Every year there seems to be one person that emerges from the NFL Draft and represents themselves as a dying franchises savior. This season, there is not only one player, but three, that have completely redefined and revamped franchises that seemed to be slowly deteriorating. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson have all taken the reigns over their teams and not only improved them but they all turned them into potentially dangerous playoff teams. The great thing about these three superb athletes is that they have all taken a different approach to the new age NFL and made it look extremely easy to succeed in a league that players average only 3 years for an entire career. A lot of people say that it takes time to develop at the professional level, but when you are born with the God given talents that these three players possess, time is no longer a necessity.
Andrew Luck was the first overall pick of the NFL Draft. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts after they finished the season with a league worst 2-14 record. Luck was given the very unpleasant task of filling the shoes of arguably the greatest QB of all time, Peyton Manning. The last time the Colts had the #1 overall pick in the draft was when they took Manning 14 years ago. Manning showed signs of brilliance but the Colts still finished with a less than impressive 3-13 record in his rookie campaign. Luck on the other hand has taken the worst team in the NFL and turned them into a playoff bound 9-5 electrifying squad that has the 8th best passing attack in the league. Andrew set the NFL Rookie record for most passing yards in a single game by torching the Miami Dolphins for 433 earlier this season. More impressively, Luck has already passed the NFL Rookie record for most yards in a season (3,739) set by Manning back in 1998 by already accumulating 3,978 and he is on pace to break the all time rookie mark that Cam Newton set last year when he threw for 4,051. Luck has shown signs of some rookie jitters but all in all he has looked like a seasoned professional and has an unbelievably bright future ahead of him.
Luck Stats: Passing Yards 3,978, 308 completions, 20 Touchdowns passing and 5 Touchdowns rushing
The second overall pick of this past year’s NFL Draft was the Heisman Trophy winning Robert Griffin III. The man they can RG3 has taken the NFL by storm and has redefined how coaches will look at the Quarterback position. He runs as well as any running back (most rushing yards for a rookie QB 748 and counting), he throws as hard and accurate as any Quarterback and he manages a game as well as any coach. He plays the game at the pro level like he has been there for decades yet he has only started 13 games all season. He started the season working out the problems that led the Redskins to the NFL’s second worst record from a year ago and now has them sitting on top of the best division in football, the NFC East. Washington started slow with a 3-6 record, but the emergence and maturation of RG3 has led to the Skins reeling off 5 straight victories and now they have complete control over their own destiny. RG3 has impressed everyone and even though he suffered a little set back a couple of weeks ago when he injured his knee, he is still bound to have an NFL MVP award within a handful of years.
RG3 Stats: Passing Yards 2,902, Rushing Yards 748, 18 Passing Touchdowns to only 4 Interceptions, 6 Rushing TD’s, Best YPC in NFL 6.7
Rarely does the 75th overall pick of the NFL Draft make a big impact on his team in their rookie season, let alone lead them at the QB position to a playoff bound 9-5 record. That is exactly what Russel Wilson has done this season after stealing the starting QB position from the highly touted, waste of money signing, of the Green Bay Packers, Matt Flynn. In the preseason Wilson showed signs of a mobile QB that had the ability to sling the ball down field. He had great command for the game and was a perfect complement to the running attack that Pete Carroll, who I despise by the way, implemented with the ever-talented Marshawn Lynch. While Wilson’s stat line isn’t nearly as impressive as Luck’s or RG3’s, his game management and record sure as hell are. The Seahawks are known as a defensive reliant team yet Wilson has led his team to back to back games that have totaled more than 100 points combined. On top of that, with two games remaining in the season, Wilson has helped lead his team from a 7 win season a year ago to 9 already this year. While I don’t think Wilson will be able to steal the NFL Rookie of the Year away from Luck or RG3, I do feel that he will be a playoff QB for many more years.
Wilson’s Stats: 2,697 Passing Yards on 63% completion percentage, 402 Rushing Yards, 21 Passing Touchdowns
As a huge New York Jets, Mets and Knicks fan, Monday was a very trying day for me. Even though everything that could go wrong went wrong , I have taken more of an optimistic view over my three teams. Yesterday, the New York Jets proved the world correct by finally ending what I consider to be the most pathetic and embarrassing season for a franchise that has been a joke for most of its existence. The New York Mets became the first team since 1998 to trade away the past year’s Cy Young Award winner by dealing fan favorite RA Dickey to the Blue Jays (1998-Blue Jays traded Roger Clemens to the Yankees). The New York Knicks had a visit from the most popular player in the league a year ago, Jeremy Lin, and got shellacked by him for the second time this season. If you are a fan of any of these teams, or all three like myself, then Monday looked like and extremely rough day. I am going to explain why I feel there is a silver lining for each of these tumultuous events.
Let’s start with J-E-T-S (Just End The Season); Thank God they did! I have never in my life rooted for one of my teams to lose…except for last night. The Jets have been an absolute CIRCUS since the end of last season. The acquisition of Tim Tebow was a mistake from the get-go and not once did the Jets and their coaching staff try to rectify that situation. The pathetic Offensive Coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, was fired only to be replaced by an even worse one, Tony Sparano. Mark Sanchez’s ability as a QB receded worse that Lebron James’ hair line. The Jets had arguably the worst receiving core in NFL history and couldn’t develop a running attack against any formidable opponents. So why was I rooting against the Jets yesterday, even with their playoff chances still intact if they had won? Because it would have all been the same shit again next year if the Jets showed even the slightest bit of success. With this mortifying loss on Monday Night Football last night no Jets fans will ever have to watch Mark Sanchez at the QB position ever again! Ii has been announced that Greg McElroy will start Sunday against the Chargers. The Jets GM, Mike Tannenbaum, is either going to be replaced or he is going to be put on such a hot seat that he will have no choice but to fix this never-ending pile of issues. The Jets need to be completely revamped and there is no way that would have happened without them losing last night so there is the silver lining.
My New York Knicks have not given their fans much to complain about this season. They have the best record in the Eastern Conference and have looked like a title contender the whole year. They have really only hit one speed bump this season and their name is the Houston Rockets. The last time the Knicks had to worry about the Rockets was in 1994 when they met in the NBA Finals and went to an exhilarating game 7 which the Knicks inevitably ended up losing. Ever since Jeremy Lin left the Knicks for a more than generous contract with the Rockets, there has been a target on his back. Unfortunately for the Knickerbockers, that target was too small to see because for the second time this season, Jeremy Lin and the Rockets manhandled them. I never had any ill will towards Lin once he left, especially because I knew what the Knicks overall plan was and he just wasn’t the right fit for Woodson’s game plan. So what’s the upside to the Knicks losing twice to a supposedly inferior team? First, the Rockets most likely won’t make the playoffs this year so the Knicks won’t be playing them again until next year. Secondly, there was no way the Knicks were going to go 77-5 so we were bound to lose eventually. Finally, the real silver lining behind this most recent loss at the Garden to the slightly above average Houston Rockets is that we now know exactly what we need Iman Shumpert and Amare Stoudemire for. Shumpert wasn’t really an issue but everyone was questioning where Amare would fit in and the truth of the matter is that STAT is an extremely talented player and in situations where Melo or even Tyson or Kidd or Felton are out with injury, STAT can be a viable option that can help earn that W.
The New York Mets are very good at being very bad. Outside of a handful of years that Mike Piazza was destroying anything in his way, the Mets have been completely irrelevant for nearly a quarter century. Last year the Mets let one of their franchise’s greatest players ever, Jose Reyes, leave to their divisional foe, the Miami Marlins, due to their money issues. Worst part about that was that Reyes was coming off of his best ever year and the National League Batting Title. Yesterday, the Mets completed a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays which ended with the reigning CY Young Winner and Mets fan favorite RA Dickey leaving after one of the greatest pitching seasons in NY Mets history. So how can losing your best pitcher and biggest ticket attraction have any positives behind it? Well, I’ll start by saying that with or without Dickey, the Mets were not going anywhere any time soon. Having said that, the Mets have no money and they need to figure out new ways to rebuild a franchise that does not have much going for it right now. I feel that they did the right thing by signing David Wright for pretty much the rest of his career. Now they have to figure out who will hit around him and what direction they want their franchise to go. Between Wheeler and Harvey the Mets have some talented pitching coming up soon. In the trade for Dickey, the Mets acquired arguably one of the best young talents in the Minors, catcher Travis d’Arnaud. On top of that they saved a butt load of money and have positioned themselves to be a formidable opponent within a few years. I see some bright things in the Mets future and I think it starts with Travis d’Arnaud.
So even if you are still having a hard time recovering from yesterday’s exhausting and trying events, just know that each of them have a silver lining and everything should be okay soon enough.
There should be a rule in the NFL that a player is not allowed to speak with the media after a game if he does not participate in the contest. If this rule was in place, then we would have all been spared from listening to Brian Urlacher’s bitching and moaning following yesterday’s 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. If Brian Urlacher was complaining about his team’s play then that would be tolerated. Had play calling or a bad call by the referee been his focus, I guess I would accept his tirade. However, Urlacher’s target in his post game comments were the Chicago fans and media who cover his team.
Brian’s feelings were hurt yesterday at Soldier Field. According the Brian, the home fans “were loud for a minute there. The boos were really loud, which is always nice. The only team in our division to get booed at home is us. It’s unbelievable to me.” He then went on to state “two of the people I don’t care about, fans or the media, they can say what they want to about our head coach, about our players. It does bother me because those people don’t know what they’re talking about, obviously.” Well Brian, the thing about is that when your team starts of 7-1 and now only sports an 8-6 record, your fans might begin to get a little frustrated.
Brian Urlacher has had a great career. He has left his mark on the game after countless pro-bowls and accolades. The Bears have had one of the best defenses in the NFL since Urlacher has been a pro, so I can’t knock his ability on the field. However, at this point in time, while he is hobbled with a bad hamstring and unable to help his team, he needs to keep his mouth shut and stop blaming the fans or media for his teams shortcomings. Lovie Smith, Jay Cutler and the rest of the Bears organization are toblame for their recent skid, not the paying fan or local beat reporter.
Brian Urlacher is making $5.6 million dollars this year. I’m not sure if he understands that a large chunk of his salary comes from the money the Chicago Bears generate through ticket sales, jersey sales and television rights, which are all possible because of the Chicago Bears fans’ interest in his team. I’ve been to a lot of Jets games in my life and I’ve paid a pretty penny to the team for the privilege of watching them suck. If my team sucks, I will let them know about it and the best way to do express disappointment is by booing.
Urlacher has been a fan favorite of the Chicago Bears and needs to understand that taking shots at the fans will only tarnish his image. Chicago fans, much like New York and Philadelphia fans are passionate and knowledgable. If he wants to go to a city that doesn’t care enough to boo a poor performance, then it’s time for him to go play for the Dolphins, Chargers or Jaguars.
It’s also ironic to me that Urlacher is attacking the media, though doing so by using an outlet of the media. Brian, the only reason people know who you are is because of the media. We get to watch you on television, listen to you on the radio and read about you on the internet and in newspapers. Without the media, you are not all that relative. You are definitely not nearly as wealthy either.
I have very little rooting interest in the NFC North, but now that Urlacher has proved to be such a douche bag, I am heavily rooting for the Chicago Bears to miss the playoffs. Like I said, he was a great player in his prime, though his best days are behind him. Chicago is about as supportive of a sports town as there is in America, as evidenced by the fact that people still go to Wrigley Field to root for the Cubbies. Urlacher is obviously frustrated but he really erred in his choice to lash out at his home crowd. It’s very obvious that although Brian’s skills have eroded over the past few years, his sensitivity is at an all-time high.
This is not the first time the Yankees have sold their souls to bring in a former Boston Red Sox player. The list seems to be getting longer and longer each offseason. Mike Stanley, Wade Boggs, Sparky Lyle, Luis Tiant, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon, Derek Lowe were all once hated enemies before they put on the pinstripes. Hell, even Babe Ruth was a member of the Sox before he rewrote the baseball record books in the Bronx. I can deal with rooting for an old rival, especially in this day and age where players rarely play their entire careers in one city. Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon all helped bring World Series titles to the Yankees, and therefore will always be appreciated by the Bronx faithful. The fact that Kevin Youkilis spent most of is career in Boston is not my major concern.
I don’t view yesterday’s acquisition of Kevin Youkilis in high regard because I don’t think it really makes the Yankees a much better team on the field. Youkilis is a 34-year-old ball player who is absolutely on the decline. In 111 games last season with Boston and the Chicago White Sox, Youkilis hit .235 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs. During the steroid error, it was possible for a 34-year-old player to bounce back and have a good year after such a down year. Now it appears that players are aging as they used to and I’d be shocked to see Youkilis put up any of the same numbers as he used to when he was against the Yankees in his prime.
The Yankees problem is age. The roster last year reflects this issue. Injuries to Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Mark Texeira and others hindered their production all season long. Though the Yanks were able to get through the regular season and into the playoff tournament, the lone feat is not good enough for Yankee fans. Relying year after year on aged players like Ichiro Suzuki, Raul Ibanez and the before mentioned players will not be
enough to return us to glory years. I want the Yankees to build a dynasty like they enjoyed in the 90’s. Piecing a team of aging veterans is not the answer.
Youkilis will be needed to play third base until the aging, billion dollar investment A-Rod recovers from hip surgery. However, who is to say that A-Rod is even able to play an effective third base upon his return. Even when he is healthy, A-Rod only starts about a third of his games at third. Therefore, the Yankees will be relying on Youkilis to play a huge chunk of the season at the hot corner. The problem with that is for the past several years, Youkilis has been
battling a bad back and had only averaged 115 games per year. I’m not sure that backing up your aging, often injured third baseman with another aging, often injured third baseman is the best route. I’m just hoping Brian Cashman knows something that I don’t.
As a Yankee fan, I am prepared to root Kevin Youkilis on and welcome him to the Bronx when I see him at the Stadium. I hope I am wrong in my critique of this signing. Maybe Youkilis rediscovers himself with a new change of scenery and some extra motivation to show the Sox that they made a mistake. From watching him over the year, I know he is a smart, professional player who does all the little things that the Yankees and Red Sox both love. I understand the Yankees are probably thrilled with the fact that he accepted a one year deal, because of
the huge emphasis they have put into cutting their team salary in 2014. However, my frustration as a fan exists in the fact that I can’t see the Yankees long-term plans and the Yankees reduced spending on old players does absolutely nothing to solve this issue. In a world where my Jets are the most dysfunctional organization in the NFL and my Rangers are locked out of work, I am very reliant on the Yankees to bring me some joy in the near and long-term future. As of now, I’m having a hard time figuring out how this will happen…
WHAT A GAME!!! Game 2 of this newly minted rivalry between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks was even more exciting than the first game between the two teams which ended in overtime. Even after that first game there were doubters saying how this matchup couldn’t be considered a rivalry because of how new it was, but after last night’s thriller all of those naysayers must jump ship. The intensity in the Barclays Center was so high that it had a playoff atmosphere feel to it. Both teams had fans representing them cheering with “Defense” and “MVP” chants all night long. The arena was filled with the expected superstar celebrities like Jay-Z, Spike Lee and many more New Yorkers that were split between the Knicks and Nets. The game was exhilarating from beginning to end and the Knicks came out on top with a 100-97 win to even the series between these two teams at 1-1.
While the excitement over this game was similar to the first game between these two teams, there were a lot of differences entering this contest. In the first matchup between theses foes, the Knicks were without Jason Kidd and the Nets were full strength, while in the second matchup the Nets were missing their stud Brooks Lopez and Knicks were healthy…that is without Shumpert and Stoudemire. After the Knicks loss in game 1, I mentioned that the absence of Jason Kidd was the main contributor to the their demise. Boy was I right! Kidd showed flashes of the All-Star who lead the then New Jersey Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals a decade ago. The Knicks were in a deep hole early in the game and trailed by as many as 17 points but with the veteran leadership that Kidd has displayed all season long, there never seemed to be a sense of panic on the side of the Orange and Blue.
While Kidd kept the pace of the game exactly where the Knicks needed it to be, the real superstar of this fantastic game was the man they call Melo. Carmelo Anthony had his best game of the season and proved why the New York faithful has been justly chanting “MVP MVP” on a nightly basis. Melo had a stat line of 45-5-3 while shooting a lights out 15-24 from the field. It looked at times as if Carmelo had placed a magnet in the rim and the ball and every time he tossed it up it was just drawn to the hoop. It was arguably his best game since the Knicks acquired him two years back. The Nets came out of the gates flying and were up 21-5 at the beginning of the game, but Carmelo Anthony knew this was his game to win and he put his team on his shoulders and played outstanding and inspired ball.
Brooklyn’s hot start was a huge surprise to me, especially with how well the Knicks have been playing and how poorly the Nets have been. Since the first matchup between these teams, the Knicks had gone 6-1 while the Nets have been 2-5 and they were in the midst of a 4 game losing streak. Everything seemed to be in the Knicks favor heading into the game but the Nets had a secret weapon that only my man NYBobby seemed to know about. Andray Blatche, the back up to the injured Lopez, seemed to put anything he tossed up into the bucket. I called Bobby before the game and said that the Knicks were going to manhandle the Nets because Lopez was out but he responded by saying that Blatche was going to have a huge game. I hate to admit when he is right but I have to give credit where credit is due. Blatche finished with 23 points on 9 of 13 shooting and he had the best +/- on the Nets with a +9.
As for the Point Guards in this matchup, there really was a lot of disappoints on both sides…more so for the Knicks. For the second straight time against the Nets, Raymond Felton seemed to be lost on the floor for much of the game as he committed 7 of the Knicks 10 turnovers. Felton’s shooting was abysmal where he finished with 3 of 12 from the floor to end up with an ugly stat line of 8-1-7 with 7 turnovers. On the other end, Deron Williams, who is easily considered a top 3 PG in the league, had an off night himself. While he ended up with 18 points and 10 assists, he really never found a rhythm all night and he even missed a potentially game tying open three pointer.
During last night’s contest I was on the edge of my seat the whole time as the game was filled with nonstop action. With the series between these teams split 1 a piece, the next game has a lot of importance. Luckily for fans of both clubs, we don’t have to wait to long for that matchup because the two teams face off again, this time in the Garden, a week from today. I am thrilled to say that New York not only has two potentially dangerous playoff teams, but they have a newly found rivalry that I expect to be around for years.
As a sports writer, I understand how hard it is to stay unbiased and to make sure all of my arguments and opinions are backed up with facts and reasoning. I am sad to say that the man they call the “Round Mound of Rebound,” Sir Charles Barkley, has broken the rules of unbiased commentary and has completely lost his marbles this NBA season.
As a die-hard Knicks fan, I have spent more than a decade taking verbal abuse from Chuck saying how “terriboo” my Knicks are and that they have the most “ridiclous” front office in the game. It’s all good though because I can take the abuse, especially when it is warranted. There is something that should come with criticizing someone, and that is admitting when you are wrong, and Chuck just keeps putting his “ridiclously” large feet in his mouth.
As most of you know, my New York Knicks manhandled the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat on their home court just last week. They did this without Carmelo Anthony and it was the second game of a back-to-back, the game before ending with a JR Smith buzzer beater in Charlotte. This was a nationally televised game on TNT and wouldn’t you know it, Chuck and his minions were all there to discount the Knicks and their chances without Melo. It was hard for me to disagree with them, based on all of the facts against them but the lengths that Sir Charles took his predictions too warranted an apology or at the very least an admittance of his mistake. Shaq, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson all applauded the Knicks at halftime for their effort and ability to keep the game tied while Chuck kept yapping his droopy-ass-drunk mouth saying how they were going to blow it because they really aren’t that good. The Knicks ended up winning the game by 20 and yet there was not even an inkling on thought from Chuck to give the Knicks the slightest credit for their achievement. Chuck is just a Knicks hater and his critiquing of them can no longer be justified.
Most recently, Chuck targeted a player who not only has been dominating the NBA for nearly a decade, but has two Championships under his belt; that’s two more than that gambling addict Chuckin’ moron. That player was Dwayne Wade, and while Wade might not be the player he once was, he just won a goddamn Championship last season. On top of that, his Miami Heat have the second best record in the Eastern Conference…behind my Knicks of course. On Inside The NBA, Chuck went on to say how he feels that Wade is no longer the same player.
“He’s starting to lose his athletic ability,” Barkley said. “He’s not the same guy. I got a look at him in person. He doesn’t explode anymore and he’s shooting a lot of fade-away jumpers. The toughest thing for Dwayne Wade is understanding that he’s starting to lose his talent and now he has to learn how to play below the basket. The toughest thing when you’re a great player or very athletic, when you can’t jump over a building anymore, you have to learn how to play.”
While I absolutely despise the Miami Heat, I would never call out a player that probably has a one-on-one advantage over every player in the league outside of his own teammate Lebron. Speaking of which, Lebron came out after hearing these comments and literally had Wade’s back.
“It means Charles Barkley needs to shut up,” James said. “I mean, the man [Wade] is shooting 80 percent from the floor the last couple of games. That’s like, crazy, right? That’s why he is who he is. Unbelievable.”
Wade might not be as good as he was a few years back, but to say that he has to completely revamp his style of play is ludicrous. This is just another prime example of Chuck running his mouth without stats or facts to back up his opinions. When Chuck decides that he doesn’t like someone or some team then they will be ridiculed regardless of their performance. When you make Shaq look like a sensible coherent human being then you know you need to take a long hard look in the mirror and maybe pass judgement on yourself before you give your boneheaded opinions that are no longer credible. Let’s no forget that Barkley is the same asshole who “inadvertently” spat on a young girl in 1991. Here is a video from 1991 showing how big of a Deutsche Bag Barkley was as a player and person, and yes that is Pat Riley commentating. (fast forward to 1:50 to skip to the interview)
In short, I think that Charles needs to get a new attitude or be removed as an analyst because he is no longer a credible source. Hey Barkley…Go Chuck Yourself!!!
My first ever article as a Sports Debater was written about the Bounty Gate scandal, specifically, my feeling that the entire issue was overblown. It appeared to me that the accused parties were involved in a system that has deep roots in NFL locker rooms and that Roger Goodell had no right to punish the players involved to the degree that he did. The entire scenario seemed like a witch hunt in which the NFL higher-ups sat around the table in a Salem meeting house and threw out players names to execute publicly, with the intention of scaring the rest of the league. Jonathan Vilma was burned at the stake, while Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita were tarred and feathered.
Let’s fast forward 7 months. Today, ex-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who has been asked to oversee and make a decision on the case as an objective arbitrator, found that Goodell’s original penalties were way too harsh. Tagliabue, who looked at the same exact evidence Goodell made his original ruling on, said today that all evidence had clearly been tainted and did not warrant suspensions or serious fines.
I have no idea how two men could look at the same evidential material and formulate such different opinions on the matter. How is it possible that one man believed Jonathan Vilma should be suspended for a complete season, losing all his pay and his reputation while another believed his actions didn’t warrant a serious fine?
When the news of a scandal broke, Roger Goodell needed to act quick. He felt as if the Saints had deceived the NFL and it was his job to come down as hard on them as possible. He suspended Head Coach Sean Payton for a full season and the defensive coordinator indefinitely. He punished all players who were “linked” with this scandal in a magnitude never seen before in league history. Goodell acted as the judge, jury and executioner and now he looks like the biggest asshole of all.
The commissioner has caused much more damage to the league than the bounty scandal itself. In a democratic country that is built around systems of checks and balances so that the rulings made by the leaders of our country can be transparent, Roger Goodell acted as a king, as a dictator. In his kingdom, one of the villages acted out of order and he took it upon himself to punish and ultimately doom all of the citizens involved. Lord Goodell didn’t want to have a fair, honest investigation into the matter. He wanted to see people suffer, so he painted a scarlet letter across the Saints that will linger for years. Then Roger Goodell sat on his throne far away from New Orleans, smiling as the Saints struggled to a 5-8 record. Now, like all evil dictators in world history, it is time for Mr. Goodell to pay the price for his arrogance.
An 82 game NBA season can have a lot of ups and downs and can often be very unpredictable. While a lot of people don’t put to much emphasis on the early season, I find every game as important as the next and think that you can see a teams true colors right from the get go. I have always had a huge passion for NBA basketball. I mean I am such an NBA nerd that my family was introduced at my Bar Mitzvah to the “We Are the New York Knicks” theme song. So in this article I have decided to take the majority of things that have been happening around the NBA through the first fifth of the season and break it all down. There have been some predictable outcomes so far but there have also been some great new surprises.
I’ll start with the topic I am most proud to talk about; the standings. While everyone could have predicted that the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs would be among the leaders in the their respective conferences, no one would have been able to foresee who would be on the top of the East and West at this point in the season. Right now, my New York Knicks are on top of the Eastern Conference with a 12-4 record while the Memphis Grizzlies sit on top the the Western Conference with an NBA best 13-3 record. Both of these teams have come out of the gates determined to place themselves among the perennially elite teams. Other surprises thus far include the great starts by the Brooklyn Nets (11-6) and the consistently awful Golden State Warriors (10-7). The Nets and Warriors are two franchises that haven’t seen much success in their past but this year seems to be a redeeming light for them both. On the negative end we have our usual bottom dwellers like the Wizards, Raptors, Kings and Hornets but I am positive that no one expected the Lakers to be an abysmal 8-10 or even the Rose-less Bulls, who had the best record in the NBA last year, at 8-8. The Lakers fired Coach Brown and hired the much maligned Coach D’Antoni, who is off to an embarrassing 3-5 start. He might be more hated in LA then he was in NY and I know Phil Jackson is just sitting back laughing.
On to my favorite aspect of the game; the statistics. If I started by asking who are the top 4 scorers in the NBA, I am pretty sure that most people would be able to guess it correctly even if they haven’t been following this season too closely. Kobe, Melo, Durant and Lebron always find themselves among the scoring leaders but the real surprise is the 80 million dollar man who now ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring, James Harden. Harden is proving that he is an elite scorer when he’s not shadowed by Durant and Westbrook. When it comes to dropping dimes, no one in the league does it as well as the man I said would finish this season as the NBA MVP; Rajon Rondo. Rondo is averaging a staggering 12.9 assists per game and had a ridiculous streak of 37 straight games with at least 10 assists until he decided to body check Kris Humphries Kardashian which resulted in him getting ejected. The surprise name in the top 5 in assists has to be Greivis Vasquez. You might be asking yourself who the fuck is that. He is a 2nd year Venezuelan man out of Maryland and plays for the lowly Hornets. Vasquez will soon be a household name and can be connecting with the Unibrow for years to come. There are a lot teams that don’t value rebounding the way I think they should. I mean my Knicks have the best record in the East but they are among the bottom 5 teams in rebounding so there are ways to win without it. Having said that, I am a firm believer that if you want a Championship you need to rebound. Someone with a team that stands a chance this year needs to trade for Anderson Varejao, who is averaging an NBA leading 15.4 RPG, because I haven’t seen a player attack the glass the way he does since Dennis Rodman. Zach Randolph is 2nd in the NBA with 13.3 RPG and he is doing most of his damage on the offensive boards. I feel Randolph has not been getting his proper accolades because in my mind he is the main reason the Grizzlies have the best record in the NBA.
The final topic I want to talk about is my picks for the end of season awards thus far.
MVP: Rajon Rondo – I picked him before the season started and I am sticking with him for the time being. Rondo is averaging 13 PPG, 13 APG, 5 RPG and he is shooting an impressive 50% from the field. The Celtics aren’t nearly as good as they used to be, but Rondo is showing signs that he is only getting better every time on the court. For my Knicks fans, Melo was #2 on my list for MVP so far.
ROY: Damian Lillard – I talked about this rookie out of Weber State before the season started stating that he is the 2nd best rookie behind Anthony “Unibrow” Davis. Since Unibrow has been plagued with injuries, Lillard is my current front runner for rookie of the year. Damien is averaging 19.1 PPG, good for 11th in the NBA, to go along with 3.3 RPG and 6.3 APG. His connection with Lamarcus Aldridge will only get stronger and Portland will be a relevant team once again some time soon.
6th Man: Jamal Crawford – The 12 year veteran out of Michigan is arguably off to his best start of his career and is one of the main reasons why the LA Clippers are an impressive 11-6. Crawford is averaging nearly 18 PPG off the bench and every time he enters the game he brings the type of electricity that makes teams more fearful of the reserves than the actual starting lineup. With more consistency, JR Smith can give Crawford a run for his money.
Coach of the Year: Lionel Hollins – His Grizzlies record of 13-3 speaks for itself, but the former Portland Trailblazers star has his team buying into his philosophy that is perplexing any opponent that faces them. Grizzlies are super efficient on both the offensive and defensive ends and Hollins is the main reason why. My boy Mike Woodson would definitely be second on my list for COY followed by the Nets Avery Johnson.
It’s been a great season so far, especially for my Knicks, and I look forward to what the nest few months will bring. I’ll make sure to keep everyone posted.