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El Mariachi

MAMBINO 2014 NBA Mock Draft

The time is upon us once again MAMBINites: the NBA Draft, a haven for hoophead nerds everywhere, is finally here.
This particular year’s edition has been through all sorts of permutations–once called the greatest draft since 2003, expectations have since been tapered. Bloggers and writers projected no less than five franchise-caliber superstars coming into the NBA this June, but as the NCAA season wore on, it was apparent that this wasn’t going to be the epic class we thought.
Nevertheless, the MAMBINO crew is just as jakked up for this year’s annual rite of passage as we ever are. This draft may not have a James-Wade-Anthony-Bosh-type cache, but it is certainly filled with difference makers and All-Stars. We’ve racked up our selections for lottery picks 1-14, giving you a solid profile of what WE think Thursday’s event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn will look like.
Full disclosure: we wrote this one up a week ago, but Joel Embiid’s foot injury threw our entire post into disarray. In many ways, this is the MAMBINO 2014 NBA Mock Draft 2.0, but we’re proceeding in this new and daring world where a 7-footer has foot and back problems. New AND daring!
With the 1st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Jabari Parker from Duke University
El Miz: The Joel Embiid njury should change nothing. If I was the GM of the Cavs and my boss was not Dan G, then Embiid would be the pick. I’ll roll the dice on the injury Wheel of Fortune for the player with the most upside by far in the draft. But Dan G does not want an injured center who may not play until the calendar turns to 2015. Dan G wants to win and win soon, and “he is sick of winning the lottery”! He makes this clear, banging out late night e-mails in Sans Serif asking “who will win rookie of the year, please advise” and “do any of these guys have asthma, please advise.”… Read more...

The Kind of Historic Season You Don’t Want: Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Michael Carter-Williams, SG Evan Turner, PF Thaddeus Young, C Spencer Hawes, and whoever/someone else
Key Bench Players: Royce White (who?), James Anderson (WHO?), Tony Wroten (WHO??!?!!?), Jason Richardson (syke!)
Offseason Additions: C Nerlens Noel, PG Michael Carter-Williams, Head Coach Brett Brown
Offseason Subtractions: C Andrew Bynum, PF Andrew Bynum’s hair, PG Jrue Holiday
FACT OR FICTION: This new 76ers regime that Sam Hinkie has put together will be the team of the future.
FACT. Fiction as hell.
The Sixers are going to be bad this year. Very bad, in fact. Where three years ago they were playing the Heat in the playoffs, they now will be aiming to set a new franchise record by losing more games than the 1972-73 Sixers (who hold the NBA record with 73 losses). This is a franchise that has skipped the weak ass sh*t, went straight for the heavy stuff and nuked this team’s mediocre present, to hopefully solidify an excellent future. Starting when they let Andrew Bynum and his afro walk and/or stumble away into free agency and then continuing with the whirlwind of the 2013-2014 NBA draft where they traded pre-prime/quasi-star Jrue “I-Jraw-Good” Holiday to the newly anointed New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel (effectively ruining the funniest/most clever draft choice the Nerlens’ Pelicans will ever make) and a 2014 first-rounder, the Sixers have poised themselves for a historically terrible season.
But that’s a very good thing.…

The Return of the Chicago Bulls or the Return of Derrick Rose? Chicago Bulls Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Derrick Rose, SG Jimmy Butler, SF Luol Deng, PF Carlos Boozer, C Joakim Noah
Bench Players: PG Kirk Hinrich, SG Mike Dunleavy, SM Tony Snell, PF Taj Gibson, C Nazr Mohammed, PG Marquis Teague, PF Erik Murphy
Offseason additions: Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, Erik Murphy
Offseason subtractions: Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson, Rip Hamilton
FACT OR FICTION: The return of Derrick Rose will change the face of the Eastern Conference.
FICTION: The Chicago Bulls 2012-2013 season was nothing short of magical. With their superstar point guard Derrick Rose out the entire season with a torn ACL, no one thought they would have accomplished what they did. Not only were they the 5th seed in the playoffs but they ousted the new and improved Brooklyn Nets and gave the Miami Heat a run for their money while battling literally every injury known to man. Sure they weren’t the prettiest team in the league when it came to offense but if you were to take away a superstar from any other team in the league, I doubt that any of them could have been as good as the Bulls.
With a record of 45-37, Thibodeau’s defensive brilliance took center stage last year. With three players worthy of Defensive Player of the Year, Chicago’s grind out, physical D even stopped Miami’s infamous 27 game win streak. But with Luol Deng leading the team in scoring with 16.5 ppg, the Bulls could never take that next step. Sure the emergence of Jimmy Butler was a welcome addition and Joakim Noah’s ever improving game helped but the Bulls still finished 29th in the league in scoring.… Read more...

The Rob Hennigan Project Makes Strides in Orlando 2.0: Orlando Magic Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Jameer Nelson, SG Aaron Afflalo, SF Moe Harkless, PF Glenn Davis, C Nikola Vucevic
Key bench players: SG/PG Victor Oladipo, SF/PF Tobias Harris, PF Andrew Nicholson, C Kyle O’Quinn, PG E’Twaun Moore
Notable offseason additions: Victor Oladipo (2nd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft)
Notable offseason subtractions: C Al Harrington, SF Hedo Turkoglu
FACT OR FICTION: One year removed from Dwight Howard’s departure from Orlando, it is clear that the Magic got the worst of the four-team, blockbuster trade of the 2012-2013 season.
“This deal stinks for the Magic. It’s great for the Lakers, though. Some things never change.”—Sports Illustrated
“The Magic traded the best player in a four-team swap and got the worst package. Amazing.”—SBNation
“They got the short end of the deal.”—ESPN
“Out of the four teams in this blockbuster, the Magic far and away come out the losers here…”—The Great Mambino
Those are obviously quotes from the Dwight Howard trade a year ago, including one from our very own KOBEsh on this blog. Now one year removed from the Dwightmare, it is clear that GM Rob Henningan was the winner in that transaction. The biggest moving pieces in the four team trade undoubtedly were Dwight Howard (who left the Lakers much worse off than the Magic), Andre Iguodala (who is now playing for Golden State), and Andrew Bynum (who not only doesn’t play for the Sixers anymore but also didn’t play a single game last year). Not only have the Magic acquired a core of young and talented players in that trade (as well as Tobias “Looks-like-a-chump-plays-like-a-champ” Harris in the lopsided JJ Redick deal), but they also will have a first round pick the following two years thanks to the Sixers and the Lakers. It is clear that Rob Henningan’s Sam Presti based rebuilding model is working. Slowly it surely, the plan is clearly in place in Orlando.… Read more...

To play Game 7 or not? Defending Derrick Rose…sort of

(The news for weeks is that Derrick Rose, All-Star and 2011 NBA MVP of the Chicago Bulls, has been playing full throttle after a year-long recovery from a torn ACL. However, his return for the 2012-2013 season has all been squashed; he told Turner Sports this week that his “muscle memory” isn’t getting his body to respond correctly. This all might be a moot point–the Bulls might be competing in their last game of the year tonight, a Game 7 against the Nets in Brooklyn.
To say that Chicago is banged up is an understatement. In addition to Rose, the team won’t have Luol Deng tonight, whose flu infection got him hospitalized not just once, but twice this past week. Rose fill-in PG Kirk Hinrich is questionable with a badly bruised calf, while his fill-in Nate Robinson was reportedly throwing up on the sidelines from illness during Game 6. Center Joakim Noah is suffering from a case of plantar fascitiis that has him playing at around 60-70%. His bench counterpart Taj Gibson is the third Bull to fall to the flu, and barely made the call for Game 6.
With his team almost paralyzed with injury, many have asked that if Derrick Rose is going all-out in practice, shouldn’t he be playing in his team’s most crucial game of the year?
Not having any practical experience in competitive basketball, we went straight to our man El Mariachi, whose teenage years were wrought with knee injuries of every kind. Take it away, bru–should Derrick Rose be playing tonight?)
Every injury a basketball player sustains throughout their career forever affects and changes the way they play the game. Basketball, like most other sports, is about millions of different micro-calculations made by your body every nanosecond. Hand eye coordination, vision, strength, balance, and awareness all while under physical and sometimes psychological distress, take their toll on a player’s body and mind from the jump ball to the final buzzer. Add on top of that an aching heel, weak knee, sore shoulder, or even illness, the body will adapt like the amazing creation it is. And whether it’s subconsciously or deliberate, the body of a player will always over compensate even in the smallest sense of the word.
In my young basketball career I was diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans, a degenerative bone condition that took me out of the game for two years. Four surgeries, 10 months on crutches and countless hours of physical therapy later, I was back on the court. But it never was the same.… Read more...

Is Chip Kelly a Good Fit For the Philadelphia Eagles?

(In a shocker, Oregon Ducks football coach Chip Kelly became ex-Oregon Ducks football coach this afternoon, as he signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly had been courted by several NFL teams, but seemed to be going back to Eugene after some sources reported he had signed with the Cleveland Browns just two weeks ago. Our man and foolish Eagles faithful El Mariachi had no choice but to comment on his potentially history-making day)

It is common knowledge that the Philadelphia fan base is a notoriously tough crowd when it comes to sports. But when you look past all the bad press that they get you can see deep down in the cavities of their chests that there is a tiny, Kelly-green Grinch- heart three sizes too small. They are arguably the most passionate fan base in all of sports and they are usually the most critical. Which made the 2012 season all the more painful.

To say the least, it was a sad year. Beginning with the tragic death of Andy Reid’s son, the culmination of a 4-12 season, and the inevitable firing of Reid, ending a twelve year long witch hunt. Add everything up, and this made the Eagles one of the unprecedented seven teams that needed a head coach entering the 2012 postseason.

After a grueling process of interviewing over 11 candidates, it was reported today that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly will be the new boss of the Philadelphia Eagles. Askany fan and they’ll tell you that any change is for the better…but is it really?

Chip Kelly is best known for his high octane offensive style. His no huddle offense is reminiscent of the Patriots, Redskins, and the Colts during the Manning era. Almost always starting in shotgun, Kelly uses the spread offense with 3, 4 or even 5 receiver sets. In theory this spreads the defense dangerously thin which opens up not only the run game, but the read-option for the quarterbacks. This is best run by someone mobile like Cam Newton, RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, or interestingly, a young Michael Vick. The Eagles might have Nick Foles running the show next year, which is a problem in itself. It’s not that Foles isn’t capable–it’s that he’s unproven with such a small sample size of games. Regardless of who’s throwing the ball, this offensive is devastating when implemented correctly with the right personnel and it led Chip Kelly to an astounding 46-7 record in only a four year span at Oregon.

The problem with this style offense is that it’s not much different from Andy Reid’s pass first, chew bubble gum and take names second, West Coast offense. And with the current wide receiver core consisting of an over paid and underweight DeSean Jackson, solid but not great Jeremy Maclin, Jason “I-like-to-take-chunks-of-the-season-off” Avant, and cascadingly-haired Riley Cooper, the Eagles don’t have the big pass catching threat that would draw double coverage to help spread the defense. With the way this group plays, there is no reason to not run the bump and run defense with opposing team’s corners. And on top of that, they don’t have a competent quarterback in Michael Vick who finished 24th in quarterbacks with a dismal 78.1 passer rating. A young Michael Vick would work well in this offense, but that time has clearly come and gone.… Read more...

MAMBINO’s NBA Preview Series: Most Improved, Disappointing and Regressed Teams

The MAMBINO crew came together and threw down their predictions for not just the formal NBA awards, but also for the most improved, disappointing and regressed teams for the 2012-2013 season. Our choices for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Eastern and Western Conference winners and of course, NBA Champion will come next week.  For now, check out some work from El Mariachi and KOBEsh on the most improved, disappointing and regressed teams:

Who will be the most improved team this season?
El Mariachi: The Brooklyn Nets

The end of the 2010-2011 season was an exciting albeit disappointing one for Nets fans. The surprise trade for All-Star point guard Deron Williams was a huge move that many thought would be the major piece in bringing three-time Defensive Player of the Year and six-time All-Star center Dwight Howard to Brooklyn. But when they lost Williams’ first three games and then proceeded to lose him to injury for most of the end of the season, most Nets fans would call it a wash or quite frankly a disappointing end. But next year it could only get better. Right? No. It got worse. No matter how you look at it, the 2011-2012 season for the Nets was rougher than the year before. With the preseason stress fracture to Brook Lopez’s foot – which caused him to miss all but five games – the Nets found themselves with a 22-44 record and that they would blow everyone out in one category; total games missed due to injury totaling in 248. And with trade rumors hovering over the franchise and talks of Deron leaving after this year, it looked like the Nets were going to have to rent out their new home at the Barclays Center to the New York Wizards.

The Nets couldn’t have hit any lower than they were for the last two years which is why the 2012-2013 season is the year they have no choice but to improve and actually make it into the playoffs. 

Once Dwight was off the table, this season was quite honestly looking mighty bleak for the Nets. But the acquisition of six-time All-Star Joe Johnson and the re-signing of Williams breathed life back into the franchise and brought a sense of relief to Jay-Z that he wouldn’t have to do a show every weekend until he’s dead. The pairing of Johnson and Williams threatens to be one of the best backcourts in the league. Now that Brook Lopez is back in the fold, this is the first time in a long time that we will be seeing a healthy starting five for Brooklyn, instead of the 25 different starting lineups we saw last year.

If the Nets won (which happened…sometimes), it was because Williams put the team on his back. Now with the Brook and Johnson as his weapons, we can expect to see him spreading the ball around and being the facilitator we know he can be which should get him more looks than last yea

MAMBINO’s 2012-2013 NBA Season Preview Wrap-Up

After six weeks, our massive 2012-2013 team-by-team preview has come to an end. Shout out to the entire ridiculously pseudonymed MAMBINO writing crew–El Miz, Bocker Knocker, The CDP, El Mariachi, AO, The King, Mr. Marquez and Thunderstolt–for all their contributions. They turned out better than I could have possibly imagined; insightful, well-considered, funny and most of all, right. 

If you haven’t already, check out our predictions for expected Eastern and Western Conference finishes, as well as our 30 team preview series. You’ll dig.

Coming this week: our picks for all the MVP, DPOY and ROY awards, as well as most and least disappointing/improved/suprising and of course, 2012-2013 NBA champion.

Southeast Division 
Atlanta Hawks 

Central Division
Pacific Division

Northwest Division

Philadelphia 76ers
Toronto Raptors

Hoping for Something, but What?: Orlando Magic Season Preview

(A guest post from our resident Orlando Magic fan, El Mariachi. Soak up this relevance now, bud. You’re a year away from being a Bobcats-like apparition in the hoops world)

Starting Five: PG Jameer Nelson, SG Arron Afflalo, SF Hedo Turkoglu, PF Al Harrington, C Glen Davis (Tentative)

Key Bench Players: G J.J. Redick, F Moe Harkless, F Quentin Richardson, C Nikola Vucevic, C Gustavo Ayon

Notable offseason additions: SG Arron Afflalo, F Al Harrington, PF Josh McRoberts, C Gustavo Ayon, Head Coach Jacque Vaughn, GM Rob Hennigan

Notable offseason subtractions: Entire team, C Dwight Howard, F Ryan Anderson

For a long time, the Dwightmare had hung over the city of Orlando, souring any semblance of a season, especially in 2011. Change was coming and cast a dark shadow over the entire organization until it was nearly unrecognizable. The firing of head coach Stan Van Gundy felt like a death in the family–the lighting of the fuse that would eventually blow the team apart. The only good thing coming out of the season really was that the team would get some great assets for the inevitable trade of superstar Dwight Howard so that they could rebuild right away. THAT, and the firing of GM Otis “I peed the bed again” Smith.

And here we are with Dwight gone, a new team, and a new head coach in Jacque Vaughn, how can one not be excited? Oh wait, Orlando botched the easiest trade of the decade? That’s right. As an Orlando fan, I seem to block out that out of my memory from time to time.

Honestly being a Magic fan through the last year has kind of numbed me to the whole experience. So much so that the 2012-2013 season has me excited…and that’s saying a lot regarding this team. 

Arron Afflalo will be the main scoring option, while Vaughn will utilize the same inside outside play scheme that Van Gundy implemented. Having Dwight inside the lane, and being the most dominant force in the frontcourt this side of the solar system, allowed the Magic three-point shooters to rain down shots from beyond the arc at will without hesitation. This distance shooting would free up Dwight making Orlando a match up nightmare. But now that Howard is gone, the Magic will have to rely on Al Harrington, Gustavo Ayon and Glen Davis to free up the rest of the team which are made up of shooters.

The problem is that those three aren’t anywhere close to being the dominant inside presence that Dwight was for the Magic and won’t benefit the team that led the league in three point rate last year. Unless Vucevic immerges as a force down low, the Magic frontcourt isn’t going to free up anything besides a head coaching job. They would more likely lead the league in least points scored, or most GM’s fired.

The good thing is that Vaughn comes from the school of Gregg Popovich. Pop loves to run the pick and roll while working the corner 3s, which is, in my opinion the most effective and underrated play making in basketball. If the Magic can work the high post pick and roll game with Davis or Harrington, Afflalo could set a NBA league record with most wide-open-corner 3s made in a season (especially seeing that he made 40 percent of his three-point shots since his rookie season). He is the only worthwhile piece that Orlando got back in the Dwight trade, so the coaching staff has to find a way to use him effectively if they have any hope of salvaging this team. For the moment, it’s effectively Afflalo’s team now, which is terrifying and exciting all at once. He is an all around solid-to-good-to-could-be-great player that has built himself into a relative “star”. I Read more...

The Five Stages of Grief: Musings on Dwight Howard from an Orlando Magic Fan

(A week ago, the Orlando Magic traded Dwight Howard to an undisclosed location. It have been CSKA Moscow or something, because I haven’t heard any information since then. Anyway, MAMBINO contacted the only living Magic fan outside of central Florida, our own El Mariachi, to give his thoughts on the trade. Having had a week to mire in his his own blue and white pit of despair, we asked him to get a pulse on the feelings of the beleaguered Orlando fanbase) 
The Five Stages of Grief : End of an Era

The Magic are idiots. All I can say is don’t worry, in 8 years when the Magic are good you’ll feel so good about your loyalty.”
11:00pm August 9th – D-12 Day
That was the text I received from my friend while getting in to bed that night. Say what you will, but I didn’t feel the urge to turn the computer and read everything I could about the trade. Instead, I closed my eyes knowing that it was finally over, Dwight was gone and now we, as a fan base, can move on.
I awoke to a nightmare.
Denial [dih-nahyuhl] disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.

What you have to understand first and foremost is that I am happy Dwight is gone. To have such a cloud hovering over the organizing made watching anyMagic game unwatchable. I would have the games on mute just to block out the endless commentating on where Dwight would end up. Unless Marv Albert was commentating. I would never mute him. He is a living deity.
So with this trade came a sense of relief, though fleeting as it may be. Because once reality sets back in, the fact that you just lost your only hope for the foreseeable future is like a swift kick to the nuts. And the fact that we literally got NOTHING back for him is like a full blown castration. And our wife has left us. And we’ve lost our inheritance. And our dog was run over.

“The Magic are idiots.”

It’s almost inconceivable that when you have the biggest trading piece of the decade, eclipsed only by LeBron James, you don’t come out with a W in the trade category! Instead of Andrew Bynum and/or Pau Gasol or the couple hundred draft picks the Rockets and Nets were throwing the Magic’s way, we end up with the poor man’s Andre Iguodala, Arron Afflalo (who as of right now is the best scoring option we have at 15.2 ppg last year – kill me now!) and two (of three) lottery protected draft picks, one of which will come in 2017 at the earliest! And Andre Iguodala is already the poor man’s Lebron, so that makes Afflalo the homeless, disease ridden man’s Lebron James.
Every article, report, and news story I have read is in agreement with me. The Magic botched this trade by unloading Dwight to get a team that isn’t terrible, but also isn’t good. And no matter how you look at it, it’s going to be that way for a long time. This trade is analogous to the burrito I’m eating; in the end it all falls apart.
I keep imagining that there is going to be an impromptu press conference where Otis and Stan are going to jump out and say “Sike!” and Dwight will drop down on wires and fly around the room. Right before the publicly execute Gilbert Arenas.
Anger [ang-er] – a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong.

So the Magic didn’t get better, but they also didn’t get as bad as they should have in the deal. I mean, why trade away your only building blocks to get glue and maybe some paint thinner?! Al Harrington is coming off a great year but the guy is 32 and waving his prime goodbye. And this Vucevic kid could be good but best case scenario would yield h