If you missed Part-1 of my version of the NBA All-Star Game, click here. Enjoy Part-2.
The Eastern Conference starting five is staunch, but the bench is lacking a pick in experienced depth. Let us take a gander in to how well the Western Conference is shaping up.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Player: Kevin Durant
Age/Position: 22/Small Forward
2010-11 Stats: 28 PPG, RPG, 3 APG
The NBA’s leading scorer. Also, the guy responsible (with help from Russell Westbrook) for taking Oklahoma City from an 8th seed, to a solid lock for a 2nd seed—maybe even the one seed if San Antonio stumbles in the second half of the season. Has any team ever done this, playing with the exact same team as the year before? Remember how close the Thunder were last year to knocking off the eventual Finals Champions Lakers in the first round? Will Kevin Durant be the sole reason Kobe never gets to his goal of at least tying Jordan’s six titles? Something to ponder.
Player: Deron Williams
Age/Position: 26/Point Guard
2010-11 Stats: 22 PPG, 9 APG, 1 SPG
His assist are down slightly from their usual ten this year, but his scoring is up by about four points. Deron has been the Jazz best player since they drafted him ahead of Chris Paul. Before either of them had played an NBA game, everyone was up in arms about the Jazz passing over Paul, but that uproar has become a thing of naught. Yes, statistically over their careers Chris Paul has gotten it done just a little bit better, with the winning edge attributed to his stealing capabilities. But on the court, Deron Williams is more a presence, if that makes any sense. The Jazz finished with a regular season record of 26-56 the year before drafting Williams. The next season they hit .500 with a 41-41 standing.
Then 48-34 (year he was hurt and missed 14 games)…
And last year 53-29.
That’s all D-Will. What about Boozer? That’s all D-Will too.
Player: Carmelo Anthony
Age/Position: 26/Small Forward
2010-11 Stats: 23 PPG, 8 RPG, 3 APG
If I am a Nuggets fan, with the New Jersey Nets officially backing out, and the Carmelo interview still lingering—“Playing in New York would be the ultimate dream”—I could not wait to ship Carmelo. It would not be out of hate or contempt either. I would want to send him away as quickly as possible, so the inevitable USS Ex-Carmelo sinking could begin, and improve my chances in the draft. Denver is a poor mans version of Cleveland. To tell you the truth, a sick part of me thinks he will ultimately end up staying. Not a lot of people think so, but some people love getting money, even when they have tons of it. Maybe he is a Bretton James of the world and his number is just more. However, not likely. If Carmelo doesn’t get traded and leaves in free agency, even more unlikely, the Nuggets’ draft pick will not be as high as one would like, and also means you have Gary Forbes waiting in the wings until someone else is signed. Who is Gary Forbes? Exactly.
Player: LaMarcus Aldridge
Age/Position: 25/Power Forward
2010-11 Stats: 21 PPG, 9 RPG, 1 BPG
This selection is in no way attributed to Brandon Roy being done for the season with the knee surgery. Ever since the first time I saw LaMarcus Aldridge play I have always believed him to be the Blazers best player. If anything the Roy injury has confirmed my opinion, because I thought Roy, in ways, contributed to making Aldridge better. However his numbers have increased instead of tapering.
Player: Kevin Love
Age/Position: 22/Power Forward
2010-11: 21 PPG, 15 RPG, 2.5 APG
Kevin love is yesteryears’s Charles Barkley, except Love is taller by four inches, has ten more pounds on him, and probably does not have a crazy gambling addiction. But still, the similarities are almost identical.
Keeping tradition—by tackling the tough issues—at HITS, I have noticed that Kevin Love does not have a nickname. It is about time someone has addressed this issue. The only one I could find on the Internet was “Lovehandles” from his playing days at UCLE but it was referring to him being slow and a bit soft in the midsection. It came off as more of a punk than anything. Not fitting for someone averaging a fifteen rebounds a game. If you recall, in June 2010, I coined the nickname “The Albastraus” in reference to Washinton National’ pitching phenom Steven Strausburg. Once again we turn our attention to an up and comer sports athlete.
Right off the bat, Barry White’s ‘Can’t Get Enough of Your Love’ calls to the mind. For a number of reasons, we could call Kevin Love: White Barry.
A) Because it is the inverse of Barry White, and Love and White are inverses’ of each other (one black, the other white). And;
B) Kevin Love cannot get enough rebounds. A play on words of the song with not being able to get enough of something.
C) Barry White is known for his baritone, low, and smooth voice. Kevin Love plays a deep, smooth, low post game.
D) We need to expand the “white” food-groups-sports-nicknames, because all we have now is ‘White Chocolate’.
E) HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE CALLING SOMEONE WHITE BARRY!??!!
Ok, it is a stretch. We’ll kick it around and get back to you.
A quick Google search will show that Barkley over his career averaged 22 points, 11 boards and 4 assist on his career. Love is doing it a bit better on the boards, and Barkley did it a bit better on the assist; which make sense because Sir Charles played the SF/PF and White Barry (let that palpitate on the tongue for a moment) is a primary power forward. Stats—even though Love is just starting his career and Barkley is finished—are a wash. Both were drafted 5th overall. They each took until their 3rd NBA season to be selected as and NBA All-Star. Together, they owe a combined $18 million dollars to the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas…
This is where the comparisons stop. Despite Charles Barkley’s 11 All-Star selections, 5 All-NBA First Team appearances, an NBA MVP (1993) and a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team: he never was able to claim an NBA Title. And I guarantee you he would trade all of the accolades for one. Kevin Love is in a much better situation to grab a title or two; if the right things happen for Minnesota.
Timberwolves’ Title Hopes Adjustment Check-List (in order):
1. They need a new head coach. A name and/or seasoned guy with some cred. Sorry Kurt Rambis, but you’re not that guy. If I am Rick Aldeman, I am doing EVERYTHING I can to get out of Houston because Yao Ming is fin, and if I am T-Wolves owner, Glen Taylor I hire a mob “cleaner” and wack whoever I need to get this done.
2. Unload Luke Ridnour, Corey Brewer, your lottery pick (likely 3rd overall), and some cash considerations to a team like the Atlanta Hawks, in exchange for Josh Smith. You’ll still have a really high second round pick, and could land Jimmer Fredette if BYU does not go to far in the NCAA tourney.
3. Promote Jonny Flynn to your starting point guard immediately.
4. Put Darko Milicic on your bench to spell Love and Michael Beasley, and move Love to center and Beasley to power forward.
5. Get on the phone the call up Ricky Rubio and say, “Quit being a chump buster and come play in the NBA. Everything is poised for you. You and Jonny in the backcourt, will have Josh Smith, Michael Beasley, and Kevin Love to open up it up for you. Green light buddy.” Nothing but silence on the other end of the line.T-Wolves intern taps you on the shoulder, informing you that Rubio does not speak a lick of English.
6. Find a Spanish translator ASAP.
Just sayin, the Minnesota Timberwolves are poised.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Player: Kobe Bryant
Age/Position: 32/Shooting Guard
2010-11 Stats: 25 PPG, 5 APG, 5 RPG
Player: Goran Dragic
Age/Position: 24/Point Guard
2010-11 Stats: 8 PPG, 3 APG, 1 SPG
Stop freaking out. I did not sustain a serious head injury while writing this column, and I intentionally did not put two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash as the Suns best guy. Remember the selection process is based upon past, present and future. Nash certainly has the past—aforementioned MVPs—and you could even make the case for present because he is averaging a double-double at 17 points and 10 assist a game. But when in comes to future; I’m sorry to break it to you Suns fans, but Nash is only going to be able to do what he has done in the past: be likeable and have decent numbers. But he is not going to get you your treasured NBA Title. The sooner you face that fact the better. There is no way he can do it with his supporting cast.
Steve Nash is 36. Thirty-Six. He is your best offensive weapon with his creating ability or his scoring, when he wants to. Your next two available offensive options are Grant Hill, 38-years old, and let’s face it—the Ken Griffey Jr. of the NBA—and Vince Carter. Vince Carter is 33-years old. His knees are 86.
I’ll give you Nash credit, because I too, know Nash can still contribute at a higher level. But it won’t be enough. At least not in Phoenix because there are not enough pieces. With Amare… maybe, but they tried that route and it never panned out. Once you come to grips with your Phoenix Suns reality, you can accept Dragic as your man. You’ve seen it too. Turn that frown upside down.
I’ve seen him play and he has all the tools. He’s smart; you can tell. He has paid a lot of attention to Steve Nash and you can see Nash’s input in Dragic’s game. He’s electric. The only thing holding him back: Hill, Carter and Nash. Kind of a weird sentence to write, but it is time. Maybe the Suns could get something in trading Nash—but I would not want to lock in to anything long term with another team in trading him. It would have to be the right piece, and I do not see anything screaming “take this trade”. Hill and Carter need to retire. The best bet for the Suns is to land somebody in free agency or go through a re-building year or two and hit it big in the draft. Start preparing for the Clippers and Kings—because in five years they will be your Pacific Division contenders—when Lakers finally go post-Kobe.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Player: Monta Ellis
Age/Position: 25/Shooting Guard
2010-11 Stats: 26 PPG, 6 APG, 2 SPG
Hardest selection to break down. Harder than the Atlanta Hawks decision. I really like putting Stephen Curry here, because nobody though he could produce as well as he has, and basically like he told everyone to shut-up. David Lee makes a good case too with his 16 points and 9.7 rebounds a game. His points are down from his New York totals, but expect that with guys like Ellis and Curry in the Warrior’s backcourt. They basically break even for me, so the tiebreaker goes to the guy who is doing it better right now and that guy is Monta Ellis. He is solid and has been consistent for the last couple of years.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Player: Blake Griffin
Age/Position: 21/Power Forward
2010-11 Stats: 23 PPG, 13 RPG, 3 APG
My brother-in-law had a Facebook status which read, “Is Blake Griffin black or white?” The answer is unclear, but what we do know is Black Griffin played the role of the Albino in Epic Movie. Multiple sources can confirm this.
What does this have to do with his game? Nothing, but maybe it is the source of his secret power. It is anybody’s guess at this point. Blake Griffin cannot be contained. There is one particular highlight burned in to my mind, epitomizing the type of player Blake is. Against the San Antonio Spurs, on an Eric Gordon drive—sucked two defenders in to the middle of paint—Griffin got the ball in the low post of the paint. Probably 5-6 feet from the basket. The only guy down there is one of the greatest, if not thee greatest, power forwards of all-time. Tim Duncan.
Now Tim Duncan is a vet, obviously. And there is nothing wrong with giving up an easy basket instead of picking up a foul and turning a two-point play, in to a three-point play. But instincts are instincts. When Griffin got the ball, Duncan was in good enough position to move over in front of the basket and contest the shot; which he started to do. Meanwhile, Griffin sees Tim make the move over and that was it. Griffin let the demon out of the cage. You could see the unlatching of its gate in his body language. It happened in a fraction of second, but completely noticeable. Griffin explodes to freight-train status and elevates for this barbarian jam and you see Duncan’s face say, “I’m gonna ge… yeah, you can have this dunk, you’re still young” but lying underneath the submission there was a recognition of “I never had that level of intensity or power.” It was fear. In the eyes and face of Tim Duncan. Griffin would have snapped Duncan’s elbow the opposite way had he tried to block it.
Player: Demareke Couvans
Age/Position: 20.5 (averaged)/Centered Power Guard on Point Forward
2010-11 Stats (Combined): 30 PPG, 7 RPG, 5 APG, 2 SPG, 1 BPG
Scientist have genetically combine Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins in to a super player. Basically if you created a super player and combined them in to one player you’d get LeBron James. And thinking about grants a unique perspective on just how good ‘ole Bron Bron is. But we’re not here to talk about The King, rather the King’s best player.
And I cannot decide; check that—I do not want to.
The last two drafts, the Sacramento Kings had the 4th and 5th overall picks. In 2009 the Kings went with Tyreke Evans. 2010 it was DeMarcus Cousins. I think they both can be the franchise guy. But who?!
Key point for selecting Tyreke:
Dude, won Rookie of the Year last season. That is elite company. Just dive back one decade and you see names like: LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Chris Paul, Amare Stoudemire, Kevin Durrant, and Derrick Rose. You’re like, “dang”. The Kings do know who they are (yet) but when they do, Tyreke will and can play a big part in any scenario you come up with. So why not the knee-jerk reaction to pick him as the Kings rep for the All-Star game and move on? Well, because I’m a freaking homer when comes to the Kings and I want to give my due diligence.
Key point for selecting DeMarcus:
I see someone who reminds me of Chris Webber. Like a lot. When DeMarcus was at Kentucky, I thought he (and still do) was a better asset to the team than John Wall. BLASPHAMY! Well, he was. So get over yourself. Remember that super-soft-like-a-dolphin-would-feel-like shot Chris Webber had? Cousins may not have it exactly, but it is there. Plus he plays the inside came with some finess. And he’s smart. And only a rookie, so how high could his development go before we know how good he’ll actually be? Can he be the King’s next Chris Webber? And yet, I digress. Chris Webber won Rookie of the Year in 1993… and Tyreke just won that last year… soo…. yeah. I’d say Cousins is Top-5 out of the current rookies in the league right now, but nobody is going to take the top honor of Rookie of the Year from Blake Griffin. It can’t be done.
After three hours of locking ourselves in the HITS think tank, the writers have decided to play the numbers and go with Tyreke Evans, even though many here at the website could justify putting Cousins in. Acknowledging said fact was a key point the HITS legal team wanted in the settlement of selecting Evans.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Player: Tony Parker
Age/Position: 28/Point Guard
2010-11 Stats: 17 PPG, 7 APG, 1 SPG
For any wanting to throw me some backlash here, just see the Phoenix Suns portion of this column. Same thing. The Spurs are old, but have somehow only lost seven games. If the Spurs somehow beat the Heats in the Finals, I think we see Tim Duncan go the rout of Michael Strahan and retire on top. It would pour another layer of cement, over the current layer of cement, that is his best-of-all-time-at-my-position career.
Tim Duncan’s looming retirement shoves us in to Tony Parker. My breakdown of the Spurs and the TP selection will be delivered with as much flair and bedazzlement as the way they play the game.
Welp, big gulps. It looks like I’m done.
Fun fact: In a not-so-fun-fact for those closely involved, Eva Longoria recently filed for divorce with Tony Parker last December, after allegations sufaced of Tony fooling around with the soon-to-be ex-wife of former teammate, Brent Barry. Millions of men worldwide, celebrated the .0000002 percent increase of their chances of getting with her. This number is a 100% increase from the old .0000001 percent chances they formally had.
Bottom Line: Eva Longoria >>> Erin Barry (but just barely).
Player: Dirk Nowitzki
Age/Position: 32/Power Forward
2010-11 Stats: 23 PPG, 7 RPG, 2 APG
For no reason, other than this Youtube video that will never get old.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
Player: Chris Paul
Age Position: 25/Point Guard
2010-11: 16 PPG, 10 APG, 2.7 SPG
The collective, approving nod, of this selection should have transpired five seconds ago or as you are currently reading this sentence. Nod your head if you nodded when you read the first sentence, realizing you were already nodding when you saw Chris Paul’s name next to chosen player.
CP3 is someone who I have always liked. And something about the prospect of him becoming a Seattle Supersonic makes me want to like even more. Which is weird, because I have said before, I never have been a Sonics fan, but like the idea of Seattle having an NBA team.
Player: Zach Randolph
Age/Position: 29/Power Forward
2010-11 Stats: 20 PPG, 13 RPG
Zach will not ad, well, anything, if you are looking for more than just points and rebounds, but who cares? 20 and 13. My goodness. Could Zach Randolph be one of those guys who suffers from Elton Brand Syndrome? Playing great but basically playing on teams nobody really pays close attention to, outside of the fans and fantasy team owners. Zach has had those type numbers practically his whole career. With Rudy Gay and Co., why are they not than just a .500 team? The answer is Pau Gasol.
When Pau Gasol was given the Los Angeles Lakers for nothing, and really do mean nothing, Memphis lost all of the momentum they had for themselves. What happened was, Kobe went to Jerry Bus and Phil Jackson and said, “I need a big man.” To the best of my knowledge, the Grizzlies were eavesdropping and offered, “You can have Pau.”
“What do you want for him?”
“Oh, we didn’t think of that. Umm, I don’t know. You can just have him.”
“You don’t want a favor or something down the road…?”
“Uhhmm, naaaa. Just have him.”
(Kobe, Phil and Jerry looking cautiously from side to side)
“All… right,” more of question than an acceptance.
That is exactly how the trade happened! Tell me, right now, what and who the Lakers gave up for Pau Gasol. Right now! YOU CAN’T! BECAUASE NOBODY KNOWS! The sole missing piece needed to secure back-to-back NBA Championships for the Lakers and not a single person knows what happened in the trade other than Pau going to LA!
I mention this because the Minnesota Timberwolves are today’s version of the Memphis Grizzlies when Pau was on that team. The Grizzlies were oh so close to breaking out. They had the players they needed, and just lacked the right-fit coach to make it happen. Then suddenly Pau gets gift wrapped and the rest is history. Have the Timberwolves found that Spanish translator yet?
Player: Kevin Martin
Age/Position: 27/Shooting Guard
2010-11 Stats: 23 PPG, 3 RPG, 2 APG
Get out Rick Adelman! Get out now! I almost hate the Kings trading of Kevin Martin to the Rockets more than their selection of Spencer Hawes. The Kings, in a three team deal, traded sure-thing Martin for… wait for it… Carl Landry, Larry Hughes, and… wait for it again… Joey Doresy. Meanwhile the Rockets get rid of Tracy McGrady and the New York Knicks make out like bandits with the rights to the Rockets 2012 first round pick—with the rights to upgrade that pick to 2011 (likely 12th overall) if they so desire.
If you’re a Rockets fans you are thanking you lucky stars because Yao Ming is finished.
RECAP AND WESTERN CONFERENCE STARTERS
Point Guards: Deron Williams, Goran Dragic, Tyreke Evans, Tony Parker, Chris Paul
Shooting Guards: Kobe Bryant, Monta Ellis, Kevin Martin
Small Forwards: Kevin Durrant, Carmelo Anthony
Power Forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki, Zach Randolph
La Marcus Aldridge
SO WHO WINS THIS THING ALREADY?
This is a wash. I cannot decipher it. Will Hunting couldn’t break this thing down, so it would have to go to the benches. The West has an overwhelmingly deep bench. And I cannot deny them the victory in this game. I’m open to your opinions if you have them, but you can the rosters just as well as I can.
Should be a great real life All-Star game this year. Cannot wait for Blake Griffin the dunk contest.
Super Bowl Pick:
It stays close for 3 quarters, when Green Bay steps on the gas in the 4th quarter. Aaron Rodgers Superbowl MVP.
GREEN BAY 35, STEELERS 21