Saturday, January 30, 2010


Hahaha.  Ok, so I am already a little off my schedule, which I set up for myself on the last post.  What can I say? Things come up and I've got to take care of them, but I still care about and love all of you. So, I unload onto you, my breakdown of the 2010 NBA All-Star Team rosters.

After the All-Star lineups were released, I looked around and realized that before my very own cliched eyes, the league that I love is suddenly full of high level talent again.  I had the vague sensation that my wishful thinking was coming to reality, but this point was emphasized not just by the All-Star lineups, but also because in his column last week on, Bill Simmons praised Lebrown for his excellence in a "loaded league." And we all know that the man knows his basketball.

Now let's take a look at the lineups and each of their lines thus far this season:

                              MIN     PPG     REB    AST     FG %

G Allen Iverson      31.5      14.6       2.7      4.2       45.2

G Dwyane Wade    36.5      27.2       4.8      6.2       46.9

SF Lebron James    38.5      29.4       7.2      8.0       50.2

PF Kevin Garnett   30.8      14.7       7.3      2.5       53.7

C Dwight Howard  34.9      17.5      13.2     1.5       60.1

PF Chris Bosh        35.9      24.0      11.3     2.1      52.0

SF Paul Pierce        36.0      19.1        4.7     3.5      47.7

G Rajon Rondo       36.8      13.9    4.3    9.6       52.7

G Joe Johnson        37.7       21.4    4.8    4.7       45.7

C Al Horford          34.5       13.5    9.7    2.2       57.2

SF Gerald Wallace 42.0        18.8      11.0   1.9       48.0

G Derrick Rose      36.5        19.7    3.7     5.9       47.4


                                 MIN     PPG     REB    AST     FG %
G  Steve Nash          33.5        18.5    3.1       11.0      52.4

G  Kobe Bryant       38.4         28.2    5.4       4.7       46.2

SF Carmelo Anthony 37.9      29.7    6.5       3.3       46.4

PF Tim Duncan         32.5       19.8    10.7     3.3       52.6

PF Amar’e Stoudemire 34.5    20.6     8.2     1.0       55.3

SF  Kevin Durant    39.9          29.3     7.3     3.0       48.2

PF  Zach Randolph 37.4          20.9     11.6    2.0      50.4

G  Deron Williams  37.1          19.0      3.9      9.5      49.3

PF Dirk Nowitzki   37.9           25.1      7.8      2.5      47.6

G Brandon Roy      38.3           23.1      4.6      5.0      48.4

G  Chris Paul         38.7           20.4       4.6     11.2    50.4

PF Pau Gasol         36.4           17.6      11.0     3.3     53.4

I look up and down each of these rosters and I don't see a weak spot.  You may say Gerald Wallace is a bit of a fluke, but he is having a monster rebounding year and is always good for about 18 a game as you can see.  Plus, with Stephen Jackson now in Charlotte, the Bobcats have even become a somewhat interesting team who could make some noise in the second half of the season and are about a piece away from being a playoff team, which would a quite a coup for that franchise.

Now, this year you might call  Iverson a weak spot as well and as much as it pains me, you would be right.  He is having his worst season as a pro and you can see him deteriorating each time you watch a Sixers game.  To me, this has been one of the most painful aspects of this season.  There was nothing like watching a young Iverson.   He was the fastest player I will probably ever see and some of his off the dribble moves were just phenomenal.  Plus, Iverson is listed at 6'0" - and that is a generous 6'0" - and he used to finish off alley-oops and dunks like he was 6'5" or 6'6".  He was a freak of nature.  Too talented and provocative to be understood by a league that was still fascinated by Jordan.  Had he been embraced, they would have realized that he was made of the same stuff, except maybe he was a littler harder.  But maybe that's what made him so interesting, that he wasn't loved.  I'm not going to get into the psychology, but in any event, Iverson holds one of my two favorite bad ass moments in NBA history.  The first is in the 1992 Eastern Conference seminals. Knicks vs. Bulls.  Game 3.  The Foul Game.  Jordan and the Bulls are getting hammered by the Knicks in every direction.  Riley is instructing Starks, Ewing, Oakley, Mason and McDaniel to take the Jordan Rules to the next level.  Finally, in the third quarter, there is a loose ball at mid-court.  Jordan picks up the ball and drives to the paint.  Xavier McDaniel and Ewing jump to try knock him down, but Jordan evades, slides through them and lays the ball in as Ewing topples over into the photographers at courtside.  As Ewing tries to get up, Jordan stands over him pointing his finger in his face and saying something along the lines of, "Yeah mother fucker. Don't ever try that." No technical foul.

The second belongs to Iverson.  2001 NBA Finals. Sixers vs. Lakers.  Classic matchup, except the Lakers are juggarnaut defending champions and Iverson is the league MVP only because he dragged a bunch of marginal role players and Dikembe Mutumbo to the Finals on his hard work and prolific scoring.  Anyway, the game is right and the Sixers are looking to steal the first game at the Forum.  Tyronne Lue is guarding Iverson in the corner.  Iverson makes a move to the baseline, crosses him in the despicable way that he could from 1995-2002.  As he is crossing up, Iverson steps back, Lue moves to go with him, but can't keep up.  He loses his balance and falls towards the Lakers bench.  Iverson shoots as Lue falls, draining the shot.  Seeing Lue on the ground, Iverson takes two big, deliberate steps over Lue, eying him intensely as he does so with a look that says, "don't ever try to guard me or get close to me again.  You'll be out of this league in 4 or 5 years."  Check it out. If you don't get chills, maybe sports aren't for you.

Anyway, back to the rosters. Just take a look at the starting fives for each side.  Each is a Hall of Famer, save maybe, Amar'e Stoudemire.  You can't deny Lebron is having another MVP year and he did trump Wade in their showdown last week, but Wade is still better than Lebron.  You have Dwight Howard who is having a somewhat down year for him but who has been adding some significantly improved low-post moves to his game this year and of course, you have Garnett who is over the hill but still as smart a player as ever (if more hesistant than ever to go low post).  Bosh is having a career year and he is a reserve! Rondo is maybe having the top year for a point guard (alright, alright I know that Nash and Paul are out there in the West).  Have any of you been watching Rondo?  Sure he still makes some stupid plays, but his palm the ball layups have become one of my favorite moves to watch.  His hands are insane! Its like watching Jimi Hendrix hold the neck of a guitar.  He now makes at least 4 or 5 plays a game on average that make you say, "Whoa, he's really getting it." Derrick Rose has had an under the radar year mostly because of early injury, but he has started to turn it on as of late and may lead the Bulls to another second half surge  just like last year.  Joe Johnson and Horford have both been solid for a suddenly imposing Hawks team that could have also sent Mike Bibby (resurgence) and Josh Smith (slightly dipped numbers).  Pierce rounds it out and this year he's been the same as his whole career: tough, consistent, reliable, creative on the offensive end and a surprisingly tenacious defender.  He is another Hall of Famer on the roster.  The East could have also potentially sent the following: Ray Allen (Boston - always), Kendrick Perkins (Boston-underrated), David Lee (Knicks), Mo Williams (Cleveland), Stephen Jackson (Charlotte-switched conferences), and Danny Granger (Indiana - no room).  Maybe I am being too generous, but you get the picture.  We've got depth.

As I said earlier, the West is the same.  Four Hall of Famers are starting (sorry Amar'e) with one sure Hall of Famer (Dirk) coming off the bench and five possible Hall of Famers - fingers crossed - in Paul, Durant, Roy, Williams and Gasol (Roy, Williams and Gasol may be stretches, but they are damn good).  The weak spot here is Randolph who hasn't quite sold me with his inspired play this year - he's tricked us before - although, he has been a human double double and Memphis has been a terrific surprise and are continuing to surprise as we had into the All-Star break.  Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo (both Memphis) both had first half performances that could have been All-Star caliber in a more diluted year.  And Durant is bound to be battling Carmelo for years to come for the starting small forward spot, which could develop into an interesting rivalry over the years.  I'm actually surprised that no one has mentioned that possible storyline yet.  I'll pat myself on the back for that. Seriously, though, it is great to see a stand out college star like Durant developing into a stand out NBA star as expected.  It is talent and potential realizing itself that perpetuates greatness, that sustains a league and holds the imagination.

On a final note - Kobe.  He has really won me over this year.  Not because he is playing up the "getting it with my teammates" angle like last year, but because he is playing hurt and playing tough.  He has also really worked on his post-up moves and footwork and is playing like 1997 M.J.  It's really quite striking.

So that's it. The 2010 NBA All-Star game is going to be exciting and  I believe that it is going to be one that we remember and talk about for years to come as a great snapshot of where the league was and where it was going.


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