Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dream Matchup in Space City

No. 1 seed Memphis matches up with No. 2 seed Texas this afternoon at Reliant. How I wish I could be there. *sighs*

But the intriguing matchup of the day (and the entire tournament IMO) is the point god matchup between freshman point Derrick Rose of the Tigers and sophomore quarterback D.J. Augustin of my future Horns.

Now, admittedly, I've had a slight (read: not so slight) man-crush on both these young men since last year, DVR-ing pretty much all their games. So it's hard to root against any one of them.

Rose is my favorite player not in the League and somebody I believe will do damage similar to Chris Paul and Deron Williams very soon. Augustin is a (temporary) Houston native tearing it up for my future alma mater.

I'll just watch and see (and record) like the rest of you should.

My prediction: Memphis' size and quickness is just way too much for the Horns. Tigers by 8 and onto San Antonio.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

CP3 for MVP

Remember when I raised the Chris Paul vs. Deron Williams debate on this site?

Well, let's just say, there's a clear-cut favorite now, and it's exactly who I suspected it to be.

Chris Paul is not only better than Deron (who I believe is the second-best pg in the world right now), but CP3 is absolutely the best point guard on the planet.

Steve Nash? Still sick, but older with less talent and no defense. Plus Paul (and D-Will, and Baron, and Tony Parker, etc.) kills him whenever they meet up.

Jason Kidd? He's 35, can't shoot or score, is slower and nowhere close to the All-NBA defender he used to be. (See CP3 drubbing he took immediately after coming over from the Swamp.)

Baron? Too inconsistent. One night he's a triple-double threat and the next a three-point shooting fiend.

Quick stat: Paul has 9 games with 20 points and 10+ assists, the rest of the NBA has eight.

And not only is he clearly the best point guard, he is and should be the MVP this year. Why? His Hornets overcame what was a thin bench until the Bonzi trade and a less-than stellar home court advantage until a year ago to get to the top spot in an amazingly rough Western Conference.

Paul has also improved his already sick game in every area: scoring, assists (which he is leading the league in. Move over Steve), shooting, steals.

Quick stat part II: Name another player in history to average 20 ppg, 10 apg, and 3 spg. Trick question. If CP keeps up with his average, he'll be the first ever.

And lastly, if Steve Nash could win two consecutive wins just for leading the league in assists, leading his team to the top of the standings, and getting the most out of his (already talented) teammates, why shouldn't Paul win for doing the exact same thing, only way better.

In 2004-05, Nash averaged 15.5 ppg and 11.5 apg for a Suns team that had the best team in the league, a time when the West wasn't nearly as deep as it is now. Paul is averaging as of today 21.6 ppg, 11.4 apg, and 2.7 steals.

In 2005-06, Nash averaged 18.8 ppg and 10.5 apg. Once again, compare that to the almost 22 ppg, 11 apg, and almost 3 spg Paul is putting up in a season where there will most likely be nine 50-win teams. And New Orleans is number 1.

Yes, the same Hornets squad with Morris Peterson as the starting 2-guard and a bench that relies on Bonzi Wells. Not a loaded Suns squad that had two other All-Stars (Amare and Marion) and shooters at every position.

Chris Paul made David West into an All-Star. And the season he's having should make him the NBA's MVP.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Friend or Foe?

Why do I enjoy kicking Knicks fans in the balls? Well, for starters, my team was steamrolling into the playoffs on a franchise-record winning streak until our franchise center went down for the season with a foot injury, so the world must feel my wrath.

But seriously, it's not Knicks fans' fault their hometown team is run by incompetent brainfarts of a president/GM/owner, or that the team can't possibly be competitive - even in the weaker East - until 2010 at least.

It's also not their fault that Stephon Marbury, New York's supposed "hometown savior", has fizzled out as a factor in the storied franchise's future resurgence. "Starbury" is currently out of commission while he "recovers" from ankle surgery (that he was all to elated to have in the first place), and reports have him banned from MSG. Who would have thought that would be the ending to the story that started in 2004 when he was brought back to the Big Apple by mentor-turned-nemesis Isiah Thomas?

Well, Timberwolves, Nets, and Suns fans might have had a clue. Marbury managed to burn just about every bridge (even the Brooklyn Bridge) he's crossed. Now he gets paid $20 million this year and next (if he isn't traded, which is likely because no team wants him) to watch a team from afar that doesn't want him around. And he's supposed to be their best player. Wow.

The NBA is moving to a point where team cancers aren't all that welcome in locker rooms these days, especially with squads with good young players.

But the question I need an answer to is: on a team that features Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry, how dysfunctional do you have to be that no one wants YOU around?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Rose, Beasley, D.J.: Bringing Light Skin Back?

Don't worry folks, I haven't offed myself. And no, Houston hasn't replaced Seattle as the suicide capital of the world after Yao went all Bill Walton on us.

Speaking of Seattle, it's a damn shame what Clay Bennett and David Stern are doing to the Sonics and their fans.

Anywoo, today's post focuses on the new phenomenon affecting the college basketball scene (besides good players actually going to school), the re-emergence of the light skin hoops star.

K-State's Michael Beasley, Memphis' Derrick Rose, Texas' D.J. Augustin, Indiana's Eric Gordon, Arizona's Jerryd Bayless, Tennessee's Chris Lofton and others have captivated campus hoops this year, setting up what could be seen as a revolution of the light skin star.

Beasley should be the number 1 pick this summer in the draft, with Rose a near lock at number 2. Augustin may be the best point guard in the country at this point and is a lock to be a first team All-American, Gordon is one of the most dynamic scorers in the country, and Bayless is also a top scoring combo guard as a freshman.

Hell, Lofton's Volunteers even upset number one Memphis at home last Saturday.

Is the light skin player officially back? Maybe, maybe not. Next year's incoming crop of froshes include Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings, UCLA's Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans (who is undecided), who are all fairly dark skinned. However, USC recruit Demar Derozen is kinda light, so there may be hope.

And yes, this is a light-hearted post to keep my mind off the fact that the Rockets' playoff hopes now depend on Tracy McGrrady.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Apollo 13

I got a call coming out of my 11:00-12:15 class earlier today from my homeboy Frank, a diehard Mavs fan.

"You alright, dog." "Yeah, I'm good," I replied, a little confused. "Oh, you haven't heard the news yet," he said, I guess trying to hold back a short laugh. "I have some bad news for you."

Then, the world became a sad place again.

"Yao is out for the season."


"I wouldn't lie to you about this, Trey."


All through this magical 12-game winning streak, I've been praying for the Rockets to get more attention. I mean, after they won game no. 12, the game's highlight didn't come on until the middle of the show. I understand the Lakers are riding an eight-game win streak with the game's best player on a MVP campaign Barack Obama would envy and a new big man averaging 22 ppg in his first 10 runs with the Lake Show, but damn.

Well, attention we have, and this type of pub will undoubtedly cost us The Streak, playoff position, and will make sure we don't advance out of the first round for the 11th straight year.

The funny thing is, after Sunday's game against Chicago, I told my girlfriend how happy I was with the Rockets (which was rare for me) and how optimistic I was about their playoff chances. I mean damn, with another 3 consecutive wins and some losses by other teams, we could have been number one in the West. It's just that tight.

But hey, these are my Rockets. They're cursed. Not Clipper cursed, but cursed. Or unlucky. The Knicks are cursed (though it is to their own doing).

So what do I do now, root for a late playoff push, just so we can get bounced out by the Lakers in the first round? Root for the Rockets to tank the rest of the season (since we can't be taken seriously against any team in the top 8) and go for a late lottery pick?

I know what I'll do, I'll just be (no Common). No feelings. I'll be Tim Riggins, drinking beer all day in a lifeless state. 3-game win streak, whatever. 10-game losing streak, who cares?

First the Patriots, now the Rockets. My heart is broken. Our hearts are broken.

And everybody won't shut up about it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Streets Are On Fire

So the annual trade deadline for the previously-known-as No Balls Association has passed, just like the appropriation of that title.

Although it failed to live up to the excitement of past years, where big names like Baron Davis and Ray Allen were exchanged in the 11th hour, this year's trading fiasco (no Lupe) was definitely interesting.

Let's look at each deal (at least the important ones; nobody cares about Von Wafer for Taurean Green) and see how each team fared (especially my Rockets, who kept busy today.

Cleveland gets Ben Wallace and Joe Smith from Chicago and Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West from Seattle; Chicago gets Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Shannon Brown and Cedric Simmons from Cleveland; Seattle gets Donyell Marshall and Ira Newble from Cleveland and Adrian Griffin from Chicago.

Cavs - It looks like Danny Ferry came out on top in this deal, at least on the court. They got two big rebounders to make up for Gooden's inconsistent production in Medium Ben and Smith, who provides the low-post offense Wallace and Andy Vareajo are utterly incapable of. The only sucky part is that they take on Ben's horrible contract, which still has 3 years left on it.

The Cavs also receive a proven playoff shooter/scorer in Wally, who should play well off LeBron, and a young guard in Delonte West. Plus the added bonus that Wally's $12 million deal expires next summer.

Bulls - The Bulls get a relatively young forward in Gooden while getting rid of Wallace's horrendous contract, which opens up playing time for young guns Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas. The only problem? They take back Larry Hughes' slightly less horrible contract. Hughes could assume the scoring load for this Bulls team which has lacked a go-to scorer since....well you know who (if you don't count Elton Brand and Jalen Rose's brief hoorahs in the Windy City). Shannon Brown may or not be a player in the future and Simmons is...just...cap fodder.

Sonics - This was all just a salary dump for the Sonics. Nuff said.

Houston gets Bobby Jackson and Adam Huluska from the Hornets and a second round pick and the draft rights to Sergei Lishouk from the Grizzlies; New Orleans gets Bonzi Wells and Mike James from the Rockets; Memphis gets the draft rights to Malick Badiane from the Rockets and the draft rights to Marcus Vinicius from the Hornets.

Rockets - I've grown to like this deal. The Rockets get an established veteran point guard in Jackson, who has been playing well as of late for the division-rival Hornets. Of course, like every other Houstonian, I hate losing Bonzi to said division rivals. James, not so much. I thought this deal was a pre-cursor to a big deal later on in the day (like Battier and Snyder for Artest, but Snyder ending going elsewhere. More on that later.) This deal works for us because Jackson's deal expires next summer, giving us a big trade chip this summer or next season. Plus we don't have to pay Mike "Who" James $12 mil over the next two.

Hornets - New Orleans comes out of this deal looking real nice (except for the paying James $12 mil thing). Coach Byron Scott wanted to shore up his bench, and shore up his bench he did. Bonzi is a big guard with tremendous low-post scoring ability and maybe James can get off the bench in the Big Easy. N.O. is already number one in the West, and this trade gives them a better chance to stay in the home-court advantage range. If the home-court even works for them.

Memphis - See Seattle. Or Gasol trade.

Houston trades Kirk Snyder to Minnesota for Gerald Green.

Welcome home, young fella. We get hometown product Green, a former 18th pick overall, for basically nothing (sorry, Kirk). This gives us an unprecendented young core of Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, Carl Landry and Gerald Green to go along with the veteran core of Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady (who may not be here if we don't get out of the first round), and Shane Battier (who I would have exchanged for Artest in a heartbeat). Good job, Daryl Morey.

The big news today: Isiah Thomas did not further ruin his cap by trading for the corpses formerly known as Vince Carter or Jermaine O'Neal. So that's pretty good.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Mark Cuban Missile Crisis

What in the leather-shorts-hell is going on in Dallas?

In case you were too busy watching Congress make a fool out of itself, you would have missed the Mavericks doing the same.

Dallas and New Jersey have reportedly agreed in principle to a blockbuster deal that would send Jason Kidd to the Mavs in return for half of the Mavericks' roster.

To quote my homeboy Frank, a lifelong Mavericks fan from nearby Arlington, TX, "F--- that, I'm leaving Dallas and moving to Portland. I'm a Portland fan now." Suffice it to say he doesn't agree with the trade.

First of all, as previously noted, Dallas mortgaged its future (Devin Harris, Maurice Ager, 2 1st round picks), bench (Jerry Stackhouse, Ager, Devean George), and inside presence for the playoffs (Diop, who would come in handy when facing the Spurs, Suns, Lakers, Rockets, Jazz of the big man-dominating group in the West) for essentially one guy (Malik Allen, who would come to Texas with Kidd, won't be any kind of a factor).

Now, granted, I've never professed to be any kind of a fan of Devin Harris. I never thought he was a true point guard, nor do I ever think he ever will be. Sure, he's quick and his jump shot has been improving along with his stellar defense, but his ceiling as a NBA point guard is average. He's the equivalent to a NFL scat back. He's Darren Sproles to me. Or Maurice Jones-Drew. You will never give him the ball and entrust the game in his hands.

But he is 24-years-old and improving, and he gives the Mavs probably their best advantage: a super-quick guard who can get to the lane at will. And he fits better in their style than the soon-to-be 35-year-old Kidd.

The new question is whether the trio of Kidd-Dirk-Josh Howard is enough to win the West. The new answer is an emphatic NO. Where's the size? Dampier? Hell no. Where's the bench? Jason Terry? Is that it?

Put it like this: as a fan of a conference rival, I'm overwhelmingly excited for this deal. Thank you Mark Cuban for making sure your Mavs never win a NBA championship.

Sorry, Jason.