Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dream Team? This Is It

The 2007 USA Basketball team has started Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard in each game. This starting lineup is the modern day dream team.

Point Guard:
In international play, it is important to have a point guard who can distribute the ball to his teammates and penetrate well. Defensively, someone who can stop the opposing teams point guard is needed. Jason Kidd is best at all of these skills. Although perimeter shooting is his biggest weakness, on a team with the players around him that he has, this is a skill that is not needed from the point guard.

Shooting Guard:
Ideally, the player at the shooting guard spot can score at will from anywhere on the court. He would be able to shutdown the opponent's best wing player. Kobe Bryant certianly fits this bill. Nobody in the league is as good of a one-on-one offensive and defensive player.

Small Forward:
The small forward should be a versatile player, who can finish well at the basket and excels in the transition game. The ideal small forward is an exceptional passer and has range on his shot. Defensively, a player at this spot can get into the passing lanes and create offense from the defensive end. A player with long arms and a strong upper body is best to succeed on defense. LeBron James definitely is the type of player to play the small forward position on a dream team.

Power Forward:
In international play especially, it is important to have someone who can play in transition and defend strong post players. The ability to score from anywhere on the floor is also very important. Although Carmelo Anthony may not be a prototypical power forward, he does fit the bill very well. He does not have the bulk that some power forwards may have, but still is tall enough and has a large wingspan to defend most power forwards. His ability to handle the ball well and score from any spot on the court makes Anthony a perfect fit. Anthony's ability to run up-and-down the floor makes him a perfect fit for this team. A more conventional power forward like Elton Brand or Tim Duncan would slow down this group.

The center for the best team is someone who can defend the other team's best post player and can block shots. Defensive rebounding and the ability to finish at the basket are two very important abilities the center for this team needs to have. Dwight Howard excels at following-up missed shots and blocking an opponent's shot. Howard does not have a vast array of post moves, but certainly can score in a variety of ways. He can get down the court quicker than any other big man in the world and is one of the strongest players in the NBA.

With a dream team starting lineup, there is no reason to think that the U.S.A. will lose a game in the FIBA Americas Championships. If they are fortunate enough to bring back the same core from the starting five, the U.S.A. will win the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Salary Cap and Average Salary Year-By-Year

Here is a summary of the salary cap and average salary for each year since the 1984-85 season:

Year, Salary Cap, Average Salary
1984-85: $3.6 million, $330,000
1985-86: $4.2 million, $382,000
1986-87: $4.9 million, $431,000
1987-88: $6.2 million, $502,000
1988-89: $7.2 million, $575,000
1989-90: $9.8 million, $717,000
1990-91: $11.9 million, $927,000
1991-92: $12.5 million, $1,100,000
1992-93: $14.0 million, $1,300,000
1993-94: $15.1 million, $1,500,000
1994-95: $15.9 million, $1,800,000
1995-96: $23.0 million, $2,000,000
1996-97: $24.4 million, $2,300,000
1997-98: $26.9 million, $2,600,000
1998-99: $30.0 million, $3,000,000
1999-2000: $34.0 million, $3,600,000
2000-01: $35.5 million, $4,200,000
2001-02: $42.5 million, $4,500,000
2002-03: $40.27 million, $4,546,000
2003-04: $43.84 million, $4,917,000
2004-05: $43.87 million, $4,900,000
2005-06: $49.5 million, $5,000,000
2006-07: $53.135 million, $5,215,000

Scouting Report: Leandro Barbosa

Last season, Leandro Barbosa made a big leap from a young player with potential to nearly an all-star. This season, the Phoenix Suns hope that he will continue his development and become an all-star. With the expectation that the Suns will get limited support from their bench, Barbosa's contributions will become even more valuable this season.

Player Name: Leandro Barbosa
Current Team: Phoenix Suns
Ideal Position: SG
Drafted: 28
Height/Weight: 6'3"/188
Birthdate: 11/28/82
Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
High School: -
College: -
Agent: Merle Scott (BDA)

2003-04 $674,400
2004-05 $870,000
2005-06 $930,000
2006-07 $1,679,733
2007-08 $5,600,000
2008-09 $6,100,000
2009-10 $6,600,000
2010-11 $7,100,000
2011-12 $7,600,000 (Player Option)

Speaks Portuguese and English; Fifth Brazilian in the NBA; During the 2003 draft, his rights were traded by San Antonio to Phoenix for a 2005 conditional first round pick.

Plays like he's been shot out of a cannon; Only needs the slightest brush-screen to gain a quarter-step advantage that he can easily transform into a layup; Three-point shooting off the catch; At his best when he brings the ball up the left side of the court and then blazes to the hoop for a layup; Anticipation for steals; Excels offensively when being defended by big point guards; Energy; 6'10" wingspan; Excels when coming off a screen.

Only gets to the hoop when he starts from a dead-stop with the ball in his hands; Can only be completely contained by his own out-of-control drives and passes; Gambles for steals too frequently; Left-handed layup; Has an unusual delivery on his shot, in which he holds his arms well in front of his body and releases from a low point; Limited mid-range game; Rarely shoots off the dribble or with a man in his face; On-ball defense; Help defense; Strength; Fares much better when defending point guards than shooting guards.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

TNT's Fundamental Videos

During the 2005-06 season, TNT filmed short segments with NBA players giving tips to viewers on a specific skill.

Passing with Steve Nash:

Man-to-man defense with Bruce Bowen:

Moving without the ball with Richard Hamilton:

Shot blocking with Emeka Okafor

Rebounding with Dwight Howard:

Jump shooting with Ray Allen:

Taking a charge with Shane Battier:

Mid-range game with Sam Cassell:

Post moves with Carlos Boozer:

Playoff Payoffs

Tom Orsborn of the Express-News summarized in a column on June 13, 2007, the money the Spurs made during the playoffs. Below is an excerpt from that column:

The disappointment that goes along with losing in the Finals has a hefty price. The difference between the share of money from the league's playoff pool that goes to the winning team, as opposed to the losing team, in the Finals is $597,473.

Winning the title would give the Spurs $2,542,637 to distribute among players and support staff. Should they lose, they would have $1,945,164 to hand out.

All teams that qualify for the first round receive $149,243, plus an amount based on their regular-season finish in their conferences. The Spurs got $151,421 for finishing third in the Western Conference.

Advancing to the second round earned the Spurs an additional $177,579; beating the Suns in the conference semifinals got them $293,447 more.

Available at:

Utah's Return to the Top

Last season, Utah Jazz general manager, Kevin O’Connor, tasted success for the first time since his first year with the franchise. O’Connor joined the Jazz organization on August 26, 1999. After five straight seasons of not reaching forty wins and having not made the playoffs in three previous seasons, the Jazz found success. In 2006-07, Utah won 51 regular season games and made it to the Western Conference finals.

O’Connor’s fortunes changed with the 2005-06 draft. O’Connor had very limited success in the draft in his first several seasons, selecting mostly players who made no impact or insignificant impact with the franchise. Here’s a look at his first five drafts as the general manager of the Jazz:

2000-01 Deshawn Stevenson (23), Kaniel Dickens (50)
Comment: Stevenson was chose directly from high school and struggled to fit in with coach Jerry Sloan. Stevenson was productive in 2003-04 with the Jazz, but was not with the team the next season. Dickens never played for the Jazz.
Passed On: Primoz Brezec, Marco Jaric, Eddie House, Eduardo Najera, Michael Redd

2001-02 Raul Lopez (24), Jarron Collins (53)
Comment: Lopez was a disapppointment in two seasons with the Jazz. Collins provided nice value from a second round pick, but has never been a key contributor for Utah. The Jazz chose Lopez when a handful of better point guards were available.
Passed On: Gerald Wallace, Samuel Dalembert, Jamaal Tinsley, Tony Parker, Gilbert Arenas

2002-03 Curtis Borchardt (18); traded Ryan Humphrey (19) and Jamal Sampson (47) to Orlando
Comment: Borchardt had two very unproductive seasons with the Jazz.
Passed On: Tayshaun Prince, Nenad Krstic, John Salmons, Carlos Boozer

2003-04 Sasha Pavlovic (19), Mo Williams (47)
Comment: Although both players developed well later on in their careers, neither of these two players made an impact with the Jazz. Both players were traded relatively quickly after being drafted.
Passed On: Boris Diaw, Brian Cook, Carlos Delfino, Leandro Barbosa, Josh Howard

2004-05 Kris Humphries (14), Kirk Snyder (16); chose Pavel Podkolzin (21) then traded him to Dallas for their 2005-06 first round pick
Comment: Neither Humphries nor Snyder were impact players for Utah. Currently, neither play is on the team’s roster. However, the first round pick acquired from Dallas ended up paying off well for the Jazz.
Passed On: Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, Jameer Nelson, Delonte West, Kevin Martin

These five drafts provided no significant players for the Jazz and contributed to the low point for the organization. In the 2004-05, the Jazz went 26-56 and finished with the third worse record in the NBA.

Since then, however, the Jazz have turned things around. On the night of the 2005-06 draft, the Jazz traded their sixth pick and twenty-seventh pick to Portland for the third pick. With that pick, Utah drafted Deron Williams. In his rookie season, Williams finished fourth in the NBA among rookies in points per game, third in assists per game, and fourth in minutes per game. Although Utah only won forty-one games, it was obvious that they were making a step in the right direction. This year, Williams become one of the best point guards in the NBA and led Utah to playoff victories over Houston and Golden State before losing to the eventual champions, the San Antonio Spurs. In 2006-07, Williams finished amongst all NBA point guards, eight in points per game, second in assists per game, seventh in rebounds per game, and fifth in minutes per game.

In the second round, the Jazz selected C.J. Miles with the thirty-fourth pick and Robert Whaley with the fifty-first pick. Both players played in more than twenty games during their time with Utah, but neither is currently with the team.

In 2006-07, the Jazz selected three impact players: Ronnie Brewer at fourteen, Dee Brown at fourty-six, and Paul Millsap at fourty-seven. Brown saw time sporadically throughout last season, but will not be returning this year. Brewer and Millsap both figure into Utah’s long-term plans. In this past draft, the Jazz selected Morris Almond at twenty-five and Herbert Hill at fifty-five. Hill most likely will not be a relevant addition to Utah, but Almond could play a big factor almost immediately. Almond has an NBA-ready body and is an excellent perimeter shooter. He moves well without the ball and has shown an effective post game. Ball handling and quickness are the two biggest areas Almond needs to improve on.

With a core of Brewer, Millsap, Williams, and Almond added to the veterans the Jazz have on their roster, O'Connor has put together a team that should be able to contend consistently for the years to come. Mehmet Okur, Carlos Boozer, and Matt Harpring are important pieces to Utah's success, but without the Jazz's savvy drafting in the last three drafts, Utah would still be struggling to make the playoffs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ranking the Remaining Free Agents

With Matt Barnes recently resigning with the Golden State Warriors, one of the last available productive free agents was taken off the market. The remaining free agents can be split into three groups: veterans able to produce now (Varejo, Bell, Brown), young guys with potential (Pavlovic, Pietrus, Adams), and of course, aging veterans (Webber, Mutombo, Rose).

Here are my rankings of the top twenty remaining free agents based on desireability to teams:

1.) Anderson Varejo
2.) Charlie Bell
3.) Sasha Pavlovic
4.) Chris Webber
5.) Mickael Pietrus
6.) P.J. Brown
7.) Ruben Patterson
8.) Earl Boykins
9.) Corliss Williamson
10.) Brian Skinner
11.) James Posey
12.) Melvin Ely
13.) Dikembe Mutombo
14.) Troy Hudson
15.) Hassan Adams
16.) James White
17.) Jalen Rose
18.) Dee Brown
19.) Jeff McInnis
20.) Danny Fortson

Others include: Jumaine Jones, Gary Payton, Marc Jackson, Derek Anderson, Alexander Johnson, Yaroslav Korolev, C.J. Miles.

Boston, Detroit, New Jersey, Miami, Washington, Cleveland are the teams most likely to sign some of these players above. Boston is still looking to add one more perimeter player with Reggie Miller being mentioned to come out of retirement. If the Celtics can persuade Posey or Adams to join the team, it would be a better choice than Miller.

Detroit should add one more big body upfront to put next to Rasheed Wallace. Returning Webber would be the most logical decision, but bringing in Brown would also be a good choice. New Jersey still is light in the post. A big body like Williamson or Fortson could help them in the long run. Miami has reportedly pursued Pietrus in the past, and this would be beneficial for their perimeter defense. It is more likely though, that they return Posey or Payton. The Wizards could still use some scoring off the bench. If they can afford Ruben Patterson, he would be a great fit. Cleveland will look to bring back Pavlovic and Varejo.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Will O'Neal Stay in Indiana?

After a summer which saw Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen change teams, Jermaine O'Neal may still end up getting traded. In moving O'Neal, the Pacers need to get cap flexibility and young talent in return. The Atlanta Hawks have returned a very similar team in a conference that has seen many of its best teams improve. Therefore, they need to make a significant move if they are going to get to the top of the East.

This trade below would allow both teams to reach their goal:

*Tyronn Lue, point guard
(2007-08 Salary: $3,500,000/1 Year Remaining)

*Anthony Johnson, point guard
(2007-08 Salary: $2,860,000/1 Year Remaining)

*Josh Childress, small forward
(2007-08 Salary: $3,631,449/1 Year Remaining plus Qualifying Offer in 2008-09)

*Marvin Williams, power forward
(2007-08 Salary: $4,466,040/2 Year Remaining plus Team Offer then Qualifying Offer)

*Shelden Williams, power forward
(2007-08 Salary: $3,174,240/2 Years Remaining plus two Team Offers)

*Future First Round Pick

To Indiana Pacers for:

*Jermaine O'Neal, power forward/center
(2007-08 Salary: $19,728,000/3 Years Remaining)

*David Harrison, center
(2007-08 Salary: $1,734,316/1 Year Remaining plus Qualifying Offer in 2008-09)

In this trade, the Hawks will be able to move up a level in the Eastern Conference. With a rotation of Speedy Claxton, Acie Law, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia, and Jermaine O'Neal the Hawks would certainly have the scoring and toughness to compete for years to come.

In Indiana, the Pacers would gain a great deal of flexiblity and young players. Indiana would receive three players whose contract would expire at the end of this upcoming season. With Johnson and Lue, it would be likely that the Pacers would immediately cut both of these players. The Pacers would get a full year to take a look at Childress to see if it would be worth giving him a large contract. With Marvin Williams and Shelden Williams, the Pacers would receive two players who are young and can play multiple positions. Add these players to a versatile group which includes Marquis Daniels, Danny Granger, Shawne Williams, and Mike Dunleavy, the Pacers would have a group of talented players with potential who can all do a lot of different things on the court. Throw in Ike Diogu and the Pacers have a great core to begin rebuilding with.

NBA Players Working Out

Each video listed below shows an NBA player working out. The videos range from cardio and stretching to strength training.

Kobe Bryant is shown here lifting his upper body and working hard on his core.

Tracy McGrady works with his trainer to strengthen his body and improve his stamina.

Al Harrington trains by boxing in the offseason to improve his strength and conditioning.

Ben Gordon performs a group of basketball-specialized workouts.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

College Basketball's Super Freshman

Last college basketball season, thirteen true freshmen in the BCS conferences averaged more than ten points per game with a minimum of 22 games played.

1.) Kevin Durant, Texas, 25.8
2.) Greg Oden, Ohio State, 15.7
3.) Spencer Hawes, Washington, 14.9
4.) Brandan Wright, North Carolina, 14.7
5.) Deonta Vaughn, Cincinnati, 14.5
6.) Javaris Crittenton, Georgia Tech, 14.4
7.) D.J. Augustin, Texas, 14.4
8.) Thaddeus Young, Georgia Tech, 14.4
9.) Wayne Ellington, North Carolina, 11.7
10.) Edgar Sosa, Louisville, 11.4
11.) Mike Conley, Ohio State, 11.3
12.) Ty Lawson, North Carolina, 10.2
13.) Ryan Anderson, Nebraska, 10.1

Of the thirteen players listed above, the top four players plus Crittenton, Young, and Conley all entered the draft this year and were picked in the first round. The other six players will surely be counted on for even more scoring this year for their respective teams.

Here is a look at each of the six current college players who will surely look to be a future NBA first round pick:

Deonta Vaughn, PG/SG
Vaugn ins a 6'1", 200 pound combo-guard from Indianapolis. The Bearcats guard started slow in his first year, but came on quick after that. With big games against Xavier, North Carolina State, South Florida, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Seton Hall, Vaughn made a nice impression in the conference in his first season. This season, the Bearcats hope to have a better season, which may mean Vaughn's scoring will go down. Vaughn is an outstanding shooter with strong ballhandling skills. His passing ability at the point guard will be important to develop as he looks towards the NBA. For a guard, Vaughn has excellent strength and has shown great competitiveness and toughness.

D.J. Augustin, PG
Augustin is an undersized point guard standing 5'11" and weighing 175 pounds. Augustin, a New Orleans native, played his best in big games last year against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Kansas. Augustin started every game at point guard for Texas in his first season and was named to the second team All-Big 12 team. Augustin takes care of the ball well and plays at very high speeds. His explosiveness, quick hands, and court awareness allows him to excel at the point gaurd position. As Augustin gets more experience, he will become a better passer and will run his teams offense more effectively. Perimeter shooting is the next big thing that Augustin needs to focus on. Augustin's quickness and explosive first step allows him to beat up on defenders. Playing next to Kevin Durant, Augustin mastered the ability to penetrate into the lane and then pass out to an open teammate.

Wayne Ellington, SG
A natural scorer, Ellington will be relied on to take a bigger role this season with North Carolina. Coach Roy Williams will look for more consistency this season. Ellington had some great games last season (Ohio State, Kentucky, Wake Forest, Maryland, Florida State), but struggled in several critical one's (Gonzaga, Duke, Michigan State, Georgetown). He can score from the perimeter off the dribble, pulling up, or going right to the basket. Ellington has great body control and gets to the foul line at a strong rate. Creating for his teammates to score is another skill Ellington posseses. He doesn't have ideal NBA size, but is talented enough to play in the league. Defense will be an important aspect for Ellington to improve. In order to guard NBA shooting guards, he will need to shore up that aspect of his game. Ellington has good strength and finishes well at the basket in college basketball, but will need to add some for the NBA.

Edgar Sosa, PG/SG
Sosa is a hardworking guard originally from the Dominican Republic and now resides in New York. Sosa stands at 6'1" and 175 pounds and had a strong freshman year finishing second on his team in points per game and assists per game. In Louisville's first six games, Sosa averaged double figures in five of them. Sosa played his best game in his teams tournament game against Texas A&M. In that game, Sosa scored 31 points included fifteen for seventeen from the free throw line. Sosa still has a great deal of work to do to become a first round pick. He needs to become a better distributor and work on his shot selection. Based on his dimensions, Sosa will strictly be a point guard in the NBA. To get to this level, he will need to show that he can lead a team and run an offense.

Ty Lawson, PG
Lawson is an accomplish, undersized point guard who played high school basketball at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. Lawson stands at 5'11", 193 pound Maryland native, who played in the McDonald's All-American. Lawson is super quick and has a great ability to change speeds. He penetrates well and finishes effectively around the basket. Lawson has good court vision and keeps his turnovers to a minumum. During last season, Lawson made strides in becoming a strong perimeter shooter. Last season, North Carolina really went as Lawson went, which was shown in key losses (Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Georgetown) and significant wins (Duke, Boston College, Michigan State). This season, Lawson needs to become a better free throw shooter and develop more of a mid-range game. He needs to become more consistent from the perimeter to make up for his small frame.

Ryan Anderson, SG
Anderson is a 6'4", 195 pound shooting guard who comes from Seattle, Washington. Anderson shoots the ball well from the perimeter, but was overlooked by a handful of teams from the northwest. Anderson started the season strong, but was very inconsistent during Big 12 play. In twelve pre-Big 12 season games Anderson played in, he scored double figures in seven of them, including 19 against Creighton, 17 against Rutgers, 15 against Oregon, and 29 against Hawaii. Anderson needs to look to be more of an effective passer in the upcoming season. He shot a very high percentage, especially from the free throw and three point line, which he will need to maintain. Nebraska will look to improve on their 17-14 record from last season, and Anderson will certainly be a big part of this.

NBA Salaries Websites

Below are three websites that list NBA player salaries:
The USA Today link also has historical salaries and covers multiple sports.
The ESPN website has a trade checker, which is updated and lists players current salaries.
HoopsHype is the most comprehensive of the three websites, but can sometimes be out dated.
RealGM's trade checker is very similar to ESPN's, but can sometimes be less up-to-date.