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Tag:Tim Duncan
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: October 30, 2009 11:18 am
 

Breaking Down the Bulls: Hold Your Horses.

     OK, so the Bulls stunned me last night by not only beating the Spurs but by controlling the tempo of the game throughout the second half. Tim Duncan looked in prime form but the rest of the Spurs looked flat and rusty. I honestly felt like the Bulls could open the season really slow but last night gives me hope. Do I think the Bulls are contenders after knocking off a top 5 team? No. I am my own teams biggest critic in many ways and I think tonights game against the Celtics is the real test. So Bulls fans I ask that you "Hold Your Horses". There were three things I was looking for in this game before it started so did I see what I wanted to see? Let us take a look.

 1. Can Joakim Noah defend against a bigman like Tim Duncan?
While Noah is a pesk and a very good defender of the paint he is not yet near the level needed to take on the task of a great like Duncan. Only few players are of that caliber. Players like Kevin Garnett, Ben Wallace, and Dikembe Mutombo are of the few that can matchup against great players. Can Noah ever be a defender at that level? My guess is no, but he can be pretty good and should be able to slow down most players. The 10 points and 10 rebounds he gathered last night could very well be his season average by the end of the year.

2. Will Kirk Hinrich be a spark off the bench? Yes he can and I think he will see close to 30 minutes a night and that could put him in the running for 6th man award, but most likely he will average about 12 points a night with 4 assist and 3 rebounds and play some gritty defense. He is a great luxury to have coming off the bench, not only because of the things I already mentioned, but more because he is a great floor general and can control the tempo of the game. He knows when to push it and when to slow things up. I am happy the Bulls kept him.

3. Will Rose shoot or pass? The answer is both. Rose was clearly on his way to getting close to a triple double last night with 13 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds in 33 minutes on a sore ankle. As Bulls fans we are now going to have to worry about an injury to Rose like Miami does about Wade or the Celtics would about KG. Rose is the heart of this team and without him they are a sub .500 team. Rose should become an Allstar this season even with all the competition. He is that good in my eyes. He can drive and create like Tony Parker and can pass like Chris Paul, he just needs to become a defender like Kirk and a Leader like Billups and all things will be grand in Chicago. I do think Rose have the leadership thing down as all the Bulls players seem to clearly see that Rose is the best player on the team.

Nice Surprise. Luol Deng was a treat to my eyes last night. I am not sure he can be that 18 and 8 player every night for the Bulls but he sure looked great last night hitting a high percentage of shots and cleaning up the glass like a window washer. If we can count on Deng for 15 and 6 then the Bulls will be better served because they can go to any number of players for offense. John Salmons and Brad Miller can score as well as Thomas and Kirk. Bottomline is that the Bulls are very deep and it showed last night. Miller and Kirk are starters on most teams in the NBA and Taj Gibson looks like a steal at 26 in the Draft. he has a solid jumper from 15 but more importantly he plays defense like a savvy vet already, not to mention he can handle himself in the paint fairly well. Add to that rookie James Johnson and a shooter in Pargo and you have a very good 2 deep rotation.

The Celtics test and what I am looking for tonight. Tonight will be the real test for many reasons and the two bigget reasons have to do with composer.

Can the Bulls live up to the hype of last seasons 7 game series with the Celtics? For Celtic and Bulls fans last season 7 game first round series was perhaps the best we ever witnessed with our own eyes. I was pulling my hair out and biting my nails. I was jumping out of my seat sceaming in joy and putting my head in my hands in sadness. It was what being a fan is all about compressed into 7 games. So can the Bulls step up to the challenge of dealing with the pressure of this new found rivalry? Sure the Celtics are a contender and could very well be in the Finals this season and the Bulls will have to play perfect basketball to become a 4th seed, but still if you ask any Bulls or Celtics fan they will tell you that a Bulls/Celtics matchup is must watch TV. The Celtics will play hard and they are just as deep as the Bulls if not deeper and have plenty of leadership and Kevin Garnett will be playing this time. Maybe a healthy Deng can offset Garnett a bit, but any way you look at it the Bulls are the underdog and I wonder if they can play with heart or will they fall apart at the first signs that the Celtics could pull away. Bottomline question, will the Bulls fold if down by 7 or 8 or will they kepp fighting?

Will the Bulls be over-confident? Over-confience is poison like no other in sports. The Bulls already knew that they pushed the Celtics to 7 games on a national stage and now they are coming off a huge victory over the Spurs. Will they walk into Boston with their heads held too high? Maybe. Tyrus Thomas comes to mind. I could see him trying to force too much and get dismantled by Garnett. The key will be Rose. If Tyrus acts like a fool then Vinny can pull him and throw in Gibson or even Miller, but he can not really replace Rose and have any hopes of winning. I think we have seen enough of Rose to know that nothing seems to faze him. When he steps on the hardwood his blood turns to ice. No smiles on his face. It is all about the game.

Well I hope you enjoyed the read and as you can see I am very happy the regular season has started. Let me know your thoughts on the Spurs game and what you think will happen to the Bulls tonight Against the Celtics and the season for the matter. Thanks.

  

Posted on: July 2, 2009 10:09 pm
 

Is the NBA getting more and more unbalanced?

     Well there have been a few big moves in the NBA over the last week and I am not so sure it is for the best of the NBA or not. The Cavaliers which were already in this last seasons eastern conference look to have locked up Shaq for next season and gave up basically nothing in return. Vince Carter is going to play for the Magic next season. The Spurs, who are still a good franchise but have battled injuries, have bolstered their lineup with the addition of Richard Jefferson. The Celtics look to be adding Rasheed Wallace and now there are talks of Ron Artest joining Kobe on the Lakers. Are all these moves good for the NBA? Let us take a look.

     I guess there are to theories to go by on this one. One, that having a handful of great teams will make the conference finals and NBA finals better. You know that these blockbuster teams will all go deep into the playoffs and that the Finals should include two of the teams mentioned above. The other thinking is that these teams are now just all too good and that the regular season and the entire season for that matter is pointless to watch for fans of other teams. Do fans of the Hawks or Mavericks have anything to hope for?
    I for one am torn on the issue. I consider myself a true fan of the sport so part of me can not wait for the season to begin to see how Shaq and LeBron coexist or if Vince Carter can be the missing part to push the Magic to the next level. On the other hand I am a fan of the Chicago Bulls which are a good young team with depth and promise, but really are no match for onr of these new Mega-Teams.
     The rest of the NBA stands little chance agaist these new teams. Part of me thinks it could hurt the NBA fanbase a bit. I am sure it will attract a ton of new fans, but some diehards may just give up on their teams. Why keep watching their team when we all know who is going to be in the Finals. I am not saying that I am one of these fans, but i can understand that view.
     Let's look at these new Mega-team's lineups for a minute. Who stands a chance againts these five teams is my real question.
     Lakers- Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, and Pau Gasol. This team has it all. A legend in the making leading the way in Kobe. A great inside force in Gasol. A versatile wingman in Gasol and a bonecrusher in Ron Artest. Crazy.
     Spurs- Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson. The best power forward ever in the middle. I understand that Duncan is older but he is still great. Manu if healthy is a nightmare for other teams. One of the best, if not best penetrateing point guards in Parker and now a allstar caliber wingman in R.J.
     Celtics- Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace. If Boston can keep Allen and sign Wallace then, if healthy, they will have a great shot at another NBA title. That is an older but still great lineup. They could cause a lot of damage with this team.

     Magic- Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis. You have to think that Turkoglu is going to go elsewhere for the money, but a guess he too could still be in the fold in Orlando. This team has all the parts needed to win a title with Howard anchoring this team. I think Carter might just be the player the magic needed in the Finals. A guy who can hit the clutch shots and draw defenders out. If they somehow manage to keep Turk as well then they are going to go back to the Finals.
     Cavaliers
- LeBron James, Shaq, and Mo Willaims. Not quite as deep as the others as far as talent, but Shaq might work out very well for the Cavs. If James and him can work off eachother well then most teams will have their hands full facing the Cavaliers next season. Shaq draws the double team and so does James. That is a recipe for a Championship.

     Well as a Bulls fan, unless we trade for Chris Bosh or Amar'e this summer, I can hope for no more then maybe a trip to the second round of the playoffs next year and that is better then I can say for most other teams. So do you think that these new Mega-Teams will cause some fans to finally give up on their teams or are you just excited to see how all these move play out? I for one can not wait to watch these new teams, but to be honest part of me is a bit sad that my team is on the outside looking in.

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. 










Posted on: May 24, 2009 1:01 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2009 1:02 pm
 

The 1980s vs the 1990s.

While checking out a few of the now notorious Kobe vs Jordan or LeBron vs Jordan threads I keep running into this single argument that I have trouble swallowing. Some Posters keeps refering to the 1990s as a weak decade for NBA basketball. Often the argument states that there were few teams outside the Bulls that were really even that good and that that is why Michael Jordan is looked at so greatly. Then you will here this followed by the fact that the Lakers and Celtics were old and could no longer challenge the Bulls. That idea is an injustice to many great teams of the 1990s, many of which could have given the 80s Lakers and Celtics a run for their money. Am I saying that the 90s were better then the 80s? No, what I am saying is that they were very close and solid arguments can be made in both cases. Let us take a look.

The 1980s were really dominated by two teams and we all understand that. The rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics is by far the greatest in the NBA and maybe in all sports behind Yankees/Redsox. Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson in college and then on the NBA hardwood is a storybook-type legend that shaped the NBA into a powerhouse league. The Celtics with Bird, Parish, McHale, and Walton created perhaps the greatest frontcourts in NBA history and the Lakers with Magic, Worthy, Kareem, and Cooper were maybe the most balanced and exciting teams ever. Nothing can be taken away from what these two teams did and how great they were.

Let's look at the rest of the 80s teams. There were the Hakeem and the Rockets, Dr. J and Malones 76ers, and the late eighties Cavaliers and Pistons that were all great teams as well. What I am getting at is that the 80s were just like the 90s in that there were two teams that were above the rest and a half dozen or so very good teams just below them. In the 90s the Bulls were the Laker/Celtics in that they were just better then the rest. It is not like the Bulls just swept every team in the playoffs though. They had their hurdles to jump.

To me the 80s and 90s will always stand out as the two best decades in NBA history for a two reason. First, players started to get much bigger, stronger, and faster. This is even more true for the 90s when players like Shaq and David Robinson came on the scene. Before the 80s basketball was more of a team sport and a finesse game. I am not saying that it was not physical, but no one can say it was more physical then the 80s and 90s when players were much stronger and therefore fouls were just that more nasty. Secondly, there were no hand checking rules back then so defenses were twice as aggressive as they are today. I really wonder how LeBron James or Kobe Bryant would do against the 80s Celtics or Pistons or the 90s Bulls or Knicks. Jump shooting was much harder and so was driving the lane. The game is now designed for high scoring and fast paced basketball. Gone are the days of hard fouls every other play and players be whacked al the time. Take a look at some old tapes of games from the 80s and 90s and one will see that it was a much different game.

To say the 90s had no competition for the Bulls is just silly. The Bulls real rivalries took place in the East Playoffs and not the Finals. Sure the Suns, Jazz, Trail Blazers, and Supersonics were all great teams with HOF players on them, but anyone who was alive to watch Jordan and the Bulls play knows that the teams that the Bulls had most trouble with were in their own conference. The early 90s with the Pistons has to be one of the greatest rivalries in the NBA behind the Lakers/Celtics and if the Bulls had been in the west and those playoff series were really Finals matchups then some would argue them to be some of the greatest Finals matchups ever. Also, who could forget the intense matchups with the Knicks and Pacers. Surely those Knicks and Pacers teams of the 90s would have won rings had the Bulls not been around.

Bottomline. It is hard to really compare two different decades of basketball and I for one believe the 80s and 90s to be the best ever do to player size and athletic abilities and the lack of strict defensive rules. To make a claim that Kobe or even LeBron is better then Jordan or Magic is like comparing apples and oranges. Who is to say how well James and Kobe would have played back in the day against hard defenses? Maybe they would be even better. Who knows? Would Magic and MJ thrive even more with less contact? I think Jordan would be even scarier in today's game. You really only need to look at the stats and add to that the era of basketball that they played in to realize that MJ, Magic, and Bird were the greatest players ever. Wilt, Russell, Oscar, and Kareem are also in the mix.

I guess I will close with my alltime top ten list because it just seems fitting.

1)Michael Jordan. 2)Magic Johnson. 3)Wilt Chamberlain. 4)Bill Russell. 5)Larry Bird. 6)Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 7)Oscar Robertson. 8)Hakeem Olajuwan. 9)Tim Duncan. 10)Shaquille O'Neal





Posted on: October 12, 2008 11:49 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2008 4:36 pm
 

2008-2009 Southwest Division Preview

A person would have to be the captain of the championship debate team in order to convince me that the Southwest Division is not the best and deepest division in the NBA right now. With four teams that won more that 50 game apiece last season and each of those four look to win as many if not more again this year, it is hard to argue against the Southwest. Some of the best players of the past decade along with some of the brightest future stars reside here. The Hornets, Mavericks, Rockets, and Spurs are all but locks to make the playoffs again this year. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies they are still the blacksheep of the division, but there lies hope in some of their young talent.

It is a difficult task for one to attempt to wrap their mind around this season and just how the Southwest will play out. The Spurs have made no real roster changes, but are always a threat to make a run for another title as long as Tim Duncan is still wandering in the paint. The rags to riches team of last season, the Hornets, look like they will be even better with the addition of the gritty James Posey. This could be the Rockets' season to return to the Finals with the risky acquisition of Ron Artest, or will major injuries to either Yao Ming or Tracy McGrady hold those dreams in check? Will the Jason Kidd trade look like a great move as the Mavericks make it to the final dance, or will lack of defense and passion make the trade look like a mistake?

The only way to get to the bottom of these questions and many more is to take a good look into each team and try to seperate fact from fiction. Let the breakdown begin:

1. The New Orleans Hornets (60-22) (2nd Seed)

The only true challenge that faces the Hornets this season is if they are good enough to have another great season after surprising the league last year. They are no longer off the radar. Will they be able to step up and play against harder competition? I think they will take that step. My reasoning is simple. They have Chris Paul. To me Paul is the second best player in the league this year and if the Hornets are as good as they were last season, I think he will take home the MVP. Who is the best player you ask? Well, he is not in this divison so I will refrain from that agrument. Chris has that special talent that makes everyone on his team better. He is the ultimate team player. The Hornets also have a balanced team with David West, Peja Stojakovic, and Tyson Chandler. West is now considered one of the top low post players in the game and Tyson is a great defender and put-back man. The player that is standing out this preseason is Mike James. I understand that it is only the preseaon, but having another scoring threat on the floor only makes Chris Paul more dangerous. I also love the addition of James Posey. The Hornets will only benefit from having the tough as nails Posey around. Every great team has that player who can get under the opposing players skin. Think Rodman or Bowen. Posey will not put up big numbers, but will be responsible for more then a couple of wins. Overall, the Hornets have a great chance to go all the way, but so do three other teams in the division. I just think they have the most complete team with a superstar handling the ball.

2. The Houston Rockets (57-25) (3rd Seed)

I would love to see everything work out perfectly for this team, but something deep in the back of my head says something will happen to take the glory from McGrady's hands. I do not believe in curses, so I do not think that some force from the outside is toying with poor Tracy. What I do believe in is injury reports and history tells me not to put too many eggs in the Rockets' basket. With that being said, If the Rockets stay healthy, both Tracy and Yao, then they could very well make it to the Finals. Yao Ming is a top center and Tracy McGrady is one of the best players in the NBA period. With the addition of Ron Artest the Rockets could finally have all the parts needed to take that next step. I think Artest is a great player for the Rockets. He can drive a fan and a coach crazy at times, but if his talent is harnessed correctly he could be the key. The Rockets also have some other interesting players to consider. Brent Barry is a solid pick-up. He can open up the offense with his sharp-shooting. Luis Scola will only get better, and Shane Battier will always play smart ball whenever he is on the floor. Rafer Alston is a solid Point Guard and is able to run the team on the floor. Overall, The Rockets could be the best team is the league if they suffer no major injuries to McGrady or Ming.

3. The San Antonio Spurs (53-29) (5th Seed)

As much as I love to watch Tim Duncan and the Spurs, I truly feel they are starting to fade. It all started last year when they were pushed to seven games against a much younger and less experienced Hornets team. However, I can not just write them off. I think they will still be a top team and cause a lot of problems for other teams. At the end of the day though, I am not sure they have enough left in the tank to win another Championship. If somehow I am a fool and they do win another ring, then Tim Duncan will be the best Power Forward that the NBA has ever seen. Many already make that claim now, but nobody would be able to refute it if they win it all again. The other key factors on the team are also getting older as well. Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Michael Finley are all about ready to sign up with AARP. I thought the Spurs would make a splash in the offseason, but it never happened and now they face the season one year older. Tony Parker is the young guy on the team and he is certainly a superstar in the league, but he can only do so much. Manu Ginobili is now 31 and his body might start slowing him down. Will manu still have his quickness and in turn still be so effective? I am not sure. In many ways that is a good way to look at this team now. "I am not sure". In the end however, I can think of really no team that would want to face them in a seven game series. I just hope they get some more talent around Duncan before it is too late.

4. The Dallas Mavericks (52-30) (6th Seed)

Yes, I think the Mavericks will be a better team this year. Not a lot better, but a little better. I do think they will edge out the Suns for the 6th seed as well. Sorry Suns fans. Jason Kidd has much to prove and will play quite well this season. The thing is is that the Mavericks still just have so much talent that they can not lose. Will they play hard defense under new Head Coach Rick Carlisle? No. Will they score a lot of points and out run most teams? Yes. Dirk Nowitzki will do what he has always done. He will score like crazy from all over the floor. Jason Terry and Josh Howard will also just flat out score. This will work in most cases. This will get them into the playoffs. However, the Mavericks will never win the Finals without some more defense. The Mavericks are the best team in the NBA on paper, but only the tenth best on the floor. The Mavericks really should have made the trade for Ron Artest, even if it meant losing Josh Howard. The NBA is full of Josh Howard type players, but there is only one Ron Artest. Say what you want about Artest, but he would have been a nice fit on the Mavs. A bright spot in Dallas however is the young Brandon Bass. He looks like he could turn into a real monster down low. Overall, I really do not see the Mavericks making it out of the first round. That is sad because they ooze talent.

5. The Memphis Grizzlies (24-58) (miss playoffs)

This brings me to the bottom of the pack. The Grizzlies have a few parts, but let's face it, they are a long way from being any good. To top it off they are in the best division within the best conference. I gave them two more wins this year simply out of pity. Rudy Gay is the star of a one man show. Sure there is Hakim Warrick, Mike Conley, and the rookie O.J. Mayo to make things interesting and entertaining form time to time, but really this team is in a rebuilding period. Maybe even a promising one at that, but they are far from competing. The Grizzlies fan must sit back and not look at the wins and loses. He must look to see if the young guys are getting better. He must make a fist pump when Marc Gasol slams one home and jump out of his seat like a madman if Gay hits a buzzer beater. Take it from a Bulls fan, you must find some joy in the little things. The real doom of this team can be found on the roster. His name is Antoine Walker. I predict that he alone will account for at least 50 of the 58 loses. All kidding aside Grizzlies fans, you are the underdogs, so stand up and have some pride in yourselves. You are going to need it.

Conclusion

Well I hope this was half as fun for you to read as it was for me to write. I really like the Hornets this season to go all the way. They are the one team that really stands out to me from the rest of the pack in the Southwest. However, Anything can happen, as it often does, in this wonderful game we call the NBA.

 

 

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