Thursday, April 29, 2010

Top Recruiting Classes of 2010

 Read this article on Bleacher Report

Now that the vast majority of the highly rated senior prospects have committed to a school, it's time to take a look at which colleges got the best recruiting hauls. Many of the same names are back in the picture. John Calipari, Roy Williams, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, and Thad Matta all made big splashes with this year's class, but many newcomers have entered the picture as well. Memphis' Jon Pastner and NC State's Sidney Lowe came through big for their schools on the recruiting trail.

Lets look at the top 10 classes, but first here are some schools with great classes coming in, but just missed the cut for the top 10:

#13 F Patric Young
#35 G/F Casey Prather
F Cody Larson
F Will Yeguette
G Scottie Wilbekin

#24 F Tony Mitchell
#42 G Phil Pressey
G/F Ricky Kreklow
F Kadeem Green
F Ricardo Ratliff
G Matt Pressey

Wake Forest
#49 G JT Terrell
#60 F Travis McKie
#64 C Carson Desrosiers
F Melvin Tabb
G Tony Chennault

#23 G/FJerome Richmond
#47 C Meyers Leonard
#79 G Crandall Head

10. North Carolina State
#11 F CJ Leslie
#39 G Ryan Harrow
G Lorenzo Brown

State is officially back. Sidney Lowe secured a HUGE commitment (again) from athletic freak CJ Leslie, who had UK in his top 3 at the very end of his recruitment. Leslie is a dunking and rebounding machine. He stands 6'8' but has RIDICULOUS arm length. You'll see what I'm talking about next year. Leslie will be one the best shot blockers in the nation with his unreal combination of length and athleticism. What a steal for NC State.
Ryan Harrow will start at point guard from day 1. He gives Coach Lowe a savvy guard who has many, many ways of scoring. He's lightning quick and has the unusually solid knack for shooting on the move. With Harrow at the controls, the Wolfpack will be back in the hunt for the ACC title.

9. Tennessee
#6 F Tobias Harris
#38 G Jordan McRae
G Trae Golden

Versatile forward Tobias Harris is the jewel of Bruce Pearl's latest class. Harris is a good shooter, rebounds extremely well, and has been commended for his great work ethic. He needs to work on his post game, but with his ability to play up to 3 different positions, he will be a star in the SEC.
McRae is an aggressive slasher who has great ability to create his own shot and finish at the rim. He isn't a great shooter, but should be a great contributor to the Vols with his athleticism and slashing ability.

8. Michigan State
#26 C Adreian Payne
#27 G Keith Appling
#61 F Russell Byrd
F Alex Gauna

The Spartans only add to their already formidable Final Four Squad that loses just 1 starter with this incredible class, headlined by two studs in Payne and Appling. Payne is one of the best centers in the class, and will most likely start for Coach Izzo. He is a long, athletic shot blocker who is explosive and plays above the rim. He will be a tough interior defender for an already scary good defensive MSU team. Offensively, he is not quite as polished, but the Spartans will not need him to score. Great pickup for Izzo.
Appling is a compact scorer who once scored 49 points in a high school state championship game. He is super quick and can shoot the jumper. His only weakness is that he needs the ball to be effective and must work on his point guard skills. Once he develops a floor game, he will be a tough guy to stop.

7. Texas

#10 F Tristan Thompson
#16 G Cory Joseph
Rick Barnes went waaaay up north to Canada to find these two young studs. Texas's class is more about quality than quantity. Thompson is an extraordinarily gifted athlete. He is a combo forward who can guard players on the perimeter as well as down low. He is an elite rebounder and can really get it done on both ends of the court. He must improve on his shooting and ball handling, but has unlimited potential.
Cory Joseph is THE best defensive guard in the class. He is a relentless ballhawk and an accurate perimeter shooter.He doesn't have the explosiveness and athleticism of some other guards, but overall, may be the one of the two best pure point guards in the class. He can handle the ball, and is a great distributor.

6. Duke
#3 G Kyrie Irving
#19 F Josh Hairston
G Tyler Thornton
G Seth Curry (Transfer from Liberty)
F Carrick Felix (Transfer from College of Southern Idaho)

It's been a LOOOOONG time since Coach K had a point guard prospect like Kyrie Irving. Not all scouting services agree at the moment, but I am 100% confident that KI is the number one point guard in this year's class, and it's not even close. No guard in 2010 has Irving's combination of speed, quickness, court vision, shooting stroke, and ability to get to the rim at will. He has the body strength to score through contact, and is deadly in crunch time. Duke will not miss a beat with KI replacing Jon Scheyer at the point.
Also going to Durham next year is Josh Hairston, a versatile forward who is long and athletic. Hairston can shoot the three with accuracy and is smooth offensively with his face-up game. He needs to work on his strength, but should be a valuable contributor off the bench.
Seth Curry also joins the Blue Devils after a year sitting on the bench due to NCAA transfer rules. After leading all freshman in the nation in scoring at Liberty in 2009, Curry is ready to contribute immediately with his deadly three point shooting and overall scoring ability.

5. Syracuse
#11 G Dion Waiters
#14 C Fabricio Melo
#63 F CJ Fair
C Baye Moussa Keita

Syracuse lost it's best player in Wes Johnson, but don't be surprised to see the Orange back in the hunt for a #1 seed with imposing 7 footer Fab Melo suiting up for Jim Boeheim. Melo is 7 feet tall and 270 pounds and will be the anchor of Boeheim's stifling 2-3 zone. He can block shots, rebound, and score. Melo can really do it all.
Waiters is big time scoring guard who owns a body built for contact. He can get himself hoops when he needs to, and has a great first step, accelerates and finishes at the rim. A talented scoring threat.

4. North Carolina

#1 G/FHarrison Barnes
#18 G/F Reggie Bullock
#22 G Kendall Marshall

It's a little bit hard to believe this isn't the #1 class this year, but that just shows you how good the top classes really are. If you haven't heard of Harrison Barnes at this point, then you've been living in another galaxy. Barnes is the most complete player in the country. He has a 7 foot wingspan, can shoot the 3, get to the rim, is a lock down defender, can handle the ball, and the list goes on and on. No player in the country will be as good as Harrison Barnes next year. Yes, that includes upperclassmen.
Reggie Bullock is a deadly shooter and has great size. He is also an accomplished defender and will start alongside Barnes right away.
Marshall finally gives Ol' Roy a floor leader who can really pass. He isn't quite the fast break dynamo that Kyrie Irving is, but make no mistake, this guy is one of the best passers in the class.
Tobacco road looks to be hotly contested this year, as NC State, UNC, and Duke will all be formidable teams in the ACC.

3. Kentucky
#4 G Brandon Knight
#25 C Enes Kanter
#29 G Doron Lamb
#51 G/F Stacy Poole
G Jarrod Polson

Knight is a a big time scorer, he has the ability to create for himself, but needs to work on his passing and court vision. He has good athletic ability and size for the point guard position and will step in nicely for John Wall.
Enes Kanter may be the most underrated prospect in this year's class. He is a big time scorer in the post and can shoot the mid ranged jumper as well. He is fundamentally sound and has great basketball IQ. He will be one of the top centers in the country.
Lamb is one of the top scoring wing players in this class. He really has a great feel for getting buckets. He could be more explosive off the bounce, but overall just a really talented kid.

2. Memphis
#8 G Will Barton
#21 G Joe Jackson
#44 G/F Jelan Kendrick
#59 Tarik Black
F Hippolyte Tsafack
G Chris Crawfod
G Antonio Barton

Second year coach Josh Pastner picked up right where John Calipari left off: picking up top recruits and making it look easy. Will Barton will be one of the top scoring threats in the nation with his length and aggressiveness. He has great size and has a unique ability to create scoring opportunities for himself. At this point, his greatest weakness is strength, once Barton hits the weights, he will be a force to reckoned with.
Joe Jackson is a high flying scoring machine who reminds some of Nate Robinson. He needs to work on his ball handling and passing to excel at the college level, but he is an elite scorer.
Kendrick is one of those unique wings who will either be a skilled small forward or a point man. He's working towards the latter and has the natural ability to make it happen. Great size, vision and passing skills. Needs to tighten up his handle in traffic but that will come easier once his game grows into his body.

1. Ohio State
#2 C Jared Sullinger
#12 F Deshaun Thomas
#80 G Lenzelle Smith
#82 G Jordan Sibert
G Aaron Craft
F JD Weatherspoon

Ohio State is quickly becoming THE place for centers to go to college. Following in the footsteps of former Buckeyes Oden, Mullens, and Koufos, Jared Sullinger joins Thad Matta as possibly the best of the bunch. Big Sully is an unstoppable low post scorer, using his huge frame extremely well. He must become better conditioned, as his speed and quickness are below par, but he will be the best center in the nation this year.
Deshaun Thomas is an incredible prospect. At 6-7, he is a deadly catch and shoot scorer as well as a threat to take it to the hole. Few players in the country have his combination of size and shooting ability.

Kyrie Irving Is A BEAST

Since the last time I saw  tape of Kyrie, he's clearly gotten much stronger and has worked on his vertical leap. His jump shot is pure as always, this guy looks absolutely unstoppable. If he's not the #1 point guard on every recruiting  service's list by the end of this this AAU season, then they have no credibility. No other guard in this class has the combination of speed, quickness, scoring ability and court vision of KI. Relax Duke fans, the Greg Paulus era is behind us for good. Duke finally got a real PG.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NFL Update

yes, friends, it's that time of the year. (Okay, not QUITE, but definitely after the NBA playoffs are over) You know what I'm talking about . . . the time of year when we have to pretend like baseball isn't excruciatingly boring and count the minutes until football season.

This off season has been action packed, and I'm here to bring everyone up to date.

1. Big Shady Ben
First on the docket . . . Ben Roesthlisberger . . . who I've lost all respect for. WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING, BEN???? You have 2 super bowl rings . . . why the f*** are you (allegedly) doing bad things to a girl in a public nightclub bathroom? You had your buddies block the door to stop her friends from finding her . . . and then you (allegedly) somehow got the footage destroyed . . . nice one, but maaaaad shady, Ben. Mad shady. You were my backup QB on my fantasy team last year! HOW COULD YOU????? Okay, sorry people, I'm done ranting, I'm just very very disappointed in my fantasy QB who won 2 games for me last year. And unlike the steelers, I will not be keeping him on my team. A 6 game suspension severely kills his fantasy value, pick him up off waivers in week 4 or 5 . . . if you want a rapist on your team.

2. The Draft
I have a feeling that this draft class will eventually be regarded as one of the deepest in recent memory. All 4 of the big name QBs have the potential to eventually start for their teams in the next few years. Quick QB preview:

Jimmy Clausen: Of the 4, I think he landed in the best situation for him to play right away. Matt Moore will start the season, but Clausen will pass him on the depth chart, make no mistake. He's got a rocket arm, quick release, and can zip those finger breaking 15 yard bullets reminiscent of Favre in the his prime. (what am I talking about? Favre probably won't hit his prime till next year) He's got Steve Smith on the outside (also a few rookie WRs that the panthers drafted in early rounds), 2 stud running backs in Williams and Jon Stewart, and experience running a pro style offense. He won't be incredible, but he'll be solid, one of the better QBs in the league once he gets settled.

Sam Bradford: I had doubts about Bradford, but recently, I've come around on him. Something most people don't know about Bradford: He is a RIDICULOUS athlete. He was a legend in oklahoma city, where as a high schooler, he was a 3 sport star, playing football, basketball, and golf. He played AAU basketball with Blake Griffin who said "(Sam) was good-really good actually. He could shoot, he could pass, he could do it all." Bradford averaged a double double as a 6'4" point guard, and I bet he could have made it to the NBA if he had continued playing basketball. The Rams need him to start probably some time this season, and if he can stay healthy, I see this guy really becoming one of the best QBs in the league.

Colt McCoy: I think a lot of people are underrating this guy. When you listen to him talk, he's just a REALLY focused kid with a great head on his shoulders. And he's a winner, all time leader in NCAA wins. Some people question his toughness because of that fiasco in the NC, but I think he's going to be a star in the NFL. He's really similar to Drew Brees in many respects. They are both short (6'1"), but are ridiculously accurate, and both were big winners in college. He landed in a good spot with Mike Holmgren in Cleveland. He's my darkhorse pick for best QB in the draft. Quote me on that.

Tim Tebow: Okay, I'll be honest, I don't see Tebow dominating in the NFL the same way in college obviously, but the guy is a fierce competitor and a natural leader. I don't think he has the natural talent that the other 3 here possess, but He will eventually start because he's Josh McDaniels' guy now. They are going to sink or swim together. He won't be as good as the other 3, but he'll be a serviceable QB in the NFL. I do think the Broncos were a little stupid taking him that early. They might have been able to snag him in the 3rd or 4th round to be honest. Oh yeah, he's also dating THIS GIRL----------------------->>>>>

3. Offseason Movement
I'm not going to talk about the 500 trades that happened during the draft, but I will commend the Raiders for going after Jason Campbell, he's a guy that got a lot of unwarranted criticism, and he's actually a pretty good QB. And he's only 8 bazillion times better than the Jamarcus Russell.

Donovan McNabb to the Redskins: Good move for the Redskins. With some luck, they might make a somewhat strong push for the playoffs with some newly drafted OLs and Al Haynesworth on D. Hmm . . nah they wont make the playoffs without a solid RB, (Portis does not count) but McNabb is definitely an upgrade over Campbell.

The NY Jets: Oh . . my . . God . . . Antonio Cromartie, Jason Taylor, AND Santonio Holmes? Absurd. No, I'm not going to mention LT as a good pick up. I just don't see how LT is better than Thomas Jones right now, that was a bad decision. But DEAR GOD . . . can these guys really just blitz 8 or 9 guys every down? Revis and Cromartie are about as shut-down as it gets. Taylor's still a beast of a pass rusher. Best defense in the league. BY FAR.

Anquan Boldin to the Ravens: Boldin gives Flacco another experienced wide out to throw the ball to, I expect Flacco to be a top 10 fantasy QB this year for sure.

Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins: Not sure how I feel about this. Does it increase his value or decrease it? I think it decreases it because I like Ronnie Brown more than Moreno. Marshall is still a beast though, one of the biggest, most physical WRs in the league. Just not as good as Andre Johnson.

Disclaimer: I'm no football junkie, but I do enjoy following the NFL during the season if for no other reason than there's no basketball. I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't take my word too seriously on football, I like it, but I know a million times more about hoops.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wasting A-Wade

Dwayne Wade is throwing away diamonds. He's skipping them along the Mississippi River and watching them sink to the bottom lost forever, just like his useless 46 point, 5 assist, 5 rebound game yesterday against the Celtics. It was a great performance, a virtuoso excelling, performing his craft at the most unbelievable of levels, leaving mouths agape, jaws on the floor, and eyes dangling out of their sockets.

But it was all for nothing. Nobody watched it, nobody cared, and in the grand scheme of things it did not even matter. All his effort, sacrifice, and unbridled aggression was to win one futile game so that at the end the Heat will not lose 4-0, but 4-1. And just to put it out there it was amazing to see how angry Wade was playing. He was going to win that game no matter what. However, this series was over before it started, and Dwayne Wade's heroics are going unheralded, and it's a tragedy. It is a tragedy that we no longer put Wade with Kobe, Lebron, Carmelo, and Durant. We might still mention his name in the same breadth with them, but we don't really believe it because its not an issue when it matters. His name is forgotten in the championship hunt. We measure greatness in the playoffs. We measure greatness not solely by championships but by the ability to compete for them, and unfortunately for Wade his star dims, through no fault of his own, at the most important time. In the playoffs where legends are made, Wade is a complete non-factor because his team simply cannot compete. When Lebron and Garnett go head to head, or Kobe snipes game-winners in game sevens, or Ginobli puts a team on his back in a conference finals, Wade is sitting at home, a complete non-entity, diminished, and we forget.

We forget the amazing ability, the gravity -defying theatrics, and the raw aggresion and passion in his game. We are missing out on a prime time playoff performer during the prime of his career because his team is terrible. Wade is wasting his remarkable and unique talent, fighting his heart out for a team that has no chance. Wade more than any of the other stars during free agency needs to switch teams. He needs to re-define his legacy with a new team. He needs to play for a playoff contender not simply a participator. We need to see him relevant again in the playoffs like during his championship run, when everybody had him pegged as the greatest basketball player in the world, when his one legged, floating daggers from the three point line meant something. He has, for the past few years, done more with less than any other superstar in the league but has languished in the minor leagues of NBA playoff teams. His career is in dire jeapordy of ending with no real NBA significance, never fulfilling its great potential, giving us just a taste of what could have been, just a flash of brilliance. Hopefully D-Wade will get it right this offseason and stop spinning yarn into gold and then throwing it away.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thunder Rough Up Lakers to Pull Even

Hey everyone, I've been super busy this week so i haven't been able to post much, but here's an good blog post I found on ESPN by J.A. Adande which addresses my favorite NBA Playoffs series so far:

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Since the question is already floating out there, the answer is yes: If the Thunder knock off the Lakers, it would be a bigger first-round upset than the Warriors over the Mavericks in 2007.
Although the 2009-10 regular-season win disparity between the Lakers and Thunder was only seven games instead of the 25-game gulf between the Mavericks and Warriors, the Mavericks weren't the defending champions, and the Warriors weren't the playoff neophytes the Thunder were a week ago. (At the start of that Mavs-Warriors series, Baron Davis had played 35 playoff games, Stephen Jackson 43 -- including a championship ring -- and Al Harrington 25.)

The reason we're even having this discussion is the Thunder are halfway there, tied at 2 in their first-round series with the Lakers after a thorough 110-89 victory in Game 4 on Saturday night.

To me, it still feels a little less like Mavs-Warriors and a little more like Celtics-Hawks from a couple of years ago or even Lakers-Kings in 2002. The Kings were a better overall team that season, but the Lakers were championship-tested. (Don't even start with the Tim Donaghy-fueled conspiracy theories about Game 6. The Kings gagged in a Game 7 at home.) In other words, although the Thunder have played well, I'm not convinced they'll win this series.

It's all about Game 5. If the Lakers can win, it's hard to imagine the Thunder being prepared to win a Game 7 on the road. Playoff newcomers don't do those types of things.

That's all the Lakers have on their side at the moment. If you cleared the slate and didn't know which team had the experience or championship rings in its safe-deposit boxes, you'd give the advantage to the Thunder.
Let's say Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant effectively neutralize each other (even though Durant's ahead right now). The Thunder's No. 2 man, Russell Westbrook, has been consistently better than any Lakers candidate for the second-best spot. His Game 4 line: 18 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists.

The Thunder are playing better interior defense, rebounding better, getting easier baskets in transition, getting to the line more often and converting their free throws at a higher rate.

They were so superior in this game that they led by as many as 29 points, and Bryant spent the waning moments back in the locker room getting a head start on his treatment.

The Thunder have all the momentum; the Lakers have no answers. Starting with Westbrook's series-altering dunk in the third quarter of Game 3, the Thunder have outscored the Lakers 145-111.

When asked what the Lakers' frame of mind is right now, Bryant said, "Um, I'm not sure."

After constantly hearing that the solution was to get the ball inside to their big men, the Lakers dutifully complied at the outset of Game 4, with Bryant taking it to the extreme by not shooting in the first quarter. "I was managing the game exactly how I wanted," he said.

Despite getting quality looks, the Lakers made only 36 percent of their shots in the first quarter. Pau Gasol converted four of his first six but turned into a liability during the course of the game because he wouldn't come out to guard Jeff Green. The Thunder forward made two 3-pointers and scored 15 points, in addition to outrebounding Gasol 9-4. Gasol had a plus/minus of minus-22, worst on the Lakers.

The Thunder have turned all their negative attributes into positives. They're shorter, but they're faster down the court and to the ball, which translated into 24 fast-break points and 23 second-chance points Saturday. Their youth had them looking much fresher after the teams played four games in seven days. But the pace slows now, with two games in the next six days. And home-court advantage swings to the Lakers, with two games in Los Angeles if the series goes the distance.

"We know we still have a lot of work to do," Westbrook said. "We have to go to L.A. and try to figure out a way to squeeze out a win."

The Thunder can be buoyed by the memory of their last visit to the Staples Center, when they attempted a 3-pointer to win and then a 3-pointer to tie in the final seven seconds.

The Lakers can feel better based on what? Their ability to advance despite a pair of pathetic losses in Houston in the second round last season? That they found a way to win four of their last six road playoff games last year?

Phil Jackson isn't having it.

"Last season is entirely off the books," the Lakers' coach said.

And if they're not careful, their 2010 chapter will close a lot sooner than expected.

J.A. Adande is a columnist for

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Series to Watch

The Eastern Conference games should all be on NBA TV then no one would have to suffer through them. It's all chalk out there, each of the four lower seeds are outrageously over-matched by the higher seeds. There is no hope for those teams. Yesterday when the Bulls were staying with the Cavs the thought never crossed my mind that the Bulls could perhaps, possibly steal this game. The only thought which dully hummed in my mind was when Lebron would pull the Cavs away (turned out to be the fourth quarter). Might as well turn these games off.

The West is a different story entirely. All four match-ups are actually pretty good, even better than I thought they would be. My favorite two series in the West are Lakers-Thunder and Spurs-Mavs. The Mavs-Spurs series is really up in the air. The Mavs took the first game, but so far through game two the Spurs look pretty good, and it seems as though the light bulb just came on for Richard Jefferson, who is playing superb so far through the half.

The Lakers-Thunder series might be over in four or five games but those games are fun to watch. Kevin Durant is a superstar and he's proving it at the playoff level. He still has a tendency to take some bad shots but when he curls off that pick and hoists a jumper its money. He lets it go and your eyes go straight to the basket, prepared to witness the whack-oosh of microphone induced NBA swishes. And Kobe, I always count him out, but at the end of games he really does come up big. Six big points to close out that game yesterday.

The Phoenix-Portland series is actually better than I thought it would be. I know the Suns blew them out last night, but the blazers really are a bad match-up for the Suns. Andre Miller is killing Steve Nash in the post so they have to put Jason Richardson on him, and Marcus Camby and Lemarcus Aldridge are causing all kinds of problems for Suns' bigs with their size and length. I still think Phoenix will pull this one out, but games in this series are much more entertaining than I originally thought.

The Denver-Utah seriously is knotted up at one but I really haven't gotten a chance to watch the games. I know the last game was close and Deron Williams was excellent but with all of Utah's injuries I really don't see them having a real shot at beating the Nuggets. But if they keep stealing games you never know.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Duke: 2010-11 Preview

Read this article on Bleacher Report

It's official, Singler is back. Duke haters everywhere, prepare to suffer another year. According to many "experts," Duke is the preseason #1 and the favorite to win it all (again). I still think Michigan State is the favorite, since losing seniors Zoubek, Thomas, and Scheyer cannot be underestimated, but Duke's backcourt is unquestionably the best in the nation for 2010-2011. Singler and fellow senior Nolan Smith are both potential All-Americans, joining the #1 point guard prospect Kyrie Irving, who will lead the offense, which, by the way, will be MUCH faster paced this year. Long distance snipers Seth Curry and Andrew Dawkins round out the ridiculous backcourt, and the athletic brothers Plumlee will return, presumably much improved, to cause havoc in the interior.  I anticipate many, many alley-oops from Irving to Plumlee (either one.)

Just check out this depth chart:
C: Miles Plumlee, (Mason Plumlee)
PF: Mason Plumlee, Josh Hairston, Ryan Kelly
SF: Kyle Singler, Carrick Felix
SG: Nolan Smith, Andre Dawkins
PG: Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Tyler Thornton

This team has all the weapons to be the run & gun, pressure defense, transition oriented, high scoring type of squad that Duke has traditionally seen. There is enough quality talent here for the team to go 10 deep, although I expect Coach K to shave the rotation down to 8 or 9 by March.

Although this team will be very different from last year's championship squad in terms of play style, it is similar in that the experience is there. My projected starting lineup includes 2 seniors, a junior, and a sophomore, all 4 of whom return from a championship campaign. Kyrie Irving doesn't really count as a freshman, since his game will translate immediately, and he will play as though he is an upperclassman.

There should be no questions about athleticism this time around, as this will be the most athletic Duke team since 2002. Everyone on the team can run the floor and finish at the rim. Duke fans can look forward to the most exciting squad we've seen since Jason Williams ran the point.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New NBA Playoffs Structure

Read this article on Bleacher Report

So, I've always had a problem with the way the NBA playoffs are structured. Most of the time, the first round is basically not worth watching, since every round is a 7 game series and the higher seeded team wins a huge majority of the time. Also, the overall competitive intensity of these games is low because one team is just overmatched. Here is my proposal to make the NBA playoffs more exciting. This diagram is the structure of the playoffs in the Austrailian football league. It may seem a little complicated at first, but here's how it works:

This would be the structure for 1 conference:

Round 1: All matchups are a best of 3 series with the higher seed having home court advantage
  • 1st Qualifying Final (QF): 1st seed vs. 4th seed
  • 2nd Qualifying Final: 2nd seed vs. 3rd seed
  • 1st Elimination Final (EF): 5th vs. 8th
  • 2nd Elimination Final: 6th vs. 7th
Round 2: Matchups are a best of 5 series, higher seed gets home court advantage
  • 1st Conference Quarter-final (CQF): Loser of 1st QF vs. winner of 1st EF
  • 2nd Conference Quarter-final: Loser of 2nd QF vs. winner of 2nd EF
Round 3: Matchups are a best of 5 series, higher seed gets home court advantage

  • 1st Conference Semi-Final (SF): Winner of 1st QF vs. winner of 2nd CQF
  • 2nd Conference Semi-Final: Winner of 2nd QF vs. winner of 1st CQF
 Round 4: Matchups are a best of 7 series, higher seed gets home court advantage
  • Conference Finals: Winners of 2 SFs
Round 5: Best of 7 series, team with better regular season record gets home court advantage.
  • NBA Finals: 2 conference champions
Here's why this would work: First off, you start out with matchups with teams that are closer in terms of seeding, which SHOULD translate into more exciting competitive games. 2nd, you get many more different mathups between different teams, so it will create more variety. 3rd, teams in the top 4 seeds of each conference will have a second chance even if they lose their first round series. This way, if a good team just has trouble with a specific matchup, they are not out of the playoffs entirely, they get another chance. 4th, this system would have just as many games, and the games would be more exciting, so it makes sense from a business perspective. The current playoff system isn't really exciting until the conference finals, this system would create much more urgency in the early rounds for everyone. Come on David Stern, if you are reading this, make it happen.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Amare Posterizes Kosta Koufos

Poor, poor Kosta Koufos, I mean, he had only been in for about a minute and a half, and then he got his face smashed on. You don't usually expect that to happen that quickly, and especially not after a drop step and pump fake. Clearly he was unaware how badly Amare covets the dunk of the year crown. And not only that, the poor 21 year old kid is clearly balding like crazy. Better get some rogaine.

Then again, if you're seven feet tall and don't expect Amar'e Stoudemire to try to dunk on you, you've never watched him play. Dunking on seven-footers is basically his favorite thing besides incomprehensible tattoos.

NBA Playoffs Preview: Western Conference

The West is king. That side of Mississippi is simply stacked with talent and quality teams. What do GM's on the West Coast know? and whatever it is, please share it with your Eastern counterparts so the playoffs can be more watchable in the East. It is amazing how good the West is, each of those teams have won 50 games, and outside of Cleveland and Orlando, I don't think any of the other Eastern Conference playoff teams could win in a seven game series against the West's eighth seed, the Thunder. I really think this year could be great for the Western playoffs because all the teams really are so close to each other, I could actually see each team winning and being able to advance, but only four can so here 's what i think.

Round 1

Oklahoma City v Los Angeles

The eight v one is always supposed to be lopsided, a tune up of sorts for the favorites to stay in game shape while their actual foes must run through a gauntlet of much tougher teams and much more strenous games. But the Thunder could provide a much stiffer test for the struggling Lakers. In fact I think the Thunder actually have a chance to beat the mighty Lakers. The Lakers have hit sort of a wall at the wrong time of the year, are going to have to reincorporate an injured Bynum, and their superstar Bean Bryant might be the most banged up player in the playoffs. Also the Thunder have nothing to lose, a young team expected to lose anyway, led by a nearly unstoppable next generation star who is shining far too bright already to be considered potentially great and not already great. I think KD will have a huge series, especially with all this crap from Phil Jackson, and really push the Lakers, but in the end Kobe and Lakers will pull it out. Or will they?......the Thunder have really coalesced as a team...i really want to pick the thunder would be crazy but...okay..c'mon.......and.............

Lakers (4-3)

San Antonio v Dallas

This is a tough one. Dallas has looked great since the trade, but the Spurs have Tim Duncan, TP, Manu, and that championship pedigree. I've thought all year the Spurs would come together and make some noise in the playoffs but this is a real tough match-up for them. I think both these teams could make serious runs in the playoffs with some momentum, so whoever wins this series could slide into the Western Conference Championship. I think Dallas will ultimately take this because they are a little younger and a little more athletic than San Antonio. Dallas can push the tempo with J-kidd, Marion and Butler, and Haywood is an athletic big who can give Duncan some trouble. The Spurs on the other hand have closed the season out in impressive wins against top-caliber playoff teams. Ultimately I think this will be one of the more competitive series with the Mavs taking it 4-2, but each game will be highly contested and very close, and though i'm saying Mavs 4-2, I would not be surprised at all if the Spurs took the series 4-2. Basically a cop out answer from me, I have no idea. This will be the best series.

Dallas (4-2)

Portland v Phoenix

Phoenix has to be one of the hottest teams in the league right now, and Steve Nash is playing out of his mind. Someone remind him that he is a small, unathletic white kid who shouldn't be dominating games the way he is. Phoenix is a tough match up for anyone because there are just shooters and scorers all over the place being put in perfect positions by one of the greatest set-up men of all time. This could have been a decent series if not for the Brandon Roy injury, which is clearly an example of why you rest your players at the end, all this crap about cheating the fans is ridiculous, cheating Blazers fans of Brandon Roy in the playoffs is the real crime here. Anyway I think Phoenix is too talented right now to be bothered too much by the Blazers, but maybe the blazers get emotionally riled up enough to put up enough of a fight to swipe a couple of games. They have been doing it all year. But ultimately this will be one of the lesser competitive series.

Phoenix (4-2)

Utah v Denver

This might seem like the most evenly matched series of the bunch, at least on paper and records-wise. Both teams have big time, big point guards who give opposing Pg's nightmares. However, I think I have to give the edge to Chauncey, he is just more steady at the point than D williams who sometimes can get into some turnover problems, but it'll be close. Carmelo will be the difference in this series. I just don't see Utah having an answer for him. He is too physical, too big, and too strong for the Jazz, they just don't have anyone that can really keep him in check (especially with Kirilenko out). But the Nuggets have really had Utah's number all season going 3-1 against them, and their only loss came when Carmelo and Chauncey were both out. However the Nuggets have been struggling as of late, and Kenyon Martin's injury really hurts them, but the Jazz themselves are pretty banged up Boozer, Okur, and Williams all ailing with something or the other. I think injuries will play a major factor in this series but in the end the Nuggets will come out on top.

Denver (4-3)

Friday, April 16, 2010

NBA Playoffs Preview: Eastern Conference

Read this article on Bleacher Report
Round 1 

Cavaliers vs. Bulls
The Bulls have made somewhat of a late season surge with Derrick Rose playing some of the best basketball of his career. Yes, they played out of their minds last year against the Celtics (and should have won), but losing 40 points a game from Ben Gordon and John Salmons is not going to help them score against a tough defensive squad in the Cavs. Derrick Rose will be tough to stop, but it's going to be 1 on 5. Deng will have a hard time doing anything with Lebron dogging him. Cavs will sweep. 

Prediction: Cavs in 4

Magic vs. Bobcats
Much more intriguing matchup. I just can't respect Stan van Gundy, so the coaching advantage definitely goes to the Bobcats. Good thing the games aren't decided by the coaches. The Magic are the deepest team in the league in my opinion. They have 5 quality starters, including the defensive player of the year Dwight Howard, and then a bench that includes outstanding role players Mickael Pietrus (defensive stopper), J.J. Redick (sniper and much improved passer), Jason Williams (one of the best backups PGs in the league), not to mention Bass, Gortat, and Anderson. That's a dangerous team. However the Bobcats have been underestimated all year. This will be a tough defensive battle, but the Magic are too good. 

Prediction: Magic in 6

Hawks vs. Bucks
It's a shame Andrew Bogut obliterated his elbow and went out for the season, otherwise this might have been a good series. (Actually, the Bucks would probably been a 5 seed) Brandon Jennings' shooting has been fading fast down the stretch, and John Salmons won't be able to carry the Bucks over a super athletic Hawks squad. The Hawks are loaded with size and strength at every position and will take this series with no major issues. 

Prediction: Hawks in 5

Dwayne Wade vs. Celtics
The Celtics are done. That's about all there is to say here. KG would be the most washed up player in the league, but Rasheed Wallace gets that distinction. Throw in a banged up Paul Pierce, and a 34 year old Ray Allen, and these guys have no hope of containing D-Wade, who is playing for a big payday this summer somewhere other than Miami. Boston's only hope rests on the unproportionally wide shoulders of Rajon Rondo, but not even he will be able to guard Wade. Nate Robinson is last year's Stephon Marbury. (Non-factor and liability on D) It will be a long series, but the Celtics' flame will finally sputter and go out.D-Wade will get angry and go on a rampage. 

Prediction: Dwayne Wade in 7 

Round 2 

Cavaliers vs. Dwayne Wade
As the matchup suggests, it's 5 on 1, and this time, Lebron is on the other team. Wade will do everything in his power to steal a game, and will succeed, but in the end, the Cavs just have too much size, too much physicality, and Wade will play his last game in a Heat uniform. No one in Miami should be mad at him either, Pat Riley didn't lift a single finger to try to build a real contender around him. 

Prediction: Cavs in 5

Magic vs. Hawks
This will be a fun one to watch. Two of the best defensive teams in the league, with the two most dominant defensive players in the league: Howard and Smith. The Hawks have come along way for sure, but the question here is whether or not they will have the offensive firepower to hang with the Magic. Both of these teams average over 100 ppg, but I'm giving the defensive edge to the to the Hawks and the offensive edge to the Magic. The bench is going to play a huge part in this matchup, and the Hawks have a stud in Jamal Crawford coming off the pine, but the Magic just have more quality guys 6 through 10. The Magic will win in a hotly contested, physical series. 

Prediction: Magic in 7 

Conference Finals 

Cavaliers vs. Magic
Here's what the Shaq trade was all about, and we will finally see if Lebron can get back to the finals. Both of these teams will be very hungry, but the Cavs have had the far easier road here, while the Magic have played 2 long, grueling, physical series up to this point, and as a result are a little more nicked up and fatigued. Lebron gets angry and turns into the incredible hulk and starts dunking all over superman and the Magic. He has the support on offense this year in Jamison and Mo Williams. J.J. Hickson has emerged as a legitimate role player and Shaq is big enough to give superman a little trouble. Cavs grind it out and make it back to the finals.

Prediction: Cavs in 6

Thursday, April 15, 2010

NBA Draft: Early Entrants

It seems like EVERY underclassman who has a chance to be drafted has declared already. Only 4 guys who I think have draft potential haven't decided yet: Kyle Singler (Duke), Luke Babbitt (Nevada), Greg Monroe (Georgetown), and Solomon Alabi (Florida State). However, I have heard rumors that Alabi is gone, and intends to sign with an agent. Also, I've got to assume that Singler is gone, he's accomplished everything he can at Duke, and his stock will never be higher. As much as I want him to stay, he's got to go now. Monroe is a top 10 guy, same as last year . . . but who knows what he's going to do? He should have gone last year. Players have until April 25 to declare. Here are the underclassmen who have already declared. Man, all i can say is, a LOT of these guys will go undrafted or be disappointed when they slide way down in to the 2nd round. Keep in mind that this list doesn't even include the seniors and the foreign players who are entering the draft.

*Cole AldrichKansasJr.C6-11245
*Al-Farouq AminuWake ForestFr.F6-9215
James AndersonOklahoma StateJr.G6-6210
Talor BattlePenn StateJr.G5-11170
Eric BledsoeKentuckyFr.G6-1190
Craig BrackinsIowa StateJr.F6-10230
Avery BradleyTexasFr.G6-3175
Derrick CaracterUTEPJr.F6-9275
DeMarcus CousinsKentuckyFr.C6-10270
Jordan CrawfordXavierSo.G6-4195
Ed DavisNorth CarolinaSo.F6-9215
Paul DavisWinston-Salem StateJr.F6-9195
Malcolm DelaneyVirginia TechJr.G6-3170
Devin EbanksWest VirginiaSo.F6-9215
Derrick FavorsGeorgia TechFr.F/C6-10245
Kenneth FariedMorehead StateJr.F6-8225
Jimmer FredetteBYUJr.G6-2195
Charles GarciaSeattleJr.F6-9220
Paul GeorgeFresno StateSo.G/F6-8210
*Manny HarrisMichiganJr.G6-5185
Gordon HaywardButlerSo.F6-9215
Jeremy HazellSeton HallJr.G6-5185
Adnan HodzicLipscombJr.F6-9225
Darington HobsonNew MexicoJr.F6-7205
*Armon JohnsonNevadaJr.G6-3195
JaJuan JohnsonPurdueJr.C6-10216
*Wes JohnsonSyracuseJr.G/F6-7205
Dominique JonesSouth FloridaJr.G6-4205
*Mac KoshwalDePaulJr.F/C6-10255
Sylven LandesbergVirginiaSo.G6-6207
*Gani LawalGeorgia TechJr.F6-9234
Demetri McCameyIllinoisJr.G6-3200
Tommy Mason-GriffinOklahomaFr.G5-11203
Elijah MillsapUABJr.G6-6215
E’Twaun MoorePurdueJr.G185250
*A.J. OgilvyVanderbiltJr.C6-11250
Daniel OrtonKentuckyFr.F6-10255
Patrick PattersonKentuckyJr.F6-9235
Rico PickettManhattanJr.G6-4170
Herb PopeSeton HallJr.F6-8235
Jeff RobinsonSeton HallSo.F6-5230
*Larry SandersVCUJr.C6-10215
Xavier SilasNorthern IllinoisJr.G6-5200
*Lance StephensonCincinnatiFr.F6-5210
*Evan TurnerOhio StateJr.G/F6-7205
Alex TyusFloridaJr.F6-8220
Ekpe UdohBaylorJr.C6-10245
John WallKentuckyFr.G6-4195
Willie WarrenOklahomaSo.G6-4199
Terrico WhiteMississippiSo.G6-5211
*Hassan WhitesideMarshallFr.F6-11215
*Elliot WilliamsMemphisSo.G6-5180
Chris WrightDaytonJr.PF6-8255
Jahmar YoungNew Mexico StateJr.G6-5180
*Signed with an agent