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NBA Lockout: Why it Won’t Work Out Well for Anybody

The NBA began its lockout Friday morning at 12:01 a.m. to great fanfare and widespread acclaim. Just kidding. Everybody hates it.

And rightfully so.

Lockouts are never fun, but this one in particular couldn’t have come at a worse time. Not only was the 2011 Finals the most compelling NBA championship of the past 10 years, it was also the highest rated championship series since 2004. Fans haven’t been this interested in the NBA since Shaq was in his prime and Kobe had a mini afro. Yes, kids. It’s true. Kobe once had hair like Buckwheat.

Even the 2011 draft, one of the weakest and least entertaining drafts in recent memory, earned excellent ratings. Sure, 22 of 30 NBA were reportedly losing money, but the league as a whole was peaking like Lil Wayne on Tha Carter III. Popularity-wise, everything was going its way.

All that ended Friday at midnight plus one.

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Sacramento Kings Overpaid for J.J. Hickson by Giving up Omri Casspi, Pick

The Kings and Cavaliers snuck a trade in before the NBA lockout was announced Thursday, exchanging Omri Casspi and a lottery-protected 2012 first-round pick for J.J. Hickson.

Other than losing the support of Jewish fans everywhere, I thought it was a pretty good trade for the Kings. My initial reaction was sweet, Geoff Petrie finally managed to pull off a trade without getting reamed.

Considering he got killed in the Beno Udrih-John Salmons trade and has a track record of being on the losing end of one-sided deals, getting Hickson seemed like a major coup. Remember, Petrie is the guy who essentially traded Kevin Martin for 27 games of Marcus Thornton.

Looking more closely at Hickson’s numbers last season, though, I’m not so convinced. I’m beginning to think the Kings overpaid for him.

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NBA Draft Analysis and Recap of the First 14 Picks – How do they all fit?

Thursday’s NBA draft was both exhilarating and head-scratching. Some players went higher than expected (ahem, Iman Shumpert). Others fell far, to teams that never expected to grab them (Chris Singleton and the Wizards, for instance).

It’s too early to tell which of these players will reach their potential and which ones will veer off the tracks in an Adam Morrison-like train crash. Like an overwrought episode of Franklin & Bash, it’ll take a while for the basketball community to reach its final verdicts.

In the meantime, here’s a quick pick-by-pick analysis of each player taken in this year’s lottery and how they fit with their new team:

1. Kyrie Irving (PG) – Cleveland

The look on Irving’s agent’s face when Irving’s name was called No. 1 was priceless. Turns out Cleveland had kept them in the dark all week long. Not a promise (despite there being word of a promise). Not a hint. Nothing. When you heard “Kyrie Irving to the Cleveland Cavaliers,” that’s the first time he heard it too. I’m sure Irving’s agent will remind Cavs executives of this in a few years when it comes time to sign an extension. In the meantime, Irving will be asked to keep the Cavs afloat with a nucleus of Baron Davis, AndersonVarejao, J.J. Hickson and Tristan Thompson. No easy feat. Let’s hope Dan Gilbert isn’t thinking playoffs any time soon.

2. Derrick Williams (PF) - Minnesota

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A Beginner’s Guide to the 2011 NBA Draft: Profiles on All the Top Prospects

Reading NBA draft previews sometimes feels like wading through Princess Bride-style quicksand. With so many names to remember and stats to sift through, it can be hard to figure out what draft info is important and what’s just unnecessary nonsense.

Do you care as a casual fan, for instance, that Enes Kanter has 5.9% body fat? Or that Marcus Morris can run three quarters of the court in 3.2 seconds whereas his twin brother, Markieff, runs it in 3.4 seconds? Not really, right?

You just want the basics. Which is why I wrote this beginner’s guide.

Draft lunatics will already know most of what is written below. It’s not quantum physics, just a good starting place for people staring at the screen on draft night wondering “who is that guy?”

If you’re here for insight into Nikola Vucevic’s standing reach, you’ve come to the wrong place. But if cheat sheet info delivered in 100 words or less is your thing, I’m your guy. You won’t find any quicksand here.

Here’s my Cliff Notes-style guide to the 2011 NBA draft:

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Cavs Should Take Derrick Williams No. 1 in NBA Draft, Not Kyrie Irving

Convention says the Cleveland Cavaliers should take point guard Kyrie Irving with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. Irving’s the safe pick, the “smart” choice, the guy who won’t send Cavs fans into the depths of agony again with a Decision-like defection. He’s the rebound girl.

He may not be “the one,” but at least he won’t break your heart.

The scouting report on Duke’s finest ranges from “above average NBA point guard” to “a one-car garage version of Chris Paul.” He’s the anti-LeBron James, a humble “sir” mumbler from a structured background and a pedigree school. He can run an offense and shoot the ball, but he won’t blow you away with his physical tools or his athleticism.

Having just had a long-term relationship go horribly wrong, a LeBron-type is exactly the type Cleveland is trying to avoid. They’re shell shocked. When LBJ took his talents to South Beach, it scarred them. Now they’d rather go with a “sure thing” than be challenged.

They don’t want to get hurt again.

Unfortunately, this is a mindset that’s leading them away from Derrick Williams, the most talented player in the draft and arguably its only true impact player. And that’s bad news because playing it safe never got anybody anywhere in the NBA. Just look at how the 2006 draft worked out for Toronto. Andrea Bargnani’s a good player, but he’s never going to lead the Raptors anywhere significant.

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How the Dallas Mavericks Mounted the World and Became 2011 Champs

It’s over now, the journey that led the Mavericks through heartbreak and frustration and, finally, redemption. They won the title Sunday. They beat the Heat and bathed in champagne, 250 bottles worth apparently.

After 13 seasons, Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban finally became champions. They made their mark. They partied with Lil Wayne.

Dallas was the unexpected contender. Few expected them to get out of the first round, much less win it all. They kept coming, though. Kept coming like a tidal wave, Hurricane Dirk crashing on the shores of Portland, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Miami. Hurricanes Terry and Barea crashing intermittently behind. Rick Carlisle orchestrating the whole thing like Poseidon, a crafty, Grinch-looking sea wizard.

The Mavs were resolute. They didn’t complain when they lost, didn’t brag when they won. They were a team of destiny. They defied setbacks and challenges, including Dirk’s illness and the injury to Brendan Haywood. Like Khal Drogo they aimed to mount the world, and they did. Few of them did it beside a woman as hot as Daenerys, though. And by few I mean J.J. Barea. Lucky jerk.

Ultimately, the Mavs stunned LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and won their first title in franchise history.

How did they pull it off?  Here were three keys to Dallas’ 2011 Finals victory:

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How the NBA Playoffs is Just Like Game of Thrones

Now that we’re eight episodes into Season 1, I think it’s time to welcome Game of Thrones into the pantheon of can’t miss cable dramas. It’s a great series. Borderline brilliant. The writing is terrific. The cast is fantastic. And the plot is paced  just right — slow enough not to confuse the audience, convoluted enough to be unpredictable and keep people guessing.

GoT is quickly becoming the gold standard for medieval dramas thanks to HBO’s holy trinity of television production: sex, violence and, ahem, little people (sound familiar, Boardwalk Empire fans?). It’s Lord of the Rings meets Braveheart with a whole lot of nudity and backstabbing mixed in.

What makes the show so popular, though, what keeps people hooked, is how relatable the characters are. The action takes place among kings and knights and 14th century prostitutes, but the character types are straight out of your local bar.

There’s the schemer, the bully, the outcast, the b****, the pretty boy, the honest Abe, the tomboy, the guy in the corner cracking jokes, the good wife (yeah, you’re right, she wouldn’t be at the bar), the rebel, the nitwit, the hot chick, the alcohol-soaked person in charge, and, of course, the crazy lady who still breast feeds her 6-year-old son. Okay, forget the last one. That’s just plain weird.

Independently (or, in some cases, dependently), these characters are fighting for the same goal: the right to sit on the throne (which looks like something straight out of a Tim Burton film, by the way). Like Kanye West, they want all that power. And they’ll stop at nothing to get it.

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