- The Season's Over -

Baby Jordan’s Finest Moment

January 31, 2008

Before Kobe and LeBron, there was Harold Miner. As a junior at USC Miner was named Sports Illustrated’s college basketball player of the year. A legend in southern California coming into the NBA, his incredible athleticism and vicious dunks led Miner to two NBA Slam Dunk Contest titles in 1993 and 1995. His skills never translated to actual NBA games though, as Miner struggled with defense and the the more cerebral aspects of the game. Drafted in 1992 and out of the league by 1996, Miner’s USC coach George Raveling said, “I always felt the worst thing to happen to Harold was the ‘Baby Jordan’ tag.” He’s completely disappeared from the public eye over the last decade and is now reportedly a real estate investor in Las Vegas. Here’s to Baby Jordan, wherever he may be…

3 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Jan. 31, 2008 at 2:05pm in NBA

NBA Picks and Rolls: Kidd Calls it Quits

January 29, 2008

Jason Kidd Wants Out
Jason Kidd Photo Credit: Icon SMI

- It looks like Jason Kidd‘s days in New Jersey are finally over, and all that remains is his specific destination. Kidd made his trade demand official yesterday, and that really shouldn’t surprise anybody. The move is probably two years overdue, New Jersey isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and Kidd has been noticeably disgruntled all season. It’s pretty clear now that when he called in sick in early December, Kidd was sending a message. The early favorites to land Kidd’s services are Dallas, the Lakers of Los Angeles and Cleveland, with Denver as a dark horse. I would love to see Kidd in Denver or Dallas, and I think both of those teams would maximize his fantasy potential as well. Dallas is the best fit with so many capable offensive options, but he would crush the value of emerging PG Devin Harris, who was having a career month before going down with that nasty ankle sprain. The uptempo offense in Denver would also suit Kidd well, and he could easily average 12 assists per game with the Nuggs. In New Jersey, Josh Boone and Sean Williams are going to find it a lot harder to score and shoot a decent field-goal percentage with the game’s best distributor suddenly out of the equation.

- Speaking of Devin Harris, this injury couldn’t come at a worse time for his owners. It looked very serious when he went down, but Harris should only be out for about three weeks. Including that shortened 6 points, 0 assist effort when Devin got hurt Harris is averaging 16.4 points and 6.8 assists on a very impressive 54.7% FGs and 79% FTs in January. He was just getting into a nice rhythm, and the injury could even put more pressure on Dallas to make a move for Kidd in the ultra competitive West.

- It’s official, Chris Webber has signed with the Golden State Warriors. It’s a real noodle scratcher, this one. Not only did Webber and Don Nelson have a public falling out in 1994, but Webber doesn’t fit this team or system at all on paper. The Warriors are a young, fast team that runs all night while Webber is nothing more than a 35-year-old plodding big man with a deteriorating skill set, inability to get up and down the floor and modest passing skills. As Brian mentioned yesterday, it will be a real shame if he steals a chunk of minutes from 21-year-old Andris Biedrins.

- Don’t look now, but everybody’s favorite little person is back. It was hard to imagine that nobody could find a roster spot for sparkplug Earl Boykins this offseason, but word is that the 5’5″ combo guard will sign somewhere by the end of the week. He’s lightning quick and capable of filling it up on occasion (not to mention cute as a button), so Boykins could have fringe fantasy value down the line depending on where he ends up.

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2 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Jan. 29, 2008 at 10:33pm in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

Andrew Bynum Enjoys Rebounding

January 29, 2008

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Jan. 29, 2008 at 10:33pm in NBA

NBA Front-Row Seat: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Andris Biedrins, and More

January 28, 2008

LeBron James eyes Kobe Bryant

- Good players always have an extra skip in their step when matched up against other good players, but LeBron James has the word “dominate” on a continuous loop in his head whenever he faces Kobe Bryant. In another head-to-head battle between The Best Basketball Players on Earth, James again got the better hand, bulling his way to 41 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals against the Lake Show for a big 98-95 road win. LeBron’s Cavs have now taken five out of the last six from Kobe’s Lakers, with the only blemish a narrow one-point loss back on January 12, 2006, in The City of Angels.

On Sunday afternoon, Kobe was good–33 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists–but LeBron was great, turning it up in the fourth quarter like he so often does and basically willing his team to victory all by himself. It was like last year’s Eastern Conference Playoffs against the Detroit Pistons all over again, with the Lakers doing everything they could to stop James but failing in most every aspect. He nailed improbable jumpers with Kobe’s hand in his face, drove into the lane through, around, and over hapless defenders to make difficult layups look easy, and played superb man defense on Kobe at the other end, frustrating the Lakers’ star and–even if just for that afternoon, that fourth quarter–making his case to be crowned as the NBA’s very best.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James Photo Credit: Icon SMI

And James has repeatedly made that statement when locking horns with Bryant: over these last six meetings, James has averaged 31 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 46% FG.

With Andrew Bynum sidelined for the Lakers, these two teams are near mirror imitations of each other: both enlist solid supporting casts, but both live and die by the game-to-game performance of a megastar. I’m still not convinced that, given their current roster, the Cavaliers can make it to the NBA Finals for a second straight season, but it does give me–and probably every other Eastern Conference team—considerable pause whenever James takes over like he did on Sunday. It’s a scary, scary thing when he’s rolling like that, when he has that look in his eye that says “we are going to win this game. I am going to win this game for us.”

- We’re not the only ones who’ve cried out for it to happen, and at long last it seems the Pistons’ Powers That Be finally agree (at least for now): Amir Johnson looks to have finally worked his way into the rotation. After three straight DNP’s, the lanky 20-year-old was dusted off and thrown into the fire during the team’s last two contests, averaging 11:30 minutes of action against the 76ers and Magic, minutes that included time in the first quarter, which has been an extreme rarity in the youngster’s early NBA career. Johnson’s offensive game is still very raw and unpolished, but in the few sets where he received the ball in a position to score, he did flash a potentially solid suite of silky go-to moves in the post to use later down the road.

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1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on Jan. 28, 2008 at 4:05pm in ETB Articles, NBA, NBA Fantasy News

Chardon Jeans Always on Larry Bird’s Mind

January 28, 2008

I want to bump into a 26-year-old Larry Bird. I want my girlfriend and I to wear identical, ass-hugging Chardon jeans and rock out in an arcade. I want to be served snacks by a hot waitress on rollerskates, who then winks at me and tackles me onto some hip new video game called Zaxxon. Damnit, I want to be in my early-20s in 1982.

2 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jan. 28, 2008 at 11:57am in NBA

NBA Picks and Rolls: To the Moon

January 26, 2008

Jamario Moon: Skywalker
Jamario Moon Photo Credit: The Anetzberger Verdict

The Toronto Raptors’ Jamario Moon has been one of the biggest stories in the league this year. The 27-year-old undrafted rookie went from long-shot to make the roster to a starting small forward to the first contestant announced for the 2008 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. He was always a gifted athlete and dunker, but it all started to click for Moon in the last two years when he realized that his ticket to the league was the long frame and explosive ups that allow him to play man defense and protect the rim from the help side as well as anyone. In 2007 Moon was named the CBA Defensive Player of the Year and played in the CBA All-Star game as well as participating in the CBA Dunk Contest. Now he’s competing against the big dogs.

Moon’s success has been such a big story in fantasy hoops and the NBA because he seemingly came out of nowhere, but anybody who knew about Moon before this year wasn’t surprised. He may have traveled a longer road to get into the Association than any other player in the league and learned invaluable work ethic while leaving a trail of high-flying heroics along the way. Jamario’s freakish leaping ability always got him jobs (including as a Harlem Globetrotter’s sideshow attraction for shagging alley-oops) after he was completely passed over in the 2001 NBA Draft, but never where he knew he could be until now.

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3 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Jan. 26, 2008 at 8:46pm in NBA, NBA Fantasy News

“Sir” Charles is Not a Role Model

January 25, 2008

But at least he’s got his priorities straight…

3 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Jan. 25, 2008 at 3:31pm in NBA

NBA Front-Row Seat: Orlando Magic, Allen Iverson, Rodney Stuckey, and More

January 25, 2008

Dwight Howard awaits help for a real title run
Dwight Howard Photo Credit: Icon SMI

- After hitting a bit of a rough patch to kick off the new year, dropping six of their first eight games in January, the Orlando Magic have rebounded nicely and head into tonight’s road match in Detroit on a modest three-game winning streak. Vacuum-cleaner-salesman-cum-head coach Stan Van Gundy has been treating his rotation like a deck of cards, shuffling it every few games and even admitting that maybe he should stick with what was working early in the season. The injury to point guard Jameer Nelson has a lot to do with it, but so does Van Gundy’s uncertainty with his current batch of available wingmen, which includes Keith Bogans, Maurice Evans, and J.J. “Better Basketball” Reddick.

Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard are going to win a championship together… or at least play for one in an NBA Finals in the somewhat near future. The question is who from the current roster will still be around when that time comes. Clearly, team brass need to re-evaluate the backcourt and more than likely steer the ship into new, uncharted waters: Jameer Nelson does not appear to be the long-term answer–at least as a starter–and neither is Carlos Arroyo, who tempers every one of his flashy between-the-legs passes with an ill-advised jumper, a turnover, or a poor decision. Keyon Dooling and Keith Bogans are also stop gaps, though to Bogans’ credit he’s having a fine enough season and currently in the NBA’s top 20 for three-pointers made (2/per).

Looking down the rest of the roster, no other players of significance are signed past the 2009/10 season, unless you include Reddick in that category, and I don’t. Hedo Turkoglu is having his finest season yet, but will be 31 years old when his contract expires in the summer of 2010. The Magic may have severely overpaid for Lewis’ services, but they know there’s really not much depth of consequence on the roster at the moment and it did make sense to lock up a dynamic scorer like Lewis now to help appease the best center in the Eastern Conference. It’ll be interesting to see how this team is retooled in the coming years given their somewhat mediocre leverage with free agents because of the Howard and Lewis contracts. One move that would help a whole helluva lot is to find a taker for Nelson and the remaining 5 years and $33 million odd he’s owed.

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3 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jan. 25, 2008 at 12:49pm in ETB Articles, NBA

ETB’s ’08 Western Conference All-Star Team

January 24, 2008

Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Kobe Bryant
Amare Stoudemire, Melo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Kobe Photo Credit: Icon SMI

The ballots are in, and the NBA will announce the official starters for the 2008 All Star Game in New Orleans today. More importantly, ETB unveils the real All Star rosters.

The ones we hand picked…

Western Conference Starters:

Andrew’s Picks:

Guard: Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Guard: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Forward: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Forward: Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz
Ccenter: Yao Ming, Houston Rockets

I’m going to get crucified for this, but I think Chris Paul is a better point guard than Steve Nash. Nash is a great player, but he’s one of the worst defensive players in the league and plays in one of the best offenses. Chris Paul is the complete package: tremendous quickness, great defense, an excellent distributor and a more-than-capable scorer. The numbers speak for themselves: 21.1 points, 10.5 assists, 2.7 steals and 3.8 boards on 48.9% FGs, 88.4%FTs and a 3.9 A/TO ratio. Plus, it’s in his gym… Simply put, Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player on the planet. And this is one of his most impressive seasons yet, as he’s been less selfish, more of a leader and taken the youthful Lake Show to 15 games over .500 in the process… After a slow start, Dirk Nowitzki has regained his MVP-season form. Say what you will about the collapse last season, but 22.1 points, 8.4 boards and 3.8 assists on 48.3% FGs and 86.2% FTs are All-Star numbers… Carlos Boozer gets the nod here because Tim Duncan is having a quiet season by Duncan standards, and Boozer has been simply fantastic. Utah has struggled of late, but Boozer has hit the glass hard all year and developed into one of the league’s best scoring big men… Why fight it? Yao Ming is going to start every year, but I think he deserves to this time. In my mind Yao and Dwight are the two best centers in the league, and Yao has a lot more polish. He’s become a leader on the court this season with (more) McGrady injuries, and posting another stellar line of 22.3 points, 10.7 boards, 2.4 assists, 2.3 blocks while shooting 50.5% FGs and an impressive 84.9% FTs.

Brian’s starters, and our respective choices as reserves, after the jump…

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1 CommentPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Jan. 24, 2008 at 4:38pm in ETB Articles, NBA

ETB’s ’08 Eastern Conference All-Star Team

January 24, 2008

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Jason Kidd

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Jason Kidd Photo Credit: Icon SMI

The ballots are in, and the NBA will announce the official starters for the 2008 All Star Game in New Orleans today. More importantly, ETB unveils the real All Star rosters.

The ones we hand picked…

Eastern Conference Starters:

Brian’s Picks:

Guard: Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
Guard: Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
Forward: Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
Forward: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Center: Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

We’ve seen many player’s production slip the season after signing a big contract extension, but after re-upping on a lucrative contract with the Pistons last summer Chauncey Billups has done anything but pat himself on the back and let his foot off the pedal. In fact, he’s elevated his game and established himself as the team’s most vital cog in their high-octane engine. Andrew has his stats below… The NBA’s biggest triple-double threat at the guard position (he has 10 already), Jason Kidd is shooting the lowest percentage of his 14-year career, but also averaging a career best in boards (8.3) and close to a career best in assists (10.5)… Chris Bosh crafted one of the most memorable pitches for All-Star votes in NBA history (linked below), but despite his somewhat rocky start to the season, it really wasn’t necessary: 22.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and 48% from the field on one of the East’s most competitive teams… LeBron Raymone James should be a lock to start the All-Star Game for at least the next decade, and probably even longer. Without him, the Cavs are no better than the Sonics and Clippers of the world; when he’s playing like he has all season, this team is capable of upsetting any Eastern Conference team in a seven-game playoff series… There’s a new Shaq in town, and he just might end up being better than the East’s disposed Most Dominant Player. As Andrew says below, outside of LeBron Dwight Howard is the easiest pick in the East. He’s recorded a double-double in all but six games through January 24, is currently the NBA’s fourth-leading shot-blocker at 2.6/per, and is slowly but surely developing more low-post moves than just the dunk.

Andrew’s starters, and our respective choices for reserves, after the jump…

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3 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Jan. 24, 2008 at 11:47am in ETB Articles, NBA

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