Sunday, September 6, 2009

Love Him, Hate Him, Respect Him

Bruce Bowen officially retires from the NBA after a 12 year career. Bruce is a controversial figure, the type of player that is either loved or hated, however, before we start the name calling, we should consider his accomplishments.

First, how many players with limited offensive skills and with a career shooting average below 40% have managed to stick in the NBA for 12 years? How many of us have been at our current job for 12 years? Bruce Bowen’s longevity alone should garner respect.

Secondly, Bruce earned eight consecutive votes to the NBA 1st or 2nd All Defensive Team from 2000-2008 and he was an integral part of the Spurs three Championships (2003, 2005, 2007).

Also, let’s not forget that Bruce Bowen had a streak of 500 consecutive games played that only ended when he kicked CP3 in the family jewels. He was the Cal Ripken Jr. of the NBA for the past decade. Finally, although Ruben Patterson boasted that he was the “Kobe-stopper”, it was actually Bruce Bowen who presented Kobe with the greatest individual challenge.

It wasn’t as if Bowen could stop Kobe in a one-on-one play, not many can, but what Bowen possessed was uncanny lateral speed and an active set of hands that rarely presented Kobe with an uncontested shot. Additionally, Bowen knew how to play team defense, often funneling his opponent, including Kobe, toward help defenders. While some may see his physical style as an irritant, a distraction from the game of one of our greatest players, remember that all of the great ones had their nemesis: that one opponent that really got under their skin. Jordan had Starks and Kobe had Bowen.

The NBA makes its money on the backs of spectacular offensive plays by the likes of Kobe and Lebron. It’s no secret that high octane offense sells tickets. In fact, the best selling merchandise comes with printed numbers or images of the players who can flat out score. It’s a business and that is understood, but as a fan of the game there is nothing more appealing than a game that features a little defense, a little grit, a little Mutumbo finger wagging. To this end we should all tip our hats to Bruce Bowen because great defense is what he brought night in and night out for 12 years. In the end regardless of whether you love him or hate him….. you have to respect him as one of the great defensive players of the past decade.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Buss, What's The Fuss?

The latest buzz has Lamar Odom leaning toward accepting a deal with the Miami Heat. If this happens, no one will be more to blame than Jerry Buss and the Laker brass. It's astonishing to think that the owner of the hottest franchise in all of sports is squabbling over one million dollars a year. That's correct, Odom is seeking 10 million a year over five years and Jerry Buss refuses to pay him more than 9 million a year. If there was ever a player that should be overpaid, it would be Lamar Odom. Why? Lamar Odom is the Lakers bench. While the Lakers may possess one of the best starting units in basketball, they have absolutely no reserve that comes close to the caliber of play that Lamar Odom brings when he enters the game. The Celtics have Rasheed Wallace, Dallas has Jason Terry, (last year's six man award winner), and the Spurs have all-star Manu Ginobili anchoring their second unit. Without Lamar Odom the Lakers’ best reserve will be the hope that Luke Walton suddenly morphs into the player his father once was. The Lakers blew away the western competition last year, but most analysts feel that the reloaded Spurs have closed the gap. According to ESPN’s trade machine, losing Lamar Odom would result in 7 less wins for the Lakers. Considering the Lakers won 65 times last year that would mean a win total of 58 without Lamar Odom. The Spurs had 54 wins last year with Ginobili, Parker and Duncan missing long stretches at a time. Given their recent acquisitions, it's not hard to imagine the Spurs winning 60 or more games this season. If Jerry Buss and the LA brass would only rationalize the situation from a win/lose standpoint then the one million dollars that is hindering the deal with Odom doesn't seem like a whole lot after all. Jerry Buss bought the Lakers for 60+ million and their current value is somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 million. Surely Mr. Buss has the money needed to keep the Laker's dynasty dreams alive.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two Western Conference Titans, One Title!

Remember when the Spurs were too old and athletically challenged to keep up with the Lakers, well not anymore. Both teams appear to have their rosters set so I ran a few averages to see how they match up. Including the eventual signing of Odom for the Lakers and Ratliff for the Spurs, both teams top out at an average height of 6.8". The average age for the Lakers is 27 compared to the Spurs 28. Lets look at both teams by position and depth.

At center the Spurs start Tim Duncan with Theo Ratliff likely backing him up. The Lakers counter with Andrew Bynum with DJ Mbenga coming off the bench. The Spurs drastically improves the PF position by starting McDyess with the rookie Dejuan Blair backing him up. LA counters with tandum of Gasol and Odom. At small forward the Spurs will start Richard Jefferson with Finley and Malik Hairston in the wings. The Lakers start Ron Artest with Luke Walton backing him up. The Spurs are banking on a healthy and motivated Manu Ginobili playing in a contract year to light it up from the shooting guard position with sharp shooter Roger Mason providing relief. For the Lakers the black mamba, Kobe Bryant would love nothing more than a competitive battle with Ginobili come the playoffs. He will be backed up by Vujacic. Once again Tony Parker will be the motor pushing the Spurs offense at point guard with 2nd year guard George Hill running the second unit. The Lakers will rely on veteran Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmer to provide offensive direction for the defending champs. It's fair to say, this may go down as one of the most exciting seasons we will ever witness.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Spurs Locked and Loaded!

In an effort to flank the San Antonio Spurs big three with some much needed help, the ownership spared no expense going well pass the luxury tax threshold. Will this investment pay the kind of dividends that warrant such a gamble, namely a fifth championship? Only time will tell. One thing is for certain, Tim Duncan may have the most potent combination of teammates he has ever seen. Check out these numbers.

We know what Duncan, Ginobli and Parker can do on any given night. Last year Kurt Thomas averaged 17minutes, 5rebounds and 4points per game. He is replaced in the starting line-up by Antonio McDyess who averaged 30minutes, 9.8rebounds and 9.6points per game. Basically Duncan now has a front court partner who should double the output of his predecessor. Additionally, the more time McDyess play, the less time Duncan will have to log during the regular season. This is huge on some many levels.

The biggest improvement however comes at the wing position. Last year Michael Finley averaged 25minutes, 9.7pts, 3.3rbs and 1.4ast. His replacement Richard Jefferson averaged 35minutes, 19.6, 4.6rbs and 2.4. Even more telling is the fact that Jefferson averaged 6.3 FTA compared to Finley’s 0.8. Put simply, RJ should drastically increase open looks for the dead-eyes in the corners when he attacks the basket. By replacing Kurt Thomas and Michael Finley with Antonio McDyess and Richard Jefferson in the starting line-up the Spurs should increase their rebounding by 6 boards per game and their point production by and whopping 15 points per game.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Contender Cost, Now and in the Future

Now that the 2009-10 salary cap has been established we have a more definitive picture as to the financial footing of each team. The consensus view establishes 5 teams as contenders, Lakers, Spurs, Celtics, Caverliers and Magic. Let's look at each conference contender's financials as this could have a barring own future moves prior to the start of the season.


SPURS - 9 players - 71million (Includes their core and Richard Jefferson)
Expected to spend MLE on front court help - 6million
Draft pick and roster filler salaries - 3million
2009-10 Projected Team Salary - 80million
2010-11 Team Salary - 47million (not including Manu Ginobli)
Forecast - Good

LAKERS - 13 players - 84million (Includes Gasol, Bynum, Kobe)
Spent MLE on Artest
Odom's asking price 10mil/several years
No Draft picks
2009-10 Projected Team Salary - 94million
2010- 11 Team Salary - 75million (not including Odom or Fisher)
Forest - Costly long term

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Am I asking too much?

Now that Rasheed Wallace has verbally agreed to sign with the Celtics, true Spurs fans can breath a sigh of relief. The Spurs still have their MLE and Bi-Annual to throw at a couple of free-agents. If Xmas could come early, I wish that the Spurs could convince Both Antonio McDyess and Channing Frye to join the Silver and Black express in their quest for championship number 5. The Spurs MLE is almost twice the amount of money that Detroit can offer McDyess so if all reports are true that he is deliberating between the Pistons and Spurs then delibrate no more.......Spurs = more money and better chance a winning a title. With regards to Mr. Frye, it is hard to imagine him not garnering an offer worth more than the Spurs 1.9million bi-annual so realistically seeing him next to Duncan is a stretch to say the least. Nevertheless, if Channing Frye is thinking long term, then signing with the Spurs for the bi-annual makes plenty of sense. Here's a look at the Spurs roster should Xmas come early.

Duncan - C
McDyess - PF
Jefferson - SF
Ginobili - SG
Parker - PG

C - Frye, Mihinmi
PF - Blair, Haislip (Bonner)
SF - Finley, Hairston
SG - Mason, Williams
PG - Hill, McClinton

Of course to accommadate this much young talent either Bonner or Finley would require a buyout. I say thank for your service but here's the door red rocket. This would be the deepest team in the league and would have to be considered the biggest threat to the Lakers, more so than Boston, Cleveland and Orlando.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Who Wants the Job?

The NBA free agency opens it's doors tonight at 12:00am. Several teams will be active in their efforts to rebuild or find that one missing link. In the case of the four time champion San Antonio Spurs, they've already made the biggest acquisition to date by acquiring Richard Jefferson for 3 expiring contracts. Now the starting line-up is one position short of complete and the bench is as potent as ever. The question is......who wants to be the lucky big who lines up next to the future HOFer Tim Duncan for the 09-10 season? There are several possibilities (of which I will address one by one) but my first choice is Channing Frye. The standout from the university of Arizona is entering his 4th season in the league. Drafted by Knicks his talent was rarely showcased given the chaotic situation within the NY brass at the time. Frye was subsequently traded to the Trailblazers in 2007 but had a hard time finding minutes behind Aldridge. I believe put in the right situation and given an opportunity, Channing Frye will be a solid starting power forward in the NBA. He fits perfectly into the the Spurs present and future plans. Frye stands 6.11 is only 26 years of age. If the Spurs offer him a 4 year deal at 3.5 million (comparable to what they are paying Matt Bonner) Channing Frye will be wearing silver and black this season.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

2009 NBA Draft - Final picks!

Updated Jun-23 (updated weekly)
It's the night before the big dance at the 2009 draft. Several teams have made various trades that will have an obvious effect on their draft selection. Several teams have also made a move to climb draft positions as they are obviously targeting a particular player. No one knows for sure how the draft will play out but I will boldly put forth my FINAL FIRST ROUND PROJECTIONS.

1. Clippers - Blake Griffin
2. Grizzles - Haseem Thabeet
3. Thunder - Ricky Rubio
4. Kings - Jrue Holiday
5. Twolves - James Harden
6. Twolves - Johnny Flynn
7. Warriors - Jordan Hill
8. Knicks - Stephen Curry
9. Raptors - Tyreke Evans
10. Bucks - Demar DeRozan
11. Nets - Earl Clark
12. Bobcats - Terrence Williams
13. Pacers - James Johnson
14. Suns - Brandon Jennings
15. Pistons - BJ Mullens
16. Bulls - Dajuan Blair
17. 76ers - Gerald Henderson
18. Twolves - Austin Daye
19. Hawks - Jeff Teague
20. Jazz - Tyler Hansbrough
21. Hornets - Omri Casppi
22. Mavericks - Eric Maynor
23. Kings - Sam Young
24. TBlazers - Ty Lawson
25. Thunder - Chase Budinger
26. Bulls - Marcus Thornton
27. Grizzlies - Toney Douglas
28. Twolves - Jonas Jerebko
29. Lakers - Nick Calathes
30. Caveliers - Darren Collison

Honorable mentions who could crack the first round: Taj Gibson (USC), Wayne Ellington (UNC) and Rodrigue Beaubois (France:).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Watch for the Magical Ending

Kobe is pumped and ready to taste victory for the 4th time. There is no dream match up featuring the two biggest names in the game; nevertheless we should expect a magical ending. If the biggest force in the game can stay on the floor and out of foul trouble then the Orlando Magic not the Los Angeles Lakers will be the 2009 NBA champions. Remember this simple fact…. Big men win championships. Russell owns 9, Shaq and Duncan have 8 collectively and now it is time for Dwight Howard to take the throne as this generation’s most dominate post player by leading his team to victory. The Orlando Magic averaged over 100 points against the Lakers during the regular season and that will not change in the finals. What will change is the Lakers ability to keep pace. The Lakers porous defense against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic will be the repetitive theme throughout this series resulting in their defeat. With their first title under their belt and Dwight Howard only 23 years of age, we should all prepare for the rise of the Magic Kingdom.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spurs potential fix for Small Foward

The mix of potential replacements at the SF position for the San Antonio Spurs range from 1st team defender to journeymen. In this article I will only name names and reserve the pros and cons for another day. Let’s divide 10 free agents into two groups, ‘high-end’ and ‘standard’. I spent this pass weekend car shopping. Hopefully that explains my terminology.

High End PlayersWho can play the 3

Ron Artest – 6.7

David Lee – 6.9

Shawn Marion – 6.7

Lamar Odom – 6.10

Hedo Turkoglu – 6.10 (ETO)

Standard or players who should not exceed the mid-level exception who can play the 3

Trevor Ariza – 6.8

Josh Childress – 6.8

Al Harrington – 6.9 (P)

Jarvis Hayes – 6.8 (T)

Marvin Williams – 6.9

(ETO = early termination option, P = Player option, T = Team option)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Manu Down! What's the effect?

Obviously any true Spurs fan would prefer a healthy Ginobili as the post season approaches but given the surprising effectiveness of newly acquired role players over the course of the year, I'm not ready to write this team off just yet. How does Manu's season ending injury effect this team going forward? For one thing, coach Popovich should have an easier time settling on a rotation now that he does not have to incorporate Ginobili. Secondly, the decision to give key minutes to the role players who have been most effective thus far, namely Hill and Mason, should happen immediately. I don't see Vaughn complaining too much if he is redirected to the end of the bench. No one is expecting this team to get beyond the Lakers but everyone should expect the Spurs to give them a run for their money in the Western conference finals, even without Manu.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Spurs Changing Party?

The fiscally conservative brass of the San Antonio Spurs may be on the verge of changing their 'political party' affiliation by acquiring the big spending contract of Vince Carter. Here's why they should consider it. The main reason why they should pull the trigger has to do with father time. Duncan and Manu are both in their early thirties so realistic championship quest are 1-3 years tops. By adding VC into the mix now, the likelihood of another Riverwalk celebration happening in June during this 3 year period becomes a real possibility. Even though the salaries of Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Carter would consume 2/3s of the Spurs cap space, there is a way to field a decent team around these stars through 2011. I will address this point in my next post.