Monday, October 11, 2010

ESPN Kills The Dream Shortly After Starting It

I am not the best writer in the world. You can print that. However, I do love to write and I especially love to write about basketball. Basketball is my passion and I may make completely disillusioned statements because I love the game so much. That is part of the fun. Anybody can write about how Kobe is good and the Lakers won the Finals. Everybody who watches and cares about basketball knows certain things, but it's guys who can make these grand statements (myself included to a FAR LESSER extent) that make basketball blogging that much better. A guy that really cares about what he's covering to the extent that it seems more maniacal than biased is the type of blogging I want to read. Everybody should, actually, because isn't our favorite blogger an extension of us, the fan? Nobody who doesn't care is going to read anyway.

ESPN has something called the "TrueHoop Network." It is a collection of guys who independently cover respective teams whether being just free press or just rabid fans. Some guys, like Cleveland Cavaliers blogger John Krolik and Sacramento Kings blogger Zach Harper, have become extremely entertaining and truly credible writers that have massive followings. These guys still keep in the spirit of blogging. They are passionate about what they cover and in most cases (if not all) they don't receive a dime from ESPN. These guys are part of the reason I write; similar passion for the game and teams they blog about, little guys (at one point) and they just want to have fun discussing all things basketball. It's been a dream of mine to be one of these guys and it continues to be.

However, ESPN has proven that it doesn't care about it's TrueHoop Network. TrueHoop was the fan, it was the little guy, it was all the crazy passionate opinions you had in your head in blog form, with your particular TrueHoop team affiliate (all former bloggers for their respective teams with no ESPN affiliation) as the searchlight that made your ideas shine. It was a great thing for fans and NBA nuts...until LeBron went to Miami.

Now, the same fun that NBA fans had reading about their teams from guys just like us, is no longer. LeBron is in Miami and it's a big story. You won't be able to find Matthew Bunch and Surya Fernandez on TrueHoop anymore because they had to find sexier names in Brian Windhorst (LeBron's teet-suckler since high school) and Michael Wallace (a guy already employed as the Miami Heat's beat writer). Instead of a community of bloggers just like us that want the real deal and the raw emotions that go with it, we have to start settling for guys with established names. TrueHoop used to be about no-namers who loved talking basketball, not guys who have the latest juicy gossip. Keep those guys on the front page and leave our TrueHoop Network alone! It was fine as it was! I know money wins at the end of the day (since there will be more hits for a Windhorst article than a Fernandez article, therefore more advertising interest) but why take this small, beautiful place from actual fans who want it so badly?

Most of you probably don't know TrueHoop and all the nights it filled for me when I got home from work at 3 am with nobody to talk to. I got a chance to read articles and blogs from guys just like me. Regular dudes that love basketball and go out of their way to talk about it. Matthew and Surya will still be MY Miami Heat bloggers because they do things the same way I do; without just chasing a dollar but actually giving a crap.

Check out Hot Hot Hoops and read this:

Long live Matthew and Surya! Long live giving a damn about the NBA, even if it isn't the sexy topic of the hour!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Nissan National Basketball Association; The NBA and Corporate Sponsorship

"$155 million in revenue..."

The English Premier league soccer league earns a reported $155 million in revenue a year from corporate partnership/ad space on uniforms. $155 million buys A LOT of soccer balls. Yeah, it's Europe and it's been going on a long time. But, holy buckets an extra $155 million in revenue is nothing to be sniffed at. That's $149,999,500 more than I have in my bank account.

As the NBA is headed toward a possible (probable) lockout and 'money' is a key reason, it's not insane to think that the NBA is headed in the same direction as the English Premier League. It makes total sense from a fiscal standpoint, whether it ruins the integrity of the league or not. The truth is, the NBA itself is a whore for corporate sponsorship at every turn even without having sponsor patches on their jerseys. Everything from promotional nights, pre/postgame shows, highlight reels, team functions to the names of the vast majority of arenas have corporate sponsorship to generate extra revenue. Why not adopt the English Premier League's jersey ad space cash cow? Is the game less meaningful if there is ad space on the unis? No. Might the game excel in a lot of different areas with the injection of an extra $155 million or more? YES! Maybe take it a step further and just have the corporate partner name be the team name. That's gotta be worth some serious dough. So for fun, let's look at teams' new names based on local corporate sponsorship interests.

The Atlanta Coca-Cola (or Cokes which would be coached by Michael Ray Richardson)
The Boston Staples (that should sufficiently piss off Laker fans)
The Charlotte Red Ventures (a step up from the Bobcats, honestly)
The Chicago Boeings (to think, Air Jordan could've been on the Boeings!)
The Cleveland Goodyears (now that LeBron is gone, the good years are behind them...see what I did there?)
The Dallas Texas Energy (can't really call them the Dallas Cubans)
The Denver Qwest (works with their current Qwest to keep Carmelo)
The Detroit General Motors (once dominant team with a once dominant company name)
The Golden State Gaps (The Golden State Craigslists finished a close second)
The Houston Exxon-Mobils (because Yao needs to refuel)
The Indiana Consecos (Personally, I like the Indiana Steak n Shakes)
The Los Angeles Guess (obviously the Clippers...err former Clippers in this case)
The Los Angeles Walt Disneys (the former Lakers; they win a lot of titles so why not name them after the theme park they frequent?)
The Memphis FedEx (they can ship their championship aspirations away more efficiently)
The Miami Burger Kings (insert LeBron James joke here)
The Milwaukee Harley-Davidsons (The Milwaukee Manpower was runner up. Conclusion: Milwaukee would have a badass name regardless)
The Minnesota Targets (if only anybody targeted them)
The New Jersey ONEXIM (Mikhail Prokhorov does own them after all)
The New Orleans Tidewater (too soon?)
The New York...ugh...good God...too many options
The Oklahoma City QuikTrips (this should really be the Seattle Starbucks)
The Orlando Air(Trans) (Dwight Howard can fly and so could Vince Carter...if it's a contract year)
The Philadelphia Comcasts (no joke for this name...which is weird since this team is laughable)
The Phoenix Go Daddy (this team GOES, DADDY! Don't worry, no intentions of quitting my day job)
The Portland Microsoft (short for MicrofracturesSoftTeam)
The Sacramento Intel (you know the 'ding, ding-ding-ding-ding' noise Intel uses? It should remind you of the noise the rim makes as Sacramento bricks a lot of shots)
The San Antonio Valeros (really grasping at straws for a San Antonio sponsor but this name sounds cool. Small market basketball ladies and gents!)
The Toronto Fairmonts (please tell me somebody else is a Jiminy Glick fan)
The Utah Million Airs (much more fun than the Utah Mormons)
The Washington Posts (great basketball team name; if only their post players were as good at post play as Woodward and Bernstein were at reporting)

If think this corporate naming thing should happen.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2010-11 Northwest Division Preview

DENVER NUGGETS:  The Nuggets aren't looking so hot these days. To the untrained eye that is. They are going to be just as good as last season. 'WHAAAA? But Carmelo is LEAVING! They're DOOMED!' People need to curb their panic, honestly. This team might be better off WITHOUT Carmelo Anthony. I honestly think Carmelo is overvalued in the league (ala Stoudemire). He's a ball stopper on offense and takes ill advised shots. The only person who thinks Carmelo can shoot 3s (which he does a lot) is Carmelo Anthony. There's a lot more talent on this team and they could flourish without Carmelo dominating everything while being ineffective if you really look at the game film. Think about Michael Redd in Milwaukee, he was Milwaukee's best player and highest scorer but when he went down the offense opened up and other players proved their value. It is a team game after all.

When Carmelo leaves (and he will before the trade deadline), the Nuggets have a solid nucleus in place. They picked up Al Harrington (aka Carmelo Anthony light) who does a lot of what Carmelo does but won't be forced to do as much, because the perception was Carmelo is that damn good so he should do more. Nene is going to impress this year, big men historically take longer to come into their own. He's 28, his role will expand and he's primed to have a career year. I'm gaga over Ty Lawson! This guy looks reeeeally good. He's 22 and played clutch in the playoffs, stealing minutes from Chauncey Billups. So as Chauncey will inevitably decline, Lawson will be right there and could maybe exceed him immediately. JR Smith and Chris Andersen might just be the best energy one/two punch off the bench that you can find in this league. They can singlehandedly increase a lead or bring the Nuggets back when the team is sluggish. Not to mention, the Nuggets could pick up some nice young post players/energy guys in a trade for Carmelo. These guys are going to be better than anyone thinks even if they aren't as sexy as years past.

Players I LOVE:

Nene & Ty Lawson: See above.

Players I HATE:

Carmelo Anthony: See above.

Kenyon Martin: If the Carmelo Anthony saga isn't enough, Kenyon has decided he needs to be a distraction too. He's already talking about taking his rehab slowly, in a more 'screw you guys' way than an 'I'm doing the smart thing' way. True NBA warriors don't make statements like that and immediately talk about their contract situation. You're rehabbing slower because your an asshole, Kenyon, not because you want to be smart about it.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: Minnesota has a better team this year. They still suck, but they could double their win total (which is still only 30 wins) from last year. The real problem is that it looks like most other bad teams in the West improved as well. I don't think opposing teams can look at the T-wolves as an automatic out anymore though. They are young and athletic enough to hang with anybody on a given night (not a huge amount of nights will be given though). This will be a classic high energy, young team that will catch good teams sleeping on a Tuesday night. Kurt Rambis is a good coach, although I think this team lacks the personnel to be an effective triangle team this year or any other year.

The departure of Al Jefferson is actually positive for this team as currently constructed. They don't play good defense with or without him, so getting rid of Jefferson opens up the offense considerably for Kevin Love and the point guard carousel. K-Love looked lovely in the World Championships this summer and he should have a nice, big set of grapefruits this upcoming season. Since the team will be, maybe, the worst defensive team ever (turnstiles at every position) I like the idea of them going small and quick. They do have the personnel for that.

I like the small lineup with the addition of Michael Beasley. I think he might be turning the corner and needed the change of scenery. People forget he was considered to be a number 1 pick just two years ago. Let's hope he becomes more like Zach Randolph in Memphis this past year and less like Shawn Kemp in Cleveland (illegitimate children and losing the ability to play effective basketball). A smaller lineup of K-Love, Beasley, Martell Webster, Corey Brewer and Jonny Flynn/Luke Ridnour looks like a scrappy bunch that can run the floor and be fun to watch. Wesley Johnson and Lazar Hayward look like good draft picks that can contribute immediately in a lot of areas. Darko Milicic still sucks.

Players I LOVE:

Kevin Love: The section reads 'Players I LOVE' and of course he fits perfectly, last name or not. He will have a bigger role and more big game chops from his World Championship experience. He can rebound with the best and he is a transcendent fast break outlet passer.

Michael Beasley: Whereas Jefferson couldn't coexist with Love, I think Beas can. Beasley is a lot more athletic and can play the 3 if need be. This could be a breakout year for Beasley.

Players I HATE:

Sebastian Telfair: He sucks

Darko Milicic: He sucks, too.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: Just got done talking about positive experience in the World's this summer by way of Kevin Love. But did anybody in the world raise their stock more than Kevin Durant? No! Kevin Durant was an absolute basketball God in the World Championships. He looked unstoppable, humble, motivated and skilled beyond comprehension. Before the World's, he was viewed as a top 5 or top 10 guy but not in the discussion with Kobe or LeBron. He is without a doubt in that conversation now. He led a Thunder team last year with meager playoff aspirations to a 50 win season (only 7 less wins than the Lakers, mind you), with a cast of guys who just recently graduated HIGH SCHOOL! The scary thing is, that his running mate Russell Westbrook looked pretty damned good in the World's as well. Not to get crazy here, but this Durant/Westbrook combo looks in a lot of ways like a new age Jordan/Pippen. I only say that because Durant and Westbrook are 22 and 21 respectively. These guys are All-Star, playoff veteran studs while most of their contemporaries are still in college. Where is the ceiling here? Does it exist? I don't think it does so that's why it's reigning up in here! (Wow, even I can't believe I just said that. I'm painfully white.)

It doesn't really end with those two either. Here are some other players with ages (in parentheses): Jeff Green (24), James Harden (21), Serge Ibaka (21), Cole Aldrich (21), Eric Maynor (23), Nenad Krstic (27). These guys are all gamers who will see big minutes for the Thunder and weren't even born when Michael Jackson released 'Thriller.' The majority of those names were the crucial pieces to the Thunder's playoff run. This team of KIDS made real noise last year and got invaluable experience. This team of KIDS is going to kick some serious ass this year. The rest of the NBA should be terrified! These guys made the playoffs already and NONE of the major players have reached their primes yet! They will improve with every year starting with a BIG statement this year. You've been warned NBA.

Players I LOVE:

(outside of the obvious) James Harden: Like a fine wine, this guy had time to age last year. Also like a fine wine, he's going to be much better this year and really contribute. Harden showed flashes last year, but with all the focus on Durant and Westbrook, he could really do some major damage.

Players I HATE:

Morris Peterson: I don't really hate him, I think he might be valuable in some areas. However, he is the only guy on the team over 30 (he's 33) so he makes the cumulative age of this team less impressive. Damn you Mo-Pete!

PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS: Ugh. Myself and everyone I know are sick of talking about the Blazers. For the past 3 years we've all been bombarded with all the "Blazers are going to surprise everybody" predictions and the "Blazers are good enough to make the Finals" chatter. I'm sick of it!

The Blazers are who they are; a talented team who can compete with the best of them. Brandon Roy is damn good. LaMarcus Aldridge is less damn good but still good. Greg Oden will NEVER be healthy. This team will win around 50 games all while exceeding and not living up to expectations. Just like every recent year; they'll be really good but have some rough stretches, they'll deal with a plethora of injuries, they'll make the playoffs as one of the middle seeds and they'll lose in the playoffs. Case closed, let's stop talking about them. Moving on...

UTAH JAZZ: The Jazz are slightly more intriguing than the Blazers, mainly because Carlos Boozer is out and Al Jefferson is in. I'm not a Carlos Boozer guy personally, he shrinks in big situations, he injures himself answering the door (good luck Chicago :-)) and he lied to a blind man in Cleveland (Cleveland should hate Boozer more than LeBron, honestly). While Boozer offered more than Jefferson defensively in previous years, I think Jefferson is a step up from Boozer. Jerry Sloan can and will motivate Al Jefferson to defend to the best of his ability. Think about it; Al Jefferson has never played on a good team in the NBA, EVER! He is a top 3 low post scorer in the league and he finally has a good and disciplined team around him. He's finally recovered from his Achilles injury (it takes two years to completely come back from that type of injury and you saw his stats improve quite a bit in the second half of last season), he's on a good team for the first time in his life and he can DOMINATE in the post. I like the Jefferson pick up.

Oh yeah, there also happens to be a guy named Deron Williams on this team. Williams torched the Nuggets and was an absolute warrior against the Lakers in the playoffs last year. This guy has balls to the wall and talent to boot. He really might be the best point guard in the league and is definitely in the top 3. The Jazz didn't lose much in the offseason outside of Boozer and I think they actually improved with Jefferson, the return of Raja Bell as a defensive stopper/3 point shooter and a guy in Paul Millsap who is only 25 (the best backup power forward in the league). This team is going to be better this year without Boozer. Note it!

Players I LOVE:

Al Jefferson:  I'll say it again; Al Jefferson is completely recovered from his Achilles injury, he is on his first good team since he entered the NBA, he's a great rebounder and he's a top 3 low post threat/constantly requires a double team. I think he can really be a monster this year in Utah.

Gordon Hayward: He's like Matt Harpring and Kyle Korver, except better. Matt and Kyle did pretty well in Utah, Gordon has the ability to be better.

Player I HATE:

Mehmet Okur: If he could just do normal center stuff! You know, like rebound and be an inside presence. He's showing his age too, which worries me because Utah needs a guy who can actually be a center and not a tall 3 point shooter.

Andrei Kirilenko: I think he goes into "Boo Hoo, woe is me" mode. His contract expires at the end of the year and he's looking for a trade because of his contract value when he should be looking for a trade by playing how we all know he can really play. Hopefully he can get Utah something good in a trade or, crazy as it sounds, start playing like he actually is capable of.

NORTHWEST DIVISION AT A GLANCE: As it has been the past few years, this continues to be an exciting division. Top to bottom this may be the best division in all of basketball. Just like last year, this division has four potential playoff teams. This year they probably only get three into the playoffs as I think both the Blazers and Nuggets could miss out as the rest of the West quietly retooled. The only team guaranteed to stink and miss the playoffs is Minnesota, yet I still see them as improved. Whereas in previous years the Pacific Division and Southwest Division were the class of the conference, I think the Northwest starts to enter into that conversation if not grab it by the balls. There are two teams that can win the Finals in this division if the chips fall correctly. It's going to be extremely competitive and extremely good basketball out of the Northwest in 2010-11.

Order of Finish:

1. Oklahoma City Thunder
2. Utah Jazz
3. Denver Nuggets
4. Portland Trailblazers
5. Minnesota Timberwolves

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010-11 Atlantic Division Preview

Let's go team by team and look at how their 2010-11 campaigns might end up. I'll look at each individual team; their strengths and weaknesses, their story lines and the players which I LOVE and which I HATE. Without further ado, here's my 2010-11 Atlantic Division Preview:

BOSTON CELTICS: The Boston Celtics made a lot of fans and gamblers look foolish last season, going all the way to game 7 of the Finals against the Lakers. They were an unfortunate injury to Kendrick Perkins away from winning it all. A healthy Perkins in game 7 and Boston raises another championship banner in the rafters. This offseason, the rest of the NBA got better in the top tier, especially in the East, and the Celtics aged another year. But I think the Celtics improved their roster nicely too.

Even at their advanced ages, The O'Neals (Shaq and Jermaine) are still forces when utilized properly. Shaq will be motivated after last year's debacle in Cleveland and Jermaine showed he can still be pretty effective in the post after everybody was ready to sign his death certificate. The Celtics are loaded up front, so those older, bigger bodies won't have to get beat up as much (Kevin Garnett should be salivating). Delonte West was also a great pickup, the guy is a starter in this league and hasn't reached his prime yet. He's had some off court issues...Ok, a lot of off court issues, but he's surrounded by a really tight, veteran team now that has seen it all. I see Ray Allen becoming a great mentor for him and maybe he'll begin to pass the torch a little as well. Also, I think they got a potential STUD in Avery Bradley. He looks like he could contribute right away and could possibly be a star in the future.

The Celtics didn't lose much either. They'll miss Tony Allen's surprisingly effective defense on the wing (and really nothing else from Allen, because outside of the defense he, well, sucked) but I think West will be effective against the smaller players and maybe Marquis Daniels will improve defensively in this system with his athletic ability... Yeah, probably not. Rasheed Wallace played admirably in the Finals but I think the two O'Neals are a big upgrade if they can stay healthy. They still have Paul Pierce (who has at least two elite seasons left in him), Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo (who continues to become a true star), Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins (proved essential to the Celtics in the Lakers series). I don't think they will miss Tony Allen or Rasheed Wallace all that much. With more depth this season in the post, there should be less injury problems as well. Boston looks better to me this year than last.

Players I LOVE:

Kevin Garnett: Supposedly, he is in ridiculously good shape this offseason and looks a step quicker than last. His knees aren't what they used to be but I think with the added depth and news of the great shape he is said to be in, I think he can outplay people's expectations this season.

Delonte West: He can shoot, pass, play decent defense and rebounds well for his size. West fits in perfectly for the Celtics and I think the Celtics are the perfect team to get West on track this season. Also he can play the point when needed and looks to take a lot of minutes from Nate Robinson (not exactly a bad thing).

Players I HATE:

Glen Davis: Big Baby, indeed. This guy looks like he could be cancerous in the locker room. There will be less minutes for him this year, because there are better players in front of him. He doesn't bring enough to the table to be the first or second big man off the bench, Boston is just too deep and Davis has attitude problems. What a fitting nickname, he's going to cry like a big baby all season.

Marquis Daniels: He should be a big part of the rotation but he's extremely injury prone. Oh yeah, and he kind of sucks.

NEW JERSEY NETS: This team is bad but keep your chin up Nets' fans, you're better than last year. Also, you guys get to move to Brooklyn in a couple years. The future looks bright, honestly; motivated/deep pocketed owner, good coach in Avery Johnson and nice looking frontcourt of the future with draft pick Derrick Favors and Brook Lopez. But if you're expecting big things this season you are, well, stupid.

There are some nice new pieces outside of Favors (who does look special) in Anthony Morrow (can score like nobody's business), Troy Murphy (great rebounder and shooter; can't do anything else effectively though, especially defend) and Travis Outlaw (their big off season signing, but as pathetic as that sounds he can actually ball). These guys are nice pieces, but they don't exactly look like guys on a contender. They are more like guys you'd expect to see on a roster competing for the 8th seed in the East. However, they won't even be that good this year.

Devin Harris, with Lopez, is the best it gets for the Nets. These are guys who could steal a spot on an All-Star team, but they might be the 3rd best option on a true contender at best. That isn't exactly something to be excited about. They're more Lamar Odom than Kobe or Pau. Which isn't a bad thing, Lamar is good, but he ain't leading a team deep in the playoffs. The Nets need a stud and if they actually have one in Favors, his "studliness" (made that word up; do something about it) will not be evident for at least a couple years. Sorry Mikhail Prokorov, you're team still sucks (right now).

Players I LOVE:

Derrick Favors: I don't think he's the second coming of Kevin Garnett, but I think he can be close if all goes right in his career. This year will be very valuable for him as he can build his confidence playing under the radar and gaining more polish to his game.

Terrence Williams: Hasn't really lived up to his potential thus far, but looked much improved in summer league and looks much more confident. He even is looking to take more of a leadership role. Plus at 6'6" he has point guard skills. Me likey.

Players I HATE:

Travis Outlaw: Just because he makes $7 million. Aren't the Nets just as bad with him as they would be without him? Now they still suck and they have $7 million less in flexibility.

Brook Lopez: Horrible summer. He had mono I hear but he still looked really sluggish and out of shape on top of that. Plus, in the first preseason game he had trouble dominating a guy who was a half foot shorter. I think Brook has a bad season but will rebound the following year.

NEW YORK KNICKS: Oh you poor bastards! You miss out on LeBron, Wade and Bosh, so you saddle up with Amare Stoudemire (for the same or more money as the Miami guys are making!) Gosh, that has to sting. Amare is only as good as Steve Nash wants him to be and Ray Felton ain't Steve Nash. Amare will put up numbers for you guys, but who in the hell is going to defend in the post? Stoudemire is to defense what Eddy Curry is to skinny. Ha ha, and by the way the Knicks happen to still have Eddy Curry! If New York wants to get back in the discussion with Los Angeles and Boston, they're going to need a lot more than Amare Stoudemire.

Their offseason wasn't a complete wash though. I do believe Amare is a notch above David Lee (neither can defend, Amare is an offensive savant, but Lee is by far a better rebounder) and I like what New York got for Lee. I love Kelenna Azubuike and Anthony Randolph in Mike D'Antoni's system and I think Ronny Turiaf is a vastly underrated energy/glue guy. Raymond Felton > whatever the Knicks have had at the point guard position in recent years. But... again... WHO'S PLAYING DEFENSE? Donnie Walsh should see that while D'Antoni's system is fun and high scoring, it's only effective when a really athletic, fast, defensive minded big man is in the mix. There isn't anything CLOSE to that on this Knicks roster. Put it this way, Eddy Curry could lose 100 pounds but he'd still have to learn how to play defense just to qualify. This roster is fun and will sell tickets but it stinks.

They'll improve on 29 wins from last year, but they are still barely competing for the 8th seed in the East. While contending for a playoff spot sounds nice, the East after the 6th seed is putrid and will be absolutely destroyed in the first round by the likes of Boston, Orlando and Miami. Maybe stop focusing on getting Carmelo who makes you worse defensively and try putting together an actual team instead of something that looks nice on a marquee. They are lucky they play in arguably the worst division in basketball.

Players I LOVE:

Ronny Turiaf: The only guy on this roster that can probably play defense in the post while being able to run on offense.

Raymond Felton: He is a major upgrade at the point guard spot and I think he will look good running some exciting fast breaks for the Knicks. Felton has always been underrated and in the wrong system in my eyes.

Players I HATE:

The Knicks roster for the most part: Instead of talking about who I hate individually, I figured I'd save time by just making it pretty much all inclusive. I hate the way this Knick team is constructed after they mortgaged their future in hopes of acquiring LeBron, Wade or Bosh.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: Yuck. I'm so depressed already talking about this division and now it gets worse. The 76ers are GOD AWFUL. To save my sanity...Let's just say these guys are abysmal, fix ourselves a drink and move on. A couple points though:
  • Evan Turner looked shell shocked in Summer League. You know, the guy who was supposed to be the MOST NBA ready in the Draft. He also talks like Kermit the Frog. Nobody with a Kermit voice has ever been successful outside of...well...Kermit.
  • Andre Iquodala is a really good player, but he can't be Philly's go to guy. He's a stud as a second or third banana on a good team, but not a number one on a monstrosity. Can we end this experiment?
  • The big men are Elton Brand's corpse and Mareese Speights. I'd vomit if I were a 76er fan.
  • Jrue Holiday looks like he could be a player in this league, maybe even a really good one; but the 76ers SUCK!
  • This team has no identity whatsoever, no solid big men (if you say Spencer Hawes I'll choke you Sprewell style), no go to scorer and absolutely nothing to look forward to. Doug Collins has his work cut out for him.
TORONTO RAPTORS: Wait a minute, the Raptors are excruciatingly bad too! What the hell happened to this division? Toronto sucked BEFORE they lost Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu this offseason! This team has some nice players on it, but nothing even close to a go to guy. Is a pick and roll combo of Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani ready for prime time? Laughable! Never trust a team who's best player has a women's name (New Jersey with Brook Lopez and Toronto with Andrea Bargnani). At least the 76ers have a good All-Star caliber guy in Iggy and a former All-Star (when Brand still had a pulse); the Raptors might lose to a college team.

Demar Derozan and Sonny Weems (always liked his game) looked great and exciting in Summer League. Ed Davis looks like he could be a good player but he has a way to go. Bargnani is a talented offensive guy, but he's also a center who doesn't defend, block shots or rebound. If you're going to have a center like Bargnani you better have a power forward who is willing to defend and rebound and Davis isn't going to be that guy for a while. There is no hope for this squad this season. It honestly looks like a team the Raptors would've assembled in 1995 (you know, an expansion team!).

Players I LOVE:

Chris Bosh: Oops. That was insensitive.

Sonny Weems & Demar Derozan: I think these guys can be solid NBA players and they are talented and athletic as the day is long. It's encouraging to see these guys play together and compete to make each other better. Not much else the Raptors can hang their hats on.

Players I HATE:

Amir Johnson: This guy stinks. He's past the upside point of his career. He has athletic ability in bunches but plays like the third center on a lottery team.

Marcus Banks: The, arguably, worst team in basketball wouldn't be complete without Marcus Banks. I mean, this team is the Marcus Banks of the NBA. It works so well, it makes me nauseous.

ATLANTIC DIVISION AT A GLANCE: The Boston Celtics. Honestly, there isn't much else to talk about in this division for this season. The Nets are bad. The Knicks are bad. The 76ers are putrid. The Raptors are expansion team bad (doesn't get much worse). Honestly, the Celtics could realistically win this division by 20 games. It's really sad that a once proud franchise (the Knicks), two teams that played in the Finals in the past decade (the Nets and the 76ers) and a team that looked like it could be a perennial force just 4 years ago (the Raptors) are all now completely irrelevant for the upcoming season unless they're part of a miraculous trade. Boston will coast in this division and it should be a boring year in the Atlantic Division. Pity.

Order of Finish:

1. Boston Celtics
2. New York Knicks
3. New Jersey Nets
4. Philadelphia 76ers
5. Toronto Raptors

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Cleveland Cavaliers Are Still Good Without LeBron

Everybody (that just read the title): HAHAHAHAHA!!! (as they roll on the floor and tears stream from their eyes)
Me: No seriously! I really think they are still a good team!
Everybody: HAHAHAHAHA!!! (the laughter gets stronger and they gasp for air)
Me: Stop laughing! This Cavs team could be pretty damn good!
Everybody: HAHAHAHAHA!!! (the laughter still increases in intensity but everybody appears to be physically hurt from laughing so hard)
Me: Honestly, the Cavs are good and can make the playoffs!
Everybody: (Silence. Everybody has died from a combination of extreme laughter, disbelief and too much LeBron Kool-Aid)

While I don't think anybody will actually die from laughter from me saying the Cavs will be good this year, I also don't think it's too far fetched. Seriously, NOBODY is giving Cleveland a shot at being good this year. In my honest opinion, the people who don't think the Cavs can play playoff basketball this year don't know their history, they don't watch basketball and they definitely don't KNOW basketball. You heard it here first, ladies and gentleman, the Cleveland Cavaliers are a playoff team.

People forget that basketball is TRULY a TEAM game. Individuals don't win championships in the NBA. They never have. The Cavaliers won 61 games last year, not just LeBron, the Cavaliers. They had the best record in the league last year. It doesn't matter the situation, you can't lose just one player in this era of the NBA and drop 40 wins. Historically it's rare; recently, unfounded. LeBron James is a great player and might be one of the best ever, but he's still one of five. LeBron can't guard 5 guys (or one in some cases, honestly) and LeBron can't score on 5 guys either. He needs talent around him to win games just like every other star. Kobe needs Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Trevor Ariza/Ron Artest, Derek Fisher etc., and Paul Pierce needs Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins. So the argument here is that LeBron didn't have what Kobe or Paul had while in Cleveland...but he still won more games. Why is there somewhat of a deadlock in the Kobe/LeBron debate? Shouldn't LeBron be regarded as infinitely better if he played with a team of scrubs and won 61 games while Kobe played with all-stars and only managed 57 wins? Isn't LeBron WAY better than Kobe?

That's where it gets really funny and people become super hypocrites. People say on the one hand that Kobe is better than LeBron but on the other that LeBron needs more help in Cleveland as...wait for it...wait for it...LeBron is WINNING MORE GAMES THAN KOBE! It makes my brain hurt. Kobe > LeBron; Kobe's support > LeBron's support; LeBron's wins > Kobe's wins. Yeah, the playoffs were different and the conferences were different, but how is LeBron's supporting cast so weak if he's worse than Kobe and his team wins more than Kobe's? By the way Kobe IS better than LeBron (at this point for sure). So take Kobe off this Lakers team and do they make the playoffs? I think they do. Do they win the championship, no, but are they in the playoff mix, YES! You subtract LeBron from the Cavs and everybody assumes it's equal to a bomb going off under Quicken Loans Arena. General consensus is Cleveland will suck without LeBron. It just doesn't make sense to me. It's absurd!

Michael Jordan is the greatest player ever. He's better than LeBron without question to this point. He's also better than Kobe. Let me (re)tell a story about Michael Jordan in case you've forgotten. Jordan leaves the Bulls after the 1992-93 season and the Bulls are destitute without him. Wait...they weren't?...they were contenders in 1993-94 even without the G.O.A.T.?! Yes. While Michael Jordan was pretending to be a baseball player the Bulls won 55 games (only two less than the previous year). They definitely folded in the playoffs in '94 but, damn they were still good. The argument was that they still had Scottie Pippen (valid argument really, Scottie was better than OK) but they were still contenders without the best player ever. Outside of Pippen, there wasn't exactly a bunch of superstars on that team (seriously Horace Grant and B.J. Armstrong are the next best). That team was still REALLY good minus their unquestioned superduperstar.

If the Bulls in 1993-94 can compete for the championship, why can't the 2010-11 Cavs be in the playoffs in a talent diluted era? They can! Did Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao die? No, they are still breathing and can still ball. Is this a team that has tasted victory? Is this a team of playoff experienced veterans? Is this a team with an outrageously large chip on their shoulders? YES IT IS! These guys didn't come in off the street, they were part of a 61-win team less than 5 months ago. They aren't going to roll over and play dead! The Cavs weren't just about LeBron, and maybe the shadow he cast covered the true talents of this team. These guys can step up and play!

Look at a guy like Leon Powe; just over two years ago this guy was HUGE in the playoffs and couldn't really be stopped for the Celtics as they WON the championship. By the way he's healthy and motivated this upcoming season for the first time since then. Look at J.J. Hickson who averaged 4 points and 3 rebounds more a game than previously (with similar minutes mind you) when his role was expanded in February because of injuries on the team. He got the opportunity to be a bigger part of the team and seized it with both hands and he's only 22! Ramon Sessions is only 24 and less than two years ago he was setting Milwaukee ablaze with his play. When he finally got a shot to play in the 2008-09 season with the Bucks he averaged a 18.5 ppg and 7.4 apg in all of February (where he got his biggest chance). He also had a win share per 48 minutes (an estimate of how many wins a player contributes per 48 minutes) of 0.123 (league average is 0.100). Put it this way; he was responsible for more wins that season than Carmelo Anthony, Joe Johnson and Allen Iverson (you know, guys on the All-Star team). When Sessions had the opportunity to play he was a winner and he's only 24. This feels like a 'where the hell did these guys come from?' team. We know all their names, to an extent, but they never had the chance. I wish they were in Indiana so they could be the Hoosiers.

This team scares the hell out of me. They are sneaky talented and young, they have players that never got a good chance to shine, they have experience in the Playoffs/Finals, they have the 'Nobody Believes In Us' card/HUGE chip on their shoulders, and they're fighting with the Bobcats, Knicks, Pacers, and NOBODY ELSE for the 7th and 8th seeds in the East. It's ridiculous to think they can't grab one of those seeds.

Michael Jordan got cut from his high school team. The Cleveland Cavaliers are being cut by everybody for the 2010-11 playoffs. Michael made everybody pay, the Cavs might just do the same.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Good Grief: No Love For Moncrief

"When you play against [Sidney] Moncrief, you're in for a night of all-around basketball. He'll hound you everywhere you go, both ends of the court. You just expect it."

Nice praise. The quote sounds like Moncrief was reasonably well respected while he played or had really nice teammates that gathered some words together to make him sound like a valuable NBA player/teammate. 'He's a gamer' is what this quote means coming from most people. This quote, however, did not come from most people; it came from the greatest ever. It came from Michael Jordan. Jordan didn't and doesn't throw praise around when unwarranted. He's a bitter man who spends more time talking about his doubters and the people he defeated than people he praised (look at his Hall of Fame induction speech for crying out loud). So for MJ to offer up a comment like this, to a division foe no less, it shows a lot of respect for Moncrief coming from the greatest player the game of basketball has ever seen.

Sidney Moncrief is the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA, the dude gets no respect. It takes every good-natured fiber in my body NOT to back-hand slap "NBA fans" who don't know, respect or care about Moncrief's game. Sidney "the Squid" Moncrief belongs in the Hall of Fame and he deserves to be known by not only fair weather Bucks fans but NBA fans in general.

Before Moncrief even set foot on NBA hardwood, he was a basketball legend. He resurrected the basketball program for the University or Arkansas. Say what you will about Marvin Delph, Ron Brewer and Eddie Sutton (people probably don't have much to say since they didn't know about Moncrief in the first place; I could back-hand myself at this point. FRUSTRATED!) but Moncrief was the unquestioned leader and straw that stirred the drink for Arkansas. College basketball in Arkansas, at the time, was like football is in North Carolina right now (Who cares? When does basketball season start?). Moncrief changed that and Arkansas cares about basketball to this day. Moncrief averaged 16.9 points per game (PPG) and 8.3 rebounds per game (RPG) over his college career and 22.0 PPG and 9.6 RPG in his senior season (Moncrief was 6'3" at best and damn near averaged a double-double with points and rebounds, who does that now? Nobody.). He's part of the '2,000 point, 1,000 rebound' club in Division 1 (HE'S ONLY 6'3"!!!).

When the Bucks drafted him fifth overall (after David Greenwood and Greg Kelser...who?) I'm sure they hoped that they got a guy that could lead their team through the decade of the 80s. As you'll find, YES, the Bucks got that guy.

In the 80s, basketball was dominated by the Lakers and the Celtics; Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Use your best guess and try to figure out who the 3rd best team in the 80s was (hint: it ain't the Philadelphia 76ers, the Detroit Pistons or the Portland Trailblazers). I'll wait...

(Cue the Jeopardy! music while I fix myself a drink because the answer is one that the casual NBA fan has no idea about.)

The Milwaukee Bucks of the 80s had the 3rd best winning percentage of the decade behind the Celtics and Lakers. They took bronze in the 80s which was THE BEST decade of basketball that we've EVER seen. The Celtics and Lakers of the 80s are viewed, arguably (but there shouldn't be much argument), as the best teams the league has ever seen. We're talking Bird, Magic, McHale, Kareem, Parrish, Worthy, Ainge, Cooper,  DJ etc...and that's just two teams! Not to mention (but to mention) the aforementioned Jordan, Barkley, Gervin, Bernard King, Moses, Dr. J, Olajuwon, Wilkins, Karl Malone, Isiah Thomas, Ewing, Stockton, Drexler etc. This was the best basketball era ever and the Bucks had the third best team in that era. Who was the constant for the Bucks in that decade? Who was their unquestioned leader? Sid "The Squid" Moncrief, that's who.

Sidney Moncrief's career started in 1979-80 and here's the Bucks' record with Moncrief:
1979-80: 49-33 (seventh best in the league; won division)
1980-81: 60-22 (third best in the league; won division)
1981-82: 55-27 (fourth best in the league; won division)
1982-83: 51-31 (sixth best in the league; won division)
1983-84: 50-32 (fourth best in the league; won division)
1984-85: 59-23 (third best in the league; won division)
1985-86: 57-25 (third best in the league; won division)
1986-87: 50-32 (sixth best in the league: third in division)
1987-88: 42-40 (twelfth best in the league; fifth in division)
1988-89: 49-33 (eighth best in the league; fourth in division)

So, Moncrief as team leader compiled a 522-298 record as the heart and soul of the Milwaukee Bucks. That's better than a 52-30 record average for a decade, and not just any decade, only the best decade of basketball ever. If the Bucks go 52-30 in this era, Bucks' fans are catatonic from excitement (once again 52-30 was their AVERAGE during the 80s). In the 80s, it was shooting under par without winning a trophy. Not to mention they NEVER had a losing record (aka; Always competitive, if not elite). Let's look at the playoffs:

1979-80: Lost in Conference Semifinals to Seattle as underdogs in 7 games
1980-81: Lost in Conference Semifinals to Philadelphia as underdogs in 7 games (lost by 1 in game 7)
1981-82: Lost in Conference Semifinals to Philadelphia as underdogs in 6 games
1982-83: Lost in Conference Final to Philadelphia as underdogs in 5 games (Lost to the champions and swept Boston in the prior series. Yeah, the Larry Bird Celtics.)
1983-84: Lost in Conference Final to Boston as underdogs in 5 games (Boston won it all this year.)
1984-85: Lost in Conference Semifinals to Philadelphia as underdogs in 4 games
1985-86: Lost in Conference Finals to Boston as underdogs in 4 games (Boston won it all this year.)
1986-87: Lost in Conference Semifinals to Boston as underdogs in 7 (One of the more underrated playoff series of that decade, it REALLY could've gone either way and was always close.)
1987-88: Lost in first round to Atlanta as underdogs in game 5 of 5 game series
1988-89: Lost in Conference Semifinals to Detroit in 4 games (Detroit won it all this year.)

The Bucks were contenders every year he played, seriously. They lost to 4 eventual champions in the playoffs during the 80s and were always in the mix. 'The Squid' never missed the playoffs while he played for the Bucks. When Sidney Moncrief played for the Bucks, they were a force to be reckoned with in the best era the NBA has seen to this point. It makes you wonder how things would transpire had the Celtics, Lakers and, to a lesser degree, the 76ers not been the best the NBA has ever seen.

Notice I haven't said Matt Foley 'jack squat' about what Moncrief did on his own in that era. The Milwaukee Bucks were constant contenders while he was their best player. Here's the short version of what he accomplished in that lofty era:

  • Two time Defensive Player of the Year (1983, 1984)
  • All NBA First Team (1982-83)
  • Four time All NBA Second Team (1981-82, 1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86)
  • Four time NBA All-Defensive First Team (1982-83, 1983-84, 1984-85, 1985-86)
  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1981-82)
  • Five time All-Star (1981-82 through 1985-86)
  • Two time All-Star Game Starter (1983-84 and 1985-86)
  • Top 10 in MVP voting (1981-1986)
This alone makes him one of the greatest of his era (once again, ahem, THE GREATEST ERA IN BASKETBALL HISTORY!!!). Consider this, though, if that wasn't enough. In his day Moncrief was known as a defensive mastermind (5 time NBA Defensive team; more importantly he was a two time Defensive Player of the Year! For those scoring at home, he was the BEST defensive player in 1983 and 1984). In an era where the Celtics and Lakers are dominating the NBA as cocaine and the Reagan administration were dominating the decade of the 80s (interestingly enough the Celtics, Lakers, cocaine and the Reagan administration did dominate the 80s altogether), Moncrief was dominating when it came to defense and basketball. The Defensive Player of the Year award started in 1982-83 and Moncrief won the first two years it was established. It should be "the Sidney Moncrief Defensive Player of the Year Award" honestly, he did set the bar after all. Not to mention (but TOTALLY mentioning!) since the award's inception almost three decades ago, only three other true guards have won the award (Alvin Robertson [Recall election, anybody? Katherine Harris ALERT!], the G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan and Gary Payton) but only one has done it twice. The guy who did it twice? SIDNEY MONCRIEF!!! The Squid didn't just win it more than any other guard ever has (including Michael "The Greatest Player EVER" Jordan) but he was also the smallest guy to ever win the award. It seems like nowadays you have to be at least 6'10" to win the award; whereas Moncrief instituted the award at a mere 6'3" (at most).

While Mocrief was dominating on defense, he was also taking care of business on offense (1981-82 19.8 PPG, 1982-83 22.5 PPG, 1983-84 20.9 PPG, 1984-85 21.7 PPG, 1985-86 20.2 PPG). It's not unusual to score over 20 PPG in this league, but you know what is? Being a defensive specialist that can score over 20 PPG while shooting over 50% (for Moncrief's career!) from the field and 83% from the free throw line as a 6'3" guard. Bruce Bowen is praised for his wing defense in the current era but he doesn't have to guard Jordan, Wilkins, Bird and the like. Yeah, I mean the same guys Moncrief had to battle with on a regular basis. Bowen averaged 6.1 PPG a year over his career while Moncrief averaged over double that at 15.6 a game for his career. So Bowen is viewed as an ultimate perimeter defender in this current era, without scoring ability. Moncrief was an elite perimeter defender, if not the best, WITH scoring ability in an elite era. If Bowen is revered in an era that is diluted unlike Moncrief's era, shouldn't Sidney Moncrief be a first ballot Hall of Famer? He's arguably the best defender of his era and could hold up his end of the donkey on the offensive end as well.

All of Moncrief's accomplishments came in a time where the NBA talent level was at it's peak. Sidney Moncrief was an elite performer and should be recognized as such whether Michael Jordan believed it or not.

Yeah, Michael Jordan respected him, but it's more than that. Sidney 'the Squid' Moncrief made the playoffs 10 years in a row, lead his team there every year, established the Defensive Player of the Year award as the first and second recipient, was a 5 time All-Star, 5 time All-NBA guy, 5 time NBA All Defensive team guy and was the top dog on a team that won more games than everyone except the Celtics and Lakers in the 80s. Put "The Squid" in the Hall of Fame, and keep him in your brains people. RESPECT.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Carmelo Anthony Looks Good In Red and Green

Carmelo Anthony wants out of Denver. I don't blame him really and I like that he hasn't publicly demanded a trade (that's really a punk move to publicly demand a trade; you signed the contract so don't boo hoo when it doesn't go your way, you made your bed.). The Nuggets, in their current state, remind me of the Bucks from the 80s; really good, perennial top 5 in their respective conference but not quite good enough to compete for a championship. Carmelo came out in the same draft as LeBron, Wade and Bosh (and DARKO!) so it must feel a little awkward watching those guys have the ability to form a ridiculous super alliance while he's stuck being second round fodder at best in Denver. Anthony has his wish list (New York or Chicago) and the Nuggets front office has their "best" suitor (New Jersey). But what about a dark horse? Bucks are similar to horses, so why not a dark BUCK? Carmelo Anthony should become a Milwaukee Buck. Here's why and how it should happen.

It just makes sense: It really does. Carmelo is perfect for Milwaukee. Milwaukee is perfect for Carmelo (see how that works?). Think about it; the Bucks were arguably one of the worst offensive teams in the league in 2009-10 (The Bucks were 23rd in offensive efficiency, 25th in Effective Field Goal Percentage and tied for 27th in True Shooting Percentage [field goal percentage if accounting for 3 point and free throw shooting], thanks John Hollinger). We lacked a really solid offensive/scoring player, outside of our short time with John Salmons, Bogut as a convenient option at best and flashes from a struggling rookie in Brandon Jennings. Salmons is a dog historically, and amazes with his ability to be Jesus Shuttlesworth one year and can vanish into thin air the next. Can we hang our hats on a still raw Jennings, an Aussie who's arm EXPLODED and may never fully recover, and "Jimmy Hoffa" Salmons? Not at all.

What would it mean to add a guy like Carmelo Anthony? - A great chance at a championship, that's what! Carmelo is so good offensively that the other guys can pick their spots. While Jennings was chucking ill-advised shots at the end of a close game, Melo was sinking game winners in Denver. We lacked an offensive alpha dog last season and can you guess what Carmelo is??? An offensive ALPHA mutha' f&%$in' DOG! Exactly what this offensively challenged Bucks team needs! Anthony was ranked 13th last season in Player Efficiency, averaged 28.2 points per game while shooting over 45% from the field and 83% from the stripe, and actually raised all those averages in the playoffs. He is possibly the best scorer in the league and the Bucks are one of the worst scoring teams in the league. If Anthony is on last year's Bucks team they don't lose to the Hawks and have a shot to beat the Celtics and you can, in the words of Kobe, "take that to the bank!" If Bogut is healthy, they challenge the Lakers for the chip. One player (or two if you count Bogut) means the difference between first round exit and playing for the Larry O'Brien trophy. Melo has the grapefruits to take and (to a very successful degree) make the game winner. Milwaukee needs Carmelo.

Oh but wait, yeah the Bucks need Anthony but guess what?! Carmelo Anthony NEEDS the Bucks. Look at the other "suitors:"

New York Knicks: Carmelo and Amare are an AMAZING front court scoring combo! Unfortunately, nobody can pass to them and their next best player would probably warm the bench if he played for the Timberwolves. 8th seed in the East at best. NEXT!

Chicago Bulls:  Anthony is in an awkward position in every close game in the fourth quarter when Derrick Rose decides he can actually shoot from long range (he can't) and Carlos Boozer is coasting while thinking about how he fleeced another team into thinking he's a top big man on a contender. Carmelo could be a second banana, but a third? Probably not. By the way Joakim Noah (the only real gamer/intangibles guy on the Bulls roster) is on the Nuggets because it took him being traded to get Carmelo there in the first place. NEXT!

Houston Rockets: Carmelo is a darling in Houston, they have some nice pieces and with him they can make a nice playoff run...but they don't have the ability to win a championship. Sound familiar? Yeah, they'd be Denver Nuggets South! NEXT!

New Jersey Nets: Remember when David Caruso left 'NYPD Blue?' Caruso was on his way to Hollywood to rip things up. TV was small potatoes and he was going to make it in Hollywood. His best effort? "Jade" starring Linda Fiorentino. What? Who? Exactly! New Jersey offers the slim opportunity of being in a big market (Brooklyn) with big upside and opportunity. Next thing you know, you're starring in "Jade" related to commercial success as starring for the New Jersey Nets related to NBA success. Melo leaving Denver for New Jersey and uncertainty = David Caruso leaving 'NYPD Blue' for 'Jade.' By the way, Caruso returned to TV (small market stuff) and became quite successful on 'C.S.I. Miami.' So maybe Melo should cut out that far-fetched plan and head straight to...

The Milwaukee Bucks!: If the Bucks had a craigslist posting it might read like this: "Wanted: Offensive alpha dog with clutch chops to complement defensively excellent team with championship aspirations." Carmelo Anthony has to answer that post. He doesn't have to try as hard defensively because his supporting cast plays defense like he's never seen from any team he's been on. Not to mention: Bogut > Nene, K-Mart, Jennings future > Billups future, Milwaukee's supporting cast > Denver's supporting cast. Carmelo in Milwaukee with a healthy Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings = possible dynasty. All the important guys are UNDER 27! Compare that situation to Miami's, seriously; Bogut is far better than Bosh, Carmelo is in the discussion with LeBron, and Jennings is a guy capable of competing with Wade and he's barely old enough to drink (yes Wade is better but reaching the end of his prime, while Jennings is a BABY and might become transcendent). Couple that with Miami having a pu pu platter for a supporting cast and Milwaukee having great defense, a good defensive coach, John Salmons, Luc Richard M'bah a Moute, Drew Gooden, Corey Maggette and Carlos Delfino. Is it that inconceivable to think the Bucks, with Carmelo Anthony, can beat the Heat? Absolutely not! Look at this lineup:

C - Andrew Bogut (all star, top 3 defensive center)
PF - Drew Gooden/ Luc Richard M'bah a Moute (effective scorer, rebounder/athletic, defensive stopper)
SF - Carmelo Anthony ('nuff said)
SG - John Salmons (extremely good player when motivated; championship goals motivate)
PG - Brandon Jennings (2009-10 Rookie of the Year* [* = I'm a homer!])
Bench: Corey Maggette, Gooden/M'bah a Moute, Carlos Delfino, Keyon Dooling, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Jon Brockman, Tiny Gallon etc. (we're deep)

This team competes for the NBA Finals championship for years to come. No bull.

Denver should trade Carmelo to Milwaukee because: It makes sense for both sides. Denver knows that they are in limbo right now. They can't really compete but they don't want to rebuild. Milwaukee is young, disciplined and on the upswing. They can't really compete but they are one good piece away from being championship contenders. Denver needs good young players and cap space. Milwaukee needs an alpha dog scorer. Denver and Milwaukee are yin and yang. They are the 'black and white cookie' trade partners. It makes so much sense it hurts. There are a lot of trade possibilities, but this one makes complete, ridiculously evident, give me a break, no sh*t, of course sense:

Denver trades: Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith
Milwaukee trades: Michael Redd, Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova/Chris Douglas-Roberts, Francisco Elson's Trade Exception, and one or two future 1st round draft picks

Let's break the trade down: If Denver is giving up Carmelo they want good, young, athletic players, draft picks and above all cap space. Denver should take this trade everyday of the week because it offers everything they need. First of all, they get 2010 first round draft pick Larry Sanders, who looks like he could be an extremely talented, athletic, and defensive minded (think young Kenyon Martin) power forward/center that may have 3 point range to boot. Second, they get either Ersan Ilyasova (a guy who is 6'10", can hit the 3 at high percentage, buys into playing solid defense, and is a stud on Turkey's national team) or Chris Douglas-Roberts (an extremely effective scorer, overachiever, good all-around gamer, perennial 6th Man of the Year guy from here on out) in the young blue-chipper portion of the trade. Third, the Bucks can throw one or two future first round picks at the Nuggets. Fourth and most importantly, the Bucks can offer much needed cap relief to the Nuggets. Denver will not only get $18 million off the books by picking up Michael Redd but another near $2 million in relief with the Elson Trade Exception. Denver gets two solid young players who can immediately be big parts in their rotation (one of which could be an all-star and the other a valuable 6th man/starter down the road), at least one first round draft pick and a guy whose contract is bigger than Carmelo's coming off the books with more salary relief on top of that. Take into account, they are desperate to get rid of J.R. Smith (which would also be a good fit in Milwaukee) and it works out freakishly well from Denver's end.

It's already known how Milwaukee can benefit; we get an alpha dog that is locked in and can potentially sign an extension (he's contending and happy and there is a possible new collective bargaining agreement in the future that may mean less money for players; he's happy, he'll sign an extension) and also we get a 40% from 3 point range guy who can score 20+ on any given night in Smith. Where does either team lose? The Nuggets get good young players, draft picks and cap relief for a guy who was going to leave them without compensation anyway. The Bucks get their first real alpha dog since Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (wow) and the opportunity to play for a championship for the better part of the next decade. Milwaukee should be more excited about that idea than Ben Roethlisberger at a sorority house with a pocket full of roofies (Why go there? Nobody is reading and Ben's a sketchy asshole, that's why!). It's a better deal than the Nets Troy Murphy, Kris Humphries, Derrick Favors excuse for a deal is. If the Nets are the gold standard, the Bucks are platinum.

Carmelo should be a Milwaukee Buck. Let's make it happen, John Hammond! I laid the groundwork, all you need to do is make a phone call.