The Charlotte Bobcats just completed the worst season of all time. They had a .106 winning percentage and went 7-59. Bad. Really bad. The most concerning thing is that they don’t really have much young talent. They have not drafted well. They have not made good moves in free agency. Gerald Henderson was their leading scorer with 15.9 points. I would argue that he is not a star player. He is really not a guy you build around. The NBA lottery is coming up tonight and I think this will decide whether or not the Bobcats and M Jeff can ever turn this franchise around.
This year’s NBA draft is actually pretty deep. There are some pieces that a team can get deep into the 2nd round. The best piece overall is the Kentucky Wildcat uni-browed wonder, Anthony Davis (When mentioning Davis you must mention that thing above his eyes, just under his forehead…you must). He has been touted as the best player and the sure-fire #1 overall pick. Davis is the most physically talented player in the draft. Davis has the most potential to become a NBA superstar. I think his athleticism and physical build can translate really well into the NBA, eventually. However, and I hate to say this, he will not fix the Bobcats.
Let me explain.
The Bobcats scored 87.0 points per game, which was good enough for dead last in the NBA. They were ranked 27th in points allowed at 100.9 per game. This means they were outscored by 13.9 points per game. Yikes! Here are the worst point differentials of the last five years in yellow. This shows how bad they actually were this season. No other team is even close.
This tells me that they are bad. It also tells me that they can’t score or get stops. Davis is going to be a great athletic defender. But, he is not a scorer. He is 3 to 4 years away from being able to create his own shot at the NBA level. He really doesn’t even have the same abilities as Blake Griffin. His offensive game at Kentucky was tips, offensive rebounds, and dunks in transition.
With that being said, I would be happy for the Bobcats if they were to get the #1 pick. I think Davis is a piece. But, if they don’t, it is not the end of the world for them. Because of the deepness of this draft and the option of taking Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Lots of potential. Does a little of everything. I love this kid), hope is not lost on a lower pick. I think they should stay away from Andre Drummond who I think has major bust potential. I am also not crazy about Thomas Robinson. I think he is a classic tweener and they already have Tyrus Thomas. Similar game, same last name, just not a great fit. Their thoughts going into the lottery should be on 2015-2016. Not Anthony Davis. He will help, but is not a 20-10 guy as a rookie. He is not LeBron or Durant. Don’t lose stop Bobcat fans…whoever you might be (3 people are going to read this post).
I think the Bobcats are at least 4 to never years away from competing. Or when Michael Jordan relinquishes control. Sorry Michael. I still love you…just go golf. Forget all of this noise.
The devastating nature of the demise of the 2011-2012 Bulls was hard to watch. Derrick Rose collapsing on that jump-stop might have been my saddest moment as a Bulls fan outside of Jordan, Pippen, Jackson being broken up when they had at least 2 or 3 good years left at the end of the 1998 championship season. It was a terrible end to a promising playoff run. I picked them to win the whole thing. Biased? Yes. Does my opinion matter? No. Am I answering my own questions like an annoying pompous ass? Yes. But, I really thought they had enough. It didn’t happen. It was really sad, but it didn’t happen. It’s time to look ahead. What can the Bulls management do to improve a team that has had the best regular season record two seasons in a row but is yet to get over the hump? First of all, most of these moves are contingent on team using the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer. If they don’t amnesty Boozer, they will have no money to make any substantial free-agent signings. Also, the success of the 2012-2013 Bulls is reliant on the health of Derrick Rose. These are my thoughts as a fan and aspiring NBA executive. The options that in bold are the ones that I think will be possible and are decent moves. Enjoy.
NEED #1- Scoring at the Shooting Guard position:
The Rip Hamilton experiment was not ideal (Played 28 regular season games). He was hurt all season and played his best basketball in two 3rd quarters in two games while losing to the 76ers in that playoff series. 24 minutes of good basketball. Bad timing to finally get healthy and play well. The fans have been clamoring for a second legitimate scorer on the perimeter. I think Rip is still a decent option but as we saw down the stretch of games he seemed to be gassed and really struggled. I think he cost them game 4. He still is a hard player to guard when healthy and in NBA professional basketball condition. It is a headache for defenders to chase him as he runs off multiple screens on every possession a la Reggie Miller (Or young Rip Hamilton). One problem is that he does not create for others. And in one-on-one situations he can’t create for himself. Neither do Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, or Jimmy Butler off the bench at the 2-guard position. This is a big need for them. The good thing here is that there are several options that they could pursue.
Shooting Guard Options:
(Fake smile, he hated being traded)
Eric Gordon– Gordon will be too expensive and will be one of the top free-agents for this off-season. I love his game and think he got a raw deal in the trade to the Hornets. He went from a contender to one of the worst teams in the league. He repaid them by not signing an extension (which everyone saw coming) and only playing 9 games due to injury. He is a nice player and would love him on the Bulls but I think someone will really overpay for him. Probably the Brooklyn Nets. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $10-12 mil)
O.J. Mayo– This is another popular choice for the Bulls. The fans have been asking Gar/Pax to add him for a while. However, there are some problems. I don’t like him because I think his price will be very high. I do like him because I think Memphis did not play him where he could be at his best. Memphis has Rudy Gay who loves to get into isolation possessions. Mayo is a very similar player. He is more of a jump shooter on the wing that can attack from time to time. I think he can be very good. Elite even, maybe. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $9-11 mil)
(“I’m going to dribble right, turn left, jump stop, and then take your starting job. Got it?”)
George Hill- Hill will probably stay in Indiana because I don’t they are very happy with the progression of the down-graded Darren Collison. I think Hill is a great fit for the Bulls. He would be a nice SG/PG that could run the offense and hit a shot here and there. He is going to want a bit of raise but I think the Bulls should make a play for him. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $3-4 mil)
Courtney Lee- Lee is a guy the Bulls were targeting a few years ago that is only getting better. I love his game and athleticism. Think of him as a more aggressive and athletic C.J Watson. I think the Rockets will try and keep Lee. He has emerged as one of their go to young guys and I think they will try and move the oft-injured Kevin Martin to make room for Lee to be the starter. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $4-5 mil)
(He can make big shots. Averaged 17 points. in the finals and was guarded by LeBron a lot of the time)
Jason Terry– Another aging scorer? I know, the Rip Hamilton thing all over again. They could get him for cheap and he can still hit big shots and sometimes even get his own shot. I think Dallas will try and keep him and not resign Jason Kidd. If the Bulls could get him at a bargain (2 mil) he might be worth the risk. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $2-5 mil)
Draft Pick Possibility
(That disgusting leper looking thing next to him will no longer distract him from producing)
William Buford (Ohio St.) – Buford is another player that could fall to the Bulls at the 29th pick. He is streaky but dangerous. He would go through stretches where he was unstoppable. The knock on him is that is big games or when he has an athletic defender was put on him, he struggled. He is slightly undersized as a wing in the NBA but he is a decent defender. I have seen him play enough to think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give him a chance to be an energy scorer off the bench. (See pre Swine Flu Chris Douglas-Roberts)
NEED #2- Starter/Back-up Point Guard:
Derrick Rose will be out for 40-82 games next season as he rehabs his ACL. They will need someone to cover that role. I like C.J. Watson but he is really not a true point guard. Also, I hate John Lucas III getting big minutes as the backup pg. He drives me crazy against good teams. Dribble, dribble, dribble, shot at the buzzer. He is too slow to dribble around guys and too small to overpower them. I think Thibs was comfortable with him and had to use him because of all the injuries to Rose this season. But, I don’t think he will be back. There are plenty of options for the point guard position. Here are the best.
Point Guard Options:
Goran Dragic– For those of you Bulls fans that only remember him from getting posterized by D-Rose and Stacey King marking out, he is actually pretty good. When he started for the injured Kyle Lowry he averaged about 18 points and 8 assists per game. I think he could be a perfect player for the Bulls to fill-in for Rose. But, there will be plenty of teams (Knicks, Suns, Lakers, Jazz and Rockets) that will want him and that might drive the price so that the Bulls can’t get him. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $4-5 mil)
(“Didn’t you get the memo!”…I don’t think he did. English is his second language Stacey. Even if he got the memo, he wouldn’t understand.)
Steve Nash– He is old (38) but can still play. I know he will get a lot of teams interested. I am also sick of people giving me a sob story about how the Suns should have traded him. That was the Suns mistake if he leaves because he is still pretty good and they could have gotten something for him as they rebuild. He can’t guard anyone, but that is nothing new for Nash. He is still the best pure passer in the league. If he doesn’t stay in Phoenix, I wouldn’t mind seeing him in red and black. I don’t know if he fits into coach Thibodeau’s “defense-first” coaching style. I think this has a chance to happen but he might be a little too expensive for an aging pg. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $5-8 mil)
Jeremy Lin– Possible flash in the pan? Sure. Possibly a top-10 point guard? Also sure. Lin could fit in with the Bulls. He has only played well for about a month in his entire career. There is a reason people pass on guys over and over. They have deficiencies that good coaches and teams will exploit. The Lin hype will drive up the price, but the Bulls need a quality player to hold down the fort for a while Rose is out. I think Tim Lin, I mean Jeremy Tebow could work. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $4-6 mil)
(The good ol’ days- Ty Thomas must have just done something amazing. Like him a 15 footer or run a set play properly. They were excited.)
Kirk Hinrich- I know, I know, that guy. But, that guy will not cost 8 million dollars per year anymore. I have to think he would like to come back and be a starting point guard in an organization he knows. He could be a solid backup when Rose returns. I think this is the most likely scenario to happen. He can still defend, which Thibs would love. He can also run the offense and hit the occasional 3-pointer. He will also dribble under the basket about 4 times a game and make you want to pull your hair out. I’d like this move. It’s a cheap and effective addition. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $2-3 mil)
Andre Miller- This is also a foreseeable option. Miller is getting older and always looks like he just woke up, but can still play. He has been a solid pro very quietly for every team he’s played for. I would like this move because he wouldn’t mind being a backup when Rose returns. He creates, is a great passer and serviceable defender. The knock on him has always been his poor shooting. He is due for a little pay cut at his age (36). I think this is a great option for the Bulls. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $4-5 mil)
Draft Pick Possibility
(“What’s worse, my eyebrow or your mustache?”)
Marquis Teague (University of Kentucky) – According to NBAdraft.net Teague is projected to possibly fall to the late-first round. I think he has some things to learn but could eventually be very good. Two years ago he was a projected Top-5 pick. He is turnover prone and can gun a little too much for a player that can’t really shoot. Because of these reasons and a poor start to the season, he has fallen way down. He just has to fall about 5 spots to be available for the Bulls. Undisciplined Teague at 20 years old > Undisciplined LJIII 30 years old. I like his potential.
NEED #3- Athletic Offensive Power Forward/Center:
(This is how it is done)
As a Bulls fan I get frustrated by their offense often. They love ball screens. I think that is the NBA style. But as a Bulls fan, when you watch a team like the Clippers and how dangerous they are in the pick-and-roll and then watch a Boozer/Rose pick-and-roll you have to shake your head. Boozer has so many chances to just attack the rim violently. He doesn’t. It’s not his game. With Rose at the point and coach Tom Thibodeau’s tendency to run the pick-and-roll in every big spot and all late shot clock situations, they need someone that can finish. Something unlucky for the Bulls is that the available crop of “Big Men” is not something to write home about. This is one reason the Bulls will not amnesty Boozer (Gar Forman said that they will probably not amnesty him, but things change). The options out there leave a little to be desired. The free agent market might not be their only option for this position. They have to look to trade to fill this major need.
Power Forward/Center Options:
Brook Lopez- He is two seasons removed from being an elite big guy. I think he will garner some huge contracts and several teams’ interests. Not a great fit for the Bulls unless they move Noah and open up a spot for him. Neither of them can really play the 4 position. Though, a lot of the time Noah is trailing the play and ends up being the passer from the top of the high-low offense (Traditionally of 4-man’s role). Think about having a healthy Lopez alongside /Joakim Noah or Taj Gibson in the Bulls front court. They would be tough to score on and tough to stop offensively. Not likely, but possible. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $8-12 mil)
Ryan Anderson- Likely to stay in Orlando but after his breakout season. Because he had a great year he will get lots of interest across the league. I think he is a nice fit for what Orlando does. They have a big guy in Dwight Howard that demands a double team (when interested) which opens up the floor for 3-point shooting. Anderson could open up the floor for the Bulls and could be dangerous in a pick and pop type set used by a lot of other NBA teams. He could repeat what he did for the Magic this year, but I think he also has bust potential on a different team. It would be a risky move and I don’t like it. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $3-5 mil)
Ersan Ilyasova- Who? Ilyasova has emerged as a pretty good big man for a decent Milwaukee team. The Bucks relied on him to provide big minutes at the PF postion. He averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds per game which would be a nice thing to have from a backup. He is a pretty good shooter and extremely active on the glass. He had a 29 point 25 rebound game earlier this year. He could be affordable and is versatile enough to be a good fit for the Bulls. He could fill a back-up role to Taj Gibson if they can get him for a reasonable price ($7 mil/3 yrs). (Good call by my friend @KMBoxa ) (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $3-6 mil)
J.J. Hickson- J.J. is still young and athletic. I think he has a chance to be a contributor on a quality team. He seemed to be unmotivated and absolutely sucked for the Kings. Played ok for the Blazers as the season was lost for them as well. I think being on a contender makes everyone want to play hard (except Andrew Bynum). I think a bunch of GMs have soured on him as a prospect but I think some team is going to get him as a major contributor for a small price. Why not the Bulls? Hickson would be a cheap addition that Thibs could use for big man depth. (Estimated salary for 2012-2013: $3-4 mil)
Draft Pick Possibility
Draymond Green (Michigan State) – Green’s game might not translate perfectly into the NBA but with a late pick the Bulls could get a smart big guy that will play his ass off for coach Thibs. I think he could contribute as a back-up immediately and at the 29th pick in the draft that is all you could really be hoping for. Draymond is a good jump shooter and passer. I think he could be a guy that has a 10 year career as serviceable big man in the NBA.
Conclusion of a story and possibilities that might mean nothing
Derrick Rose is the key. If he is able to come back healthy and be himself, the Bulls will have a chance to contend for a championship. However, tearing an ACL is not the easiest thing to come back from. I know athletes have come back from ACL tears but how many of them play like Derrick Rose? He is fast, agile, and relies on his ability to cut and change directions. I don’t know if he will ever have that back. That notion makes me said. But, it is true. According to his doctor this should not be a concern physically. But, often the problem when coming back from injuries, is the mental aspect of attacking. Players get worried about hurting themselves again. This worries me. It truly is up to Rose if the Bulls can win a championship. I guess we will see.
That Grantland story just opened up a can of bitter emotions. If you have ever watched an NBA game and thought, “This game is rigged”. You may be correct. David Stern is capable just ask Tim Donaghy. I don’t have to write much about this game. The video will do most of the explaining. I was Kings fan at the time (I could only root for the Jalen Rose/Marcus Fizer led Bulls to a certain extent). This game almost made me disown my parents when they kept telling me, “There’s always next year” or “It’s just a game” or “Bojan, put that knife down”. I will just let you watch this travesty and imagine being a fan. Imagine being devastated. Imagine being a poor youth with a broken heart. Imagine being Lawrence Funderburke flying through after being clobbered by Shaq, with no whistle blown. Even Ralph Nader was outraged. The footage is coupled with a Coldplay song…sorry. I hope this doesn’t ruin this beautiful Thursday afternoon. Enjoy, I guess.
Here is my NBA breakdown for the 2012 playoffs. This is my favorite time of the year. Lots of late nights watching basketball. Being sleepy at work. I am excited because of the interesting match-ups in the first round in the Eastern and Western Conference brackets. I am also excited for this year more than last because I think my team has enough to win it all. My pick to win the championship are the Chicago Bulls. Read on to find out why. Enjoy.
As I have said in the past, DO NOT use my opinion to gamble and then come back and be all winey about it. “Waaah! Waaah! I lost my mortgage payment because of you!” “My kid is going to have crooked teeth because we can’t afford the braces!” Joking about gambling is not funny, I know. Sorry.
Ok, with that now out of the way I can get to what I really love, writing aimlessly about sports.
Western Conference Playoffs
Favorite: Oklahoma City Thunder
Dark Horse: San Antonio Spurs
It’s Possible: Los Angeles Lakers
#1 – San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker is quietly having an MVP type season. It may surprise some that Parker is only 29 years old. (It feels like he might be 39) This team was written off at the beginning of the year by “experts” because of their age (Ranked 12th by The Bleacher Report Preseason). What people didn’t realize is that they have been drafting really well. (Leonard, Blair, Splitter) These aren’t stars because it is difficult to draft stars late in drafts but they are solid contributors. They are also getting major contributions from guys like Gary Neal and Danny Green. They are always scary in the playoffs because of their experience. However, this is not your father’s Spurs team. They are 2nd in scoring at 103.2 points per game. The last few years they have been tarnishing their reputation for being a great defensive team. They are out scoring people now. Those old legs can’t move and stay in front of people. My concern about this team is that I don’t know if they have someone down the stretch who can take over like Ginobili used to be able to do. I think every team needs that in the NBA to win a championship. Utah is a decent team but I think they will get swept. I still think they will go deep into the playoffs.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the league. He is one of the best scorers I have ever seen (Just won his 3rd scoring title in a row). Russell Westbrook gets a lot of criticism for the amount of shooting he does as a point guard but that is what makes this team dangerous. They can really fill it up from different positions. The difference maker on this team is James Harden. He has emerged as the 6th man of the year and can go off for 20-30 points in any game. This team is scary on offense and has Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins holding down the inside on the defensive end. They will get their revenge on the Mavericks from last year. They will get zoned by the Mavs but I don’t think Dallas can score enough this season to beat the Thunder again. OKC is my pick out of the West.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Championship.
( This felt very similar to this…)
#3 Los Angeles Lakers: How good is Kobe Bryant going to be after missing a significant amount of time? That is really the difference between them competing for a championship or not. Ramon Sessions was a great pick-up at the trade deadline. He gives them a true point guard that can create and also score when needed. Believe it or not, I think this Metta World Peace (I will refer to him as Artest) suspension is going to hurt them. Artest has been playing really well in March and April. Something that might help the Lakers in the first round is their opponent. The Denver Nuggets are a “team” with no standout stars that Artest would need to lock down. Andrew Bynum, though an immature human being (see my Blake Griffin article to see his reaction to a teammate getting yoked on), has evolved into the best (healthy) center in the league. He goes through stretches where he dominates the game. I think they will beat the Nuggets and challenge the Thunder but that is all, challenge them. I think this is still a dangerous team if Kobe is healthy. He can still play.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2nd round.
#4 Memphis Grizzlies: It makes no sense that this is the 4th best team in the West. Rudy Gay has been great averaging about 19 points per game and Marc Gasol has turned himself into a real player (not just Pau’s chubby little brother). Zach Randolph has only played 27 games for the entire season. He is just trying to get back into playing shape which is not that easy for a guy who is already not great with his conditioning. I think they are playing the team that poses the most match-up problems in the Clippers. I don’t know if they can guard them at any position. I think it can be a long series but I like the Clippers to win in 6 games.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Clippers in the 1st round. (My first upset, yeah!)
#5 Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers are actually a legit basketball franchise. I never thought I would ever type that. Not only are they legitimate, they are extremely popular. The L.A. Del Negros have been shown on national TV 35 times this season and have been the talk of many sports and NBA columnists/analysts. The Clippers have had an up and down season and at one point Vinny almost lost his job. I think they are a dangerous team in the West capable of beating anyone. If I take an unbiased look at Chris Paul, he is the best point guard in the league. He has unbelievable vision and feel for the game. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan get so many easy buckets because of Chris Paul. When they get 12-15 points from Mo Williams or Caron Butler they are really hard to beat. However, their problem has been consistency. Can they win 4 games against 4 different teams? I don’t think so.
Season Outcome: Lose to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2nd round.
#6 Denver Nuggets: How are the Nuggets good? I don’t know. They have no stars, no explosive scoring, and they traded away their best player at the trade deadline (Nene). After everything George Karl has been through in the last year concerning his health, I can’t help but pull for the Nuggets to do well. I think he should be in consideration for Coach of the Year. If you look at their starting line-up and compare that to the Lakers, it looks like this should be a sweep. It won’t be. Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari have led this team for most of the season and they possess a great defender/sing player in Aaron Afflalo who gives Kobe trouble. I love their grit and ability to just win games and beat teams they should beat. Their match-up against the Lakers could be a 7 game series.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1st round.
#7 Dallas Mavericks: The Mavs won the championship last year and I think they just laid around all summer and ate hot dogs by their respective pools. They lost their edge and it all starts with Dirk. He is not scoring like he did last year (from 28 ppg to 21ppg) and on top of that he doesn’t have much help. They lost their toughness when Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stephenson both left the team. They were expecting some help from Lamar Odom which obviously didn’t work (Kardashians are bad for athletes)(Possibly story to come). This is not the same team as last year. I think they will still steal a game or two from the Thunder but then lose. They are lucky they won it last year because that roster is old. Really old (8 guys over 30 yrs old). I don’t think they will be back for a while. Poor Mark Cuban.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 1st round.
#8 Utah Jazz: Their two big guys Al “Devil Eyes” Jefferson and Paul Millsap are a little undersized at the 4 and 5 spots but boy are they talented. Gordon Hayward has come on strong in the last month of the season. Devin Harris is finally out of a year and half funk. I love the way that they share the basketball and think they could have a bright future if they can keep this group intact and try to add a guard that can score. They suffer when they have to go to their bench and don’t really have a go-to scorer down the stretch. I think they can steal a game from the Spurs in the first round, but that’s about it.
Season Outcome: Lose to the San Antonio Spurs in the 1st round.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Favorite: Chicago Bulls
Dark Horse: Miami Heat
It’s Possible: Boston Celtics
#1 Chicago Bulls: This was supposed to be the year. They needed a second scorer that can create his own shot and they got Richard Hamilton. He has only played for 28 games. They needed a healthy and productive Carlos Boozer. He is the only starter to play in every game this season, but still is not as productive as Bulls fans want him to be. I just want to see him finish at the rim against a good defender. I won’t hold my breath. Most of all, they needed Derrick Rose to take that next step in his game. He has not. He has missed 27 games this season with a variety of injuries. Many of these injuries are limiting his ability to attack the rim, which is the thing he does best. He must finish games more efficiently. He needs to be their closer, which is still a part of his game he can improve in.
They haven’t played together for an extended amount of games at all this season. This worries me about my Bulls. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Kyle Korver. I did not make a mistake there. I mean it. He is playing with a lot of confidence and shooting the ball extremely well. He spreads out defenses and allows for the rest of the offense to have some space to operate (He did not do this in the Eastern Conference Finals last year and it killed the Bulls).
The Bulls bench might be the best I have ever seen. Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, C.J. Watson, along with Korver have been awesome. They are the #1 seed for the second year in a row and will have to play the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. The 76ers have given the Bulls problems in the past but have been playing horribly as of late. I like the Bulls to sweep or win in 5. I would hate for them to go into the playoffs without much chemistry and play poorly because of it. That would be a shame and a waste of a very talented team. I do not think this will happen. They are deepest team in the playoffs and they play the hardest. They are well coached and I think have enough this time around to defeat the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. (I will write more about that when the time comes) Then go on to beat the Thunder in a very entertaining series. (Also, more to come)
Season Outcome: Win the NBA championship by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder.
( I want this to be Derrick, not LeBron )
#2 Miami Heat: This team is still a mystery to me. I have seen them at times this year look unbeatable. LeBron James is the best player in the league and should be the MVP. Charles Barkley said recently that if the Heat win it all, it will be on the back of LeBron James. I agree. Wade still has the ability to take over, but is starting to wear down. Bosh is a nice player that can get hot but he is not a star. Their bench is terrible and they still don’t have a great front line. Defensively they cause people fits because of their activity and athleticism. They led the league in forced turnovers and points in transition. To beat them, you have to take care of the basketball and limit their transition game. I think that the Knicks will give Miami some trouble. Carmelo has been on a tear and I love Iman Shumpert on Dwayne Wade. This could be a long series. I still like the Heat to win it but don’t be surprised if there are several close games that make those people in South Beach squirm (I would never be able to squirm in South Beach, I would get far too sweaty). All of the pressure is all on them again. They folded last year. To end their season they will run into a deeper, better Bulls team. The Bulls/Heat rivalry is becoming must watch basketball. Here’s to hoping for a long, competitive series that the Bulls win.
Season Outcome: Lose in Eastern Conference Championship to the Chicago Bulls
( Awesome hands and a great athlete )
#3 Indiana Pacers: I am slightly uneasy about admitting that I like what the Pacers have done with their roster these last couple of years after ripping them for being terrible for so many years. That being said, they don’t really have a standout player. Danny Granger has taken a step back in his development but is still their most talented player. Roy Hibbert was an All-Star which still surprises me because every time I watch him he looks like he has two 35 sized left feet and tennis rackets for hands. David West was a great pickup after no one really wanted him. He is a huge upgrade from Tyler Hansbrough. Paul George and George Hill are nice players as well. I can see Paul George turning into a Luol Deng type of two-way player in the future. I like his game a lot. I know people in Indy are really excited about getting home court advantage and playing the Orlando Magic in the first round but, this is not the year. They don’t have enough fire power to beat the Bulls or Heat.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Miami Heat in the 2nd round
(Yes…I know and I don’t care)
#4 Boston Celtics: Really? Again? Yes! This Boston team came out of nowhere to have a great second half of the season. They are aging but it seems like Paul Piece and Kevin Garnett were just playing dead in January. Rajon Rando is such an amazing passer at the point. He struggles to score but just makes things happen on the offensive end. He has also improved on defense as his career has gone on and gets his hands on so many passes. Avery Bradley has been a nice surprise as a wing, slasher that defends. I feel like they can plug anyone into a supporting role at any position and they will flourish in Boston. I am as surprised as anyone that this team is playing this well and did not blow itself up at the trade deadline. I guess they have one more run in them and then the buzzards will come peck away at their bones this summer. I am not sure what to expect from this series against a pesky Atlanta Hawks team. If Josh Smith starts shooting jump shots, Celtics will win. That is my best analysis.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Chicago Bulls in the 2nd round.
#5 Atlanta Heat: They have played really well this entire year led by Joe Johnson (criminally over-paid, so glad the Bulls did not go after him) and Josh Smith (Stop shooting that 15 footer dude!). They have had overcome the injury to Al Horford. Their first round series is actually a pretty good match-up. Neither team really relies on their inside game and are both primarily guard oriented. I feel bad for the Hawks but I think they are stuck under a giant contract (Johnson) which hand-cuffs their ability to add any more talent in free-agency. They will be a 3-7 seed in the Eastern Conference for years to come, but will not be a top team or a championship contender.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Boston Celtics in the 1st round.
( This is how J-Smoove needs to play )
#6 Orlando Magic: This has become a mess. Reality show style train wreck. I would watch a Stan Van show. I can imagine him eating a lot of pastrami sandwiches and yelling at J.J. Reddick. Well, let’s talk about the basketball. This team lives and dies by the 3 point shot. I saw them play the Bulls this year and look unbelievable. They hit eleven 3’s and shot 50% from the field. I heard people rumbling that they will have a chance to win it all. Then a week and a half later they played the Bulls again and scored 59 total points. They are dangerous but only if they are making shots. A lot of shots. I hate what Dwight Howard has done to this team. He has made this whole franchise about him. I dislike the way that went down. But, they have to move on without him. Glen Davis has filled in nicely and they have Most-Improved Player of the Year candidate Ryan Anderson. I still think they will lose in the first round to the Pacers, possibly badly.
Season Outcome: Lose to the Indiana Pacers in the 1st round.
( Hahahahahaha )
#7 New York Knicks: The Knicks are so much better when it is the Carmelo show. Carmelo is so much better when he doesn’t have to worry about passing… ever. Ever. Also, I don’t know how Mike D’Antoni can get a job after his most recent mis-adventure. He doesn’t worry about defense and defense is needed to win consistently. I am really happy the Bulls didn’t end up with him. Melo has been playing some defense under Mike Woodson and they are getting results because of it. I think Tyson Chandler has been the unsung hero of this team and an anchor of that defense along with Iman Shumpert (mentioned above) that has helped them turn the season around. I just think they have a few too many gunners to possibly upset the Heat. This will be a tough series. Probably 6 or 7 games.
Season Outcome: Lose in a tough 1st round series to the Miami Heat.
#8 Philadelphia 76ers: This team started the season with a lot of promise and then slowly withered away. They are young and I think hit a wall. If the season was 5 games longer the Bulls would be playing the Milwaukee Bucks. They have some young talent like Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young that will be very good. Just not yet. I think they over-achieved to start the season and then got exhausted. Hopefully Evan Turner keeps his mouth shut this time around against Rose. One of these two players got waaaaaay better since the last time he talked bad about Derrick. I think they are a nice young team but I don’t think they can scare the Bulls.
Season Outcome: Lose in the 1st round to the Chicago Bulls
In conclusion, I have to tell you that I am a Bulls fan. But, I actually think they will win the championship. I hope I’m correct. If you are interested in reading my NBA thoughts throughout the playoffs follow me @bojansayspotato .
Blake Griffin is incredible. He is a great athlete. He is a great dunker. He is exciting to watch. I even think his KIA commercials are enjoyable. He has done something I never thought possible, he has legitimized the Clippers. The Clippers! I will never deny what he is capable of is amazing. But, he needs to corral something that will help him in the long run.
Let me explain…
Griffin dunks on people all the time. He stares them down and makes them look silly. He is embarrassing very proud professionals. He is beginning to get a reputation around the league as an ass for doing this. A few weeks ago he dunked on Pau Gasol and really abused him in the process. Gasol was really angry and pleaded with the refs to do something about this. They did nothing. This is not the first time or last time Griffin has or will do this.
The NBA loves this. People watch these videos over and over on Youtube and NBAtv.com. They love when your friend in the office says, “Did you see that Blake Griffin dunk over (insert name) last night”. It gets ratings. Turner Sports announced some early TV ratings info, including this tidbit: three L.A. Clippers games from this season now rank in the top five rated games in NBA TV history. (SBnation.com) The Clippers haven’t been on national TV 35 times this season because of Mo Williams chucking up 3’s. People want to see Blake jump out of the gym, come flying down from the rafters, and embed his jock on and around some poor player’s chin.
I am not naïve. I know what the game has become. I remember watching when a hand-check was not a hand-check foul. David Stern and the NBA refs know that stars need to be allowed to be stars. Stern knows that scoring and dunks gets ratings (I will leave my Stars Players Get Special Treatment article for a different time. Probably when the Bulls are down 2-1 against the Heat and LeBron and D-Wade are getting every call and I am about to blow a gasket). Though David Stern loves Blake Griffin dunks and Griffin loves dunking on people, one or the other must change their tactics or someone will get hurt. I will explain this argument with a few video examples.
Here is Blake Griffin dunking on people without getting called for charges or over – the -back, while completely embarrassing his opponents.
(Watch at 1:11, Andrew Bynum’s reaction…Way to support your teammate)
The players have started to police themselves. This is where he is going to get himself hurt. Here are some examples of some vicious hits put on Griffin. Players do not like to be the butts of twitter jokes. They do not like it when their face is in someone’s crotch on ESPN 30 times a day.
If David Stern does nothing and the refs don’t start calling these fouls on Blake Griffin and/or he stops starring people down, there will be a brawl. There will be a major injury. There will be a 24 hour, 2 week, non-stop discussion on ESPN that I know we can’t take much more of. (See NHL playoff penalty/suspension/fine discussion 2012)
(This is what should be called. Watch his reaction)
As I said, Blake Griffin needs to change his actions after dunks. He is also being enabled by David Stern and the league by not being reprimanded for his transgressions. Unfortunately, I think he is currently on a collision course with some scrubs shoulder while he gets under-cut on a future dunk attempt. In the Robin Lopez clip above, Chris Webber talks about this being a possibility. I hope this doesn’t happen because I like what Griffin brought to the Clippers and I think he is good for the game. He is exciting. I would hate for that to be cut short.
I know the season just ended but for basketball junkies, this list is something to think about. As a friend called it, “loser talk”. It doesn’t mean much. Andy Katz (ESPN) has put together the 2012-2013 top 25 teams. My IU friends will be very happy about the list. I cannot disagree with most teams on the list. If you look at recruiting, who is projected to stay, and who is projected to leave early for the NBA draft, these teams should be among the elite for next season. Here is the list. My commentary on each is bold. Enjoy.
Surprised? Putting Indiana No. 1 isn’t a reach, and it speaks volumes about how far Tom Crean has brought the Hoosiers. There was legitimate grumbling in the Hoosier Nation a year ago, wondering whether the rebuilding was taking too long. Well, IU had two of the more significant wins of the 2011-12 regular season and then reached the Sweet 16, where it pushed Kentucky as well as any team. Cody Zeller has to stay put for Indiana to remain No. 1 of course. But if Zeller is back, the Hoosiers — with nearly everyone returning and joined by another elite recruiting class — will be right there in the running for a national title.
I hate to say it but the Hoosiers will be really good. Cody will return along with Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, and Victor Oladipo. That is a lot of talent and scoring. They are also going to enjoy a Top 5 recruiting class that features Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, who I have seen play a few times and he is really good, small, but really good. Yogi will finally give them a true PG and push Hulls off the ball which will help him score more. I am still holding out hope that they tune Tom “Good Job, Good Job, Good Job, Good Job, Good Job” Crean out and not have a great year. (I am a Purdue graduate who is bitter about this “We’re Back” B.S.)
The Cardinals reached the Final Four despite a number of injuries and eligibility issues. They showed tremendous resolve and were a terrific team at home. Rick Pitino couldn’t be too upset over the loss to Kentucky because he knows this team can be right back here next season. Can you imagine if Indiana and Louisville, near neighbors, are 1 and 2? Could happen. Peyton Siva should be Big East preseason player of the year and UL is only losing Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith. Plus, Wayne Blackshaer will be around for a whole season.
Rick Pitino is a great coach. I really like Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng, and Chane Behanan. I think that their defense and down year in the rest of the Big East could spell a conference championship for the Cardinals. I think they will be a Final Four team.
The Jayhawks are projected to lose Thomas Robinson, and they will lose Tyshawn Taylor. But have we learned our lesson not to dismiss anything Bill Self does with this program? Kansas might lose Jeff Withey, but don’t be surprised if he stays with more touches coming his way. Newcomers Perry Ellis and Ben McLemore will be instant studs. Kansas isn’t going anywhere.
I am not a huge fan of this pick. I think they will be good but not Top 5 good. Withey makes their team very good defensively and I have heard great things about Perry Ellis but they are losing Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson. Whenever they needed a big bucket in a close game, those two guys did it. They struggled to score all year and I think that will be their downfall in 2013.
The Wildcats likely will lose Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and maybe Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague. One or two might stay. Darius Miller also is gone, and he was one of the best glue guys in the country. But don’t think for a second that the Wildcats will dip much at all. The additions of Ryan Harrow, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley will keep Kentucky near the top again. And just think if Kentucky were to land Nerlens Noel and/or Shabazz Muhammad? If that occurs, don’t be surprised to see Kentucky open up at No. 1 in the fall.
They might be losing everything. But, I still say they can be a Championship contender. If Teague/Lamb stay and Noel Norens can because as good defensively as A. Davis was last season (will probably happen) they should be considered the favorites to repeat. For the second year in a row they have the #1 recruiting class. Calipari has made the 21st century college basketball formula for a dynasty. The one and done guys that came to UK played a lot, won a conference championship, won a national championship, and will be first round picks. This could be a scary program for years to come. (Today, April 17th the underclassmen will announce their intentions for next season)
5. Ohio State
The Buckeyes have never disappointed under Thad Matta. This team is a consistent winner that is always near or at the top of the Big Ten and in title contention. Next season won’t be any different. Jared Sullinger promised Matta two seasons so he could easily depart for the NBA. But should he after the national semifinal? Maybe not. The Buckeyes still have Aaron Craft, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. and LaQuinton Ross are going to be studs. Deshaun Thomas should be back, too. If he does return, this team will be in the thick of the title race.
Thad Matta is gross. He is sweaty. Really really sweaty. It makes me sick. One of the assistant coaches please just had him a damn towel. He’s dripping on the floor, dripping on the players, and dripping on the reporters. He chews his gun, drops it on a dirty basketball floor and then picks it up and puts it back into his mouth. He needs help.
On another note, his team will be very good next year. Sullinger is gone but they will return Deshaun Thomas who is an absolute match-up nightmare and Aaron Craft who is the most annoying defender of all time…ever. I like Lenzelle Smith Jr. as an athlete and scorer, but I still think they have to replace a lot of scoring. Whenever I look at teams and their potential to repeat a good season I look at their ability to replace scoring. Losing Sullinger and Buford will hurt them. I still think they will be very good.
6. NC State
How did this happen so fast? Is North Carolina State really the ACC favorite? Why not. North Carolina and Duke are taking on serious losses, and the Wolfpack overachieved under Mark Gottfried (and top assistant Bobby Lutz) to get to the Sweet 16. If the Wolfpack don’t get too giddy about leaving (will C.J. Leslie remain?), they should be the favorite in the conference. Gottfried has one of the top recruiting classes in the country with Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. So get ready, Raleigh. You might just have the ACC favorite.
I love love love this team. It will be nice to see a team not named Duke or North Carolina atop the ACC. C.J. Leslie has to stay for them to be in contention for a national championship. I love Mark Gottfried as an in-game coach and he is getting recruits. Skies the limit for this program. I don’t know why but I have always liked the Wolfpack. Wooooooooooooooooooooooo!
7. Michigan State
The Spartans lose Big Ten player of the year Draymond Green, Brandon Wood and Austin Thornton. But don’t ever dismiss a Tom Izzo-coached team. Branden Dawson will be back, and so will Travis Trice. The Spartans don’t ever lack for talent and a top-10 freshmen class is on the way. And if you think Michigan State is going to slide under Izzo, you haven’t been following the program.
They really suffered from a lack of toughness and defense in the tournament without Branden Dawson. They ended up relying too much on the outside shot and ended up losing to Louisville (Deing had a little to do with it as well, I know). I really liked them going into the tournament and had them in the final four(which many people did) but they failed me. I also am upset for Draymond Green, who I love. Sigh. Life goes on. Their recruiting class is 11th according to Scout.com and includes Indiana Mr. Basketball Gary Harris. Travis Trice and Dawson coming back will help but I think they will still finish 3rd or 4th in the very tough BIG 10.
The Wolverines will be in the top 10 if Trey Burke returns to school. He should. He would join freshman stud Mitch McGary and Tim Hardaway Jr., and a loaded class that also includes ESPNU 100 recruits Glenn Robinson Jr., and Nik Stauskas. The Wolverines have had a few defections, and that has disrupted a bit of their flow. But John Beilein has figured out the Big Ten, so Michigan will once again be in the mix.
Coach Beilein has been doing a great job recruiting and bringing the prestige back to Michigan. Glenn Robinson III is really good. He is a smooth player that has the talent to be a star. I just seems effortless for him. I have actually seen a little too much of him and trying to stop him as a coach is a very difficult thing. I think he can still get better and more aggressive. Mitch McGary is Tyler Hansbrough reincarnated. He is an athletic, hustle kid with a lot of energy and effort. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are coming back. I think they could be a National Championship favorite for the 2013-2014 season but don’t be surprised if they are early.
“I play forward for Indiana Pacers” (I know this is the 2nd time I’ve posed this, but I don’t care. Many more times to come)
The Gators have a real shot to be an SEC title contender if Bradley Beal decides to stay put. Patric Young has only scratched the surface of his potential. Losing Erving Walker and his quick shooting might not be such a horrible thing. Kenny Boynton played deep into March two years in a row and should lead this squad. Erik Murphy is maturing and has improved his game. Recruiting is going well as always for the Gators. This program had a minor dip post-2007 but that is clearly no longer an issue.
Beal is not coming back. NBAdraft.net has him as the 7th pick overall. I don’t see how they can compete with the major teams. I like Donovan and I was impressed by their tournament run this year. They played most of the season as a run and gun jump shooting team and when the tournament came around they played some really good defense. Causing chaos. They don’t have a great recruiting class coming in so I am not sold on them competing especially without Beal.
The Bears definitely will lose Quincy Acy. But what would happen if Baylor didn’t lose Perry Jones III and/or Quincy Miller? This team would be in contention for No. 1. It’s unlikely they’ll retain both, but Pierre Jackson and Brady Heslip should form one of the top backcourts in the country. And the Bears continue to recruit as well as any school. Adding Isaiah Austin is huge. Baylor has become a consistent Big 12 title contender with Kansas and that doesn’t appear to be ending.
This has become a mess. Perry Jones III is gone. Quincy Miller has announced that is going to stay but there are NCAA sanctions coming for Baylor which could hurt their ability to repeat another #5 recruiting class in the future. How does this stuff keep happening to coaches? You know the rules about texting and emailing. Dr. Phil style, “Just stop doing it”. If every one else stays they will be returning a good number of players and should be the favorite to win the conference.
They are going to lose a lot off this year’s team. But, the Tarheels still have a top 10 recruiting class and James Michael McAdoo back who will have to carry the load. They need some toughness and defense inside when Zeller leaves. That was actually their downfall in the tournament. They just couldn’t get stops when it was needed and a very tough inside presence for Kansas could.
The Wildcats had to deal with a number of issues this season from injuries to attrition, but they were still close to mounting a Pac-12 regular-season title challenge and made the NIT. Arizona should lean heavily on Solomon Hill as a lead returnee (along with Kevin Parrom’s return), but this will be a team heavy on newcomers. The recruiting class is currently ranked No. 1 in the country by ESPN, with Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Gabe York heading to Tucson. This team will be young in November but should make its mark in March.
I am a big fan of Sean Miller. They would have the #1 recruiting class for the year if it wasn’t for the Kentucky Caliparis. They can bring back some prestige to the Pac-12 which has been really struggling of late. (UCLA just signed Shabazz Muhammed so they might be on the comeback too) I think Arizona should be good for a while. Miller has turned it around after the departure of Lute Olsen. They will be in the National Championship conversation for the next two or three years. I don’t think it can happen next year for them, might be too soon.
The Tigers are losing Will Barton, but don’t dismiss this team one bit. Memphis was on a roll before landing a bad matchup with Saint Louis in the NCAA tournament. The Tigers didn’t get much national buzz in large part because they were in Conference USA and didn’t have many stellar nonconference wins. But sleeping on Josh Pastner’s crew would be a mistake. The final season of C-USA for Memphis should end in yet another conference title. The Big East beckons, and Memphis will be in the mix once it arrives there as well.
Pastner sort of came out of nowhere to get some really impressive recruits at Memphis. I think the move to the Big East will be great for them. I’m sure they don’t want to admit it but they have to credit Calipari for that move. He brought some money and fans to that program. If I’m not mistaken the Big East will consist of about 65 teams soon.
Syracuse breakdown for every single season: They will just replace each guy they are losing with another long-athletic-energetic kid and win a bunch of games. Playing against them is never easy. Their active 2-3 zone is a very difficult thing to attack consistently for 40 minutes. I am sure they will be in fighting with Louisville and Notre Dame for the Big East championship.
Losing Austin Rivers will hurt but they are actually returning a lot. I am surprised that they are not ranked higher on this list. Their style of play hurt them when it came tournament time. They relied on the “3” too much and came back to bite them. If Marshall Plumlee ever learns to play basketball and can replace his older brother Miles, I think the Dukies have a good shot at being in the national championship conversation. On a side note, is the Duke Blue Devil logo slowly morphing into Mike Krzyzewski? I think yes.
Myck Kabongo announced he was staying, but J’Covan Brown decided to bolt. That’s not a bad trade. The upside for Kabongo exceeds that of the shot-happy Brown. The Longhorns also have quite a class coming in with Cameron Ridley and Prince Ibeh leading the way. Rick Barnes’ recruiting class is currently No. 3 in the ESPN rankings. And Texas was one of the younger teams in the league last season. Losing Missouri will move the Longhorns up within the Big 12 next season, too.
J’Covan Brown leaving to probably be a non-factor in the NBA hurts a lot. I expect him to land in New York and shoot every time he touches the ball(if he gets in), fingers crossed. Kabongo and Brown could have a lethal combo for the Longhorns but instead they will have to rely on some young kids to carry much of the load.
17. Notre Dame
This will be interesting. Whenever the Irish are supposed to be good, there is the potential for a drop-off. Notre Dame exceeded expectations, and now the Irish are a possible Big East favorite? Well, Pat Connaughton, Jack Cooley, Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant offer quite a lineup that should succeed in the Big East. Everyone is back in South Bend. Mike Brey said he was calm about this team throughout this season. He needs to keep that attitude throughout next season.
As a guy I work with constantly reminds me, Mike Brey has never gotten his Irish to the Elite 8. I think it needs to be the year. It has to be this year. They are getting their core players back which includes Luke Harangody doppelganger Jack Coley and they might have Scott Martin back for his 15th year in the NCAA lets him. Elite 8 or bust.
Doug McDermott is staying, so the Bluejays are the Valley favorites and a top-25 team once again. Greg Echenique returns to anchor the inside. The loss of Antoine Young will hurt the Bluejays but they have proved to be a deep team. This group showed more toughness as the season progressed. Expect it to continue.
Go Kyle Korver! That’s all I care about right now when I think about Creighton. Don’t know much about them. Sorry.
The Bulldogs lose Robert Sacre, but if Elias Harris returns — and he should — the Bulldogs once again will be the preseason favorite in the WCC and one of the best teams in the West. Gary Bell Jr., Kevin Pangos and David Stockton form one of the top perimeters in the region. Sam Dower will only get better as a possible difference-maker. Gonzaga had a poor matchup with Ohio State, but was still within a few possessions to knock off the eventual Final Four team. The Zags will continue to roll on.
I like Pangos and Stockton. I think they will win another WCC title with this team.
20. Kansas State
Bruce Weber takes over for Frank Martin, who had the Wildcats set up for a continuous run near the top of the Big 12. Weber didn’t forget how to coach at Illinois. He is one of the more respected teachers of the game. He just had a bad marriage with the Illini, and it couldn’t be repaired. Rodney McGruder should stay and play for Weber since he’ll be a senior. The core of this team returns to push the rest of the Big 12. Weber’s first season should be a success.
I can’t believe Weber got this kind of job right after the debacle that is/was Illinois. He is a great recruiter but I am not sure if he is a good coach. I think he will do fine in a weaker conference and his ability to recruit might be enough. I feel bad for the guy and hope he does well. Who know who will stay or leave with this coaching change? Frank Martin leaving this program to go to South Carolina should be an indication that there is something not right about this place. Keep an eye on this situation.
Jordan Taylor is gone. But when should losing one key player be a killer for Wisconsin? The Badgers have Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Ryan Evans and Ben Brust back for next season. If the point guard position can be settled, there is a good shot the Badgers will be in the thick of the Big Ten race yet again.
Wisconsin breakdown for every single season: 2nd to 5th place finish in the Big Ten and a tournament berth but never a title. I love Bo but he just doesn’t get enough “great” players to win anything substantial.
The Rams lose Bradford Burgess off another excellent season under Shaka Smart. But Smart stayed because he knows the Rams have a legit shot to be just as good if not better next season. VCU returns everyone but Burgess. This was a team that needed to develop over the course of the season, and it did. Once again, this is another squad that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
I was shocked when Shaka didn’t go to Illinois when that job was open. I thought was a natural move for him up the coaching ladder. I must not know something about that job. It seems like people really don’t want it. Maybe he is waiting for UConn or Syracuse to open up. I don’t know if he would be in the running for those jobs but they look like they will be coming up soon.
23. San Diego State
Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said Sunday night that he has a top-25 team. We agree. Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley and James Rahon make the Aztecs the team to beat in the Mountain West before SDSU heads off to the Big West. They also add transfer J.J. O’Brien (Utah), James Johnson (Virginia) and Dwayne Polee (St. John’s). Fisher will have the Aztecs in the mix nationally, like he has the past four seasons.
They have lots of kids coming back and a great coach. They need to play some tougher competition through the year so they can have better performances in the big dance. I know some bigger teams don’t want to play. That is the plight of being at a mid-major.
Cuonzo Martin had the Volunteers on the cusp an NCAA tournament berth in the final two weeks of the regular season. Now, Martin gets Jarnell Stokes for a full season, along with the bulk of his teammates. The Vols will continue to play as hard as any team in the country, as Martin has established an identity of defense and toughness that will serve Tennessee well in the SEC.
CUOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNZO!!! I still think they are a few years off from really competing. I can’t help rooting for a Purdue guy. I know he is a good coach and I know that he is way less annoying compared to Bruce Pearl.
(I hate this idiot)
We’d be foolish to count this team out despite losing its top three scorers. (Did anyone catch what Kansas did this season?) Yes, Frank Haith does lose cornerstones Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe, but Laurence Bowers will be healthy after he missed the season with a knee injury and Michael Dixon and Phil Pressey return to give the Tigers a core. With a stellar recruiting class and transfer Jabari Brown, Missouri should have an immediate impact in the SEC race.
I like Frank Haith but I think he needs to teach his teams to defend more to win anything major. When he was at Miami they used to work hard on the defensive end and they gave people fits. Get back to that Frank. It is proven that trying to just outscore every team you play will eventually come back to bite you. (See: Norfolk State)
This is a pretty impressive Purdue team. You might see some familiar faces.
I have been watching the “Big Dance” my whole life. While watching I have noticed the type of teams that win have certain attributes and skills. Here is my opinion on who can win the whole thing. Please do not bet money on my opinions and then come back and get angry with me. Also, I’m giving you 4 teams to choose from. So obviously there is some wiggle room I have given myself. Mind you, I did not pick UConn to win it last year or Butler to make it to the Championship game two years in a row. If I’m wrong, sorry. This is a little long. There are pictures and videos for those of you that can’t take this much content without it being broken up by media.
Here are the factors a team needs to win the championship. Enjoy.
1) Defense & Rebounding: The team that wins needs to have a lock down perimeter defender and a low post athletic defender, not necessarily a shot blocker, but that is a plus. Down the stretch of a close tournament games, championship teams must be able to get stops. I prefer a solid man-to-man team but it looks like a long and athletic zone can do it as well. There are nights where the shots will not fall and you are bad offensively, but you can never be off defensively. That is an effort thing. (See Florida’s 2 Championships in 06-07)
2)Paint Scoring: The teams that consistently go far in the tournament have some sort of low-post threat. Some teams get by without this if they can make 3’s or get hot from the outside. Also, teams that cause a lot of turnovers can score enough to off-set their lack of a low-post scorer. VCU did this last year during their run. Butler could not score down low against UConn last because their big guy was terrible and essentially lost the game for them. Again, sometimes this can be off-set by a kid like Kemba Walker just carrying his team. A jump shooting team is bound to have an off game, or half, or 5 minutes, which is enough to lose a game and send them fishing. If you can get to the rim and to the FT line, you can still win without a typical low post-scorer. But, you must get into the paint. (See Every Championship Team Ever)
3)Take care of the Basketball: Teams that limit their turnovers are likely to get more shots. If you get more shots than your opponent, you have a better chance to score more. To win a basketball game, you must score more than your opponent. Any questions? A solid PG or structured offense helps. If you play an uptempo offense you must still get shots. You can’t give easy buckets to your opponent by turning the ball over. (See Michigan State ’00 , UConn ’11, Kansas ’08, UNC ’05, ’09) Great point guards and structured offenses. Butler ’10, 11, I know they didn’t win it but were they more talented than most of the teams they beat? No. Structured offense and discipline helps.
4)Coaching: I know, I know. Having 3 lottery picks helps but, coaching is important. They personally need to stay poised, keep their players focused, and understand how to beat each team they play. If you can’t get stops in your man-to-man defense, change it up. If they are doubling your stud big guy and you are not making the 3’s on the kick-out, you need to get your big guy in some moving sets (ball screens/cross screens/etc.). Little things get your team an advantage. The best coaches know how to manage the talent and make the correct decisions. (See how many of the names repeat for Final 4 coaches) I know that recruiting and talent plays a huge part of this repetition, but these guys are good. (See Illinois during the Bruce Weber era for proof that talent does not mean success)
5) Momentum: Now I am going to contradict everything I just typed. Sometimes your team is just playing well. Players are playing with confidence. Hitting shots. Playing together. All of these things put together for 5 games can propel a team that lacks some of the 4 factors I just mentioned to a championship. If you look back at the last 10 champs, UConn from last year is the only team that just got hot like that after not having a great year. They had 9 loses. That has only happened twice in the last 20 years (UConn last year was 32-9 and Arizona in 1997 was 25-9). Arizona is the only team to beat 3 #1 seeds in the tournament. Interesting fact. Sure teams will make runs like Butler or VCU or George Mason but, I’m talking about championships here. Doesn’t happen often, but there is a chance.
Here is Bibby, but I know what everyone is thinking, what happened to Miles Simon?
Here is the moment you have read this entire piece for…who will win?! Well, I’ll tell you. Get to it already you long winded ass! Here. Take them. Do what you will with these picks.
But first watch this… The best clip from the best sports commentator ever.
OK HERE THEY ARE:
Kentucky: (#1 pick)
Defensively great. So much talent on one team. Anthony Davis is going to be the #1 pick/player of the year/freshman of the year. He is just an super athlete. Kidd-Gilchrist is the motor of this team. He does so much for them. The key is Teague who needs to take care of the ball and create. Limit his turnovers. If that happens and John Calipari can keep them prepared and not over coach, they will win it all.
Syracuse: (#2 pick)
Long, athletic, talented. I would argue that their scoring might be something to prevent them from winning it all. Does they have a go to guy when it is needed. Fab Melo is a difference maker on the defensive end. He just stops teams from getting anything easy. They will be tough to beat.
Michigan State: (#3 pick)
Just watched them absolutely take Ohio State out of their offense. They are good enough offensively to score enough. I love their bigs defensively and love Draymond Green. He is exactly what a leader should be for his team. No star takes more charges than Green. If they can continue to shoot well, they are dangerous to win it.
Missouri: (#4 pick)
Can they defend enough? They are the fastest team I think I have ever seen. For the amount that they push the ball, they do take care of the ball. I am unsure whether they can sustain their style to win 5 games in a row. However, they can score from everywhere and cause so many problems for the opponent. I like how they are playing right now. They just beat Baylor handily. I think they fall into the momentum category.
These are my picks. Like I said, please don’t bet money on one of these teams, unless I can get a cut. This is free information. Maybe the teams I have picked will not win the tournament this year, but I think my keys to winning are sound. If you disagree with my picks, let me know. I would love to here suggestions and opinions.