Friday, January 28, 2011

NBA All Star Starters...

February 20, 2011 the best basketball players on earth will gather at the Staples Center in LaLa Land to "compete" in the 60th All Star game...LA is back as the host city for the first time since 2004...we know these games are traditionally for the fans, and the play is highlight reel-style until both teams buckle down in the 4th Q...the first 3 Q's are played with the Toronto Craptors style of "D" which is to say no D...The starters for this game are voted in by the fans worldwide, and as usual there are some impressive choices (Derrick Rose, Amar'e) and some swings and misses (Yao)...let's take a look together...

Eastern Conference Starters...

PG - Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)...nicely done by the fans in getting this one right...the popular pick would be to vote in Rajon Rondo (Boston) who had his coming out party last season and who is really on the scene as a premier PG, but Rose has been Tony the Tiger style grrrrrEAT this season giving the Bulls a gaudy 25 points per game to go with 8 assists per game...Rose (along with Amar'e) is out front of the MVP talk currently...Despite injuries to Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer this guy has the Bulls humming at 31-14 overall (currently tied with Miami for #2 in the East) - 10-0 in the Division - 10 game lead in the Division...our boy Chuck Swirsky is having a ball calling the games on the radio for the Bulls with a Superstar like Rose...I took particular notice when a player by the name of Kobe mentioned that he really appreciates seeing a kid with Rose's talent that has the recognition of what aspects of his game need to be improved, then commits in the off-season to improve...Kobe says this guy has already clearly taken steps forward in certain areas and he predicts the sky is the limit for Derrick Rose...good enough for me

SG - Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat)...Wade was the #2 winner in the 2010 Summer-O-Fun in the NBA (#1 being Joe Johnson who re-upped in Atlanta for more $$$ than any other team would have paid him, and he got more $$$ than any other free agent)...Wade did not have to change his address and welcomed long time chums LeBron James and Chris Bosh to town...this was supposed to mean much less scoring opportunities for D-Wade, but his 25.3 points per game say otherwise...his 3-point shooting continues to be awful, and his free throw shooting is decent at best, but his ability to attack the rim and finish at the rim with an athletic move remain his strength (same as it was as a Collegian at Marquette)...D-Wade is rebounding at a better pace than he ever has too
2 of these 3 are special players...the other is Chris Bosh
SF - LeBron James (Miami Heat)...we go from Wade who had a great off-season to Bron Bron who had a disastrous off-season...the Wins are still piling up for LBJ, but he stacked W's in Cleveland too...the "Decision" show he so mistakenly did to announce that he was "taking my talents to South Beach" provided a major blow to his relationship with fans...video after video of James jerseys being set on fire...Hall of Famer after Hall of Famer roundly criticising James for the "Decision" show, and for the actual decision itself to go to Miami with Bosh and Wade...somehow LeBron James became the most hated player - even passing Kobe Bryant for that distinction...BUT - at the end of the day the fans could not resist voting for James as we are all still on the same page regarding his talents...even Lakers great (and NBA logo) Jerry West (who traded for Kobe when he ran the Lakers) has James ranked as the best player in the NBA...as per usual James averages close to a Triple-Double...his 3-point shooting has actually improved...his Field Goal Percentage is down from his past standard, but that will improve with time as his teammates understand more and more where to feed LBJ the basketball in spots where he feels he can go to work...we are still witness

PF - Amar'e Stoudemire (New York Knicks)...now I do want to talk about Amar'e, but while we are on the subject of PF in the East I would be remiss if I did not mention that Chris Bosh (the man who wanted to be on TV and wanted more attention than he felt he was receiving as a Raptor) was a 5-time All Star for the Raps and was one of the top vote getters every season...what an afterthought he has become in South Beach...25 players received more votes than Bosh this year, and in the PF votes where he was annually #1 or #2 as a Raptor CB4 finished 5th this year...in Miami Bosh has seen his Field Goal % - Points - Rebounds - Assists - Blocks all take steps backwards...for me I am glad he will not be an All Star...Anywho back to a man who does deserve praise and that is STAT (Standing Tall And Talented) Amar'e Stoudemire who has the Knicks back as a relevant team in the Association for the first time in years and years...Stoudemire is the first Knicks player to start an All Star game since Patrick Ewing in 1992 (geez I was still in high school in '92)...he is setting Knicks records and has been a beast...we know from Alicia Keys that New York is the concrete jungle where dreams are made of and Amar'e is the toast of the town

Is that a bird?!?!  Is that a plane!?!?  Oh it's D12

C - Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic...2012 Los Angeles Lakers...a guy can dream can't he?!?!)...D12 was #2 vote getter in the NBA (Kobe #1) and the #1 vote getter in the East...what can you say about this guy...likes to have fun, likes to win...he scores, he rebounds, he provides an amazing presence at the rim that blocks and changes several shots every game...we look at the overhaul the Magic did to their roster allowing them to add Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu all of whom are looked at to provide outside sharp-shooting to go with everything that D12 brings down low...I wrote in a previous blog that when Kobe is ready to leave the NBA I feel he will be passing the torch to Howard who is going to completely dominate this league one day...there were days that you needed to build your team to give yourself a shot to beat Bill Russell, Kareem, Hakeem, Shaq etc and Dwight Howard will have that same domination soon...he is already damn good

Western Conference Starters

CP3 is one of the greatest PG's ever

PG - Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets)...most underrated Superstar in the Association?!?!  Do you hear a lot about this guy?!?!  You should...he is special...this guy will go down as one of the greatest PG's ever...immense talent on a roster with very pedestrian talent...at some point in the next year or so he will be traded out of New Orleans (he will be the next trade-watch player after the Carmelo Anthony situation finally gets resolved) and perhaps to a better team with more North American coverage where we will see more of him...in 2010-2011 his scoring and assist #'s are slightly down, but he has led a decent-at-best team to a good record (30-16 and currently on a 9 game winning streak)...his Personal Fouls and Turnovers are down, while his 3-point shooting and Steals are up...

SG - Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers)...for the 13th straight year KB has been named an NBA All-Star...if he gets named to a 14th next season he will tie Jerry West, Shaq, and Karl Malone for the most ever...quick - what team drafted Kobe Bryant?!?!...answer at the bottom of this blog entry...What can I add here that you don't already know about Black Mamba?!?!  Truly one of the all-time greats...no one has facilitated and contributed to winning like Kobe has since Jordan...his #'s remain great, and this season he is doing it playing through a mashed finger on his shooting hand, and a knee that is so damaged it is pretty much bone-on-bone at this point...in the first half of this season KB has been the only Laker to bring it every night...this guy is special

SF - Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets currently)...the #1 story in the Association for a while now has been where will Melo be going forward...we think it will be New York, but what Borough?!?!  Melo also recently lost his sister and missed time due to that...despite these huge distractions Anthony has had a great season...the Nuggets are 27-18 and currently the #6 seed in the tough Western Confernece...Melo is the team leader in points, and rebounds...his 3-point game continues to be horrid, but his fouls are down - his turnovers are down - his rebounding is at a career high pace, as are his blocks...this guy was born to score the basketball

KD is one of the best scorers we have ever seen
 PF - Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)...we take you back to 2006 when the city of Seattle had to decide whether to shit or get off the pot as far as committing $$$ to the Seattle SuperSonics to upgrade their Arena and thus keep the franchise in Seattle...the Seattle Government did not go for it and thus the team was doomed in Seattle...in 2007 the Sonics had the #2 overall pick and waited to see what Portland would do with the #1 pick...Portland would land either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant as the #1 overall pick and the Sonics would land the other at #2 overall...Portland went with Greg Oden leaving the Sonics to take Durant...3.5 years later and Durant has played just under 200 more games than Oden, and last season at 21 years young Durant became the youngest player ever to lead the Association in scoring...this season he is again #1 currently for scoring...fans in Oklahoma City got lucky to get this team, and looks like they have someone special to cheer for in KD...once his body fills out he could be a LBJ type of talent

C - Yao Ming (Houston Rockets)...Yao is done for the season, and likely done for his career...a sad story as far as I am concerned as Yao is a great b-ball player and even better person...whereas Greg Oden began his career right away with terrible injuries Yao only missed 2 games in his first 3 seasons, but injuries to his feet and ankles have not only jeopardized his NBA career, but may affect his quality of life...good luck big fella...Now the only way Yao got voted in this season is that the voting is available on-line so he gets hundreds of thousands of votes from Asian countries...the fans screwed this up badly (as fans often do) as Yao was #1 in votes for C while Andrew Bynum was #2...Bynum is not even back to full health/mobility yet and while he has All Star potential he is not having an All Star season due to injuries too...As for who should start at C for the West how about Utah C Al Jefferson...Big Al is undersized (listed at 6'10" but there is no way he is that tall) but has heart and work ethic that have made him a perfect fit to replace Carlos Boozer in Utah...I can see maybe allowing Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin, or Kevin Love to play out of position and start at C for the West too...a dark horse may be Memphis C Marc Gasol 

Super Bowl preview coming soon... craig.ballard@hotmail.com

P.S. pictured here is Kobe on Draft night July 11, 1996 wearing the hat of the team that drafted him...the now non-existant Charlotte Hornets who traded him that same night to the Lakers for Vlade Divac