Thursday, March 31, 2011

Smooth Transition in Portland

Franchise players are tough to come by. Many teams don’t have one and thus struggle to get victories against upper echelon teams. Brandon Roy has led the injury-plagued Portland Trailblazers for the last five seasons. He was the best shooting guard in the league behind Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.

The Blazers are coached by ex-NBA player, Nate McMillan. Last year, the Blazers were so banged up with injuries, McMillan joined his depleted Blazer team in scrimmage just to have ten bodies out there. Unfortunately, McMillan ruptured his right Achilles tendon; perhaps underestimating the speed of the game or forgetting the fact that he hasn't been in the league in years.

Losing players due to injury is part of the game, but Portland has been very unlucky in this department. Greg Oden, the first pick in the 2007 draft (incidentally chosen ahead of NBA scoring leader, Kevin Durant), has missed more games than he has played during his short career.

Brandon Roy has proven to be a great leader, and a clutch performer throughout his NBA career. He was undoubtedly the face of their franchise. Unfortunately for the Blazers, injury struck again this season, but this time to Brandon Roy. He was put on the shelf and missed 34 games with injuries sustained to both his knees.

When a player of Roy’s stature goes down, it becomes somebody else’s opportunity to step in and fill the void. Fifth year player, LaMarcus Aldridge has taken this responsibility on.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hybrid Point Guards - The Future of the NBA

For years, the most important factors for a quality point guard were his ball handling skills, his court vision, a great all around shot, and speed. These traits are still crucial for today. However, there is a new breed of point guard entering the league. A hybrid point guard combines those aforementioned skills, with power and size. When you mix all these intangibles, you are left with a player that is unguardable.

There have been players in the past and present that possessed most of these traits. Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, has most of these tools, his strongest asset being his ball handling skills. Chris Paul is tough, but is quite short, making it hard for him to see over taller defenders.

In terms of court vision, Jason Kidd is at the top of the list, even though he turns 38 years old tomorrow. He makes passes that most people wouldn’t even dream of making. If you are one of his teammates, you need to be constantly alert because he sees that you are open before you do. Although Kidd has worked tremendously hard on improving his shot, defenders can go under the screen and aren’t too afraid of the outcome.

Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns is the best all around shooter when talking about the point guard position. He consistently shoots 50% from the field, over 40% from three-point range, and over 90% from the free throw line. Larry Bird accomplished the 50, 40, and 90 twice. Dirk Nowitzki, Reggie Miller and Mark Price are the only others to have done that. Nash has had four seasons with those lofty percentages.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Vince Carter: Love Him or Hate Him, Get Your Facts Straight

Vince Carter was one of the biggest stars in all of basketball. He burst onto the scene, winning Rookie of the year by a landslide in 1999. He filled a void of excitement in the post-Jordan era. He was one of the unlucky few to be dubbed the next Michael Jordan – talk about setting the bar high. Here is a label that no player can live up to. Any, and all accomplishments made throughout his career would just pale in comparison.

This comparison was mainly given out because of his dunking ability. Michael Jordan is and will always be the greatest player of all time, but Vince took dunking to a whole new level. He could dunk in the open court with his one of a kind style and flair. He dunked on people, as many defenders who appeared in his posters could attest too. Lastly, he could straight up dunk over people.

In the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Carter literally jumped over Frederic Weis, all 7 foot 2 inches of him. He was the center for the France national team. After the game, The French media called it “Le Dunk de la Mort”, which translates to the Dunk of Death. Now I don’t think Frederic Weis died that night, but I am quite sure part of his ego did.

This play will go down in history, not just as the greatest dunk of all time, but as the greatest highlight of all time. If you haven’t seen it, shame on you, and where have you been.  Enjoy pure Vinsanity

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tim Duncan: the Ultimate Role Player

The years of Tim Duncan dominating the NBA with his steady play have come and passed. This slow decline is not at all a knock at arguably the best power forward of all time. All players go through this tough transition in the twilight of their careers. Few, if any have done it with more class than Tim Duncan. He has taken a backseat to two younger and more talented players at this point and his team is all the better for it. Let’s take a closer look at Tim Duncan’s transformation from MVP of the entire league, to the ultimate role player.

The trio of stars, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan have led the San Antonio Spurs to the playoffs every year they have been together, won three titles and have made this team a perennial contender. The Spurs are a tough-minded team you can never count out, who go about their business quietly, much like the great Tim Duncan.

They are extremely well-coached by Gregg Popovich. He demands nothing but perfection from his group of savvy veterans. Now, with the departure of Jerry Sloan from the Utah Jazz, he has become the longest tenured coach in the NBA. This is an incredible accomplishment in a league where coaches must take the fall for sub-par performance. This speaks to the winning consistency that these Spurs have had since Tim Duncan was drafted number one overall in the 1997 Draft.