Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers- World Champs!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Free Agent: Lebron James

The Summer of Lebron is here. The greatest bunch of free agents in NBA history goes on the market tomorrow, and the aquisitions of some of these free agents can turn a playoff team into a title contender, a non-playoff team to a playoff team, or in some cases it will turn a solid team into a mediocre one. We are going to go over some of the free agents in the market this summer.
Of course the crown jewel of the market is the King Lebron James. He is arguably the best player in the game and still has many years left in the NBA. He is explosive and nearly impossible to stop when he drives to the basket. He is a great defender and his shot has gotten much better. He has amazing floor vision and is an absolute freak of nature athletically. He is the model for a great basketball player and is the closest thing to Magic Johnson that the NBA has ever seen.
Offense: 95/100
James is a freight train in the fast break and bullies his way to the basket almost whenever he chooses to. He is strong and quick, a lethal combination, and can take the hit and finish. He has developed a nice jump shot and his range is unlimited, when he gets hot from three he may be the most unstoppable force, offensively, in the entire game. His shot is sometimes inconsistent though. His free throw shooting percentage isn't amazing, but he makes many trips to the line a game. He seems to have eyes on the back of his head and makes everyone around him better with amazing passes.
Defense: 100/100
Lebron is a great defender. He can come over from the help side or guard the other team's best player well. He has great footwork and reads the passing lanes like a hawk. We have all seen Lebron James' chasedown block as well. He is a good rebounder who often records a triple double.
Intangibles: 90/100
Lebron is a good leader and gets everyone on his team involved. He is a great competitor who is pretty clutch. Recently though in the NBA eastern conference semifinals the Celtics put a clamp on him and he definately wasn't the same Lebron.
Overall: 95/100
With the exception of one Kobe Bryant, Lebron is the best player in the game today. He could turn any team into a contender. Lets look at the teams that might sign him

Potential Teams
Most Likely: Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are the most likely team to sign James. They have enough cap space to sign two max contract free agents and who wouldn't want to play with Derrick Rose. Chris Bosh is also rumoured to go to Chicago making a big three of James, Rose and Bosh. And into that Joakim Noah and Luol Deng and thats the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Second Best: Cleveland Cavaliers
There is also a good chance the Cavs will sign James. Lebron is understandably upset with the team. Although they are built around James, mostly complimenting him great with players like Mo Williams and Antwan Jamison, his teammates have choked the last couple of years in the postseason. It is also close to his hometown of Akron and many Cleveland fans believe that he will be betraying them if he signs anywhere else.
Other Teams: New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Miami Heat
All these teams definately have enough cap space to sign him but none would help James achieve his biggest goal- becoming an NBA champ.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Fish That (Once Again) Saved LA

When Kobe is acting like old number 8, ballhog afro Kobe, when Pau Gasol cannot buy a basket and Ron Artest thinks he is still playing for Sacremento, a hero will emerge. And his name is Derek Fisher. Fisher, co-captain of the Lakers, absolutely went on a tear with 11 huge points in the fourth quarter of game 3, stopping a furious Celtic comeback.
Derek Fisher finished with 16 points in the game and proved all the haters (cough Utah fans cough) wrong once again. Fisher is not new to finals pressure and clutch plays. From hitting an amazing turn-around buzzer beater to sink the Spurs with 0.4 seconds left to swishing the clutch long-ball in last years finals against the Magic in game 3, he has been through it all. But this may have been the greatest Fish moment of all time (its close, maybe after the time he ran into the gym mid-way through a playoff game in Utah to close out the game after he had to take care of his daughter). Not only did Fish score, but he played amazing D on Ray Allen, who went 0-13 after setting a finals record the game before, and his emotional interview after the game was truly awesome. Derek Fisher once again proved he is both a leader and a champion, and he, along with his other Laker teammates, will not rest until they are hanging up another championship banner in Staples Center.

Finals Series Overview

Sorry for the lack of updates I was in Colorado for a week on a ranch and they computers were not working.
Anyways I have missed a lot. The first three games are the finals are done and the Lakers are up 2-1. We have seen records been beat. The Lakers set a finals record for most blocked shots with 14. Ray Allen set a record for most three pointers in a game with 8, then nearly set a record the next game for worst shooting performance in the finals with 13, including 0 for 8 from three point land (if he would have missed one more shot he would have tied it, and he nearly did except his missed shot was waved off due to a Kevin Garnett offensive foul) and the Lakers bench set a record for best shooting percentage from a bench that shot at least ten shots (they shot 11 shots and made 9) with 81.8 percent.
The stars have shined in the finals so far. Garnett showed why he is still one of the best post players in the league when he exploded for 25 points in a 11 for 16 shooting night in game 3 after struggling in the first two games. Ray Allen proved why he might be the best shooter in NBA history after his 8 for 11 shooting night from beyond the arc and finished with 32 points in the Celtic's win in game 2. Pau Gasol has performed great, dominating Garnett in 2 out of the 3 games (remember when I said that might be the difference... yeah) and he is not the soft Gasol of '08. And then there is Kobe being Kobe, although I think even Laker fans agree he should take less contested jumpers unless hes hot, but still has contributed in every way possible for the Lakers, from scoring to blocking shots.
Then there have been suprises. Of course you have heard of my man Derek Fisher's clutch performance, scoring 11 in the fourth quarter alone when it seemed that no one could make a basket, making shot after shot. But have you noticed Glen Davis' play, he might be the most consisten Celtic of the series so far. Big Baby is averaging 7.7 points but all his baskets are big ones and he is hustling after every loose ball. There has even been a Sasha Vujacic sighting, and in the only 19 seconds he played in game 3 he sank two big free throws to secure the game for the Lakers.
The finals this year have been an absolute classic. Everybody ready for game 4?

Finally a shout out to Aneta, my first follower.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ron Rodman

There are actually a lot of similarites between the championship, Michael Jordan-lead Bull and the current Los Angeles Lakers. They are both lead by determined, elite superstars in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. They both have the best "second best" player and compliment to them in Scottie Pippen and Pau Gasol. Even their head coaches are extremely similiar. When people think of the Chicago Bulls they of course think of His Airness Michael Jordan. They think the incredible, one of a kind legacy they left behind. But many also remember the erratic Dennis Rodman. And now the Lakers have their own version of him as well in Ron Artest.
Enter Ron Artest. Artest, in my opinion, is the best defender of out generation, even above players like lock-down Bruce Bowen and multiple defensive player of the year Ben Wallace. The Lakers signed Artest this offseason instead of signing Trevor Ariza, who did an amazing job last year and was a major part of the championshup team. You may remember his two clutch steals against the Denver Nuggets to seal the game in two of the Lakers wins against them. So their must have been a reason that they signed Artest instead of Ariza. Artest is a great player, in his prime he averaged around twenty points and can shut down the opposing team's best player. And the Laker's needed someone like that in the playoffs when they were likely to go up against players like Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce and Vince Carter. He also can be an offensive threat, in these playoffs alone he has shown sparks of a great shooter. He is a great set shooter from 3 point land.
Sound too good to be true? Well Artest does come at a price. Much like Dennis Rodman, Artest has a huge attitude. Artest has gotten many technicals fouls and holds the record for longest number of games suspended for going into the stand to fight with fans. He also has had many different and crazy hairstyles, including shaving the Lakers symbol into the back of his head and writing defense in his head in three different languages. His current number isn't his birthday or anything like that, but the number of weeks Michael Jackson's Thriller album was number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
But the Lakers are really going to need Artest in this one. He has the privilege of guarding the Celtic's best player and the 2008 finals MVP Paul Pierce, who has averaged 19.1 points in the playoffs this year and recently has stepped up his game and scoring average to 24.3 in the C's last series against the Orlando Magic. Now Artest needs to prove himself. To prove that it was the right choice signing him and not Ariza. To prove he is still an elite player and defender. His play in the finals could very well be the difference between the Lakers hanging up their 16th banner or the Celtics hanging up their 18th.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flash from the Past: MJ Buzzer Beater

Every Wednesday I would like to do an article about something that happened this week in NBA history. This week we are going to look at one of the most amazing plays in playoff history, Michael Jordan's buzzer beating, winning shot against the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals.
The scene was the 1997 NBA Finals. Game one. The score is tied with mere seconds left. The ball get in to Micheal Jordan. He dribbles, drives past Bryon Russell, puts up the twenty foot jump shot and... scores! as the time expires to make the final score 84-82. This eventually set the bulls, lead by Michael Jordan, won their fifth title with Jordan being the MVP of the series.

Check it out at

That Old Celtic Defense

Have you ever heard the saying defense wins championships? Well it is definately true. The San Antonio Spurs recently built a legacy around defense, the Detroit Pistons shocked the world by beating the Lakers in the 2004 finals around defense, and even more recently the Celtics beat the Lakers in 2008 because they were the better defensive team. In the NBA defense is key. And at this moment, no one is playing better defense then the Boston Celtics.
The Orlando Magic have one of the simplest but best offense in the league. Give the ball to Dwight Howard and when he is double team kick it out to one of the many three point shooters. Orlando has so many offensive weapons, they might have the best offense in the game, but Boston completely shut them down. The Celtics won all three of the first three games in the series because of the amazing defense that they were playing. Kendrick Perkins and the other Celtics' big men did a fantastic job on Dwight Howard and the entire Celtics team did a great job of running the Magic's shooters off of the three point line. They did so good that Rashard Lewis only averaged 8.2 points in the series, a major drop from the 17 he had the series before.
The Celtics have a great set of defensive players. Rajon Rondo was named to the all-nba first defensive team this year. Kevin Garnett is a former defensive player of the year. Kendrick Perkins proved what he could do against Dwight Howard and Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rasheed Wallace all are under-rated defenders. Only time will tell if the Celtics can play the same type of defense against the Lakers and their triangle offense. They proved the can play defense against great offensive teams like the Magic and Cavaliers, but neither one of those teams had Kobe Bryant...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Head to Head: Andre Iguodala vs. Rudy Gay

I plan to do this type of post every Tuesday. I call it head to head and compare two similiar players to see who is better. We will break it down into 5 categories, offense, defense, physical abilities, basketball IQ, and skillset. Whoever wins the most of these categories will be declared the winner. This week we are going to compare two high-flying small forwards, Andre Iguodala from Philidelphia and the Memphis Grizzlies' Rudy Gay.

Offense: Both Rudy Gay and Andre Iguodala thrive on the offensive end of the court. Both can put the ball in the hoop pretty much whenever they want to. Gay has the slight scoring advantage with 19.6 to 17.1, but Iggy absolutely blows Gay out of the water in the assists category with a great 5.8 compared to a measley 1.9 per. Iguadola is the main offensive weapon for the 76ers, while Gay not even the most talented offensive player on his team behind OJ Mayo so I have to give the nod to Andre in this category.
Winner: Andre Iguodala

Defense: Although neither Gay or Iggy are defensive stoppers neither slack off to much on defense either. Iguadola leads the forwards of the league in steals per game, even ahead of Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony with 1.7 while Gay is 7th in the category with 1.4. Neither average over a block per game. Iguadola also has the edge in rebounds per game with 6.5 to 5.9. Although it is a very close call, I again have to give Iguodala the victory. Neither will be confused with Bruce Bowen any time soon though.
Winner: Andre Iguodala

Skillset: Iggy and Gay both are reasonably skilled players. Gay has the advantage in three point shoot percentage. Often Iggy will throw up a long three that has everyone on the bench screaming NOOOOOO. Both are average ball handlers, with Gay having the slight advantage, but Gay is not nearly as good as a passer as Iguodala. But he makes up for that in passing. Gay has a great mid-range game and this year averaged a career high .466 while Iggy is a little bit behind with a .443. Gay also has a better free throw shooting percentage with .752 compared to Andre's .733. Chalk one up for Rudy.
Winner: Rudy Gay

Basketball IQ: Both Iggy and Rudy have had their share of dumb moments. Andre launched a five feet behind the three point line shot with over twenty seconds left in a game down by one. Rudy launched a full court buzzer beater with seven seconds left, which Kobe Bryant rebounded, dribbled down the court and shot (and made) as the time really expired. Neither has the IQ of Steve Nash, but in this category I again have to give the edge to Andre due to Gay's frequent turnovers.
Winner: Andre Iguodala

Physical Attributes: These two high-flying players are two of the best athletes in the league. Both should be in the next dunk contest as both can throw it down with the best of them. Iguodala has often been compared to Vince Carter. And although Gay is a larger player, Iggy may be the best all-around athlete (not named Lebron James or Dwight Howard) in the entire NBA.
Winner: Andre Iguodala

Overall Winner: Andre Iguodala, 4-1.

Thanks flickr.

X Man: Lamar Odom

You have probably heard this many times but its true. Lamar Odom is the X factor for the lakers. When he plays good the Lakers are nearly unstoppable. When he doesn't they are easily beatable. Lamar Odom is a skilled big man. He stands 6 feet 10 inches tall and has the handles of a point guard. He can knock down the three ball and post up. He is the NBA's most versatile player, able to play literally any position from point guard to center. And because of this he may be the Laker's most valuable player.
Coming from off the bench for the Lakers, Lamar Odom is eleventh in the NBA in rebounds per game with 9.8. He is the highest player on the list to come off of the bench, and would no doubt be higher if he received starter's minutes. Odom started his career playing in the Staples Center, but just for a different team. Lamar was drafted fourth overall in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Clippers. In his debut he scored an amazing 30 points and 12 rebounds. That year he placed third in the rookie of the year voting, was named to the All NBA First Rookie Team and the future looked very bright for Lamar. Then everything came crashing down, Odom was suspended for drugs and he became a free agent.
Odom was signed by the Miami Heat. Lamar again had a very succesful year but was traded to his current team, the Lakers, in a package deal involving Caron Butler for Shaquille O'neal. Odom was a fan favorite in Los Angeles for years, but his inconsistent play as a starter, and left many to doubt in his abilities. Eventually he was moved to the bench backing up the newly aquired Pau Gasol and budding star Andrew Bynum. Lamar has thrived off of his role and was a major part in the Laker's finals run in 2008 and championship title the year after.
Now Lamar Odom once again has to prove his abilites. He has the skills to become an all-star, but often plays inconsistent or without hustle. If the Lakers want to hang with the Celtics and win the title again, Lamar has to be the man. He has to be the spark off of the bench. Odom really is the X factor for the Lakers. He is the difference between winning and losing. He is the league's X Man.

Thanks to flickr for the photo.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Rajon Rondo: The Difference

Paul Pierce may be called The Truth. Kevin Garnett is the Big Ticket. But Rajon Rondo should be called The Difference. He is the difference between the Celtics of the 2008 team and now, the difference between an early first or second round exit and a championship run. Rajon Rondo is the difference. The young point guard has transformed his game. He has taken the title of best rebounding point guard from Jason Kidd and is the best defensive point guard in the game today. He can get his points when he wants to but always can get his teammates involved as well. Rondo is a flashy guard that fascinates the fans. Did you see the fake he put on Marcin Gortat or his fake behind the back passes? Rondo is an elite guard and definately one of the best in the game.
Poor Derek Fisher. He is my favorite player of all time but that guy is not going to be able to defend this kid. Fisher has actually done a good job so far on the great pgs he has played. First there was the young, up and coming guard Russell Westbrook with his speedy first step. Then he had to go up against his former Utah teammate Deron Williams, and we all know how nasty his cross over is and how great of a player he is. After that he had to go up against a true master. Steve Nash, 2 time MVP possibly the greatest point guard since John Stockton. Now he has to try and stay in front of Rondo? Impossible. Kobe is going to have to switch over to guard Rajon and Derek is going to have to chase Ray Allen around the three point line.
This is a great matchup favoring the Boston Celtics and they need to go to it. For the Celtics to win Rondo has to play like he has been, putting up an astronomical line 16.7 points, 10 assists and 5.3 rebounds. If he can put up numbers like that, the Lakers will definately have his hands full. Rondo may just be The Difference.

Power Forward Matchup

Hi my name is Drew Durbin, NBA fanatic, and I would like to share my knowledge of the NBA with you. This is my first post so if I don't get everything right I hope you understand.
As you should know the NBA finals start on Thursday and it should be an awesome series. Both teams are playing at a high level and my Lakers are out for revenge. If you didn't know this is a rematch of the 2008 finals where the Celtics took the series in 6, embarassing the Lakers by 39 points in a blowout win at the Garden. Since then the Lakers have won a championship, but the pain is still there from losing to the Celtics.
One of the many reasons the Celtics beat the Lakers was because of the power forward matchup. The Lakers newly aquired Pau Gasol, the robin to Kobe's batman, was easily handled by the heart of the Celtics team, defensive player of the year and former MVP Kevin Garnett. Garnett averaged 18.2 points and 13 boards in the series, while Gasol only averaged 14.7 and 10. Not a huge difference but considering Gasol, who was truly the reason the Lakers made it to the finals, averaged 19 in the regular season and dropped 5 points to 14, and was having much larger numbers in his first two playoff series as well, there is a pretty big difference.
You may not realize how big Gasol is for the Lakers, especially back then. The Lakers were without their starting center Andrew Bynum, they started Vladamir Radmonovic and Lamar Odom only showed up half the time. Gasol had to have monster games for the Lakers to have a chance and he was delivering up until the finals. The Lakers two stars, Gasol and Bryant, had to shine more then Boston's Big Three of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Garnett and they didn't. Los Angeles won two game in the series and it isn't a conicidence that in one he scored the most he did, 19. in any game. The other win was when Kobe erupted for 36 points, and when that happens the other team can't do much. But anyways, Gasol had most of the blame, and for good reason, for the finals lost. He was called soft and going into the off season he kept that in mind.
The next year, Gasol went toe to toe with Dwight Howard in the finals and put up a much better performance. He averaged 18.6 points in the series, which the Lakers won in 5. Gasol was no longer called soft, he was a transformed, better and tougher player. Now he has a chance to redeem himself. Kevin Garnett is hobbled and Gasol needs to dominate the series for the Lakers to win. So far in the playoffs, Gasol has arguably been the best player. Although Gasol was slowed by the Suns Zone Defense, he was still a factor. It also helps when Kobe makes the shots he did in game 6.
Kevin Garnett, however, up until the last series with the Magic, has played like his knee isn't bothering him at all and in the playoffs. He averaged 17.3 and 8.4 rebounds, both are big numbers considering that he has to share his stats with the likes of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and an improved Rajon Rondo. This rematch of the forwards will be a good and fun one to watch and may be the difference in this series.
Thanks to flickr for the pictures.