Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Only 11 More Days Before the Celtics Start Saving Their Legs
So we're a quarter of the way through the NBA season. I'd like to take this time to amuse you with some random thoughts on the season thus far.
• First and foremost, the Boston Celtics continue their ritual of dominating the first 2 months of the NBA season. Much like the guarantee that Drew Gooden will be on a new team next year (10 teams in 9 years!) the Celtics are making this early season success a yearly lock. At the same time, you have to admire the type of ball they are playing. Rajon Rondo is controlling the pace of the game as well as anyone in the league right now. He's officially a pass-first point guard, backing that up to the tune of 13.8 asst/game. Rondo's success can be attributed to the health of Kevin Garnett. Last year, Garnett's knees made it look like he was going to turn into a better-rebounding Zydrunas Ilguaskas over the next couple years. And paying a man 18.8 million to shoot jumpers and not be able guard anyone with above average quickness would not have sat well with the C's management. But Garnett looks rejuvenated. Clearly putting the time in the gym to rehab his knee this offseason, Garnett is looking like a little lesser version of his MVP self from 2007. I'm not holding my breath on him staying healthy all year but the improvement is surely encouraging. And yet, as much of a surprise KG has been, the biggest (literally) surprise of the year has to go to the newly acquired Shaq. The most underrated story in Boston (IMO) is Shaq's unbelievable effectiveness and willingness to adapt to his role as a bench player. Shaq has a 21.07 player efficency rating, good for 11th in the eastern conference. He's been banged up of late, but a healthy Shaq come postseason time, along with the rock solid play of PP, Ray, and Big Baby, bodes very well for the Celtics
• I'll keep this brief, as the coverage on the this team has been Favre-esque, but I really think the Heat are a year away. Even with this recent 9-game win streak (which boasts only 2 wins over teams with winning records) the Heat just do not have the depth to match-up with the Celtics, Magic, and maybe even the Bulls in the East. The Celtics have showed the last 3 years they can beat a one-man show. And that's what happens when Wade or Lebron go to the bench (there's no convincing me at this point that Chris Bosh is anything but a celebrated LaMarcus Aldridge). Give the Heat one more year to get some depth and maybe I'll consider them a serious contender.
• The San Antonio Spurs are going to win the West. Book it. Even with the Spurs 20-3 start, the Lakers are still a -220 to win the West. Pretty ridiculous when the Lakers have yet to show that they can guard a team that shoots well and has quick guards. And wouldn't you know thats exactly what the Spurs do best. Add in the fact that this torrid start has occured with Tim Duncan averaging a legs-saving career low 28.8 Mins/Game, and you can see why the Lakers should be hotly contested come playoff time.
• John Wall and Blake Griffin are really really good and they are really really young. Crazy exciting players. That is all.
• The NBA has its been collection of point guards it has ever had and they are all going to get paaaiiiddddd. With Mike Conley signing an absurd 5 year $45 million extension with the Grizzlies, a collection of young point guards can all expect to get equal to greater money than Moneybags Mike. Tyreke Evans, Steph Curry, and Brandan Jennings can all expect to get greater dollars than Conley if they continue to produce at the rate they do for the next two seasons. And then you look at a guy like Ray Felton, who just signed for a two-year deal worth 15 mil, and you have to believe he's salivating to sign a new deal after seeing Conley get 9 mil per/year (CBA pending).
Money aside the point guard position might be the NBA's deepest right now. The talent influx over the past 5 years has been astounding. Personally, I love breaking stuff down into tiers and feel it gives a realistic view of value. For instance, cars are always looked at from a tier point of view. So let's spin our point guard rankings that way:
Rolls Royce/Lambo/Masserati (Tier 1)
Stylish with their own flare.
1. Chris Paul - No one is touching CP3's overall game at this point. He really deserves to be on a championship contending team but he's crazy loyal to New Orleans at this point. One day...
2. Russell Westbrook - As of today he is my MVP of the league. About a month ago the Thunder were struggling to live up to the pre-season hype. Durant does down with an injury and it looked as though the OKC would go into a tailspin heading into a game IN Boston. Mr Westbrook proceeded to drop 31 points on the Cs, outplay Rajon Rondo, and completely turn the season around for the Thunder. Which is why he is ahead of...
3. Rajon Rondo - Averaging a mind-blowing 13.8 assts/game is only good enough for 3rd best point guard in the NBA in this man's opinion.
4. Derrick Rose - Improved jumper has made him virtually impossible to guard when he's hitting his shot. And yet Rondo eats he and the Bulls alive. Until he proves he can outplay Rajon I have to put him #4
5. Deron Williams - Will get killed for putting him this low but I've never trusted him in big games. Seems to hide and not play to his strengths when his team needs him most. Bring on the haters.
BMW/Lexus/Benz (Tier 2)
Flashy and Consistent
6. Steve Nash - Kills me not to be able to put him in the Rolls Royce tier. One of my favorite players to watch over the last 10 years. Playing this year with a team that you could argue has 8 small forwards, he has played admirably. Would still take 1-5 over him on this date though.
7. John Wall - Idea of the century: Instead of the crap 3 on 3 celebrity games the NBA fools around with on All-Star weekend (a weekend the league takes very seriously) why not have an hour long combine? Here are some ideas to put in: A vertical leap where the backboard is used to measure the inches/also shows how high above the rim these guys can get off 2 feet. A bench press for the big guys in the league (although I don't think anyone could compete with Dwight Howard for the next 8 years). Finally, the crowd favorite, a full court sprint down and back between the fastest players in the NBA. You would have to use heats to determine the final 5 or 6 players competing but imagine this for a final 6: LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Chris Paul, Monta Ellis. Who wouldn't watch that? My moneys on the John Dougie Wall but it would be hella entertaining.
8. Steph Curry - Can we officially drop the "en" from his name because Steph Curry just sounds like a guy who could rain 8 3's on a team any given night. I'm a huge fan of Steph only because of the rave reviews that have come out of G-State for his willingness to learn the point guard position to keep Monta Ellis happy. Plus when I correctly picked Davidson to go to the Elite 8 in 2008 I developed a massive man-crush on him.
9. Raymond Felton - My vote for most improved player through the first quarter of the season. You gotta give Donnie Walsh credit for rebuilding the Knicks piece by piece after Lebron took his talents to South Beach.
10. Tony Parker - Proven. Has great percentages. Not as quick as he once was and has split some time at point with Geroge Hill but this guy still scares the hell out of me with his creativity.
Toyota/Nissan (Tier 3)
Solid but you know what you're getting
11. Brandon Jennings - Based on the caption of this tier Jennings may not belong here. Personally, I think the 50 point game he dropped last year still has casual fans thinking he's better than he really is. 39% from the floor, 37% from 3, and 75% from the line gives him worse percentages than any other player listed thus far. Couldn't put him any higher than this based on those facts.
12. Devin Harris - Perfectly defines this tier. Very solid player who would mesh perfectly with 3 or 4 of better players. Never thought Dallas should have given him up as he's above average defensively compared to the porous defense the next man on our list plays. Now Harris sits in lowly New Jersey waiting for Mr Russia to surround him with a team. At #12 on our list though
13. Jason Kidd - Can still run a fastbreak better than everyone on this list save Rondo and CP3. His knowledge of the game and his ability to hit the 3 put him ahead of a lot of guys more skilled than he is.
14. Mike Conley - There's no way Chris Wallace sat down and ranked the point guards in the league when he signed Mike Conley to that ludicrous deal. The #14 point guard, while more than formidable, is not worth 9 mil a year.
15. Chauncey Billups - Chauncey has lost more than just a step; he's lost his swag. At one point considered Mr. Big Shot, he now is on a team without an identity as Carmelo continues to keep the team in disarray with his demands to play in New York. I wish I could say Chauncey may be higher on this list in the future, but I just don't see it.
16. Andre Miller - Had to push this tier to 6 for two reasons. 1. Brandon Jennings really doesn't fit. And 2. Andre Miller is another player that defines "knowing what youre gonna get out of him." Not flashy at all but a veteran who can lead a team to victories. Considering he's the 16th rated PG out of 30. That's pretty damn good.
Reliable in the right situation
17. Jrue Holliday - He's quick and shifty, extremely young, sees the floor well, and has good touch around the rim. If the Sixers didn't cripple their franchise with the Elton Brand contract they may have been able to make a run at a big-time scorer last summer who would have fit in wonderfully with Jrue and Iggy. But that's a story for another day.
18. Darren Collison - I feel like there's a pretty big dip after Holliday. I had high hopes for Collison after he took over for CP3 and put up 80% of his stats. But Collison has been anything but CP3-like this year averaging only 13 and 4 assts. Still young and like his potential but thought he would be better this year
19. Eric Bledsoe - I refuse to put Baron Davis on this list after seeing him get booed ferociously by Clippers fans after he CAME BACK from an injury. Bledsoe, on the other hand, is a guy that works hard and has some crazy athletic ability. Has an erratic personality and his skills aren't quite there yet though. Yet, it's only a matter of time before he takes the reigns in Clipperville.
20. DJ Augustin - I really dont like him at all but we needed a round number to finish this thing out. Plus it was a choice between him, Beno Udrih, Jordan Farmar, Mike Bibby, and Jose Calderon and DJ Augustin was by far the best name out of all of them.
21 - Sebastian Telfair - THROUGH THE FIRE!!!!!!!