Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Van Gundy's Star Call

During Game 3 of the Boston Celtics' first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat, there was a play where Rajon Rondo got an offensive rebound and made a play for his team.

Dwyane Wade was the Miami Heat player responsible for keeping Rondo off the glass on that play. This was during a sequence when Rondo was murdering Miami with offensive rebounds.

In analyzing the play during the ABC telecast of the game, Jeff Van Gundy talked about how Wade wasn't paying as much attention to Rondo as "maybe" he should.


Rondo was killing the Heat with these offensive rebounds! A strong argument can be made that those offensive rebounds were the entire difference in the game.

Dwyane Wade absolutely, beyond any shadow of a doubt, should have been paying more attention to Rondo; and there is no "maybe" about it.

But because Dwyane Wade is a superstar, or "maybe" because he likes Dwyane Wade, Jeff Van Gundy softened his criticism and didn't call Wade out like he was supposed to for failing to box out.

In the NBA, it appears that officials aren't the only ones who make "star" calls.

Correction: On the play where Van Gundy says "maybe," Rondo didn't secure the offensive rebound and make a play for his team; he beat Wade to the ball but was unable to control it, and the ball went out of bounds to the Heat (8:15). The play where Wade failed to box out Rondo and might have cost his team the victory is at 5:18.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fantasy GM: Quentin Richardson

First of all, this has absolutely nothing to do with fantasy basketball. I've always imagined that I could be the general manager of a NBA team and lead that team to all sorts of championships.

But that will never happen, so I decided I would fulfill my fantasy by writing articles about various NBA teams and what moves I would make to build those teams into champions.

I also have favorite players around the league, and every now and then I get sick and tired of seeing some of my favorite players play on teams which I know will never compete for a title.

So I'll also try to find nice fits for certain players and try to get them on teams which can at least make a run in the playoffs.

The first player who I would like to find a home for is Quentin Richardson.

Richardson has been one of my favorite players since he played for the Clippers and was catching alley-hoops from Earl Boykins with Darius Miles.

Until this past season with the Heat, Richardson had played in the playoffs only once in his entire career, in 2005 as a member of the Phoenix Suns.

He deserves better. Richardson goes hard and shouldn't have to suffer through a career playing on average teams.

There are several teams out there which could use Richardson's skills.

The best fit for Richardson would be the Oklahoma City Thunder. He would be a significant upgrade over Thabo Sefolosha, who started every game for the Thunder last season

But there were times during the Thunder's first round series with the Lakers when the Lakers weren't even guarding him. He was a non-factor and really didn't contribute much in the series.

Richardson, on the other hand, couldn't be ignored so easily.

He shot a career high .397 from three-point range last season and also has all kinds of post moves which teams, for some reason which is beyond me, never attempt to utilize.

He has played the two and the three, so playing next to Kevin Durant would be no problem even though Richardson has played mostly at small forward.

The Thunder also would not lose anything defensively.

Richardson was not much of a defensive player when he was with the Clippers, but he started to make improvements when he joined the Suns.

I remember the first time I saw Richardson take a charge with the Suns. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Is this Q?

By the time he arrived in New York as a Knick, Richardson was a fully-committed defensive player.

I watched him battle the best in the business during his four years with the Knicks, LeBron, Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony, you name it.

And while he was torched at times, he never gave an inch; and you have to admire a guy who battles the league's top scorers like this and isn't one of the first options on his own team, leaving him no ability to go back at them.

That is the true definition of a team player, especially when you consider the fact that he has tremendous scoring ability.

I remember when he was with the Clippers, and they played the Knicks at the Garden.

Richardson was being defended by Latrell Sprewell, one of the top defenders in the NBA from the guard position. He took Sprewell to school quite a few times.

He even posted Sprewell up and scored on him and made it look easy. I couldn't believe it.

I think this was the Feb 5, 2002, game which the Clippers won, which might explain why Sprewell, the very next time the Knicks played the Clippers at the Garden, went off for 38 points and went 9-9 on threes.

Richardson had a respectable 19 points in the loss. He had 30 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 block in the first game.

Another good fit for Richardson would be the New Orleans Hornets.

They have a promising, young shooting guard in Marcus Thornton, plus Chris Paul, David West and Emeka Okafor.

Richardson would give them a nice starting five.

All they would have to do from there is figure out how they want to work their bench. Richardson could also start at the 2 next to Peja Stojakovich. Either way, it comes out to a really good team.

Other teams which could use Richardson: Cleveland, five years younger and contributes in more ways than Anthony Parker but doesn't shoot the three as well and doesn't have as high a basketball IQ; Dallas, would look and play great next to Butler and Nowitzki if Cuban wants to spend the money; San Antonio, teams wouldn't dare leave him open like Dallas did Richard Jefferson in the playoffs; Portland, I would say he's a better player than Nicolas Batum; Indiana, Pacers would be ready to roll with him in the starting lineup next to Danny Granger.

One thing about Richardson which is interesting is how his career stats don't tell the whole story.

He has had only three seasons which he played more than thirty minutes per game. In those seasons, he averaged 15.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal per game, respectable numbers.

I don't think Richardson should re-sign with the Miami Heat unless Pat Riley makes a serious commitment to winning.

Riley, or "Pat the Rat," as he is affectionately known in New York, needs to get it together. Dwyane Wade is too good of a player not to be on a team which competes for a championship every year.

I had enough of this bull with the last generation of superstars!

Allen Iverson in Philly, Kevin Garnett in Minnesota, Tracy McGrady in Orlando and more.

It is ridiculous!

Jermaine O'Neal has disappeared to the point of insignificance; Beasley looks lost; Chalmers doesn't even know how to shorten his next dribble after he drives past someone; and Arrojo is a good backup starting at point guard.

Riley knows a team must do whatever it takes to win, and if he is not willing to do that, then he needs to let Dwyane Wade go to a team which is willing to do whatever it takes and allow the Heat to fall back into "expansionism," as Shaq might say.

As the old saying goes: If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. In the NBA, the big dogs do whatever it takes to win championships.

Dwyane Wade is also partially to blame for his own demise in this situation. He played parts of their playoff series against Boston with the same look on his face that LeBron James had in Game 5 against the Celtics.

I understand how Wade feels playing against a stacked deck, but as my brother always says, "It's only one way to play."

And that one way is all-out at all times.

Michael Jordan faced the exact same situation in 1986, but I didn't see him walking around with his head down and a pitiful look on his face.

He went right at them! And even though the result was the same, at least Jordan made the Celtics' Hall-of-Famers of that generation know he was there every minute of every game.

Besides going hard, there were other things Wade could have done to help his team win. The Heat could have easily won Game 3 had Wade simply boxed out Rajon Rondo.

Rondo was flat out killing the Heat with offensive rebound after offensive rebound, killing, game-changing offensive rebounds.

With a few simple box outs, there is literally no telling what would have happened in that series.

Back to Quentin Richardson, there are aspects of his game which he needs to work on, the most important of which is his ball-handling. I never see Richardson dribble the ball more than three or four times before he has to pick it up and get rid of it.

There is no excuse for this. If Anthony Mason could dribble the ball like he did with the Knicks, there is no reason why Richardson shouldn't be a better dribbler.

This would help his entire offensive game because he would be able to generate points by creating his own shot off the dribble instead of having to rely on catching a pass from a teammate while already in scoring position.

He could also crash the offensive boards like he used to with the Clippers and create points that way as well.

When Richardson misses his first couple of shots, usually three-pointers, he tends to stop shooting; but with better handles, he would be able to drive the ball and get himself into better scoring position and get easier shots to get himself going.

With a few dribble-penetration moves and an improved mid-range game, Richardson could become an All-Star.

I'll be the first to admit that offensively, Quentin Richardson can drive you crazy! One night he looks like George Gervin; the next night he looks like George Jefferson.

I often ask myself ... What is it which makes a player like Kobe Bryant great and a player like Quentin Richardson average?

I have yet to find an answer.

When you look at Richardson's skills, there is really no reason why he shouldn't be scoring in the twenties every night; but for some reason which I can't figure out, he's lucky to score fifteen on most nights?

The only thing I could come up with is that he doesn't work hard enough on his game. Maybe he works hard, but he doesn't work hard enough.

I don't know.

What I do know is that too often I see him miss shots which I know he can make, shots he used to make when he was with the Clippers.

That little eight-footer off the glass used to be money. Now, he misses it from five feet.

I don't know what is going on, but what I do know is that Quentin Richardson is a hell of a good basketball player to have on your basketball team, flaws and all; and any team which needs a SF/SG would be wise to sign him.

Hopefully, it will be a team which goes deep into the playoffs.