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Tag:Kobe Bryant
Posted on: September 21, 2010 1:13 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Who's winning MVP?

Posted by Royce Young

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

Who will be lifting the Maurice Podoloff Trophy next season?

No, I'm not going to spend the first three paragraphs explaining my definition of "Most Valuable Player." I'm not going to go on about if I think it's about the player that means the most to his team or if it's the guy that was the most outstanding through the season.

Because truly, it doesn't really matter. Everyone likes the MVP to be a bit ambiguous, leaving the voting criteria up for interpretation. It makes for better results in the end, I suppose. Or at least more arguments.

But it also means that this season won't be much different than the rest in terms of who the main faces in the race will be. You're not going to have a guy like Gerald Wallace that plays bulldog defense and leads his team in rebounds, blocks and scoring all from the small forward position. His value to the Bobcats last season can't really be quantified, but he's definitely not the traditional MVP type of player. He just has no chance.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. So in the end, you'll have the same cast of characters. Kobe Bryant. LeBron James. Dwyane Wade. Dwight Howard. And on. Oh, and one more guy - Kevin Durant.

Most don't realize that Durant was actually MVP runner-up last season. Now LeBron ran away with the award in a vote that wasn't close, but still, 21-year-old Kevin Durant was the runner-up. And he's my favorite to win it this season.

Why Durant? Because while LeBron is splitting not only the spotlight with Wade in South Beach, he'll also be splitting shots. He'll be splitting assists. He'll be splitting time with the ball. And most importantly, he'll be splitting big moments. To be an MVP, you need to own your team. You need to be The Man. And while most saw LeBron as the unstoppable MVP force that might win 10 straight last season, now he might not really even be in the discussion. And some think it was selfish that LeBron went to Miami.

There is the chance LeBron does something otherworldly though. I mean, he still is LeBron, an otherwordly basketball talent. What if he averages a triple-double? At that point, doesn't he have to be anointed? He's likely going to be on a team with one of the best records, plus add huge stats and something that hasn't been done in 40 years? You've got to award that. Even if he's the media devil right now.

And of course, don't forget the other usual suspects. Kobe will have numbers, his team will be good and he has everyone's attention. But as he ages, the less important big numbers have become and he's completely satisfied with 25-28 points per game. Dwight Howard does it all for the Magic, but voters have already proven hesitant to award such an imperfect player. Wade has the LeBron Problem and while there are other great candidates (Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams), one guys has to just stick out.

And Durant already has a leg up on everyone in the most important category: the media. Because of his uneventful but very eventful summer, Durant skyrocketed up popularity charts and had every person with a blog, Twitter or press pass writing about what a swell guy he is. You know, for announcing his "exstension" in a tweet and then for winning gold for his country. He's been cast as the anti-LeBron and in a world where whether it's sports, movies or real life, we like good vs. bad. Durant is Obi-Wan to LeBron's Darth Vader.

And that sort of thing is what could separate him. Durant is going to have the numbers. It's likely he'll finish with a line of something like 31 points per game, eight rebounds, three assists with percentages of 50-40-90. And if his darling Thunder squad wins over 50 and is in the Western mix, voters will pretty much hand deliver the award to Durant.

But KD has to deal with something he really hasn't had to yet - expectations. People are writing how he's the savior to basketball, the good guy, the one we should root for the sake of the children - children!!! - Durant should be the role model. But still, he has to perform.

His MVP campaign started with a simple tweet and built up serious steam in Turkey. But if Durant wants to hoist the Maurice Podoloff trophy in front of the Thunder faithful, he's still going to have to play. And there's no doubt he will.
Posted on: September 7, 2010 2:52 pm
 

Pop Quiz: How will the All-Star Game look?

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...



What will the All-Star Game look like?


Los Angeles. City of Angels. Home of the back-to-back NBA champions, the legendary LA Lakers. And in February, home of the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. It's going to be ridiculous, it's going to be over-the-top (more so than even your normal All-Star Game). It's going to be expensive. Really, really expensive. It will also be interesting as next year there are likely to be big changes in the All-Star Game. So what exactly is that game going to look like?

It's difficult to predict, obviously, who will be participating in the game. Even more so than any other episode of predicting the future, there are so many factors that can play into who makes it. Not only things like injuries, team downturns, unexpected rises, and trades, but the popularity contest of the voting system. But there are some things we can examine the possibility of.

For starters, with Amar'e Stoudemire headed to New York, there's a spot down low for the West. You can slide in Tim Duncan, because he's like Johnny Cash. Steady like a freight train, sharp like a razor. Pau Gasol's another lock, as many think he's the best power forward in the league right no w. From there, you've got Zach Randolph and Chris Kaman as the other two bigs from last year's squad. Kaman's unlikely to return with the addition of Blake Griffin, and Randolph's success is tied to an inconsistent Grizzlies team. Meanwhile, Yao Ming returns from injury and will most likely look like a legitimate contender for the starting spot.

But what about Andrew Bynum? We've been waiting for Bynum to live up to his potential for three seasons, and he's constantly referred to as one of the best centers in the league, despite his numerous injury issues. With the Lakers getting older, and Bynum supposedly healthier than he has been in years, Bynum has to be considered a strong contender not just for the backup position, but possibly as a starting center (which would put Tim Duncan at power forward, where he belongs).

Speaking of Duncan, he and Dirk Nowitzki are headed down the stretch and it'll be important to note that one of them is going to take a step backwards. Age demands it. And though Duncan is widely considered the best power forward of all time by those that consider him a power forward, he's most likely to have the dropoff. You saw it at times last season. The writing isn't on the wall, but there's a pen by the chalkboard. Bear in mind we're talking about inches below the greatness he's always provided, but it might be enough with a rising Bynum to shove either him or Dirk out of the starting lineup. And that will just be weird.

This is all before we start trying to figure out the point guards in the West. Steve Nash showing no signs of slowing down. Chris Paul back to full health. Deron Williams healthy with Al Jefferson beside him and more of the offensive load. Tyreke Evans, out of the rookie well and into the general pool. Russell Westbrook, possibly coming on as one of the better slide and dice guards in the league on a team that looks poised to make a run. Stephoe Curry, a rookie of the year runner-up with another season under him and a license to score. This likely means Jason Kidd will not be returning to the team for the 11th time in his career.

And oh, yeah, Kobe will be back in the starting spot. No "probably." He will be.

In the East? Well, the Miami Triad was formed from guys in the East, so they're likely to stay. Even with a downturn in production from sharing the ball, all three should be locks, though it's hard to see Bosh making the starting spot as he was a reserve last season. Amar'e Stoudemire could wind up knocking Kevin Garnett out of the starting spot which would be another changing of the guard. But a more likely scenario is Joe Johnson being unable to reach the starting spot again and moving into the reserve spot as the East looks like the West from last year: four bigs and a guard (Dwyane Wade). Which will be disappointing considering Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo's existence, both of whom are probable to return as starters.

Carlos Boozer, freed from the big-heavy West, may be able to work his way into a spot, and Paul Pierce may be on the bubble. If Andrew Bogut returns healthy, he could complicate matters, along with Brandon Jennings. Basically, point guards are going to massively complicate these rosters.

Sure, some of these players are going to go down to injury, others will have downturn seasons. But there's a strong indication that this might be a year of big changes in the All-Star Game, both with starting rosters and the reserve spots.

But the parties will be awesome regardless.
Posted on: September 7, 2010 9:21 am
Edited on: September 7, 2010 12:54 pm
 

Shootaround 9.7.10: Believe!

Reggie believes in Wade, Thomas believes in loyalty, and Butler believes in Burger King.Posted by Matt Moore

Reggie Miller believes the Heat are still DWade's team . Miller's probably on target here, but the fact that this is debatable is an interesting thought exercise. After all, we say we determine the quality of a player not by his performance, but by how many rings he has. Wade is the only one of the Miami Triad to have a ring, and yet LeBron is burdened with leadership of the squad. It's possible that this whole thing could only serve to show us how we've been underrating Dwyane Wade the past few years.

In a summer that put a very large nail in the coffin of loyalty in sports, the Mavs' actions towards Tim Thomas remain a hand propping it open. Art Garcia spoke with both Thomas and the Mavs , and both sides used the Magic word, loyalty, in their joint decision to add Thomas to the Mavericks' roster this season after his wife's illness forced him away from the game. We'll see if both sides remain loyal if Thomas does well enough to earn more money next season, or poorly enough to force the Mavericks' hand at the trade deadline.

Derrick Rose has been obsessing over improving his three-point range shot. The Bulls were one of the worst offenses and one of the worst perimeter shooting teams in the league last season. They were simply without a perimeter threat. They brought in Kyle Korver to fix that problem. But Rose is taking that burden upon himself and working to improve it while he's with Team USA. Giving that kid range makes him essentially unguardable. Yikes.

A list of NBA pairings that should happen, including Greg Oden and the Phoenix training staff .

Caron Butler owns six Burger Kings , mostly due to the fact that he used to work at one. Do what you know, I suppose.

It's time to put childish things away and start acknowledging the potential that lies in Miami.

Larry Drew says the Hawks are going to switch less , which is a terrific idea. The switching killed the Hawks against the top teams in the league. Surprisingly, it worked against the Celtics, because they weren't fast enough to make the Hawks pay. But against Orlando, the Magic shredded them off switches by forcing penetration in the interim and creating space, the building block of their offense.

Kobe's ready to go at it again . Raise your hand if you're surprised.

An interesting look at who the Magic's rival is now. The Heat-Magic rivalry has several factors boosting it. It's an in-state rivalry, Dwyane Wade has killed the Magic (on a performance, not win-based level) over the years, and the teams play four times a year. The fans say the Celtics, but we'll see what they say by the end of the year.

In case you've been missing them, check out our Pop Quiz series .

Follow us on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA

Posted on: August 31, 2010 9:07 am
 

Shootaround 8.31.10: Melo fit to be a King?

Posted by Royce Young
  • Bill Bradley of the Sac Bee wonders if Carmelo fits with the Kings: "While the Nets make sense, the Kings and Wolves don't fit because Anthony has been talking about leaving Denver for a high-profile East Coast team (i.e., the New York Knicks ). He could come here because the Maloofs, who own the Kings, like high-profile players who can win games and draw fans. However, any deal for Anthony would take a contract extension (he's a free agent after this season) and require a few choice players and draft picks. Is it worth trading for Anthony if it upsets the rebuilding project?
  • Andre Iguodala is journaling his experience from Turkey for the Philadelphia Daily News: "I know my role on this team. The main thing is we got the win. All the other stuff doesn't matter. It only matters what the score is at the end of the game. I had a job, which was to make it tough on [Leandro] Barbosa to score and he had to pull out his best moves to score in the second half. I've known [my role] ever since being a part of the USA Basketball system, knowing that we're going to have some great scorers. You got the Dwyane Wades and Kobe Bryants and on this team you got the Kevin Durants of the league. I feel like I can fit into any system no matter who I'm playing with. With this group, I feel like I go out there and try to shut down whoever their top scorer is."
  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman on Kevin Durant's rising star: "Durant was being talked about not only by folks from across the United States but also by people from around the world. There were 140-character comments in Spanish, Turkish, Italian and Portuguese. Playing in the world championships is only broadening Durant's popularity. It is growing his brand. It is widening his stardom."
  • Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty wonders if Hassan Whiteside can contribute: "At some point, whether through trade or injury, Whiteside will get an extended look. It might be November, it might be January, it might be April. But he will get a look. It's almost up to chance as to whether that will come sooner or later. When it does, though, we can expect Whiteside will be looking block shots, hit the glass, and finish at the rim. I think he'll have varying levels of success in those categories. He can certainly block shots, but the size and competition level are so different from what he's used to. He wasn't a world-beater on the glass even at Marshall, and his touch at the rim is a huge question mark."
Posted on: August 11, 2010 9:04 am
 

Shootaround 8.11.10: LeBron is watching you

Posted by Royce Young
  • Late yesterday, LeBron tweeted: "Don't think for one min that I haven't been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone! "
  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel on LeBron's tweet : "Cancel the NBA season. Now. Be done with it, Mr. Stern. Skip all the formalities. Let’s just have the ticker-tape parade now. Break out the party favors South Florida! Crank up Will Smith’s old-school hit “Miami”, celebrating the majesty and magnificence of the Miami Heat. “Bouncin’ in the club where the heat is on. All night on the beach til the break of dawn.” Yeah baby! Jeff Van Gundy says they are going to win every single game, or something like that. The Heat will be on TV 29 times this season, coming close to the number of times you can watch Law and Order on any given day. And King James sent out this defiant shout-out on Twitter on Tuesday: “Don’t think for one min that I haven’t been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone!” Now we’ve gone and done it! LeBron James is mad! We are doomed! What’s the point of playing?"
  • Shaq says Kobe is the best he's played with: “A lot of people rank players from different opinions, but if you wanna go with ring standpoint it has to be Kobe,” O’Neal said. “LeBron is a great athlete, D-Wade is a great athlete, but it’s close. I’m lucky to have been able to play with both of those guys, but Kobe right now has had that eye for a long time. I’ve known him for a while. When he gets that eye there aren’t really too many people that can beat him.”
  • Rich Cho has added two assistant GMs . One is Bill Branch, Oklahoma City’s director of professional player personnel and Steve Rosenberry, who served as Atlanta’s director of pro personnel/college scouting.
  • Zach Lowe of CelticsHub with a lecture on expectations: "I have no clue whether the C’s will win 49 games or 60 games or 52 games next season, but I know for sure that 51 is a perfectly reasonable guess. And if they get 16 in the playoffs? Then we’ll forget the regular-season number pretty fast."
  • Isiah Thomas is taking part in a photo protest: "Another decision by Thomas — one made in concert with his son, Joshua Thomas — has drawn considerably less attention, and it's something of a groundbreaker, too: Thomas participated in the NOH8 Campaign, a "photographic silent protest" of California's controversial gay marriage ban."
  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes that the Pistons have an edge with McGrady because of their trainer: "The Pistons truly believe that they have an edge with strength-and-conditioning coach Kander, who has been with the team since the spring of 1992. They think his methods are great at preventing injuries (last season notwithstanding) and helping players overcome previous injuries."
Posted on: August 6, 2010 3:38 pm
 

Offseason Reviews: Pacific Division

Posted by Royce Young



Los Angeles Lakers

Added: Matt Barnes (free agency), Steve Blake (free agency), Shannon Brown (re-signed), Theo Ratliff (free agency)
Lost: Josh Powell (free agency), Jordan Farmar (free agency)

Philosophy: "Maintaining excellence."

The Lakers didn't accomplish a ton this offseason. But when you're already the best team and you got a little better, that means you done good. Matt Barnes is obviously an interesting addition because of his past relationship with Kobe. But if the Lakers had a chink in the armor, it was the bench. Sasha Vujacic is being actively shopped and Luke Walton is expected to miss most the season. So Barnes will see ample minutes off the bench.

Steve Blake is a brilliant signing because as we saw last postseason, Derek Fisher is getting older. He still produced, but can he put in another full 82? Blake is a reliable point guard that can shoot. Add in Brown who's a nice third point guard that can slide over to the 2 and the Laker bench got a lot stronger this offseason.

Despite what occurred in Miami, the Lakers didn't slip behind anyone. They are still a matchup nightmare for anyone and added pieces that fit, rather than brute talent.

Grade: A

Phoenix Suns

Added: Josh Childress (free agency), Gani Lawal (draft), Matt Janning (signed), Hedo Turkoglu (trade), Hakim Warrick (free agency)
Lost: Amar'e Stoudemire (free agency), Taylor Griffin (waived), Jarron Collins (free agency), Leandro Barbosa (trade), Lou Amundson (free agency),

Philosophy: "Hanging on."

Losing Amar'e Stoudemire was a blow. A big blow. The Suns have been hanging on by a thread to Stoudemire the last two seasons and finally lost him. They replace him with Hakim Warrick who is really Amar'e Lite. It's a worthy replacement, but nothing to the level of Stoudemire.

Trading Barbosa to grab Turkoglu helps the Suns positionally, as Barbosa was nothing more than a bench player and Turkoglu will play a larger role. Is he an improvement? Eh...

Josh Childress was a really solid player for Atlanta and was great overseas, but there's no telling how he'll integrate back into the NBA. The Suns had a difficult offseason because any time you lose a player the caliber of Stoudemire, it's tough to rebuild. They need someone, anyone, to step up and play better than expected. Maybe that's Earl Clark. Maybe Robin Lopez keeps improving. Maybe Nash makes Warrick look better than he is. They might survive this season on Nash alone, but rocky roads might be ahead for Phoenix.

Grade: C

Golden State Warriors

Added: David Lee (trade), Jeremy Lin (undrafted free agent), Ekpe Udoh (draft), Dorell Wright (free agency), Charlie Bell (trade), Dan Gadzuric (trade)
Lost: Anthony Randolph (trade), Corey Maggette (trade), Anthony Morrow (free agency), Chris Hunter (free agency), Anthony Tolliver (free agency), Devean George (free agency), C.J. Watson (free agency), Ronny Turiaf (trade)

Philosophy: "Crossroads."

The Warriors aren't a franchise that the NBA needs to do well. It can survive just fine without GSW booming. But it's certainly a franchise that when it's doing well, the NBA is more fun. And last season, they were the haven of D-League All-Stars and basically just ran in place all year.

The biggest move this organization made this offseason wasn't the acquisition of David Lee, albeit that's a significant move. Instead, it's the transfer in ownership from Chris Cohen to owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. By their talk, they plan on restoring the Warriors through smart, calculated moves. They're willing to spend and they want to win.

The Warriors had a nice draft taking Epke Udoh sixth, though he did hurt his wrist. But Udoh is a potential interior force with a gifted skillset. Adding him and David Lee really solidify a frontcourt that should be able to compete against most others in the West.

Honestly, one of my favorite moves the Warriors made was moving Anthony Randolph as well. Not for their sake, but for the sake of NBA fans everywhere. Hopefully now that Randolph is in a new situation, he can blossom into the talent we all thought he could be.

Grade: B+

Los Angeles Clippers

Added: Rasual Butler (re-signed), Al-Farouq Aminu (draft), Randy Foye (free agency), Ryan Gomes (free agency), Eric Bledsoe (draft), Brian Cook (free agency)
Lost: Travis Outlaw (free agency), Steve Blake (free agency), Mardy Collins (free agency), Steve Novak (free agency), Brian Skinner (free agency), Bobby Brown (free agency), Drew Gooden (free agency)

Philosophy: "OK, for real this time."

Last season, the Clippers made a chic pick for a turnaround season. Then top pick Blake Griffin got hurt, Baron Davis didn't play as well and Mike Dunleavy coached the first half of the season.

And while hopes were high last year, the Clippers didn't do a ton to improve. They basically just took a step sideways and hope to NOW make that improvement with virtually the same roster. They won 29 games last year and while Griffin is obviously a great talent, is he really going to be a 10 or 15 win improvement?

They didn't lose a ton and didn't add anything other than a shooting guard to play behind Eric Gordon, a lottery pick at small forward (which was a huge need though), and a backup to Baron Davis. Bledsoe and Aminu are really nice draft picks, but this team boasted about being on its way back sooner than later. Right now, it appears the Clips are still building rather than being ready to make actual noise.

Grade: C

Sacramento Kings

Added: Samuel Dalembert (trade), Hassan Whiteside (draft), DeMarcus Cousins (draft), Pooh Jeter (undrafted free agent), Antoine Wright (free agency)
Lost: Andres Nocioni (free agency), Jon Brockman (trade), Sean May (free agency), Ime Udoka (free agency), Dominic McGuire (free agency)

Philosophy: "Small transitions."

The Kings are a roster in transition. They basically tore the building down and are now re-constructing the frame. The core, long-term pieces are being placed, but now it's filling out a roster that complements those pieces.

The big move was drafting DeMarcus Cousins fourth overall. A player many considered to be the most talented player in the draft, the Kings are prepared to weather some potential character flaws because of talent.

They also traded for Samuel Dalembert, giving the Kings a formidable frontcourt. Cousins, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry and Dalembert make for a nice lineup.  But other than the frontcourt moves, Sacramento basically held firm on waiting for Tyreke Evans' eventual leap into stardom. This is an improved roster, but it's not there yet.

Grade: B-
Posted on: August 3, 2010 4:21 pm
 

Lakers-Heat have a Christmas date

Posted by Matt Moore

As part of our continuing coverage of "the NBA can't keep a secret in any way, shape, or form..."
The NBA likes to save its most hyped games for Christmas. It's the first real holiday that it lays claims to each year. The last few years it has been Lakers-Celtics in the yuletide rumble. This year, the hype created by the LeBron James-Chris Bosh-Dwyane Wade trifecta has created a new mega-match. The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers will host the Heat on December 25th, according to Ira Winderman of the Miami Sun-Sentinel .

There's no "proving it" to NBA television marketing executives like there is among other players in the league. Those people know that people want to see the Heat, even with as sick of the Heat's PR trainwreck as they are. One mistake though is that Winderman's article mentions that the Heat won't play on MLK day.

The league has been pushing MLK day as an NBA holiday the last few years, and it's one of the few times when they have a number of people off work with no competing sports or family interests. The work they've done in highlighting that day with sextuple headers has worked well for showcasing the league. Omitting the Heat that day seems to take the holiday down a notch. But maybe that will give them the rare opportunity to show off the smaller markets that are likely to be even more overlooked than usual this year with all the superteams forming.

But for Christmas, you can expect a healthy feast of hype when Kobe-Pau-Odom-Artest-Bynum meets Bosh-Wade-James-Chalmers . And really, what says Christmas like hype?
Posted on: July 27, 2010 8:25 am
Edited on: July 27, 2010 10:27 am
 

Shootaround 7.27.10

  • Fans are often confused on how a guy can have huge numbers in Summer League, look aweseome, and not make the team, The answer is that often coaches aren't looking for a playmaker or heavy usage guy, but a role player. 48 Minutes of Hell has a breakdown of Alonzo Gee who looked great, but didn't do well at the thngs a Spurs role player back-up wing should do (pick and roll defense, corner 3). The Spurs for their part are very high on Gee from the sources I've spoken with, and as Manu Ginobili is fading off into the sunset over the next few years, don't be surprised to find Gee replacing him. For now, though, Gee may be headed back to Austin for another year.
  • Kobe says that anyone crazy enough to mess with him is crazy enough to play with him. Which is sweet. It's alwasy funny to see how players who dog the Lakers and talk tough against them turn into kittens when offered the chance to play for them. Matt Barnes is the latest meow mix.
  • You can let go of the idea of Kobe Bryant coaching when his playing days are over right now. Bryant's hyper-competitiveness couldn't take the stress of watching other players screw up possessions. That takes a patience that few hyper-competitive players have. There will always be that feeling of "get out of the way, just let me do it" that haunts guys who have been elite. Additionally, his coaching style would be hard to mesh with a team concept in the NBA, since few coaches opt for an offense built around "give this guy the ball and let him do whatever he wants, and don't screw up or I'll kill you."
  • An interesting nugget out of Anthony Randolph with the New York Times. Don Nelson had told him to rebound, and nothing else. In the long line of things about the Warriors' system that make no sense, this one is at the top. Randolph is a versatile player who can play point forward with a little work on his handle. Pushing him into a traditional rebounding forward role is wasting the potential of Randolph, which is the exact reason you drafted him. It's reasons like this that people celebrate when players are released from Nellie's control.
 
 
 
 
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