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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sportaholic NBA Power Rankings and Other News and Notes

Welcome to the first unveiling of the Sportaholic NBA power rankings. I’ve waited this long because I had a feeling that a flurry of deals would happen as they did on the trading deadline (along with finally getting over my short depression that the NFL season is over). The trades have sparked a new interest in the league. You have major markets (New York, Miami, New Jersey) with major stars now (Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams). This is the new landscape of the NBA. Big time players are linking up and building super teams. Some people like it and some don’t. Like it or not that seems to be the future of the league. The Knicks trade is already paying off for them as they took down Miami in the showdown on South Beach. New York made a statement with their two superstars (Anthony and Stoudemire) that they will have something to say about the Eastern conference playoffs.

The smallest but biggest coup in the trade for New York was acquiring Chauncey Billups. Raymond Felton was a good fit for Mike D’antoni fast paced offense but Big-shot Billups is more of a well-rounded guard that should be able to facilitate the offense that features two of the games premier scorers. Billups is not afraid of playing on the big stage that is New York nor taking the big shot as his nickname says. In an ironic twist on all the trade bluster, one of the smallest market teams that didn’t make any move has the best record in the league. That would be none other than San Antonio Spurs.

And with that, let’s unveil the inaugural rankings:

1. San Antonio Spurs (49-10) – The infamously boring but effective Spurs sit atop the Western conference and have the best record in the league. Coach Pop and the bunch received some bad news with Tony Parker calf injury that will sideline him for the next 2-3 weeks but besides that they are hitting on all cylinders. They gutted out a win Sunday against a scrappy Memphis team thanks to Manu’s 35 and his big plays down the stretch. My question for this team is will their torrid pace that they put themselves on result in tired legs in the playoffs? Only time will tell.

2. Dallas Mavericks (43-16) – It is truly shocking just how good the Mavs are right now. They are16-1 over there last 17 games and don’t show any signs of letting up. They have probably the deepest team in the league and Dirk Nowitzki seems to defy father time with each soft step back jumper he makes. If I have to say one bad thing about this team it is health and age. Caron Butler is likely out for the remainder of the season and Roddy Beaubois just came off an ankle injury. That doesn’t bode well for a team with the 3rd oldest roster in the league.

3. Chicago Bulls (40-17) - You can’t start a Bulls conversation these days without bringing up Derrick Rose. The young all-star point guard and MVP candidate does it all offensively for Chicago. He runs the pick and roll, drives fearlessly to rim, and dishes out assists. I knew his game would translate well in the NBA but didn’t think he would be this dominant. The Bulls also have bought in to coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive strategy and now have one of the league’s stingiest defenses. And they didn’t make a trade but got the equivalent of one in getting Joakim Noah back from injury. I can’t wait to see the Eastern conference playoff match-ups. It’s going to be epic in the East this year as far as the playoffs go.

4. LA Lakers (42-19) – The Lakers defeat of Oklahoma City proved that they are still the team to beat in the West. No team in the league can defend their three headed monster in the post featuring the oft injured Andrew Bynum, the hairiest neck in the NBA Pau Gasol and candy man himself Lamar Odom. The Lakers now have won four in a row as they appear to have flipped the switch and are ready to take the season seriously now. I just don’t see how any team in the West can beat the two time defending champs four times in a playoff series, so the West is theirs to lose. Now when they face who ever makes it out the East that will be a different story.

5. Boston Celtics (42-15) – This is the team that everyone fears in the East, I don’t care what anyone says. They are like the old guys in the neighborhood that the young kids have to go through before they get respect. The Perkins trade leaves them vulnerable in the middle but I can understand GM Danny Ainge’s thinking behind the deal. They weren’t going to pay Perkins the amount of money he was looking for after he turned down a 4-year $22 million deal and they needed a big versatile 3-4 man to cover the likes of Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony in case they meet them in the playoffs. Jeff Green fits the bill and gives them what they have been looking for every since Tony Allen left town. Now just because I understand the deal doesn’t mean that I like it. Perkins mean-grimacing face was the prime example of what the Celtics are all about. The vets in the locker room (KG, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce) were all said to be upset after the deal but its nothing they can do about it. The Orlando Magic and the Lakers should benefit the most from this deal if they happen to meet the Celtics at one time or another in the playoffs.

Other news and notes around the league:

Contract buyout time: Now that trade deadline has come and gone, its time for the buyout players to get signed. Mike Bibby was the first player to begin the process. He was traded to the Wizards and took a $6.2 dollar buyout option to sign else where (Wow, this man really wants a ring). All indications point to him joining the Miami Heat and that would be a welcome addition for the point guard starved team. Bibby doesn’t’ play a lick of defense anymore so that has to be a concern.

After mulling offers from New York, Miami and Orlando, Troy Murphy has decided to take his talents to Boston. The 6-10 power forward is the active leader in games played without appearing in the playoffs (639 games Wow). I think it was great choice for Murphy if he wants to make a playoff run. The Celtics needed him badly after letting Perkins go and having to past their primes O’neal’s on the roster. Murphy was thought to be going to Miami but after news surfaced that Udonis Haslem would be returning soon from injury, meaning that he would likely have split Murphy’s minutes, Murphy choose Boston. Good shrewd signing for the Celtics.

The Kooky Kuseter situation in Detroit – The Pistons are too bad to be making all of this controversy. Why doesn’t Joe Dumars just get rid of this guy? He obviously isn’t meshing well with his players when most of them don’t even bother to come to practice and the voice of the locker room Richard Hamilton is saying what ever he wants to him. Kuester lost the locker room lost a long time ago. Remember when Rodney Stuckey refused to go back in a game after being taken out? Strike one. Remember when Tayshaun Prince and Kuester got into a shouting altercation and Prince had to be restrained? Strike two. And now this Rip Hamilton incident coupled with the players mutiny and laughing at the poor guy when he was thrown out the game for getting teched up twice. It’s truly amazing how long this man has lasted this long in D-town.

Joe Dumars seemed to have the golden touch in the early 2000s when the Pistons were a model of consistency in the NBA. Now after over signing for two good but not great players in Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, he seems to be lost in the portrait of his team. They clearly need to clean house and start over. Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton both need to be moved and will be at any cost after the season. Your team can’t possibly be good if you have washed up Tracy McGrady starting at point guard. Dumars came out and stated that the organization has full support of John Kuester but that is just smoke and mirrors until the season is over. He will be the first one shown the door.


  1. Go Spurs Go!

    Man it's good to see them playing so well. It could come down to the Spurs and Bulls in the NBA Finals.

  2. The league has been turned upside down. With Perkins, OKC can truly compete for the title. The new look Knicks look great. The Heat just upgraded at point guard. The playoffs should be great!

  3. This has to be one of the greatest years for your Chicago sports team this year Jim. Blackhawks win the cup, Bears made it to the division championship and now the Bulls seem poised for a deep run. If you guys can get anything out your Cubbies or White Sox then this will no doubt go in history as the greatest.

    @SportsJunkie Yea its crazy I think this wss the most trades ever at the deadline and some teams have put together some crazy good rosters. You have to love what OKC did by poaching Perkins and signing him to an extension to anchor that post. New York is going to be better than what most people expect. When they eventually do fill out their roster and get some big man, they will be just as good as Miami is. Or are they already there since they beat them already?