Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chris Paul = Best Point Guard in the NBA

Remember that whole Chris Paul/Deron Williams debate over who was better?

Yeah, me neither.

Let's just say, with the way not only CP3 has been playing, but the Hornets as a squad, we have a clear cut answer to that question for the first time in a long time.

The Hornets are currently 32-12, good enough for first place in the razor-tough Western Conference, and Paul is the unquestioned reason why. He's on pace to be the only player EVER to average 20 points, 10 assists, and 3 steals per game. He would also be the first player to average 20 points and 10 dimes since Timmy Hardaway in 1995. 12 times this season he's scored 20 and thrown double-digit assists. He's averaged over 24 ppg and 10 apg in two head-to-head wins over Steve Nash and the Suns.

Plus, he's making a mockery of the point guard position right now.

Not only is he getting to the rim at ease and turning David West and Tyson Chandler into potential All-Stars, he's shown much improvement on what was perceived to be his biggest flaw: his outside shooting. He's shooting 48% from the field and 35% from 3, making him literally unguardable.

But his greatest strength is what he's been known for since forever - leadership. Dude is almost Isiah Thomas reincarnated. He can score from anywhere on the floor, has the uncanny ability to find open teammates, gets inside your jersey on defense, and absolutely gets the most out of his team every single night. Let's hope he doesn't sink an entire league as an owner, help ruin a storied NBA franchise as a GM,
and embarrass all sports fans with a ridiculous sexual harassment lawsuit. Just sayin'.

There's a level of intensity in CP that he exudes among his squad. They don't just think they're good, they think they should win every night. Ask the reigning champ Spurs, who got blitzed by the Hornets at home 102-78 after another double-double by CP3 (17 points, 11 assists), and the Nuggets, the Hornets' next victim who got stung in the Big Easy behind a monstrous game (23 points, 17 assists, 9 boards) by the league's premier pg.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Cool

In December 2007, Chicago wunderkind Lupe Fiasco released his sophomore album, "The Cool", a great album from top to bottom. Though it may have some missteps here and there, every verse of every song should be treated as a potential masterpiece.

Coincedently, five weeks later, fellow Chi-town prodigy Derrick Rose, aka The Cool, may have put together his own masterpiece. His 19-point, 9-assist, 8-rebound game (along with Chris Douglas-Roberts' team-leading 21) in Saturday's win over Gonzaga went a long way in justifying the already lofty expectations that came with him to Memphis from the Windy City.

For about a year, The Cool (which he will be referred to until further notice) has been touted by scouts, analysts, experts and fans alike (including myself) have sworn on a stack of SLAM magazines that he will not only be a surefire lottery pick this June, but will undoubtedly be a top 2 selection.

It all started for me with the ESPN-televised showdown he had with then-top junior point guard Brandon Jennings and the number one ranked Oak Hill squad. As many of you may recall, The Cool put up 28 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists in front of the whole nation, solidyfing his position as the top pg in the '07 class and a big reason why Memphis would be number one (which they now are).

Though The Cool has struggled at times during his freshman season at UM (six games with single-digit points and seven games with more turnovers than assists - 1.47 assist/TO ratio), he has also shown those flashes of brilliance that will make sure the Commish calls his name very early this summer. In his first collegiate game, he had 17 points, 6 rebounds and five assists next to only one turnover against UT-Martin. The next game he had 21 against Richmond (gaining him the Coaches vs Cancer Memphis Regional MVP). Then there's the 24 points vs UConn in the Garden, the 19 points and 12 dimes against Austin Peay, the 26 point outing (with five 3s) at Cincinnati, and the 18 and 6 dimes against the then-number 4 ranked Georgetown Hoyas. All with the same cool expression on his face.

Numbers like those - especially Saturday's near-triple double vs Gonzaga - are why he gets (prematurely) compared to Jason Kidd. Those numbers should also have fans and scouts alike from the Knicks, Heat, Sonics, Clippers, Wolves, and Sixers drooling and praying for a miracle come May.

Friday, January 25, 2008

How To Fix the Knicks

Yes, ladies and gents, Isiah Thomas is still the head coach of your Knicks.

Look on the bright side, at least you don't have Eli and Coughlin to kick around anymore.

But I have good news for you: Zeke staying as coach of the 'Bockers might actually be a good thing. (We'll get back to that.)

New York's problem isn't with Isiah the coach, it's Isiah the team president/GM who needs to get whacked. He's the one who brought in every member of this horrible roster.

How horrible is this roster? Any 14-year-old NBA Live or NBA 2K veteran who has ever guided a virtual team through franchise mode can tell you this group would never work.

Let's start with the obvious transgressions:

- Their "star" player is Stephon "Teams get better after I leave" Marbury, who is currently living up to his moniker. He just underwent voluntary surgery (which may have been an excuse for an early vacation and a chance to escape from New York). Of course, the team played its most inspired stretch of basketball this season. Did I mention that Steph is owed almost $42 million through 2009?

Solution: Buy him out, trade him to Miami, trade him to Italy, whatever. But as Minnesota, New Jersey, and Phoenix (and now NY) has taught us: getting rid of Marbury is the first step in the right direction.

- Zach Randolph just isn't working out in the Big Apple. Losing, plus an unpredictable rotation plus Eddy Curry haven't exactly resulted in the dominance many expected from Z-Bo when he was brought there last summer. Plus, there's only room for one overweight New York big man who is allergic to defense. Which brings us to....

- Eddy Curry. Give him a year or two to prove he can develop any semblance of consistency and actually get more rebounds than a 5'9 guard...or get rid of him too. Ooh, maybe the Knicks can get back one of those first rounders that they mortgaged their future to get Curry.

Let's do a quick rundown of the rest of the Knicks' roster:

- Jamal Crawford. He seems like he could be a good player on a good team, until you realize that he's played the most games in the NBA without playing in a postseason game. He's a gunner with horrible shot selection and no idea how to play team basketball (though you can argue it's because he's played for the Bulls and Knicks), but he has heart.

- David Lee. New York's best role player, though inconsistent minutes have certainly caused a lack of enthusiasm. Either trade him to a good team for a first rounder or keep him as a building block.

- Quentin Richardson. No use to any team without good ball movement and great passers. Absolutely no use.

- Renaldo Balkman. Should be the only "untouchable" player on this roster. Every good team has someone like him.

- Mardy Collins. Good versatile backup guard. Should be kept unless a (cheap) upgrade comes along.

- Everybody else should be traded, bought out or released as quickly as possible. Quite frankly, this team needs to be blown up. They should've been blown up back in 2003 when Thomas first got hired. Unlike the Yankees, the Knicks have a salary cap and it's a lot tougher to keep adding big names with big contracts to improve. And you can't buy out every horrible contract on the roster. Sooner or later, you're just spending a lot of money to make up for spending a lot of money.

The Knicks need to immediately start planning for the future. Keep young guys like Balkman, Lee, Nate, and Collins and try to unload contracts for 1st round picks. Either buy out Marbury or let him walk next summer and find a point guard, ASAP.

Fortunately for New York, they actually get to keep their number one pick this summer. Since there will be no first pick in 2009 (barring a trade), try to get multiple picks this June and make them count. Depending on how the balls bounce (no homo), go after a young, exciting point guard (Memphis' Derrick Rose, Texas' D.J. Augustin, North Carolina's Tywon Lawson) or a young, athletic big man (Kansas State's Michael Beasley, Syracuse's Donte Green. Then you'll have the base for a future.

In 2-3 years, after they've gotten off some horrendous contracts (Jerome James?), drafted well, and haven't added any more long-term money they don't need, New York could transform into a youthful, exciting squad ripe for a 2010 offseason that could bring King James to the Garden. And if Isiah follows those rules, he should get what he rightfully deserves - fired.

After all, why make a good GM and coach suffer through Zeke's mess.

It's Been A Long Time

I shouldn't have left you.

Due to the following obstacles, I haven't been able to update here at I Ball For Real:

1. School (18 hours is a bitch)

2. Work (I work for the Rockets, a lot of long nights)

3. My addiction to NFL Madden

4. And laziness (Sorry..)

But starting today, I'm back on it. Sorry for the absence.

Shout out to Don from Minus the Bars for awaking me from the interdead.