2009 NBA Season

The 2009 NBA Season will be here in a month and I would like to do a write up on every team and let you know what I think about them before the season starts. NBA predictions are harder to make than other sports leagues because the play of one or two people means so much more to that team than in other sports. I’ve heard teams three or four best players count for about 80% of their wins, this seems to make sense to me. I could see this last year when the Wizards lost Gilbert Arenas and went from a mediocre playoff team to the bottom three of the league. So that is why predicting the NBA season can be difficult, you also don’t know how many minutes certain players are going to get. But all excuses aside I’m going to give it a shot.

2009-10 NFL Predictions!

Well howdy folks! I haven’t posted in a while. This is mostly because the NBA and NCAA basketball seasons ended and I don’t follow baseball much. But no we are less than a week away from football season! I don’t know about you but I am pumped. With this in mind ESPN has released it annual ‘experts trying to predict the up-coming NFL season’ article. Gotta love them ‘experts.’ I love how most of them pick almost the exact same thing to happen as last year. Talk about in depth reporting. But who am I to judge? The best I can do is offer my thoughts, maybe I’m right. I’m going to try to do this in the same straight forward format that they used.

AFC East – New England Patriots

AFC North – Baltimore Ravens

AFC South – Indianapolis Colts

AFC West – San Diego Chargers

AFC Wild Cards – Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC East – Dallas Cowboys

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

NFC South – Atlanta Falcons

NFC West – Seattle Seahawks

NFC Wild Cards – Chicago Bears and New York Giants

AFC Champion – New England Patriots

NFC Champion – Green Bay Packers

SUPER BOWL CHAMPION – New England Patriots

Coach of the Year – Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers

MVP – Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Offensive Player of the Year – Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Defensive Player of the Year – Patrick Willis, San Franscisco 49ers

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins

I feel that’s probably all I need to say. I could go into all these reasons why I felt this way or that on different teams. But really anything can happen. My opinions above are really just gut feelings, hopefully they’ll work out well. They probably will actually, or at least that’s what the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell tells me (Read it, it’s good). There you have it, the NFL season EXACTLY AS IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN. No need to tune in.

Why is Doug Gottlieb considered an ‘Expert’?

ESPN College Basketball analyst and ‘expert’ Doug Gottlieb introduced his NBA draft big board. He ranked his top 30 players available in this draft accompanied by brief descriptions for each player. Gottlieb offers his opinions in an effort to give tips to people making the drafting decisions. If I was a team drafting this year, I’d be hesitant to listen to this guy.

His top 30 players are as follows:

1. Blake Griffin

2. Ricky Rubio

3. Jrue Holiday

4. DeMar DeRozan

5. Brandon Jennings

6. Hasheem Thabeet

7. Jeff Teague

8. Jordan Hill

9. Jonny Flynn

10. James Harden

11. Patty Mills

12. BJ Mullens

13. Tyreke Evans

14. Earl Clark

15. Stephen Curry

16. James Johnson

17. Gerald Henderson

18. Toney Douglas

19. Damion James

20. Gani Lawal

21. Darren Collison

22. Derrick Brown

23. Omri Casspri

24. Terrence Williams

25. Sam Young

26. Eric Maynor

27. Wayne Ellington

28. Marcus Thornton

29. Ty Lawson

30. Austin Daye

So that is his list. Needless to say, I disagree with most of it. Some of his reasoning doesn’t make sense. I’m not quite sure what his guidelines or thought process was behind this list. It seems to be a checklist composed of two things: 1) Are you considered athletic? and 2) Do people think you have ‘upside’ or ‘potential’?That seems to be about it. That’s probably why Tyler Hansbrough and DeJuan Blair aren’t on the list while BJ Mullens is 12th.

There are many things I disagree with about this big board but I’m going to try to narrow it down to the biggest grudges I have. The first issue I have is at the top of the list where he has DeMar DeRozan 4th overall and James Harden 10th. Like I said before, I think his checklist is athleticism and potential. In ranking DeRozan ahead of Harden I’m assuming he believes DeRozan is superior in both areas. With a closer look I find it hard to agree that this is the case.

Here is what Gottlieb said about the two:

4. DeMar DeRozan, USC

What I like: Freaky athlete with massive upside. Began to “get it” at the end of the season. One of the few players in the draft who will not have to change position in the NBA — he is a much more natural 2 than Harden. Poster child for “upside” and may spend time in the D-League, but in a draft of uncertainties, he seems to have the measurables to eventually live up to his massive talent.

What I don’t like: Below-average 3-point shooter in college, very raw in terms of basketball acumen, and may need the right tutoring from a veteran coach/player, as he has some hangers-on he needs to part with.

Best case: David Thompson

10. James Harden, Arizona State

What I like: Good competitor and a player you want with the game on the line. Harden has a pretty diverse game on the offensive end. His body and game are mature, and he gives and takes contact well. Harden knows how to score.

What I don’t like: Rarely goes right, not really a guard, and he is an average athlete.

Best case: Manu Ginobili

So who is the more athletic of the two? The only objective way you can compare these two is by their predraft athletic measurements.

Height

DeRozan = 6’5.5″ Harden = 6’4″

Wingspan

DeRozan = 6’9″ Harden = 6’10.75″

Reach

DeRozan = 8’6.5″ Harden = 8’7.5″

Body Fat

DeRozan = 4.9% Harden = 10.1%

No Step Vert

DeRozan = 29 inches Harden = 31.5

Max Vert

DeRozan = 38.5 Harden = 37

Bench Press

DeRozan = 5 reps Harden = 17 reps

Agility

DeRozan = 11.88 seconds Harden = 11.10 seconds

Sprint

DeRozan = 3.30 seconds Harden = 3.13 seconds

What can we tell from these numbers? They definitely don’t say DeRozan is clearly the more athletic of the pair. DeRozan is taller, has a lower body fat percentage, and can jump higher while running. Harden is clearly much stronger with 17 reps on the bench press (DeJuan Blair had 18). Harden is much faster in a sprint and he his also more agile. He has longer arms than DeRozan and, despite being shorter, has a longer reach. Harden loses in running vert but still put up 37 inches, which is really good in its own right. To me Harden is the run away winner in an athletic comparison.  So DeMar DeRozan is a “freak” while Harden is just “average”? I don’t see it.

But what about potential? It annoys me when analysts talk about potential when dealing with draft prospects. What is it exactly? It seems to describe what a player could become, which means what they aren’t at the moment. For some reason this is cited as a positive reason to draft a player. They don’t have many skills right now but they look like they should. Why is that good? If a player should have such ability and such potential but isn’t even close yet to fufilling it, what does that say about their work ethic and desire to improve?

What is DeRozans potential? Well he can’t shoot, hitting on an absolutely dreadful 17% of his three point attempts this year. So developing a jumper would be good. Harden hit better than double that percentage. If he can’t shoot he should be able to get to the line, but Harden gets to the line twice as often. Harden triples him in assists, and gets double the steals. They rebound at about the same rate. In nearly every area statistically Harden dominates DeRozan again, and they’re both approximately the same age (both born in August of 1989). So why does DeRozan get ranked ahead of Harden because he could possibly one day (even though there’s no certainty that he will) become what Harden already is? That doesn’t seem to make sense to me.

So in conclusion Harden comes out ahead pretty easily in athletic testing and absolutely dominates DeRozan in production and ability on the court. I don’t see any reason why you would draft him ahead of James Harden.

Tournament Recap

Well it looks like I couldn’t have been more wrong on the NCAA Tournament. That’s March Madness for you. There’s always next year. Soon I will be posting my thoughts on the NBA Draft.

FINAL FOUR

All right, I have looked through every region of the bracket. I have given you my thoughts and now here we are, THE FINAL FOUR. 

Louisville is the most likely final four team. Their region is cake-walkish. Memphis is the best team in my book and I have them making it out of the West. They are in an extremely tough bracket but I like them a lot. The trouble in predicting is on the right side of the bracket, the South and the East. Pittsburgh is the best team in the East but I don’t trust Blair to stay out of foul trouble throughout the entire tournament. Duke could come through and beat them but they’ve been choking the last few years. UNC with a healthy Ty Lawson is a lock out of the South. However, Lawson is no lock to be healthy. If Lawson cannot regain his ACC Player-of-the-Year form then I like Gonzaga. But the champion will be Memphis regardless of who they face. They barely lost on a big shot by Mario Chalmers last year. This is their year. And consequently I’m calling it right now, MEMPHIS CHAMPS in 2009 AND NEXT YEAR in 2010, especially if John Wall declares for them. :-P

SOUTH Region

South Region

Best Team: North Carolina Tarheels

Most Underrated Team: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Most Overrated Team: Oklahoma Sooners

Dark-horse: Arizona State Sun Devils

Best Coach: Roy Williams, North Carolina

Best Player: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

Upset Special: Western Kentucky over Illinois

 

Summary:  A healthy North Carolina would be a heavy favorite here. Unfortunately for them their best player, Ty Lawson, is hurt with a toe injury. Lawsons biggest asset is his speed so a toe injury is even more damaging. The injury prognosis doesn’t sound good so I’m not very confident in them making it to the final four. The two seed is Oklahoma but I think they’re a little overrated. Blake Griffin is the best player and it’s not too close, especially with Lawson hurt. But they played an easy schedule and they don’t play defense very well. I don’t think they’ll make it to the final four either. After the Big East tournament everyones darling pick will be Syracuse. While they did a fantastic job and that six over time game was one of the best I’ve ever seen, they had a hugeeeeee home court advantage in the Garden. All that being said, who do I have making it then? My elite eight here is Arizona State and Gonzaga. Both teams are very well rounded and have some very good players. If you don’t know who James Harden is now… you will. I like the Zags to beat Arizona State and advance.

WEST REGION

WEST REGION

Best Team: Memphis Tigers

Most Underrated Team: BYU Cougars

Most Overrated Team: Maryland Terripins

Dark-horse: Purdue Boilermakers

Best Coach: John Calipari, Memphis

Best Player: Hasheem Thabeet, UCONN

Upset Special: Missippi State over Washington

 

Summary: This is easily the most stacked region this year. Each of its top 6 seeds have Elite Eight potential. UCONN and Memphis are both top five teams in the country. This should be the most entertaining region. The Memphis Tigers are my favorite here. And the reason is simple: Defense. The Tigers are the best defensive team in the country, and it’s not that close. They are four points ahead in defensive efficiency (points allowed per possession) than the second place team, Louisville. To put this in perspective it is the same difference between the tenth best team (Michigan State) and the thirty seventh best team (UCLA). Additionally, they are at least 3 points better than any team since 2004! This is an amazing defensive team. And defense wins championships. I have them playing an incredibly tough UCONN team in the Elite Eight. UCONN is the third best team but I think Memphis will beat them and advance to the final four. I put Maryland as the most overrated but I really don’t think anyone in this region is, this region is stacked with good teams. BYU is the most underrated team and could give UCONN and scare in round 2. If Purdue were in any other region I’d like them a lot, now that Robbie Hummel is healthy. As I said, Memphis advances here.

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