Well this season got off to a rather disappointing start for Miami Heat (bandwagon jumper) fans. The game was sloppy, typical first game of the season play but it was clear who the better team was. For much of the game Miami looked like they didn’t belong on the same court as the Celtics, totally of sync. What did you expect? Miami took the second and third best player in the league, throw in a top 10-15 player. All of whom who are the best players in the history of their franchises and threw them together on one team, then opened up against the last years Finals runners up.
This doesn’t mean the Heat are going to suck, and it doesn’t mean the Celtics are going to win the championship. In class today I heard some asshole in a Celtics cap say “I’m not even sure if Miami is going to make the play-offs.” WHAT!? Of course their going to make the play-offs. In fact, they’re going to have a top 3 seed. I mean does this moron realize what he just said? He said they Miami is probably going to win 40 or less games and that there are going to be 8 teams in the stronger, but still rather weak Eastern conference that are going to be better than them. If we have learned anything in recent years its that the first game has no bearing on what’s going to happen in down the stretch. For example the 2007 Mavericks started off 0-4 and went 67-15, and the 2006 Heat started 2-3 then won 50 games won the title. The Celtics meandered through much of last season, then made it to game 7 of the Finals.
So I don’t understand what the big deal is. A team’s first game together was sloppy, and their opponent who have played together and dominated the league for 3 seasons beat them. Sekou Smith said in his blog on NBA.com that the Celtics gave the league an “instruction manual” on how to beat Miami. This makes two ridiculous assumptions.
1. The Miami Heat are going to play the way the did tonight for next 81+ games.
2. The Miami Heat were thought to be unbeatable until last night.
I think it was Kenny Smith who said “Does the dynasty start tonight?” As if the first game they are playing together decides how many championships they win. That’s like saying the Lakers dynasty began mid-season in 2008 when they acquired Pau Gasol. Dynasties don’t begin in the regular season, they begin when a team wins a title.
The point of this post is to explain how inane it is to make dynasty references for a team that hasn’t played their first game and it as equally as inane to write that team off if they lose that game.
That being said, they should destroy Philly tonight
This is one of the most highly anticipated seasons in NBA history. A season that could very well end with historic marks such as LeBron’s first ring, or Kobe’s second three-peat. All that off-season bullshit is over, it’s time to ball out.
Here are my picks.
Until someone knocks them off, L.A. and Boston are the two best teams in basketball. They are both deeper and more experienced than Miami, and they have dominated the league for the last three seasons. Miami will win eventually, but I don’t think it will be this season. The Boston-3-Party Celtics are one of the best defensive units of all time, if not the best. The Lakers can match up well with the Heat. When you compare starting 5’s the only advantage is LeBron James, and he’s being defended by Ron Artest. Everyone seems to forget that L.A. has appeared in the last three Finals series and won the last two. Make no mistake, this is still Kobe’s league.
Beasly is now playing for a team where he is probably the best player, and he was the #2 overall pick in 2008. This is his chance.
I’m going to quickly wrap up my position rankings with the top 25 overall players.
25. Danny Granger SF, Indiana Pacers
24. Jason Kidd PG, Dallas Mavericks
23. Russel Westbook PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
22. David Lee PF, Golden State Warriors
21. Josh Smith PF, Atlanta Hawks
20. Gerald Wallce SF, Charlotte Bobcats
19. Derrick Rose PG, Chicago Bulls
18. Joe Johnson SG, Atlanta Hawks
17. Steve Nash PG, Phoenix Suns
16. Amare Stoudemire PF, New York Knicks
15. Paul Pierce SF, Boston Celtics
14. Rajon Rondo PG, Boston Celtics
13. Brandon Roy SG, Portland Trail Blazers
12. Tim Duncan PF, San Antonio Spurs
11. Chris Bosh PF, Miami Heat
10. Derron Williams PG, Utah Jazz
9. Pau Gasol PF, Los Angeles Lakers
8. Dirk Nowitzki PF, Dallas Mavericks
7. Carmelo Anthony SF, Denver Nuggets
6. Chris Paul PG, New Orleans Hornets
5. Kevin Durant SF, Oklahoma City Thunder
4. Dwight Howard C, Orlando Magic
3. Dwayne Wade SG, Miami Heat
2. LeBron James SF, Miami Heat
1. Kobe Bryant SG, Los Angeles Lakers
10. Nene Hilario, Denver Nuggets
2010 Stats: 13.8ppg 7.6rpg 1.4spg 1bpg
Nene isn’t a center that dominates any particular statistical category but he’s great paint defender. He lead all Centers in steals and steals per game as well as averaging one rejection. He’s not too bad offensively either finishing third in field goal percentage
8. Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
2010 Stats: 14.6ppg 9.3rpg 1spg 1.6bpg
He’s following is his older brothers footsteps, although his numbers are overall not as good as Pau’s were in his first two seasons. Marc is putting up more rebounds, and he is on a more talented Memphis team.
Kaman, is another player like Zach Randolph, who finally put it all together and had his best season yet. Another season like 2010 could get him his first all-star selection.
Brook Lopez had an outstanding sophomore season. Unfortunately, he was doing it while playing for a team that was having one of the worst seasons in NBA history.
5. Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
2010 Stats: 10.7ppg 11rpg 1.6bpg
He is a decent scorer but an outstanding rebounder, defender, hustler and judging by his reactions to a referee whistle he has never committed a foul in his professional career.
2010 Stats; 17.1ppg 9.3rpg 1.3bpg
The Jazz won’t miss Boozer much with the addition of Jefferson and he is going to love the opportunities all-world point guard Derron Williams is going to create for him. We could see Jefferson’s already impressive numbers spike.
3. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
2010 Stats: 14.2ppg 9.9rp 1.1bpg
Horford was selected to his first all-star team last season. Although he wasn’t as deserving as select few others (namely the center ranked ahead of him, and his teammate Josh Smith), he was still deserving. Horford may be a power forward on some other teams but on the athletic Hawks he is a perfect fit for the Center position.
1. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
2010 Stats: 18.3ppg 13.2rpg 2.8bpg
Ramos and I have condemned Dwight Howard in the past, but he is far and beyond the best big-man in basketball and the most athletic Center ever. He has a firm grip on the Defensive Player of the Year award and will probably be the first player to win it three years in a row. Now if he could just get a damn drop-step.
Honorable mention: Yao Ming (Houston Rockets), Andrea Bargnani (Toronto Raptors), Shaquille O’Neal (Boston Celtics), Brendan Haywood (Dallas Mavericks)
By: Mike Asti
AL Champion Texas Rangers
Manager: Ron Washington
Season Record: 90-72
Previous World Series Appearances: NA
Previous World Series Titles: NA
2010 ALCS MVP: Josh Hamilton
NL Champion San Francisco Giants
Manager: Bruce Bochy
Season Record: 92-70
Previous World Series Appearances: (SF) 2002, 1989, 1962, (NY) 1954, 1951, 1937, 1936, 1933, 1924, 1923, 1922, 1921, 1917, 1913, 1912, 1911, 1905, 1904
Previous World Series Titles: (NY) 1954, 1933, 1922, 1921, 1905
2010 NLCS MVP: Cody Ross
First off I want to apologize for my lack of Championship previewing, I have been very busy and a trip back to WVU certainly didn’t help. With that said, who out there predicted this series back in April? Don’t everyone jump up all at once….
This series guarantees either a franchises first ever title or an end to one of the longest droughts in all of sports. To that respect it is kinda cool and intriguing, unfortunately this series also has lowest ratings in a half decade or so written all over it. Ratings don’t matter to me or should make a difference to true sports fans. There is a great deal of talent here.
As I see it game may literally decide this series more then it ever has any other fall classic in recent memory. Not only has the game one winner taken the crown six of the last 7 times but it all comes down to the man, the myth, the legend Cliff Lee. Unlike in the ALCS Lee including on short rest once can realistically pitch 3 times only needing to win twice to probably give Texas the title. After saying that it seems like it is their series to lose and it really is. Lee VS Lincecum pits two former Cy Young winners and studs against each other. If the Giants can find a way to do the unthinkable to get to Lee early and often and take it then the momentum will flip right to the team by the bay. Can Lee continue to be undefeated in the post-season? He may not have to be to avoid becoming the Marian Hossa of baseball and continual runner up super star but he absolutely needs to not get that first loss on Wednesday. Outside of these two both teams have deeper staffs then people first thought. Wilson and Cain are nothing to sneeze at and all the way down to Sanchez and both Hunter and Lewis (proven by pennant clinching game) runs may not be a premium.
Pitching is a bit of a wash starter wise but bullpen the clear edge is to the Giants. Brian Wilson is toatlly out of his mind crazy, that is the exact recipe to be a dominant closer and he knows it. A multiple time 40 save guy has now been put on the national stage due to this playoff run. Texas brings out a rookie, Neftalli Feliz, he has been lights all season and set the first year save record. I still give the advantage to San Fran, the veteran experience and the fact Wilson has done it for years is enough for me. Feliz run with Texas has been compared to both K-Rod’s and Rivers’a rookie years, both lead to championships for the 2002 Angels and 96 Yankees. I think these comparisons are completely misguided and wrong! Rodriguez and Mariano were not closers on those teams, they were the setup men behind long time border line hall of fame closers John Wetteland and Troy Percival. They both did not have anything close to the pressure Feliz has had this year and will have in the World Series and not only that the 8th inning is far different from attempting to get those last 3 outs.
Offensively is where things are not close. The Rangers proved what has been true for years, they can rack with the best em and can do it better. They have typical American League power that is devastating as well as do it with the highest collective batting average in baseball. Michael Young leads by example on the field and is a Derek Jeter type without the recognition stat wise. He has one of the best eyes I have seen in a while, Ted Williams like to be honest. Hamilton is just a beast and is most likely an MVP threat every season from here on out. Cruz who has been hurt off and on can add that extra punch if any of these guys are slumping and Vladimir Guerrero may swing at literally every pitch but connects more often then not. Guerrero, the normal DH, will play in right field in one of the first two games (I would start him in game 1 due to it’s importance). If it were not for Josh he would be in the MVP conversations and all I’ll say is history has taught us hall of fame guys who finally crack into their first World Series as their clock almost runs out have stepped up and made an impact. I guarantee he makes his presence felt at some point. All this and I didn’t even mention Andrus or Kinsler who have as much skill with the bat as they do with the glove.
As far as the Giants go Charlie Manuel said it best “this team is better then they get credit for, they’re just pesky.” That is surely the one word that sums them up the best. San Francisco brings the usual NL style of ball just as Texas is the standard AL squad. No longer are the Giants trying to get on and wait for the steroid monster to hit a bomb and send them home, they are now playing fundamental small ball and slapping hits across the diamond. This irritated every Phillis pitcher and can do to the same to the Rangers flame throwers if they are not careful. Aubrey Huff, rookie Buster Posey, Freddy Sanchez, Aaron Rowand (former World Series hero 2005….), and Renteria (former hero and goat 97, 04….), and Mr. Panda can hit jacks if needed but don’t count on that winning it for them. The Giants play perfectly for their big spacious ballpark while the Rangers are built for their bandbox in Arlington. Texas can beat you in about every possible way so despite the rare National League home field advantage I’d still take the Rangers bat to put up the runs.
As much as I will find it absolutely hilarious and know it would secretly eat at it him forever for the Giants to earn their first crown since Mays basket catch to beat Cleveland 56 years ago 3 full seasons AFTER Bonds retired I just don’t see it happening. Texas Rangers win their first ever World Series title in their first trip in 6. Either way the real winner is Bengie Molina who will add to the Molina trio ring trophy case either way.
10. Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
2010 Stats: 14.3ppg 7.3rpg 2.7apg
Garnett is nearing the end of his career. On an all-time PF list I’d rank him second but I honestly debated even giving him this spot. We saw spurts of the old KG in the play-offs but he is a shell of his former self. The Celtics say that they have seen a new rejuvenated Garnett during the summer camps. We’ll see.
9. Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
2010 Stats: 20.8ppg 11.7rpg 1.8apg
It looks like Randolph finally got his act together last season. He kept himself out of trouble while putting up the best numbers of his career and receiving his first all-star selection.
8. Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls
2010 Stats: 19.5ppg 11.2rpg 3.2apg
Being a Duke fan, I’m partial to Boozer, but he’s an idiot. He has always been injury prone but tripping over a bag and breaking your hand!? Are you serious, Carlos?
7. David Lee, Golden State Warriors
2010 Stats: 20.2ppg 11.7rpg 3.6apg
He’s a double-double machine, a high percentage shooter and the best hustler in the league. The Warriors’ up-tempo offense will be a perfect fit for Lee.
6. Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
2010 Stats: 15.7ppg 8.7rpg 4.2apg 1.6spg 2.1bpg
Smith not being selected to the All-Star team is one of the biggest snubs ever. J-Smoove does it all he’s the best stat stuffer in basketball and the runner up for the Defensive Player of the Year award.
5. Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks
2010 Stats: 23.1ppg 8.9rpg 1apg
I don’t think Amare would be nearly as effective working outside of a fast-pace, high octane offense like the one he has played in his entire career and it will be interesting to see how he does without Steve Nash. He made the smart choice though, because he left to reunite with the Mike D’Antoni, the man who set up that system in Phoenix.
4. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
2010 Stats: 17.9ppg 10.1rpg 3.2apg
Duncan is the greatest power forward to ever play the game and one of the top 10 players of all time. It hurt’s to put him here. He still managed to average a double-double, make the All-NBA, All-Star and All-Defensive teams as well as lead the Spurs to a 50 win season as he has done every year of his career. Still, he just isn’t the same Timmy.
3. Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
2010 Stats: 24ppg 10.8rpg 2.4apg
Still not talking about the Heat.
2. Pau Gasol, Los Angles Lakers
2010 Stats: 18.3ppg 11.3rpg 3.4apg 1.7bpg
I can’t wait to hear the objections to this ranking. Boston fans, save it Pau Gasol is the league’s best offensive post player and the most complete big-man, bar none. He proved that in the 2010 play-offs when he dominated every player he was matched-up with.
1. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
2010 Stats: 25ppg 7.7rpg .915ft%
Along with being the NBA’s best PF, he is one of the most accurate shooters. His .915% from the charity stripe was second best. In his early 30’s he has shown little signs of slowing down, finishing top 10 in scoring for the 9th consecutive season in 2010 and leading the Mavericks the second best record in the West.
Honorable Mention: Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers), David West (New Orleans Hornets), Louis Scola (Houston Rockets)
10. John Salmons, Milwaukee Bucks
2010 Stats: 15.9ppg 3.4rpg 1.3spg
He’s listed as a SG officially, but Salmons is a swingman so I’m going to give my self license to list him here. Salmons hasn’t spent an entire season with one team since 2008 being bounce around from Sacromento, to Chicago then to Milwaukee. He is very undervalued. Since being traded to Milwauke Salmons has put up nearly 20ppg.
9. Luol Deng, Chicago Bulls
2010 Stats: 17.6ppg 7.3rpg 2.0apg
Deng is one of the more efficient scoring SFs in the league. After sitting out the majority of the 2009 season Deng came back strong. With the strengthening of Chicago’s roster, Deng’s role on the Bulls will likely be demoted from a team leader to a role player.
8. Ron Artest, Los Angeles Lakers
2010 Stats: 11ppg 4.3rpg 1.4spg
His numbers are the least impressive of any player on this list, but that’s the sacrifice he made when he decided to join the best team in basketball. Ron kept the off-court and on-court antics to a minimum last season (other than that awful rap video). Any doubt that his addtion to the Lakers made them better was erased in Game 7 of the Finals. QB IN THE HOOUUSSEE!
7. Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies
2010: 19.6ppg 5.9rpg 1.5spg
He doesn’t get much notoriety but Rudy Gay has been an efficient and consistent player since his breakout season in 2008. Gay was part of Team USA’s gold medal run in the 2010 FIBA World Championship and will compete for a spot on the 2012 Olympic roster.
6. Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers
2010 Stats: 24.1ppg 5.5rpg 1.5spg
Granger’s heel injury caused him to miss 20 games last season and his numbers dropped. They are still pretty damn impressive though. A full productive season from the 2009 all-star could give Indiana a play-off berth.
5. Gerald Wallace, Charlotte Bobcats
2010: 18.2ppg 10rpg 1.5spg 1.1bpg
2010 was a breakout year for many players. The biggest breakout was perhaps Gerald Wallace. There aren’t many SFs putting up power-forward numbers. Keeping these numbers consistent will make Wallace a dark horse candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
4. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
2010 Stats: 18.3ppg 4.4rpg 3.1apg
Paul Pierce is one of the most underrated players of all time. He’s a versatile scorer, tough defender and a consistent clutch performer. He’s also an Academy Award winning actor.
3. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets (for now)
2010 Stats: 28.2ppg 6.6rpg 3.2apg
If I was a betting man, I’d bet on Anthony wearing a different shade of blue in the near future. The Nuggets will be hard-pressed to part ways with one of the best scorers in the game arguably the best player in franchise history, but Melo has made it clear he wants to be in the Big Apple.
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
2010 Stats: 30.1ppg 7.6rpg 1.4spg 1bpg
In just his third season, Durant has a scoring title, gold medal (FIBA World Championship) and finished second in the MVP voting. Still, the talks of ranking him with Kobe and LeBron are ridiculously premature. However, if he meets the expectations set for him he could be the best player in the world and one of the greatest of all time.
1. LeBron James, Miami Heat
2010 Stats: 29.7ppg 7.3rpg 8.6apg 1.6spg 1bpg
I still refuse to talk about Miami until the season starts.
10. Vince Carter, Orlando Magiic