Thursday, June 24, 2010

NBA Draft 2010 Projections

All-stars: John Wall, Evan Turner

Top 3 on Champ: Derrick Favors Starter on Champ: DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, Ed Davis, Xavier Henry, Ed Davis

Strong Reserve: Wes Johnson, Epke Udoh, Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Darrington Hobson, Willie Warren, Gordon Heyward, Elliot Williams, Jordan Crawford

Deep reserve: Al-Farouq Aminu, Paul George, Larry Sanders, Luke Babbitt

Friday, April 9, 2010


Despite playing without Anrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur, Matt Harping, Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams for an extended period of time so far this year, the Utah Jazz are 17-13 and only 1.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets for first place in the Western Conference's Northwest Division. A significant factor to the Jazz's success has been the development of power forward Paul Millsap.

Millsap is an undersized power forward, who fell to the seventeenth pick in the second round in 2006. The Jazz were hoping that Millsap would continue to dominate the glass once he arrived in the NBA, as he did during three seasons at Louisiana Tech. Millsap led the nation in total rebounds per game and offensive rebounds per game in each season he played college basketball. However, Millsap has shown an ability to do much more than just rebound.

Millsap has been able to overcome his height disadvantage by using his wide body effectively and having unusual quickness for one with his great strength. The next important piece for him to develop will be an effective mid-range shot, which will allow him to stretch the defense. A main concern has been his propensity to foul, which has been an obstacle for Jazz coach Jerry Sloan in giving Millsap more playing time.

Rank Player Name Team Fouls Per Game Minutes Per Game PAR Per Game
1 Paul Millsap Uta 3.9 31.8 25.8
2 Andrew Bogut Mil 3.9 31.5 24
3 Danny Granger Ind 3.9 36.3 32.8
4 Andris Biedrins GS 3.8 32 28.5
5 Nene Hilario Den 3.6 33 23.1

At the beginning of the season, many still believed that Millsap is simply a glorified energy player. However, in Boozer's absence, Millsap has shown he is much more than just that. Since Boozer went out with an injured knee on November 19, Millsap has filled the starting power forward spot admirably:

Points/Game: 17.5
Rebounds/Game: 10.7
Assists/Game: 2.2
Blocks/Game: 1.2
FG Percentage: 58.5%

In fact, Millsap has joined the top echelon of power forwards this season, who average 15 or more points per game, 1 blocked shot per game, and 8 rebounds per game.

Rank Player Name Team Reb BS Pts
1t Al Jefferson Min 10.1 1.9 22.4
1t Amar'e Stoudemire Pho 8.9 1.1 22.4
3 Dwight Howard Orl 13.9 3.7 20.3
4 Tim Duncan SA 10.4 1.8 20.3
5 Yao Ming Hou 9.6 1.8 20.1
6 Kevin Garnett Bos 8.9 1.4 16.4
7 Paul Millsap Uta 9.0 1.3 15.0

The Jazz power forward has recorded a double-double in each of his last 15 games, including a league-leading 11 in the month of December. He also leads the Jazz in total points, rebounds and blocks on the season. Millsap is one of only six players in the NBA currently leading his team in all three categories. Only six players in the Western Conference have more than thirty blocks and thirty steals on the season. Both Millsap and teammate Andrei Kirilenko are apart of this group.

At the end of the season, Boozer will likely opt out of his current contract allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Millsap will also be an unrestricted free agent as his contract expires at year end. Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor will have a difficult decision whether to lock up both players long-term or to allow one of them to leave as a free agent. By the way Millsap has played this season, it will certainly be a critical choice for the Jazz franchise.


The Los Angeles Lakers took care of business on their home court Friday evening, closing out the San Antonio Spurs in game five of the Western Conference finals. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers averaging 29.2 points per game during the series and he shot 53.3% from the field. To me, however, the bottom line in the series was Manu Ginobili’s inability to get it going.

A combination of a sore ankle and terrific Lakers defense led to Ginobili’s struggles. Ginobili is a game-changing wing player, who relies on running, cutting and leaping to be effective. Swelling and chronic arthritis in the ankle has bothered Ginobili since late June, but he was able to work through it and play well at time. However, the Lakers defensive schemes against the Spurs guard cannot be understated. The Lakers emphasized forcing Ginobilli to the right and crowding his penetrations. They forced him to expend a great deal of energy on the defensive side of the ball by posting him up and forcing him to defend bigger players.

Coach Phil Jackson and the Lakers decided to use several different players to defend Ginobilli one-on-one in an effort to make sure he did not get too comfortable playing against one specific defender. Both Kobe Bryant and Sasha Vujacic took turns guarding Ginobilli throughout the series. In the five game series, Vujacic played 25.5 minutes per game, up from his regular season average of 17.8 minutes per game. Vujacic was able to use his quickness and size to shadow Ginobilli all over the court. Bryant, a 2007-08 NBA All-Defensive First Team member, had similar success slowing down Ginobilli's effectiveness for the Spurs.

In the four Spurs losses, Ginobilli really struggled mightily. He was only able to get to the free throw line sixteen times in the entire series. Additionally, Ginobilli was unable to create opportunities for the Spurs by getting into passing lanes and creating steals. During the regular season, Ginobili ranked seventeenth in the NBA in steals with 1.5 per game. In the entire series, Ginobilli had one steal, which occurred in game one. Here is a look at Ginobilli’s offensive production in the Spurs four losses:

Game # FG% FT Made Assists Points +/-
1 23% 2 3 10 -22
2 25% 3 2 7 -12
4 25% 2 1 7 +4
5 33% 2 7 9 +1

Game three was the one big night for Ginobilli. He showed no trace of his lingering ankle injury and single-handedly carried the Spurs offense when the game was still in the balance. Coach Popovich changed his teams’ offensive game plan to limit screen-and-rolls in favor of spreading the floor. By keeping the floor spread, the Spurs were able to create open spaces for Ginobilli and Parker to drive into. The spread of the offense also was beneficial because it did not allow the Lakers to double-team.

Ginobilli’s numbers in game three were stunningly opposite from the rest of the series. A direct relationship with his performance occurred in relation to the Spurs success against the Lakers. In game three, Ginobilli played well and the Spurs were able to win, 103-84.

Game # FG% FT Made Assists Points +/-
3 60% 7 1 30 +17

With Kurt Thomas, Robert Horry, Michael Finley and Damon Stoudamire all entering into free agency, it is likely that the Spurs will have changes to their roster. Youth on the perimeter, a reliable backup point guard and another big body inside will be atop of the Spurs needs. However, their top priority to me will be for a healthy and effective Ginobilli all the way through the playoffs. Without that third scorer next to Parker and Tim Duncan, the Spurs do not have enough to reach the NBA Finals.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Potential Bulls Trade

Chris Bosh 15,779,912
Reggie Evans 4,960,000 5,080,000
Kris Humphries 3,200,000 3,200,000
Joey Graham 3,441,104


Luol Deng 10,370,425 11,355,850 12,341,275 13,326,700 14,312,125
Jerome James 6,600,000
Tim Thomas 6,466,600
Tyrus Thomas 4,743,598 6,256,806


Bosh, Evans, K Humphries, Joey Graham for Luol, Jerome James (exp contact), Tim Thomas (exp contract), Tyrus, #16 pick. You in?

Chicago Bulls
PG Rose
SG Gordon Hinrich
C Noah Miller
PF Bosh Evans Humphries
SF Salmons Graham #26 pick

Toronto Raptors
PG Calderon Banks Ukic
SG #9
C Ty Thomas James
PF Bargnani #16
SF Deng Tim Thomas

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NBA Draft Prospects

All Stars
Blake Griffin
Tyreke Evans

Starters on Champions
James Harden
Terrance Williams
Hasheem Thabeet
Ricky Rubio
Johnny Flynn
DeMar DeRozan

Rotation Guys
Stephen Curry
Jrue Holliday
Gerald Henderson
Brandon Jennings
Jodie Meeks
Dante Cunningham
Dionte Christmas
Earl Clark
BJ Mullens
Jeff Teague
Tyler Hansborough
James Johnson
Patty Mills
Ty Lawson

Short Career
Jordan Hill
DeJuan Blair
Eric Maynor
Sam Young
Darren Collison
Chase Budinger
Austin Daye

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Billups Leads Nuggets' Transformation

Written December 16, 2008.

Billups Leads Nuggets' Transformation
Upon beating the Golden State Warriors this past Saturday night at home, the Denver Nuggets have now improved to a 16-7 record after 23 games. Even more impressively, they have now won 15 of their last 19 games, with their only losses being against the Cavaliers, Lakers, Hornets and Spurs - arguably four of the top teams in the NBA. Along the way, they have beaten the Celtics in Boston and took one off the Spurs beating them in San Antonio. The culprit behind this success? Chauncey Billups.

The Nuggets limped into the playoffs last season losing 4 of their last 9 games and then got swept by the Lakers in the first round, losing the first three games by 14 or more points. Before this season got underway, the Nuggets traded starting center Marcus Camby in a salary dump to the Los Angeles Clippers for a second round pick. They also allowed Eduardo Najera and Yakhouba Diawara to leave in free agency. NBA analysts predicted the Nuggets to fall out of the playoffs this year. As the season began, the Nuggets looked like they would be supporting this prediction, as they lost three of their first four games with their only win coming in overtime.

Since Billups arrived in a trade from Detroit for Allen Iverson, the Nuggets have transformed themselves from a shoot-happy, defenseless team into a ball controlled, tough-nosed defensive squad. A look at the numbers before and after Billups arrived certainly shows a vastly different squad:

Before After
Record 1-3 15-4
PPG 101.3 104.5
Opp PPG 104 96.9
FG Pct 45.40% 47.20%
3-Pt FG Pct 27.00% 36.90%

Billups brings stability at the point guard position and does a much better job of keeping his man in front of him, rather than constantly trying to get into passing lanes to create turnovers as Iverson so often attempted to do. The Nuggets have slowed down their pace and have become a strong defensive team. This has really shown through their ability to maintain leads going into the fourth quarter. The Nuggets are the only team in the league to not lose a game when leading after three quarters. The Celtics, Cavaliers and Lakers have lost once when winning after three, but the Nuggets stand alone undefeated with 11 wins.

Despite becoming a smarter and more conservative team with Billups running the show, they still have found opportunities to push the ball up the court and score in transition. They currently lead the league in fast break points per game, with 17.7 points scored.

Working with Coach George Karl and his staff, Billups has allowed Carmelo Anthony to simplify his decision making. Anthony can spend more time in the post because he does not have to concern himself with spacing the floor for Iverson, who needs room to create a scoring opportunity for himself. Billups has made Nene Hilario a more precise player and has gotten Kenyon Martin the ball in spots where he can be more productive.

Billups brings the Nuggets a player who always plays under control, rarely takes ill-advised shots and has won a championship before. Nuggets coach, George Karl, recently said, "I think the team and the coach and the organization and the city all feel that we can win every game. I don't think we were there even in our best moments. But now, even with San Antonio and the Lakers, on the road or at home, we feel, if we play at a good level, we can beat anybody. And that's a good feeling."

With Billups aboard, this certainly appears to be the case.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chicago-Minnesota Trade Proposal

The Trade:

Chicago trades Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich, Thabo Sefolosha to Minnesota for Mike Miller and Jason Collins.

The Breakdown:

Joakim Noah
Salary: $2,295,480 Years Remaining: 2

Kirk Hinrich
Salary: $10,000,000 Years Remaining: 4

Thabo Sefolosha
Salary: $1,931,160 Years Remaining: 2

Jason Collins
Salary: $6,200,000 Years Remaining: 1

Mike Miller
Salary: $9,028,575 Years Remaining: 2

The Case for Minnesota:
Randy Foye has shown two things so far in his NBA career: he can score and he's not a point guard. The Timberwolves would benefit from moving Foye off the ball and starting Hinrich at the point guard spot. Both Sefolosha and Noah are young, developing players who would fit in with the group Minnesota is building.

The Case for Chicago:
The Bulls rid themselves of two players who have failed to develop in Chicago: Sefolosha and Noah. Hinrich was signed to a long-term extension before Derrick Rose was drafted by the Bulls. Now that the Bulls have Rose, there is no longer a need for Hinrich. Acquiring Miller would give them a big guard, who can shoot with the best of them to play alongside Rose. Collins would likely fill Noah's spot in the rotation and his contract expires at year's end. Miller's contract expires before the summer of 2010, allowing them to either extend him if he meets expectations or to depart and create cap space to persue one of the top free agents available.