Sunday, March 27, 2011

In agreement of Dwight Howard, Gus Johnson, Odd Future

For what it's worth, I'm completely on board with you about the MVP thing.  As is Dylan from Bottom of the Barrel (he spells out a great argument here...although it's pretty much what you've already said).  I can see why the media is gravitating towards Rose; he's a very exciting player to watch.  He's fast.  He can score.  He gets his teammates involved.  He's on one of the best teams in the league.
I understand the injury thing, but the Bulls would be a pretty good team even without Rose (obviously not #1 in the East, but still a playoff team).  But the Magic without Howard?  Do those guys even know how to play defense?  The Magic wouldn't be a playoff team without him...even in the weak East.  Rose is the sexy pick.  Howard is the right pick.

This has been a fantastic NCAA tournament so far.  Granted, there have been blow-outs, but there have also been a ton of close games, and some fantastic upsets.  Have you been watching VCU?  That's an exciting team. I know the Kansas game is going to be tough for them (especially if they have as much trouble shooting free throws as they did the other night), but I'll be rooting for them.  They play fast.  They can shoot.  Just a fun team to watch.

That Mark Jackson video was terrific.  If you liked that, you're sure to love this:

Have you listened to Odd Future?  They're a new, young hip-hop collective (kind of like Wu-Tang).  They have a bunch of albums and mixtapes from their members on their site.  Check it out.  I'm particularly fond of Tyler, the Creator's Bastard, Earl Sweatshirt's Earl, and MellowHype's BlackenedWhite.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why Derrick Rose is not your 2010-11 NBA MVP

My final plea for why Dwight Howard is more deserving to be your 2011 NBA MVP over Derrick Rose. The talks of Derrick Rose running away with the award have become to much for this man to stomach. I will lay out my argument here and never again.

(Until, the award is announced and I will spend 4500 words bitching about why they are wrong and I am right.)

There seems to be numerous interpretations of what the MVP is. I've heard it's the best player on the best team, but I don't know that I necessarily agree with that. For a LeBron carrying some subpar Cleveland teams, it works. For this year, it wouldn't as I haven't heard a ton of "Manu Ginobili for MVP" talks. I've heard people say it should always go to the best player in the league. I don't necessarily agree with that either. LeBron James is remarkable, but Dwyane Wade won 47 games last year with scrubs. You're telling me this given Chris Bosh this year that he couldn't get close to third place in the East, where Miami currently resides? Please. I've also heard that the MVP should go to the player most valuable to his team that particular year. This is the one I agree most with. I hate using injury as an example, so we'll go with suspension. If you say one player was suspended for the rest of the season/postseason, which teams would manage to stay afloat? LA sans Kobe would go inside with a steady diet of Bynum/Gasol/Odom. Boston's best player is up for debate, but it's safe to say they would fare well if they lost Pierce/KG/Rondo. Same for San Antonio if they lost Ginobili. How the Heat would do without LeBron is mentioned above. Chicago would struggle without Rose, but Tom Thibodeau would get the Bulls into the playoffs with a Noah-Boozer-Deng frontline and his defensive schemes. Orlando is a lost cause without Dwight. Brandon Bass getting the lions share of minutes at center? Malik Allen playing at all? I shudder to think of the outcome.

Consider that Rose is the best offensive part on the league's 13th most efficient offense and the worst defensive part on the league's most efficient D. Howard is the best offensive player on the league's 10th most efficient offense and the best defensive player on the league's third most efficient D. Consider that six Bulls rank in the top 12 of Defensive Rating, which measures points allowed per 100 possessions. Rose is ranked 49th. Howard ranks 1st and doesn't have a teammate appear on the list until Ryan Anderson at #30. Howard comes in ahead of Rose on Offensive Rating. Howard is fractions behind LeBron in terms of Player Efficiency Rating. Rose checks in in the 3rd best PG, behind Paul and Westbrook. He's 12th overall. Chicago's fourth best player is Joakim Noah, a borderline All Star. Orlando's fourth best player is Hedo Turkoglu, who has played on three teams in the last 12 months and came off the bench for two of them. Rose is remarkable, but I don't get all the "He has no help!" talks. Boozer and Noah have each missed time, but in their place Omer Asik and Taj Gibson have put together outstanding displays of defense. Luol Deng has had a nice year on both ends of the court and Thibodeau is as good as advertised. Dwight's supporting cast has consisted of Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, the aforementioned Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas. If anybody can play the no help card, it's Howard.

It's hard to play the "If you just watch the game..." card here because it's so subjective. Numbers obviously don't tell the whole story, but they are telling. The last time someone averaged 23 ppg, 14 rpg, 2 bpg as Howard is doing now? Hakeem in 1989-90. He finished seventh in MVP voting that year behind a murderer's row of Magic, Barkley, Jordan, Malone, Ewing and Robinson all age 30 or younger. My goodness. The last time somebody averaged the 25 ppg, 4 rpg, 7 apg Rose currently has? Lebron last year. And the year before. Actually, LeBron has done it in all but three of his years in the NBA. Wade did it twice. Iverson did it. Is what Rose is doing really that rare to where he is the runaway MVP? He's doing it on 44% shooting and taking 20 shots a game to get there. He's not that efficient offensively. He's not that good defensively. What about this screams MVP?

I know what you're saying. Tyler, you're a massive homer. Well, I don't have any advanced stats to dispute that one. You're saying Rose gets the publicity because people want to see him streak to the basket and dunk on someone more than they want to see Dwight switch on the pick and roll. That's a valid point...if we're picking SportsCenter highlights. It's not if educated basketball minds are deciding on the league's most valuable player. You're saying Dwight can't be MVP. You wouldn't dare go to him at the end of the game because of his poor free throw shooting. I say you wouldn't dare go at him on the other end because of his defensive ability. He appears to be headed toward his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award, which has never been done. Rose could easily get you the go ahead bucket late in a game, and just as easily give it up defensively the next possession. Howards free throw percentage also jumps from 59% to 66% in the fourth quarter, which adds up considering the sheer number of times he gets to the line. You'll tell me that Orlando is fourth place in their division, while Chicago is first. I'll tell you that Orlando shares a division with Miami, Atlanta and Charlotte. Miami and Atlanta are locks for the playoffs and Charlotte is two games back for the 8th seed. The next best team in Chicago's division, are those 8th seed Pacers. Whooping up on the likes of the Pistons and Cavaliers could certainly help one to a first place finish. You're saying, you just hate Derrick Rose. That's not true! I think what he is doing at 22 years of age, with the pressure of a major market, historically successful franchise and playing in his hometown on his back is incredible. Add in that recent point guards did not typically bode well in the NBA after one year in college, until Rose set the trend. Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Mike Conley, and Jrue Holiday soon followed suit. The improvement in his jumper from season to season shows how hard he works on it. Rose is fun to watch, supremely talented and seems like a good enough guy. I like Rose. I just don't think he's the most valuable player in the NBA this season.

I'm sitting here watching Dwight dismantle the Knicks, as the Breen-Van Gundy-Jackson trio announces. Van Gundy and Jackson each gush about how Howard does more for his team at both ends than anybody in the league. About how this team is "20, 25 wins tops" without Howard. About Dwight needing to pull a Wilt Chamberlain and play 48 minutes a game because the team is that lost without him. Then they each proceeded to put him behind Rose on their MVP ballot, because of "what Rose means to that Bulls squad." I give up.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lupe and Mark Jackson

I'll start with the Lupe. After first listen, I hated it. Absolutely hated it. It was too pop for me. I refused to believe that Lupe fought with his label and it took 4 years to create, "I Don't Wanna Care Right Now". "Out of My Head" isn't a bad track, but it just didn't seem like a Lupe track. Then I read up on how apparently the label gave him songs with the beat and hook already in place and told him add verses, instead of letting him come up with his own stuff. I gave it another listen and concluded that the album wasn't bad. It just wasn't Lupe. Like you mentioned, the brevity of the album really helps. I can get through the entire thing on the way to work. It took me a fortnight to get through The Cool. Gave it a third listen and I'm starting to enjoy it. I love "2 Ways" and "Coming Up". "Never Forget You" never gets play, but everything else has grown on me. Still, on a CD full of pop sounding party tunes, why in the world were "Show Goes On" and "Words I Never Said" the first singles? "I Don't Wanna Care Right Now" and "Out of My Head" seemed like obvious choices if the label is looking only to appeal to the masses. Whatever. Solid album.

I can't find a good picture of it, but I am absolutely ecstatic for Hanley Ramirez's jheri curl this season. I see big things out of it.

I'm very interested to see how this Jim Tressel situation plays out. Tressel sat on information about his players breaking NCAA rules, and then lied to investigators about it. OSU suspended him for the first two games, against Toledo and Henry Clay if I'm not mistaken. Dez Bryant lied about having dinner with Deion Sanders, which doesn't break any rules, and was suspended 10 games in his last season at Oklahoma State. I can't imagine the NCAA adding more than a game to his suspension and maybe fining a couple more dollars. The fix was in as soon as the NCAA let the suspended OSU players delay their suspension to play in a very profitable bowl game last season. Outrageous.

I have to give props where it is due. John Calipari has the Cats playing their best ball heading into the NCAA tourney. In their current six game win streak the Cats beat #13 Florida, #20 Vandy, Tennessee on the road and won three straight games by at least 9 points on the way to winning the SEC tournament. Last years SEC tourney victory felt expected with five NBA first rounders on the squad. This one felt earned. I still disagree with Calipari leaving his starters in after the game is decided though. Against Alabama yesterday up 18 points with 90 seconds left, Doron Lamb and DeAndre Liggins both turned ankles but were healthy enough to play. Can't afford slip ups like that in the tourney on a team that only goes 6 deep, but I am looking forward to see how far the Cats go this season. Kentucky being a 4 seed in a region with Ohio State, North Carolina and Syracuse is a joke. Meanwhile, Florida got a #2 seed, gets to open in Tampa and faces the likes of BYU and Wisconsin. I'll just assume these choices were made last week. You know, before Kentucky beat Florida for the conference championship. Ridiculous.

I don't know how much Mark Jackson you get to catch, but this is spot on. Absolutely killed me.

I know you can't stand Simmons' voice, but this weeks podcast with Jalen Rose was dynamite. Rose was brutally honest about getting paid illegally in college, getting lit up by Kobe in his 81 point game, his mini-feud with Chris Webber, among other things. Just a good listen overall if you have some time to kill.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sheen, NBA, Simmons and Packers

The Sheen stuff is terrific.  Insane...but terrific.  The assumption is that he's taking copious amounts of drugs.  To refute that, he says that he has taken 4 drug tests as people watched...and he has passed all 4.  Now, that sounds impressive...but for all we know the "drug tests" were balloons he blew into, and "the people who watched" are his whore army (I believe he calls them goddesses) who "read the test."  However, if he is clean, then that also means that he's absolutely insane.
He had something this past week where he said something to the effect of, "I'm a god.  And while people are bowing down worshiping me, I'm behind them, slitting the throats of them and their children."  That's insane enough.  But the next day he was standing on a balcony, waving a machete around.  I have to say, it's been a while since I've enjoyed a meltdown so thoroughly.

I'm with you on the Corey Brewer thing.  My first thought was, "I've always liked Brewer.  He could really give that team such much-needed defense.  Good mood."  But then I remembered that D'Antoni hates defense, so Brewer was out.  Sad.  I loved him at Florida, and I was really hoping this would help him break out.  Oh well.

I'm excited for the Knicks for the second reason you listed...because we have two exciting players in a system that was pretty much made for them.  Watching these guys run-and-gun is supremely entertaining.  I don't buy the whole, "The league is better when the Knicks are good."  Growing up, I hated the Knicks (I think my hatred was really directed at John Starks).  If D'Antoni were coaching these guys on any other team, I would be just as excited.

I think we'll see how Morneau plays this season.  It could be that it's just taking him a while to recover, and then he'll be fine.  His last concussion was the result of a knee to the head.  That doesn't happen too often.  But I can see him coming out of the gate a little tentative...playing safe because he just keeps thinking about the possibility of another concussion.  Being a Tigers fan, I'm not the biggest Twins fan.  However, I kind of like Morneau.  He seems like a good guy, and I hope he can come back from this.  If he can't (or if he suffers another concussion), I can certainly see where he might consider retirement.

Thoughts on the new Lupe?  It took me a couple listens to get into it...but I'm digging on it.  I like that it's so concise.  There are a couple tracks I'm not crazy about ("State Run Radio" stands out as one), but for the most part, there are some really solid songs.  It feels more like a party album than a hip-hop album, but I think he pulls it off.  Our old pal Halgin seems to dig it.

I am also reading The Book of Basketball.  It pretty much encapsulates everything I love and hate about Simmons (well, not everything I hate...they haven't figured a way to get that terrible voice of his reading the book in podcast format yet).  On the one hand, there is a lot of good info...I liked the year-by-year rundown of the history of the league.  His writing on basketball is still my favorite writing of his...he usually knows what he's talking about, and he presents the information is an engaging way.
On the other hand, he's still very much a homer for the Celtics, to an obnoxious degree.  And he also contradicts himself all the time, without ever acknowledging that he's doing it.  For instance, he has an entire chapter devoted to the reasons why Russell was better than Chamberlain.  He had two arguments in favor of Russell: "He's a Celtic" and "He won 11 championships" (which is an impressive number...but there were only 10 teams at the time).  His problem with Chamberlain was, "He was a headcase" and "He only cared about his own statistics" and "He only won 2 championships".  Some of those statistics are eye-popping (averaging 50-25 for a season), yet Simmons explains that away by saying things like, "The game was faster, so there were more rebounds to be had," and "Scoring was higher back then, so take those stats with a grain of salt."  He then turns around and compares the playoff stats of Chamberlain and Russell (Chamberlain's were better) and states that Russell's stats were better (they weren't).  But I thought stats didn't matter in that era.  What happened to that argument?
I'm kind of enjoying it, but I have bouts of anger while I'm reading.
And I know Larry Bird was great, but it seems like he makes a mention of him just about every page.  Just shut up with all the Celtics stuff already.

The Packers season review/Super Bowl DVD came out this past week, so of course I bought it.  Really great stuff.  They had some players wearing mics throughout the year, and they got some really terrific stuff.  I loved that team already, but I love them even more now.  They just seem like a very likable bunch of guys.  They had some fantastic moments in the Super Bowl.  You heard Jennings calling the play that led to his second touchdown reception (he told the coaches, "Polamalu is crashing the inside.  If you run the slot receiver to the corner, he'll be wide open."), and Matthews making the adjustment at the line that led to the fumble.  I know you're not a big Packers fan, but if you get a chance, definitely check it out.  It's amazing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Charlie Sheen Presents...

I hope you are enjoying this Charlie Sheen business as much as I am. Threatening to cut a girlfriend's head off and send it to her mother...having a briefcase of cocaine delivered to his home... "The run I was on would have made Sinatra and Jagger look like droopy-eyed, armless children"..calling Thomas Jefferson "a pussy"..."I'm not bi-polar. I'm bi-winning"...Revealing that Mel Gibson reached out to him to get some help. It's all legit. The thought of Mel Gibson watching Sheen meltdown and thinking, "That guy really needs some help", kills me. Absolutely kills me. I don't have a Twitter account, but you bet your ass I check Sheen's daily because something good is going to happen. I've always been a Sheen fan and I recently found out he's a huge Reds fan, so I really hope this doesn't end the way its probably going to. Still, that "Droopy-eyed, armless children" line is the best I've heard from a celebrity since Moss', "I wouldn't feed that shit to my dog!" Just outstanding.

I was shocked to see the Knicks buy out Corey Brewer right after demanding he be included in the Carmelo trade. Good defender, doesn't care about shots, still on his rookie contract and you buy him out? I don't get it. He's an able body to throw at LeBron/chase around Ray Allen/keep Derrick Rose from abusing Chauncey Billups and you cut him loose for nothing? Word is, they let him loose to sign Jared Jeffries to be their defensive stopper. My question is, why not both? Shawne Williams did a decent job on LeBron during that great New York-Miami game, and another perimeter defender would make NY tough to beat. Especially one of Brewer's caliber and at his cost. Jeffries/Brewer/Williams/Landry Fields would be a nice quartet of defenders to throw at a playoff opponent, all the while leaving Carmelo to focus solely on his offense. Now Brewer is about to sign a multi-year deal with Dallas to defend the Kobes/Durants/Ginobilis of the Western Conference. I just don't get it.

You said this is the first time in a while that you've been excited to watch a Knicks game. Is that because it's the Knicks and they are finally interesting again? Or because two of the best players in the league are teaming up with a system made for them? I would argue the latter, and that a Melo-Stoudemire pairing in an uptempo pairing would be as entertaining to me in...Memphis as it would be in New York. Then again, I don't have the fond memories of the Knicks that some do. I remember they played some great games with the Heat in the 1990s, but that's about it. I guess I just don't buy into the "NBA is better when New York is good" talks. The NBA is better because two dynamite offensive players teamed up and made an already competitive Eastern conference even tougher.

Doesn't Justin Morneau have to think about hanging up the spikes? It's the beginning of March and he hasn't been cleared to play after a concussion he suffered on July 7. He's 32 and has made over 40 million in his career. If you are suffering post concussion symptoms nearly 8 months after the concussion, I think you have to call it quits.

On one hand, I'm with you on Cabrera. This does seem like a chance for sportswriters to do some finger pointing at Cabrera and the Tigers. On the other hand, the guy obviously has an alcohol problem and has no problem getting behind the wheel after tossing a few back. Like you said, Leyland isn't losing any sleep over it because he knows this spring Cabrera is a lock for .300/30 HRs/100 RBIs. I believe it was Keith Law that argued that the steroid penalties should be the penalties for DUIs, as drunk driving has killed far more than steroids even within the baseball world. However, my favorite part of the Miguel Cabrera story was ESPN reporting during his first spring training game. John Kruk talked about what great shape Cabrera appeared to be in. Smash cut to Cabrera running to first base and his bosom(s) crossing the bag before he did.

I must say, I am looking forward to the new Lupe. I enjoyed his first two albums, not as much as others, but I did like them. I loved "I'm Beamin'", though I don't think that will be on the album and "Words I Never Said" isn't bad either. My main gripe, if you could even call it that, with Lupe is that I can't listen a lot of him in one sitting. I loved Food and Liquor. The Cool was nice, but just too long in my opinion. Lasers looks to be 12 tracks long, so I can legitimately say I'm looking forward to it.

After throwing together a 25-15-2 January, Dwight Howard went a bit further with a 27-15-2 February. He's playing out of his mind lately, but all I keep hearing about is the MVP is Derrick Rose's to lose. Taking nothing away from Rose, who is having an outstanding year but Dwight Howard is the Most Valuable Player this season. Though they have been injured, Chicago would still compete with Noah-Boozer-Deng and Tom Thibodeau's defense. Miami would certainly compete without LeBron. Same for the Lakers sans Kobe. An Orlando lineup without Dwight would leave Ryan Anderson as your starting center and Jameer Nelson as your primary scoring option. Factor in his defense, and for what he gives you every night at both ends of the floor and he is your MVP. Of course, he'll finish in fourth place.

Carson Palmer's recent comments were music to my ears. Palmer again threatened to retire rather than play another down for the Bengals. He claims he has $80 million in the bank and doesn't have to play football for money. Good for you, Carson. I'll be honest, I was expecting you to fold on your demands like Marvin Lewis did, but you've held strong. Mike Brown appears to ready to play this game of chicken with you. Don't give in. Retire the day before training camp if you must. Do not let this senile, old man win this one.

That Scorecasting sounds very interesting. I'm reading Simmons The Book of Basketball at the moment, and so far so good. He really did his homework for this one, and the constant cheap shots at Vince Carter are a nice touch. Still, with reports that he is starting his own ESPN-brandname free website that is "70% sports, 30% pop culture", I'm a little disappointed. TBOB shows how good of a writer Simmons can be when he's focused on one thing and is actually forced to write instead of do podcasts. I have a feeling the new site will be closer to "40% sports, 40% pop culture, 20% random, borderline creepy mentions of Jennifer Aniston", and the Simmons I once loved to read slips further away. I hope I'm wrong.