer be the man, but the right hand man. He is going to play without pressure for the first time in a while, which is huge for any player. Wins and losses are all going to be on Deron Williams, Johnson just needs to be consistent, which he has always been and things will work out fine. I think Brooklyn can get to the conference finals and if they do, it will be in large part to JJ.

#3 James Harden
He is the black Manu, with more strength and youth. They play incredibly alike. I think Harden is Manu's son. He's young enough to be actually. Harden is a really talented guy that can do it all on the court. He scores, he makes plays and he is a pretty good defender. On any other team he would start and be a franchise player. In a couple of years when his contract is up he will prove that. Until then, just enjoy this guy as he comes in off the bench and tears up opposing defenses.

#2 Kobe Bryant
Before Kobe Stans go crazy. Did he win a ring this year? Kobe fans always bring up rings, so did he get one this year? No, and he shot 43% so this is justified. Kobe's still one of the best players in the game, but he's slowed down. He scored 29 a game, but it wasn't efficient and it took a lot out of him. Kobe has a hard time blowing by guys these days and is relegated to a lot mid-range post ups, turn around fade aways and really tough shots. With the addition of Steve Nash his percentages will improve and his overall game will be better. His team could still win a ring, they just need Kevin Durant to get hurt and LeBron to die. Good luck.

#1 Dwyane Wade
Numbers were down, quickness seemed to dimish, and at times he didn't look like himself. Wade struggled with injuries all season, which really seemed to effect him. However, he still put up around 22, 5 and 5. He was second in command as his team made a championship run and had a few big games throughout the playoffs. This upcoming season will tell us a lot about D-Wade. Is he on the back nine or is he still a dominant force? Only time will tell, but for right now I still say hes the best SG in the game.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Top 5 SF

The small forward position doesn't really leave too much mystery in my opinion about who the best is, or who the second best is. We all know that by watching the finals. The last three spots are much more open to interpretation.

#5 Luol Deng
Luol Deng is quietly one of the best wing players in the NBA. Then why don't we hear about him? Simple, hes too dark. I'm kidding. I love black people, but seriously I have no idea why he doesn't get more recognition. He is a great defender, versatile on the offensive end and seems like a great teammate. SF is probably the second deepest position in the NBA so the fact that Deng can go out on a nightly basis and compete well against guys like LeBron James and Kevin Durant really tells you something. Not to mention with Derrick Rose missing so much time this year he really carried the Bulls.

#4 Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala is tough. This guy brings his lunch box to work everyday and competes. He is a utility guy in the realest sense. He defends, he scores he passes and he is pretty clutch. The fact that he is on team USA for the upcoming Olympics is a testament to his hard work. He's a guy that everyone likes because there isn't anything not to like about him. Hopefully he can get on a team with real championship aspirations before its too late.

#3 Carmelo Anthony
Melo is arguably the best scorer in the NBA. I think he has the best mid-range game personally, but there can be a debate made there too. You can't debate the fact however that Melo is an elite talent. His skill level is off the charts and his ability to take over the game is almost unmatched. He could improve defensively and as a play maker, but he has to want to do that. I think Melo is a good defender when he puts the effort in and is an exceptional passer. Its just a matter of him wanting to do those thing consistently. If the Knicks want to get over the hump then Melo is going to need to take his game to the next level.

#2 Kevin Durant
I was never a big Kevin Durant fan. I knew he was a great player and enjoyed watching him, but I guess I wasn't overly impressed like I thought others were. This season I watched a lot more of his games and really started to understand how special this guy is. He is definitively the best offensive player in the NBA. He is a 6'10" shooting guard pretty much. I saw him play three times in the past year. Twice in lockout games and once against the Wizards. Every performance was more impressive than the next. His shooting stroke is effortless, his handles are impeccable and his ability to score is incredible. There are very few holes in Durant's game, but those holes are tiny. The fact that he is only 23 is scary. Is it crazy to think that in five years this guy could possibly average 40 a game? I don't think so, well maybe not 40, but the other side of 35. Over the next few years the torch is going to be passed from LeBron to KD, its evident, so once that happens who will be able to stop him?

#1 LeBron James
LeBron's run through the 2012 playoffs was unlike anything we've seen in close to 20 years. This was a man on a mission. He ripped through the Knicks, destroyed the Pacers, finally put an end to the Boston era and schooled the new kids on his way to a championship. LeBron definitely had help on his way to the championship, but not as much as we expected. Dwyane Wade was hampered by an injury and Chris Bosh missed several games. No matter the circumstances LeBron rose up. He's been the best player in the game for years now and this championship just cemented that. He can guard five positions, he can get to the rim at will, he makes teammates better and is a force unlike any other. All the criticism was put to rest this year. LeBron is the best in the game and no one can argue that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Top 5 PFs

Here is the continuation of my top five players at each position piece. Today, the PF position which is a position that seems to lack actual power these days, but whatever, that is my generation for you.

#5 Blake Griffin
Some people will probably think I'm crazy for this, but I can't put Griffin any higher than this. His rookie season was incredible and included an array of highlight dunks that we'll never forget. His sophomore season was a lot of the same, which happened to be the problem. Griffin showed no improvement with his jump shot, post moves or free throw shooting. He's an incredible athlete and will be the best power forward in the game if he works on the basics. He has all the physical tools, but he needs to add the skill.

#4 Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh is a weird ass dude. In fact, I thought of leaving him off this list for that exact reason, I'm kidding, dude actually provides for some pretty funny moments. Chris Bosh is now one of the center pieces on a championship team. He's always been a good player despite the criticism he receives whether its fair or not(for the record its often not fair). Bosh is an extremely skilled forward with the ability to stretch the floor, post up and defend the hoop. The Heat might not of beat Boston without Bosh coming back for the final two games and they definitely wouldn't have beaten OKC in the finals. While Bosh certainly isn't a tough guy he brings a toughness to his team when he's in the paint. Bosh plays hard every minute he's on the court and anyone can respect that.

#3 Dirk Nowitzki
This season was a little lackluster for the former MVP. He came into camp out of shape and his team was never able to really hit any kind of stride. On the other hand Dirk is still one of the best offensive players in the NBA. Everything he did in the 2011 finals was no fluke and any real NBA fan knows that. Dirk has terrorized defenders for years and that isn't going to change anytime soon. His game isn't built on athleticism and his skill level is pretty much unmatched. Dirk can do whatever he wants on the offensive end and has quick hands on defense (still not the quickest feet). Now that Dallas has added Oj Mayo, Darren Collison and Chris Kaman they could make some real noise in the playoffs this year. I'm excited to see how Dirk leads this team with all the new editions (we call that a play on words).

#2 Lamarcus Aldridge
This is a guy who puts the power back in power forward. LA is a big guy who has no bitch in him. He is a great shooter from the outside, but he'll mix it up in the paint without any fear. He played second fiddle to Brandon Roy for years and rightfully so, but since Roy's departure he has been the man in Portland. He has carried this team for the better part of two seasons now and will continue to do so for  years to come. It sucks that Roy and Oden haven't been able to stay healthy over the years because who knows what could have been in Portland. Roy was a top 10 player in the league two years ago and Oden showed promise when he did play. Sadly, we'll never know what could have been, but we do know Aldridge will continue to put it down for years to come.

#1 Kevin Love
Coming out of college Kevin Love was known for having a great chest pass. I can't say with certainty, but Love may be the hardest working guy in the league. He has improved in every aspect of the game, except defense, but fu*k defense. This is a guy who lost 25 pounds last summer so he could improve his play on the court. 25 pounds is a small child. He is a great shooter, top notch rebounder and extremely smart. Love doesn't rely on physical tools to overwhelm his opponents, its much more about his brain. The difference between Griffin and Love is that Love has figured things out already. He knows he is undersized and he knows he's not a great athlete, but that doesn't stop him. This guy just keeps working harder and getting better. I could see Love being an MVP one day because this guy just wants it more than most and hopefully that translates to more wins for his team this year.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

5 Best Centers in the NBA

Who are the five best centers in the NBA? Dylan, Dylan, Dylan, Dylan, Dylan. Unless you're a Dave Chappelle fan you wont remember that. Anyway I've decided to count down the five best players at every position in the NBA right now. I figured the best place to start would be with the big men, specifically centers.

#5 Brook Lopez
Yeah, I said it. I've been a Brook Lopez fan since his days at Stanford. The guy is no joke on the offensive end. He can post up on the block, hit a 17 foot jump shot, and finish at the rim consistently. He gets a lot of shi* for not rebounding well or being "soft," but I don't think people will be saying that next year. The truth is, most people have never really seen him play and just go off of numbers. The decrease in rebounds is a direct product of Kris Humphries joining the team two years ago. Lopez's rebounding numbers and blocked shots will increase this year. It takes big men a while to develop and going into his fifth season I think he will prove doubters wrong.

#4 Joakim Noah
Nobody in the NBA has more heart than Joakim. Its hard not to like this guy. In an NBA where most guys are scared to say how they feel and express themselves this guy does it. Noah is a great defender, awesome passer for his position and an elite rebounder. This guy is like your favorite underground rapper. He doesn't give a damn about the fame he's just out for respect. And respect he gets from me.

#3 Kevin Garnett
KG is still a power forward in my book, but I can't discount the fact that he's been slid over to the five spot. This guy is old as f*ck. My dad bought me his signature shoe from Nike when I was seven....He had already been in the league for three years. KG's career has been rejuvenated by playing the center position. It gives him a chance to stretch the floor with his great jump shooting and also be quicker than most of the guys that guard him. Today's NBA doesn't have guys like Hakeem, Pat Ewing or David Robinson. The center position isn't what it used to be which gives an old head like KG the ability to do some things he probably couldn't have gotten away with in the 90s.

#2 Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum really impressed me this year. His work on the boards and on the block were pretty incredible. I knew he was good I just didn't know he was this good. There were times when I saw him last year and thought "This guy is unstoppable." In a league filled with undersized centers and power forwards trying to play center a guy like Bynum thrives. He's big and he's skilled. I think LA would've benefited from throwing it down to him a little more often when the offense got stagnant instead of going to Kobe.

#1 Dwight Howard
When you factor in offense and defense, no one is close to this guy. Dwight has improved his offensive game a lot over the years. I still think Bynum and possibly even Lopez are better offensive players, but Dwight gets it done. His post scoring has improved now that he has a few go to moves and his offensive rebounding and athletic ability have always allowed him to get easy buckets. Where Howard really excels is on defense. Very few players in the league can drive the lane and finish on or around Howard. He is the last person anyone wants to see when they come down the lane. Serge Ibaka gets a lot of love for his shot blocking, but he really isn't that good at defending on the ball. Howard is the complete package on defense. He also is rebounding machine. He is the closest thing the NBA has to an old school center and easily the best since Shaq. I expect him to dominate the position for years to come.

*Tim Duncan isn't on this list and probably won't be on the power forwards list either. The reason? I just didn't know where to put him. I think he could easily be on this list and my PF list, but he is going to be left out. Duncan is still a great defender despite his lack of athleticism and on offense his arsenal is comparable to that of a Mexican cartel. On a night to night basis Duncan wouldn't be my first option, but come playoff time this guy is going to remind you why he is one of the greatest of all time and arguably the best of his generation.

Friday, July 6, 2012

NBA Free Agency

The NBA free agency period is always interesting. After LeBron, Bosh and Wade joined forces in 2010 it seems as if every year a big move is going to happen and this year is no exception. We've seen restricted free agents become unrestricted, we've seen stars stay and some go, but the real question is what does it all really mean for next year. Lets take a look at a few things that have gone on thus far.

The most impressive acquisitions are happening in Brooklyn. They kept Deron Williams, brought in Joe Johnson, will probably keep Brook Lopez and might sign Esran Illyasova or Kris Humphries to fill the power forward position. A year ago this team sucked, but going in to the 2012-2013 season they will be formidable in the Eastern Conference especially with Derrick Rose out in Chicago. They wont challenge the Heat, but I expect them to finish amongst the top teams out east.

Coming in slightly behind the Nets are the Lakers. They essentially got Steve Nash for nothing. Four draft picks that don't mean anything to the Lakers. Who is their last good draft pick anyways? Magic? They made a deal to get Kobe so maybe that counts. Anyway, Steve Nash brings the Lakers someone who can reinvent the offense and possibly bring a championship to the franchise. If the Lakers want to win however; Steve Nash is going to need the ball in his hands. It'll be interesting to see how that goes over with Kobe, but the Lakers offensive is definitely in need of a new look and they'll get that by giving the Canadian the ball.

The Phoenix Suns have also caught my attention this off season. The Goran Dragic signing is a little odd since they just drafted Kendall Marshall, but its a great pick up. He is definitely better than Marshall at this point and has established himself as a rising star in this league. He can dice up the defense and has great court vision. He isn't an upgrade from Steve Nash by any means, but he is more than an adequate replacement. Phoenix also signed Michael Beasely, which could honestly be huge. Beasley hasn't produced like many thought he would have coming out of K-State, but this is his chance. As it stands right now, he is the best scorer on that team. He could not only revitalize his career, but finally establish himself as an all-star. Beasley is only 23, which in the grand scheme of life is super young. Lets just hope he seizes this opportunity and finally reaches the next level.

Brandon Roy just signed a two-year deal in Minnesota, which is nice. Three years ago he was one of the top players in the league. I don't think he would come back if he didn't have something left. I expect him to put up 14, 5 and 5. He is an elite talent who has had injury problems. If his knees are better the Twolves are without a doubt in the playoffs.

Knicks got J-Kidd and probably will keep Jeremy Lin. J-Kidd is my favorite player of all time and the Knicks are my team. I don't think Jeremy Lin is as good as some people. He has a lot to improve on if he is going to make it work on this team, but with Jason Kidd as a mentor I guess its possible. I'd rather have Raymond Felton and save some money, but Lin generates millions more in revenue.

Speaking of the Knicks, it looks as though Landry Fields is out. That honestly is the best thing for his career. The Melo trade ruined his mojo, but hopefully he can find it in Toronto.

I'm really interested to see where OJ Mayo goes. The news on him has kind of been dead lately, but like Beasley, I think he is ready to be a star somewhere. All he needs is the chance.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dwight Howard, please stop

The whole Dwight Howard in Orlando debacle has gotten way out of hand. If I have to hear about another one of Chris Broussard's "sources" on this issue I am going to shoot myself. No offense to Chris Broussard cause I actually enjoy his work, but that is complete offense at Dwight Howard.

Dwight Howard is undeniably one of the best players in the NBA. He is a perennial all-star, former defensive player of the year and one of the few superstars the game has. Howard has a likable personality and seems to be good guy, but this on going saga in Orlando is taking away from all that.

Howard has finally made it clear this week that he does not want to be in Orlando. This was big, it was like an alcoholic finally admitting he has a problem. Most of us knew Dwight wanted out, but when a guy signs an extension and gives vague answers all the time, how can you be sure?

So cool, Dwight wants out and the only team he'll go to is the Nets. Let's make it happen. Wrong. The Brooklyn Nets have made a series of questionable moves this week. First they signed Gerald Wallace to a 4-year $40 million deal. Hold up, it gets better. They then traded Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow and Jordan Williams along with DeShawn Stevenson (via sign-and-trade) and a future first-round pick (lottery-protected in 2013 via Houston) to Atlanta in exchange for Joe Johnson . Yes, the Joe Johnson with 4 years and $89 million left on his contract. I respect the Nets front office for pulling out all the stops to ensure that D-Will comes back, but I'm pretty sure they fucked themselves in the Dwight Howard race.

Chris Broussard put out another story about the possibility of Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and three first round picks being traded for Howard, but Orlando isn't having it.

So, where does this leave Dwight? Looks like Orlando to me. Every team is going to submit offers to the Orlando Magic in an effort to get Dwight Howard, but 98% of them will fail. Dwight Howard is one of the top three players in the league, which means unless you send LeBron or Kevin Durant for him, the value won't be equal.

If I'm Orlando I'm trading him for someone, anyone really. I would take Bynum. I would do the Nets deal with Lopez and Humpries. I would do anything that got him out of Orlando and still kept my team slightly competitive because at this point Howard is a cancer to the team. If he was you're teammate would you want to play with him? Basketball is a team game and I'm sure Dwight's teammates are no longer on his side. How could they be? This guy has done everything, but this.

From my outside point of view, I have no idea what is about to go down, but I hope it goes down soon because again I will shoot myself if Chris Broussard puts out another story he got from one of his sources.


The first post should probably be something good. If that's what you're looking for then I apologize. Still On the Bench is going to bring you my view of the sports world, which is probably a lot like yours. I don't have inside sources, I don't talk to GMs or have relationships like players, but I do love sports, especially basketball. I'll give you guys my take, it'll be unfiltered and completely uninterrupted (because my account hasn't been hacked yet).

And the name, Still On the Bench, was just the best thing I could think of. I actually got a decent amount of playing time in my day. Then again, it was youth basketball and everyone had to play two quarters, but I was still out there homie.