When Kobe Bryant went down with a torn Achilles a few days ago, several thoughts started running through my head. I wondered when (not if) we would see Bryant back on the court, and what the Lakers would do from here. Would they amnesty his contract? Does this affect Dwight’s decision to stay or go? Then my thoughts shifted to another character in the Lakers drama that has been reduced to a footnote at this point: Steve Nash.
One of the best shooters and floor generals to ever play the game, Nash is so beloved by the masses that no one really cared that he went to one of his biggest rivals in order to win a ring. He had given everything he had to those entertaining Suns teams, and was the victim of some terrible management and a cheap owner. Part of me wanted the Lakers to win the title this season just so Nash could get his ring and then walk off into the sunset. Unfortunately, Kobe’s injury probably robbed him of any chance that he had, slim as it looked as the season went on. This got me thinking of all the other veterans that are holding on as role players with various teams in the playoffs, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle like the Mavericks of two years ago and add a championship ring to their impressive resumes. I realized you can almost make a whole roster out of these guys. So that’s what I did. Here are your Last Chance All-Stars.
PG: Steve Nash – 2 time MVP, 3 time First Team All-NBA, 8 time All-Star. Top 10 all time in 3PT Field Goals (10th), 3PT FG% (8th), FT% (1st), and Assists (4th).
The captain of the Last Chance All Stars, Nash is one of the best point guards to ever play the game. He is amazingly close to being the only career member of the 50-40-90 Club, which consists of shooting 50% from the field, 40% from behind the 3PT line, and 90% from the free throw line. Seeing as this has only been done 10 times over the course of an NBA season, and Nash often did it as the person orchestrating the entire offense, there is a good argument that Nash is the greatest shooter in NBA history. He also led one of the most entertaining offenses in NBA history, the “Seven Seconds Or Less” Suns. But his injury-plagued season casts doubt on whether he will ever be a significant contributor again. Furthermore, Kobe’s injury combined with the dearth of role players on the Lakers squad and their lack of financial flexibility next year probably removes them from the realm of serious championship contenders. Unless he is traded again, it looks as if Nash might finish his career without a ring. Read more…
Well hello everyone! After the longest of layoffs (which was the result of a combination of factors, including but not limited to Hurricane Sandy, traveling, and hangovers), I’m back to give you my personal, probably biased ranking of every team in the NBA. All records are current as of Monday morning, and hopefully you will come back next week and see a new edition. Check out the previous version of the rankings here (all the way back to the first week of the season), and feel free to comment. Let’s get to it!
1. Miami Heat (10-3) – Previous Ranking: 1 – One thing that has not changed since the first week of the season is that the Miami Heat are still the best team in the land. They have the best offense in the league according to almost every advanced metric (1st in EFG%, TS%, and Hollinger’s Offensive Efficiency), and that has helped them to the third highest win percentage behind San Antonio. LeBron James has been the best player so far this season (25.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 6.5 apg), and Chris Bosh has made up for some lackluster play from Dwayne Wade by taking on a bigger role in the offense. Their biggest concerns are the lack of rebounding from everyone else on the team, which is a problem that existed last season, and the drastic drop-off in defensive efficiency, which is a new problem. We’ll see if they can get back on track when Wade gets fully healthy, but they better be locked in for their game against San Antonio on Thursday.
2. San Antonio Spurs (11-3) – Previous Ranking: 2 – The Spurs sit at the number two spot despite the best record in the league because two of their losses came at home, and they have been beaten twice by a team in their own conference, which is not something you want to do against a potential playoff opponent. Their offense is not quite as explosive as it was last season, but it still sits near the top of the league in efficiency. The biggest positive so far has to be the play of Tim Duncan, who has turned back the clock and actually sits second in the league in PER behind LeBron. His lack of minutes depresses his rating in Estimated Wins Added and Value Added (two cumulative statistics, versus being a per-minute statistic like PER), but the Spurs will gladly keep him at his current minute level if he can play like this for the rest of the season. This team’s biggest concern will always be the health of its three stars, but the young guys are playing better every game and portend a happy transition out of the Duncan-Ginobili era.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (9-2) – Previous Ranking: 11 – This team’s previous ranking shows how much time has passed since I last put this column out. The Grizz were a bit of a forgotten sleeper coming into the season after a (relatively) disappointing season last year. This year, they have posted a lot of solid wins, beating the Heat, Thunder and Knicks in three straight games. Their big man tandem can cause problems against almost every team in the league, and they are coming off of a win against the one team that can match their size in the Lakers. If Rudy Gay can continue to raise his game when they need him most, and the bench continues to provide the three-point shooting that was missing last year, this team will be a nightmare in the postseason.
4. New York Knicks (9-3) – Previous Ranking: 4 – Well, the excellent play wasn’t going to last forever. After starting the season like gangbusters, the Knicks (and especially the defense) has fallen off over the last three games. Luckily, one of those games came against the Pistons, so they were able to coast to a win anyway. But with this roster of old and slow bigs behind Tyson Chandler, the Knicks have to be on their game with their defensive rotations and pressure in order to have the strong defense that portends postseason success. On a more positive note, Melo and J.R. Smith are melding explosive scoring progress with a willingness to pass the ball and play strong defense. If Mike Woodson does the right thing and bring Amar’e off the bench with J.R. Smith, their second unit will be among the best in the league. It will be interesting to see how all the pieces come back together (they are getting Iman Shumpert back at some point this year, too), but the Knicks have shown the capability of playing as well as almost any team in the league. Read more…
Welcome back to the second edition of the Waiver Wire NBA Power Rankings. Every Monday, we’ll be taking a look at the NBA landscape and try to pick out the big winners and losers of the past week. On a relatively happy note, Hurricane Sandy did not do too much to disrupt the nascent NBA season, as it only forced teams to postpone one game. Also, both New York teams were able to start things off on a high note, so I hope that offers some bit of comfort to all of our New York readers. Obviously, with some teams only having played a single game, I will try not to overreact too much in my rankings, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
1. Miami Heat (2-1) – Previous Ranking: 1 – Even after an opening night loss against the Knicks, and a week in which their defense was less than stellar, the Heat have to remain the favorites in the NBA. LeBron is still one of the league leaders in PER because of his commitment to grabbing boards and compensating for the squad’s overall lack of size. Chris Bosh showed he still knows how to fill it up with his 40 point effort in Denver, and Ray Allen is hitting over 56% of his three-pointers while taking over 5 a game.
2. San Antonio Spurs (3-0) – Previous Ranking: 4 – The Spurs have not always looked great doing it, but they have compiled a 3-0 record while taking care of two conference rivals in Oklahoma City and Utah on their home court. The fact that Ginobili missed the first two games gives them hope that their offense will pick things up after a so-so start.
3. Oklahoma City (1-2) – Previous Ranking: 3 – Even though the Thunder have stumbled a bit to start the season, there are some silver linings. Their losses came against two good teams, and one was a nail biter that went the Spurs way in San Antonio. Kevin Martin exploded in Atlanta, and looks like he will fit in nicely as a third scorer with efficiency. Even Hasheem Thabeet has given them decent minutes so far. As soon as the shots start to fall for Russell Westbrook, they will go on a run.
4. New York Knicks (2-0) – Previous Ranking: 12 – Hard to argue against a season opening win against the defending NBA champions. The Knicks have continued the defensive effort that started when Mike Woodson took over the team last season, ranking first in the NBA in points allowed per game. Combining that with an offense built around Carmelo Anthony and good ball movement (even from guys like Melo and JR Smith) have given Knicks fans hope that the success is sustainable. Read more…
Welcome to the inaugural NBA Power Rankings. Every Monday, we’ll be taking a look at the NBA landscape and try to pick out the big winners and losers of the past week. With the season set to get underway tomorrow (assuming the East Coast isn’t swallowed by Hurricane Sandy), now’s as good of a time as any to get an idea of how each team looks as we kick things off. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
1. Miami Heat (0-0) - Anyone who doesn’t think the Heat are the prohibitive favorites coming into the season haven’t been watching basketball. They are the class of the NBA, and now that Erik Spoelstra has really embraced the “no positions” philosophy, look for this team to terrorize the rest of the NBA. No one will be able to prepare for their breakneck offensive pace and the constant positional switching to try to get an exploit mismatches. LeBron should be right there for the MVP Award, and will likely win it barring injury or plain old voter fatigue.
2. Los Angeles Lakers (0-0) – The league really has turned into the Heat and everyone else. The Lakers are dealing with injury woes already, and no one has really seen whether their starters will mesh well enough to compensate for their truly atrocious bench. But now the Thunder have the same chemistry questions after the James Harden trade, and the Lakers just have more top-flight talent, and the highest ceiling of any team, Miami included. For now, that talent gives them the number two spot.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (0-0) – I’m glad I waited until after the weekend to do this review, because the James Harden trade definitely has an effect on the team’s outlook coming in. Instead of coming in as co-favorites with Miami, the Thunder have now introduced a big enough question into the equation that I have to put the Lakers ahead of them for now. We’ll have to see how long it takes for the offense to gel now that they lost the glue that really held it together, but I have enough faith in the replacements that came in the trade, as well as continued growth for Westbrook, Durant, and Ibaka, to put them ahead of teams like San Antonio and the Celtics. If they come out firing on all cylinders, expect them to move up right away. Read more…
Well, that sure came together quickly. After an offseason full of questions about the future of James Harden in Oklahoma City, Sam Presti and the front office of the Thunder moved swiftly on Saturday night, trading the reigning Sixth Man of the Year to the Houston Rockets after he turned down the Thunder’s final extension offer. The most stunning aspect of the deal was not that the Thunder might not be able to keep Harden – the future financial costs that they would be looking at because of the new CBA have been discussed ad nauseum. Yes, some people have doubted the true financial strain that giving Harden a max would have put on the Thunder as a small market team (See: Bill Simmons), but everyone knew that there was a chance that James Harden would leave OKC.
Rather, it was the timing that surprised most people. Instead of putting off the problem until next offseason, and giving this core one more shot at the title, Presti decided to move Harden when his value was highest and maximize his return while still giving the Thunder a chance to jell before the postseason. The results: The Thunder ship out Harden, Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich, and Lazar Hayward to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks, and a second rounder. Let’s take a look at how the trade left both teams. Read more…
Well, that didn’t take very long.
After an offseason filled with praise for Cashman and Co. and the job they did to bring the much-maligned starting rotation up to the level of the offense, the wheels have come off big time over the first few weeks. The news came out this afternoon that Michael Pineda will miss the remainder of the year with a right shoulder anterior labral tear, and will go under the knife on May 1st. Two recent examples of pitchers that had serious shoulder surgery are Johan Santana and Chien-Ming Wang. Both needed over a year to come back, although Santana has looked better recently. The Yankees have hope that he might return to form next year, and with his youth he still has time to develop into the pitcher they thought they were getting when they traded Jesus Montero to the Mariners. But while there is still hope for the future, this is just the latest development in a rough start to the season for the starting rotation. Read more…
According to Adam Schefter over at ESPN, the Lions have signed Calvin Johnson to a 7-year extension for $135 million, with $60 million guaranteed. This dollar value surpasses the one for Larry Fitzgerald’s deal last year ($120 million), but amazingly it reduces Megatron’s cap number for next season by about $9 million. Under the contract he signed as the number 2 overall draft pick in the 2007 draft, he was scheduled to make a whopping $22 million, but that number has been cut to somewhere between $12 and $13 million. This, combined with the recent restructuring of other Lions’ deals, gives the improving Lions a chance to bring in a few veteran free agents to round out the roster.
To celebrate my return to The Waiver Wire after a period of neglect that borders on criminal, I decided to write up a quick article on a random trade idea that I had a few days ago and have been obsessing over since. I sent it in to Simmons’s email over at Grantland, and have asked multiple friends that are basketball fans, but I felt like sharing it with the general public.
In the beginning of this season, there was a lot of hand-wringing over some issues that were plaguing the Knickerbockers. Their offense was stagnant, with both Melo and Amar’e acting as ball-stopping, inefficient black holes. What made it even worse was the lack of a reliable point guard to run the show. This meant that Melo – one of the aforementioned black holes – was being relied to actually initiate the offense, including bringing the ball upcourt. Tyson Chandler was stuck scrounging for garbage points on put backs and broken plays. Landry Fields was absolutely, positively lost. MIKE BIBBY was getting minutes, for goodness sake.
Welcome to the new (hopefully) recurring feature on The Waiver Wire: “Careless Whispers“. Since a lot of us discuss the latest news or rumors all the time on Facebook, we figured we would move it over to the website to add some content. This way, we’ll be able to just go off on rumors or the latest signings, even if it isn’t groundbreaking enough to warrant its own standalone story. Obviously, if something truly big goes down, one of us might seize the story and go all out in a separate column, but this will be a place for us to shoot the shit, and get everyone excited for big things happening in sports. Feel free to comment down below and join in on the conversation! Read more…
Screw talking about a playoff, even though it makes so much sense that it is painful. The BCS just flat out got it wrong.
I was watching the BCS selection show last night, and I just felt it coming. There was a lot of talk about how Oklahoma State could vault itself into the national title game with a stellar performance against their biggest rival. Pundits were talking about how little people wanted to see a rematch of the ugliest game of the year (LSU-Bama I). Then OSU goes out and shellacks Oklahoma, their legendary rival and the team that had played spoiler the previous two years in the Bedlam game, and was ranked in the top 10 in the country coming into the game. The offense goes nuts. The defense holds its own against a formidable OU attack. The memory of that game is fresh in the mind of the voters. The evidence that OSU should be in the BCS title game was overwhelming. And that’s why I knew Alabama was going to get in. Because people are fucking stupid. Read more…