November 11, 2009

November 11th Fake Mail

What's the deal with Derrick Rose? The guy was lightning in a bottle last season, and this year he can't seem to quite get off like he was. What's wrong?
--Dennis, Detroit

Rumor has it that there's an injury involved in the Rose equation, but I think it's more than that. I think last year in that great series with Boston, he made an impression that made sure the opponents scouting report had his name at the top, when as a rookie they probably didn't consider him a legitimate threat. Now he's all grown up and is going to have to learn to deal with schemed defenses. Still, Rose is the real deal and will find his groove. Look for him to get his legs back and be better than ever before the All Star break. 

I don't like that fast pace that the Suns are playing at-- never have. I just like sticking to the triangle and having people be so confused that they don't know how to guard it even though I've been running it for decades now. Plus, I can't seem to figure that fast thing out.
--P. Jackson, Los Angeles

Phil, you may just get your chance to get revenge on Steve Nash and his speedy little gang. It's true, Nash has been a thorn in Jackson's side since meeting in the playoffs twice and both times leaving Phil with an early flight to Montana. The one problem is still the same one: Nash. He's averaging 18 points, 13 assists per game and 65 miles an hour, and shooting 93 percent from the line, 49 percent on 3-pointers and 53 percent from the field. He's hot right now, and has his Suns playing like dark horse spoilers. ESPN even mentioned him as an MVP candidate today at age 36. 

Robbed! We was robbed last night! I can't believe it, the Bulls is so much better than the Nuggets and we just got robbed cause the NBA loves to promote Carmelo Anthony.
--Peter, Chicago

Nope. I'm never shy about crying over bad officiating or league bias, but this isn't it. Firstly, the NBA has been anything but protective of Anthony. Fifteen game suspension for throwing one punch. The NBA is overly protective of its image if anything. Second, the refs reviewed the play. That's not stealing, that's gratifying. I was just talking the other day about before they had video replay and the official had to try to make the call, but if they missed that one whistle either way, the evidence was there over and over that they were wrong. It's just a clear cut better way to do it (video replay) and although that was a tough loss for the Bulls, it was still the correct call.

WTF? No love for my boy 24? The Lakers have the best record in the league and Kobe is lighting it up and can't get no MVP talk? You wrote in Wade, LeBron, Nash and Howard and ignored Kobe completely. He's the best scorer in the NBA hands down and is on a team with all that talent.
--Jershon, Los Angeles

I get five hundred fake emails like this every day so it's time that I address them: No. The last two seasons Kobe had calmed down, and when he won in 2007 he deserved it. But he's sort of back to his old ways, except worse. Kobe is leading the league in scoring, but he's also leading everyone, including all former versions of himself in field goal attempts per game at 26 a game. That includes games when LA is up big and Kobe sits... 

He is shooting too much, and if you compare his percentages (45% from the field, 20% from three) and assists (2.6) with a player like LeBron (52%, 40% and 8 assists) then you see the difference between a super talented player who makes his team better and a super talented player with a super talented team who calls his number all night long. Kobe is at his best when he plays the five man game, and right now he's just gone into Kobe-first mode. 

What do we do about the Jazz? They don't seem to be the same team that they were a few years ago in their deep playoff run, but they have almost the same roster with a bunch of talented young guys. What's up?
--Doug, Utah

Utah is in an exclusive group with New Orleans and Dallas as "teams with high hopes and the rosters to get there" that don't seem like they're going to get there. They have the guards, the forwards, the point guard, the shooters and the coach. I honestly think that there was a chemistry disaster when Boozer said he wanted out and they haven't been able to resolve it. I don't know that they will, but it's a shame that they're playing the way they are with the team they have assembled. 

If I were Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor, I would be sending multiple gratuitous bribes north of the border to Raptors GM Brian Colangelo like this:

"Dear Mr Colangelo, I will trade Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and my second daughter for Chris Bosh. Thank you for your time."

That's your best bet, Jazz fans.

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November 9, 2009

November 9th Fake Mail

Monday is normally when sites and Sports Illustrated release their power rankings. The top teams remained the same, with Boston first, then the Lakers, then surprisingly the Magic were ahead of the Suns, despite Orlando's stunning blowout loss to the Thunder. Still, there is some subjectivity required to make a good decision about teams and their current prowess. On to the fake mail.

Spurs are finally going to win on an even year. With all the right pieces in place and some fresh new players on board, they are poised to remain the class of the league. Spurs starters are only playing 52% of the minutes so far, which means they'll be rested come playoff time. Mark my words: best franchise in modern NBA history.
--Clayton, San Antonio

Wow, class of the league huh? While that's clearly not true, the Spurs have no shot at winning. None, zero and zilch. But let's beat up on your ludicrous statement about them being the best franchise. Not only are they some of the least talented teams to ever win the title, but they are the literal dark ages of basketball entertainment. In 2007, the Spurs set a record low for the lowest ratings in NBA finals history, which replaced the previous low from when San Antonio was in the finals in 2003.

As for the current roster, they got Richard Jefferson who was--with Duncan-- a part of the 2004 USA Olympic team that won. Bronze. Jefferson has always had potential, but in his ninth season, I have my doubts that he will ever be more than mediocre in this league. Also they have the surgically repaired remains of Antonio McDyess, a good player but an old player who will not take them to the next level. Also, Duncan and Parker are both currently injured, and with Timmy being over the ten million hours played mark and having a history of Plantar Fasciatis, don't expect him to ever play consistent minutes again.

Even last year when they had their guys, they weren't the same. They were easily dispatched by a pretty mediocre Mavs team. So they're done as contenders. Thank goodness.

How about the Rockets? I'm not thinking title, but maybe a nasty first round and potential trip to the second round? These guys are playing hard and are a tough match up for pretty much every team in the league.
--Trent, Houston

Hmm... I don't know about second round, but it's tough to picture this squad going down easy. I do feel like a big part of their match up trouble is caused by the lightning bolt they call Aaron Brooks. Plus, although we don't know the exact details, it looks like Tracy McGrady could be making his come back sooner than expected.

If McGrady comes back to what is at least a nice supporting cast, then they could really make a top four team in the West have a miserable first round. Which just sounds delightful, doesn't it? I thought it was fun how much they made the Lakers sweat last season, and if they pushed the purple and gold to seven games again this year, that would definitely make the next round a more interesting story for Phil Jackson and crew.

In case you've forgotten, McGrady is fourth on the NBA playoff all time top scoring average list, and has wreaked plenty of havoc on the court with his shooting touch and clutchness. (Watch that whole thing; one of the great moments in Sports, and a lesson to never leave early.)

Do the Jazz really have what it takes in this league? At least do you think Williams is MVP material?
--Cameron, Nowhereville, Utah

Well Cameron, not right now is a good answer to both questions. The Jazz are in a bad way, just eeking out a win against a very bad New York team, but they also have shown glimpses of greatness, such as the first three quarters in their game against Dallas, or the whole game against San Antonio. But losing a game when you have a 16 point lead in the fourth, or losing to a Kings team that was lottery bound already and then lost their leading scorer... they're in a tough spot right now.

Williams isn't really an MVP contender this year because of that last paragraph. As has been proved by Dwyane Wade last year, as well as Kobe Bryant in 2006, even ridiculous stats (don't forget that Bryant did this) when you're on a bad/mediocre team can't get you the MVP award. So while he should finally make the all star team this season, we'll need to wait for both of the great young point guards-- Chris Paul is a little better than Williams still-- to have better teams.

I can help. I promise man. I mean, I just want to play on a team that needs me. I know there has to be a team that needs a guy who will push the ball, shoot without a conscience and push the team to compete harder than ever. Please let me just go somewhere better.
--Allen Iverson, Las Vegas

Oh yeah. If Iverson gets out of this current contract it's New York or bust. That's his only option. He could help that team as long as they're willing to bring Chris Duhon off the bench. We know if they sign him it's for one year only, so why not? It doesn't eat into they're cap for next season, which is what they're worried about, although I'm sure that since they've paid the luxury tax for so many bad seasons they would gladly pay it to recruit LeBron, so I'm not worried about that. I say do it D'Antoni.

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November 8, 2009

November 8th Fake Mail

Well, there has certainly been one consistent thing to the start of the 2009-10 season; that nothing has been consistent. At all. Jazz beat the Spurs, lose to the Martin-less Kings. Suns beat the Celtics in Boston, lose by 30 to Orlando. Weird. On to the fake mail.

I knew it would happen. Put a selfish player on any team and he kills them like he always has. Iverson is nothing but a dog and a selfish team breaker. The guy is overrated and never done nothing good.
--Tyson, Indianapolis

Maybe you have a good point. I do have a quick possibly unrelated question though: which three players have the top points per game in NBA playoff history? In order, the answer is 1- Michael Jordan, 2 - Allen Iverson, 3 - Jerry West. That's it, Iverson is not only not a team wrecker, but he's one of the 50 greatest players of all time. It's not like Iverson ever carried a TERRIBLE Sixers team to the NBA finals by sheer balls and single-handedly beat a Lakers team at least one time that the whole Western Conference couldn't beat.

To quote Red Auerbach, "I don't care if he never comes to practice, if he was on my team I'd play him all night long. Love him." Me too, Red. Allen Iverson was one of the main attractions that brought be to the league when I was still in high school, so you can't win on this point. This is a guy who, in an era of Duncan's, Pierce's and Antoine Walker's brought excitement to the game. Big time. (If you watch this, skip to about six minutes in.)

This deal didn't make sense to me, though. This guy is a big time winner, goes to a very bad team that won't let him start. They could bring Conley off the bench, he's not that good. Grizzlies management should have known this would happen, and it's almost completely their fault.

Yo, can the Kings win any games with Kevin Martin hurt? Think he could be an all star with his numbers?
--Leon, San Fransisco

I think they will win more without Martin. With him, they were a joke team only capable of winning when Martin goes ballistic and scores 50. Without him, they're such a tragically terrible team that other clubs will take them completely not seriously and lose games that should be easy wins. (See exhibit Utah.) Seriously, this is a terrible team with no shot at anything worth getting behind for the next several years. My condolences to your team pride.

Please! Someone get me out of here! I'm a good player; trust me. I've been a part of the biggest upset in pro sports history, I was a key player on a championship team in 2003. I can help your team. Doesn't anyone need help?
-- Stephen Jackson, Oakland

Someone should definitely help you out there, Steve. Another case of a bad reputation that not's well deserved. Jackson saved the Spurs from certain elimination from the Lakers in 2003 as he hit big shot after big shot. He is a scorer who could very much help a contender who needs help because they can't score enough points without him.

That's right, I'm openly plugging for a Cavs team with fantastic chemistry to take on Stephen Jackson. Why? Because their new wings aren't any good. Jamario Moon can't seem to do anything, and Anthony Parker can't even catch. Honestly, watch him. He drops four passes a game. Explain to me how a tall, tough defending 3 point shooting slasher could hurt a team with LeBron James on it. I submit that it will not.

Aiight, we knows the Lake show is numba one, but who's number 2 out West? Not that they can stop the LAKERS! Kobe 4 MVP bOY!
--Keith, Huntington Beach

I would have to say the second best team in the West right now actually is the Lakers. They clearly are not the best team-- like we thought they would be-- although I have to suspect they will be with a healthy Gasol in the lineup at the end of the season.

If you would have asked me who would be second in the West two weeks ago, I would have listed the possibilities of Portland, Denver, Utah or maybe even San Antonio.

The best team in the Western Conference up to now is clearly the Phoenix Suns, who have had their offense firing like the old days, including during an impressive road win at Boston, who was ranked first in last weeks ESPN Power Rankings. This team is playing like they've never heard of Terry Porter, and it couldn't be more entertaining to watch.

I thought he wasn't supposed to be any good? Undersized and white power forwards never make it as lottery picks in the NBA, huh? What's your assessment of Tyler Hansbrough now?
--Tyler Hansbrough's Mom, Charlotte

Too soon to tell. The guy did get 13 points and 5 rebounds in only 14 minutes, but it was against a porous Wizards defense and it was one time. People have overreacted to a single decent performance in the past, and I don't really want to join those ranks.

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November 5, 2009

November 5th Fake Mail

All those comments about the undefeated Suns sure seem outdated just one day later, don't they? Perhaps that's why people don't enjoy monthly magazines about Sports as much as they once did. Let's take a look at some more fake mail.

Carter can't seem to stay in the game! Vince is the softest player in the league. This sprained ankle is just another smudge on a career of a guy who just quits.
--Jose, Toronto

Yikes! Accusing Vince Carter of having weak ankles is kind of like accusing Shaq of being tall. That having been said, Vince is a super talent who's not only capable of dropping a lot of points, but he's one of the clutchest players ever. A little trivia: of current players in the NBA who has the best game winning shot percentage? Carmelo Anthony. The worst? Kobe Bryant.

Nobody can beat LA! They was the best last year, plus all they young guns is back, plus Artest is an upgrade over Ariza. Bynum is the beast, no one will stop them. KOBE 4 MVP!
--Todd, Los Angeles

Tough one there. I agree with you that Artest is a major upgrade over Ariza just because of his strength, and I don't subscribe to the belief that he could hurt that team. He did one stupid thing over five years ago, I don't think he's a real risk to a team with that much talent. I don't see anyone beating the Lakers either unless A) another contender makes a major trade (The Celtics trade Brian Scalabrine for LeBron, etc...) or B) if Pau Gasol's injury is worse than predicted. He's a very underrated player who took the Lakers from first round fodder to the Finals, and although they would still be great without him, they won't be a sure thing without the big Spaniard.

What's the deal? Will the Jazz make the playoffs? Carlos Loozer is Greg Ostertag reincarnated and the Jazz are better without him. Milsap can carry the load.

--Trevor, Provo

I hope your pretty wasted as your writing this, since it's really stupid. Milsap is a good player who I like, but an all-star he is not. He's a hustle guy who would help any team in the NBA, but Boozer is the real deal. It's a fact that the only thing in Utah shorter than Ronnie Price is how long the fans remember success. Boozer is not only key to Utah's success, but he's a rare commodity in the NBA. How many guys get you 20 and 10 in this league? The answer is Tim Duncan, Al Jefferson, Carlos Boozer... end of list. That's really it, so to say "we don't need this guy" is just dumb. Jazz will make the playoffs. Sloan doesn't like to miss them.

All of the talk in NY is resting on LeBron signing with the Knicks. What if we don't get him? Should I just stick with Baseball?
--Mike, New York

I don't think everything should rest on that. The Knicks have enough cap space to sign two stars, even if they do get LeBron. But even if they only got Wade and Amare, or Wade and Bosh plus a few nice role players, suddenly New York has experienced a Celtics/Garnett-esque revival and is a contender. Fear not, basketball will live on in the Garden.

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