Posts Tagged ‘LA Lakers

06
Oct
09

Top 10 NBA Players at a Career Crossroads

Which NBA Players have taken their careers for granted, and not given their team 100% effort? Which high draft picks must either step up their game or consider retirement? What NBA veterans, because of a change in coach, team, or their team’s style of play will be forced to take on a different role than they have been used to throughout their career? Which players have suffered numerous injuries and are possibly being given their last chance to be a valuable player for their team? All are important questions which will undoubtedly be played out and answered during the upcoming NBA season. Here is my list of players who must change their game or find themselves riding the pine or at the unemployment line.

Darko Milicic

Darko Milicic(NYK) – When the Knicks traded Q-Rich to Memphis for the rights to Darko, everyone in NY figured that the move was made for 2010 salary space. After 6 disappointing seasons of 5.5 ppg and 4 rebs , Darko will be given one more chance to prove he is a NBA player or forever be placed on NBA Draft Bust lists(if he isn’t already). The ’03 draft is remembered as one of the best in recent memory but not because of (#2) Milicic.

Sam Dalembert mohawk

Sam Dalembert(PHI) – Since receiving a huge contract for averaging 11.6 ppg and 12.8 rebs in a first round playoff loss to the Pistons in ’05, Slammin’ Sammy has regressed, seeing his scoring(6.4 ppg), minutes(24.8), and Blocks(1.7) drop to their lowest last year, since his rookie campaign. He has had issues with giving effort and staying out of foul trouble. With Elton Brand and Jason Smith back from injuries and 2nd year player Maurice Speights pushing for playing time, I don’t see where he fits in new coach Eddie Jordan’s rotation.

Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum(LAL) – Andrew Bynum is the definition of talented but prone to injury. After multiple knee injuries, Bynum is expected once again to be at or near 100% for the upcoming season. Although he averaged 14.3 ppg and 8 rebs in 50 games and is signed through 2012, Bynum will be given the opportunity as a major contributor. If he succumbs to another major injury, he could drift into draft bust territory as a former(’05) lottery pick.

Eddie Curry

Eddy Curry(NYK) – For Curry’s sake, he should be motivated to be in shape and contribute on a bad Knick team who is already looking forward to the 2010 free agency sweepstakes. Since averaging a career high 19.5 ppg in ’07, Curry has played in only 62 games and his scoring dipped to 13.2 and dismal 1.7 ppg. Even though it is doubtful he will remain on the Knicks roster past the trade deadline, he needs to show something if he hopes to remain on any team’s roster past next season.  His recent injury won’t help matters.

Grizzlies Media Day Basketball

Allen Iverson(MEM) – Although A.I. can still play at a high level, the future HOFer is no longer among the league’s elite players and it appears that he is having some trouble accepting that fact. After refusing to come off of the bench last season in Detroit, the team actually paid him to stay away. Hopefully the humbling experience of not receiving any long term offers this Summer. and accepting a 1 year deal in Memphis, will give him a sense of reality and finally become a team player………….lol.

AndrewBogut007

Andrew Bogut(MIL) – It’s tough to live up to being a #1 overall draft pick. Bogut has been good, but not great. He has shown flashes of potential and has has career highs of 14.3 ppg in ’08 and 10.3 rebs in ’09 and is still one of the pieces the the Bucks look to build around. One could argue that he has been hindered by a lack of a talented point guard to play with, but that will change this season with the addition of Brandon Jennings, meaning that there will be no more excuses.

Baron Davis fear the beard

Baron Davis(LAC) – Davis is coming off of his worst season in years. The 2 time All Star and 17 ppg career scorer who was once considered one of the league’s fiercest competitors saw his scoring(14.9ppg) dip to it’s lowest in the past 9 seasons. At age 30, has the toll of more than 700 NBA games taken their toll on his surgically repaired knees or did he just have a bad year. The Clippers have surrounded him in LA with some outstanding talent to return to star status. Or will Baron be overtaken by the Clipper curse?

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Michael Beasley(MIA) – Can a player be at a career crossroads after just one season? Beasley will answer just that after admitting or not to having a substance abuse problem and going into rehab. Obviously Beasley is still a young(20) man who likes to have fun and not follow the rules but he needs to mature very quickly since he has already had a few offcourt incidents which may or may not have affected his play. Most players would kill for rookie stats of 13.9 points and 5.4 rebounds but they don’t live up to the standards for a player of Beasley’s caliber. He has already been involved in trade talks as bait in bringing Utah’s Carlos Boozer to Miami.

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Vince Carter(ORL) – At age 32, Vinsanity is entering new territory in his career. Carter has amazed all of us with his ability to take over games as the go to guy in both Toronto and New Jersey. He now must become one of the best role players in the NBA since the Orlando Magic are already stacked with talent and have one of the league’s best go to guys in Dwight Howard. The knock on Carter has always been his penchant for jacking up 3 pt shots, sometimes too often and at inopportune times. How Carter adjusts to playing within coach Van Gundy’s system and becoming a complimentary player may be the Magic’s biggest question going into the season.

Amare Stoudemire

Tie, Gilbert Arenas(WAS), Tracy McGrady(HOU), Amare Stoudemire(PHO), and Elton Brand(PHI) – It’s hard to put players on this list because of injuries but each of these players have missed significant time in their careers due to injury. Arenas and McGrady are probably at the biggest crossroads since they have suffered the worst injuries. Both are supposedly almost at full strength but are returning to different situations. Arenas has a good supporting cast waiting for him on a good team while T-Mac will return to a Houston squad in rebuilding mode. Brand has missed almost two full seasons due to Achilles and shoulder issues. His outlook appears good since he is on a rising young team in Philly with plenty of talent around him and is implementing an offense which favors multi-talented big men(see Antawn Jamison and Chris Webber). Stoudemire is not so lucky to be on a young team like Brand, but is on an aging team on the way down. All Summer long there have been rumors of his departure to another NBA city.

18
Aug
09

NBA Offseason Power Rankings

Every two weeks during the offseason, we at the Haven, will rank the Top 10 teams based on free agent moves, player development, and trades.

Celtics big 3

1) Boston – Adding Rasheed Wallace to a talented team that took Orlando to 7 games last season without Garnett means trouble for the NBA.  Resigning “Big Baby” Davis helps offset the loss of Leon Powe.  The only thing that can stop the C’s is the I word………………injuries.

2) San Antonio – Another already talented team that adds Richard Jefferson and Dejuan Blair through the draft to play off the bench.  Injuries to Parker and Ginobili are a concern.  If healthy, they are better than the Lakers out West……..at least on paper.

3) LA Lakers – You can at least book a return trip to the Western Finals.  Ron Artest will help especially on defense.  Getting Odom back was crucial.  Factor in the Zenmaster and Kobe’s quest to “Be Like Mike”and LA may be playing for another title.

4)Orlando – You know Dwight Howard is the best big man in the game when other teams bring in players to stop YOU(See Cleveland).  At age 32, Vinsanity finally doesn’t have to carry a team since this is the best team he has ever been on.  A healthy Jamir Nelson, former NCAA POY and All-Star is a difference maker.

5) Cleveland – Adding the 4 time champion,”Big Shaqtus” from Phoenix to get past Orlando is a good move……..but not enough.  An older and slower O’Neal might clog the lane and  get in an even better, Lebron’s path to the basket.  Winning 66 games again may be tougher in an improved Eastern Conference.

6) Portland – The addition of Miller at the point should do wonders for a young Blazers squad in need of a veteran leader.  The move should take the some pressure off of the underrated Roy who can concentrate on scoring and defense.  Portland could have the best young developing frontcourt in the league in Aldridge and Oden,…………… if healthy

7) Denver – The Nuggets return essentially the same team from last season’s Western Conference Finals squad.  The drafting of Ty Lawson from UNC gives a good change of pace for Billups who’s not getting any younger………………………..Nuggets stay the same+Lakers, Spurs, and Blazers improve=Not good!

8) Washington – It’s not a typo………..With a little luck on the injury front, the Wizards could be the 4th best team in the East.  Don’t underestimate the additions of Foye and Miller to an already great nucleus of Arenas, Jamison, and Butler.  An improving JaVale McGee will help defensively against opposing big men.

9) Toronto – The EuroRaptors and Chris Bosh will be good but not great.  Adding the playoff proven Turkoglu helps but doesn’t come close to other teams improvements like the top teams in the East.

10) Atlanta – The young Hawks have something good brewing in Atlanta.  An aging Bibby is a good architect to a nest of budding stars in Smith, Horford, and a resigned Williams.  The Hawks did right by waiting for their players to develop since their wasn’t a free agent move out there to put them in the title hunt.  The best is yet to come………….  

Next 5Dallas, Utah, Miami, New Orleans, and Philadelphia

17
Aug
09

Is the Eastern Conference Stronger Than the West?

Garnett

Since the ’98-’99 season, the Western Conference has produced the eventual NBA Champion 8 times in 11 seasons. Only Detroit in ’04, Miami in ’06, and Boston in ’08 have won an NBA title from the East. In addition, the West has just been a deeper conference from #1 through #8 from teams making the playoffs. Case in point being Phoenix last season winning 46 games and missing postseason play where 46 wins would have been the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. Whether it was parity or good competition, the East’s final #5 through #12 seeds were constantly in flux right until the regular season finale, with the final 3 spots finishing with record of .500 or under. The West’s top seeds beat up on the bottom teams within the conference as evidence of their conference records and that the #10 – #15 teams all had winning percentages below 36%.

The ’09-’10 season should see a swing in power to the East. Through player movement in free agency, prime talent returning from injuries, or young nucleuses maturing, the East could have upwards of 6 teams winning 50+ games. Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Toronto, Atlanta, and Washington are all capable of reaching the 50 win plateau.

Boston, Cleveland, and Orlando should be legitimate title contenders through free agent acquisitions. Boston has now has the “Big 4″ for teams to contend with since adding Rasheed Wallace to the ’08 Championship trio of Garnett, Pierce, and Allen, along with budding star Rajon Rondo, who may challenge for an All-Star spot. Cleveland has added “Shaq Diesel“, “The Big Cactus”, or whatever O’Neal, the 7 foot, 4 time NBA Champion calls himself these days along with a slew of new supporting players to add to a team that won 66 games and had the best record in the league. Orlando chose addition by subtraction by choosing not to resign Hedo Turkoglu and bringing in Vince Carter, an 8 time All-Star from New Jersey, to a team that advanced all the way to the Finals last season.

The second tier teams in the East, Washington, Atlanta, and Toronto, have improved in different ways to almost certainly reach 50 wins as well. If healthy, the Wizards could vie for a #4 seed since they have made a decision to win now by trading their draft selections to Minnesota for a few good role players to compliment a talented trio of Jamison, Butler, and the oft injured Arenas. Toronto has two reasons for trying to improve in the standings. The Raptors have brought in Orlando Magic castoff Turkoglu and a few supporting players to try and move from mediocrity to contender and to persuade 2010 possible free agent Chris Bosh, to stay North of the border. Atlanta kept it’s young but talented nucleus intact for another run by resigning veteran Mike Bibby to be paired with newly re-upped Marvin Williams, Joe Johnson, and talented big men Josh Smith and Al Horford.

Miami, Philadelphia, and Chicago, while mired in mediocrity, have done little to this point to improve on their near .500 records and should be in the mix for the final two playoff spots with a noticeable dropoff with the rest of the East’s bottom tier teams.

Out West, only San Antonio and the LA Lakers are legitimate title contenders. The Lakers essentially return the same roster as last season’s championship squad with the exception of another adding by subtracting scenario. The Lakers allowed Trevor Ariza to defect to Houston while recruiting former Defensive Player of the Year, Ron Artest to Hollywood which is an obvious upgrade. San Antonio may now boast of having the deepest and most talented roster in the league by adding one of the NBA’s all around talents in Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess to future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, and explosive guards, Parker and Ginobili. The West’s top two have improved to a greater degree than the rest of the conference and should separate themselves accordingly.

Although other Western teams are good, they aren’t on par with the NBA’s top contenders or even some of the second tier teams of the East. Denver through experience and veteran leadership, and Portland with their plethora of future young stars will hopefully prove me wrong by season’s end. The Denver Nuggets proved they are close by advancing all the way to the Western Finals last season and will try to improve after adding depth to an already talented roster through the draft. Although Portland, who with the addition of floor general Andre Miller should take some of the pressure off of the underrated and newly extended, Brandon Roy, are probably still a year or two away but would like to improve on their 54 wins and #4 seed last year.

In my opinion, the teams out West will see a drop off in wins after the top 4 teams. In the lead for the #5 seed should be the Dallas Mavericks. By resigning their on-court leader in Jason Kidd and bringing in Shawn Marion and other sharpshooters to be paired with Nowitzki, Terry, and Howard, the Mavs should be again be a very potent offensive quad but even things out by not playing much defense. New Orleans, while having arguably the best point guard in the league in CP3, better scorers in Doug West, and now having one of the best defensive big men in Okafor, are hamstrung by finances and will be hard pressed to duplicate their 49 wins last season. The consistently good Utah Jazz may have a decrease in wins depending on where they will undoubtedly dump their talented but unhappy leading scorer, Carlos Boozer and who or what they get back for him.

Two of the annual playoff participants in past seasons, Houston and Phoenix, should experience a major decline in wins because of injuries and player defections through free agency. This could create a logjam for the final few playoff spots which is similar to what the East has experienced the past couple of years. Young and talented squads like Golden State, Oklahoma City, and even the LA Clippers may contend for a spot in the postseason.

For the first time in a long while, I look forward to this wide open NBA season since so many teams have improved and have a shot at the title, especially in the Eastern Conference. I just wish my 76ers could compete with the big boys. Well, as long as we beat the Knicks……..!

lebron




About the Author:

Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen also writes for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, and UpperDeckblog.com.

Favorite teams include everything Philly, like Sixers, Eagles, Phillies, Villanova , St. Joe's , Hoops, LaSalle, and Lehigh University Hoops.

Contact info: mollallen@yahoo.com

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