Friday, November 26, 2010


This is the first of what will be five power polls taken at key points during the NBA season.

Each poll will represent a snapshot of the season at the time it was taken. And when the season is over, they can be looked back on to see the overall picture of how the season developed.

The teams and orders will no doubt change between now and the end of the season, but this is how the league stacks up after the first month.

(1.) San Antonio (13-1)
(2.) Los Angeles (13-2)
(3.) New Orleans (11-3)
(4.) Boston (11-4)
(5.) Dallas (10-4)
(6.) Orlando (10-4)
(7.) Utah (11-5)
(8.) Oklahoma City (10-5)
(9.) Chicago (8-5)
(10.) Denver (8-6)

The four remaining power polls: Mid-Season Power Poll; Playoff Push Power Poll; Playoff Power Poll; Season-Ending Power Poll.

They will be taken after about 41 games, after the trade deadline (Feb. 24), before the playoffs or during the first round and at the end of the season.


It's never too early to start projecting the 2011 NBA Draft.

Pretty soon teams will start trading away veterans, playing their best players fewer minutes, having players miss games with minor "injuries," playing lineups which they know can't win and whole host of other things to increase their chances of hitting the jackpot.

That hasn't started on a wide scale yet, but here are the teams who sit in pole position as the race for Harrison Barnes is about to take off.

(1.) Los Angeles (3-13)
(2.) Philadelphia (3-12)
(3.) Minnesota (4-12)
(4.) Sacramento (4-10)
(5.) Houston (4-10)
(6.) New Jersey (5-10)
(7.) Detroit (5-10)
(8.) Charlotte (5-10)
(9.) Milwaukee (5-9)
(10.) Washington (5-9)

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

As The Basketball World Turns

Stories for the NBA season are now starting to take shape.

Teams have had a good number of games to play together and get used to each other, and you can already see separation taking place between the best teams and the worst teams.

You can also see predictions starting to go up in smoke!

So much for those Clipper predictions. People are jumping off of that bandwagon faster than two Baron Davis three-point attempts.

And that's fast!

The most surprising story to me has been Miami. Who would have ever thought that a team with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on it would not only struggle to win games but also be hard to watch?

It just goes to show you.


After Miami pulverized Orlando a few weeks ago, Stan Van Gundy had some interesting things to say about his team, "We don't have -- and this isn't to put down anybody in our locker room -- but we don't have the great one-on-one players.

"I mean, we don't have [Dwyane] Wade and [LeBron] James and Paul Pierce and Kobe Bryant.

"And so for us to play well offensively, we have to get great ball movement. We really have to execute and move the ball.

"And yeah, we struggled to do that against a very good team in Boston and we struggled to do that again tonight."

Great motivator, that Stan Van Gundy.

How would he like it if one of his players said ...

Not to put down anybody in our locker room, but we don't have a great offensive coach like Phil Jackson or Doc Rivers or Nate McMillan.

So in order to play well offensively we have to use our skills and athleticism to make up for the poor play-calling and unimaginative sets. And we didn't do that again tonight ... ?

And how is this going over with Otis Smith, the general manager who gave Van Gundy this team supposedly without any great one-on-one players?

It would work much better for Van Gundy to say that they have very good one-on-one players, but it makes the game much easier and the team better and more efficient when they pass the basketball.


This was touched on in my "Eastern Conference Preview," but that was before any games were played, and I didn't express myself clearly.

Detroit really needs a pass-first point guard to back up Rodney Stuckey.

In his first six games of the season, backup point guard Will Bynum shot the ball 39 times compared to only 12 assists, a 3.25:1 ratio.

The box score against the Clippers is a perfect example of the problem, even though Detroit was able to win the game because they were playing the undermanned Clippers.

The players coming off the pine with Bynum shot .654, compared to his .250; yet he still shot the ball four times for every assist he made.

With the explosive arsenal Detroit has coming off the bench, there is no way Will Bynum should be shooting the ball that much.

Detroit could average 110 points per game with a pass-first point guard who knows how to play the game in his spot.

The No. 4 spot in the East is up for grabs, and Detroit could easily snatch it by upgrading the backup point guard position on their roster.

It is true that Joe Dumars loves Will Bynum (:46), but Bynum's excessive shooting is creating a "chilling effect" on Detroit's offense.

Dumars has to do what is best for the team and make a move here.

Greg Monroe must also get more playing time.

On a team where 36-year-old Ben Wallace is the only semblance of a big man other than Monroe, Monroe should be playing 30+ minutes every night.

Monroe's lack of playing time is an embarrassingly poor coaching decision by John Kuester.

Note: Will Bynum did have his distribution game going in the second half of a blowout loss to the Lakers. And against Golden State he shot only three times with two assists. He deserves credit for sharing the basketball and being very unselfish during that time.


I saw Oklahoma City play San Antonio in the return of Nick Collison and Jeff Green. Even though they lost, it was the first game I saw this season where they looked like the team from last year.

Watching the game, you could see how the team played with more energy because it had more fresh bodies available.

It showed that missing even a seemingly minor rotation player can disrupt a team and throw everything off.

And missing two players can be a disaster.

CBS Sports does the best job of tracking and updating these injuries.

These are the teams who have been most devastated by critical injuries to key rotation players with the number of games each player has missed in parentheses.

Teams have played about 12 games so far this season.

Denver -- Chris Andersen (all); Kenyon Martin (all); Nene (3).

Houston -- Aaron Brooks (7); Kyle Lowry (4); Yao Ming (7).

Los Angeles -- Baron Davis (9); Randy Foye (10); Chris Kaman (5).

Miami -- Mario Chalmers (4), limited in others; Mike Miller (all).

Milwaukee -- Carlos Delfino (5); Chris Douglas-Roberts (all); Michael Redd (all).

Minnesota -- Wayne Ellington (5); Jonny Flynn (all); Nikola Pekovic (4); Luke Ridnour (5); Martell Webster (all).

Oklahoma City -- Nick Collison (8); Jeff Green (6).

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

The NBA's Best Point Guards

Everything in basketball begins and ends with the point guard position. The NBA has seen a resurgence at the position over the last several years thanks to an influx of young talent.

At the same time, some trusty veterans have kept their games, making the point guard position today what the power forward position used to be several years ago.

Point guards mainly fall into three types, depending on their skills, mentalities and roles on their teams.

Here are the best point guards in the NBA.


Conductors execute their teams' offenses to perfection. They make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be and always make the right pass or decision. They also improvise and make plays outside of the set offense to help their teams win.

Due to various factors like age, mentality, team role or limited skill in some areas, conductors can't consistently dominate games by scoring.

Still, they have high basketball IQs, amazing court vision, dribbling and passing skills and the ability to control a game from start to finish.

Mike Bibby (Hawks). Mike Bibby isn't the explosive scorer he once was at Sacramento but hasn't lost his touch. He has settled into running the Atlanta offense and getting the ball to his offensive weapons.

Going all the way back to his college days as an Arizona Wildcat, Bibby also has a well-earned reputation as a deadly clutch shooter.

Jose Calderon (Raptors). The biggest problem for Calderon is that he plays for the Toronto Raptors. It is no fun watching him play with that miserable cast of scrubs, losers, cast-offs and wannabes. Put him on a team surrounded by some exciting talent, and his team and career will no doubt take off.

TJ Ford (Pacers). Ford was injured and missed half of last season. Now that he is back, he is starting to show his value again. He controls the tempo of the game with the best of them and has been playing aggressive, tough defense. His jumper is far more consistent than it was when he came into the league.

Jason Kidd (Mavericks). There may never be another Jason Kidd. He is known as a player who can dominate a basketball game without taking a shot. Kidd's court vision and passing skills are second to none maybe in the history of the game and continue to create wonder even though we've seen it for years. He will definitely go down as one of the best ever.

Andre Miller (Trail Blazers). He might be the most underrated player in sports. But when it comes to making an offense run like a well-oiled machine, absolutely no one does it better than Andre Miller.

Miller is a crafty veteran who makes plays and defeats opponents with his mind and his skills, and playing in Nate McMillan's well-designed offense and with Portland's explosive supporting cast only makes him that much better.

Rajon Rondo (Celtics). Rajon Rondo has grown up before our very eyes. It wasn't long ago that people were questioning whether or not Boston could win a title with him as a starter.

Now he may be the best player on the team.

Doc Rivers is another coach with a well-designed offense, with more plays, bluffs, counters and deceptions than defenses know what to do with. And Rondo executes them all to perfection.

Together, Rivers and Rondo are like Bill Walsh and Joe Montana.


NBA point guards come in all types. One of those is the scoring or "shoot-first" point guard. Shoot-first point guards typically would rather score than pass or don't have great passing ability or don't have the ability to run an offense.

They can be clutch, or they can be out of control. But whatever the case may be, they have a passion for putting the ball in the basket.

Chauncey Billups (Nuggets). Known as "Mr. Big Shot," Chauncey Billups is one of the most clutch shooters in the NBA. He led Detroit to a title in 2004 and led Denver to the conference finals a few years later. When the game is on the line, there is no one you would rather have shooting the basketball.

Baron Davis (Clippers). Everybody knows Baron Davis has a tendency to fall in love with the three-pointer. He also has a tendency to fall in love with many other shots as well, despite his great passing skills. He can take over and dominate a basketball game with his offense or his defense, and when he is on his game, there is no one better.

Brandon Jennings (Bucks). His unique and colorful hairstyles and his shimmies bring new flavor to the game. And his skills have helped bring passion for basketball back to Milwaukee. Jennings is a tough competitor who plays the game to win. He took Milwaukee to the playoffs last year and will fight to take them even further this time around.

Jameer Nelson (Magic). Jameer Nelson is the Reggie Jackson of the Orlando Magic: He is the straw that stirs the drink. When he plays well, Orlando is usually unbeatable. He overcame his early lack of aggression in the conference finals last year against Boston but wasn't able to bring the team all the way back from a 0-3 deficit. The results could be different this season.

Tony Parker (Spurs). He has won three NBA titles in San Antonio. His speed and ball-handling create all kinds of problems for teams, and he's added a reliable jumper to go with it, making him nearly unstoppable at times. On an aging team, Parker is still in his prime.

Derrick Rose (Bulls). There aren't enough words in this article to fully describe Derrick Rose. He went toe-to-toe with LeBron James in the playoffs last year, and I couldn't tell who the better player was.

His lefts and scoops and floaters and teardrops keep defenders guessing, and now he is starting to read defenses and lower his FGA:A ratio.

He appears to be well on his way to becoming a complete point guard.

Russell Westbrook (Thunder). Along with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook is one of the faces of the new darlings of the NBA. He exploded onto the scene with his performance against Los Angeles in the playoffs last year.

Westbrook is one of the most exciting players in the NBA, and he plays the point guard position with speed and fury. He is too much for defenses in the open court and can either dish off a pass or bring down the house with a monster dunk.


The dominators are the most complete point guards in the game. They can score at will or pick defenses apart with their precision passing and perfect play-calling or improvisation.

When they bring the ball up the court, the defense is at their mercy due to the wide range of skills that they bring to the table.

They often leave defenses frustrated and helpless because, as the saying goes, you can't stop them ... you can only hope to contain them.

Stephen Curry (Warriors). In just his second season, Stephen Curry has clearly established himself as one of the best point guards in the game. His jumper is as pure as mountain snow, and his court vision and spectacular passing skills are a delight to basketball fans everywhere.

He combines that with slick, streetball dribble moves to make himself an elite and highly-skilled competitor. Curry established himself as a big-game player in college, taking tiny Davidson against some Goliaths of college basketball and giving them a real run for their money.

He is more of an improviser than a play-caller at this point but still executes Golden State's offense like an old-school veteran.

Steve Nash (Suns). Steve Nash also is more of an improviser than a play-caller. But he makes it up as he goes along better than most players think it out ahead of time.

Nash has turned Phoenix into one of the highest-scoring teams in the league during his time there and led them to the conference finals last season.

He keeps opponents off balance and his team ahead with an unlimited variety of trick shots, dribble moves, no-looks and fake-outs.

Even with his advancing age, Steve Nash continues to maintain his status as one of the game's finest point guards.

Chris Paul (Hornets). Let the debate begin. The question of who is the best point guard in the NBA is one of the most heated debates going. And all parties involved are doing their part to keep the debate going for many years to come.

It's a pleasure to see Chris Paul surrounded by some exciting talent again. With a better supporting cast, he can now put more of his skills on display.

Paul is back to crossing opponents up, controlling the tempo, picking teams apart, throwing silly passes and getting takeaways. It was painful to watch him play on such bad and boring teams.

He can execute set plays or improvise just as well.

And of all the point guards in this category, Chris Paul is far and away the best defensive player.

Deron Williams (Jazz). His play against Denver in the playoffs last year kicked the point guard debate into high-gear. All of a sudden, people were and still are saying that Deron Williams is the best point guard in the NBA.

It's hard to argue with them.

Williams runs Utah's offense like no other. His quick thinking and precise passing constantly catch defenses napping, and he can drop 30 at any given moment and make it look easy.

He can take the ball out of the net and execute a fast break off of a made basket or walk the ball up the court and grind out two points with a set play.

Deron Williams is truly one of the game's very best. The only thing he can't seem to do is find a way to defeat his nemesis, the Los Angeles Lakers.

But the other point guards on the list couldn't do it either.

Note: Even though I talked about Chris Paul under a prior section titled "THE BEST POINT GUARD IN THE NBA," I don't believe there is a such thing as the best point guard or anything else in the NBA other than the best team, and that is the Los Angeles Lakers.

I only did that to take a shot at Charles Barkley and others who have been saying Deron Williams is the best point guard in the NBA.

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