Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The King and Dirk. What a win will do for their legacy

Russel and Magic won the titles in their rookie season. Kareem, Larry, Time Duncan, Kobe, and DWade all won titles before they were 25 years old. Some of the greatest players in NBA history get the taste of a championship when they are young.

Other legends had to pay their dues. It took Michael and Wilt 8 years. It took the Oscar Robertson 11 years. It took Jerry West 12 years. Right now LeBron James is in his 8th season while Dirk Nowitzki is in his 13th season. Both have led their teams to the finals before but came up short. Dirk's Mavs lost to the Heat in 2006 while LeBron's Cavs lost to the Spurs a year later. Dirk is still on the Mavs while King James has relocated to Miami. The two men will lead their respective teams in the NBA Finals. One man will become a champion while the other will come up just short again.

If LeBron wins he will solidify himself as a top 10 player all time. If Dirk wins, it will be very hard to argue that he is a top 15 player all time and the second best power forward ever behind Tim Duncan.

Here is my all time NBA player rankings 1-13
1. Michael Jordan-SG-Simply the greatest ever
2. Bill Russell-C-11 titles in 13 seasons as the best player on his team. WOW
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-6 titles over an incredible 20 year career, NBA's all time leader in points and games.
4. Magic Johnson-PG-The greatest playmaker ever, 5 rings and 8 title appearances.
5.Wilt Chamberlian-C-Only 2 titles but still the most unstoppable force in NBA history
6. Larry Bird-SF-3 titles, 3 MVP's. 2 Finals MVP's he and Magic help re-define the NBA in the 80's.
7. Tim Duncan-PF-4 rings with an average supporting cast, the best PF ever and the best player in the post Jordan era.
8 (tie) Shaquille O'Neal-C
8 (tie) Kobe Bryant-SG-Shaq won all 3 Finals MVP's when he played with Kobe then won another title in Miami and led Orlando to a finals appearance when Kobe was in high school.
Kobe has one more ring than Shaq but is still in his prime and should eventually surpass his former teammate on this list but as of now, I call it even.
10. Hakeem Olajuwon-C-2 titles, 2 Finals MVP's, 1 MVP, 2 time Defensive player of the year 9 time all defensive selection
11. Jerry West-SG-The leagues logo. 1 title, only Finals MVP on a losing team (1969), led the Lakers to 5 title appearances without Wilt and another 3 with Wilt. 12 time all star. 10 first team All-NBA. 29.1ppg in the playoffs (still 3rd all time). 27, 6.7, and 5.8 career averages.
12. Oscar Robertson-SF/PG-1 title, 1 MVP (1964), 12 time All Star, 9 first team All-NBA, only player to average a triple double in a season (1962). Was the first point forward ever paving the way for guys like Magic and Lebron. 25.7, 9.5, and 7.5 career averages.
13. Moses Malone-C/F-1 title, 1 Finals MVP, 3 league MVP's. 13 time All-Star. 20.3 and 12.3 career averages.

If LeBron wins he will solidify himself as a top ten player all-time. He will have done what West,the Big O and Moses Malone did. Win one title along with a future another future Hall of Famer. LeBron has Wade, West had Wilt (and Elgin Baylor all those other years before Wilt, imagine if they all played together in their prime, talk about a Big 3), the Big O had Kareem (when he was still Lew Alcindor) and Moses had Dr. J.

However LeBron has better career regular season and playoff numbers (27, 7 and 7 in the regular season and 29.7, 8.5 and 7) than any of those 3 men and already has won 2 league MVP's. He has also been selected to 3 All-Defensive 1st teams in the past 3 years. So at the very least a win will put him at #11 all time. However I would put him over Hakeem as well. A LeBron win this year will also show that he is clearly the best player on the planet at this time. Hakeem needed MJ to leave the game for 2 years to win his titles and when MJ came back it was Jordan not Hakeem who was the best player on the planet. So at the very least LeBron will move into the top 10 all time with a NBA Finals victory.

He will need a few more rings and some more MVP awards (finals and regular season) to move up the charts to pass Kobe, Shaq, Duncan, Larry and Wilt. That shouldn't be too hard to do in the next few seasons. The King is only 26 years old so a move into the top 5 by the end of his career is still very likely and pretty much expected.

Dirk on the other hand has a ceiling on how high he can get on the list. Right now he is in a big cluster with Bob Petit, Charles Barkley, Kevin Garnett, and Karl Malone in discussion as the 2nd greatest power forward ever. All of those men along with Elgin Baylor, John Havlicek, Scottie Pippen, Dr. J and Isiah Thomas can all make an arguement as being the #14 player all time in league history. Baylor, Barkley, and the Mailman never won a title. Pippen and Havlicek were the two of the greatest complimentary players on many title teams. KG needed the big 3 and unlike Dirk who seems to get better with age has significantly fallen off. Isiah led the Pistons to two titles but his 19 and 9 career averages are solid at best. Petit was the Dirk of the 50's and 60's a power forward that could step outside and shoot but in today's NBA he would be a Kevin Love clone not Dirk.

If Dirk wins I would put him right there as a solid number 14 over all of the players I mentioned above. he has now led 2 different supporting casts to the title game and has put up both great career and playoff numbers
career- 23 and 8.4
playoffs- 26 and 10
That right there shows you that the great shooter from Germany has always been clutch when it counted. The only thing missing on Mr Nowitzki's career resume is a championship.

This series hopefully will be a classic!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


15. IND-Darius Morris-PG-Michigan-So
6-5 true point guards usually don't last past the lottery. Make no mistake Morris is a true point man not a shoot first guard like many others in this draft as he averaged almost 7 assists per game last year and help lead Michigan to the second round of the big dance. A few weeks ago he looked like he'd barely crack the 1st round but is now looking like a possible lottery pick.
16. PHL-Bismack Biyombo-C-Congo-INT.
The man is big and long (6-9/240 and growing with a 7-7 wingspan). He's as raw as they come but some see him going as high as #8 to the Pistons where he's drawn comparisons to Ben Wallace. If he's available at #16 the 76ers will not hesitate to take him as they need all the length and size they can get.
17. NY-Kenneth Faried-PF-Morehead-Sr.
The Knicks are sitting at home watching what Udonis Haslem gives the Heat (defense, rebounding and toughness). Like the Heat the Knicks have the stars, Amare, Melo and will look to get a top tier point like CP3, DWill or Tony Parker soon. Faried grew up near New York and like Udonis he can be the back bone for an already very talented team.
18. WAS-Tobias Harris-SF-Tennessee-Fr.
Solid not spectacular player that already has an NBA body and skill set despite being only 19 years old.
19. CHR-Chris Singleton-CF-FSU-Jr.
He's a low maintenance combo forward and lock down defender who can defend the 2-4. He was the ACC defensive player of the year in 2010. If he can improve his shooting he'll be a great contributor similar to James Posey and Shane Battier.
20. MIN-Marshon Brooks-SG-Providence-Sr.
The TWolves need a starting shooting guard and scoring. Brooks is a perfect fit here. The man can flat out shoot the rock and score in a variety of ways. The more video you watch of him the more you love. He averaged 24 points on 48% shooting in the toughest conference in the nation while being constantly double teamed. He's as NBA ready as any player out their.
21. POR-Markieff Morris-PF-Kansas-Jr.
The Blazers need a canter but their simply isn't anyone good enough here unless they reach for a guy. The "other" Morris brother is actually tougher and a better rebounder. He can't shoot as well as Marcus but the Blazers already have enough guys that can shoot. they need guys that can rebound as they were 27th in the league last year with 39.3 boards per game.
22. DEN-Tyler Honeycutt-SF-UCLA-So.
He will need to spend a lot of time in the weight room if he's going to have an impact at the next level. However what he lacks in strength he makes up for in length (insert sexual joke here). Honeycutt can help the Nuggets with depth at the wings with JR Smith, Wilson Chandler and Aaron Affalo all slated to become free agents this off season.
23. HOU-Jordan Hamilton-SF-Texas-So.
The best player on the board. With so many long forwards in this draft a guy with top 15 talent like Hamilton could drop. The Texas product gets to stay in state and give the Rockets depth at both forward spots.
24. OKC-Davis Bertans-SF-Latvia-INT.
He's the best shooter in Europe. He's only 19 years old and will need time to develop but he's more of a sure thing than the other projects the Thunder have drafted in the past (Serge Ibaka and B.J. Mullens). The Thunder already have their core so adding a young shooter will only help their future.
25. BOS-Reggie Jackson-CG-Boston Coll.-Jr.
Playing in the Celtics' back yard at BC they've seen plenty of him. When Rondo was injured in the playoffs it was clear that the Celts need a quality back up. He reminds me a lot of George Hill with his scoring ability and great length (6-3 with a 7 foot wingspan!). He can play both guard spots and be to the Celtics what Hill is to the Spurs.
26. DAL-Trey Thompkins-PF-Georgia-Jr.
Thompkins issort of a poor man's Dirk. OK more like a homeless man's Dirk. But he can shoot, rebound and has good size. His stock is slipping due to a lack of athleticism and questions about his drive but he's a steal this late for an already stacked team.
27. NJ-Kyle Singler-SF-Duke-Sr.
Can have the same effect that Kyle Korver has for the Bulls. The Nets already have a franchise point in Deron Williams and top tier center in Brook Lopez. They need more compliment pieces who can shoot and play smart. That's exactly what Singler will bring to whatever team drafts him.
28. CHI-Nikola Mirotic-PF-Montenegro-INT.
They can store him in Europe for a year or two and then when he's ready to come over and give the Bulls a shooter who can back up Boozer and battle for playing time with Omer Asik and Taj Gibson.
29. SA-Shelvin Mack-CG-Butler-Jr.
Just like Dejuan Blair, his measurables aren't great but like Blair the man can just play basketball. Mack's combine measurements will really hurt his stock (6-2/210 with barely an 8 foot standing reach) but once you turn on the game footage the truth comes out. Mack can play, he'll never be a star but there's a place for him in the league.
30. CHI-Josh Selby-SG-Kansas-Fr.
An undersized scorer who was a top player coming out of high school last year. He never fit in at Kansas averaging only 7.9ppg and 2.2apg only 20.4 minutes per game. If a team drafts him as a future starting point guard then they're making a mistake. He has value and can play in the NBA but more as a scorer off the bench than a true point man.

Friday, May 20, 2011

MOCK DRAFT 1.0-Lottery Picks

1. CLV-Kyrie Irving-PG Duke-Fr.
Easy choice for the Cavs here. Kyrie isn't LeBron but he will instantly be the best player on the Cavs and the new face of the franchise. Point guard is clearly the most important position on the court in basketball today so grabbing a floor general like Irving here is a very solid pick. He's been compared to Chris Paul but that might be a little lofty. I see a better passing version of Brandon Jennings with Irving.
2. MIN-Derrick Williams-SF-Arizona-So.
The TWolves will try to do everything in their power to trade this pick. They could also keep the pick and trade their other young small forwards Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson (last year's first rounder). Williams can play both forward spots and is head and shoulders above the rest of the prospects here. If the TWolves are unable to make a trade then they will highly consider taking Enes Kanter here. If that happens the phones will start ringing off the hook for the Jazz to make a trade.
3. Utah-Brandon Knight-PG-Kentucky-Fr.
Jazz GM Kevin O'Conner loves big guards who can shoot as evidenced when he chose Deron Williams over Chris Paul and Ray Felton in 2005. The Jazz traded Deron away and now need a young point guard to lead the club. With solid bigs Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap the Jazz are still pick and roll team and Knight is the perfect guard to run their system. He's not going to blow by you off the dribble like DRose, Rondo or John Wall but he's a great shooter and smart player who is very mature for his age.
4. CLV-Enes Kanter-C-Turkey-INT.
Assuming the Jazz take a point man, the Cavs can just sit back here and take either Kanter or Williams. The Cavs need help everywhere and are a long way from contending so there will not be a ton of pressure on Kanter to produce right away.
5. TOR-Kemba Walker-PG-UConn-Jr.
The Raptors need a center but have no shot at getting Kanter unless they trade up. So now they need to ask themselves a major question. Is Andrea Bargnani a franchise player? If he is then they could draft a foreign big man like Jonas Valanciunas or Bismack Biyombo and move Bargnani to his natural position of power forward. However I'm not sold on building your team around Bargnani. I think they need to bring in a big name leader and playmaker like Kemba. He maybe small, but he's tough and he's a winner. He will give the Raptors the star power they lack ever since Chris Bosh left.

6. WAS-Jan Vesely-CF-Czech Republic-INT.
He can play either forward spot and will be a great compliment to John Wall and Andray Blatche. He's more athletic than most Euro prospects and can run the floor with Mr Wall as well.
7. SAC-Donatas Motiejunas-F/C-Lithuania-INT.
There has been a lot of talk about the Kings drafting a point guard here and moving Tyreke Evans to the 3. However I think that Motiejunas would be a perfect to compliment to DeMarcus Cousins in the frontcourt. He's a legit 7 footer with 3 point range. He's not Dirk but he can hit open jumpers and he will have a lot of open shots with Tyreke creating and DeMarcus demanding double teams down low.
8. DET-Kawhi Leonard-SF-San Diego St-Jr.
He plays the game with toughness and versatility that Pistons fans love. He's still raw and developing. I see him as a Gerald Wallace type with Scottie Pippen to his game as well. He and Greg Monroe will give the Pistons a good young forward duo to build around.
9. CHR-Tristan Thompson-PF-Texas-Fr.
They need length and athleticism. The two things that Thompson has. He's still a good 3-4 years from being a stud but the upside here is tremendous.
10. MIL-Alec Burks-SG-Colorado-So.
I think they should trade up and get Williams but if they don't, Burks makes a lot of sense here. He can play some point but will be much better off the ball and will be a great compliment to Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings. All of their best wings (Johnny Salmons, Cory Maggette and Michael Redd) are 30 plus so adding some youth on the wings is important.
11. GS-Marcus Morris-PF-Kansas-Jr.
A low risk role player who fills a need at power forward. The Warriors are set at the other 4 positions with all 4 starters averaging 16 plus points per game. Last year they drafted a defensive power forward in Ekpe Udoh. Morris is the opposite, as he's a solid non flashy offensive forward who can knock down mid range shots all day.
12. Utah-Klay Thompson-SG-WSU-Jr.
With two lottery picks, the Jazz need to find their backcourt of the future. Thompson has prototypical size and skill set to play the 2 in the NBA. A starting lineup of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Gordon Hayward, Brandon Knight and Thompson will have the Jazz in contention sooner rather than later in the Northwest along with Oklahoma City and Portland.
13. PHO-Jimmer Fredette-PG-BYU-Sr.
Mr. Fredette meet your mentor Mr. Nash. Jimmer can shoot like Steve Nash already but he will need to learn how to run a team and create for others better if he's going to make it in this league. Who better to learn from than a future Hall of Famer?
14. HOU-Jonas Valanciunas
He had a decent run while it lasted but Yao Ming is done. It's time to find a new center from a foreign land. Jonas is a project but the Rockets have a solid team already so they can keep him in Europe for a year or two.