Friday, December 16, 2011


I'm going to go out on a limb and say that these rankings aren't definitive, but they'll try to paint an image of how I see and foresee the league's teams performing long-term.

The Teams

1. Dallas Mavericks - The reigning champions, even though they lost Tyson Chandler and JJ Barea, will be tough to beat with the additions of Vince Carter and Lamar Odom. Lamar Odom IS REALLY GOOD.

2. Miami Heat - This team is an enigma -- talent-wise, they should be the best, but I'm not convinced guys like LeBron are mentally tough enough to win consistently against a team like Dallas. LeBron's playoff performance last year against the Mavs was almost suspiciously bad (for him; he's still better than almost everyone when he plays like crap). Add Shane Battier and this team gives LeBron some help on wing defense that should push them back into the finals.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder - Maybe THE most talented team in the league. And they're put together very well, to boot -- they have offense all over (Durant, Westbrook and Harden) and a very strong defensive core (Collison, Ibaka, Perkins and Sefolosha). What makes them weaker than Dallas and Miami is that their elite players are far less battle ready than the likes of Dirk, Jason Kidd, Dwyane Wade and LeBron. Who on the Thunder has even been to the finals? Perkins and Mohammed? Not quite ready yet.

4. Chicago Bulls - They'll never go anywhere when they're relying on Derrick Rose to create 99 percent of their offense. Luol Deng is a great spot up shooter and a scorer off screens. Boozer is great as a roll man or a pick-and-pop shooter. Rip is similar to Deng. But when the shotclock is winding down, who can create a decent shot attempt? Rose. So they stack on him. They need to find a low-post threat ASAP.

5. Boston Celtics - People are starting to sleep on these guys like they have been with the Spurs -- they're still good y'all. Maybe in a shortened season, they get their asses winded and stuff, but I really see this team as, at worst, staying the same (Bass replaces Davis, Green replaces their terrible bench, Wilcox == Jermaine O'Neal). And that team is a really god damn good team.

6. Memphis Grizzlies - These guys are good. Just see last year's playoffs and how far they pushed the Thunder. Getting Gay back is great, but losing Battier is going to hurt.

7. LA Clippers
8. Denver Nuggets
9. San Antonio Spurs
10. LA Lakers
11. Portland Trailblazers
12. Orlando Magic
13. Philadelphia 76ers
14. Atlanta Hawks
15. New York Knicks
16. Indiana Pacers
17. Brooklyn Nets
18. Milwaukee Bucks
19. Houston Rockets
20. Utah Jazz
21. Minnesota Timberwolves
22. Golden State Warriors
23. Phoenix Suns
24. Washington Wizards
25. Sacramento Kings
26. New Orleans Hornets
27. Detroit Pistons
28. Toronto Raptors
29. Charlotte Bobcats
30. Cleveland Cavaliers

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Notice: Corey Brewer is still irrelevant

But here are some other players to look out for:

Josh McRoberts:

If it's true he's signing with the Lakers, consider him a perennial 6th man of the year candidate. Signing with the Lakers guarantees you'll be overvalued relative to your peers -- see just about everyone that has ever played for them who wasn't an all-star.

I'm still confused as to what people see in Shannon Brown or Trevor Ariza.

Amir Johnson:

I think he's going to be traded. The Raptors are king at trading away future all-stars -- Air Canada and T-Mac alone can vouch for this. Johnson will be dumped before the deadline for cap space or some washed up retread, I can almost guarantee it.

Let's hope he doesn't end back up on the Pistons, because he could have a nice career otherwise.

Jared Dudley:

With Grant Hill on the verge of death, Vince Carter leaving for the Mavericks and Mickael Pietrus being trash, Dudley has a lot of opportunity on the Suns roster to shine. It would not shock me at all if the Suns somehow snuck into the playoffs after last year's irrelevance -- excellent ball play out of Gortat, Dudley and Markieff Morris could heighten them.

Monday, December 5, 2011

NCAA Undefeated Watch

1. Kentucky -- Kentucky, of all the squads here, has likely the most legitimate chance at going undefeated in the regular season. Probably their biggest test, North Carolina, was felled this past weekend -- being the only true team to have any advantage over them throughout this season.

2. Ohio State -- I guarantee Ohio State will not go undefeated simply based on their imposing schedule. They have a who's who of top 25-talented teams on their calendar. I can't imagine them NOT dropping 2 or 3 games, at minimum.

Roadblocks: Kansas (away), Indiana (away), Illinois (away), Michigan State (away), Wisconsin (home/away).

3. Syracuse -- A very talented squad, but the trap with Syracuse is their limited match-up zone defense. That, and they play a notch lower in their opponents' arenas. This will spell their fate and inevitably lead to some losses.

Roadblocks: Marquette (home), Pittsburgh (home), UCONN (away), Louisville (home/away), Georgetown (home), West Virginia (home)

4. Marquette -- Like Syracuse, a very talented squad. Of Big East schools, the most likely to go undefeated.

Roadblocks: Syracuse (away), Washington (neutral), Georgetown (home/away), Vanderbilt (home), Louisville (home), Pittsburgh (home), UCONN (away)

5. Missouri -- This team has been throttling everyone, including top-25 ranked opponents. Clear favorites for the Big-12, I think they have a shot at running the table.

Roadblocks: Illinois (neutral), Kansas St (home/away), Texas (home/away), Kansas (home/away), Baylor (home/away)

6. Creighton -- MVC is on an upswing, and, to complicate things, they play a very tough out in St Joseph's next weekend. If they can come out with a W, they have a shot.

Roadblocks: St. Joseph's (away), Wichita St. (home/away), Northern Iowa (home/away), Missouri St. (home/away), Tulsa (away).

7. Murray St. -- A true contender for undefeated regular season. In the Ohio Valley Conference, they are the only team with a Kenpom rating better than 192 -- and they are 67th in the league. To make matters more interesting, the only out of conference game of note they have left is against Memphis this next Sunday. Beating Memphis is truly their only roadblock of significance.

Roadblocks: Memphis (away), Austin Peay (away)

8. Harvard -- Like Murray St., Harvard outmatches its conference opponents substantially. There is doubt Harvard will win the Ivy League and get their automatic NCAA bid. The question is, how high can Harvard rise in the polls?

Harvard has two real tests in UCONN this Thursday and St. Joseph's at the end of this month.

Roadblocks: UCONN (away), St. Joseph's (home)

Teams who are undefeated but have zero shot at remaining so:

Louisville - Barely beat Vanderbilt, their only top 50 opponent, in overtime. Has played a laughably easy schedule up until that game.

Indiana - They play Ohio State twice. They play Kentucky. They play Wisconsin. They play Purdue twice. These are all elite squads. I don't expect them to remain undefeated past next weekend.

Baylor - They have played, up until this point -- like Louisville -- incredibly easy teams. There is no chance of them going undefeated after sleepwalking through fake division I teams.

Xavier - Chris Mack's squad plays a very tough Atlantic-10 schedule, highlighted by random OOC trysts with Memphis and Gonzaga. I can't imagine them getting past the A-10 onslaught unscathed.

Kansas State - See: Baylor.

Illinois -- See: Indiana.

Tulane -- Surprise undefeated team of the season. They have stomped all over opponents this season, including beating Georgia Tech this past week. However, they play Syracuse, Memphis and a fairly solid roster of Conference USA squads who will surely take a few wins away from them.