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Thread: Grading the NBA

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    Lightbulb Grading the NBA

    ***


    As I've been combing through ESPN, FoxSports, SI, various other NBA websites, and countless pre-season magazines, I thought it would be 'fun' to run through a team-by-team grading. I'll look at all the teams, as well as their individual players.



    Atlanta Hawks



    hawks.jpg



    How are they this year?



    They're playing great, and probably exceeding most people's expectations. Joe Johnson is playing great (as usual), and he'll likely not have a drop-off in the 2nd half (or in the playoffs), because the team can also rely on Jamal Crawford's instant offense coming off the bench. The critics will generally say that it's a combination of this team acquiring Crawford, with the maturing of Josh Smith that's got helped this team become one of the elite teams in the East, if not the entire NBA. I'd also point to the continuing development of Al Horford, as another key in the cog to bitter-ness (I refuse to call this team great).



    While they're playing great as a team, and should be good enough to do some under-the-radar damage in the playoffs (they've swept the Celtics this year), I'm kind of having a hard time figuring-out how in God's name they're doing it, with Mike Bibby looking like he's just about finished (8.7 PPG/4.3 APG/27.6 MPG). Sure, Smith is a pretty good passer (4.0 APG), and Johnson has been sometimes considered the teams primary ball-handler (4.6 APG), but that's not really going to make up for whatever Bibby isn't giving them. I'm also really disappointed in Marvin Williams.



    I've generally been an apologist for this guy, because I've always felt that he'd need a few years to develop into the guy that people thought he was to become, but he's done nothing by way of showing any real improvement of the years. He has tons of raw talent, but it's just not showing.



    This team doesn't have much of a bench either. Aside from Crawford - who's in the running for '6th Man of the Year', the rest of the bit parts aren't very inspiring.



    How did this team get this good?



    With a bunch of lottery picks, they've drafted an abundance of small/power forwards over the past decade, guys like Williams, Smith, Josh Childress (Europe), Boris Diaw (Bobcats), DerMarr Johnson, and the bigger ones like Al Horford, Shelden Williams (Celtics), and Pau Gasol (Lakers). While I've generally felt that it's hard getting a great SF, I could never understand the front offices desire to overstock their line-up with too many similar pieces.



    While focusing on these players, they could have drafted so many more desirable players at other key positions; specifically the '05 Draft when they selected Williams, but could and should have selected Chris Paul (who wanted to go there) or Deron Williams. I'd also look at the very next year, when Atlanta promised Shelden Williams that he'd be selected by them days/weeks prior to the '06 Draft, which was a mistake because he's been incredibly useless (although he really doesn't get any playing time), and they passed over Brandon Roy who was the next player selected in that draft, not to mention that they fell in love with the wrong forward, because they should have been thinking about Rudy Gay who was selected 3 spots down (8th).



    Sure, a few of their draft choices turned out to be pretty good players, but Diaw didn't deliver until he was traded to the Suns, and Gasol was traded the same day he was drafted (Grizzlies).



    I would have to say that the biggest move that the Hawks made over the past several years, was getting Joe Johnson from the Suns. He's not a superstar, but he is a legitimate (borderline) All-Star who I'd say made good on the contract he signed; a contract which came with a lot of skepticism considering that he'd not done much prior to becoming the man with the Hawks. I still think he's overpaid, but considering the other losers who're overpaid, I'd say his contract at this point in time doesn't really raise any eyebrows.



    Grading the key players



    Joe Johnson - A

    Jamal Crawford - A

    Josh Smith - A

    Al Horford - B+

    Marvin Williams - C

    Mike Bibby - D+

    Maurice Evans - C-

    Zaza Pachulia - D



    Mike Bibby being helped to his grave by Rajon Rondo...




    This year - A



    Why? They've played great ball, probably better as a unit than what's on paper. Good defensive team, at least in the front-court.



    Long-term - B



    Why? I have a hard time seeing Joe Johnson re-signing with the team this summer - although it's not out of the question - and there's not much beyond the first few main players in the line-up. The franchise is still in a mess (front office legal issues), but there's still some hope with Smith and Horford there. Although I don't think Smith will get much better (more refined perhaps), but he's still pretty darn good, and Horford can still make another jump offensively.



    If I were the GM, what would I do?



    Again, I already have Horford and Smith for a while, both key cogs, but I still don't have that great player in the back court; especially now that Johnson is a free agent, and Bibby looking like he's just about done. I won't have a high draft pick this year, and next year's draft ('11) won't be very deep, so I have to make a splash in the free agent market. Dwayne Wade would be an ideal addition to the team (fits in as the team's PG & SG), but he's probably not looking to come to Atlanta. Convincing Joe Johnson is probably the best and most logical move, provided that we're willing to give him a long-term, maximum contract; which will hurt us in the long-run because he's almost 29-years old. Maybe I would do a sign-and-trade with someone like a Golden State, and get some nice young pieces from them (doable). Maybe I could gamble and get Arenas from Washington for .05 cents on the dollar. Since there's nothing in the back court, and the team has a real lack of creative offense, this move isn't THAT bad if there's a way to get Washington to take a monster size of his contract; which they're more than likely more than happy to do.



    ***



    Boston Celtics









    How are they this year?



    While their record is still very good, it's incredibly deceiving considering that they've been playing at or below .500 ball over the past several weeks. This team is an enigma, but it's not all that surprising, considering that the team isn't exactly young at key positions, they're too cocky (they act like they have a dynasty), and this team isn't as committed as it should be.



    The attitude on the team, seems to be 'Don't worry, we'll be ready come playoff time.' They could very well come together in the final weeks of the regular season, but that's the way to do it if you're really a truly great team. I can think back to the Bulls teams, and they NEVER took any time off during the season (mentally), because the process started in training camp, and progressed right up until the last game of the playoffs. Jordan would NEVER have it any other way. This Celtics team reminds me of SHAQ with the Lakers, out of shape, playing himself/themselves into shape when it matters, and bragging too much.



    Garnett shouldn't have been in this year's All Star game. He's not having a good season, he needed the rest, he should quit exhausting his boundless energy with all of his unnecessary cursing, taunting, and cheer-leading. Frankly, I think he should have done the Yao Ming thing by not playing this year. The Celtics window of opportunity is quickly closing, so I can understand the urgency for Garnett to want to get back, but he's been pretty terrible in the games that I've seen him play in.



    And hey, Garnett probably could be resting if Rasheed Wallace took it upon himself to get in shape this past summer, instead of being the useless player he decided to be this year. If Sheed were in shape, it could have allowed Garnett ample time to heal/rest, it would allow Glen Davis more time to develop (which would be VERY beneficial to the team now, come playoff time, and in the long-term), and it would make Sheldon Williams earn a paycheck. Kendrick Perkins is a nice player, especially if Garnett is Kevin Garnett, to which he isn't, there Perkins is good, but probably required to do more than he should be doing.




    Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Sheed 'n kid, Ainge...





    I was thinking about this the other day, and even though Garnett at his peak was awesome, I actually believe that Rasheed Wallace is/was more talented. Wallace never put up numbers like Garnett, and despite his negative reputation, I've always felt that he blended in well with whatever team he played on, and did all of the little things needed to win. Basically, I never believed that Sheed cared about his stats, because if he did, and he felt that in order to get the recognition for being great by getting big numbers, he could have been a HOFer (easily). Duncan is great because he's a winner, Garnett is/was great because of his awesome physical talents, but Rasheed really had the whole package.



    Getting back to what I was talking about (ahem), Pierce continues to do his thing (although I think he's a tad overrated these days), and despite the critics complaints about Ray Allen, I think he's still pretty good, and could come up big in the playoffs. The best player on the team is Rajon Rondo. He's like a combination of Fat Lever/Jason Kidd/Darrell Armstrong, and I think he should get more freedom to take over the game; if his sometimes selfish teammates would be so kind as to allow him to be him.



    I like the Nate Robinson pick-up, because of his great energy off of the bench, he's a lights-out scorer, and he won't go astray because there are too many veterans on this team that he probably respects too much; something he didn't have in New York.



    Boston still has to considered dangerous come playoff time, because their bench is relatively deep, the players know what they need to do to win (it's a matter of execution at this point), they still play great defense, they move the ball well enough, and collectively, you'd think they'll come to the realization that this is probably there last real shot at a title. There's enough on this team to get by with Garnett on one leg, but if he were truly healthy and comfortable, they'd still be the best in the East.





    How did this team get this good?



    They became this good, basically, because Danny Ainge had the balls to deal away a lot of talent, for established players who were still bona-fide All Stars (Garnett/Allen).



    Although the Celtics were fortunate enough to draft Joe Johnson, Al Jefferson, and Jeff Green (who I think is pretty good), none of those players did much while playing with the Celtics; Green was traded away the day he was drafted. Jefferson was the key part in being able to get Garnett, while Green helped get Allen. Joe Johnson brought Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk, and I think that the Celtics would love to do that one over again (oy!).



    Pierce has been with the team for 12 years, and is generally still considered the franchise player (although I would think that Rondo is that guy now... even if no one will publicly state this as to not hurt Pierce's feelings).



    Prior to Ainge's being the G.M. (I think he came on in '04, but that could be wrong), the team drafted guys like Jerome Moiso, Joseph Forte, Kedrick Brown, Brandon Hunter, Troy Bell, although (again), they did get Joe Johnson (10th overall) in '01, Darius Songaila (has been okay for a role player), and Dahntay Jones finally made good by playing a key defensive role on a Nuggets team that surprised a lot of people last year.



    Grading the key players



    Paul Pierce - B+

    Ray Allen - B-

    Kevin Garnett - C+

    Rajon Rondo - A-

    Kendrick Perkins - B

    Rasheed Wallace - D

    Glen Davis - C+

    Marquis Daniels - C+



    This year - B+



    Why? There overall record is still really good, so they have to get a good grade, but they're not getting an A because they've not played great ball; even if they've won a lot of games. If they win a title this year - it's not out of the question although it certainly feels like a reach these days - they're correct by stating that the regular season isn't really all that important.



    Long-term - B



    Why? They did sign Rondo, very important, and they'll have a lot of money once Ray Allen comes off of the books (UFA this summer). Although I'm not a big believer in Glen Davis, he still has size, potential, and we'll only know how good he'll be once he gets more playing time. Perkins is a nice piece to have going forward. Pierce is also a UFA this summer, but he'll surely re-sign with the team; although I'd have to think that they'll overpay him to keep him which I'm not so sure is the best move going forward. Garnett's contract can hurt them, but it's not that long, so it's really not that bad.



    The biggest concern for the Celtics, is that they don't really have any assets to dangle as trade bait with other teams. They can't trade Rondo, because he's the new main cog in the line-up (and there likely not going to be able to get equal value for him... at least that's my feeling), the Big-3 are too old now, nevermind that 2 of them are UFA and the other guy's wheels are shot, so there's nothing in play there, and they'll be good enough for at least the next couple of years, so they won't be bad enough to get a quality draft pick. If they blew up the team this summer - which isn't really a bad thing long term - the fan base would be livid.



    Oops, wrong jerseys guys!






    If I were the GM, what would I do?



    I wouldn't want to be their GM, but... I would try to do a sign-and-trade involving Paul Pierce. He has the most remaining value of the Big-3, he's also the youngest (born in '77), and I think he's still good enough on the surface to get a team that's loaded with talented young pieces that are in dire need of landing a veteran presence to their line-up (like a Golden State, maybe a Clippers, maybe a Memphis). That won't sit well with the locals, but tough luck, and they'll be happy, because the team would be able to land 2 very talented building blocks for the future.



    I'd try to convince someone off of the Suns training staff to come work for the Celtics (they work wonders... SHAQ, Hill, Amare, Nash), and focus on getting Garnett's legs back to 90% healthy; because they look like they're at about 60% as of today... not good. I'd try to pump-up Glen Davis's stats, by pounding the ball into him for several weeks, and when he's white hot, trade him because he was never that good anyway, and people tend to overpay for BIGS who are very young that show promise. I'd let Allen walk (though I've always been a fan of his), and hold onto my money for 2012, when there's a new collective bargaining agreement.



    Coming soon...



    Grading the Bulls, Bobcats, and the Cavaliers.






    Steed


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    Amazing work Mr.Steed.............You are in a league of your own

    Even got the memo on Big Baby, lol , impressive!

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    Many thanks Nash!



    Glen Davis was a nice draft choice by the Sonics (considering they selected him 35th overall in the 2nd round), and he was a bonus throw-in as part of the Ray Allen trade. The fact that he could learn from Garnett, while being slowly groomed to play the PF position must have looked great back in '07. Heck, it even looked good in last year's playoffs. But the team had put his name out there prior to the trading deadline, there was that whole crying thing that was caught on camera when Garnett was bitching at him (though Garnett seems to be doing that too much these days), and there's this feeling that he's nothing more than an Eddy Curry (although without the high expectations... at least at the start of his pro career).




    bigbaby.jpg
    Not the easiest guy (or baby) to cheer for...




    He's got soft hands for a big guy (like Curry), and he's got girth, so the feeling is that he should be a good rebounder, which he isn't and likely never will be (like Curry); though I could be wrong. He's a bit of a head case, he doesn't always seem motivated, he plays inadequate defense, he's not overly mobile, and he's a black hole like Elvin Hayes on offense (accept passes coming in/deny passes going out); yet he's nothing compared to Elvin Hayes offensively.



    People will think of that big shot in last year's playoffs against the Orlando Magic, and will think about that nice stroke that he has for (again) such a big guy. They'll think about his being a potential cheap-man's SHAQ, but he's not that either.



    I'd put Big Baby in that group of fat guys who tease at something greater, they have some redeeming qualities, and many teams pay-the-consequences of trying to think that they're the ones who'll convert him into something greater. I think that Ike Austin (way back when... Isaac Austin) was on the very chunky side at the beginning of his career, basically ate his way out of the league, hooked-up with Karl Malone (I still don't understand the connection there), and completely changed his body, won the 'NBA Most Improved Player Award' in 1997, and got himself a nice contract which basically paid him upwards of $20 million over 4 years. Although I don't think he made good on his contract, he did at least try to become a better player.



    The key here though, is that Ike was self-motivate enough to do that on his own (or I guess with the help of Karl Malone). No team did that for him, as he fought his way back in hopes of trying to get back into the NBA.



    Stanley Roberts, SHAQ's ole teammate at LSU, very talented, but just too big and too slow to be a major contributor over a full season. Oliver Miller, great passer (awesome actually), soft hands, reminds me of Big Baby w/o the crying, but made requests for a lot more second and third helpings with every meal. Both guys should have been out of the league, but there's always a team willing to gamble on size. And let's not forget about Sean May who was a lottery pick just a few seasons ago, and he's done nothing but eat since being drafted.



    Big Baby isn't that fat, but I have a hard time seeing him becoming thinner, better, whatever...



    While I don't necessarily hate having Big Baby, I have a very hard time seeing this team wanting to have this guy someday take over for Garnett as the anchor in the front court.



    He is a very hard guy to cheer for...



    Steed


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    Nice read on Big Baby!

    I noticed in your grading of the Celtics that you did not refer to Glen Davis by his nickname. Thus, my reference to the "memo" aka the link below....I bet, oops ,Simmons never received this memo.

    Glen 'Big Baby' Davis wants to drop nickname--->http://www.nba.com/2010/news/01/25/d....ap/index.html

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    That went completely over my head (when you wrote that), I was searching and reaching for something else, anything else, and now I get it.



    Yeah, I did read about that, and I quickly forgot about that (thanks for reminding me). He kind of looks like a deformed version of Antoine Walker; who looked kind of deformed in the first place (well... I'd say that Walker looked like a younger deformed version of George Foreman).



    I've been a huge fan of Simmons since about '02, but it was actually Eric Neel (another 'Page 2' columnist) that I had originally followed, or rather, liked first. I'm not sure what happened along the way, because I thought that Neel was the more interesting columnist who had been getting more of a push way back when, then suddenly I was confused with who was who, and Simmons basically took control within the confines of 'Page 2'. Now, he IS ESPN.com, even though a lot of the other people who work at ESPN quietly despise him (so I've read).



    Simmons really knows his basketball, and although guys like Charley Rosen, Mark Stein, Ryen Russillo, and I suppose Ric Bucher (but he's come around), don't take him very seriously, they really should. I've listened to enough Podcasts with Ryen Russillo (who's good too) to know that he doesn't know anything more than Simmons does; and he's just a basketball guy. I might give an edge to Charley Rosen (FoxSports), because he can break down everything, all of the X's and O's that columnists aren't really very good at understanding, and I generally love his tough love way of writing about the players, their coaches, and the league. He may be old, and he may be too stubborn (and he never lets up on his disliking of guys like Webber or Ewing), but he's always a great read (and he's too biased as well).



    If Bill James (baseball) wrote about basketball, he'd be the best, but he doesn't, so I'll go with Simmons. I must say, when I first started reading about sports online, I used to go to CNNSI.com. They eventually became very lame, so I moved to ESPN (with FoxSports soon after) because it was so much better. These days, with having to pay for all of these memberships to read guys like John Hollinger, David Thorpe, and such, I'm starting to like SI again. They're really hungry and determined to get more readers in, and even when the articles aren't very good, there's always the SI Vault (always and forever good).



    Back to Simmons, I prefer his basketball articles, or baseball, and most other things, although I'm not up to par with football; and a lot of his stuff in the fall/early winter is focused on football. I'll read it, but I'm just not as excited to read it. I actually don't care for his Podcasts with his friends like Jacko!, although 'House' seems okay. I do like it when he gets Stein on there with Bucher, those are easily the best ones. I also like it when he talks as host or as a guest with people that don't really like him (Rick Reilly, Ryen Russillo, Colin Cowherd, etc.). Essentially, he has my dream job (and probably everybody else's).




    Steed


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    Awesome work johnsteed!

    Can't wait to see your posts about my Chicago Bulls and the mighty Cavs.

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    As promised (yesterday), I'll now take a look the Bulls, Bobcats, and save the Cavaliers for the next time.





    CHICAGO BULLS










    How are they this year?



    They're in the race, but they're not in the upper-tier in the East. For as great as they played in the playoffs against the Celtics last year (a fantastic series), they've been a disappointment this season. One of the bright spots is that the team is 7-3 over it's last ten games, they started off the season playing some God-awful ball, but since their horrible start, they've solidified their rotation, and have played much better. Another reason for their terrible start, was that Derrick Rose wasn't 100% (hand injury I seem to recall), and since December, he's been averaging over 20 PPG and just a hair under 6 APG during that stretch.



    Joakim Noah has probably been their most reliable player all year, which is surprising considering that his first two seasons were basically wasted and he didn't project into a player that he would eventually become this year. Sure, he was lottery pick, but he seemed to be a bit of a bust after he was selected. He's probably the heart of the team, with only 10.7 PPG, but with 11.4 RPG to go with 1.6 BPG. I've always liked Tyrus Thomas, but people in Chicago didn't, and he never really solidified a position in the team's rotation. I don't hear much about Taj Gibson, but he's getting more minutes as year goes on, and he's a decent rebounder at 6.9 per game and shot-blocker (1.19) per 25.1 MPG, which is actually quite good.




    noah.jpg
    One of the main cogs on this team, now and tomorrow...




    Luol Deng is the secondary scorer on this team, which is good, because he's not a true go-to-guy game-in/game-out. He's more along the lines of a Caron Butler or a Josh Howard; although he's taller and roughly 5 years younger than them. I don't know what's happened to Kirk Hinrich's shooting. I've always liked his sticky-defense, and his long range shooting, but his confidence isn't where it used to be. Brad Miller is okay in stretches, but he looks like he's about done. Hakim Warrick has talent, but he's been around now, and he looks like a guy who'll always be coming off the bench. Ronald Murray is a nice scorer off of the bench. Both guys are decent pick-ups, but the Bulls main problem is that they don't have a scorer in the post/down low. If Rose, Hinrich, Deng and Murray aren't hitting their long bombs, then it's not looking good for this team come playoff time. Those guys are incredibly streaky, too.



    How did this team get this good?



    They're not really that good, so I'll get that out of the way. But, there's potential to be great that's there, provided that they can land one of the major free agents this summer. They probably have the most attractive team to go to as well, with basically Rose as the starting PG, and Noah to do the dirty work. James, Bosh, Wade, maybe a Joe Johnson, about any of the major players could fit in and turn this team into a 50-60 game winner.



    Since the Bulls dynasty ended, the Bulls have had tons of lottery picks. Their best draft was back in '99, when they selected Elton Brand (1st), Ron Artest (16th), and even Michael Ruffin (32nd) who has been fairly productive role-player on the defensive end (and a Charley Rosen favorite because he interviewed him).



    But, I'm only counting this past decade (from '00 up until now), and I think it's safe to say that the Bulls have drafted some dogs since that time. Marcus Fizer could have been good, but he wasn't, and I think that had to do with Charles Oakley getting on him all of the time, including the fact that Chandler and Curry were more sought after and drafted (Chandler was traded from the Clippers for Elton Brand) the very next year. Fizer never really got going... Khalid El-Amin (so I thought) was a steal selected at 34, but he was kind of fat, or he looked fat, he wasn't very quick, and I'm unsure why I'm even mentioning him in the first place...



    Eddy Curry has tons of talent, but sucks on the defensive end (and can't rebound worth shite). Jay Williams (2nd overall in '02) was supposed to be a core guy, probably what Derrick Rose is today, but more of a passer and less of a scorer. Unfortunately for him, he got into a motorcycle accident so it was over before it even really got started.



    Kirk Hinrich was a fine pick, and I still believe he could be a good enough player in the right situation. Ben Gordon was good, but he's no longer with the team; and he has a VERY bloated contract for being a 6th man who only scores. The Bulls picked LaMarcus Aldridge, but he was traded away very quickly, and that brought them Tyrus Thomas who is very talented, but was traded away for decent spare parts; which isn't very good in the end.



    For years, it seemed as though the Bulls were always going to land either Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, or Pao Gasol. They were never willing to trade enough pieces to get it done, which is too bad, because over the past few years, maybe they were pretty close to having a great team with a primary weapon. Garnett or Gasol would have been ideal for this team, considering that they've been too much of a guard/small forward type of a team for some time now.



    A great player to build around, cog #1 (Noah #2)...




    The Bulls really only made one big free agent move over the past decade, which was the Ben Wallace debacle (I suppose Ron Mercer could be considered as well). There biggest trade is generally remembered as Brand for Chandler, but I thought that the Artest, Brad Miller and Kevin Ollie for Travis Best, Jalen Rose, Norm Richardson, and a 2002 2nd round pick really hurt the team going forward. Sure, Miller and Artest blossomed once they left Chicago, but it's not as though they weren't playing well enough with the Bulls, and as much as I liked Jalen Rose at the time, he had a VERY fat and basically untradeable contract.



    I'm not really a Vinny Del Negro fan (head coach), but he's doing an okay job; he more than likely won't be back next year.



    Grading the key players



    Derrick Rose - B+

    Luol Deng - B

    Kirk Hinrich - C-

    Taj Gibson - B

    Joakim Noah - A

    Brad Miller - C

    Hakim Warrick - undetermined

    Ronald Murray - undetermined



    This year - B-



    Why? They've not lived up to what people were predicting of them in the off season. They were probably thought of being the team on the verge of something bigger, probably where Atlanta is right now. They can still steal a 1st round series, but just based on the season thus far, they've been okay, but a disappointment.



    Long-term - A+




    Why? Brad Miller will be off the books (UFA), and that's about $12,000,000 right there! Rose and Noah are great building blocks, the kind of guys that play defense, the kind of guys that free agents would like to play with. Chicago is a great city, rich history, big market, etc. The Bulls will have so much salary cap space to go out and be a major player. Even if they don't get an 'A' star, even the 2nd tier star (at a good price) could make this team very good. Only time will tell if they'll become an elite team, but the pieces and structure is there for them to at least make a go of it.



    If I were the GM, what would I do?



    I'd try to get Bosh, and if possible, I'd love to get him in a sign-and-trade with Toronto for Luol Deng. Bosh can play with Noah, doing all of the scoring, while Noah does all of the dirty work (and passing which he's very good at). If LeBron is willing to come here (he just might but I'm guessing no), I'd try to do a sign-and-trade with the Cavs (giving them Deng and assortment of other goodies). I wouldn't even think twice about giving away Rose for LeBron (in a sign-and-trade), if I knew that I could part with Deng for Bosh. No one would in Chicago would have a problem with that, besides, LeBron doesn't really need a PG like Rose; it's more of a luxury and it would hurt Rose's career by not getting the ball as much as he should. There really is no other back-to-the-basket player out there on the market, so I suppose Bosh is the ideal choice here.



    Side Note: I thought that Noah was an immature punk, until I was happy to see him (anyone) stick it to LeBron.



    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kroxmCZUgQ4&feature=fvst"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kroxmCZUgQ4&feature=fvst[/ame]



    ***



    CHARLOTTE BOBCATS










    How are they this year?



    They're playing great D, and they've got the right pieces to be dangerous in the playoffs. They're probably a bit better than their record would suggest. I've never been a fan of 'Captain Jack', but he has been awesome with them. Yes, awesome! His shooting %'s have generally sucked, especially with the Warriors, but he's been shooting the ball well this year. If you look at his splits, you'll see that his numbers have gradually improved each month. I thought that the Bobcats were desperate trading for this guy, but I was so wrong. He's the perfect guy for this team, and he's fearless (if not insane).



    I think that they made a mistake by trading away Emeka Okafor this past off season, because Chandler has been useless. Somehow, all of that surprisingly hasn't hurt them much. Raymond Felton finally gets recognition for being the team's primary PG, but was Larry Brown (part of the fraternity of UNC boys) really not going to let him keep the job? Felton isn't as good as Paul or Williams (same Draft), but he's still a quality PG who plays good D while making a respectable number of shots at a respectable clip.



    Diaw is what he is, but with Tyrus Thomas being there now, it could help him (and I think it will). Shockingly, Nazr Mohammed has shown some life, and has had some monster games over the past several weeks. D.J. Augustin is in the same house that Chandler's in, which is the wrong one.



    Gerald Wallace has been everything for this team. He's literally done it all. I remember reading (almost 10 years ago), that some scouts had thought of Wallace as being a Pippen-like player, and I always felt that they were way off on that one, but this year - his 9th in the league - I can see what they were once predicting. It's rare that those type of predictions come true, but this is one of those rare times, and it's not much of a stretch (though he's not as good of a passer as Pippen was).



    How did this team get this good?



    I guess that for all of the slack Jordan takes (soon to be the new owner by the way) for his lack of GM skills, he and his team took Wallace in the NBA expansion draft back in '04 (great move). They've yet to draft a truly great player, which has hurt them obviously, and they've really only picked 2 quality players in Okafor and Felton (who's just starting to come into his own).



    The jury is still out on D.J. Augustin, although I happen to think he could be very good in the right situation. Sean May has been a complete bust, and a PR disaster for the team, and Adam Morrison was even worse than that based on what was supposed to be a very promising career). Jared Dudley is a quality bench player, but he was traded as part of a large deal with the Suns. Last year's pick Gerald Henderson (as well as Derrick Brown) have only played in spots, which shouldn't come as a surprise with a coach like Larry Brown. The deal with Phoenix that brought over Raja Bell and Diaw, has basically evolved to Diaw and Stephen Jackson for Jason Richardson (and Vladimir Radmanovic who was originally Adam Morrison).




    Grading the key players



    Gerald Wallace - A+

    Stephen Jackson - A

    Raymond Felton - B

    Boris Diaw - C+

    Tyson Chandler - D

    D.J. Augustin - D+

    Nazr Mohammed - B-

    Tyrus Thomas - Undetermined




    This year - A



    Why? They've exceeded the pundits expectations, and they have a unit that's built on defense first; which should help them in the playoffs. They've managed to improve, to the point where they can beat any team on any given night. Larry Brown has got the city excited about NBA basketball, which probably hasn't happened since the days of Baron Davis (or maybe even back to the days of Glen Rice).




    Great coach, with the greatest player ever!




    Long-term - B-



    Why? Wallace is pretty injury prone, and he's been playing above-his-head (although I hope I'm wrong), so everything is good this year, but what about next year? Jackson is happy to be away from all of the negativity surrounding the Warriors, but when will the honeymoon end with the Bobcats? He's great now, but will that fire be there next year, and he's almost 32 years old, and with his track record, he's not exactly movable/tradeable.



    Felton is a nice piece, but he's not the type of guy you build your team around. Boris Diaw is what he is, which is that he does a lot of little things well, but nothing really great. If Tyrus Thomas can get his act together - and he just might - then the Bobcats have that one great asset. While this team isn't exactly old, their window to do well is basically now.



    Jordan is just about to buy the team (good news), so I suppose that it's great because Larry Brown should be staying on for a while longer. Brown tends to leave teams -that he coaches - too soon, but in this case, I think he really loves working for/with Jordan, and being in Charlotte. I think that he probably makes a lot of the front office decisions; although that's just speculation on my part.




    If I were the GM, what would I do?



    Get something for Tyson Chandler; mission impossible. He's still only 27 years old, there will always be someone out there willing to take a chance and give him a shot (he is 7 foot 1 after all), and if you can't trade him, I do believe his contract is up this year or the next one. Ideally, I'd like to get him off the books, but this is the Bobcats, and a lot of players might not want to play in Charlotte under Larry Brown, so free agents probably won't sign here.



    A trade scenario could be better, by maybe trading for a younger big, someone like an Anthony Randolf (20 years old), who has tons of upside (and currently he is in Nellie's doghouse), and maybe get an Andris Biedrins (23 years old) thrown into the mix to make the numbers work. He's a great rebounder, great blocker, but he needs a team that can appreciate his skills.





    Steed


    ***

  11. The Following User Says Thank You to johnsteed For This Useful Post:

    NASHVEGAS (1st March 2010)

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    good read..looking fwd to what you will say about my team the denver nuggets

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    johnsteed (3rd March 2010)

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    whitespade is offline Banned User - flaming - dissing moderators - being a jerk
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    Another excellent read johnsteed.

    I think you are pretty much dead-on in everything that you said about the Bulls- especially the A+ for the future. Personally, I hope that they get D-Wade this summer. But I would also be happy if they got Bosh.

    The only thing that I disagree with you about is only giving Derrick Rose a B+.
    I would give him an A or A- (but I have been a fan of his since he was playing in highschool here in Chicago).

    For such a young kid he is so mature/unselfish/focused. Unlike the guy the Bulls just traded, Tyrus Thomas, who turned out to be the immature punk that you (and I) thought Noah was.

    Oh well. Maybe Jordan can straighten out Thomas in Charlotte. He has the potential to be an awesome player.

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    ***



    The only reason I didn't give him an 'A' is because of the hand injury, and his numbers weren't very good until the past couple of months. If he continues playing like he is now though, I'm sure that the grade would have to go up. He's without question their best player, but I think up until the past couple of weeks, Noah had been bigger; based on pre-season expectations going in. With that, the team's record coming out of the gate, and I think most observers would agree that this is HIS (Rose) team. I gave an 'A' to Noah because of his consistency, his improvement was unexpected, he was building a strong case that he should have been in the All-Star game, and he was the only piece on the team (earlier on anyway), who played with fire and urgency (in games that I had watched).



    I had higher expectations for Rose going into the season, thus I couldn't give him an 'A'. Over the past couple of months, he's been an 'A' player mind you, and for his career he'll be an 'A' caliber player, but I'm basing it solely on this year and he wasn't playing like that at the beginning of the year.



    Thank you for your feedback 'whitespade'.





    Steed


    ***

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