Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:10 am

Best NBA Point Guards

The new "must have" position in the NBA right now is the point guard position. In the past it was clearly big men but now the style of NBA basketball has changed. It is more uptempo and fast and relies on teams having capable floor generals. There are many great point guards in the league right now and also some to keep an eye on for the future. I have provided different categories ranking the point guards in the NBA.

Elite (Top 7)

1. Derrick Rose
2. Chris Paul
3. Deron Williams
4. Rajon Rondo
5. Russell Westbrook
6. Steve Nash
7. Tony Parker

Next Class (Future Stars)

1. Kyrie Irving
2. Ty Lawson
3. Ricky Rubio
4. Stephen Curry
5. Mike Conley
6. Brandon Jennings
7. John Wall
8. Jeremy Lin
9. Tyreke Evans
10. Jrue Holiday
11. Darren Collison
12. Kemba Walker

Serviceable Veterans

1. Kyle Lowry
2. Andre Miller
3. Jameer Nelson
4. Raymond Felton
5. Jason Kidd
6. Jose Calderon
7. Mo Williams
8. Ramon Sessions
9. Beno Udrih
10. Earl Watson
11. Baron Davis
12. Kirk Hinrich

The Elite list speaks for itself. Its clear that Derrick Rose is the best point guard in the league and that is a lot to say considering the fact that he is ahead of Chris Paul but he has earned that status, he simply does it all and most of all he is winning lots of games. Steve Nash still makes this list considering the fact that he is still leading the league in assists despite the fact that Phoenix is short on talent and the fact that he is now 38 years old. I have Rondo ahead of Westbrook by a hair and that is because of all the intangibles that Rondo provides. He might be the one of the best all around players in the league and for that he deserves to be ahead of Westbrook, though that may not last long with how good Westbrook is playing. Tony Parker is on the list for good reason, anyone who disagrees, I simply ask you to check his statistics. He is so consistent year after year and gets overshadowed by the more glamorous names on the list (side note on Parker is that he has more championships than any other point guard in the league besides Derek Fisher, that has to count for something).

As for the future stars, I think Kyrie Irving is going to be a very good player in this league, maybe even an all-star. He has been very impressive throughout his rookie campaign and he has a great coach in Byron Scott to groom him. Ricky Rubio may be the most exciting player to watch right now. Many basketball fans have had their eyes on him since he was 15 years old playing pro basketball in Spain. Rubio has exceeded my expectations in his first season. When I watched tape on him before the season, I just wasn't sure he would be effective in the NBA. I knew he was good but I thought he would be more of a project than he actually turned out to be. I love his upside and I think Minnesota as team has a very bright future ahead. Brandon Jennings shows flashes of greatness, when he gets hot he is unstoppable. If Jennings could just show more maturity and consistency, I think he has a chance at being an all-star at some point in his career. I am not a huge fan of John Wall, I though he was over-hyped coming out of college and I still think he has a lot of improving to do before he can be considered amongst the best point guards. It seems like he has a Stephon Marbury-like attitude to me. He does not seem to be very encouraging with his teammates and it seems like he just thinks he is better than he actually is in reality and I hope he puts in the work to take his game to the next level because he does have a lot of skills. Unfortunately, the Wizards are a mess and he lacks a mentor that could help him learn certain aspects of the game.

The veterans are basically guys who are either past their prime or are just good enough to give some quality minutes without being an all-star so to speak. Kyle Lowry is enjoying an excellent season and may have the most upside on this list. Felton and Nelson can also both be dangerous if put in the right situations. Andre Miller just knows the game, he has been underrated for years now, yet, he can still make excellent plays.

Overall, with so many point guards in the league and with the position so high in demand. I think it is important to recognize which players can separate themselves from the rest.

Posted on: February 18, 2012 2:17 pm

New York Knicks Midseason Report

I know many Knicks fans out there (including myself) have had a whirlwind season thus far including highs, lows, and ofcourse....LINSANITY! The Knicks have turned around a season that looked doomed a couple weeks back and things are starting to look bright again. Along with the emergence of Jeremy Lin, the Knicks have many things to look forward to. The team will have a healthy Carmelo Anthony back soon. Baron Davis should also make a return and help give Lin more rest during games while also providing a reliable veteran with good skills on the floor. The Knicks have also just signed J.R Smith who can provide help on the perimeter which they desperately need. The Knicks' defense has been great of late with Chandler, Shumpert and Jeffries all creating havoc with their efforts. Most importantly they are gaining confidence which they lacked early in the year and are starting to create a culture of winning. Here is my take on how these factors could help the Knicks make a nice run in the second half of this season.

Jeremy Lin, aka LINsanity, LINcredible, LINning etc etc etc, has been a fantastic story this season. We all root for underdog stories and this is truly a magical one thus far. Along with the fact he has soared to popularity and solidified his place in the NBA, he has also brought the Knicks exactly what they needed: a point guard who can make plays. There is no doubt that many of the Knicks' early struggles could be attributed to the fact that they were struggling at the point guard position. D'Antoni's system relies on having a capable point guard and the Knicks did not have one. Lin has come in and played great and has helped improve the chemistry of this team and more importantly has helped them LIN, I mean win (sorry I had to do it at least once). The Knicks were 8-15 just a short time ago and seemed to be sinking in the standings. The team was forced to play without their superstars for a stretch and it seemed as if they would fall out of contention in a hurry. However, Lin stepped in and most of the entire world knows what happened next. They went on to win 7 straight games before a disappointing home loss to the Hornets last night and are now in good control of the 8th playoff spot with a few teams ahead within striking distance in the standings. The good thing about all of this is Lin is continuing to work hard and stay focused amidst all of the media attention he is getting. Lin has a bright future ahead and I hope he can help take the Knicks to new heights.

Now, let me address the notion that Carmelo's return may hurt the Knicks' current chemistry. I have been very critical of Carmelo's game this season, especially all of the isolation plays he was commanding early on. I thought he was taking the team out of any type of flow and was trying to do way too much. With that being said, I do not think he really had a choice, the Knicks were lacking talent, chemistry, a point guard, and overall depth and they were actually relying on Anthony to do everything. I do not think it was possible for him to be successful given those circumstances and on top of that maybe we should start to believe the fact that his multiple injuries were having an effect on him. I think the rest he has been able to get along with the play of Lin and the team overall will be the best thing for him. I think he now sees that he will not be required do to everything and can focus on what he does best, which is to score and put pressure on opposing defenses. I think he is excited to get back and play with Lin as they can work together to make each others' jobs easier which will hopefully help them dominate and be a force down the stretch. Another thing to mention, is the fact that it was Carmelo who actually suggested to Mike D'Antoni to give Lin an opportunity so let's forget all the talk of him being selfish. I think he is excited by the fact that Lin has emerged and many are creating these obstacles. Overall, I am not concerned with Carmelo not fitting in with Lin, in fact I believe that with less pressure on him, Carmelo is going to come back strong and improve in all areas.

Baron Davis, in a way may have saved the Knicks season without even playing. I say this because had he returned by now, the Knicks would have probably cut Lin. Thankfully, the Knicks gave Lin a chance and the rest is history. With that being the case, where does Baron Davis stand in all of this? He has essentially lost the starting point guard job which was destined to be his.  So what will his role be and how can he help? That answer is easy. Lin emerging may be the best thing for him as well as he will now be able to transition himself back onto the court without being relied on to play heavy minutes right away and without having so much pressure on him to be the "savior" for the team. This will allow him to be more relaxed and also give him adequate time to get healthy. Once he returns, he will be a solid contributor off the bench and he will help the Knicks contain Lin's minutes while also being a mentor to him. There is no doubt in my mind that Davis will still serve a valuable role on the team down the stretch without disturbing the success of Lin.

J.R Smith could prove to be a valuable addition to the Knicks. I have never been a fan of him because of all the negative aspects of his presence. His poor discipline on the court, attitude, and antics on the court have always made him a player that I never was a fan of. However, the Knicks have forced my hand once again and as a devoted fan of the team, I will embrace his addition. With that being said, Smith's weaknesses are more recognized than his strengths. He is an outstanding three point shooter and an overall great scorer. Those attributes will both help the Knicks drastically as they have struggled from three point range this year and have also struggled with their scoring off the bench. Smith could immediately address both of those needs and being that he has been playing in China, he should be in game shape and ready to contribute right off the bat. If he can get his game under control and play within the system, he may even earn himself an extended job with the Knicks that goes beyond this season because there is no doubt that his skills cater to the system. He also brings some athleticism to the team which they have also been lacking this season. I will be curious to see how D'Antoni divides the minutes between Lin, Davis, Shumpert, Fields, and Smith once they are all in the lineup but I think it will be easy to get them all involved as many of them could play multiple positions. The important thing with Smith will be to prove he has matured and show more discipline on the court with his shot selection and I think he will be successful and really help the Knicks.

The Knicks' defense has been extremely underrated thus far this season and has looked great as of late. This is definitely the best defensive team that D'Antoni has ever showcased in his coaching career. To me, Tyson Chandler, has been outstanding and may even be the team's MVP. He plays hard every night, defends well, is scoring at a pretty high level relative to his career stats, and most of all he has been a great leader. He has done exactly what he was brought in to do and that is to anchor this defense. To me, Chandler has exceeded expectations and might even be the Knicks' most consistent player. Iman Shumpert and Jared Jeffries have also played valuable roles in the team's improvement on defense. Shumpert is amongst the league leaders in steals and his on the ball defense has been great in the backcourt. Jeffries is having a record season in regards to how many charges he is drawing and he is doing all the little things to help the team win. I was never a big fan of Jeffries because of his offensive limitations but the guy truly hustles and makes winning plays on a consistent basis. These factors have helped the team allow nearly 10 less points a game and become a decent defensive team. This will really help the Knicks come playoff time.

Another side note to mention for the Knicks will be the return of rookie Josh Harrelson, who was having a great rookie season prior to getting injured. His toughness, defense, and outside shooting will also help the team going forward. He will probably battle Steve Novak for minutes as Novak has also emerged as a good contributor for the Knicks.

All of these factors are helping the Knicks build a "winning culture" and gain confidence, which is so important in sports. The Knicks are now playing to win instead of playing not to lose. Most sports fans know that there is a huge distinction between the two. Hopefully, all of the chips will fall into place for the Knicks and they can continue to play spirited basketball and build a strong winning culture. I think the next step for the team is to become a more dominant team at home. It bothers me that the Knicks cannot protect their home court on regular basis playing in the "Mecca" so that will be something for them to work on going forward. But overall, I think the Knicks will be an exciting team in the second half of the season and I think they will continue to rise in the standings and who knows what the end result will be. With the way they are playing and all of the additions to their lineup with the signing of Smith and the return of key injured players they are capable of beating anyone. I am very excited and delighted (forgive me for rhyming I've been listening to Clyde too much) to see their season turned around and I hope they can build upon this and contend for a championship.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 1:38 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 9:01 pm

NBA's Most Underrated Players

The 2011-2012 NBA season is coming at us very fast and thanks to my NBA League Pass, I have seen a ton of games already. With nearly a third of the season completed already, I have made a list of some players who get the job done, yet, we almost never hear their names. The superstars get all the attention in this league but these are some players that bring a lot of value to their teams without any recognition. Almost every team has one of those players but here is a list of a few that have stood out to me thus far this season:

LaMarcus Aldridge (Blazers)
Anderson Varejao (Cavs)
Andre Miller (Nuggets)
Mike Conley, Jr (Grizzlies)
David Lee (Warriors)
Danilo Gallinari (Nuggets)
Udonis Haslem (Heat)
Luis Scola (Rockets)
Eric Gordon (Hornets)
Emeka Okafor (Hornets)
Jose Calderon (Raptors)

LaMarcus Aldridge
has been a consistent solid contributor for the Blazers for several years now. He is now the leader of a good Portland team that lost Brandon Roy (their prior leader for the past few years) due to an injury retirement before the season. Aldridge is a solid scorer (amongst the top 10 in the NBA), good rebounder, good defender, shoots a high percentage from the field, and has good range on his shot. He plays in the Western Conference which is loaded at forwards and has thus prevented him from being an All-Star to this point in his career. This is something that should change this year as he is very deserving of his first All-Star nod and should be considered an elite power forward. Along with that, his improvement each year should help lead this deep Portland team to a longer playoff run this year. Aldridge is not considered to be a superstar but that may change soon as his production is definitely deserving of recognition.

Anderson Varejao represents the true definiton of a blue-collar worker. If you look at his statistics you will see that he is a very good rebounder (11 per game) but outside of that you will not see anything else that states his value. However, if you watch the impact he has on games, you will clearly see all of the things he does that do not show up in a box score. He hustles, defends very well, scores points when needed, he seems to always have a knack for getting to the ball first, and most of all he does a great job disrupting the games of his opponents with his physicality, toughness, and size. Big men typically do not have their best games against Varejao and know that they are in store for a tough night when going up against him. He has a Dennis Rodman-like aspect to his game. He just does a good job of taking opposing players out of their games. Along with all of these attributes, Varejao is a good teammate and well-respected by his coaches. He brings a lot of value to his team, that does lack talent, by playing hard and not taking plays off. That attitude becomes infectious and spreads over to his teammates and has helped the Cavs win more games this year than many of us expected. Varejao is a hard worker who does all the dirty work for his team, I think his teammates and other players in the league respect what he brings to the table, however, fans probably recognize him more for his wild hair than his game. He is definitely a player that every single team in the league would love to have on their roster.

Andre Miller is one of the top game managers in the NBA. Even at this point in his career he is a very effective point guard in this league. He is one of the most accurate passers and seems to always make winning plays throughout games. It is sad they he can never get comfortable in one place for too long, as it seems like changes uniform on an annual basis. Miller can score when needed, defends pretty well, but best of all he knows how to get other players the ball in their "sweet spots" on the court. He gets the most out of his teammates by making sure they get the ball where they are comfortable getting it. That is what makes a point guard effective in this league. Miller does this well as he has won with every team he has played for yet he gets very little recognition for his impact on games. I hope Miller finds a place where he can get comfortable and possibly compete for a championship before his career is over. He has been underappreciated for virtually his entire career and he deserves more credit for what he brings to the table.

Mike Conley, Jr has really improved his game since entering the league a few years back. When I first saw him play as rookie, I thought he had no chance to succeed in this league. However, Conley has improved every facet of his game and looks like one of the brightest young point guards in the NBA. He is currently leading the NBA in steals and is amongst the leaders in assists as well. He has improved his scoring as well as his jumpshot and seems to have solidified his place in the NBA for years to come. Conley seems to be constantly overlooked by the many other young point guards in the league who get most of the attention (Rose, Rondo, Westbrook, Curry, Rubio, etc), but Conley has definitely earned the right to be mentioned among them. The great thing about him is he continues to improve each year and has helped the Grizzlies transform into a perrenial playoff team.

David Lee is a player that we all recognize as a hard worker, good rebounder, and an efficient scorer. Since he left the Knicks, it seems as if he gets no recognition for his production. Playing in a smaller market will have that effect, however, Lee is putting up very similar numbers to what he was in New York. His production has not dropped off and his effort has not changed even after signing a lucrative deal with the Warriors. Lee deserves more recognition and is another one of those players that every team in the league would love to have.

Danilo Gallinari, another former Knick, is a player that may be off of this list by season's end. His game continues to improve with each game and seems to be very comfortable with his role in Denver. He may end up being the team's "go-to scorer" as the season progresses. Gallinari has a very complete game as he has shed his tag of being just a pure shooter. He has good size for the small forward position, attacks the basket well, he has learned how to get to the free throw line and shoots a high percentage from there as well, he can still stretch the defense with his long range shooting, he is a decent defender, and is a very good passer as well. Gallinari also has a certain toughness to his game which many other European players have lacked. His production has helped Denver get off to a good start this season, and if that continues Gallinari will surely get more recognition than he is currently receiveing. George Karl recently stated that he thinks Gallinari could one day be an All-Star in this league and I totally agree. Gallinari is still very young and has a ton of potential. (Side note: As a Knicks fan, I never wanted him included in the Carmelo trade. It was when he was included that I thought the Knicks gave up way too much)

Udonis Haslem is definitely an important part of the Heat's success. Though their "Big 3" gets most of the credit, the team needs Haslem. Haslem's impact on the Heat is similar to Kendrick Perkins value on the Celtics when he played there with Garnett, Pierce, and Allen. After seeing how much the Celtics regretted trading Perkins, hopefully Miami understands Haslem's value on the team. He brings toughness, rebounding, and can score efficiently when given opportunities. He is another blue-collar worker that does his job every night.

Luis Scola brings many intangibles to the table for the Rockets. He does whatever is asked of him. He can be the leading scorer when they need him to be, he always plays hard, rebounds, and is a decent defender. He is also very crafty around the basket which helps him find ways to score when he is overmatched by size. He can also stretch defenses out with his ability to shoot well from the perimeter. His name has come up in trade scenarios throughout the year, yet, he continues to play hard and gets the job done. Scola brings value to his team and his production goes under the radar on a nightly basis.

Eric Gordon is another player who may not be on this list for very long. Multiple injuries have kept him off the court this year but when he plays he is very effective. Gordon has the potential to be one of the best shooting guards in the league. He attacks the basket, has good range on his jumpshot, gets to the free throw line, defends well for his size, and is a good passer as well. Gordon has a complete game. He never received any attention while playing for the Clippers, mostly because the team was always a bottom-feeder during his time there. However, I expect Gordon to take his game to the next level once he is healthy. It will be interesting to see where he ends up after the season as he was unable to get an extension done with the Hornets. New Orleans will probably bring him back but it will be interesting to see if any team comes in with an offer that the Hornets are unable to match. With Kaman already on the block, losing Gordon will sure make the Chris Paul trade look like a failure for the Hornets. Where ever Gordon ends up, I expect him to be an All-Star at some point in the near future.

Emeka Okafor is having a solid year for the Hornets. He is one of the premier shot blockers and rebounders in the NBA. The former rookie of the year gets most of his attention for being "overpaid" and "untradeable" due to the size of his contract. I disagree with those ideas and think Okafor is a respectable player in this league. He is a double-double guy that can also defend well. His offensive game is limited and he is a poor free throw shooter but he still holds a lot of value in a league where defense wins. He helps the Hornets play the style of basketball which head coach Monty Williams has put in place; a defense first mentality. Okafor plays hard and doesn't carry the ego that many high draft picks often have. Okafor plays on a team that does not have much talent due to injuries and the subtraction of Chris Paul. I think Okafor could be a solid contributor on a championship team, similar to Tyson Chandler's role on Dallas last year, if he ever gets the opportunity.

Jose Calderon is another solid point guard that does not get the respect he deserves. Granted, Calderon, is nowhere near superstar status but he does his job as point guard. He does not turnover the ball very much and is amongst the leaders in assists. He is capable of scoring and is very efficient in his shot selection. Like Andre Miller, Calderon does a good job of getting his teammates the ball where they are most effective. The Raptors as a whole are not a very good team right now and that is one of the reasons why Calderon flies under the radar. However, the Raptors have made him available via trade and if he ends up with a contending team, he may serve a valuable role in a title run if given the opportunity.

Posted on: January 24, 2012 7:36 pm

Howard to the Knicks for Stoudemire/Chandler?

Being the Knicks fan that I am, when I hear major Knicks news, especially trade scenarios involving superstars, I have to voice my opinion. The latest news has the Knicks acquiring Dwight Howard for both Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. Obviously, Orlando would have to include other players to make this deal work. The likely candidates would be Hedo Turkoglu (whose hefty contract would definitely be one that the Magic will include in any trade scenario for Howard) and Ryan Anderson

Before I give my input on this deal, let me just say how crazy things can get in New York. The Knicks are never in a state of rest (in regards to player movement) and seem to never be content with their roster. Patience is never practiced with this team. They are always in "win now" mode yet they have not won a title since 1973! It is nice to see that the Knicks are always trying to find ways to get better but most of the time their aggressiveness in making trades backfires on them. With that being said, allow me to evaluate this potential trade. The deal would like this:

NY Knicks Receive

Dwight Howard ($18 million)
Hedo Turkoglu ($11 million)
Ryan Anderson ($2 million)

Orlando Magic Receive

Amare Stoudemire ($18 million)
Tyson Chandler ($13 million)

From Orlando's viewpoint, this is a pretty good deal. They are receiving a star player in Stoudemire and a great defender in Tyson Chandler. The biggest problem for the Magic in losing Dwight Howard is the loss of his defensive abilities. He is irreplaceable as a defender, however, Chandler may be the next best thing for the Magic from that standpoint as he would be one of the best candidates to make up for the loss of shot-blocking and rebounding that Howard provides. Chandler can also finish well around the basket and would play well in the Magic's uptempo system. Stoudemire, despite the common perception right now, still has a lot of game left in him. He is struggling right now with New York because of the lack of chemistry with Carmelo, who has the ball in his hands the majority of the time and flourishes in isolation sets, and also because of the lack of a playmakers on the team. He is working way too hard to find his offense. He is best in pick and roll sets and as a slasher, he needs the ball while moving. He is not the type of player that you can post up or expect to create shots on his own and that is essentially what the Knicks have forced him to do thus far this season. Stoudemire is a hard worker and is coming off a great season last year in which he was an MVP candidate prior to the Carmelo trade. I think the idea that he is on the decline and that he has weak knees and a bad back are all non-factors. Stoudemire conditions himself better than most players in the league and he does not seem to be plagued by any injuries in recent history. He can definitely still produce at a high level and would be a great player to become the new face of the Orlando Magic. Offensively, Stoudemire is much more dynamic than Dwight Howard. Howard is a dominant center but he is one dimensional as a scorer. Stoudemire on the other hand is versatile on offense. He can shoot from the perimeter, slash to the basket, and is a good free throw shooter. He actually fits in Orlando's offense very well.  Let us not forget that it was Amare who brought life back to the Knicks after they missed out on all of their other free agent targets in 2010 and he served as a great leader to the team before the Carmelo trade last year. I think this deal actually makes the Magic a more complete team. I believe that if they made this trade they are actually a more dangerous team. I think this is the best deal the Magic will get unless they can convince the Lakers to give up both Bynum and Gasol. Otherwise, they would have to make this deal if it were on the table because they cannot risk losing Howard for nothing and it is a far better deal than the Nets or Clippers can offer (assuming the Clippers would not part with Griffin or Paul). The only drawback to this deal for the Magic from a basketball standpoint is that even though Amare prefers to play power forward, he is more productive at the center position. The reason this is a drawback is because Tyson Chandler is a center and after watching every Knicks game this year, I could make the argument that it is actually Chandler's presence on offense that is making things difficult for Amare as the two have not gotten their spacing down. Chandler is only effective around the basket so he stays in that area but he is also clogging up space in the lane for Stoudemire. This could limiting the area that Stoudemire has to work with and could be a bigger reason why he is struggling. Remember, Carmelo and Amare found ways to score together last year, that could be a result of Billups being there last year but Stoudemire's struggles this year could somewhat be the result of Chandler's presence. I could be wrong about this but it is something to think about for the Magic. Even if it were true, the Magic may be more successful than the Knicks in creating schemes that help the two stay out of each others way and flourish together offensively.

From the Knicks viewpoint, this is a trade that they would have to consider. I love Amare Stoudemire and he is my favorite player on the Knicks but he is not meshing well with Carmelo, whom, the organization will never give up after they gave up the farm to get him just less than a year ago. I would hate to see Amare go but it seems like Howard is a better asset to the Knicks right now. Howard is the best defensive player in the league and would instantly help them with their rebounding and shot-blocking deficiencies. It also seems as if he would fit in offensively with Carmelo better than Amare because he does most of his work in the paint. He can post up and draw double teams to help create space for the Knicks (which is something they lack). Also, the addition of Ryan Anderson would give the Knicks some three point shooting (which they desperately need) and a player who Howard is used to playing with. They work well together as Howard is now comfortable kicking the ball out to Anderson for open shots when he is being double-teamed. Hedo Turkoglu could also be an asset for the Knicks. He would most likely be included in this deal as a salary dump. However, he could really flourish with the Knicks and have a very valuable role. He could come off the bench and serve as the leader of the second unit. He has good offensive skills as he is a good shooter, can create his own shot, knows how to draw contact and get to the free throw line, and he also has good playmaking abilities. The Knicks currently lack depth and their offense lacks flow and cohesion, this trade definitely addresses both of those problems. From that perspective the Knicks should definitely consider making this deal. Especially if it meant they could somehow add Deron Williams to the mix next summer via free agency or trade (which would be a longshot but something to keep an eye on).

One caveat to this deal which may be a blessing in disguise for the Knicks, is that Tyson Chandler cannot be traded until March 1 (due to free agent signing rules). The reason this may be a blessing in disguise for the Knicks is that it will force them to be patient with their current team and give them some team to get it together. I really like Baron Davis, I do not expect him to be the "savior" for the team but I also do not think that the Knicks are currently a "savior" away from winning. I think Baron Davis can give this team what they are missing; a smart, veteran point guard who can make plays and has the experience and poise to play with superstars like Amare and Carmelo. He fits the offensive system very well and it is worth waiting to see if he can give them what they are currently missing. It would be foolish for the Knicks to make this trade without giving the team a chance to all play together before breaking them up.

In the end, this is all just speculation. But if there are any legs to this rumor and the Knicks continue to struggle and Dwight Howard's trade demand remains then it is definitely a deal both teams should consider. It is a rare deal in that it may actually make both teams better. We will see what happens..............
Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:31 pm

Mike D'Antoni.......Your time is up in NY

Another loss, another loss to a bad team at home, another pathetic offensive performance, and more excuses. This has been the storyline for the Knicks early on this season. A season in which they had championship aspirations coming in. I have been very patient with the Knicks thus far this year and I am never one to call for a coach to get fired. However, enough is enough already! Mike D'Antoni is just not getting the job done right now. The worst part of it is that the Knicks are failing at what is supposed to be Mike D'Antoni's strength, OFFENSE! For years the Knicks have been one of the worst defensive teams in the league, yet, this year they have improved drastically on the defensive end and now they are struggling on offense? If someone would have told me that the Knicks would allow nearly 10 less points per game to their opponents, I would think they would have won the majority of their games and are being considered title contenders. This has obviously not been the case as the team has now dropped to an unimpressive 6-8 record. The main reason for this is clearly the offense. The Knicks offense right now is just terrible (and that is an understatement). I have seen better offense run at local gyms in pickup games. There is no flow, no movement, and way too much isolation. Carmelo Anthony (as talented as he is as a scorer) does not play well within the flow of an offense. He is a total ball stopper and he needs to be held accountable by coaches because that style and lack of discipline on the court will not get the team very far. Carmelo takes every single one of his teammates out of the flow on offense. This is becoming a huge problem that needs to be addressed.

So how do the Knicks address this problem? Well, I could take the high road and preach patience especially when Baron Davis is on the verge of joining the lineup which should certainly help. The only problem with doing that is the fact that this season is only 66 games. Time is of the essence for the team. The pressure is on Mike D'Antoni to get this team playing up to their ability. Sure the team lacks depth and the personnel is not characteristic of a D'Antoni led team. But there is enough talent on the Knicks to play better than they are playing right now. They are wasting good defensive efforts every game because of their inability to score. Any team with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire should not struggle to score. That is just unacceptable. It seems like their inefficiencies on the court are not even addressed which makes me wonder what they are focusing on when they watch film and practice. They are not moving the ball enough, not getting any dribble penetration from their guards to help create high percentage shots, and are allowing Carmelo Anthony to isolate whenever he wants. The coach needs to stress more discipline and make Carmelo buy into the system instead of trying to change it. Easier said than done as the team has far more invested in Carmelo than they do Mike D'Antoni, which brings up the question: Is D'Antoni the right coach to lead this team?

As an avid Knicks fan and one who watches all of their games without missing a play. I think that answer is no. Again, I hate to call for a coach to get fired and I also do not believe it is ever a good move to do that mid-season but it is the right move for the Knicks right now. His system clearly does not cater to the personnel that he currently has and he doesn't seem to have the answer right now. The team definitely has talent and needs a coach that preaches discipline and can implement an offense that focuses more on halfcourt sets. Who might that be? Jerry Sloan sure fits that bill, bring Jeff Van Gundy back, convince Phil Jackson to come out of retirement, or maybe allow Mike Woodson to take over and give him the rest of the season to audition and allow the Knicks to make a long term decision on a coach after this season. I don't see Mike D'Antoni turning this season around for the Knicks and I cannot be the only person who feels that way. I know many of you may think that I am just a typical Knicks fan who turns on them when things are not going well but the proof is in the pudding. A coach can only be given so much slack. The team is clearly not playing well and I have yet to see the coach make a positive adjustment from one game to the next. They continue to approach each game with the same plan and are continuing to make the same mistakes over and over again. Something needs to be done to give this team a spark. Maybe getting rid of the coach will light a fire under all of the players. It could possibly inspire them to play better. The bottom line is that if the Knicks do not see Mike D'Antoni as the right coach for this team, then they have little to lose by letting him go now as he is in the last season of his contract. The Knicks need to make a statement, and that statement is that this type of play is unacceptable and everyone should be held accountable. In this case Mike D'Antoni is going to have to be the one who is held accountable.
Posted on: January 15, 2012 11:12 am
Edited on: January 15, 2012 11:17 am

Kobe Bryant - Best Player in the NBA

I am having problems with many other NBA fans that I talk to in regards to who the best player in the NBA is. To me the answer to that question, and it comes as an automatic response, is Kobe Bryant. This has nothing to do with the recent 40 point scoring outbursts that he has been accomplishing at age 33 and with a sore wrist. This has more to do with his body of work, accomplishments, and most of all that "killer instinct" that he possesses. These attributes to me, make Kobe the consensus, hands down best player currently in the NBA. Yet, lately, when the conversation of who the best player in the NBA is comes up, it seems like that is not the case and it really disturbs me. In fact, ESPN recently launched a poll ranking the players in the NBA and Kobe was seventh on that list. Seventh best player in the league? To me that is just disrespectful to Kobe. Even more disturbing is that people seem to rank LeBron James ahead of him. That just makes no sense to me and brings up the notion that Kobe, may in fact be underrated.

For starters, here is a list of some of Kobe Bryant's accomplishments:

5 time NBA Champion(2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
2 time Finals MVP (2009, 2010)
2 time Scoring Champ (2006, 2007)
NBA MVP (2008)
13 All Star Apperances
4 time All-Star Game MVP (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011) record tying*
2008 Olympic Gold Medal winner
13 All NBA selections (9 times All-NBA first team)
11 All NBA defensive team selections (record tying 9 first team selections)
Second all time in history for points in a single game (81 points)
Sixth, currently, on NBA all time scoring list and climbing (Has opportunity to become #1)

These are the obvious career highlights that make Kobe great, however, it goes beyond that. What really separates Kobe from the rest of the pack is his "killer instinct". Kobe has that "it" to his game where even at this stage of his career, he can simply take over a game and seems almost unstoppable. He has to be the most feared player the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan. When he gets that feeling or is given any type of extra motivation, opposing teams in most cases face severe consequences. Kobe has no limitations to his game. He can get to the basket whenever he wants to, has an unstoppable jumpshot with no range (Kobe does have the record for 3 pointers made in a game with 12), great free throw shooter, excellent defender, and most importantly he comes up big in the clutch. He is known as the best closer for a reason and is probably right up there with MJ as far as closing out games. He could be having the worst shooting game ever, yet, when the game starts ticking down, that "killer instinct" kicks in and when that happens there is almost no hope for opposing teams. He gets into zones which most basketball players never experience and it is just unbelievable to watch. I'm sure everyone remembers the 81 point game, which was unbelievable to accomplish in the NBA in this era, but there were so many moments in addition to that where it seemed that Kobe wasn't even an earthly being as far as what he does on a basketball court. In addition to that, Kobe gets better as the stakes get higher. He is no doubt, one of the best Playoff and NBA Finals performers in the history of the game. His competitive fire just burns and burns regardless of how much he accomplishes. He still works harder than most even when he is at the top and never resorts to being content. That is simply admirable and puts him in a class that very few players are in. While there are many great players in the NBA currently, none have proven to be in that class.

When the topic of who the best player in the NBA is, it seems like most people list LeBron James as #1. This drives me wild. LeBron is a great player and is one of the most gifted athletes in all of sports. There is no doubt that he can do so many things on the court that most human beings could never dream of doing. However, we are talking about a player that has never won a championship (lost twice in the finals) and is becoming known for disappearing in the clutch. How can a player that struggles to close out games be considered the best player in the league? LeBron has not shown that he has that unique "killer instinct" trait and has a lot more to prove before he can even be considered for that crown. I do not even believe that he is even the best player on his own team (Dwayne Wade holds that title) let alone best player in the league. I do not want to turn this into a LeBron bashing, otherwise I could go on and on. The point I am trying to make is that NBA fans need to be more informed and understand what it takes to be the best before they put any player ahead of Kobe Bryant. I hate the fact that this even needs to be pointed out because when Michael Jordan played there was never a question whether he was the best player in the league . I believe that Kobe Bryant has earned that status. Not only that, it also makes the nickname "Black Mamba" (the most deadly snake in the world) most appropriate for Kobe. This is Kobe's league until somebody takes it from him. What is scary is that, due to his great conditioning, he probably still has 4 or 5 good years left in him to add to his already amazing resume.

NBA fans are obviously free to have their own opinions. However, when considering who the best player in the NBA is; it is a fact that Kobe Bryant has a stranglehold on that title. I will go a step further by saying that he is not only the best player in the NBA today but he is second all time behind only the great Michael Jordan. No disrespect to Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, Hakeen Olajuwon or any other former players. But Kobe's greatness on the basketball court has put him ahead of everybody except Jordan. In fact when his illustrious career is over, he might be the only player who can ever even threaten Michael Jordan's status as the greatest of all-time. For me as a basketball fan, it has been an honor to say I was able to follow the careers of both players.

In closing, to everybody out there, make no mistake Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA. Period.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 3:09 pm

Should the Miami Heat break up their "Big 3"?

Just a few weeks into the season, there is no doubt that the Miami Heat appear to be the team to beat. They have bounced back well after losing in the finals last year to the Dallas Mavericks and have made adjustments that have made them the favorites early on this year. While things are going well for Miami in this early season, I still ask myself the big question: Will the "Big 3" all play out their contracts with Miami or will the team be broken up?

Some might think this is a dumb question to ask at this point for many reasons. The Heat did make it to the finals last year and even though they lost they were very close. Some might believe that a few slight adjustments and better complementary players like Shane Battier and Norris Cole might get them over the hump this year. This all may be true and the with the way Miami has started the season, it is hard to argue against that. So why consider breaking them up? One big reason for me is the availability of Dwight Howard.

It seems as though there is no chance Dwight Howard remains with Orlando past this season and I highly doubt Orlando will allow themselves to just let him walk via free agency. We have heard a ton of trade rumors already surrounding Howard and I think those will only heat up more as the season continues. I state this to point out the essence of time surrounding where Howard ends up. From the Miami Heat's perspective it seems as if there would be no reason for them to jump into the Dwight Howard sweepstakes at this point. However, they have to understand that if they are able to put together a deal (and they have the pieces) and they pass it up, they may never get an opportunity to acquire a player like Howard again. Now if the team goes on to win championships with the team they have, then I'm sure they will never give it a second thought. However, if their current "Big 3" do not end up winning some championships, then I think they would look back and regret not trying to acquire Howard. With that being said let's take a look at a potential deal in which the Heat could acquire Dwight Howard and evaluate how it helps the team.

Miami would send Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Joel Antony, a future draft pick and cash to Orlando.

Orlando would send Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon to Miami.

First let me explain how this helps Orlando. The Magic would receive another star player in Chris Bosh while also adding nice complementary pieces in Chalmers, Miller and Anthony. They also get to rid themselves of their two least desirable contracts in Turkoglu and Duhon which helps them financially. A future draft pick could help them build even though Miami's pick will not be a high draft choice. But overall, from the Magic's perspective this deal should work for them as they will probably not get this kind of talent back in any other deal. The fact of the matter for Orlando is that they are probably not going to be able to retain Howard so they must get as much talent in return as possible. They will be put in a position, similar to the position the Denver Nuggets were in last year with Carmelo Anthony, where they are forced to take the best deal possible even if that means sending Howard to a team that they may not prefer to send him to.

For the Miami Heat, one might consider this a "stretch" and not worth doing. Allow me to explain. Dwight Howard is the most lethal post presence in the NBA on both ends of the floor. He finishes around the rim better than any other center in the league and has the athleticism to keep up with Wade and Lebron. They would also have a player that they could dump the ball in the post to and allow him to work. This would also create double teams that could free up Wade and Lebron even more (something Chris Bosh is unable to do as he is mostly a perimeter player). The Heat could then move Haslem back to the power forward spot where he could flourish next to Howard. He can hit those mid-range jumpers consistently and with Howard getting most of the attention from opposing defenses, he would see a ton of open looks. Miami could also ease the pain of losing Chalmers and Miller (who hasn't really adjusted well in Miami anyway) with rookie Norris Cole, who Miami has been very impressed with this year, Duhon, Battier, Turkoglu and James Jones. The Heat's starting lineup would be Cole, Wade, LeBron, Haslem, and Howard. The they could bring Turkoglu and Battier off the bench and both can play multiple positions. I think this definitely improves the Heat on offense, however, defensively it would make them maybe the best team ever. Howard is a perennial defensive player of the year candidate and has won the award three straight years. He would also give the Heat a boost in rebounding and shot blocking in the post (which are both deficiencies for the Heat) and if you team him up with James, Wade, and Battier; they would instantly become one of the best defensive teams that the NBA has ever showcased. I know it sounds cliche but we all know defense wins championships.

It would be tough for Miami to abandon the plan they have for their current "Big 3" because it is still just their second year together and they are playing well. However, with this move they would have a "Bigger 3" and one that I think would yield them those multiple championships that they promised the city of Miami.

There are also many hurdles to the deal as I'm sure the Magic would prefer not to make a deal with their cross state rival, especially knowing how dangerous the team they would be assisting them in establishing could be. However, they may not have a choice because if that deal was on the table and they had no better offers, how could they say no? Especially in this case where they would be receiving good talent in return.

This is obviously an idea that may never come to fruition, however, as I continue to think about it and evaluate the effects for both teams, it just seems like it makes more and more sense for both teams.

Posted on: January 6, 2012 4:07 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 4:16 pm

NBA Headlines 2 Weeks Into The Season

Nearly 2 weeks into this 66 game NBA season so much has already happened. With just a short part of the season underway, what headlines have been the most notable? Well here are a few things that have grabbed my attention thus far:

1) Being a New York Knicks fan, their slow start (2-4 record) has been very noticeable for me. I know this team probably needed a full training more than any other team. They acquired Carmelo Anthony at the trade deadline last year and Tyson Chandler this offseason and have not had any preparation time to build any chemistry or flow on either end of the floor. With that being said, they have also had to deal with injuries early on this season (Amare Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert, Jared Jeffries, Mike Bibby and ofcourse Baron Davis) which has also contributed to their slow start. They were supposed to be better on defense this year with the addition of Chandler but have only showed it in spurts thus far. I think there is still a ton of room for improvement on the Knicks and the 2 most important things that will lead to improvement are (1) Consistent effort on defense by the whole team but especially Carmelo and Amare, as the leaders of this team, they need to lead by example (2) the health and production of Baron Davis, I believe Baron still has a lot of game in him and he addresses a lot of the problems that the team is currently suffering through. Another thing to pay attention to with the Knicks is the job status of Mike D'Antoni. I think D'Antoni will not last through the season if the Knicks do not improve drastically and even if he does he is in the last year of his deal and the guy who hired him, Donnie Walsh, is no longer in charge. Questions about "retired coach" Phil Jackson will surely arise. Doesn't it seem like going back to the Knicks (was a player for the Knicks and on their last championship team in 1972) and having success there, is the only thing missing from the Zenmaster's illustrious career. I think the Knicks will turn it around and make a nice run...........or at least I hope so.

2) The Minnesota Timberwolves have become one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. Ricky Rubio has been great thus far for the team and the city. Kevin Love is looking like an all-star again. JJ Barea has produced nicely and the team is just filled with so much young talent. This team has the same vibe that the OKC Thunder had a couple years back. I don't expect them to make the playoffs this year but they are on the cusp of being a very good team for years to come. One thing to keep an eye on for the T'Wolves is Michael Beasley. I think Beasley is very talented but from what I have seen this year, he just doesn't seem to fit in. He still seems to be a bit selfish on the floor and I just think he becomes expendable if Derrick Williams continues to play well. I am curious to see if they try and trade him for another veteran player to help this team grow. Regardless, I think the future is looking bright in Minnesota.

3)  "The Injury Bug" has hit several teams this year already. Stephen Curry injuring his ankle 3 times in 5 games has to be concerning for Warriors fans out there. I had to make a note of that. It seems like he rolls his ankle every time he plays. You would hate to see a player that young have chronic ankle problems. Hopefully that is not the case and he takes some time to allow himself to heal before getting back on the court too fast. Zach Randolph, who was one of the main reasons for the Grizzlies success last year, is out 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. That could seriously damper the hopes of Memphis buliding on last year's success especially in a shortened season. Manu Ginobili is out at least 6 weeks with a broken hand, this is devastating to the Spurs as he is the primary scorer and playmaker on this aging roster. It will be interesting to see how they fare while he is out. Kobe Bryant seems to be doing fine with his wrist injury thus far hopefully he can make it through the season because without him the Lakers will sink.

4) The World Champion Dallas Mavericks have had a rough start to their season (3-5 record) and have taken a beating in some of those losses. I think many of us expected them to decline a bit after losing Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson and JJ Barea this offseason but I don't think anyone expected it to be this bad. Sure, they will improve once Lamar Odom and Vince Carter become more comfortable with the team, but I have to say they look old and don't look like a team that will be a real threat this year. The good news is they have a great coach in Rick Carlisle and he will do his best to right the ship.

5)  The Miami Heat so far have looked dominant and unbeatable this year. They are playing at an extremely high level to start the season and have addressed may of the problems that they faced last year. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade have silenced the critics with their lack of three point attempts this year and are doing all of their damage closer to the basket. I think many other teams are wishing the critics would have kept their mouths shut and let them stay on the perimeter because those two may be the best finishers in the league right now and are starting to work really well together. I think they are more relaxed and are playing so good on both ends of the floor. Right now they are definitely the team to beat. One area they could improve on is working on beating those zone defense schemes. (That was hard for me to say considering I am a Heat hater, but I have to say the truth)

6) Sacramento Kings fired head coach Paul Westphal after only 7 games and after his clashing with DeMarcus Cousins. This was a little surprising and it seems like the Kings' owners chose to back their players over their coach on this one. My thought on that is Cousins and Tyreke Evans better be as good as the Kings expect them to be because they just got their coach booted.

These are just a few notable observations early in the season and I look forward to sharing more throughout the year. Overall, it has been an exciting start to the season and I can't wait to see what will happen next............
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or