Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Joakim Noah
Posted on: January 30, 2012 8:00 am
Edited on: January 30, 2012 10:45 am
 

Dwight Howard open to playing in Chicago

Howard says he would love to play with Rose in Chicago. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Oh, thank goodness. It had been almost 24 hours without a prospective landing place for Dwight Howard popping up. I was starting to feel alone and sad. 

Thankfully, the Chicago Tribune spoke with Howard this week on the question all Bulls fans want to know. Does he really not want to play with Derrick Rose? The Magic's big man says as long as the Big Guy upstairs is down with it, he'd absolutely play next to the MVP. 

"If I could play with Derrick right now and God wanted that to happen, it will happen," Howard told the newspaper. "It has nothing to do with me not wanting to play with Derrick Rose. I love him. That's my brother."

via ChicagoTribune.com's "Dwight Howard: Orlando center Dwight Howard on long-shot trade to Chicago Bulls: If God wanted that to happen, it will happen."

Howard also denied any sort of marketing complication with Adidas would keep him from wanting to join the Bulls. Previous reports said Howard was possibly resisting the idea of playing in Chicago, whether due to complications with being "the man" next to Rose or the market when compared to New York or Los Angeles, or some other issue, like the weather. Howard could simply be playing the PR game to leave all of his options open. He's likely amiable to playing in Chicago, but still prefers the warm spotlight of L.A. or the fuzzy fur coats in Brooklyn.

But Howard would be wise to consider Chicago -- both for himself and the franchise he's likely dumping. A trade with the Bulls would be easiest to facilitate because they have quality veteran players to package in exchange for Howard, which the Magic are said to covet. With a full stock of draft picks, young players and sub-stars like Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, the Bulls could take on Howard's salary and one of the Magic's overpaid contracts. For Chicago, putting Howard next to Rose would be phenomenal -- and giving Tom Thibodeau the best defensive player in the league could create the best defense in league history, depending on whether Luol Deng were sent away in such a trade. 



Posted on: January 29, 2012 6:48 pm
 

Five big takeaways from Bulls-Heat

Posted by Royce Young

Round one went to the Heat, but not much separates Miami and Chicago. (Getty Images)

For the first time since Game 5 of the Eastern Confernce Finals where the Heat put together a massive comeback -- or the Bulls choked away a big lead, depending on perspective -- the Bulls and Heat matched up Sunday in Miami. It went as expected, down to the wire, with a couple key possessions decided it as Miami slid by, 97-93.

It was a game that will be played three more times during the regular season and likely one we'll see four, five, six or maybe seven more times in the postseason. It's one of what will be many more, but here are five big things to take away from the first matchup.

1. The final minute was pretty much perfect. Why? Because it was a total mess. Or as Kevin Garnett might say, a bar fight. The Bulls clawed back to finally have a shot at their first lead of the game as Derrick Rose stepped to the line with Chicago down 94-93 with 22 seconds left. Of note: Rose was 12-12 from the line to that point and had made all 28 free throws he'd attempted in the fourth quarter this season. He missed the first short. He missed the second long. The Heat gained possession and Joakim Noah was forced to foul LeBron James.

So it was LeBron's turn to finish the game at the line. He missed the first short. He missed the second long.

And that's when things started to get weird.

Off the second miss, there was an inadvertant whistle as Dwyane Wade saved the ball and Miami appeared to regain possession. The officials decided to jump it up at mid-court, but Monty McCutchen's toss was incredibly lopsided as LeBron easily won it against Taj Gibson. The Bulls fouled, Mario Chalmers stepped to the line with 13 seconds left. He made the first, missed the second and the ball somehow squirted through Carlos Boozer's arms as he called timeout. Rose grabbed it, got the timeout called and the Bulls, after all of that, had the ball with nine seconds left and a chance to tie it or win.

Rose got free and had a decent look for 2 as Richard Hamilton stood wide open in the corner. Rose came up short, the Heat grabbed the ball and finished off the Bulls in a completely fitting finish to a wild, entertaining game between the East's top two teams.

2. LeBron v. Rose. Both were absolutely spectacular. Rose finished with 34, LeBron 35. It was a show of two of the most electric players with the ball in their hands. Everything you'd want from a Heat-Bulls game.

The Heat didn't use LeBron on Rose much in the game like they did in the Eastern Finals, but LeBron did switch to Rose one time -- the Bulls final possession. Rose was terrific despite missing the free throws and 17 of his 28 shots, but he did it abusing Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. With the Bulls in a position to win or tie, LeBron switched to Rose.

Chicago ran a quick little set that got the ball to Rose isolated at the top of the key on LeBron. Rose got an on-ball screen, slipped past LeBron and jumpstopped at an elbow. Two Heat defenders stepped up, Udonis Haslem flopped to try and draw a charge and Rose was left with an open 15-footer. Which of course he missed.

But for the first 47:51 of the game, the Heat resisted having LeBron guard Rose, like he did so much of in the Eastern Finals. I couldn't help but wonder if it was an intentional switch to try and keep LeBron off of Rose and let the Heat defend the reiging MVP collectively, but it's almost like Erik Spoelstra was saving it as his secret weapon, just in case. As the two teams go forward against each other, it's definitely something to watch for.

3. Rose still has to do too much. There's a key difference between the Bulls and Heat: Rose defers to Richard Hamilton, Kyle Korver, Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer. LeBron defers to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. A crucial distinction.

The Bulls are mostly in a position where either they have to kill the offensive glass and create multiple shot possessions or play incredible defense and win an ugly 80-78 game. Or hope that Rose plays an entirely flawless game.

The good news for Chicago is that all three of those things are entirely possible. The Bulls did a great job creating second opportunities, played solid defense and Rose was really good. But still, they didn't get enough of all three. I'm not so sure the Heat are all that much better than the Bulls, but I do think Chicago's margin for error is much smaller.

4. Luol Deng matters, a lot. Forgotten in all of this is Chicago's second best player didn't play. Luol Deng, a guy that gives the Bulls almost 16 points and 7.5 rebounds a game was out with a wrist and hand injury. Not only did the Bulls miss the extra offensive punch Deng gives, but they missed most his defensive ability.

Deng would've been the primary defender on LeBron, but instead Chicago was forced to rotate guys like Ronnie Brewer, Rip Hamilton and big guys like Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah on him. Not ideal for the Bulls and it's a big reason LeBron exploded for 35 points. You can't take something away from this game without remembering that the Bulls were minus Deng. He means way too much to them, especially for the reason he's their guy to stick on No. 6.

5. A seven-game series between these two would be terrific. I'm not entirely sure who the favorite would be, but if this game is any indication, it will likely come down to either Derrick Rose carrying his Bulls, or a combination of LeBron and Wade doing the same for Miami. It's a wonderful contrast between a top heavy squad with three amazing players against a deep roster headed by one incredible player.

Sunday, Wade wasn't great scoring 15 points on 4-16 shooting, but that's the design of the Heat. One guy didn't get it done, so another stepped up. In this case, it was LeBron and Chris Bosh (24 points, 12 rebounds). Bosh is a linchpin in that when Deng is healthy, the Bulls really can defend the Heat well. There likely will be games where Wade and LeBron are struggling and Bosh has to outclass Boozer inside to give Miami easy points.

There's a lot of stuff going on between these two teams. A lot of matchup issues, adjustments and big players making big plays. They're on a crash course to see each other again in the Eastern Finals and as Sunday showed, it'll likely be a beautiful mess.
Posted on: January 18, 2012 6:22 pm
 

Charles Barkley calls out Joakim Noah for effort

Posted by Ben Golliver joakim-noah-chi

The Round Mound of Mouth strikes again.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that TNT commentator Charles Barkley singled out Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah as his latest victim this week, following a 2-point, 5-rebound performance in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.
‘‘His energy level is not the same,” Barkley said. “I have loved how hard he has worked, but he has not played up to his capabilities this year. Even though Chicago has a great record, he has not played like he has played the last couple of years.’’
Noah's raw stats are down across the board so far this season. In 16 games, he's averaging 7.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 block and .6 steals per game. All of those numbers are down from 2010-2011, when he put up 11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 steals per game.

Of course, Noah played 32.8 minutes per game last season while he is so far logging just 26.6 minutes per game in 2011-2012. He's been benched for the entire fourth quarter multiple times, something you rarely see with a player who has established a reputation as an elite defensive player and rebounder. Reserve center Omer Asik, meanwhile, has seen his playing time up from 12.1 minutes per game last season to 17.4 minutes per game.

Has Noah's productivity dip meaningfully affected Chicago to this point? It certainly doesn't seem like it.

The 13-3 Bulls sit atop the Eastern Conference, boasting the league's second best defense and best rebounding rate. In both metrics, they are posting better numbers than they did last season. Offensively, Chicago is currently ranked No. 7 in the NBA, up from last season's No. 12 ranking. 

While Bulls fans have expressed disappointment with his play to this point, Noah's per-minute production this year is roughly the same as last year when it comes to rebounds, steals and blocks, the statistics we most often associate with "energy" when it comes to evaluating big men.

The major difference in Noah's numbers is actually his shooting, where he's significantly worse. Indeed, Noah is shooting just 41.2 percent from the field, his worst mark in his five years as a pro and more than 10 percent below his 52.5 percent shooting last season. His bread-and-butter paint scoring accounts for that slippage: he's shooting worse at the rim (47.1 percent, down from 61.7 percent) and from 3-9 feet (26.3 percent, down from 38.5 percent), according to HoopData.com.

As of Wednesday, the Bulls were the only team in the NBA that has played 16 games so far this season. That Noah's minutes and shooting numbers are down so significantly without it impacting Chicago's won/loss record is a quintessential example of a "good problem to have" during this lockout-shortened season. Having a capable reserve in Asik to cover for Noah when he struggles is an absolute luxury.

The Bulls will need more from Noah as the season progresses, particularly in the playoffs, but this critique is a classic nitpicking of a solid all-around team rather than any kind of a crisis. Noah's track record as a worker shouldn't be overshadowed by a slow start.

Hat tip: Pro Basketball Talk
Posted on: December 25, 2011 8:24 pm
Edited on: December 25, 2011 10:22 pm
 

Video: Derrick Rose game winner over Lakers

By Matt Moore

For 40 minutes, the Lakers were the better team. Then everything fell apart for L.A. against the Bulls. They missed free throws, took bad shots, and turned the ball over constantly. With the Bulls having closed within one, the Lakers had the ball with under 20 seconds left. Maintain possession, force the foul, hit free throws, and get out with an ugly but impressive win over the East's best team last season. 

But as we've seen all through the month of December, things simply aren't diagrammed that way for the Lakers right now. Instead, this happened.


 

The Lakers have not won a game since defeating the Hornets in the first round of last year's playoffs. Kobe Bryant hit some big shots but also turned the ball over 8 times against the Bulls. On a day where the Lakers scrapped and did a fantastic job shutting down Rose and the Bulls' offense, they simply fell apart, and the finger has to point to Kobe Bryant. 

Meanwhile... Derrick Rose made the play when he need to, just like he did all of the regular season last year. It wasn't the best start for the Bulls, but it's a win, and that's good enough. Also, you can almost see Rose's eyes go wide when he realizes he has Derek Fisher one-on-one.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Why doesn't Dwight Howard want to be a Bull?



By Matt Moore


Back on Dec. 10th, the Chicago Tribune reported that Dwight Howard was not considering the Bulls. Chicago has not been on the list of teams Ken Berger has reported since February under consideration by Howard and his management. And Tuesday, ESPN reported that Howard's list has been narrowed to four teams, the New Jersey Nets, the Dallas Mavericks, the L.A. Lakers, and the Orlando Magic

So the question now is "Why won't Howard consider the Bulls?"

For starters, it would make a huge amount of sense for both parties in terms of basketball. For the Magic, they'd be able to get back a decent return on Howard, something that not many other teams will offer. Joakim Noah as a centerpiece, with Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, potentially Luol Deng, and a salary dump of Hedo Turkoglu along with picks could probably be had. That's a fine haul for the Magic. But maybe Howard simply doesn't care about what his team gets back and in fact wants to make sure they don't give up too much so that he can have a good group behind him wherever he lands. 

The bigger upside is for Howard. He would no longer have to be the sole source of offense and would have the pressure to be "the man" split between he and Rose. Howard wants help? How about the MVP point guard who can create offense for himself as well as anyone in the league? He'd be set with a young player just starting his rise to greatness and already established. Rose isn't an alpha dog and wouldn't have problems with Howard, Rose has good enough vision even as a score-first guard to create oop after oop for Howard on the pick and roll. Throw in Carlos Boozer as now a much-better-fitting third option (unless they unloaded Boozer which they may have to for salary purposes), and some combination of the Chicago shooters and you have all the help Howard's been asking for. 

Furthermore, how about the best defensive player in the league playing under the best defensive coach in the league? Tom Thibodeau could get the absolute most out of Howard's considerable abilities (not that Stan Van Gundy hasn't already done a stellar job and in fact in large part helped make Howard into the defensive presence he is), and would let him dictate what he wants on offense instead of forcing perimeter shots like SVG. 

The only conclusion is that it's some combination of weather and style that Howard balks at in regards to Chicago. Howard is rumored to prefer warm-weather destinations, coming from the south and having played there for his career. Chicago isn't exactly balmy. Then again, not like Brooklyn is all palm trees and sun tan lotion. The bigger question may be from a marketing perspective. New York or L.A. provide him with media opportunities galore, and for a guy who loves the camera as much as Howard does, that might be the kicker. 

One entity sad about this development? Adidas, who have both Howard and Rose under their label. The two teaming up under the colors of Nike's icon Michael Jordan's former team? Priceless. The money would be there for Howard in Chicago, but maybe not the level of fame he wants.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:12 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 2:13 pm
 

Rondo says Chicago fans are the worst

By Matt Moore

The Chicago-Boston rivalry may be the best in the NBA. The rivalries with the Heat are too stilted, too forced, too bent on the drama surrounding the Heat without actual basketball behind it. But the Celtics and Bulls have the 2009 seven-game series which is still revered as one of the greatest first-round series ever, if not the best. You've got star power with contrast, in the form of Derrick Rose vs. Rajon Rondo, Carlos Boozer vs. Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen vs.... no, wait, no one on Chicago can shoot. But still. Throw in Joakim Noah and you've got a great rivarly that it would be a shame to lose to a lockout should we lose the year and that be the end of the Celtics' real run. 

But if you're looking for some lockout bulletin board material, here's a nice tidbit. Rajon Rondo did an interview with Red Bull after one of their events, and he went ahead and gave Chicago the love it's shown him for so long, right back.
Madison Square Garden however, does not harbor the noisiest fans according to Rondo, an honor that he says goes to the Golden State Warriors. “They got a pretty loud crowd,” he pointed out.

The most obnoxious crowd? “I’d say Chicago. Ever since a couple years back in the playoffs, me and Kirk [Hinrich] got into it and they’ve been booing me and heckling me ever since.”
via Celtics Basketball Player Rajon Rondo Stays Busy in NBA Off-season.

Rondo famously threw Kirk Hinrich into a table at one point during a scuffle, and has had run-ins with about half the Bulls. So this should come as no surprise. So Joakim Noah probably hates the Heat crowd the most, and Rondo's against Chicago's. Oh, hey, Rondo and Carlos Boozer have something in common!

This rivalry will be interesting to watch as the Bulls continue to develop under former Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau and the Big 3 decline in Boston. Somehow I'm thinking Jeff Green isn't going to be sparking any huge conflicts. But it's good to know Rondo will always have a place where everybody knows his name, even if they're following it with the word "sucks."

(HT: RedsArmy.com) 
Posted on: October 6, 2011 9:43 am
 

Joakim Noah rocks the beer pong

By Matt Moore

Joakim Noah may be a millionaire NBA star who spent ten years in Paris and tends to incite the fans, but that doesn't mean he's not a super-chill bro. See, he's into beer pong! In the water! Water beer pong! Beer water pong! TMZ has the photo, which is worth the click. 

Also, TMZ's report says he was a gracious winner after schooling everyone on beer pong. How do you be gracious after beer pong?

"No, seriously, I just got lucky. I mean, I have all these advantages being 6-11 with giant hands. That's probably why I won."

Does this give anyone else the idea to settle the lockout? Get rid of Kobe, get rid of Garnett, get rid of Billy Hunter. Just send in Noah with cups and light beer. Winner gets the extra two percent BRI. Wait, no, that wouldn't work. The owners would insist on drinking both their beer and the players'. 
Posted on: August 17, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 10:57 pm
 

The EOB Elite 100, 21-30: Celtics trio

Posted by Ben Golliver

Rankings by EOB Staff.

rondo-pierce-garnett

This is the seventh segment of the CBSSports.com Eye on Basketball Elite 100, counting down the top-100 players in the NBA. 

Check out the earlier installments: 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31

Asking Boston Celtics fans and observers to rank the team's players top-to-bottom is a bit like asking a mother to rank her children. With Rajon Rondo ascending and the Big 3 maintaining, simply ranking the team's four All-Stars is a task in and of itself. That job takes on an added degree of difficulty when they face off against their competition around the league.

Three Celtics All-Stars -- Rondo and forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce -- made our top-30, but none made our top-20, a decision that speaks to the team's balance at the top but also the role that age has played in recent years. Once a perennial top-10 selection, Garnett has slipped a notch, although he still leads the way for the Celtics on this list. 

Without further ado, let's dig in.

30. Andre Iguodala, F, age 27, Philadelphia 76ers

2011 Stats: 14.1 points, 6.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 44.5 FG%, 17.30 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 27, 36, 36

After playing all but six games in his first six NBA seasons, injuries marred Iguodala’s 2010-2011 campaign, keeping him out of 15 games and limiting his minutes per game to the fewest he’s played since his rookie year. As a result, his numbers took a predictable hit pretty much across the board.  Iguodala’s reputation as a two-way player is well-earned; his size, strength, quickness and instincts are an exceedingly rare combination.

Persistent trade rumors swirled throughout the season, too, owing to Iguodala’s long-term, eight figure per year contract and his tweener franchise guy status: he’s paid to be “the man” but not quite transformative enough to pull it off. Until he is moved to a contender with an established top dog, Iguodala will continue to impress outsiders and let down those who expect him to deliver a team to playoff success.

29. Joakim Noah, C, age 26, Chicago Bulls

2011 Stats: 11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, 52.5 FG%, 18.83 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 33, 32, 30

Perhaps Noah gets a friendly bump up in these rankings by virtue of playing in the vicinity of the Derrick Rose superstar glow, but he has done plenty to carve out a strong reputation for himself. It starts with doing the things most NBA players don’t like to do: crash the boards relentlessly on both ends, cover ground (while talking) on defense, hit the floor for loose balls, make the extra big-to-big pass and exercise restraint when it comes to shot selection.

Given his age, Noah should be a perennial double-double guy for the next 3-5 seasons. That, plus more than a block and a steal per game and 50+ percent shooting is excellent production from the center position.  

28. Tony Parker, G, age 29, San Antonio Spurs

2011 Stats: 17.5 points, 6.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 51.9 FG%, 20.44 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 26, 31, 30

San Antonio’s early playoff exit might have caused you to forget that the Spurs were the league’s second most efficient offense during the regular season. Parker’s well-rounded game – basketball intelligence, shooting, decision-making, pick-and-roll skills, drive-and-kick skills, open court skills – served as the engine in that machine. The elite newer-age point guards boast size/strength combinations that Parker can’t match, but he currently inhabits a pleasant nexus between “savvy veteran” and “not yet tailing off physically”, so he gives as good as he gets against just about anyone at his position.

The Spurs will never be able to replace Tim Duncan, but they were wise to ride with Parker into the foreseeable future.

27. Paul Pierce, F, age 33, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 49.7 FG%, 19.76 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 38, 23, 22

The passing of the Eastern Conference torch from Boston to Miami went down in particularly cruel fashion, with Heat forward LeBron James unleashing a whirlwind to usher the Celtics into the past. Not being athletic enough to keep up with Miami is no real sin, though, as that label applies to 99 percent of the league. Pierce is slower, more ground-bound, less decisive and less explosive than James, but he’s still an elite producer at his position, upping his numbers in most categories last season. He can score in a variety of ways, shoots with range, gets to the line and cashes in his free throw opportunities, and is a hard-working defender.

With three years left on his contract, it’s certainly possible the Captain becomes a burden on the books. For now, he’s steady and solid as always, the same All-Star with the track record for winning, even if his team has finally been overtaken.

26. Nene Hilario, C, age 28, Denver Nuggets

2011 Stats: 14.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 1.1 steals, 61.5%, 20.49 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 27, 29, 23

Arguably the biggest prize in this year’s free agent crop, Nene has gotten overlooked to a degree in a crowded Denver frontcourt that always took a backseat to whatever Carmelo Anthony was doing. Now that Anthony is in the Big Apple, Nene’s uber-efficient scoring around the rim, high-energy play and overall athleticism look even better, especially if one considers what will be left of the Nuggets should he decide to find a new home.

25. Andrew Bynum, C, age 23, Los Angeles Lakers

2011 Stats: 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.4 assists, 57.4 FG%, 21.14 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 28, 22, 28

Nobody in the NBA causes more people to slap their foreheads than Bynum: he’s yet to approach his potential on the court, has a lengthy injury history and has repeatedly resorted to some of the dirtiest play seen anywhere in the modern NBA. For all his faults and immaturity, he has shown the ability to be the best center in the NBA not named Dwight Howard by simply overpowering defenders and playing over the top of them, finishing at the rim with an emphatic dunk or a soft touch. He doesn’t have ideal mobility but he is still a legit paint presence defensively, even able to control games at times. The progress he’s made in expanding his offensive repertoire gives hope for the future, as does his expressed desire to carry more of the load.

Bynum will likely see his ceiling stunted a bit by the final chapter of Kobe Bryant’s career, but that shouldn’t prevent him from being a perennial All-Star and top-10 player eventually. Only the injuries offer a legitimate roadblock to greatness.

24. Al Horford, C, age 25, Atlanta Hawks

2011 Stats: 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, .8 steals, 55.7%, 20.79 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 24, 24, 29

Horford is an interesting contrast with Bynum, in that he seems to have figured life out and come to terms with what he will be as an NBA player. An excellent defender whose offensive production doesn’t get enough run, Horford should be the centerpiece for the Hawks for years to come. He’s managed to improve his scoring numbers during all four seasons in the NBA while keeping his rebounding numbers near the magical double-digit mark. Horford is smart, consistent, has a winning mindset and provides zero distractions off the court. He can pass too.

At 25, he’s probably getting pretty close to his peak productivity and isn’t – and may never be -- a game-changing No. 1 option on offense.  Still, he provides stability and plenty to work around even if he is never able to carry the team out of the massive shadow cast by Joe Johnson’s contract.

23. Chris Bosh, F, age 27, Miami Heat

2011 Stats: 18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 49.6 FG%, 19.44 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 19, 25, 28

The planet Earth sure learned a lot about Bosh this season. Indeed, he probably faced a greater increase in scrutiny than any other NBA player, when he bounced out of Toronto to team up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in South Beach. Bosh’s game is predicated on outside/inside offensive versatility. He is equally able to knock down a jumper, get to the free throw line, finish a play above the rim and create a bit off the bounce. He’s more sinewy than beefy and that’s earned him plenty of criticism because he doesn’t hold the paint on defense and lacks a true nose for rebounding and dirty work.

Bosh wore goofy outfits, was rightfully cast as a third wheel, got tattooed, got married, and broke down crying in his first year with the Heat. Who knows what the sequel holds?

22. Rajon Rondo, G, age 25, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 10.6 points, 11.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 47.5 FG%, 17.11 PER

Composite rankings (random order): 19, 21, 25

Rondo may very well be the most magical point guard since Magic Johnson, his knack for fitting passes into tight spaces is uncanny and his vision is peerless. At his best, he conducts games rather than simply playing in them, weaving together his teammates in such a way that open shots result. His eye-popping wingspan is matched only by his gambler’s instinct, making Rondo an excellent on-ball and off-ball defender. Of course there’s the whole business about his shooting, which remains troublesome and limiting, but he compensates with a warrior’s spirit and a full understanding of his own limitations. He is the future.

21. Kevin Garnett, F, age 35, Boston Celtics

2011 Stats: 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks, 52.8 FG%, 20.67

Composite rankings (random order): 23, 21, 21

Over the past two years, a crop of younger power forwards have surpassed Garnett, whose prep-to-pros jump and heavy minutes as a franchise guy earlier in his career have taken their toll. His body doesn’t allow 82 nights of top-shelf performance a season -- it would be next to impossible to manage that at 35 -- but he’s still the most feared and hated player in the NBA. His length and understanding of positioning create endless problems for his opponents and his basketball intelligence and leadership making the game easier for his teammates. His trusty jumper has kept him an offensive force and he can be paired with all sorts of lineups – big and small – thanks to his face-up game, passing skills and mobility. While Garnett is no longer a player capable of carrying a team to a title, he’s still the last guy you want to play against.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com