Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some Game 1 Spurs/Thunder thoughts

Thought I'd try a little late night writing action here.

Serge Ibaka - couldn't get on the court because the Spurs went small. Forced OKC out of playing their best 5 players.

Scottie Brooks - It's his job to make sure the Thunder CAN play their best 5 players.

James Harden - Don't let his numbers fool you, he was dreadful in Game 1. His only moves were driving to the basket and hoping for a foul and hitting a point spread swinging dagger of a 3.

Russell Westbrook - Felt like he played better than his numbers but where was he in the 2nd half? What happened to him relentlessly driving the ball to the hoop?

Kevin Durant - was given the ball repeatedly while the Spurs were making their run and couldn't make it happen. Was the defense specifically trying to stop him? Yes. Does he have to find a way to attack that? Yes. Would that be an acceptable excuse for Lebron? No. Does Scott Brooks do anything to help this Thunder team? TBD, but damn sure not as much as Bill Self would (oh word?).

Nick Collison - Finally I get to cheer for this guy!

Derek Fisher - Finally I have to cheer for this guy.

Tim Duncan - How about making a layup, Timmay?

Stephen Jackson - He may have been the key to tonight's game. His defense on Slim was unpenetrable. Hey remember when he cold-cocked a fan?

Matt Bonner - This mutha-fucka was ice cold tonight. More like Matt Limpdick, am I right?

Danny Green - Could not miss a shot against the Clippers. Didn't make a single meaningful play tonight.

Refs - How did they let them play all night long only to call a foul on every possession between 8:00 and 4:00 in the 4th quarter? They really took the steam out of an ongoing great game.

Gary Neal - Hi, I'm Gary Neal.

Good news for the Thunder - None of their 4 best players had an above average game. Durant was average, with the other 3 falling various degrees below the Mendoza line. Surely, (atleast) one of them will step up moving forward.

Bad news for the Thunder - None of their 4 best players have an easy problem to fix going into Game 2 of this series. Worse yet, none of them looked poised to handle business while the Spurs were making their run (ya know, all 4th quarter long). They just kinda let it happen. And yes, everybody's worse fear, that the Thunder are too jumpshotty, may finally catch up with them.

Prediction for Game 2: I'll take the Spurs by 7-9
Prediction for Game 1 of Heat/Celtics: Pain. (for the Celtics).

Boris Diaw's moobs,
His Dirkness

Monday, May 14, 2012

15 Thoughts on the NBA Playoffs

1. Chris Paul* is the best player in the NBA right now.

* when healthy

There are sooooo many ways to classify this distinction, but here's mine: Who do you want on your team with 5 minutes left in a tie game situation? My answer is Chris Paul. Over LeBron (who, obviously, I'd much rather have for an 82 game season), Kobe, Dirk, or Durant. He is simply magnificent with the ball in his hands. Smarter than any other star in the league, every move he makes on the court feels calculated. A complaint here, a dish there, it's all done with reason. The problem is that Paul struggles to remain healthy. He ripped through the Grizzlies up until he pulled a nut. He looked better in Game 7, but clearly still not 100%.

2. The Clippers will beat the Spurs in 6 games.*

* if Chris Paul is healthy

Yes, I hate the Spurs and am openly biased with my opinions of them. However, I also correctly picked them to lose to the Grizzlies last year. I honestly can't even watch the Spurs, so I don't really understand how they're so good this year, but apparently Tony Parker is dominant now. Eric Bledsoe (the unsung hero of yesterday's Game 7) might play a pivotal role in shutting down Mr. Longoria-Parker. Just remember, lockout seasons get crazy in the NBA (the Knicks made the Finals as an 8 seed in 1999). The first round was rather tame (aside from an 8 seed beating a 1 seed, although it hardly classified as an upset after D-Rose's injury). This second round could, might get crazy...

3. The Lakers will beat the Thunder in 7 games.

Lets acknowledge some facts. I'm still bitter about Kevin Durant's lucky game winning shot in the opener against the Mavs. I might cheer for the Lakers with the excuse that I want to see an all L.A. Western Conference Finals. The Thunder are extremely young (staggering that their best four players are all 23 or younger). The Lakers have been here before. End facts, cue opinions. I don't think the Thunder are ready. They're too jumpshotty. They're still wet behind the ears (whatever the fuck that means?). I expect Gasol and Bynum to beat them up inside. I think Shitface Artest will break the record for number of times bringing the opposing crowd to such a hostile level that people wonder aloud how good the security in Oklahoma City actually is (currently held by Ron Mudbutt).

4. Kobe Bryant was the 6th best player on the court in Saturday night's Game 7 victory.

Gasol, Bynum, Steve Blake (that game shall be known as "The Steve Blake Game"), Ty Lawson, and Al Harrington make up 1-5. And this is a compliment. Seriously. Old Kobe wouldn't have been able to accept the fact that the Lakers won or lost without him playing a significant role in the game (however, his insecure side still had to let the world know that he was double teamed the entire game. Oh, Kobe). But the Lakers are at their best when he is facilitating. Their strength is their size and their size is their strength. If Kobe figures this out, then the Lakers will the West.

5. Inside The NBA reached best show on TV status this week.

I've heard lots of disses on Shaq, but I don't get it. Sure, his opinions aren't as strong as Barkley's (or even Ernie's), but he brings some comedy to the table. His opinion on Kobe and the Lakers is always interesting. But the show is so open-ended that you never know what debates will spark up (and they're almost always interesting). It's must see TV from now until the Finals.

6. My favorite player to watch in Round 1 was Javale McGee.

This dude. Every play he makes is an adventure. He's like a Saturday morning cartoon on a basketball court. He plays hard, doesn't fully understand goaltending, shoots sky hooks, puts up 21 and 14 one night and 2 and 5 the next, and is watched real closely by his former WNBA playing mom who sits courtside.

7. My favorite player moving forward is Reggie Evans.

Yes, he of the Sea-dragon Hall of Fame. Evans is the thickest dude in the NBA. Maybe not physically, but anatomically. I watched Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol bounce off him without Evans even grabbing a ball. In that series, he eventually became more valuable to the Clippers than Blake Griffin because of Blake's injury and because of the size of Memphis. He shut down Z-Bo. Next up, Timmay.

8. My favorite moment of Round 1 was Kenyon Martin's stalker stumbling on to the court in Denver.

However, the best part was the continued coverage from the television team. Contrary to the NFL ignoring streakers and such, they showed multiple replays and even came out of halftime with the back story on the crazy bitch. She's well known in Denver, isn't allowed in the arena, and used to stalk Kenyon Martin, who no longer even plays for the Nuggets.

9. Blake Griffin may have figured his shit out in Game 7.

It was one of the best games I've watched him play, a game that he finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds. But he battled all game long. Those easy baskets that the Grizz were scoring on him weren't there in Game 7. On the offensive end, he kept his theatrics to a minimum. I believe he creates a frenzy around his team because he overreacts every time he gets touched, both in body flailing and in staring down the refs. Too often, the entire Clippers team comes away thinking they're being officiated unjustly. Somebody had to have said something to him before Game 7, and I'd put 100 bucks on it being Chris Paul. Jeff Van Gundy chronicled the whole situation beautifully throughout the game yesterday.

10. Jeff Van Gundy should become the next Commissioner of the NBA.

He is leading a one-man charge against the flopping pandemic (PANDEMIC!) in the NBA, even getting it brought up to Commissioner Stern in an interview during yesterday's Heat/Pacers game. Until the NBA responds to flopping with fines or suspensions, then it'll continue to remain a problem with the game (especially if the Clippers and Heat continue to advance).

11. Tie game with 24 seconds left, I'm not going to Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, Durant, or even Dirk.

I'm putting the ball in Paul Pierce's hands, the most underrated player in all of sports. Pierce never gets his due. Never, ever, ever has he been mentioned among the game's elite, and yet there he is carrying his team to a playoff victory on the road sans Rondo and Ray Allen. There he is guarding the other team's best player. There he is waddling his fat ass to the elbow, stepping back, and hitting big shot after big shot, game after game.

12. The Celtics will beat the 76ers in 6 games.

And I probably won't watch more than one.

13. The Pacers will be lucky to win a game against the Heat.

They're already freaking out about the foul discrepancy in Game 1 (not even bad). They play no-star basketball (not an insult, watching the Pacers play is rather refreshing when compared to Lebron and Wade's dueling banjos routine). Their best player, Danny Granger, has been afraid of every big moment I've seen him in. They had a chance to steal Game 1 and couldn't get it done. They got owned in crunch time. Heat in 5.

14. The impending Heat/Celtics Eastern Conference Finals will be the best series of the Playoffs.

I give the Celtics the best chance of taking out the Heat this year. It takes a certain mental make up to beat the Heat, one that everybody was surprised the 2011 Mavs had. But they had it. And the Celtics have it. They (irrationally) believe that they would've taken the Heat down last year had Rajon Rondo not gotten hurt. That's both incorrect and admirable. They're rolling this year though. They beat the Heat up last two times they played. I think they fully realize that if they lose to the Heat this year then their run is over and done with. The Celtics will be all in, and when those warriors are all in, results usually follow. I cannot wait for this series. I kinda wish they'd cancel the semifinals and just let them play a 15 game series (could you imagine the home crowd for a Game 15 in Miami? They might even show up before the end of the first quarter).

15. After debating Mark Cuban's offseason decisions for 6 months, I still have no idea if he made the right decision or not.

Maybe you can help me. I'll lay out the arguments on each side of the debate. First off, the decision under discussion was to not resign Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, and DeShawn Stephenson following last season's NBA title run.

Cuban was right - The team's money would all be spoken for right now. And the team would be old. The team would've struggled to match the hunger of last year's team. What happens if you bring everybody back and you lose in the first round? You're looking at starting over from scratch. With the cap room, Deron Williams more than likely joins the team this offseason, and the Mavs are back to being title contenders for the foreseeable future.

Cuban was wrong - The Mavs didn't defend their title, they didn't even really try. The team was still decent, but the players (especially Jason Terry, the Mavs' emotional leader) could read the writing on the wall - This is your last year in Dallas. Meanwhile, the West was wide open and you could've made the Finals for a second straight year. You're sacrificing a year of Dirk's prime (which might have ended with the title as well). What do you do if Deron Williams doesn't come to Dallas? That's the worst case scenario and would be an absolute disaster for the Mavs.

Go Clipz,
His Dirkness

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: How The New Chiefs Fit In

I didn't know whether I wanted to do a write up on the Chiefs draft or not because reading people's draft grades can be a heartwrenchingly boring exercise. Especially when you consider how little we know about all of the newest Chiefs. It makes more sense to do assign grades 2-3 years down the road then the day after the NFL Draft (quick, which team received the most praise immediately following the 2011 Draft?).

However, I went back and read my grades from the Chiefs 2011 draft class, and found my initial opinions on the picks rather intriguing (not to mention my use of pictures!). So I'm running it back, more so for my future enjoyment then your present entertainment. And if that bothers you, take it up with Bad Ass Billy Gunn. Suck it, readers.

1st Round: Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis

I was the only person at my draft dorks party who immediately applauded this pick (sure, they've all come around now...). Even though Poe contradicts nearly every chapter of my NFL Draft philosophy manifesto, I feel like the Chiefs were in great shape to take their chance. The fact that it comes at their biggest position of need is just boom sauce. This dude is a bonafide freak of nature though. He doesn't look a pound over 300, either in a suit or in pads, but tips the scale at 346 pounds. It's unclear to me whether he projects as a straight nose tackle, who's main objective is to eat up blocks, or as more of a versatile presence along the line, ala Haloti Ngata. However, it should be noted that Romeo Crennel specifically told Poe in his draft day phone call that he would be a three down player in KC. The knock on Poe is his lack of production in college, which I optimistically/cleverly/self-deceivingly keep telling myself is because he played against mostly spread offenses while at Memphis. If you're still not convinced then ponder this - Romeo Crennel developed Vince Wilfork. He wanted Dontari Poe. Are you smarter than Romeo Crennel?

Tidbit: To give you an idea of what type of athlete we are looking at, Poe won high school state titles in the shot put as a junior and senior, and another in the discus as a senior.

Grade: B

2nd Round: Jeff Allen, G, Illinois

Meet Ryan Lilja's future replacement. Under Scott Pioli, the Chiefs have drafted Jon Asamoah (early in the 3rd), Rodney Hudson (in the 2nd), and now Jeff Allen. Asamoah sat as a rookie, then took over Brian Waters' vacated starting spot. Hudson sat as a rookie, and is poised to take over for Casey Wiegmann at center in 2012. Allen, who played tackle at Illinois but projects as an NFL guard, will fulfill backup duties in 2012, and then take over for Lilja, who's contract expires after this season, in 2013. I'm not going to pretend to know much about Allen's on-the-field abilities. Seems solid though.

Tidbit: Allen started 47 consecutive games at Illinois, so if nothing else he is durable.

Grade: A-

3rd Round: Donald Stephenson, T, Oklahoma

Now here's a pick that I don't understand. The Chiefs have their two tackles of the future in Branden Albert and Eric Winston. With the loss of Barry Richardson, the tackle position was in need of some depth. But Stephenson is considered a "developmental player" which is a fancy word for what I like to call "future bust." If the pick was made to shore up depth, then why not take a player who is ready to play now, but has a lower upside? This pick has many people pondering the future of Branden Albert with the Chiefs, who's contract is up following this season. I don't think Albert is going anywhere. Might be nothing more than an expensive insurance pick. I predict he never sees significant playing time with the Chiefs.

Tidbit: He attended Blue Springs High School.

Grade: F

4th Round: Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno St.

I loved what I saw from this dude in his post-pick highlights on ESPN (even though his punt return TD against Nebraska was featured). He seems like the prototypical slot WR who can find holes in the zone and immediately turn up field to gain easy yards. Or maybe Chiefs fans are just a bit too obsessed with finding their own Wes Welker. Wylie could also help in the return game, perhaps with Javier Arenas taking on a more vital role in the secondary this season. It ain't all milk and cookies with Wylie though, who couldn't stay healthy throughout college, missing roughly half of his games due to injury.

Tidbit: A quote: "There was just the general sense that Wylie did well at the combine." Said by, none other than, Devon Wylie.

Grade: C+

5th Round: De'Quan Menzie, S, Alabama

You hear De'Quan Menzie and you immediately think that this guy's got it all. An apostrophe, the first name prefix, a Q, and a Z! Menzie was a damn fine football player at 'Bama, but was kind of a man without a position heading into the NFL. He played CB in college, but ran his 40 time in the 4.7's. That might work out perfectly for the Chiefs, who actually have a position for this man without a position. Yes, the coveted Jon McGraw spot (which he was able to man with his 6.2 speed), a sort of LB/CB/S hybrid who is asked to help in the running game and cover opposing Tight Ends and slot WR's. De'Quan might earn himself some playing time as a rookie.

Tidbit: Menzie ranked 80th on Mike Mayock's Top 100 list of 2012 Draft prospects. The Chiefs snagged him with the 146th pick.

Grade: A-

6th Round: Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M

I thought the Chiefs might pick up a RB with such uncertainty at the position. Charles coming off his injury. Peyton Hillis only signed for one year. Dexter McCluster doing Dexter McCluster things. Gray was solid for all four years of his career at A&M. Can catch the rock. Always good to ingest fresh legs into your backfield.

Tidbit: Gray rushed for 1,975 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior at Desoto High School in Texas. As a quarterback. Surprised he didn't go Top 10 alongside Tannehill.

Grade: A

7th Round: Jerome Long, DE, San Diego St.

Jerome Long....Jerome Long....nope, doesn't ring a bell. My sources tell me he's a mix between Jerome Bettis and Howie Long. I suspect he's the next Gabe Miller. Who? Exactly.

Tidbit: He wrestled in high the character Golddust.

Grade: C-

7th Round: Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan

I knew who this guy was which was neat. He probably didn't get much of a chance because Michigan didn't run anything resembling an actual offense last season. He was a big play guy for them, averaging 20.6 yards per catch. I could see this guy catching on.

Tidbit: Fuck Michigan.

Grade: B+

Overall GPA: 2.66 (C+)