Thursday, January 25, 2007

Welcome to New Jersey West

And Other NBA Ramblings

First of all I'm sorry about the lack of updates but school and work have really eaten up a lot of my time as of late. This should continue but I guarantee I will update at least 1-3 times per week.

For weeks now everyone has been chomping at the bit to see Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson on the court together for the very first time. On Monday everyone finally got what they were waiting for in Anthony's return against the Grizzlies. While many media outlets have acknowledged that the Nuggets are not quite on the level of a Dallas, or Phoenix. They do seem to think this is a match made in heaven after watching these two guys pour in the points against cellar contenders Memphis and Seattle. As fantastic of a shooter as Ray Allen is he can't beat the Hawks by himself, and he certainly can't beat the sudden "contender" in Denver either. I'd like to take this time to remind everyone of just a few short years ago, when Vince Carter was shipped to New Jersey. Everyone seemed to think "Oh Snap!" a championship was clearly in the near future of those juggernaut Nets. I am having a little bit of a problem though, I can't seem to remember what year it is New Jersey won it, or even made the finals after the trade. I'm sure everyone would argue this isn't a valid comparison as New Jersey didn't have a big man like Denver does in Marcus Camby. I'd say your right but there's one thing New Jersey did have that could potentially make up for that, its name is Jason Kidd. I'd also say Camby is nothing more than a Dikembe Mutumbo clone with a decent mid-range jump shot. Kidd's ability to make his team mates better appeared early on to be making up for the lack of size, much like 'Melo and AI's scoring ability will early on make up for their lack of a true reliable point guard, sorry Steve Blake.

Speaking of Mr. Blake he's not even starting in Denver, AI starts at the point, with J.R. Smith is playing the two-guard spot. 'Melo, Reggie Evans, and Camby make up the front court and it sounds like a solid team, which is exactly what it is (lineup according to ESPN). A solid team, but not quite a contender just yet. I might change my mind if Denver slid Blake into the starting lineup, and Nene suddenly started earning his paychecks to take over as the starter next to Camby. Nene however appears to be hampered a little bit from last years injury still making Evans the only other option up front. The biggest problem with the current starting lineup is Smith, he's a shoot first type of guy on a team where he needs to be a creator. Denver may have been better off keeping Andre Miller and trying to emulate the Suns run n' gun style with Smith and 'Melo as the focal points. I know Miller tends to lean into the shoot first realm himself, but he's a better passer than AI, and Blake combined. But after 'Melo's hit and run on Mardy Collins they panicked and made the deal for AI. AI more or less turned them into the Sixers of the Larry Brown era winning just 6 of 14 games before 'Melo returned.

All that said theirs only one top tier West team I would give Denver a shot to upset in the playoffs, that team is the Phoenix Suns. You may ask why, so I'll tell you exactly why. Its somewhat of a long shot but I think Denver could run with Phoenix, and they can certainly score in bunches. While the book on Phoenix is usually to slow them down, I don't like Denver as much in a set offense with their lack of a true point guard. If 'Melo, Smith, and AI are hitting they're shots and passing well, I think they have a shot. Some would say what about Amare and Marion on the inside? I happen to like Camby and Nene on Amare defensively if they can stay fresh from all the running. Marion would be the X-Factor for Phoenix in the end though, as Denver really has no one who can even contain him like Camby could contain Amare. Interestingly enough I think this is a match up we'll see in the first round, unless of course Denver can catch Utah who is struggling lately. Denver currently sits 4 games back of Utah heading into Friday, so the lead is not insurmountable by any means with lots of basketball to play. I like Utah to hang on though because they play true team basketball and should be able to beat Denver heads up. Okur is fantastic and stretching the floor and keeping Camby out of the inside where Boozer can dominate Evans, or anyone else Denver would throw at him.

Agree? Disagree? Regardless, this is one person who think Denver has become nothing more than New Jersey West. So welcome one and all, it's about to get overrated out here.

Other NBA Ramblings:

-Nash should be MVP again the way things are going, regardless of what I've said in the past you almost have to give it to him.

-The All-Star starters are out, and in no real surprise Nash is not a starter because he can't dunk over Tim Duncan. Neither is Dirk, as the fan voting continues to be a joke. The West Starters are Duncan, Garnett, Bryant, McGrady, and Yao who will not play due to injury.

-In the East they got it right outside of the Shaq voting, the guy has only played 6 games, Dwight Howard deserves his spot. The East starters are Wade, Arenas, Shaq, Bosh, and LeBron.
-These guys probably should but will not make the teams Caron Butler, Josh Howard, Elton Brand, Baron Davis, Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups and Joe Johnson.

-Greg Oden kinda looks like Marcus Camby type to me, but with improved offense he could be as dominant as every else thinks. I'll take Dwight Howard instead any day of the week though.

-Why is everyone sleeping on Houston? They're probably the 3rd best team out west if T-Mac stays healthy and effective when Yao gets back. I like their chances of passing San Antonio in the second half if Yao picks up where he left off.

-Shane Battier defensive player of the year so far hands down. I've watched him infuriate Kobe Bryant for 3 quarters a couple times this year. The Rudy Gay trade might not be as bad as I originally thought. If its not him, I like Marion in Phoenix to win it.

-Kevin Durant is probably the next Tracy McGrady from what I've seen, he's long and can shoot from everywhere just like McGrady, I do think he needs to add some muscle before he can dominate at the next level though.

That's it for now...

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