Power Ranking just after the start of the 2011-2012 Season

I wrote this power ranking before I created this blog. I just wanted to put this out there so that I can hold myself accountable for the things I say whether they were true or not.
 
 
East:
1. Heat – POWER HOUSE will blaze through season
2. Chicago – Gained Rip, but lost Bogans and Thomas’ D. Can Rose finally share the ball like a real PG and can the Bulls finally stop making the excuse that no one else on the team can score?
3. Boston – Core intact. still one of the toughest teams, but will continue to regret decision to trade Perk, esp. given Green’s situation
4. New York – So much fire power PLUS defense w/ addition of Chandler, Shumpert, and Woodson, but needs Davis to come back healthy badly for real PG play
5. Orlando – Uncertainty looms large, reminiscent of Denver last season
6. Atlanta – They are what they are, a bunch of talented players playing out of position with no depth. When will they end the Marvin Williams experiment and acquire a real center?
7. Milwaukee – If Bogut healthy, w/ addition of Jackson, may be one of the best defensive teams in the league. Also may be the worst shooting team in the history of the NBA
8. New Jersey – Lopez gone, Okur in. Will AK also join? It’s as if the Jazz split in half. The core of old Jazz, Avery, and the 2nd best PG in the league? Count me in.

9. Philadelphia – Can Elton Brand continue to produce? Can they continue to trot Hawes as starting Center and be successful?
10. Indiana – Can Hibbert gel with West? Is West ok after microfracture surgery? Can Paul George grow with Granger on the same team?
11. Washington – Wall will rise, but the rest of team won’t. too immature
12. Detroit – When will they let Dumars go? Resigned Prince…
13. Cleveland – Kyrie will impress, but too many nobodies
14. Toronto – No identity, no direction
15. Charlotte – When Maggette is your most reliable player, you are in trouble

 
WEST: 
1. LA Clippers – CP took NO to playoffs without much help. With help, the league and everyone will truly realize how far apart he is from other PGs. Griffin will be All Star Starter. Caron will resurrect his reputation. Reggie Evans was big signing. Who needs Del African when they already have 2 coaches on the floor?
2. OKC – With Perkins fully back and healthy, this team looks to take the next step in becoming one of the most well rounded team on both ends of the court
3. Dallas – Big loss with Tyson hurts less with acquisition of Odom. Their biggest loss is Barea, the one guy on this team that could break down defenses. Without another dangerous creator, is this team good enough offensively? 
4. LA Lakers – So many questions, but talent alone is good enough for this spot. Can Kobe/Bynum stay clear of injuries? Do they address lack of creator outside of Kobe?
5. Spurs – No changes, window slowly coming to a close
6. Portland – We will miss the most fundamentally sound SG of the past decade. Solid team, but not serious contenders without Roy
7. Memphis – Rudy Gay is back. Team came together without him. Can they infuse him back into the new philosophy?
8. Golden State – Everyone healthy(curry’s ankle still a concern), many pieces added. Small back court still an issue, but depth no longer an issue. Will Lacob finally make the big move and trade Ellis?

9. Denver – Losing 3 players to china hurts. Tough gritty team and hard to count out Karl, but not the same team. Have to wonder if team truly believes Lawson can break out, given they’ve brought back Andre Miller
10. Houston – Mchale’s first full season will be interesting, but lost key defensive stopper Hayes. Can Lowry build on his new found late season dominance without Adelman’s directions?
11. Phoenix – It’s time to trade Nash and start over. Team stuck in mediocrity, but Nash to Gortat will still be a fun watch
12. Sacramento – Can they really run with Evans as PG? Experiment already failed number of times. Has Cousins grown out of immaturity? Will there be chemistry with so many 2 guards? 
13. Minnesota – Intriguing amount of talent with Adelman for guidance. Not enough time for young players to grasp Adelman’s intricate playbooks, but perhaps one season away from becoming something special. This will be Love’s true breakout season, and Rubio looks to prove hype is real
14. Utah – Bleak future with loss of Sloan and identity. Every team Jefferson goes to is a loser, even the Jazz. 
15. New Orleans – Future looks bright. Current situation looks to be a mess 


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Blake Griffin’s dunk of the year candidate on Kendrick Mozgov’ed Perkins

The dunk didn’t actually change the game much, but it certainly changed the mood of the world. I covered my mouth the way Blake does when he can’t believe a call and yelled out a big “OHHHHHH SHIIIT!!” when this happened before my eyes, and saw the rest of the world on twitter go bonkers with me. This is why I love this game. 


A close look into Stephen Curry’s 3rd season

This season has been a deja vu of sorts for the 3rd year NBA star point guard Stephen Curry. Simply put, that means this season has been a disaster for him thus far.

Just after the lock out ended, I was given the honor of having a chat session with Curry. Long story short, Curry held a contest and I won. During the conversation, I asked him my most concerning question which was the status of his surgically repaired right ankle.

“100% ready to go,” he said.

When I told him how relieved I was of hearing that news, he somewhat joked that he “probably did it once a week last season”, but that surgery was definitely the fixer upper.

Fast forward to his second preseason game against the Kings, without any warning or sign of a significant turn, Curry’s ankle gave out while guarding Jimmer Fredette with less than a minute left in the first half. He did the all-too-familiar limp and swing of both arms before crumpling to the floor. It was a demoralizing and confusing moment for Curry who did all the right things up to that point and had no reason to question whether he would re-injure the ankle again. The scariest thing about the ankle turn was that it did not happen on a basketball play nor did it look like a typical sprain.

Thankfully, the MRI showed no structural damage. He sat out the next 4 days without any basketball activity before making the decision to give it a go for the season opener against the new look Clippers. Many were concerned that Curry was coming back too soon. He was clearly rusty as he shot 2-12 from the floor and even missed his lone free throw attempt. The Warriors ended up losing the game 105-86, as they lost complete control down the stretch. The great news, however, was that Curry’s ankle survived and seemed mostly okay.

Then came the second game of the season where Curry absolutely torched Derrick Rose and the Bulls on his way to a spectacular night. He was well on his way to a triple double with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 10 assists, and 6 steals. This was a clear sign that his ankle was, in fact, feeling much better. Even clearer was the fact that Curry had the potential and ability to be a dominant point guard in this league all the while co-existing with Ellis, proving doubters like Tim Kawakami and Matt Steinmetz wrong.

However, disaster struck again with a little more than half way to go in the fourth quarter. He went up for a floater on a fast break and as he came down, he stepped on Kyle Korver’s sorry ass foot (I hate when players are careless about where they leave their foot against another person coming down from the air) and sprained his surgically repaired right ankle. It was a disheartening moment for Curry and Warriors fans yet again. The Warriors barely hung on to win the game, but the win was completely dampened by Curry’s situation. The one positive to take from the situation was that for once, he sprained his ankle on a basketball play. All tests came back negative once again, and he would only sit out one game against the Knicks.

He came back against the Sixers going 9-15 from the field for 21 points but also turned the ball over 5 times. The Warriors were offensively challenged all around as Monta Ellis was out of the lineup and David Lee had an incredibly cold shooting night, on their way to the worst blowout of the season.

He finally had an awful game against the Suns without any reasonable excuse. He reached and committed needless and costly fouls on his way to 5 fouls in 23 minutes of play. I’m sure he heard what he needed from Mark Jackson in regards to that game. It felt like he wanted no part of the game, and the Warriors lost.

Then came his second spectacular performance of the season against the Spurs on the road. Tony Parker could do nothing to contain Curry as he cruised through 3 quarters with a cool 20 points, 8 assists and 2 turnovers and well on his way to a 30/10 game, before the final disaster to date happened.

Curry came up with a loose ball, looked up to make his signature full court pass for his ninth assist, and suddenly threw the ball away and crumpled to the floor. All anyone could think was “oh lord not again”. Indeed, Curry sprained his ankle for the 3rd time in less than 2 weeks. Worst of all, he did it once again without anyone near him. His foot simply seemed to slip a bit as he put pressure on it and the ankle was tweaked just like that, new shoes and all. The basketball world may never have seen this kind of situation in the past. I certainly never have.

Everyone held their breath for yet another MRI. Once again, it somehow came back negative. The team held him out for nearly two weeks this time, and he would end up missing 8 games, much like last season when he sprained his ankle on his own against the Spurs. I wasn’t kidding when I said deja vu. The difference between last season and this season is that he was playing with torn ligaments last season, while it is structurally sound this season.

Many theories have been brought up regarding his ankle and why it keeps happening from the type of shoes he wears to just the way he steps on his foot with every step. He will certainly have to address and study these issues in the off season.

Curry has been back now for 4 games. With the exception of one game, he has generally been inconsistent all around. It is clear that he is still not 100% from the ankle sprains. This is evident when he drives to the basket, which he hasn’t really done at all unless he is wide open. He is unsure of which foot to take off of and in turn, loses focus on finishing the actual layup.

This is not the Curry I know. This is not the Curry that goes up for dunks(albeit softly) on fast breaks. This is not the Curry that had five 30 point 10 assist games in his rookie season, bested only by Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. This is not the Curry that can get into the paint to disrupt opponent’s defenses and make certain big men look silly with his signature fakes. I can only wait for him to feel more comfortable with his ankle before we see the real Curry that can still dominate for the rest of this season. When healthy, he has the talent to be a top 5 point guard in the league.

Honestly, I won’t be able to watch another Warriors game comfortably without cringing at every Curry flail for the next 5 games or so. If this is how I feel watching him, imagine how he must feel. It has to still be in his head. The believers are waiting for the ankle to feel better so that he can play more games like he did against the Bulls and the Spurs and help save the Warriors season. I am certainly one of those believers. The balance of the Warriors season depends on the return of Curry in a healthy state of mind. If the ankle bothers him throughout the season, we won’t see the real Curry and the Warriors season will be lost once again.

Follow me on twitter @NBAtupark


NBA Doppelgängers

Doppelgängers is a paranormal double of a living person, typically representing evil or misfortune. In modern vernacular, the word has come to refer to any double or look-alike of a person – Wikipedia

Of course, you wouldn’t need the definition of a Doppelganger if you frequently watch How I Met Your Mother, but I digress. No offense intended. This is all in good fun. Enjoy and let me know if I missed any. I tried to leave out the absolute most obvious ones.

DeShawn Stevenson and Ivan Johnson

 

If nothing else, their beards are identical.

Channing Frye and Nick Cannon

 

Can you even tell if it’s a different person in these pictures? Frye is sucking it up for my fantasy squads, by the way. 4th rounder my ass.

MarShon Brooks and Tuvok

 

They have very resembling ears. I was gonna go with Don Cheadle but…

Mike D’Antoni and Adolf Hitler

 

It must be the stache, but an image of Hitler always pops into my head when I see D’Antoni.

Willie Green and Doc Rivers

 

 Give Willie a few more years.

Anderson Varejao and Side Show Bob

 

This one is pretty well documented.

Lebron James and Melvin Guillard

 

Separated at birth.

Stan Van Gundy and Ron Jeremy.

 

It would do Stan well to get rid of that mustache.

Chris Bosh and a Raptor and Ostrich

 

  

  

It was always fitting that Bosh was a Raptor. Also, this Ostrich comparison is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen as a comparison

Trevor Booker and Chris Brown

 

Oh yes they do.

Luis Scola and Conan the Barbarian

 

It must be the hair.

Timofey Mozgov and the Russian lalala guy

 

Don’t know the Russian lalala guy? Youtube him.

Nick Collison and Go Soo

 

Might be their eyes, strangely.

Devin Harris and Chipmunk

  

I don’t know if it’s the shape of his head or what, but he always reminds me of a chipmunk.

Jason Kapono and Bill Simmons

 

Is it just me? They look related.

Nikola Pekovic and Ogre

 

Uncanny.

Josh Childress and Rallo

 

I’m sorry, this is just hysterical.

Jimmer Fredette and Glen Quagmire

 

Jaw structure and the smile. Identical.

David Lee and Lee Dewyze

 

If David Lee gains weight or Lee Dewyze sheds some, they’d be twins.

Updated:

Carmelo Anthony and Michelangelo

 

Cowabunga dude!

Anthony Davis and Jafar

 

The soon to be Hornet…?

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2011-12 NBA Awards for the first 3 weeks

Time sure is flying by fast in this shortened season. Believe it or not, more than 15% of the season has already been played by all teams. That’s still a bit early to be giving out any awards, but I am itching to talk about who has been the best up to this point so here it is.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:

  Kobe Bryant #24 Of The Los Angeles Lakers Sgnals

Kobe Bryant

After watching Kobe somewhat limp through last season where he clearly wasn’t himself, people wondered if it was time to expect Kobe to go into decline. No one expected him to turn the clock back by 5 years. Through 13 games, Kobe leads the league in scoring with an average of 31.2 PPG and has scored 40 or more in 3 consecutive games, all wins. More importantly, he’s doing it with a wrist injury that would force just about anyone else to miss a few months. He has been a true warrior and leader of his team that currently has a 9-4 record, and is the number one MVP candidate thus far.

Honorable mentions: Lebron James, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:

Minnesota Timberwolves Point Guard Ricky Rubio (9) Passes

Ricky Rubio

2 seasons after being drafted, the sensational rookie has finally arrived in the States. Rubio has needed no time to adjust to the style and pace of the NBA. In fact, the NBA is still trying to figure out how to stop this phenom from passing the ball in any fashion he chooses. Rubio is currently tied for 8th in assists per game, tied for 12th in steals per game, and leads all rookies with 4 double doubles. His precise decision making, distinct court vision, poise and leadership makes it hard to believe that this is his first season in the NBA. For all the talk about his inability to shoot, his field goal percentage sits at 46% with 42% three point shooting. It wasn’t the easiest of decisions to give Rubio the award given what Irving has recently done, but no one has had a bigger impact on the entire team than Rubio thus far.

Honorable mentions: Kyrie Irving, Marshon Brooks, Iman Shumpert

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:

Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard (12) Passes

Dwight Howard

No one is taking this award from Dwight Howard any time soon. Howard leads the league in rebounds per game at 15.2, tied for 4th in blocks per game with 2.2, and leads all centers with 1.6 steals per game. He sets every tone there is to make for the Magic as a one man defensive wrecking machine and no one changes/alters shots more than Howard, even if it doesn’t always show up in the stat sheets.

Honorable mentions: Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Iguodala

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR:

  James Harden #13 Of The Oklahoma City Thunder Celebrates

James Harden

It’s not even close. Harden comes off the bench averaging 16.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and instantly changes the complexion of the game. His game compares very favorably to that of Manu Ginobili, another former sixth man.

Honorable mentions: Al Harrington, Louis Williams, Jason Terry

COACH OF THE YEAR:

Gregg Popovich

This one is trickier because there are so many deserving candidates. I wanted to pick a certain coach that lost 3 key players to China, but Popovich gets the nod because conventional wisdom would tell you that your team would struggle gravely when you lose your best player, yet the Spurs have won 5 of their last 7 without Ginobili. Popovich finds a way to get it done whether it’s relying a bit heavier on an aging Duncan, or trusting in some guys named Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard to get the job done.

Honorable mentions: George Karl, Tom Thibodeau, Scott Brooks

EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR:

Neil Olshey

No one has made a bigger splash than Neil Olshey with the Clippers. He’s acquired one of the best point guards in the league in Chris Paul, signed Caron Butler, won the bid for Chauncey Billups, retained defensive big man DeAndre Jordan after he signed an offer sheet with the Warriors, and signed rebounding machine Reggie Evans. He has essentially turned the Clippers into a brand new team, one that is a legitimate threat to be a contender and one that is likely enough for Blake Griffin to want to re-sign.

Honorable mentions: Dell Demps, Larry Bird, Josh Kroenke

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER:

Houston Rockets' Kyle Lowry Slaps

Kyle Lowry

Plethora of options to choose for this award, but Lowry takes the cake thus far. Many wondered if Lowry could sustain the level of play he displayed late last season with point guard friendly Adelman gone as coach. Lowry has more than answered the questions by averaging a robust 16 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 threes and 2 steals per game. Those are insane statistical figures, and his playing time has only increased by a minute and a half from last season. He is top 3 in assists and steals, and by far the best rebounding guard in the league which is remarkable given his small stature (listed at 6’0). If he keeps this up, not only will he be the MIP, he will be in the discussion for top 5 point guard in the league as well.

Honorable mentions: Ty Lawson, Andrew Bynum, Greg Monroe