After an off-season that featured the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and many others as top free agents and a regular season that featured mid-season trades involving Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams, entering into the 2011 free agency period with Nene as the top name on the unrestricted [...]
Jonny Flynn was drafted into just about the worst situation possible back in 2009 – even Kyrie Irving will be in a better one next season. Not only did his team have a large dearth of talent but the Timberwolves had just hired a coach that insisted on installing the Triangle Offense on [...]
After a breakout campaign during the 2009-2010 regular season that earned him the most improved player award, point guard Aaron Brooks was expected to do big things for the Houston Rockets this season. After a break run in the 2009-2010 post-season, point guard Goran Dragic was expected to do big things for the Phoenix [...]
Of the many NBA rumors and trade ideas thrown around during this time of the season, with the trade deadline looming, a report detailing a possible swap between Houston Rockets guard Courtney Lee and Chicago Bulls center Omer Asik may not be among the most fun to talk about, but it’s one of the [...]
As the trade deadline nears, Carmelo Anthony is about to re-enter the spotlight of the NBA. After spending a couple weeks at the center of attention earlier in the year because of trade rumors that eventually died down, the Nuggets will likely be shopping Anthony around more than ever as the possibility that the franchise will end up with nothing in exchange for Melo at the end of the season grows larger.
But while there may be much less of a chance that Carmelo ends up staying in Denver for the remainder of the season, it’s time to start looking at the Nuggets as they are currently constructed to determine whether or not this will just be a lost cause for both Anthony and the Nuggets if they end up sticking together until the end of the year.
Denver is currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference with the same record as the Utah Jazz (30-22) but with a superior head-to-head record. This a team that beat the Heat by 28 earlier in the season (though they were without LeBron James, that’s still impressive) but also a club that got smashed by the Clippers and recently lost back-to-back games to the 76ers and Nets by the scores of 110-99 and 115-99.
Whether the Anthony drama has this team disinterested or in spite of their teammate, there is clearly something missing from this team that it had over the past two seasons when they were legitimate contenders to take down the Lakers in the West thanks to their uptempo offense and reliable home court advantage. But instead, ever since Carmelo was left to fend for himself against Utah in the post-season last year, Anthony has started to slip away from his supporting cast and the mojo around this squad is clearly no longer there – at least not consistently.
For my recap of last night’s Rockets-Nuggets game as well as every other game in the NBA last night, hit the break…
It has become a certainty that every year around all-star time, Houston Rockets center Yao Ming will receive the most votes among centers in the Western Conference. No matter how he is playing or if he is even playing at all, the plethora of votes he conjures from the fans in his native land of China always drive him over the likes of Andrew Bynum or Nene, who are great players but are overshadowed by other stars on their teams.
With Ming being out for the year with yet another foot injury, Commisioner David Stern will be in charge of finding his replacement. He won’t have to look much further than the heart of Texas for the best center in the Western Conference, though.
And no, I’m not talking about Tim Duncan, who is constantly miscast as a power forward despite playing every single one of his minutes this season at the center position. Duncan’s one of the most storied players in the NBA but there’s no way he deserves an all-star bid this season. He’s averaging career lows in points (13.6) and rebounds (9.4) while shooting a career low 48% from the field. Duncan is also posting the lowest win shares per 48 minutes of his career, yet another sign of his evaporating game.
To find out who I think should start at center for the Western Conference hit the jump…
When the Houston Rockets traded for shooting guard Kevin Martin last season, I suggested that the Rockets switch up their mindset and enter games as a fast paced, Phoenix/Golden State type team that took advantage of their offensive weapons at a high tempo in order to mask their inability to defend in a half-court based game. They did up the pace a bit towards the end of the year and they finished the season ranked sixth in the league in pace.
I was a bit worried about how the offense would adapt to Yao Ming‘s return but his trip back to the sidelines assured that the Rockets would continue to push the ball up the floor and run an offense that tried to outscore teams, which, despite its lack of recent success for any team that runs that system, is the best option for a team with the personel that the Rockets have. With Patrick Patterson, a rookie that has seen sporadic minutes and has made a few trips to and from the D-League, being their best defender, it was easy to concede that this team was going to win basketball games with fluent and efficient offense.
The Rockets have had their up and downs this season but remain just three games out of the playoff picture with two looming implosions – Denver (Melo trade) and Portland (Camby injury) – providing them with a couple of wide open opportunities to notch a playoff spot.
After ranking 19th overall in offensive efficiency last season at the league’s sixth fastest pace, the Rockets have made a vast improvement this season, jumping to eight in offensive efficiency at the league’s fifth fastest pace. Remarkably, the defense has actually improved, albiet not my a wide margin. They were the 17th ranked defense in 2009-10 and are currently 15th in defensive efficiency. It may be a minor improvement but the fact that they have been able to withstand a major drop-off is pretty impressive considering the individual defensive capabilities of their players.
More on Kevin Martin and his incredibly efficient play this season after the break…
Two years ago, the Houston Rockets challenged the soon to be World Champion Los Angeles Lakers in a seven game dogfight that they had a decent shot at winning even though they lost Yao Ming in the middle of the series. That injury kept Yao from participating in any NBA related activities last season, [...]
Kevin Martin brings a lot to the table as a basketball player. As one of the most offensively gifted two-guards in the league, Martin is blessed with a consistent jumper, a quick first step, the ability to draw fouls, and an unorthodox shooting motion that makes seems like his shot should get blocked every [...]
If Gilbert Arenas can score like he did tonight without losing the concept of team play, there is no telling what this Washington team can do. Agent Zero had 32 points (9-of-13 shooting, 3-of-4 from three) and seven assists to lead Washington to pretty nice win over the Nets in their home opener. Arenas [...]