Posts Tagged ‘kobe bryant’

The 2012-13 NBA season has concluded and the playoffs are on the near horizon.

Here are the Western Conference first round series:

(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (8) Houston Rockets

(2) San Antonio Spurs vs (7) LA Lakers

(3) Denver Nuggets vs (6) Golden State Warriors

(4) LA Clippers vs (5) Memphis Grizzlies

Breakdown and Predictions

(1) Thunder vs (8) Rockets:

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Almost one full year removed from the Thunder’s defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder stand as the top contender and No. 1 seed in the Western Conference entering the 2013 playoffs.

Arguably, the biggest off-season move made in 2012 was the Thunder’s trade of James Harden to the Houston Rockets, after failing to reach an agreement to extend the sixth-man-of-the-year’s contract.

Harden has proven himself among the NBA’s elite, ranking fifth in points per game over the season at 25.9. On an interestingly ironic side-note, Harden scored a career-high 46 points against the Thunder Feb. 20th 2013.

The Rockets may need four of those games from Harden in order to pull out a series victory though.

The Thunder won the regular season series against the Rockets 2-1. Without any player capable of shutting down Kevin Durant, Houston will need to score 125 points a game this series to compete. I can see that happening possibly once at home, but that’s it.

Prediction – Thunder win series 4-1

(2) Spurs vs (7) Lakers:

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There’s something about this series that screams “coin toss.”

A month ago, this match-up would likely have been dubbed an “easy sweep” for the Spurs. However, with the Lakers winning five straight games entering the postseason and the Spurs losing seven of their last ten, LA isn’t looking quite as outmatched.

Even without Kobe Bryant (out with Achilles injury), the Lakers have had success shooting the ball and big men, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, have been solid.

The coin flip aspect of this series, I feel, stems from the feeling that both the Spurs’ bad recent play and the Lakers’ stellar recent play are both anomalies, that could swap back at any time.

Only because I think it would be humorous to see the Lakers advance without the help of Kobe Bryant, will I give the Lakers the benefit of the doubt.

Prediction – Lakers win series 4-3

(3) Nuggets vs (6) Warriors:

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With two of the up-and-coming teams in the West, this series between Denver and Golden State may be the most high-flying and action-packed.

Both the Nuggets and Warriors average over 100 points per game. Alternately, they both allow over 100 points per game, so prepare for some classic offensive battles.

Heading the Warriors’ offense will be rising star Stephen Curry, who just broke Ray Allen’s single season 3 point field goal record. Leading Denver will be Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, and Corey Brewer.

Denver won the regular season series 3-1 with the lone loss coming on the road 106-105. I anticipate similar results.

Prediction – Denver wins series 4-1

(4) Clippers vs (5) Grizzlies:

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This series is an intriguing one in that the L.A. Clippers are the poster children for in-your-face, highlight-reel style basketball, while the Memphis Grizzlies are the prototype for flying under the radar with consistency and defense.

The Grizzlies are first in the NBA in points allowed at just 89.4 points per game allowed. I doubt the Clippers will worry much as they tend to gravitate towards the high percentage shots (A.K.A. the alley oop)

Memphis has their work cut out for them. We’ll see if they can use their size and defense to slow the game and make the Clippers beat them with range. I expect they will.

Prediction – Clippers win series 4-2

There you have it. Enjoy the Western Conference first round match-ups.

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The Lakers struggles this season have been front page news. How could they not be? With the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the firing and hiring of Head Coaches Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni, respectively, this season has commanded nothing short of top attention.

To the surprise of most, the Lakers’ off-season moves to bring in top offensive talent, Nash, and defensive talent, Howard, has not panned out. At least, not as far as wins go.

With a record of 20-26, the Lakers are currently 10th in the Western Conference and four games out of 8th.

No one, besides perhaps the Lakers fanbase, has taken these struggles harder than Kobe Bryant. Makes sense, considering Bryant may be one of the most proud players in the league. He has also seen more victories than most other players too.

It seems Kobe has had to learn a hard lesson; his selfish scorer ways have been not only unnecessary, but seemingly counter-productive. 21 times this season Bryant has scored 30+ points. The Lakers are 7-14 in those games and 13-12 in games when he scores under 30.

Recently, Kobe has taken on the role of not only scorer, but facilitator. Sound familiar?

Michael Jordan was not revolutionary because he could score. Wilt Chamberlain scored. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored. Jordan changed the game by the way he scored, passed AND rebounded, making his teammates better.

Without Phil Jackson around implementing his triangle offense, Kobe has turned over a new leaf, or at least the last four games. Bryant has averaged 11 assists per game the last four games, up from his career 4.7 per game average.

The Lakers record the last four games? 3-1.

Now we’ll see if Kobe can keep it up.

Reports surfaced last off-season that Carmelo Anthony wanted to play basketball in New York. Being from the east coast, Baltimore, MD, Carmelo would have no reservations playing back 2500 miles closer to home.

The off-season heard talk of ‘Melo going to the Lakers as well as the Knicks after the 2010-’11 season. Lakers talk only gained steam because of the closeness of Anthony’s and Kobe Bryant‘s relationship. The Knicks made plenty of off-season moves including picking up Amar’e Stoudemire and, like the Heat, had plenty of room left under the salary cap to sign another big name such as Carmelo Anthony.

Now that the trade deadline is nearing and ‘Melo’s contract expires at the end of this season, the Nuggets are open for trade offers. So far, there have been talks with New Jersey, New York and supposedly Los Angeles.

Reports have come out that Denver and New Jersey have been talking trades the last week. Although Anthony has come out publicly and stated he would like to play in New York for the Knicks, New Jersey has the most to offer Denver in a trade with draft picks.

The Knicks, I assume, are confident that ‘Melo will sign with them as a free agent this Summer if Denver doesn’t trade him away first, because they have not put out a trade offer – also, they declined an offer made by Denver where the Knicks would give Danilo Gallinari.

Jimmer Fredette (32) of BYU shooting a floater over the helpless Portland defenders.

Yeah, I admit it. I caught Jimmer fever.

Everyone had been talking about Jimmer Fredette the last couple days. ESPN had exhausted its talk on the Packers and Steelers victories over the Bears and Jets, and it’s far too early to really delve into Super Bowl talk. College signing day for football isn’t for another week and the Heat didn’t play the Knicks until tonight (Jan. 27th).

Far and away, the #4 San Diego State vs #9 BYU NCAA basketball match-up was the talk of the day. The story here? Jimmer Fredette. This kid puts the ball in the hoop. The end. Watching him is a thing of beauty. His shot is so pure and refined that he can shoot from 5+ feet beyond the NBA 3-point line, uncontested, better than some guys shoot their free throws.

Watch what Jimmer did to my boys.

Yeah, the Utes got it handed to them and yet I could watch this clip 200 times on loop because when you watch Jimmer Fredette play, there are no faces on his victims, there are no names or “U’s” on those jerseys. There is only Jimmer Fredette, the basketball and whatever he has to do to get that basketball in the hoop. That’s it.

The downside (there always is one) is that Jimmer Fredette will get worked on defense in the NBA. He has a long way to go. But he can be taught. The other issue with Fredette, is that shooting distance and accuracy will translate directly over to the NBA as far as open looks go. Problem is, NBA defenders are harder to shake. Even Kobe Bryant doesn’t get open looks more than 10% of the time maybe.

I think that Jimmer is like a mix of Manu Ginobili and J.J. Redick.

Watching Fredette shoot from deep, deep range reminds me of J.J. Redick. While at Duke, Redick was draining deep range shots like it was nothing. He would light up scoreboards on a nightly basis, much like Fredette. The problem with Redick, though, was that he was very much a catch and shoot type shooter. He was at his best coming off the pick, catching the ball 3+ feet away from the 3-point line and draining insanely difficult shots.

The reason I think Jimmer will have much more success in the NBA than J.J. has, is his Manu side. Fredette can beat almost anyone off the dribble and weaves through defenses at will. If he’s not open, he’ll get open. If his shot isn’t there he’ll get to where a shot is, and drill it. The kid is the Cam Newton of NCAA Basketball this season. They both touch the ball at least once every possession anyway…

When you hear LA, NBA, and king, you would sooner think of Kobe Bryant before Blake Griffin. I agree. Kobe has 5 championship rings, all with the LA Lakers. Blake Griffin is playing in his rookie year.

I say King of LA in comparison of course to LeBron James. I wrote an article a week or so ago about which of the two(Griffin or James) had the more impressive highlight reel. Watching Blake Griffin play basketball will remind you of LeBron‘s style. Griffin stands 2 inches taller than LeBron at 6’10” and can jump unlike anyone besides “King James”.

Griffin has averaged 22.8 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per game through his first 44 games as a pro. James averaged 20.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG through his rookie year. Granted, LeBron was 18 years old his rookie year, 4 years younger than Griffin this year. Griffin is by far the rookie of the year and possibly even MVP.

LeBron has already seen his numbers take a hit at the cost of playing with 2 other NBA stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It’s unlikely that Kobe will win the MVP this year either as his Lakers have slowed a step or two since last season. Dirk Nowitzki and Derek Rose are competitors for the title thus far as well, but one thing is for sure, Blake Griffin is the real deal and as long as he can stay healthy (he missed his “would be” rookie year in ’09-’10 season with a knee injury), he has the potential to not only win the MVP this season but be dominant in the NBA for a long time.

The could-be “trump card” that Griffin holds over all other MVP candidates this year is that Nowitzki and Rose types all have good to great supporting casts. Griffin, does not. Griffin’s pure talent has earned him his numbers. His play-making and sharp-shooting abilities are phenomenal.

Like LeBron, Griffin uses his size and athleticism to overpower and just plain outwork the opposition.

Griffin deserves all the praise and attention he has received so far and if the Clippers can draft or trade for some promising players, who knows? Maybe the Clippers can become the ’06-’10 Cavaliers of the West

The “King” for a reason

Posted: October 12, 2010 by Dan Condie in LeBron James, NBA
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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LeBron James’ disapproval rating skyrocketed this summer to the point where he was in the top 5 most hated athletes up with Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, and Michael Vick.

When NBA fans with a negative opinion of James are asked to explain themselves and their hated, many answers include, “I didn’t like how he went about the whole ‘decision’ thing”, or “he thinks he is the best thing in the world”, “he stabbed his fans in the back”…the list goes on.

Most all of the people I know that hated on LBJ before this Summer were Lakers/Kobe Bryant fans.

Kobe Bryant fans had a great time watching the “LeBron James Show” this Summer because most all the fence sitters on the Kobe/LeBron issue either swayed towards Kobe or at least strayed from LeBron.

Kobe fans, there’s nothing I hate worse than the sports fan that won’t credit the opposing teams’ successes along with cheering their failures, so I’ll start by saying Kobe Bryant is one of the best players in the NBA. He has more finesse than anyone to play before him and can score at will against any player one on one…when his shot is on.

You cannot call LeBron’s game graceful or full of finesse, but he is the most athletically gifted and highest caliber talent in the NBA. Kobe may have nights where he goes off for gaudy numbers, but LeBron James phones in triple doubles.

James said himself, in an interview last season, that he could won the scoring title every year, if he wanted to.

The fact is, LeBron James has one solitary goal in mind and it isn’t scoring titles, money, or media love. It’s winning championships. Yup, multiple.

Lets be realists for a second. LeBron gave Cleveland more than a fair shake. He did not choose to be drafted by Cleveland. (speaking of giving up on the court, the Cavs have been accused of throwing games in 2003 in order to raise their lotto pick chances). LeBron could have left the Cavaliers after his second year, but he signed a 4 year extension and received no solid #2 guy to help him out.

Everyone knows LeBron has more money than he knows what to do with. But if ESPN pitches the idea to run an hour long special for making his decision and would pay millions for something you were going to have to do anyway, you’d do much worse things than accepting a promotion on live TV and you all know it. I would do more offensive things for less money.

Bottom line is, LeBron hasn’t been a distraction off the court, hasn’t been in legal trouble, hasn’t been a sex-crazed idiot, has really only ever performed every single night at a level no one ever has.

So when the reasons why people are hating on the guy are all seemingly based on the way he did his job, that’s when I have issues. Cuz lets not forget, you go to the office, make sales, whatever your job may be, and LeBron plays in the NBA. He was a free agent and he chose to relocate and work in A. A better location with B. Better surrounding talent.

Know why I dislike the above athletes? Rape, steroids, cheating, and killing dogs. Do I love watching them play their respective sports? Absolutely. But I’m one of those sports fans that can separate the game from the drama. So should everyone else.

I know the title of this post will probably offend a few people but I think this is a valid argument. I will not sit here and say that soccer players are not athletic. In fact, soccer is one of the most trying sports on the body and rarely do players stop moving throughout the game that often goes for over an hour and a half.

That being said, there’s a lot to say about why the United States can’t compete with the Brazils, the Argentinas, and the Spains of the world on a regular basis in world competition in soccer.

Most all professional athletes today have started their athletic careers from a very early age. There are those exceptions where they didn’t play for a team until the senior year in high school and turned out to be naturally gifted but for the most part, athletes today begin with kid leagues and rec leagues.

If you were to ask 100 random people in the states “who is the most athletic person in England?” most everyone would name Wayne Rooney or David Beckham (both soccer players for those of you living under rocks). The same can be said of other European countries (Portugal: Christiano Ronaldo, Holland: Sneider or Robben, etc.)

But if you were to ask those same 100 people “who is the most athletic person in America?”, you will assuredly get mixed opinions ranging from LeBron James to Kobe Bryant to Chris Johnson. Whoever that American might be, I would be surprised to hear Landon Donovan or Freddy Adu or Jozy Altidore. Although each of these men is extremely athletic, they just don’t belong in the same sentence when talking about pure, athletic, talent. Could they beat the tar out of Kobe, LeBron, or really any other NBA or NFL star when it comes to conditioning and cardio endurance? Sure! But that’s just what it is, conditioning.

If NBA players were required to run around for over an hour and a half, I’m sure their conditioning would match that of our soccer stars. The plain and simple fact of the matter is, America’s 50 greatest athletes are playing in other leagues.

You tell me who on the soccer pitch is going to out-jump LeBron James for a header. You tell me who, on the USA World Cup team, is going to beat Chris Johnson in a foot race for a free ball. No one. Landon Donovan looks like “George” from “Seinfeld” next to these guys.

The fact that the United States can make it as far as they do in the World Cup tournament is a tribute to the type of athletes we do have in this country because if we had a roster filled with the Kobes, LeBrons, and Ochocincos of the country, well, I think we all know who would be taking home the World Cup every 4 years and it sure wouldn’t be Spain or Brazil or Argentina.