Archive for March, 2011

What the NBA is Missing

Thursday, 31 March, 2011

 By Zack Cimini

notjustagame23@gmail.com

Defensive intensity has long left the NBA. The lack of effort is evident each night with teams scoring averages rising considerably. It’s a run and gun league that is guard oriented. Coaches get so desperate that they try to implement gimmick zone defenses for stretches.

 Come playoff time some teams can ultimately decide that they’re going to suddenly play defense, as the Lakers have done the past few seasons.

 We saw a crop of rookie guards last year storm the scene and make a relatively easy transition. This year Derrick Rose has went from an rising star to likely league MVP. The main reason for this is poor interior defense. Interior defense is supposed to be the area where the point guard has to make the decision. Not score at will.

The non threat inside the paint on the majority of NBA teams is causing a domino affect. Poor rotation is leaving legitimate shooters left wide open. JJ Redick has resurged from draft lottery bust, to finding minutes nailing open jumpers. There are a plethora of guys shooting in the high thirties or even above forty percent from three. Designing a play for offensive purposes has to be as easy as Charles Barkley uttering a sentence.

 In comes Derrick Rose. An athlete barely past the age of 21. There is no doubt what he makes his living off of. He is an attacker and slasher. A bigger sized athletic point guard. It’s hard for anyone to stay in front of him. Sure he has worked on his jump shot and at times has had explosive games with it. Check his nightly highlight reels and game action, and he is scoring at will in the paint. Burning the other teams point guard, and getting to the hole with defenders waving him to the bucket.

 Many think the Bulls can make a surprise run in the playoffs and why not. In the eastern conference there are no teams that scare the Bulls at all from the center position. The only team that does is Orlando with Dwight Howard. Howard gets his fair share of blocks, but the Magic lack the depth of big men to pose a seven game series threat. Everyone knows that Miami has struggled with the five position. They’re just trying to have the health to throw a 6’10 guy out there.

 Boston’s strength was supposed to be at the five, but they decided to build by letting Kendrick Perkins go. Now they’ll take their chances with age. Both O’Neals have missed extensive time. Kevin Garnett may be called upon even more than prior years for Boston. Garnett’s true position like Amare Stoudemire is power forward.

Pick a team in the NBA and the majority have a weakness at the center position. The lack of skilled big man is a huge void currently. There are plenty of raw young talents that just need some time to develop.

This next NBA Draft shows no signs of any centers emerging. Derrick Rose might be the first point guard in a long time to win MVP with a scorers mentality. How long will his success slashing to the hole continue? As long as the NBA’s weakness at the five is prevalent it could extend for the next eight to ten years of his career.

The Wizards are one of few teams with athletic big men. When the Bulls have faced the Wizards, Javele McGee, Trevor Booker, and Andray Blatche have done a decent job shutting down Rose. In four games vs. the Wizards this year, Rose hasn’t had a game where he shot near fifty percent. In McGee’s triple double where he had twelve blocks, six of them were on Rose.

NCAA: Media To Blame For Tournament Parity

Friday, 25 March, 2011

By Zack Cimini

notjustagame23@gmail.com

Is there really tournament parity? Seedings and outcomes would suggest that. Money circles around teams that are the perennial power conference teams. That hasn’t changed and won’t change. Demand for the media to cover these teams hasn’t changed either.

The Big East, SEC, ACC, Big Ten, and Big 12 have their tickets punched for the television networks. Nightly they’re showcased on ESPN’s family of networks. Of course this only draws and translates over to the weekly polls. I know I’m not the only one that’s raised my eyebrows at certain teams jumps in the polls at a given time. The same thing happened with seeding this year. Florida, who is still alive, somehow got a two seed. A team that wasn’t in the top eight all season long, and lost badly in their conference championship to Kentucky. It made absolutely no sense.

Take a conference such as the Pac-10. They’re never showcased on ESPN, as Foxsports has full control of the conference. Besides a quick late night clip, there is never any analysis or expansion of conversation on the conference. Never once has Jay Williams or Doug Gottlieb given a take on a Pac-10 team. Perception all year was that it was a down conference, which obviously has been misleading.

Last year Washington had a strong run in the tournament, and now Arizona is doing the same. You can take a look at the teams left, and think how many times have you watched them play all year. Throw out the Ohio States, Uconn, Kentucky, and Florida. Richmond, VCU, Arizona, Florida St, Marquette, and Butler, you probably can count in single digits on one hand the amount of times combined you’ve seen them on television. In all likelihood it came from the powerhouse ACC or Big East teams pairing up against Florida St. or Marquette.

There’s no denying that the NCAA’s talent level isn’t as high as years past. Talent is spread out and teams truly can build together. It’s a year long process them can blend together with the proper seeding and matchup in the NCAA tournament. Cinderella stories will keep occurring. There just is too much under the radar recruiting going on. Look at Marquette and see what they’ve done with immediate community college transfer impact players. Florida St., snatching an ex-military personnel at age 26, that’s been an integral part of their team. Then VCU, taking upon former athletes from other division one schools, that just needed time to develop into their own.

This day and age with teams and coaches better than ever, wouldn’t you like to see better network coverage for all of college basketball. ESPN is the major source, but they need to split up their coverage. Maybe that’ll awaken the limited analysis of their commentator’s, who are constantly delving in one of the five conferences mentioned above. There’s coverage of high school sports for goodness sakes. After this year take a step into more mid major games, and emerging conferences such as the Atlantic 10.

Stretch Run

Thursday, 24 March, 2011

 

By Zack Cimini

 notjustagame23@gmail.com

The patience to maintain a fantasy basketball rotisserie team may have reached an all time high this year. Constant trades, mediocre players in and out of lineups, and inconsistent play from young emerging stars. Call it a yearly occurrence, but it was scaled a bit higher this year. If you saw your team move up and down more than the typical stock market, you can use that as a reason to blame.

Conquering the top three to four spots in your rotisserie league is going to take full commitment to this last NBA stretch. A few weeks ago, I delivered with some young talent that has been playing even better since. Greg Monroe and Tyler Hansborough have been performing stellar.

If you’ve solidified your proper rotisserie balance than you have no need to worry. Here are some players though that can help push your team in crucial categories, to finish out the year.

PG- Leandro Barbosa- Adjusting to a new team, strong distance of location, and battling injuries has kept Barbosa under ropes most of the year. He came back in mid-February, and once his legs were back under him it has led to a solid March. He has scored over double digits in seven games in March. When on the floor he is looking to score. He still possesses great speed, and a decent three point shot.

PG- Marcus Thornton- In Yahoo leagues he is now owned by 75% of owners. He should be over the 90% range. Since being traded, Thornton is showing off the same skill set he did last year when given free reign with the Hornets. He didn’t mesh with the Hornets new coach and team philosophy in Monty Williams. Putting up points is what Thornton does.

PG- Aaron Brooks- The reason Brooks is only owned by 59% of Yahoo owners is for the reason mentioned in the first paragraph of this article. Brooks dealt with injuries and being traded this year. He still only has a handful of games as a Sun under his resume. Playing behind Steve Nash isn’t a fantasy friendly attribute either. As Phoenix gets closer and closer to the end of their season, they’ll experiment a little bit. It looks like they’re losing the battle on the eighth seed. With that in mind, look for Brooks to get more playing time so Phoenix can analyze a bit what direction they’re headed.

SG- Gary Neal- Neal is a deep league filler, widely available in over 93% of Yahoo leagues. Neal is the classic Popovich late season manuever. Pop tends to decrease his star veterans minutes to gear them up for the playoffs. Neal has been a pleasant surprise being a deadly three point shooter. Carrying that over in the post-season will be crucial for the Spurs bench. Just in the month of March, Neal has drained twenty threes. In fact he is getting over ten shots a game in March. Making six threes in his last game is a category all could use help in.

PF- Chuck Hayes- An undersized athlete that just brings effort to the table every night. He has a decent low post game. Hayes can hit the mid range jumper or beat opponents off the dribble with a quick move. Most of his points come from put backs though, off offensive rebounds. Hayes tallies his fantasy numbers probably seventy percent based off his rebounding. His recent triple double though shows he can be even more of an asset to the Rockets lineup.

C- Darrel Arthur- Arthur came out probably a year too early. Working with NBA coaches and developing in practice has paid off. Arthur is now contributing in a major way for the Grizzlies. They have an underrated tandem with Randolph/Gasol, but Arthur is coming in and filling their roles well. He has been a strong defensive presence, and in the month of March has scored over double figures eight times. Two of those games he scored over twenty. Additionally he has swatted three blocks or more in four contests.

 

 

NBA: Player Pickups March 19th

Sunday, 20 March, 2011

By Vidur Malik

notjustagame23@gmail.com

Ronnie Brewer – Brewer has been scoring over his season average recently, hitting double digits with back-to-back 10-point games over the New Orleans Hornets on Mar 7 and the Charlotte Bobcats on Mar 9. His inconsistency could hurt you, as he’s scored zero points in a Mar 12 win over the Utah Jazz and a win over the New Jersey Nets on Thursday, but he’s still a good pickup because he doesn’t need many shots to get his points, and he can also sprinkle in some rebounds and assists and doesn’t need too many minutes to do so.

Ekpe Udoh – Like Brewer, Udoh doesn’t need too much time on the floor to contribute. He doesn’t get much time in the Golden State Warriors’ rotation, but when he’s in the game, he usually makes an impact. He leads the team in blocks, and had five rejections in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. The next night, he helped out on offense with 10 points in a loss to the Sacramento Kings. He isn’t a great rebounder, but he can score and should be a good pickup just for his ability to block shots and make the most of his game time.

 Dante Cunningham – Since being traded to the Charlotte Bobcats, Cunningham has seen a few productive nights offensively and on the glass. He had 10 points and seven rebounds in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, and had back-to-back solid nights on March 9, when Cunningham had 15 points, six rebounds and two assists in a loss to the Chicago Bulls, and on March 11, when he scored 11 points and threw in two rebounds, an assist and a steal. Cunningham should be a reliable post presence for the Bobcats, and he’s athletic enough to play well on the perimeter.

NBA: Wallace Rise/Fall With Trailblazers?

Saturday, 5 March, 2011

By Vidur Malik

notjustagame23@gmail.com

Of the many recent trades in the NBA recently, the one between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Charlotte Bobcats isn’t getting much publicity nationwide, but it is one that seems to have worked out for both teams, especially the Blazers.

Portland traded center Joel Pryzbilla, forward Sean Marks, power forward Dante Cunningham and two first-round picks for forward Gerald Wallce. The Trail Blazers gave up a lot for one guy, but Wallace brings a lot to his new team and can help in several ways.

With the Bobcats, Wallace averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, and in three games with the Blazers, he’s averaged 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. His numbers have dropped, but as he gets more comfortable with his new team, they should go back up. His steals per game have gone up from 1.2 to 2.0 since being traded, and he’s a great athlete who regularly gets play-of-the-night worthy blocks and dunks. Portland didn’t really have that kind of athlete on its roster, so Wallace brings a new element to the team.

Meanwhile, the new Bobcats have not done much since being traded. Pryzbilla and Marks have not scored a point as Bobcats so far, and Cunningham hasn’t played more than 12 minutes in a game. The first-round draft picks are for this year’s draft and for the 2013 draft, and they should help a young Bobcats team that has the pieces for success. Pryzbilla, Cunningham, and Marks could be key role players in Charlotte for a while, but as of now, the Blazers are getting a more immediate impact since the trade.

If you’ve got Wallace on your team, expect more of the same stats he’s been putting up this year. He’s a great player to have coming off the bench to give Portland a boost. It looks like he’s getting close to the same amount of minutes he was getting in Charlotte, so he can still play the same role in Portland. His statline in the Blazers’ 103-87 loss to the Houston Rockets on Mar. 1 is indicative of the many ways in which he can help your team. In that game Wallace had 14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and went 3-4 from 3-point range. He can be Portland’s third or fourth-leading scorer and has a chance to be the team’s most complete player.

Look for Wallace to become a crucial part of the Blazers this season and beyond, and expect him to contribute significantly to your fantasy team.