Posted by Royce Young
I honestly don't know what to say.
Via I Am a GM
Posted on: February 1, 2012 11:56 pm
Posted on: February 1, 2012 3:49 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 3:57 pm
Did you see Blake Griffin's dunk on Kendrick Perkins? Of course you did. And you probably did one of a few things. You said, "OHHHHH!!!!" you shook your head or you passed out in terror.
It was an amazing play.
But one guy wasn't impressed and he has a better look than any of us.
"I have no appreciation for it at all," Thunder star Kevin Durant told reporters Wednesday, via the Oklahoman.
You shouldn't be surprised by that though. Durant's also a guy that when asked if he was happy for Dirk Nowitzki to get to the NBA Finals last year, he said, "I'm not happy for him at all." Durant isn't going to play the game where he says all the right things just to be nice. He didn't like Griffin cramming on his guy Perk and he didn't like all the attention it got either.
"It was a layup, I think," Durant said. "He threw the ball in and got fouled and made a free throw. So it’s three points at the end of the day."
It was in fact a dunk, by definition, but that's not the point. Durant came away unimpressed by the Blake Show's poster of his teammate. But is that the problem? Because it happened to Durant's teammate?
"If it wasn't against us, maybe I would have said it was a good play," he said.
I love Durant but that could've been over my grandmother and I would say it was a good play. But I understand that Durant doesn't want to wave the pom-pons for Griffin. That's what being a good teammate is. He's not going to gush about something that likely embarrassed his boy Perk.
But it definitely wasn't a layup. If that's the case, so was Durant's nasty poster of Brendan Haywood in the Western Conference Finals. I don't want to live in a world where those aren't dunks.
Posted on: February 1, 2012 3:26 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The clock is ticking on the Nets. Not just on their time in New Jersey as they prepare to move to Brooklyn, but also on Deron Williams. He's a free agent this summer and with the Nets not doing anything as of yet to convince him to stay, the Nets' gamble on Williams may turn out to be quite the swing and miss.
But Williams might add a little bit of time to that clock. He could, possibly, pick up his player option and therefore become a free agent in 2013.
"Yeah (picking up the option is something I'm considering). I don't know what I'm going to do," Williams told the New York Daily News. "At the end of the season, I'm going to figure out what's going on, I'm going to sit down with my agent and look at every option possible."
Not exactly a glowing endorsement, but it's something. The fact Williams would admit he's considering it, even though he almost won't do it, is a little glimmer of hope that he enjoys the organization and believes in their plan.
Before the season, Williams said he wouldn't be signing an extension with the Nets. He also said though that it was a 90 percent chance he'd stay with the Nets. But potential suitors are lining up for him, most notably his hometown Mavericks. He's going to have options and he's going to want to go somewhere he can win and win now. He's been in a rebuilding situation for full year now with the Nets and he's not used to be in a losing circumstance.
If the Nets don't start lining up plans to get Dwight Howard soon, or at least something that helps Williams, he won't only pass on exercising that options, he'll pass on signing a new deal at all this summer and pack his bags for another city.
Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:37 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 1:28 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Almost every team has played 20 games so far this season, which is a pretty nice sample size to make a semi-educated judgment on just how good some are. We know there are a lot of competitive teams in each conference. Teams that have a quality roster, a decent record and a chance at the postseason.
But what's coming into focus more and more is who is for real and who is for fake. Not in the sense of who is actually good and who is fool's gold, but what teams should we be really watching for to make a push at a championship?
In the same way there's no reason to waste time saying the Wizards and Hornets are not contenders, I don't need to tell you that the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls are obvious contenders. They aren't just contenders, they're the title favorites as of now. Those three teams have clearly separated themselves a bit from the pack, but that doesn't mean that there isn't another team lingering as a potential title threat. This time last season nobody was really looking at the Mavericks as a team poised to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy.
So let's break down the current field of playoff contending teams and separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Orlando MagicAfter an 11-4 start, a good number of people kind of came around from "They have to trade Dwight Howard right now" to "Maybe they should keep him and make a run at it." Now, after a week of complete stinkage, maybe it's time to take another good look at blowing the hinges off the organization and starting over. If you're consistently having trouble getting out of the 60s, you're not going to win a seven-game series against a good team.
Philadelphia 76ersA 15-6 record and the best point differential in the league is not something to be ignored. A 4-4 road record indicates that maybe the Sixers aren't quite ready to step into the conversation of competing for the East. I'm going to choose to ignore that. The Bulls and Heat are clearly the class of the East, but it's not hard for me to picture the Sixers taking down one in a seven-game series. Their depth, defense and determination will have them right in any game they play.
Utah JazzRewind to last season. Jerry Sloan had resigned and Deron Williams was traded. It was understandable that the Jazz would finish out the season in the lottery. That was the plan. Get younger, find some cap flexibility and plan for the future. Except that didn't work out. The Jazz aren't a franchise that deal with losing much so this season wasn't just going to be one of tanking. But they're overachieving. They have some nice wins on the resume, but a core of Paul Millsap, Al Jefferon and Gordon Hayward aren't making a title push.
Indiana PacersI want to believe. I really do. The Pacers are a fun team and their resurgence over the past two seasons has been something else. David West was a nice addition and Roy Hibbert is playing really well. They've built up their resume with some good wins over the past couple weeks, but I don't see how they improved in the area that killed them last postseason -- fourth quarter execution. Danny Granger is a good player but can't shoulder the load of getting tough, key baskets in crunchtime. I can't see them beating the Bulls, Heat or even 76ers.
New York KnicksI almost didn't even include them in this list. And not for the reason the Bulls, Heat and Thunder aren't in it. Unless Baron Davis has a superpower in that beard, the Knicks aren't getting out of the first round, and that's if they even get there. Serious obstacles are going to have to be overcome before this team actually competes for a championship.
Dallas MavericksIt appears the championship hangover is finally wearing off. But for a while there, the defending champs had us concerned. They looked flat, uninterested and worst of all, not as good after losing J.J. Barea, Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson. But the Mavs are finding their form a bit and if Lamar Odom can ever finally wake up, Dallas goes eight deep with a nice rotation. And as long as that tall German guy is on the roster, they're a tough matchup for anyone.
Houston RocketsAs I was writing down the teams I needed to mention for this, I didn't have the Rockets. And then I looked at the West standings and their record and said, "Whoa, the Rockets are 12-9? When did that happen?" I think they're going to be players at the trade deadline, but as the team stands now, they're position in the West's top eight will probably be short lived.
San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles ClippersI picked the Clippers to finish second in the West but also wrote that they weren't a contender. I'm confused about the Clippers. But they definitely showed a little something this past week with a win in Denver and a win against the Thunder. Part of the reason many doubted that the Clips were ready to contend was it looked like they needed another piece for some depth. But they may already have it as Mo Williams is making a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year. Two top 15 players, a monster rim protector inside, a solid identity and veteran leadership -- the Clips kind of have it all. Only two things are holding them back -- Vinny Del Negro and a 35-year history filled with miserable failure.
Atlanta HawksI'll put it simply: The Hawks made no dramatic improvements to a team that's basically been the definition of pretender and then their best player was injured for pretty much the rest of the season. Their winning record without Al Horford has been a bit of a mirage as they've fortunately found a soft spot in the schedule at the worst time. Playoff team, yes. Title contender? Nah.
Portland Trail BlazersFor about five minutes, the Blazers had everyone talking about them as the prime contender to challenge Oklahoma City in the West. And then they lost their next five of eight and have slipped out of the top eight in the West. There's really not that much distinguishing this Blazer team from the one the was eliminated in last season's opening round. Is Ray Felton an upgrade over Andre Miller? Jamal Crawford an upgrade over Brandon Roy? LaMarcus Aldridge has become a legit superstar, but I don't see him carrying this roster to the Western Finals.
Memphis GrizzliesI fear the Grizzlies were that classic chic preseason pick that everyone kind of likes that ends up going down in flames. Some would call that the "Houston Texans Disease." But Memphis didn't stumble into the second round of the postseason by accident. They upended the Spurs and then were a seventh game on the road away from advancing to the Western Finals. They're an enigma right now without Zach Randolph, but if he comes back healthy, the Grizzlies could be a nightmare matchup for teams in the playoffs.
Boston CelticsAfter all of that, the Celtics are back to .500. They're 10-10 and have eased some of the fears that they might miss the playoffs. But they haven't been able to restore confidence that they're a team that's dangerous in the postseason. Kevin Garnett can't jump, which is a problem. Their offense completely fizzles for long stretches. They're actually relying on key production from guys like Mickael Pietrus and Chris Wilcox. The Celtics aren't bad, but I think ubuntu is on life support.
Denver NuggetsCan team ball really win? Well, it's winning now and looking pretty darn good doing it. The Nuggets ran into a bad matchup last postseason and the Thunder took care of them in five games. I wouldn't say they necessarily improved this offseason after losing Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith while adding Rudy Fernandez, Corey Brewer and Andre Miller, but Al Harrington is playing wonderful basketball, Ty Lawson is blossoming and Danilo Gallinari shows flashes of being a star. Winning this way isn't easy, but I wouldn't rule the Nuggets out.
Los Angeles LakersThe Lakers are 2-7 on the road. They've only scored 100 points three times this season. For any other team, we'd say that's a major red flashing sign that they aren't for real. For any other team, we'd look at their offensive struggles, their chemistry issues and the fact they're looking older than ever and easily write them off. But this is the Lakers, the home of Kobe Bryant and you don't do that. But I'm going to. Point guard is a massive issue, they have no depth inside and I still have absolutely no idea why they traded Lamar Odom for nothing. This team subtracted a key piece from a group that got swept out of the playoffs by the Mavericks and they expect that adding Josh McRoberts and a new coach is going to push them over the top? Unless the Lakers have a big trade coming down the pipe, the Lakers as currently constructed aren't going anywhere.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 10:05 pm
Posted by Royce Young
It may not have been over anyone and it might not have completely shut down the universe in the way Blake Griffin's dunk did Monday night, but Paul George's flying reverse, double-clutch slam was definitely contained a high level of nasty.
Only adding to the prettiness of it was the Pacers wearing some nice throwbacks. So George gets style points for the reverse double-clutch and for looking good while doing it.
Dunk contest participants have yet to be announced but if we're still actively searching, maybe take an extra look at George. With those long arms and those hops, I'm thinking if he can do that in a game, he could do some pretty sick stuff in a contest.
For complete dunk stats and a compilation of the year's best, be sure to check CBSSports.com's Dunk-O-Meter.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 8:13 pm
Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver
The 2011-2012 NBA season continues. Here's the seventh weekly installment of CBSSports.com's NBA Power Rankings by Eye On Basketball's Matt Moore.
What did he get right? What did he get wrong? We're here to break it down and take it down.
1. Too High: Atlanta Hawks at No. 9. Somehow, despite losing probably their best player, the Hawks aren't just keeping their head above water but soaring. They've won four of five games since the Al Horford injury. However, not exactly against marquee opponents -- New Orleans, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee. It's a little hard to tell if the Hawks are actually going to overcome Horford's injury or if they're just getting by as a result of a soft spot in the schedule. I tend to think it's the latter and as the season drags on, we'll see the Hawks are mediocre at best and not a top 10 NBA team. -- RY
2. Too Low: Orlando Magic at No. 20. Last week, I had a little fun at Matt's expense when he dropped the Magic after their ugly loss to the Celtics. In hindsight, he was correct. But, unfortunately, he made the same mistake again! The Magic have had by far their worst stretch of the season -- pointing fingers at each other during a 4-game losing streak -- but they're still 12-9 and they're still safely in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. By comparison, the Trail Blazers, who Orlando beat in Portland, are also 12-9, barely in the West playoffs, and ranked No. 11 in this week's Power Rankings. Where's the consistency? These guys shouldn't be below 15, despite how ugly things have gotten of late. -- BG
3. Most Overrated: Washington Wizards at No. 26. This one isn't a disaster but it's hard to really make a case that there are four worse teams than the 4-17 Wizards. Sacramento, for example, is 6-14 despite being in a 4-game losing streak. The Kings have three quality wins over the Lakers, Spurs, Pacers and a sort-of quality win over the Bucks. That's pretty bad for a team in the basement. Washington, meanwhile, had that one shocking, pretty fluky win over the Oklahoma City Thunder plus three wins against patsies (two against the Charlotte Bobcats, one against the Toronto Raptors). Their body of work just screams lower than No. 26. -- BG
4. Most Overlooked: Utah Jazz at No. 10. It's natural to just assume the Jazz are overachieving and will eventually come back to Earth. That's not a team built with any stars or big names, and yet in the toughest division in basketball, they're 12-7 and in the thick of the West. Their point differential and efficiency numbers aren't great. But they are winning consistently. Not that the Jazz should be higher than 10, but I think we're all quick to discount them for whatever reason. Much in the same way we all wanted to ignore last season's Nuggets, the Jazz could be for real. -- RY
5. Sure Thing: Miami Heat at No. 1. Sunday's showdown against the Chicago Bulls made it clear that these two teams, if healthy, are the clear, clear, clear favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference Finalists. That series will be a blood bath, too. Miami played very well at times but it was far from a flawless victory. With a few days to let it sink in, they're probably feeling pretty fortunate given Dwyane Wade's shooting struggles and LeBron James' predictable late-game free throw gaffes. The TV ratings for the potential Chicago vs. Miami East Finals are going to be absurd. -- BG
6. Wild Card: Indiana Pacers at No. 8. It's not fair to say the Pacers aren't exceeding expectations and having a great season. They are. They just beat the Lakers, Magic and Bulls last week. But one thing that's unshakeable for me is their bad losses. For example, a loss Jan. 18 to the Kings and then a whipping by Orlando Jan. 24. The Pacers are a bit erratic with their play and while absolutely a good team, I'm not so sure they are in true contender territory, which is normally reserved for the top eight. They're good, but just how good? -- RY
Posted on: January 31, 2012 1:22 pm
Richard Hamilton was a pretty nice addition to the Bulls. But they would definitely like it more if he were playing. Hamilton has missed 12 of Chicago's 23 games this season because of a groin injury and right thigh bruise.
And he's likely to miss more, via the Chicago Tribune:
Hamilton admitted that he likely will sit for a while in an attempt to put the groin and right thigh bruise issues in his rearview mirror for good.Hamilton said that he feels "like I'm playing on one leg sometimes." Which isn't the kind of Rip Hamilton the Bulls have in mind playing next to Derrick Rose. They want the guy running off screens, defending good 2-guards and providing an extra scoring punch in the Chicago backcourt.
They don't really need him in January and February. When they need Hamilton is in April and May, and possibly June. So if that means missing a couple games right now, then so be it. The Bulls want Hamilton healthy and ready to go for the postseason. Chicago should be just fine without him in the near future.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 5:56 am
Rewind to last summer where Dwyane Wade blamed part of the Heat's NBA Finals loss to the Mavericks on chemistry. He said, "One thing that Dallas beat us at – they had more chemistry than us. They had a game plan and we were still figuring ours out in our first year together."
Fast forward to this season where the transition alley oops are happening by the bunches and the Heat look as powerful as ever. LeBron James says the chemistry between him and Wade isn't just good, it's at a level it's never been before. Via the Sun Sentinel:
"It is at an all-time high right now, honestly," James said of the chemistry between the two. "It is just a chemistry that we have. Last year was a blueprint for us. It is not like we look for each other more than others, it kind of just happens.That sound you just heard was 29 other teams shuddering slightly. If that's actually true and LeBron and Wade are figuring out how to play together and off each other -- whoa.
But the thing is, transition baskets and running is one thing. Executing down the stretch in the halfcourt of a close game is another thing. And I don't think Wade and LeBron or the Heat as a whole have figured that out at all. Take the most recent example Sunday against the Bulls. Miami won, but not because of the halfcourt offense in the fourth quarter. Had Derrick Rose made two free throws, we might all be sitting here saying "What's wrong with the Heat?" and LeBron might not be saying things like that.
I have no doubt the on-court chemistry between Wade and LeBron is great and they are willing to pass to each other. But that's not the secret key to making the Heat unstoppable. It's about incorporating that chemistry with the other three guys on the court with them. It's about playing off each other while playing with each other. The Heat look very good and with Chris Bosh playing exceedingly well along with the terrifying fast break Miami has, nobody is going to argue if you say they're the best in the league right now.
But it's one thing to feel your chemistry at its highest level in late January. It's another to feel it in the NBA Finals when you desperately need a basket.