Points in the Paint 11.06.06
Posted by Rob Bonnette on 11.06.2006
I whip out the crystal ball and the all seeing eye!!
Hey there everyone and welcome to this week's edition of Points in the Paint, where I try to prove just how much I don't know about professional basketball. The season kicked off last week, so I actually have some real games to talk about. Woohoo! There's only so much speculation I can do, so it's wonderful to have real live action to pontificate on. I promised you goofy predictions, and you will get them. Plus, I'm going to reveal some of the teams and situations I'll be monitoring more closely this season. Enough small talk, time to dig in!!
It's prediction time!!! It is virtually impossible to start any season in any sport without making goofball predictions that you know won't be followed up on by any of your readers once the season ends. Now last season, I incriminated myself by going back over my predictions after the season was over, and I'll do the same thing this season. If any of you out there have any, feel free to mail them in, much like the Knicks did on the court last season. Here we go:
Detroit is headed downward
I went back and forth on this one. My initial reaction to the Ben Wallace signing was to play taps for the Pistons. Then came the preview magazines, almost all of which picked the Pistons to win their division again this season. I read the explanations, and was almost ready to accept their logic when I stopped for a minute and went back to my original assumption. Now don't get me wrong, they're making the playoffs and will compete for their division title, but they lost too much when Wallace left. It's not just numbers, which can be replaced, it's his presence. He intimidated people, and Nazr Mohammed just doesn't do that. And no one seems to take into account that he made better defenders out of his teammates, especially Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, because he allowed them to play aggressively without worrying about who'd cover for their mistakes. I think that will be huge, especially in the second half of the season once people realize that Rip and Chauncey still aren't great defenders and start attacking them again. I may be wrong, but I just feel like Detroit is on the way down.
Oh yeah, memo to Rasheed Wallace: The new no complaining rule isn't a testament to your greatness, it's a big reminder of how much of a jerk you can be. It was only fitting that you were the first player to get run by the officials this season. Keep it up and you may break the record for ejections. And of course you would the first player to break out the slavery reference. There are a lot of people who would gladly accept the slave labor that is playing in the NBA as a career. Just do us all a favor and be quiet, will you?
The Lakers will make the playoffs
Boy, it's a good thing I waited a week to do this. This paragraph was originally entitled ‘The Lakers will miss the playoffs, and I had this nice explanation as to why all locked and loaded. Now after seeing some hard evidence, I have totally changed my mind. I watched them play Seattle Friday night (thank God for TiVo), and came away very impressed. Their starting center, Andrew Bynum, has played really well over these first three games, and not just from a statistical standpoint. He's shown some real ability to play out there. Luke Walton has played very well, and Lamar Odom is looking like an All-Star right now. And oh yeah, they have that guy, what's his name…..oh yeah, Kobe Bryant. Kobe has been sharing the ball more than anyone would have thought he was capable of at this time last year, and his teammates are responding. I know it's only been three games, but people out West need to watch out before they find themselves looking up at the Lakers in the standings come April. They have definitely moved up on my ‘teams to keep tabs on' list.
San Antonio isn't dead yet
Some people were wondering if the end was near for the Spurs after their second round defeat to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 playoffs. Wake up, people. The Spurs lost in overtime of a game seven after a three point play from Dirk Nowitzki. If Manu Ginobli let Dirk just go to the basket without touching him the outcome may have been different. Much has also been said about how Gregg Popovich went with a smaller lineup and how that represented a change in thinking on his part that would have never happened before. Nonsense, I say. Just what did Pop need to go small for? The Mavs were still playing their lumbering seven foot centers major minutes; they weren't going small, so it's not like there was any need to match speed for speed out there. I wondered aloud about his decision shortly after the series ended, and one of you guys reminded me that Tim Duncan was hurt the whole time. Had he been healthy, he would have been guarding Nowitzki and you would have probably seen Jump Shot Dirk come back a lot sooner than he did. Remember, Dirk was driving to the basket against the likes of Brent Barry during much of that series. A healthy Duncan changes everything in the West; believe it!!
Phoenix is in trouble
They got out of the gate 1-3, and while things won't stay that way, it's not a good sign. They're still getting their big points, but they're also giving up more now. They are getting completely abused every night in the paint, in frightening fashion. First Andrew Bynum puts 18 on them, then the Clippers get a combined 37 points and 22 rebounds from Elton Brand and Chris Kaman, then the Utah Jazz frontcourt puts up 51 points and 37 rebounds, and finally the Clippers torch them in the paint a second time with a combined 23 and 23 from Brand and Tim Thomas. Now for the past two years you could at least partially blame the Suns defensive shortcomings on their style of play. And uptempo style means you get more points, but so does the opposition. You didn't see the Showtime era Lakers hold people to 85 points a game, after all. But this is ridiculous. You can forget Phoenix winning the title this season, even if Amare Stoudamire is back to full strength come playoff time. If everyone in the league stays relatively healthy, there's no way the Suns can compete down low with the Lakers, Houston, Utah, the Clippers, or San Antonio. They could easily be a first round loser at the rate they're going.
Brandon Roy will win Rookie of the Year
I know I'm mainly repeating what others have already said, but it's true. He's getting the minutes and the shots he needs to put up good numbers, and he's on a team that may be end up being more competitive than anyone thought. The Blazers have started out 2-1, and while that won't hold up over the course of 82 games they've shown that it won't be blowout city every time they take the court this season. Zach Randolph has played well to start things out, and not having Darius Miles around has been addition by subtraction. Every other rookie has some issues that get in his way, mainly playing time. Randy Foye was supposed to be a contender but he's been relegated to the second unit in Minnesota behind Ricky Davis. Rudy Gay is getting good run in Memphis, but isn't starting yet and will likely have some low scoring nights soon; same deal with Adam Morrison in Charlotte. Roy will have his ups and downs like any other rookie, but when all is said and done he should take home the trophy.
OK, that's it for now. I'm sticking with five for the moment. Over the next few weeks, I'll roll out a few more. OK, I'm starting to fall asleep now so I'm going to get to finishing up here so I can call it a night.
I've got my eyes on you!!
There are a few teams that I'm going to be paying extra close attention to this season, because they have situations going on that I've found very intriguing. Expect some regular updates and random gibberish about these teams for the rest of this season, some of which may actually make sense. First up is Boston , who have one of the most confusing rosters ever put together. Their two best players are veterans in their prime, Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak. Pierce is one of the best 10 to 12 players in the league, while Wally Z is a great shooter and consistent 20 point scorer. Now logic suggests that if you have tow guys like that on your team, you get them a good supporting cast that's built to win now and ride it as far as you can, right? After all, Pierce and Wally will both be hitting 30 years old soon so you need to need to aim high sooner rather than later. No need in getting a bunch of guys who won't be ready to make things happen until your two best guys are over the hill, right? Well, Celtics GM Danny Ainge has thrown that line of thinking completely out the window. He's spent his last three offseasons acquiring four high school players who still have a lot to learn. Three of them, big men Kendrick Perkins and All Jefferson and swingman Gerald Green, are still getting the basics of NBA basketball down pat. The fourth high school player, point guard Sebastian Telfair, kinda knows what he's doing but still has a ways to go before he can be considered one of the best at his position. The results have been not so good. Jefferson has his moments and has scored in double figures every night, but still makes a lot of bad decisions defensively and hasn't shown any ability to do anything offensively other than make athletic plays. He doesn't get any tough rebounds despite being a solid 6-10, 250, and can be rendered ineffective with any real resistance. Perkins still has no offensive game to speak of in his fourth year in the league, and put up a goose egg Saturday night against an undersized Washington front line. Both men are still getting fewer minutes than 2005 second round pick Ryan Gomes who has all the mental acumen and heart that both Perkins and Jefferson are lacking but was unfortunate enough to stop growing once he hit 6-7. If Gomes were 6-10 and 20 years he'd have been a first rounder, but thanks to the crazy logic of NBA scouts he dropped to the second round. All in all, the Celtics are an enigma amongst NBA teams. I'll be watching them all year to see how just how the youngsters pan out and whether coach Doc Rivers can survive the season.
OK, I'm done. There can't be anything else to talk about this week. Wait a minute, there is one thing. You know you want it. You've been waiting for it all summer. Well here you go, another....
Knicks Fan Update!!!
Opening night was lovely. Three overtimes, a win over Memphis, and 14 REBOUNDS FROM EDDY CURRY. I was looking out the window to see if pigs were flying or if the moon was made of green cheese, because for Curry to get 14 rebounds we had to be in some alternate reality or something. Of course the true reality reared its ugly head the next game, and Curry got 20 points and 2 rebounds against Atlanta. Two rebounds. From a guy who is seven feet tall, a good athlete, and got 14 rebounds a couple of nights before. You want to know who else got two rebounds that night? Kelvin Cato, who played one tenth of the minutes that Curry got. Another person got two boards that game: Nate Robinson, all 5-foot-9 (allegedly) of him. Nice job, Eddy. Way to earn that $10 million. I bet if there was a couble cheeseburger sitting on top of the rim he'd get 25 rebounds a game like he was Wilt Chamberlin or something. And yes, we have Eddy for five more years, because no one wants a soft, fat, seven footer who doesn't get any rebounds or play any defense. Great, just great. Somebody get me a drink already; this is gonna be a a long season.
That's it for this week everyone. Take care until next week. I will be back on the blog soon commenting on certain games during the week. Untiil then, have fun watching the games.