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Accelerating the clock: New Orleans PELICANS Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Jrue Holiday, SG Eric Gordon, SF Al-Farouq Aminu, PF Anthony Davis, C Greg Stiemmsma
 
Key bench players: G/F Tyreke Evans, PF Ryan Anderson, SF Anthony Morrow, C Jeff Withey
 
Offseason additions: Holiday, Evans, Stiemmsma, Morrow
 
Offseason subtractions: PG Greivis Vasquez, C Robin Lopez
 
FACT OR FICTION: “New Orleans Pelicans” has a good ring to it.
 
FICTION. Let’s move on.
 
FACT OR FICTION: The Pelicans did the right thing by trading for Jrue Holiday.
 
FACT. Potential is a funny thing. It’s impossible to put value on an unknown, so it allows us to overvalue just for the sake of doing so. Nerlens Noel, drafted #1 overall by New Orleans but subsequently traded to Philadelphia, is brimming with potential, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Today’s rim protectors are more valuable than ever because the league is moving toward efficient offenses. For example, the pick and roll is designed to give the ball-handler a plethora of options that result in high percentage shots, such as layups, corner 3s, and any open shots that may force the defense to foul. Furthermore, pairing Noel with Anthony Davis would give the Pelicans TWO protectors, which is a sweet fallback whenever the opposing offense forces one of them into a high-PnR situation.… Read more...

MAMBINO Predictions for the NBA’s MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year

MVP: LeBron James

The King: After winning back-to-back MVPs in the 1990-1991 and 1991-1992 seasons, Michael Jordan was the heavy favorite to win the award for a third consecutive time and fourth overall going into the 1992-1993 season. Despite averaging a monstrous 32.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 5.5 APG Jordan lost the MVP to Sir Charles.

LeBron James, who has won three of the last four MVPs, finds himself in similar position with 67% of NBA general managers predicting that he will once again take home the MVP. Does Kevin Durant or any other player have a legitimate chance of dethroning the King? Sorry LeBron haters, it’s not going to happen. Here’s why:

1) He’s the best player in the league: Obviously the number one factor in any individual player award is the performance of the player. What else is there to say? It’s not even close.

2) Team Performance: A huge reason why Jordan lost the MVP was the drop off in performance for the Bulls between the 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 seasons. In the ’91-’92 season, the Bulls dominated the league with a 67-15 record, good enough to win the Eastern Conference by 16 games! The next year they went 57-25, finishing second in the Eastern Conference and third in the NBA – five games behind Barkley’s Suns. Team performance matters. Do you see anyway the Heat fail to dominate the Eastern Conference? Me neither.

3) Good Storyline/Big Improvement: If your team improves significantly from the prior year and your addition/growth/career year helps drive the team’s success, you are guaranteed a MVP. The best example of this is Barkley, who helped lead the Suns to the best record in the NBA after finishing 4th in the Western Conference the year before his arrival. Steve Nash (first MVP), Derrick Rose and even Karl Malone (first MVP) are other great examples.

Where’s this year great story coming from? The Lakers could improve significantly, but it’s hard to see any of the Lakers winning an MVP for the same reason none of the Celtics came close in the 2007-2008 season. I don’t believe the Thunder will increase their winning percentage much more than the Heat, given their already stellar performance last year, their comparatively tough schedule this year and of course departure of James Harden. If Brooklyn or New York challenges for the number one seed in the East, Deron Williams and Carmelo Anthony would garner considerable MVP support, but I just don’t think either team is good enough to challenge the Heat. While it’s true that you don’t see most of the good stories coming – that’s why they’re good stories- unless there is a major surprise, I don’t see the storyline factor coming into play as it has in prior seasons.

 4) Statistics: General basketball fans and MVP voters are far more familiar with quantitative measures of players’ value than they were even five years ago. For that reason, it’s going to be more difficult for someone to win the MVP when all the advanced statistics indicate that another player is clearly the league’s best, as is likely to be the case with LeBron this year (and was the case with Michael back in 1993).

5) Hate for LeBron/Loser’s Stigma: Two things that worked against James in 2010-2011 were a) he wasn’t considered a “winner” because he hasn’t won a championship and b) people were outraged over “The Decision”. Well, now he’s an NBA champion and with the passage of time, anger over The Decision has dissipated.

The NBA has a lot of young stars right now, so James is certainly no lock for the MVP. With that said, if I had to bet on h

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David Stern Was Right – New Orleans Hornets Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Greivis Vasquez, SG Eric Gordon, SF Al-Farouq Aminu, PF Ryan Anderson, F/C Anthony Davis

Key Bench Players: G Austin Rivers, SG Xavier Henry, F Hakim Warrick, PF Jason Smith, C Robin Lopez

Notable offseason additions:
F/C Anthony Davis (1st overall pick), G Austin Rivers (10th overall pick), PF Ryan Anderson, PF Hakim Warrick, C Robin Lopez

Offseason subtractions: SG Marco Belinelli, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Carl Landry, F/C Emeka Okafor, F/C Gustavo Ayon, G Jarrett Jack

David Stern was right. There. I said it.
Perhaps the lesson was hardened right in front of the Commisioner’s eyes. The mid-decade Sacramento Kings rode highly paid veterans to low playoff seeds in the post-Chris Webber era, rather than sell off those parts while they still had value. Now the franchise is in a prolonged rebuilding process, with not only it’s on-court product in trouble, but also the very soil in which the team plays. Yes, the Kings were able to grasp the last remaining threads of relevancy within their reach, but for the very little success they achieved, the organization is now in shambles. This isn’t to say that poor ownership decisions and the city fo Sacramento don’t have anything to do with it, but certainly a winning product on the floor would help allay the massive obstacles the Kings are facing.
Last December, when the commissioner laid down The Veto, this is the situation he hoped to avoid. This squad that I just listed is the team he had in mind to take the floor for the 2012-2013 season. No, he didn’t want 30-something vets with eight figure contracts like Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Emeka Okafor and Lamar Odom staying for the short term. Sure, they’d either make the playoffs or remain on just the fringes of contention, but a swift four-game first round exit would be at the expense of any long-term growth for a franchise that’s struggled for so long. Stern was hoping that the 2011-2012 edition of the Hornets would have valuable young pieces like Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu, but what he surreptitiously pined for was the team being awful enough that they could acquire a franchise-saving high lottery draft choice. No doubt citing the Clippers, Magic and Cavaliers…twice as recent examples, David Stern had no choice but as acting “owner” of the Hornets to kibosh the potential trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers. For it, he’d get an impudent young guard and a trademarked unibrow. Not a bad haul.


This Hornets team is the fruits of Sterns’ bloodletting. From just the sheer physical presence of Anthony Davis, you can see that he’s a potential all-league superstar. There’s no amount of superlatives that can adequately describe exactly how impactful he can be. Still, we’re talking about a 19 year-old kid, who won’t be 20 until the 70th game of the season. I suspect that at the very least he’ll be a force on the defensive end immediately, seeing as he showed a hunger on that end of the floor, while most young men his age are only focused on scoring. I’m not sure if he’s the type of rebounding savant that Dwight Howard was in his rookie season, but he’s shown nothing besides maximum effort on the court. Offensively, he’ll have a lot to learn, but the pure unorthodox combination of his size, length and agility that will allow him to put up 12 to 15 points per game. He’ll quickly become the face of the team publicly (if he isn’t already), which won’t be great ae
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Game Recap: USA vs. Australia, Olympic Quarterfinals

What, me struggle?

     After watching the Russians, Spanish, and Argentinians advance to the semifinals, the US men’s team went out and took care of business against Australia, a repeat of the chippy quarterfinals in 2008. On paper, it was a 119-86 drubbing where the US dominated with 22 threes, 13 steals, and 18 forced turnovers. In reality, however, it was the third straight game where the Red, White, and Blues played only sporadically with the requisite focus and let their opponent hang in the game well into the second half. Thanks to LeBron’s steady triple double and the Black Mamba’s 2nd half explosion, the game never felt as close as the scoreboard indicated. 

     The first half was an ugly slugfest, with 19 fouls against 13 total field goals at one point in the second quarter. At half time, LeBron’s precursor to a triple double (7 points, 10 boards, and 6 assists) and big halves from KD/D-Williams were the only reasons the US had a lead. Although they were defending with energy and holding Australia to a low FG percentage, the Aussies shot well from 3 and had a huge first half from the criminally underrated Patrick Mills. Although down 14 at half, they closed to 6 in the first 2 minutes of the 3rd quarter and hung around until the US surge.

     As a Lakers fan, these Olympics are interesting to watch. I wonder if Pau Gasol is relearning how to be assertive on offense, but, more importantly, I’m watching Kobe react to lower minutes and not being the primary ballhandler. For the Lakers to be successful, he’ll have to accept a diminished role with Steve Nash, which means settling for the fact that he may need to save his days of heavy usage and ball domination for the times when he’s going off or that’s what the defense is giving them. To his credit, that’s exactly what Kobe has been doing for Coach K, while serving as a leader and Elder Statesman. Throughout the Olympics and prelim games, his defensive energy, ability to draw fouls, and passing have been great. He hasn’t forced it on offense, but the Black Mamba has not been scoring efficiently either and isn’t getting his usual number of shots.

     A few minutes into the 3rd, he had 3 turnovers and was 0-4, missing some makeable shots. That said, he drew a few nice fouls and had passes that weren’t converted on before finally throwing a huge alley-oop to Chandler. After that, Kobe got hot and that was the game. He drilled a three, stole the ball, and drained another three, extending the lead to 12. In the fourth, he drained four more, with three coming in rapid succession to singlehandedly put the game away. All the sudden, USA’s energy level was reinvigorated and a few steals led to easy transition buckets. The lead was 30, human victory cigar Anthony Davis was in the game, and garbage time commenced for Team America. Similar to Argentina, a spurt broke the spirits and backs of their opponent to restore order to the game.

     It’s great that the Team LeBron (11/14/12 and first Olympic triple double ever) can rely on his excellence, but this team has its blind spots. Love has started to play well and I have been consistently impressed with Paul, Deron Williams, and Carmelo during these games. With the NBA’s greatest scorers in one place, you never count them out, but they have enough lapses in defensive intensity that I’m a bit worried. Regardless of who they have on the floor, there’s no question that this team’s defense fuels its offense, with steals and transition buckets serving as the core of these epic runs. With Tyson Chandler trying to set an Olympic record in foul rate, they lack a shot … Read more...

Instant Trade Analysis: Anthony Davis to the New Orleans Hornets

David Stern gets: Tom Benson to buy the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA

New Orleans Hornets get: PF Anthony Davis via the number one pick in the 2012 NBA Draft

That wasn’t a joke, but not in the way you think.


I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe that Jordan was suspended in 1993 for gambling, nor do I believe that Patrick Ewing was snuck under the table to the New York Knicks in 1985. And I don’t think that the formerly NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets were gifted the number one pick through nefarious means as a sort of incentive for the NFL Saints’ owner Tom Benson buying the team.

However, when David Stern named “basketball reasons” as the main logic behind vetoing the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade, he was directly referring to this possible outcome. What the Commish wanted wasn’t for a team filled with crafty vets like Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Lamar Odom and Emeka Okafor to make the playoffs as an easy first-round out, leaving them with middling draft prospects, little salary cap room and no young players. Stern wanted the team to be left without cap-clogging contracts (like that of Martin and Scola) and a high draft pick, so that the new owner could re-make the Hornets in whatever vision he saw fit. Although he couldn’t have projected that New Orleans would be bestowed with such fortune as the number one overall pick, he certainly knew exactly what he was doing when he changed the course of the 2011-2012 NBA season mid-December.

Anthony Davis isn’t just a great power forward with a lot of tools – he’s a potential franchise-changing big man. “The Brow”, an unfortunate nickname bestowed upon him in honor of the “unique” haircut directly above his eyes, legendarily grew 8 inches between his freshman and junior years in high school. As a 6’4″ sophomore, Davis learned how to play the game as a guard rather than a big. Thus, as you’ve seen his entire year at Kentucky, Davis has one of the most complete packages available in any prospect this side of LeBron James.

Still a teenager, Davis is already a defensive difference maker. He led the nation in blocks, and he looks like an elite rebounder. He has a fantastic motor, rarely quits on plays, and most of all, seems to relish defending. Offensively he’s still a bit raw, but has shown the propensity to put the ball on the floor much like a guard, as mentioned above. However, with great hands and a seemingly high basketball IQ, the biggest knock on Davis is that he needs to put on weight an muscle. If this entire description of him seems a bit cliche, it’s because in his frenshman season at Kentucky, the Brow has shown scouts everything they’ve wanted to see out of someone who could be an NBA superstar.

For the Hornets, this is a complete game-changer for the future of the franchise. The team currently has a bunch of building blocks in Eric Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Al-Farouq Aminu, Greivis Vasquez and Gustavo Ayon, but no one that anyone would project to break out and lead the Hornets to anything better than the late lottery. Davis surely won’t make the team an overnight contender, but he certainly could help elevate them to fringe playoff contention, much like Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in their first years. He’s coach Monty Williams’ dream prospect – a defensive-minded star who will commit himself fully to doing anything to win.

New Orleans needed this, not just to resucitate their franchise, but also to … Read more...