NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Houston Rockets

Houston, we have a problem… the Rockets’ delegitimize themselves by not being able to keep opponents from scoring at a torrid pace, giving up an average 103.4 per/g; which explains why they’re next to last (29th of 30) in points allowed. Because they score just as many as they give up (106.4 per/g), and are 2nd best in the league in doing so, the Rockets’ are able to maintain a decent 31-26 won-loss record. To bad the playoffs are not a halfcourt game; the Rockets’ would run everybody right out of the gym!!! More so than the Spurs’, watching Harden & co. run their offense is a thing of beauty. I’d rather shave hair off the backside of an angry lion than watch them play defense. It’s that bad.

Adding Thomas Robinson and Francisco Garcia should help. How soon that help arrives is the question Rocket fans can’t wait to get an answer to. Robinson is the main piece in GM Daryl Morey’s latest deadline deal that should prove to be his biggest yet. Robinson looked at times out of place in Sacramento because of all the nonsense surrounding the “ALOOF” brothers and the logjam at forward. Being drafted by the Kings was a waste of his time. How can a player even scratch the surface of his potential when thrown into chaos and confusion right from the start? Kevin McHale will no doubt find a much more determined role for Robinson who should benefit immensely.

Harden has proved that being a starter is not at all a burden, and there is still time for OKC to regret ever having let him go. His ability to put the ball in the basket with little or no effort is equal to only Tony Parker of the Spurs’. However, defense is a big problem. Harden clearly sets the tone on offense, he also should set the tone on defense as well if the Rockets’ are to have any chance of avoiding a first round exit come playoff time.

Jeremy Lin is an “up and down” type of player who doesn’t seem to play without the ball as well as he does with the ball. The Rockets’ run pick & roll with Lin and Harden pretty effectively, but it’s not a recipe you can rely on in the playoffs. Once again, the theme here is that interior play determines if and how far you advance in the playoffs. Especially with the Rockets’ not being a very good rebounding team. How long can shooting 49% from 3 help you maintain sustainability? Chandler Parson’s injury only makes the situation worse.

The Rockets’ are a perimeter oriented team that can score in bunches with the best of em’, but their losses will start to mount if the interior play is not addressed immediately. I think McHale knows the Lakers’ smell blood in the water; they better hope Robinson is the lifeboat.

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Utah Jazz

Of all the potential playoff contenders in the Western conference, the Utah Jazz baffle me the most. Come to think of it, they baffle me more than any playoff team this year!

Going into the All-Star break this weekend, the Jazz are sittin’ pretty decent with a 30-24 record overall and a 7th seed if the playoffs sarted today. The numbers aren’t too shabby until you see the Jazz play. Their play -at times- is reminiscent of the stock market and they still somehow managed to pull off being 11th in the league in points scored at 98.3 per. What’s even more crazy is they allow per game (98.6), darn near just as many as they put up!! That’s adds up to a whole bunch of close games and a nice playoff seed, but a “don’t take your shoes off, cause you’re not stayin”- come tourney time.make no mistake, the Jazz will be first round casualties.

Al Jefferson (6-10/265), and Derrick Favors (6-10/246), bolster an interior that would serve the Jazz well during the playoffs, it’s the perimeter play that would eventually lead to their early first round exit. Favors will have to give better production; averaging 9 pts a game won’t cut it.

Mo Williams is the only viable threat fom the perimeter because of his ability to score in bunches, but he’s a sixth man off the bench who’s only appeared in 24 games this season. His 12.9 are sorely missed.

Randy Foye’s 11.8 don’t cause the opposition much fear, but shooting 80% fom the line will keep a defense honest; 42% from three means not enough mid-range to me.

Alec Burks is another case for the argument, “should college players stay an extra year?” He looks like a strong candidate for the promise outweighs the production award. An award the NBA should consider adding to all the other “dust collectors” they hand out.

Gordon Heyward seems to always be “questionable” since his arrival. Not to bash the whole group, I thought Butler players’ were supposed to be tough? He’s more bust than baller at this point. Can you say, Adam Morrison? I digress.

Enes Kanter’s jersey number is 0, and so too is his value and production. Jamaal Tinsley looks too old, and Earl Watson couldn’t hit a bull in the backside with a shovel if it were standin’ right in front of him!!!

Milsap has a nice game, but he’d be far more dangerous if he added a mid-range.

In the end, the Jazz just don’t have enough of everything to make a serious run in the playoffs this go round. Maybe next year will be different when Heyward (9th pick overall-2010), Kanter (3rd pick overall-2011), and Burks (12th pick overall-2011) figure it’s time to get down to the business of perfectin’ the craft of basketball.

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Memphis Grizzlies

I’ve mentioned before there are only a handful of NBA teams’ who’s style of play could survive- even thrive- were the 3-point line removed from today’s game. The Memphis Grizzlies’ were one of those teams’ until they dumbfoundedly traded away Rudy Gay. I don’t care what anyone says, trading your leading scorer (17.2 pts/g) for the past two seasons, franchise career leader in games, minutes, and steals, for the likes of Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye, and Ed Davis is straight “Paprikash” if I do say so myself. Not to mention, Gay left Memphis ranked second in points (8,562) second in field goals made (3,293) third in three-pointers made (488) third in free throws made (1,488), third in rebounds (2,758) and fifth in blocks (420). How do you legitimately replace that kind of production? You don’t; especially not with Prince, Day, and Davis.

What bothers me most is that the trade took place at a time when the Grizzlies’ were a strong 4th seed in the Western Conference and legit title contenders this year. Rudy was that guy who could not only guard the other team’s best player- on the perimeter and anywhere else- he was the one player who could successfully and consistently create his own shot! That’s why i’m not surprised the Grizzlies’ have gone 1-3 since the trade. Gay’s presence will be sorely missed; it allowed for all the other pieces to work in a way similar to what Ray Lewis had with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. Not necessarily to the same degree, but a strong presence nonetheless. By the way, those three losses since the trade were to the Suns, Hawks, and Thunder; a Thunder team the Grizzlies beat back in November when Rudy completely undressed America’s next favorite Kevin Durant. The Griz’ are currently in the 5th spot and fallin’ fast with Golden State nippin’ at their heels.

I also don’t believe management’s position about Gay not being a “max player” and the over used “luxury tax” argument. Yes the penalties may be punative, and flexability a factor, but the CBA”s(collective bargining agreement) intended “take care of business now, so you don’t get penalized down the road” only applies to those teams’ who have misused their funds from day one. The Grizzlies’ would not have been affected by the ramifications of the luxury tax until two years’ down the road. Surely there are enough intelligent folks in the Memphis organization who could have figured out a way to keep Gay; at least another year anyway. I thought there was a good chance the Grizzlies could surprise come playoff time. I guess the surprise was getting rid of Rudy Gay before his time, and blowing up the franchise like a landmine. What a shame.

NBA 2K13 In Season Review: Denver Nuggets

Did you know there once was a time in the NBA where if a player was fouled in the backcourt that player was then awarded 2 free-throws? Which is a testament to defense being a high priority in those days. While it’s not okay that defense in today’s NBA is played with an old school flavor by a select few, what is okay by today’s standards is a team like the Denver Nuggets being made to play 20 of it’s first 31 games (this season) on the road because of the money grubbing, headlining powers that be… who feel as though it’s better for the basketball fan to see… all home games national-lee… played by the front runners down in Mia-mee. More on this subject later. Right now it’s about the Denver Nuggets and why they could be one of the most dangerous teams in the 2013 playoffs.

If I told you the Nuggets have the 2nd best record behind OKC in the Northwest division (30-18), and are 6th best in the NBA overall, suggesting I have my head examined by a medical professional would be good advice if none of what I just were true.

Winners’ of their last 6, these Nuggets’ put some serious lumps on the foreheads of a few 2013 playoff contenders; knocking off the James Harden led Rockets (twice), the Finals repeat shoo-in Thunder (according to many), and the fastly up and coming Warriors’ during that span. This doesn’t mean that the Nuggets’ are completely cured of their bad habit of “stock market-itis”, where one minute they look like the green arrow pointing up, and the next minute looking like the red arrow pointing down. They do however look like a team that if the playoffs started today could knock off the clippers’ in a first round series. Which would be shocking to most of the basketball world except me.

Unlike years’ past, I don’t recall the Nuggets having a player on the roster who plays with the ferocity and relentlessness of a Kenneth “The Manimal” Faried, or an Andre Iguodala who seems to have finally found the place where his type of game can really flourish. Add to that a JaVale McGee who’s skills are over-shadowed by his ” Shaqtin-a-fool” moments, a “Deadly” Galinari from the outside, the blossoming facilitator Ty Lawson, and Corey Brewer with Wilson Chandler, this could be the year These Nuggets’ go into a second round with people actually placing bets in their favor. This team has more depth than in recent years; better team free-throw shooting and team defense- allowing 100.7 per/g- could lead to an upset of grand porportions and their first ever NBA Finals’ appearance