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Tag:Al Jefferson
Posted on: January 16, 2010 11:09 am
 

Noah's Bark

     It has become clear to me that Joakim Noah is now my favorite player in the NBA. If anyone is missing from the Allstar ballot it is him. I cannot believe the league has Brad Miller on it and not Noah. Silly. In this blog I am going to make a case for Noah to be a reserve on the eastern conference Allstar team and I will also give you my top ten centers in the league today. I understand the noah has a couple of weaknesses and I will talk about them as well. I am a bit bias, but I am not a fool. So what has Noah done to make me a huge fan? Let us take a look.

     Rebounds Per Game. 12.2.
First we will look at perhaps Noah's biggest strength and that is his rebounding. He is second in the league behind only Dwight Howard and is half a rebound ahead on Marcus Camby. Noah is not a biggest or the strongest center so how does he grab so many missed shots? With his brain. He is very smart and knows were to go on every play and understands how to box-out. Couple this with his nasty take-no-crap attitude and you get a rebounding machine. If Noah puts on another 10 pounds of muscle this summer like he did last summer then he could lead the league in rebounding next year.

     Field-Goal Percentage. .495. Now we will look at one of Joakim's weaknesses. He has come a long way on the offensive side of the floor and is averaging 11.2 points a game, but to be considered a major threat in the paint you have to shoot a higher percentage from the floor. Somewhere above .550 for a center seems like the qualification to me and Noah still needs to work a bit more on this part of his game, but he has been getting better every game this season. He has a back to the basket game but needs to perfect his 15 footer. If he can hit the jumper with consistency then defenders will be drawn out of the paint and that will open things up for Derrick Rose to drive and create a nightmare for other teams to defend. Then Noah can learn from Brad Miller about the power of the shot fake and drive to the hole maneuver.

     Blocks Per Game. 1.74. Noah is a top 10 shot blocker in the league and to me shot blocking is one of the keys to being a great center along with rebounding and shooting a high percentage shot. In todays game the power forward is typically the scorer and the center tends to play of the scorer and block shots and score on put backs. Dwight Howard is really the last old school type center that does it all on both ends. Cases could be made for Brook Lopez and Chris Kaman in this regard. Not every team is so lucky as to have a scoring center. They are just rare these days. The bottomline is that the role of the center has changed over the last decade or so into more of a support player and less of a focal point.

     Double-Doubles. 20. Noah is tied for second amongst centers in total double-doubles and ranks sixth overall in the NBA. He is also one of only 4 total centers to be averaging a double-double.

     The Intangibilities of Noah. There are many like his passing ability that ranks in the top 3 amongst centers or his overall NBA Efficiency score of 20.79 that ranks 7th. If you add up his points, assists, and rebounds he ranks 8th amongst centers. But the real key to Noah is what you will see every time he steps foot on the hardwood. It is his passion and love for the game. He plays hard and focused every second on the floor. He more then makes up for his weaknesses with his heart and desire. He plays nasty defense and will not back down to anyone and is not afraid to speak his mind. Just ask LeBron James. He is not the quite leader, but a vocal leader that also leads by example. Much like Ben Wallace was once the heart and soul of the Detroit Pistons, Noah is now become that kind of player in that he can light a fire under a teammate with a little yell in the ear or by inspiring his whole team by making an incredible offensive rebound and then pushing off a defender and slamming home the ball for an and-one. Noah's overall game has few limits. He is a great athlete and has a great basketball mind. Just watch him take the ball up court by himself and you will see his great ball handling skills or you can always just watch his now epic steal in game 6 of last years playoffs were he runs 80 feet with the ball and beats Paul Pierce to the basket and slams in home. That moment just might have been the turning point in Noah's career. Here take a look.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUuQxaAZ7HU

Just a few stand out games from the last few weeks:

vs Wizards. 17 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
@ Celtics. 15 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks
vs Pistons. 16 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists
vs Timberwolves. 20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
@ Bucks. 10 points, 18 rebounds,
@ Pistons. 15 points, 21 rebounds, 4 assists
vs Hornets. 17 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks
vs Knicks. 10 points, 21 rebounds
vs Lakers. 11 points, 21 rebounds, 6 blocks
vs Warriors. 18 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks

And these are only going back through december. There are many more great games from Noah during this time, but I do not feel like typing them all out.

My Current Top 10 Centers in the NBA.

1. Dwight Howard. The Best and it is not really close.
2. Brook Lopez. A distant second with a big upside.
3. Marc Gasol. Another young guy with a lot of upside.
4. David Lee. A center in a PFs body. Is he just a product of a system?
5. Chris Kaman. A classic 20 and 10 center. Watch out for injuries however.
6. Al Jefferson. Getting better with every game. Was my number two center last season.
7. Joakim Noah. See above.
8. Al Horford. Wonder what his numbers would look like on another team?
9. Andrew Bynum. Shows promise, but needs to become consistant.
10. Nene. Good defender and solid in the paint on both ends.

Honorable Mentions: Andrew Bogut, Brendon Haywood, and Kendrick Perkins.
Posted on: January 2, 2010 5:34 pm
 

Decisions that Shaped the NBA Most Last decade.

    So we start a new decade this week and I got an idea to write a thread to discuss the decisions that made the biggest impacts in the NBA during the last decade. I must credit Bucfan for giving me the idea to write this. One of his replies in my last blog sparked it. That is just how I roll. Anyways, these decisions can be just about anything as long as a player, coach, or GM actually had to make them. For instance the Bulls winning the lottery and drafting Derrick Rose was a big story, but there really was no desision made except for the Bulls' desision to pick Rose with the pick and not Beasley. I just do not want this to turn into "what was the biggest story of the decade". So here are a few examples to get things going starting with the one that BucFan mentioned in my blog.

Duncan decides to stay with
Spurs. I was the summer of 2000 and I remember it well because my Bulls were loaded with cap space but not able to land a single star in free agency. To the south it was a different story as the Magic signed both Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill. But before the Magic settled on Hill they tried everything to lure Tim Duncan and it almost happened, but in the end Duncan stayed decided to stay with the Spurs. What could have been screams BucFan every night before bed ever since. A combo of McGrady and Duncan would have been nasty and might have created a dynasty.

Grizzlies decide to trade Pau Gasol for peanuts. Another decision that stings me as a Bulls fan. We could easily made a better offer for Pau Gasol and we were in talks with Memphis but in the end the Lakers made perhaps one of the best trades of the decade. A bag of garbage, except for the right to Marc Gasol, for one of the best bigman in the league. The Lakers were fighting to make the playoffs but this decision turned it all around and the Lakers have been to the Finlas twice since and won the Championship last season because of it. 

Portland decides to draft Greg Oden with the first pick. The Trailblazers already had Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge in the fold and some solid role-players and drafting Greg Oden seemed a no-brainer at the time but passing on Kevin Durant is like 1984 all over again. I am not saying that Durant is Michael Jordan, or that Oden is Sam Bowie, but it looks like a curse to me. It is still to early to say that Oden will not be good, but I think we all can agree that Durant will have a much better career then Oden. Had Portland picked Durant they would for sure be a big time contender right now.

Timberwolves decide to end marriage with Kevin Garnett. This was yet another moment in time were the Bulls could have made a move for a bigman. Oh, what could have been. The Timberwolves got Al Jefferson in return and he has turned into a solid player, but at the time this trade seemed quite one sided. Garnett would go on to turn a storied franchise around and win his first Championship while increasing the Celtics total wins a record 42 games. The Timberwolves may win out in the longterm if Al Jefferson can return to preinjury form, but in basketball it is all about winning right?

Pistons decide to draft Darko. The year was 2003 and LeBron James had already been picked and Pistons are on the clock. Tick, tick, tick. With the second pick in the 2003 NBA draft the Detroit Pistons pick Darko Milicic. The worst part was that the Pistons were already a contender as it was and had they only picked one of the other players in the top 10 they would have won multiple Championships. Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, and David West. Very sad indeed.

So what are some other major decisions that molded the last decade of NBA basketball?
Posted on: December 29, 2009 2:03 pm
 

Deadline Dreams and Delusions...

    In a few days we will all be in the new year. The year 2010. With that change comes a shift in focus in the NBA for us fans. No longer are we trying to gauge were are teams stand because we have a good idea by now if they are contenders or pretenders. Now is the time to think about the wonderful thing called the deadline. For a team like my Bulls this is a very important time. Teams will begin making calls and deals will be discussed. Bad teams with little chemistry like my Bulls might make a move and add that player they have longed for. Contenders might add that veteran that puts them over the top, and some teams will dump contracts. The idea of this thread is to allow you to reply with your "Grand Delusion" trades for your team. Make them as crazy or realistic as you want. The only rule is that they work money-wise. Use the trade Machine if you need too. So here is my Dream senario for my Bulls.

     As it stand the Bulls are about 15+ million under the cap for this upcomming summer. I have two blockbuster trade ideas for the Bulls to make before the deadline that will setup a offseason signing of Dwyane Wade or LeBron James and make the Bulls an instant contender just like the Celtics were thrust into glory a few seasons back. Here are the two trades.
     1. Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller, and future pick for Tracy McGrady. I must stress this right off the bat that McGrady would only be signed for cap space this summer and would not be part of the Bulls longterm plans. The Rockets would get Hinrich which could start at the shooting guard spot and would add a great defender to the already gritty Rockets. Miller is an expiring contract that would give the Rockets 12+ million in cap space to make their own offseason moves. The future pick would be next season 1st rounder. The Bulls will be a very good team next season if my next two moves happen so a 1st rounder next season would most likely be in the 20-25th pick range. Hopefully.
     2. Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, and this years 1st rounder for Chris Bosh. I understand that the Raptors already have Turk at SF, but I can see Turk and Deng on the floor at the same time at the forward spots or Deng could slip down and play the 2 spot with Turk and Thomas at the forwards. That could be very interesting with Calderon running things. The Raptors also would land a 1st rounder. With Bosh on board the Bulls would be a much better team and should make the playoffs, but they could still miss them giving the Raptors a lottery pick. Bulls would have their scoring bigman finally. Now if the Raptors say no way then the Bulls could make a similar trade offer to the Jazz for Carlos Boozer or the Timberwolves for Al Jefferson. Bulls would also not have their cap effected by this move as there would just be contracts moved around.
    3. Sign Dwyane Wade or LeBron James. With around 25 million in cap space and Bosh/Boozer/Jefferson on board the Bulls should be able to attract one of these two superstar. Chicago is a much bigger market then Cleveland or Miami and with a star bigman and young talents in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah they should be in the hunt for one of these two. Wade is the hometown hero but LeBron is a freak and is still very very young. Also, LeBron James is changing his number after the season right? He cannot wear #23 in Chicago right? James would be the perfect fit alongside Rose and Bosh. Now that is a contender. Bulls make the max offer and leave it up to LeBron and Wade. Also the Bulls would be able to offer a MLE to a player like Marcus Camby. I all could happen and the numbers work.
    0. Get a new Head Coach. I must backtrack a bit here and fire Vinny Del Negro. No player will want to sign with the Bulls if he is running things. Jerry Reinsdorf need only dish out the cash to his close friend Doug Collins. While Collins may not be the best coach out there he is a players coach and that should attract a Wade or LeBron.

Next seasons lineup:

PG Derrick Rose/Pargo
SG John Salmons
SF LeBron James
PF Chris Bosh/Taj Gibson
C Joakim Noah/Marcus Camby

Are you scared yet?

So what is your "Deadline Dreams and Delusions" for your team?
Posted on: June 23, 2009 12:53 pm
 

Top 20 NBA Players for the next 5 years.

     Ok, we have all seen these types of list before, so I thought I would give it a shot. The season is over and the draft is two days away. I simply compiled my list based on the question, " Who would I pick first to be on my new NBA expansion team?" Many of these lists are based either on past accomplishments or perceived future greatness. I wanted to put my list together using a balance of the two. I am not looking so much for the best player to win a title with next year, nor am I looking for the player to win titles with for the next 10 years. Simply, who are the best players in terms of raw skill and experience together. An aging superstar like KG might win you a championship next season, if healthy, but in two or three seasons he will really begin to fade. On the other hand a player like D. Rose may become a top 3 point guard in two years, but that too is a risk to take. Bottomline, I am looking for the player that will be the best option for the next 5-6 seasons. So, in fear of all the negative replies, I give you my Top 20 Players.

 1) LeBron James.

I will admit I am more of a hater then a fan of James due to his sometimes abrasive attitude. He is the best player and he knows it. Sure Kobe is right there, but if I am looking longer term then this becomes a no-brainer. Sure Kobe has 3+ great years left, but James will only continue to get better in those 3 years as Kobe begins to fade. I saw it with MJ with my own eyes. As great as Michael was he lost his edge in his last few years with the Bulls. LeBron is both short term and long term making him my choice for number one. Sorry Laker fans.

2) Dwyane Wade.

Oh no I didn't! Yes, I did. To me Wade is as good as Kobe is already and is younger. If you put Wade in place of Kobe on the Lakers do you not think the Lakers would have won the Championship? They might have not lost a single playoff game. I hate all the Kobe vs LeBron threads, put a case can be made for Wade vs Kobe and if I had to pick from the two I would go with Wade. Both are very similar in that they are strong team leaders, clutch shooters, outstanding defenders, and nightmares to defend. In Wade's own words " I am heading into my prime", while Kobe is on the backside of his.

 3) Kobe Bryant.

You may think I am a Kobe hater but that is far from the truth. I think Kobe is still the best player today, but LeBron and Wade will shortly pass him as Kobe begins to fade. However, I think Kobe will fade much like MJ did in that he will still be a force until he is 35 or 36. Kobe is in great shape both mentally and physically and has a good few years left to lead the Lakers to more Championships. Kobe will also continue to be in the MVP talks for the next few seasons as well. I would still pick Kobe this high because he is that good. Remember I am not just looking short term here, so Kobe being at number three is generous considering the competition.

 4) Dwight Howard.

I argued with myself on this one a lot. If Howard would have led his Magic past the Lakers in the Finals or even pushed the series to seven games then I might have picked him ahead of Kobe. You can not teach size as we have all heard so many times. Howard has a couple of holes in his game for sure like free throw shooting and shooting in general. If he could get his ft% up to around 70% and learn how to shoot a 15 footer then he could become the greatest in the game. He also needs to step up and demand the ball like Shaq did back in the day. Howard is still very young and raw and in time could prove to be a top ten center all-time.

 5) Chris Paul.

With the rules the way they are right now in the NBA a player like Chris Paul is a thorn in every teams side. He can drive and kick better then any other player in the league. He is a threat to shoot from anywhere on the floor and he is a solid defender. In short, he is the total package. Maybe not as fancy as Steve Nash but I think nobody would doubt who the better scorer or defender is. You give Paul a solid bigman to play off of and good wingman and you have a contender everytime. If the Hornets had a better wingman this season they would have been a much better team.

 6) Kevin Durant.

I know that Durant at 6 may seem a bit high, but he is the real deal. He still has holes in his game but with a couple of veterans around him he would shine even more. He will become the NBA scoring champion a few times before his career is over and he will only get better as time goes on. If he can learn to use his length more on defense and bulk up a bit he will become an all-around force in this league for years to come. Can you imagine if the Thunder would have landed the 1st pick in the draft and got Blake Griffin? Scary thought. With a true lowpost player Kevin Durant would be even that much better.

 7) Al Jefferson.

A bit of a gamble here. Jefferson may not be the same after his injury, but all signs look good. He is young and a beast in the paint and as you can see I think he is the second best bigman in the NBA in the near future. He scores well down low and has the size to compete with the best in the league and will overwhelm lesser opponents. Pair him with a solid point guard and a slasher and you have a great team on your hands. It is always wise to build around a great bigman.

 8) Danny Granger.

On just about any other team Granger would be a Superstar. He has not only the stats to prove it but anyone who has watched him play about a half dozen games or so will see that he is a special kid. He is very athletic and is therefore a solid rebounder and shot blocker for a small forward. He seems to be getting better and better every game and the sky is the limit. Maybe the best testament to his ablilty is his consistency. You know what you are going to get from him day in and day out and that will help Pacer fans sleep at night.

 9) Dirk Nowitzki.

I understand that Dirk is getting older, but he just had perhaps his best season ever and Nowitzki has one thing going for him as he ages. He is an outstanding shooter. of all the aging superstar bigmen like Duncan and Garnett, only Dirk is really a great shooter from long range. With his size he will always be able to grab rebounds but even if he starts to rely solely on jumpshooting he will still be a huge threat on the floor. A seven footer shooting threes will always be scary. I still think he has 3 more years to in his prime and he will be very useful past then as well.

 10) Pau Gasol.

He is in the middle of his prime and he is as smart as they come with his back to the basket. Not as good as Duncan but has fresher legs. On just about any other team Gasol would be a 22 and 10 player but his scoring is effected by Kobe. Another huge factor for me with Gasol is he is a great teammate and while Amar'e may have more talent Gasol has more overall skills that make a team winners. Gasol has 5 more productive years left and for that reason he makes my top ten. I wish my Bulls would have snagged him. I still cry myself to sleep about that trade every night.

 11) Deron Williams.

Never should he be called the poor man's CP3. In many ways he is just as good as Paul. He has good size for a point guard and it shows in his ability to rebound and defend. He is still quite young as has many more years to prove himself. Some will argue that he is the best point guard right now in the NBA and deron's stats can make make a case for it. In any event, I think he is a great place to start when building a team. If you start building a team with a bigman or a great point guard you will most likely be ahead of the game.

 12) Chris Bosh.

He is not the best post player in the league, infact he likes to shoot to many jumpers if you ask me and a player of his size should block more then just one shot a game, but with that being said Bosh has a great all-around game and is still young so there should be a bunch of good seasons left in him. He will never contend for a MVP that is for sure but he will be considered a top power forward for the next 8 seasons barring injury. He is a good teammate and a smart player and that could take him far. Maybe even far way from Toronto.

 13) Brandon Roy.

Still young and is already one of the best guards in the NBA. 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists can not be balked at. He is the clear leader of a young rising team and his future is bright. I may even have him too low on this list. I just feel that Dirk and Gasol will still be great bigman for the next 5 years. If the Trail Blazers can make a solid trade they could contend next season. I still think this team would be better with a solid veteran leader to help calm them down a bit. Still if they stand pat they could blossom on their own.

 14) Amar'e Stoudemire.

He is a risk after knee surgery. He is however perhaps the best inside scorer in the game but he disappears on defense and I question him as a teammate. He seems to have an ego problem that could be a cancer in the locker-room. He is a hard player to wrap my mind around. If the stars are aligned correctly he could be a centerpiece of a championship team, but I do not think he is quite that good of a player. He needs to be in the right setting and a number two option behind a superstar point guard or shooting guard. He would do well teamed up with Wade on the Heat.

 15) Carmelo Anthony.

Let's face the facts, Melo could not lead this team with a map until Billups showed up. Chauncey Billups is the sole reason that the Nuggets had such a great season. I might have Billups on this list if he were not so old. I can not see Chauncey being a stud in 3 to 4 years. Anthony will however continue to fill up stat sheets do to his talent and athletic ability. If he could get his head on straight for 48 minutes on the floor then he could be a top five player, but he always seems to get lost in games at times. 

 16) Devin Harris.

What a season for Devin Harris. He has turned into a top player over night. If the Nets somehow land LeBron James in 2010 then look out NBA. Harris, LeBron, and Brooks will make for a great young core that will contend every season. Harris is a solid shooter and a good defender as well as a playmaker with insane speed. He has many more great years ahead of him as well and I think he would be a great 2nd option behind LeBron. Way better then Mo Williams. He is also a smart player and a great teammate.

 17) Tony Parker.

It is hard to think of the Spurs without thinking of Duncan, but this season some might say that Tony Parker was the best player on the floor. He has many great seasons ahead of him and with his ability to make things happen of the floor he will always be high on people's wishlists. He can drive and kick with the best of them and is a great finisher for a smaller player around the basket. As Timmy begins to slow down more and more I look for Parker to take over as the leadr of this team. He too could be higher on this list.

 18) Joe Johnson.

I think we might have seen the limits of Joe Johnson. I think he is a top talent for sure and coulf even be the go to guy on a championship team. What makes him stand out to me is his size for a shooting guard. He is big. I think he tried to do to much this season and attempted to many hard shots. He needs to work on that a bit. Two seasons ago people had him as the third best shooting guard behind Kobe and Wade. He has some work to do to get back there. I would love to see him in Chicago though.

 19) Tim Duncan.

If I wanted to win a Championship next season I might pick Timmy, but he has had a long career and I think we all see him starting to slide. For the same reasons I do not even have Kevin Garnett on this list I have Duncan at 19. While he will still be a great player for a few more seasons he will fade hard. His body can not take that much more, and his outside shot is not as pretty as Dirk's. It is sad to admit, because I have always loved his game, but I do not see Duncan being a huge factor in 5 years.

 20) Rajon Rondo.

From a fading legend to a rising superstar we come to my last player on my top 20 list for the next 5 seasons. Rondo proved to be a great all-around player all season long but in the playoff series against the Bulls fans got to see the Future of the Cletics. Rondo is a true triple double threat in the likes of Jason Kidd. I like to compare Rajon to kidd because to me they are very much the same. Rondo might be a better finisher at the rim, and Jason could dish out better passes, but neither player have a good looking jumpshot. Lucky for Celtic fans Rondo is still young enough to fix that.

 

Well I hope you enjoyed the read. I am sure I will not like my own list tomorrow and for that reason I am sure many of you will not like my list at all. You have to remember I am looking at players to build a team around now for the next 5 seasons or so, so players like Kevin Garnett and Chauncey Billups simply did not make my list. Players like Yao Ming and Carlos Boozer missed out as well because I think neither will ever play a full season again. Some of my choices were easy and others were a gamble. I would love to hear what you think and would like to see your Top 20 list using the same criteria. 










 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com