Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tim Duncan Ends the Chain of Great NBA Centers

When Tim Duncan retired, it broke a beautiful chain of amazingly dominate centers in the NBA.


Bill Russell came into the league and dominated right away. During Bill's dominance, Wilt Chamberlain came along. In a student/teacher type relationship, the two had epic duals against each other. Both competing for best center in the league. By the time Bill Russell retired, Wilt was already well established and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came along. Wilt became the roll of the teacher and Kareem the student. That started a beautiful chain of student/teacher or master/appendance rolls of centers. I'll let the pictures do the talking:


Bill vs Wilt


Wilt vs Kareem
 
 Kareem vs Hakeem

Hakeem vs Shaq
 
 
Shaq vs Duncan


Duncan vs NA







Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Creating the Greatest NBA Starting 5 All Time

In sports writing, I often see an all time starting 5 list complying, in their opinion, the best NBA player ever at each position. This time, however, I want to make an all time starting 5 while also considering how well they would complement each other - not just using overall skill.

I'll pick them in order of the thought process.

1st pick - Easy. Michael Jordan. No-one was a better go-to scorer than MJ. The best primary scoring option of all time. MJ could also defend very well, had good court vision, etc. An all around player that was the best go-to scorer of all time. Plus, SG is the most shallow position of the 5. Picking MJ first was an easy choice to build a team around.

Now that I have a primary scorer, having another "go-to" guy could cause problems. I want players that can be great without having to be the "first option." Players that will perfectly compliment Michael Jordan.

2nd pick - Bill Russell. MJ is the ultimate go-to player, Bill Russell is the ultimate team player, and both are the two ultimate champions. Bill was the best defensive player of all time. He had great court vision and was always the smartest player on the court. MJ/Bill would be an unstoppable duo. MJ would anchor the offense and Bill would anchor the defense.

As I now have MJ and Bill, I am looking for complimentary players. Players that don't need to dominate the ball, that have good ball movement, and just be good overall. Also MJ works best when the floor is spaced, so I want at least one great three point shooter if not two.

3rd pick - I'm going with Tim Duncan. Duncan has proved he is all about the team and all about winning. He wouldn't have any problem letting MJ be the go-to guy. "Mr. Fundamental" would be a perfect fit down low with Bill Russell.

4th pick - I'm taking Stephen Curry. Steph has good ball movement and is a team player. He cares about winning and would concede to let MJ be "the guy." Curry is the best 3 point shooter the league has ever seen. With his extra range and quick release, it will really spread the floor for Jordan to work.

5th pick - Because of his range, the SF I am going with is Larry Bird. Along with Curry, that gives me not one but two great 3 point shooters to open the lane up for MJ. Bird is also an all-around player. He'll contribute greatly to ball movement, rebounding, etc.


Starting Five
PG - Stephen Curry
SG - Michael Jordan
SF - Larry Bird
Big - Tim Duncan
Big - Bill Russell



Bill and Duncan are both skilled and athletic enough to play either center or power forward, so I just listed them both as "big."

This, in my opinion, would be the best all time starting five anyone could assembled. This team would be able to out score anyone with MJ leading the way and Bird and Curry spacing the floor. Ball movement would be top notch. With Bill Russell anchoring the defense, they could shut any team down defensively. Curry and Bird could "cheat" a bit, going for steals and such with Russell, Duncan, and MJ's help defense abilities. Basketball IQ would be through the roof with Russell, Duncan, Bird and MJ. Experience wise they have a combined 27 rings and 17 MVPs (and counting).





Saturday, December 31, 2016

Responding to Charles Barkley's "State of the NBA" Address

Charles Barkley says:





To quote Nick Wright -

"(Charles Barkley) is bordering on not being taken seriously anymore." (link)


This last decade has been the most diverse NBA league we have seen since the 70s. Charles Barkley (as well as others)can't seem to remember the past. They think that there used to be so much parody in the NBA until recently. We'll lets take a look back on the different decades of the NBA:


NBA in the 60s - the Celtics won 9 of the 10 championships.
NBA in the 70s - was the decade with the most NBA parody. There were 8 different champions in 10 years.
NBA in the 80s - the Lakers or Celtics won 9 of the 10 championships.
NBA in the 90s - the Bulls won 6 of the 10 championships. There were only 4 different champions in 10 years.
NBA in the 00s - the Lakers or Spurs won 7 of the 10 championships. There are 5 different champions in 10 years.
NBA in the 10s - We've already had 6 different champions out of 7 years. That's more than any other decade except the 70s and there are still 3 more years to go.






Conclusion
60s = 2 different champions
70s = 8 different champions
80s = 3 different champions
90s = 4 different champions
00s = 5 different champions
10s = 6 different champions and counting.


The NBA has always been top heavy. This decade is actually the most diverse the NBA has been since the 70's. The sentence "the NBA is worse than it's ever been because there's only 4 good teams" is an oxymoron. It contradicts itself. There's been more good teams than ever this decade and we're not even done yet! There was only 2 good teams in the 80s and 2000s. There was only 1 good team in 90s. You either have to say "the NBA is worse than it's even been because there's more good teams than ever" or "the NBA is better than it's ever been."


Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Most Overrated Starting 5 Basketball Team of All Time


The team I am talking about is, of course, the Monstars from Space Jam.




When talking about "Overrated," there is only one team that was viewed as super amazing and unfairly talented as the Monsters. But, if we're being honest, they were not that good.


Backstory - Aliens, known as the Nerdlucks, stole the talent from "five of the best NBA players" and made an ultimate team called the "Monstars." They were intimidating and, for all intents and purposes, an All-Star team.



But how good was that team really?




First let's break it down player by player



Muggsy Bogues. Point Guard. 5 foot 3 inches. Didn't make the Basketball Hall of Fame. Never won an MVP award. Never won a ring.

Charles Barkley. Power Forward. Made the Basketball Hall of Fame. One MVP award. Never won a ring.

Larry Johnson. Power Forward. Despite his name being a combination of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Larry Johnson didn't make the Basketball Hall of Fame. Never won an MVP award. Never won a ring.

Patrick Ewing. Center. Made the Basketball Hall of Fame. Never won an MVP award. Never won a ring.

Shawn Bradley. Center. Didn't make the Basketball Hall of Fame. Never won an MVP award. Never won a ring.





Together, that makes a combine 2 Hall of Fame players, 1 MVP award, and 0 rings.

Lets compare that "All-Star" team to the current Golden State Warriors (a real team).

If you take the starting 5 of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguadala, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green, you get a combined 4 MVP awards (3 regular season and 1 finals) and 4 rings.

Ps - And the Warriors are not done.





Now let's look at team chemistry



The Monstars had one non-HOF point guard, two power forwards and two centers as their starting 5. What else can I say? That was obviously never going to work.





Conclusion

It's no wonder why they lost to the Michael Jordan, Bill Murray, and the Loony Toons. A team of Bogues, Barkley, Larry Johnson, Ewing and Shawn Bradley wouldn't even be a good starting 5 in the NBA let alone an all-star team. They stole the talent from five guys who never won a ring, the majority of them didn't make it into the Hall of Fame, and only one of them was an MVP and it was just once. Comparatively, Michael Jordan alone has 11 MVP awards (5 regular season and 6 finals MVPs). It's no surprise the Monsters couldn't win the big game.









Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The AFC West is Very Overrated

Today, as I was listening to a sports radio station, I realized that many of us have fallen in love with the AFC West. I listened to these "experts" rank the NFL teams. Each one put the Oakland Raiders at #2 overall and the Kansas City Chiefs at #5.

The AFC West has tricked many of us into thinking they have the best teams in the NFL and that their's is the best division. However, if we look deeper and actually watch their games, we can see the truth. They not not among the NFL's elite.

Here's the proof:


Their records are good because the easy out-of-conference schedule.


Face it. The AFC West's schedule is the easiest. They get to play all the teams from the two worst divisions in the NFL: The AFC South and NFC South. Playing bad teams all season = good records. They get to beat up on bad teams like the Titans, Jaguars, Buccaneers, Saints, etc. For reference: The NFC South is the only NFC division without an 8 win team, and the AFC South is the only division that doesn't have a team with a winning record.

Oakland and Kansas City both keep winning close games to average teams.


None of them have played a top tier NFL team (Dallas, New England, Seattle, etc.) except when Kansas City got destroyed by the Steelers. And whenever they play a second tier NFL team, they've never won by more than one score. Have you watched an full game of either Oakland or Kansas City? They haven't looked like the "better team" in a lot of their games.

Here's a look at the best out-of-conference teams the Raiders have played:


W Saints 35-34
L Falcons 35-28
W Ravens 28-27
W Texans 27-20
W Panthers 35-32

Here's a look at the best "out of conference" teams the Chiefs have played:


L Texans 19-12
L Steelers 43-14
W Saints 27-21
W Panthers 20-17
W Falcons 29-28

Not one convincing win against a good opponent. Notice that every win against a decent team came by 7 points or less. And the best team either one of them have played (the Steelers) destroyed them 43-17. 

Neither AFC West team is a tier 1 team. Whichever one wins that conference will be relying heavily on home field advantage to get them to the superbowl. They are tier 2 teams with good records because of an easy schedule and winning close games to other tier 2 teams.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Top 14 NBA players of all time

A year and a half ago, I made a top 25 NBA players list. So really this is a "condensed" and "updated" list.

I do top 14 players because I think these 14 players are clearly the top 14 to play in the NBA. It's hard to choose a top 10 or a top 15 but a top 14 is clear to me.

  1. Bill Russell
  2. Michael Jordan
  3. Wilt Chamberlain
  4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  5. LeBron James
  6. Magic Johnson
  7. Larry Bird
  8. Oscar Robertson
  9. Shaquille O'Neal
  10. Tim Duncan
  11. Hakeem Olajuwon
  12. Moses Malone
  13. Kobe Bryant
  14. Jerry West





PS - Before you complain about Bill Russell having a good team, may I remind you Michael Jordan also had a great team. When MJ retired the first time in 1993, the Bulls were one questionable call away from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals and perhaps winning the whole thing and Scottie Pippen was the second runner up in MVP voting. The Bulls were legit contenders without MJ, Pippen was one of the best players in the league, and Phil Jackson is perhaps the greatest coach in NBA history. Magic's Lakers even made the playoffs after Magic retired. The Celtics, however, had never won a ring before Bill Russell and missed the playoffs for two years in a row after Russell. In fact, no other team ever fared so well after losing an all time great player in their prime than the Bulls fared without MJ (LINK).



The Year After

A look at the "year after" from NBA teams after losing an all-time NBA great in their prime:


  • Bill Russell
    • Final year with Celtics - Wins a ring. 
    • First year without him - Miss playoffs with 34-48 record.
  • Wilt Chamberlain
    • Final year with Warriors - Lost in NBA finals
    • First year without  him - Miss playoffs with 17-63 record.
    • Final year with 76ers - Lost 7 game series in Conference Finals to Bill Russell
    • First year without him - First round playoff exit losing 4-1.
    • Final year with Lakers - Lost in NBA finals.
    • First year without him - First round playoff exit losing 4-1.
  • Magic Johnson
    • Final year with Lakers - Lost in NBA finals
    • First year without him - First round playoff exit losing 3-1.
  • Michael Jordan
    • Final year with Bulls (before coming back)- Won a ring.
    • First year without him - Bulls were one questionable call away from moving on to the Conference Finals.
  • Shaquille O'Neal
    • Final year with Lakers - Lost in NBA finals
    • First year without him - Miss playoffs with 34-48 record.
  • LeBron James
    • Final year with Cavaliers (before coming back) - Lost 6 game series in second round.
    • First year without him - Miss playoffs with 19-63 record 
    • Final year with Heat - Lost in NBA finals.
    • First year without him - Miss playoffs with 37-45 record



PS - Some names I didn't include because they were far past their prime when they left their teams, so it would be an unfair comparison to see their "final year" compared to the "year after" (Kobe Bryant, Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, etc....)





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Before seasons mixed with after seasons