BY JORDAN WHEELER, Couchsideshow.com blogger
1. Memphis Grizzlies (4) - Memphis is playing the best basketball in the league right now. They have beaten the Heat, the Thunder, and the Knicks so far this early season. Gay, Gasol, and Randolph are all playing well, this team really looks like a contender.
2. San Antonio Spurs (2) - The Spurs are just a sold basketball team. I would not be surprised if they ended up with the best record in the league this year. They have 12 players who are getting 10 minutes or more. That is rare to see in the NBA, I believe this is going to help them down the stretch.
3. L.A. Clippers (3) - Lob City is for real. This team will be very good at the end of the season. They have beaten all the good teams, Miami, Lakers, Spurs, and Memphis. Most of their games have been at home, they have a tough 4 game road trip this week. We will see how well Lob City can travel.
READ MORE: For rankings 4-8 and Western Conference teams on the bubble, visit Couch Side’s NBA Power Rankings Page
1. Miami Heat (1) - After I watched them play Boston the first game of the year, I thought that they were unbeatable. Against Boston they got 29 points from D-Wade, 26pts and 10 rebounds from Lebron, 19pts and 10reb from Bosh, and 19 points off the bench from Ray Allen. If they can continue to get this production, they might break the record for wins in a season.
2. Chicago Bulls (2) - The Bulls haven’t showed me anything to lower themselves in the Power Rankings. They are getting good production from their starters, everybody but Kirk Hinrich is averaging over 11. Noah is averaging nearly 15pts, and 9 rebounds. Once Derrick Rose comes back they could win the east.
3. Indiana Pacers (3) - All of their starters are averaging over 10 pts. They are also getting 10 pts off the bench from Lance Stephenson and Tyler Hansbrough. If they can continue to get this kind of production they will be just fine. They will be dangerous by the endo of the season.
READ MORE: For rankings 4-8 and Eastern Conference teams on the bubble, visit Couch Side’s NBA Power Rankings Page
Blazer fans, welcome your new fearless leader, Damian Lillard.
The buzz around Lillard grew throughout the summer, into camp and more during the preseason. Then, in a season-opening win over the LA Lakers, it boiled over even more. It’s for good reason – the No. 6 overall pick scored 23 points and had 11 assists in his professional debut. That’s great.
But that wasn’t his biggest contribution. He came through the biggest on what was probably his worst decision of the night. And it was a missed shot.
It came early in the game when the 6-3, 195-pound Lillard tried to dunk over the hulking 6-11, 265-pound Dwight Howard. Lillard got stuffed, fell to the ground and the ball went out of bounds.
This play, this one unspectacular offensive play, proved to everyone in Portland that Damian Lillard is here to play ball and he is not backing down from anyone. He saw an opportunity and he tried to seize it. Sure, the smarter play is to float the ball over Howard. But it was the rookie’s first game and he wanted to make a statement – he wanted Howard on a poster. (more…)
If you watched the NBA Draft on Thursday night, odds were you had to wake yourself up on a few different occasions.
There were no mega deals, veterans to new teams or huge surprises. It was just a basic, boring draft. Every year the NBA Draft usually has some sort of spunk, but 2012′s was a snoozer. And one team was especially quiet despite doing everything imaginable to make some noise prior to the draft.
Call me crazy, but weren’t the Houston Rockets supposed to turn themselves into the fantastic franchise they once were in the days of Hakeem Olajuwon? It seemed during the days approaching the draft the Rockets were geared up to do so and had the appropriate arsenal to rebuild in just one offseason. So what happened? Here’s a list of Houston’s mistakes during the NBA Draft and in the short-lived offseason, so far.
• Missing out on Howard
I thought the reason the Rockets made trades for all of these picks was to obtain Dwight Howard. And hell, they probably could’ve had Superman. The only problem was that D12 doesn’t want to play for Houston, which probably spoiled a lot of the team’s plans for this season’s draft.
What boggles my mind is why Howard doesn’t want to play for the Rockets. This is a franchise that once was one of the greatest teams in the NBA and has tried just about everything to regain that image for the past two seasons. Houston can’t, however, because marquee players don’t want to play there for some reason. It seems to me that Houston is a basketball town. The days of Hakeen, Clyde the Glide and Charles Barkey are over, but lately the front office has made valiant efforts to land superstars — more than one.
Last season, the Rockets tried to obtain Pau Gasol and the trade fell through, mainly because NBA commisioner David Stern didn’t want Chris Paul to join the Lakers. So what how did the Rockets respond? They finished out the shortened 2012 campaign, missing the playoffs and decided to aim high, really high this offseason. (more…)
With the NBA regular season winding down, some hardcore fans may already be pondering about who will win this year’s MVP award.
Certainly, there is a handful of superstars deserving of the honor, but the award is about more than just leading the league in scoring, rebounds or assists. An MVP has to truly be a leader, who would change the whole dynamic of their team if they were absent from the starting lineup. Think about when Michael Jordan retired from the NBA to pursue a baseball career. The following season, Scottie Pippen definitely didn’t get any MVP love and the Chicago Bulls simply weren’t the same.
So when I look at this year’s field of possible deserving candidates (in terms of what they do for their teams) for the 2011-2012 MVP award, there is really only three players — Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Kevin Love — who fit that profile. The only problem is, Love’s Timberwolves have already been eliminated from playoff contention, so don’t expect him to even sniff at the trophy until Minnesota is better. And Dwight Howard’s absence from the Orlando Magic because of back spasms has only proven that he is the heart and soul of that team after Orlando slowly slipped further and further down the Eastern Conference standings once Howard started to miss more and more time.
So that leaves Kobe. Will he run away with the MVP award? Maybe not. After all, right behind him are superstars Kevin Durant and LeBron James, who rank No. 2 and No. 3 in the league, respectively, for points per game. But how much would Durant’s Thunder and James’ Heat be suffering if they weren’t there? Miami certainly could hold its own with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh running the show and you have to believe Oklahoma City could do the same with its depth. (more…)
The NBA Playoffs are quickly approaching with just a week and a half remaining in the regular season. To think it wasn’t too long ago that NBA enthusiasts like myself were in doubt that there would even be a season.
Now everyone knows that the East is a two-team race (maybe three if you consider the resurgent Celtics a legit contender) with the Bulls and the Heat. If you’re a regular Couch Side reader or one of the few Twitter followers I have, you know which side I’m on.
As for the West, well everyone since the beginning of the season has assumed that Oklahoma City was destined to meet either Chi-Town or South Beach in the NBA Finals. Everyone assumed that the old guards, namely the Spurs and the aforementioned Celtics, didn’t stand a chance in the compressed, lockout-induced season.
But here they are, Greg Popovich’s boys in the silver and black just as they always are. With a week and a half remaining, the Spurs are just a game behind OKC for the top-seed in the West. The old guys are here and they’ve got the young, athletic Thunder in sight. (more…)
BY KEVIN BERTRAM, Couchsideshow.com contributor
1. Charlotte Bobcats: Anthony Davis (PF — Kentucky — 19 years old)
Almost everyone has Davis as the consensus No. 1 overall pick this year, and there’s a good reason for that. He’s a defensive juggernaut who has a NBA-ready frame and brilliant athleticism. The AP Player of the Year is averaging 14.3 points per game, while hauling down 10 rebounds. However, these are by far his most ordinary stats: what comes next defines Davis as a special player.
First, he’s blocking 4.6 shots per game. When Davis is on the floor, Kentucky’s opponents watch their field goal percentages plummet: 14 percent of their total shots are blocked by the Wildcats when he’s patrolling the paint. He compares favorably in this regard to recent renowned, current NBA shot blockers when they were in college, as seen here in blocks / per 40 minutes:
Coming into the shortened 2011-2012 season, it didn’t seem like the Phoenix Suns would be the relevant.
Just one look at the team’s depth chart raised question of if these “old guys” could hang with the young legs of other NBA teams. I’ll admit, I wrote off the Suns when I heard Grant Hill would return as a starter and from Phoenix’s lack of offseason moves. Now, I’m not completely wrong as of right now.
If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Suns wouldn’t be dancing. But I may be eating my words in the next few weeks. Phoenix is somewhat taking the league by storm right now, posting one of the best records, so far, after the All-Star break. So I’m not a hater of the Suns anymore and residents of the desert can finally love a team that looked doomed at the beginning of the season.
After I heard that Phoenix is starting to impress, I asked myself, how? The Suns didn’t make any trades at the deadline and pretty much have the same roster they owned at the beginning of the season. And although they still look “old” on paper, it’s that veteran experience, led by coach Alvin Gentry, that has them playing with heart.
I’m not a part of the Suns’ locker room and I won’t pretend to know why this squad is playing the best basketball out of all their Western Conference counterparts right now, but I would like to believe it’s more than just having a favorable home schedule right after the All-Star break.
BY KEVIN BERTRAM, Couchsideshow.com contributor
However, playing behind the perennial all-star left the Polish Hammer — as Orlando fans came to know him — with little playing time and an even smaller role on offense. In 63 games during the 2008-2009 season, Gortat played only 12.6 minutes per game, despite hitting on a solid .567 percent of his field goal attempts. Most of his field goals came from grabbing offensive boards and putting the ball back up. As shown in this clip, he was capable of much more …
Orlando, seeing that they had the unique problem of having two, starting-caliber centers, attempted to correct the problem by playing lineups that featured both Gortat and Howard on the court at the same time.
I remember reading this article a few years ago and thinking that how great would it be if this guy made it to the NBA. If he could represent and give hope for all the Asian Americans out there that anything is possible despite what the naysayers may say.
A little more than two years later and call it what you want, but Linsanity has taken over the sports world and my dream for this guy has come true. When Yao Ming sadly retired from the game in July, who would’ve thought that a little known point guard from Harvard would immediately take the torch and keep the Asian influence alive in the NBA? No offense to Yi Jianlian, but he wasn’t cutting it.
Yet that’s exactly what Jeremy Lin has done over the last week and a half ever since that fateful February night two Saturdays ago, where he took the world by storm. Lin came off the bench and notched career numbers – 25 points, five rebounds and eight assists – and led his New York Knicks to a 99-92 victory over the Nets.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
Fans worried about NBA player Kris Humphries after his divorce with TV star Kim Kardashian can finally rest easy.
The 6-foot-9 power forward reached a one-year deal with the New Jersey Nets worth a reported $8 million Wednesday morning. So it looks like it’s finally back to basketball for the Minnesota native. And I’m happy for Humphries and even more merry that another Kardashian won’t be on the NBA sidelines.
We’ll still have to see Khloe at Dallas Mavericks games, watching her husband, Lamar Odom, ball in white and blue. But I can sleep easy tonight, knowing that her sister won’t be court side in New Jersey this season. The split between Kim Kardashian and Humphries came just 72 days after the couple were married in a wedding blown completely out of proportion. And now with the prenuptial agreement in affect, Humphries can start concentrating on basketball.
Playing at an effective level was something I thought Humphries needed to do long before he met his reality star ex-wife. Now, with her out of the way, I hope a new spark of passion finds the former Minnesota Gopher so he can finally live up to his potential. And after seven years of mediocrity with four different teams, Humphries could do just that this season with New Jersey.
He should undoubtedly be the Nets’ starting power forward, sharing the paint with budding NBA superstar Brook Lopez. And a duo like Lopez and Humphries could be dangerous for other teams in the East. Add Deron Williams in New Jersey’s back court and this team could be playoff bound as early as this spring. The Nets might land the No. 8 seed, but that would be a godsend for New Jersey fans, considering their team hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since the 2005-2006 season.